Old posts from 2003 when I was working the ideas of the applied dialectivcal method Recent blog posts

Old posts from 2003 when I was working the ideas of the applied dialectivcal method


Human Existence


14/07/2003: Jour de la Bastille.


The following piece of writing is meant to show firsthand what it is to be/become a human subject, existing and emerging in the world.  It is the exact opposite from being an object, namely a static, fixed, designed, defined, built, structured (Sartre, 1943, 1947, 1952).  It is a very complex, very insecure, very powerful, very confusing, very irrational, undefined thing, full of constantly changing states of being, states of mind, different selves, states of consciousness, identities, emotions, feelings, passions, severe crises and dilemmas.  It is a bursting, burning, fiery lava full of paradoxes and self contradictions gushing and moving down extremely rapidly.  It is an attempt to figure this out, to make sense, to understand what is going on, to define, to reconstruct the self to the best of one’s ability.  There is no order, reason, determinism, logic, rationalism.  Most of all it is a will to better the self and to achieve a bit of peace of mind and a little more stability and security, cooling oneself up a little bit.  It is an optimistic hope for the future, a better one, despite everything.  Being, becoming, emerging in spite of oneself, the world (inner and external) the human condition (Malraux) and the absurd. 


The process is a very tiresome, tedious, satiating, ungrateful, anguishing one that consumes the entire self in order to create and construct and reconstruct the self.  Yet because it takes and deprives so much and is so very difficult is a most fulfilling one.  Those are my perceptions, my views, my accounts, my reflections.  I feel a need to shout my humanity to the world at the top of my voice ‘I am here.  This is me.  This is who I am. The following is the result of self awareness, reflections, consciousness of consciousness, introspection, self therapeutic analysis, self observing and observance, coupled with the observing of others, asking them, being interested and very curious in them and their existence/being in the world, immersing myself in them, spending more than three decades reading and listening to their accounts’. 


I want the reader to share those experiences, conceptions and perceptions with me.  I want to make them public, for the reader to be aware of them.  He can be moved, relate, engage, reflect, contemplate, feel nothing at all, remain indifferent think it is wellworn, think it is a complete nonsense, feel an inability to relate and engage, accuse me for asking the wrong question, having the wrong preoccupations.  Read if you wish and think and reflect if you wish, or toss it away if you desire.


I and You (Thou) and Us


Two different worlds.  Two different lives.  Each human existence, being in the world, is a whole world in a universe of humanity.  They are parallels.  They are independent, distinguished, distinct, unique, personal, dynamic, irrational, subjective and incomprehensive.


I am the human subject.  I am and I try to reflect, dereflect (Viktor Frankl) and figure myself out and to see what is going on.  I am confused, lost.  What is it? Where am I going in my quest for peace of mind, happiness, more meaningful/authentic existence.  You, the other, social other as some will call you, who could do no more than act as a heuristic, to try to support and be there for me as an aid in my journey, suddenly have taken life and adopted a role that you should not have, that is not merely an illusion but also silences me and destroys me.  


I live. I am. This is the only thing that there is.  I want to be.  I want to be happy.  I want to have the most meaningful, fulfilled life existence/being in the world to which I was thrown.


Universe called humanity is the we, the us. We are essentially alone in our existence.  We were thrown into existence alone and alone we will be taken away from it.  We have our own individualistic and personal quests, searches, struggles and journeys that belong to the I, that are unique to us and each one of us.  Human existence for us is very tough, complex, complicated and extremely hard.  It was imposed on all of us, who are the living, the existing.  It is not for the fainthearted, the weak, the pessimists, the nihilists.  It is for the fighters, the strong, the optimists who are willing to struggle and fight with all our might against all chances, against all odds, refusing to give up hope and passion. 


We must fight, struggle.  We have no choice.  We have to be fully committed to our existence, to being in the world.  We are obliged to it, for utter engagement with it.  Our energies, our resources must be fully committed to it.  We have to invest all our energies and resources to it.  You, show me you are fully committed/engaging with your world, your existence.  We cannot afford ‘philanthropy’, dedicating and losing our valuable resources at the expense of our emergence, our journey for the sake of another’s existence.  Let me be.  Immerse in your own business, of emerging, becoming, be and being.


It is cheap pedagogy, preaching, mumbling, making noise that means nothing, to devote your own valuable resources to my own quest, search and journey.  You deny yourself. You make me feel bad, ill-conscious, bad-faith, for doing so.  It is your choice I know.  But you involve me.  It seems to me like you are using me for an escape, an admission that your existence and the quest for a self are too difficult for you, like the choice to do nothing and not to choose.  Not only that you will be deprived from your own potential for authenticity but by doing so you will be depriving me from the possibility of establishing meaning and authenticity.  How can I be authentic, realising that my will and my journey for authenticity was accompanied and led/driven by someone giving in, losing faith, who becomes weak and deprives himself from authenticity (or the will to have meaningful/authentic existence)?


You have to do your best. Show me how you fully immerse and engage with your self, your existence, your being in the world.  Show me you are a tough, strong, pitiless (self-pity that is) killer.  You will empower me by doing so.  You will give me hope, showing me it is feasible.  I want you to succeed in your journey, in your quests.  Not only it makes me feel happy but it reflects and dereflects upon my own journey.  If you can do so then I can do it.  There is no justification for an inability to go on struggling for a better more meaningful existence, for the quest for authenticity.  The only thing we can share is our will for authenticity, better existence in the world, self improvement and more peace of mind.  We share the will, the quest, the journey, the will to become and be.  We understand that but not the actual manner of doing so.  The way we lead our lives is wholly individualistic, unique and personal, catered and tailored for us at any specific given point in our existence/journey in the world.


And it is not feasible, an illusion for you to attempt to engage directly with my existence, my world.  You have tried to define me, myself and my existence, to explain, to analyse, to figure me out from your own world/ existence in the world.  You had a big ego. You have no resources, no energy, no time, no patience for me for you need to immerse and completely engage in your world.  You have obligation to do so as part of being launched into the world and take upon yourself the mission (project, Sartre) that is called living, being and life.   You are not capable to enter my world completely for you will need to leave yourself completely and your own world and be me.  You are really indifferent to me and my existence.  You should be.  I understand this. 


I have the greatest respect for you when you admit and tell me with great embarrassment that you fail to understand me.  You really wish to do so.  There is nothing you wish to do more than this for it will save so much pain and suffering from your own existence by observing and learning from mine.  But you cannot. 


You have your own life, existence and your own agenda and objectives for your own existence in the world and you cannot fully comprehend mine. You have been so devoted to this goal, objective of striving to understand, theorise and explain me that you forgot me, you ignored me.  This is not your game, not your role.  You can merely know from what I communicate and transmit to you.  I could try to do so, with a very limited degree of success if at all feasible, and you could and perhaps should help me figure myself out as heuristic, an outsider, in a reciprocal, unselfish, act where I share my world with you and you share your world with me. 


I need to tell you, communicate to you.  You cannot fully comprehend for you are not me.  You have and can merely take my word for it.  If I tell you that I am a chicken then I am a chicken.  If one person tells another that he is Napoleon then he is Napoleon (Laing, 1959).  Maybe some of the people tied up to the beds in Shalvata and Kfar Shaul (mental institutions in Israel) very confused and claiming they are the messiah are, in fact, the messiah.  You are an outsider, an external, an observer, a human subject/being, living and existing.  This is your strength.  You can give me an external perspective, a caring, compassionate, passionate, humane and human one.  You want to help me.  I understand this and I am sincerely grateful.  But you must realize and understand that you are not me, not myself.


You tried to figure me out, to theorise, to categorise, to model to explicate, to analyse, to judge. You have never stopped to listen, to understand, to understand completely, to immerse yourself in my world and being in the world, to strive to fully support my existence, my struggles, my quests that you cannot fully understand.  But you must accept and be tolerate, completely open, de-automatised, forget your prejudices and potential misconceptions.   I want you to stop patronising me thinking you can be me and figure me out.  You cannot.  You are not. 


Only I can be, feel, comprehend myself, engage with myself.  I am very strong.  I gain the strength from my life.  I have hope whether it is an illusion (Becket’s En Attendant Godot) or real (Frankl, Nietzsche, Rogers, Camus, Kierkegaard, Voltaire), it does not matter. As long as I live I will hope for the better.  I will work extremely hard (Voltaire’s Candide Ou l’Optimisme) for I have no choice.  Giving up is a death sentence.  I may as well lose myself physically.


You have to transcend yourself completely and be transcendent, forget your analytical, judging tools and your views in regard to the manner in which one should live and simply listen, immerse in my world/existence, put yourself in one’s shoes, try to be me, to try to understand what it is like being me.  The wish/will/desire to be me is far more important than the ability to be me which I already said is infeasible.


I am completely irrational, you say, too passionate, hysterical, neurotic, fiery, dynamic, controlling, self obsessed, narcissist, solipsist.  Yet who are you to say that?  This is my existence, my being-in-the-world, my life.  What are you? My judge!  The only one to critique, criticise, judge, analyse, understand, reflect, dreflect  myself is me.  And I can be very harsh, very rigorous about the manner I live my life, far more than you can ever be.  I do so because I have obligation towards myself, to care about myself, to love myself.  I owe it to myself.  I must do so.  I am the only one who does.  You have no obligation towards myself.  You owe me nothing.  I do not owe you anything.


I think I can tell you about my quest to figure things out, to progress, to engage in/with the world if you wish.  You can listen, engage with/in the information I make available to you.  You have a choice.  But I think this may be a useful exercise for you for you also exist.  You also are in the world.  You emerge.  You become.  You are.  You will be. You have a world, objectives and, dare I say, obligation to be happy, of benefit to others, to have a meaningful/authentic existence and life. You can learn from my mistakes, my flaws, and my strengths. 


You can also decide that I am of no use to you whatsoever.  You wish to do so on your own, alone, with no help, to learn from your own mistakes and weaknesses, to benefit from your own strengths.  This is fair enough.  I accept that.  I engage with my own existence and being in the world.  I reflect.  I dereflect. I want to improve myself, to become a better human being, happier, more fulfilled.  As part of this need of mine, I wish to help you improve and become a better human being.  There is no coercion. I simply place my findings, my irrational, passionate, notes in the world, available for you to engage with.  They are there for you.  You can engage with them if you wish.  You can ignore them if you desire. 





Becket, (1952). En Attendant Godot. Les Editions de Minuit. Paris.


[1]Binswanger, L. (1958). Existential Analysis and Psychotherapy. Psychoanalysis Review, 45, 79-83.


Binswanger, L. (1963). Being-in-the-world.  Basic Books, Inc. New York.


[2]Boss, M. (1963). Psychoanalysis and Daseinanalysis. Basic Books, Inc. New York.


Boss, M. (1977). Existential Foundations of Medicine and Psychology. Aronson. New York.


Camus, A. (1942a).  L’Etranger.  Gallimard.  Paris.


Camus, A. (1942b). Le Mythe de Sisyphe: Essai sur l’Absurde. Gallimard. Paris.


Camus, A. (1947).  La Peste.  Gallimard.  Paris.


Frankl, V. E. (1969). The Will to Meaning; Foundation and Applications of Logotherapy. Plum Book. New York.


Frankl, V. E. (1973). The Doctor and the Soul; From Psychotherapy to Logotherapy. Penguin  Books.  Harmosworth, Middlesex.


Frankl, V. E. (1978). The Unheard Cry  For Meaning; Psychotherapy and Humanism. Simon & Schuster Publisher. New York.


Frankl, V. E. (1985).  Psychotherapy and Existentialism. Washington Square Press. New York.


[3]Heidegger, M. (1962, originally 1927).  Being and Time.  Harper and Row. New York.


Kierkegaard, S. A. (1962). The Present Age. Harper & row. New York.


Kierkegaard, S. A. (1968). Fear and Trembling and Sickness Unto Death.  Princeton University Press. Princeton.


Kierkegaard, S. A. (1974). Either/Or.  Princeton University Press.  Princeton.


Laing, R. D. (1959). The Divided Self.  Tavistock Publications. London.


Laing, R. D. (1967). The Politics of Experience and The Bird of Paradise. Penguin. Harmondsworth.


Malraux, A. (1946).  La Condition Humaine. Editions Galimard. Paris.


Nietzsche, F. (1964a). The Will to Power; An Attempted Transvaluation of all Values. 2 volumes. Russell and Russell Inc. New York.


Nietzsche, F. (1964b). Human, All Too Human; Book for Free Spirits. Russell and Russell Inc. New York.


Nietzsche, F. (1966).  Beyond Good and Evil; Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future. Vintage. New York.


Nietzsche, F. (1967). Ecce Homo; How One Becomes What One Is. Vintage. New York.


Rogers, C. R. (1965). Client-Centered Therapy, Its Current Practice, Implications and Theory. Houghton Miffin. Boston.


Rogers, C. R. (1967). On Becoming A Person: A Therapist’s View of Psychotherapy. Constable. London.


Rogers, C. R. (1980). A Way of Being. Houghton Mifflin. Boston.


Sartre, J. P. (1938).  La Nausee.  Gallimard.  Paris.


Sartre, J. P. (1943). L'Etre et le Neant, Essai d’Ontologie Phenomenologique. Gallimard. Paris.


Sartre, J. P. (1947). Huis Clos. Editions Gallimard.  Paris.


Sartre, J. P. (1952). L'Existentialisme est un Humanisme. Nagel. Paris.


Sartre, J. P. (1960). Critique de la Raison Dialetique. Gallimard. Paris.


Serper, A. (1999). A Study of the Conception of Man in Empirical Psychology by Using Textual Analysis.  Thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of requirements for the degree of Individual Graduate Programme at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.  Thesis supervised by Prof. G. Motzkin. The Hebrew University.  Jerusalem.


[4]Shanon, B. (1993). The Representational and Presentational; An Essay on Cognition and the Study of Mind. Harvester Wheatsheaf. New York


Voltaire. (1958/1759).  Candide Ou L’Optimisme. University of London Press. London.


Self or no Self


Saturday: 26/07/2003:


On Monday evening March 19, 2001, in the only single room of the geriatric institute of the city of Tel-Aviv-Jaffa (the city that two decades previously has awarded him its most distinguished/honorary award for his life-long service to it and vowed to return favour and to cater for him in the best, most comfortable, loving, honorary dignified fashion possible), I told my grandfather, who was lying there glazingly looking and demonstrating that it is all over, he had enough, he is tired, ready to go, that he is free to go, that he is released.  I said I can take over from him. I promised I shall manage, I shall go on, I shall be fine, I shall fight, I shall be strong, I shall empower myself, and I shall prevail and succeed.  Half an hour later, he ceased to exist and I was launched to a complete gap of empty nothingness. 


Twenty-eight days previously on Wednesday, the 21st of February, 2001, he had a severe stroke, was unconscious, and fought for his life.  We were in the hospital of the social health services, which employed him for more than half a century and on behalf of which he was a senior doctor and in charge of the entire Jaffa and southern (Tel-Aviv and its southern outskirts) district.  I was cold and mechanical and briefly told the medical staff on duty that night about our request to be dignified, strong and human right to the very end and to finish his existence in the world in a dignified manner, without doing any undignifing act, just for the sake of extending it a bit. 


Then, we spent the night together and the thought that this is the end started to penetrate my consciousness.  I then shared my true, authentic, most intimate fears and feelings with him as I have been doing my entire life with his enthusiastic, passionate encouragement and asked him to wait and not to cease to exist.  I begged him to wait.  I told him that I am completely unprepared for it, that I am lost, confused, not ready.  I confessed that I do not know what to do, how to behave, that I feel weak, that I feel completely alone, anxious about existing alone in the world.  I revealed that I feel my being, soul and self violently and aggressively ripped and torn apart away from me, leaving me with a great deep hole of nothingness.


Then, my grandfather opened his eyes and regained consciousness.  However, his worst nightmare was realised and became true.  He was paralysed in his left side of the body, dependent on others, weak, unable to speak and communicate himself coherently. 


This was truly disastrous – a catastrophe, as far as his identity was concerned.  His communication skills and capabilities made him and what and whom he is, enabled him to survive immense hardships in life, a/the Holocaust and labour camps, gained him his status as an exemplary doctor, with an immense recognition and status, made him loved, adored, admired and cherished.  One of his many patients and admirers, a Catholic nun from the French/Catholic school, and former French hospital, of Jaffa, who called my grandfather ‘the brother of Christ” said my grandfather was fluent in numerous languages (he was completely fluent in about twelve languages) and speaks (communicates) fluently and naturally the language of the heart – “La langue du Coeur”.


She knew what she was talking about.  He adored human beings, whoever they are, and enjoyed communicating, engaging and interrelating with them.  It empowered him, constructed him, made him.  You could see it clearly from the way his face softened and his eyes lit up and, shone and brightened up with a burning passion, true and sincere love, sympathy, compassion and care.  You could see how the other did the same, contagiously, mesmerisingly. Everyone, without difference, with no distinguish, with no boundaries nor categorisations.  The self-satisfied university presidents and deans, the old, tired and weary wards’ cleaners, the ambitious deans of the faculties of medicine, the cheerful coffee-makers, the faculty professors, the young and rude taxi drivers, the heads of wards and other senior doctors, the depressed, overworked nurse-assistants, the young humanitarian and philanthropic paramedics, the cabinet ministers and the mayors, the ambassadors and diplomats, their chauffeurs and assisting staff, the un-educated and over-educated, depressed care-takers and assisting staff, of any possible nationality and ethnicity. 


It is important to stress that I am not talking about the romantic, post-modern time.  I am talking about life and practice, engaging, interrelating living and practicing in the late 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, right through 2001.  Throughout the worst time period in the history of mankind.  A period that knew universalism, communal, fascism, Stalinism, Nazism, severe racism, anti-Semitism and discrimination, concentration, death and labour camps, severe, intense and impossible hardships, people dying like flies to the complete indifference of others, the worst atrocities imaginable or unimaginable, complete and utter destruction of everything, pure, raw evil, nihilism and indifference, absurdity, objectification, mechanisation and industrialisation, reductionism into nothing, nothingness and the alienation, corruption, hardening and demolition of the self, extreme dehumanisation of the sort Viktor Frankl talks about.


With each one of those individuals my grandfather spoke her or his native tongue, accompanied by the language of the heart and being and non-verbal human gestures.  He used humour, laughter, encouragement, support, personal warmth and support, friendship, strength whilst at the same time never hesitating to show his own feelings, weaknesses, fragilities, lack of knowledge, uncertainty, ignorance and humanity.  I have photographs and videotapes and everyone I show them to observes and comes to this same conclusion and observation as the one I place here.  My friends, my age, to whom he was mainly the grandfather of their friend, have always sincerely loved and enjoyed talking to him and listening to him, spending many hours doing so, completely mesmerised, incredibly charmed and intrigued by him, his persona and sayings, even as adolescents, a very unusual act.  The close ones to me even used and called him the same term of endearment in French used by my mother, myself and my sister, upon his specific request.  In the elderly home in the shadowed eve of his non-existence, he was the most charming, warm-hearted, loving human being, attended to others, comforted, complimented, empowered and encouraged both the staff members and residents who returned those feelings to him, respecting and truly loving and adoring him. 


I admired him, adored him for those qualities.  I truly worshipped him.  He was more than life and a human being to me.  He was immortal, divine, a true God to me.  Yet he was also my best friend, companioned in life, a mother, a father, an older, experienced wiser brother.  I felt very comfortable, free with him.  But I also wanted to gain his admiration, adoration as a human being rather than just by virtue of being a/his grandson.  I therefore felt tensed, constantly in need to prove myself to him.  I wanted him to be proud of me. He continuously assured me that he regards me as a ‘mench’ (a decent human being).  Still I had complexities.  I felt tested, pressured by the situation.  Even he, strangely enough, wanted us to be proud of him.  We were all he had, his most precious ‘subjects’.  Others sensed it.  I constantly received patients’ letters and letters from the numerous organisations he volunteers in, addressed to us and telling us about all his incredible deeds. 


This was the type of relationship we had.  One constantly engaging with the other, forgetting himself and totally immersing in the other who thus became him and completely consumed his own self.  In short we experienced a true, authentic love of the sort that Camus wrote about, claiming it cannot exist for it is not feasible to constantly think of the other sixty seconds a minute, sixty minutes an hour, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week and so on.  The other penetrated, incorporated and consumed the self of the other.  Yet the self of the other was reached and perceived by the self of the perceiver.  So the self of the other became the self of the self through the self for consciousness is personal and can merely be conscious through the self (see James, 1890, 1912 for example).


He wrote in his biography, memoirs, and constantly told us ever since we were very young in our adolescent years that the moment he becomes needy, dependent, ceases to be beneficial and of needs and use and care to others, busy, engaging himself in the treatment of others and completely independent and of need to himself then he wishes to die.  He revealed to us (my sister and myself) his greatest desire in life - to die in a plane crush or in his own car on a way to visit a patient, strong, powerful, needed and on road to somewhere hopeful and agreeable – holiday, visits to friends and family or to treating patients.  He said this type of death is quick and painless and avoids the pain of getting old and watching and observing oneself deteriorating.  Getting old without being old (which I heard as ‘viellir sans etre vieux’) was his motto translated from Yiddish. 


Being young in my late adolescence, I was petrified about it and had nightmares.  Could it be that this immortal being who empowered me, gave me strength, assured me so much, is in fact a mortal, finite being?  Could it be that this profound love and passionate feelings are finite and have an end?  Could it be that I would be deprived of all of this?  He had to say it, though, as we were his sole blood relatives, legally qualified to make decisions.  He wanted to prepare us for it as well.  I had protested very strongly and claimed he is selfish and egocentric.  He needs to think of us as well, to give us a chance to return to him what he gives us, to make sure he is well, happy and having an agreeable existence in the world despite everything.  I gave him my word and promised that if it comes to that then we will pass the hardships of his old age, of him getting, becoming and being old, together, him and me. 


We disagreed then, the very experienced, rational and wise and the inexperienced, young, shocked, irrational, very subjective and naive.  He was not convinced and neither was I.  We were terrified.  Him from being old and needy and me from losing him and being empty without him and all he symbolised and was for me.  I learned to agree with him with all my might and being with age, experience and reason.  I hope I will cease to exist while still being powerful, strong, mighty, dignified, self-assured, contributor, of need rather than needy, independent and completely free.   


He also said that death is a part of life and implied and said indirectly that how one dies reflects upon his life and living.  Something that myself, the existential thinker, the confused, spoiled and nurtured philosopher and theoretician, I have borrowed and said very directly and make very clear in my writings.   Moreover, I was engaged in practical work into the questions of ethics in medicine and human existence in the world; questions of free-will, individualism, the individum’s right to decide for himself/herself, the roles and obligations of the state, the collective, the communal, and the institutional in the life, welfare and well-being of the individum.  I was detached, impersonal, completely devoting myself to the welfare of the general humanity, as a whole, collective entity, using my own knowledge of the relevant literature and experience of volunteering in hospitals, Geriatric institutes, psychiatric institutes and observing and interacting and listening to my grandfather and his wise colleagues and friends. 


Being with my grandfather, the paralysed and stroke-affected, I was now faced with my own personal, unique test, the most difficult one.  It became personal, individualistic and very unique, subjective, irrational, passionating and biased.  There was no way out, no escape.  It stroke me with all its might, cruelty and viciousness.  It toyed with me, jeered and laughed at my face.  I have done my best, everything I could not to give in and succumb but to gain immortal, divine strength and power (Nietzsche), to fight back very strongly, to laugh back at the sadistic, evil and wicked test and to prevail against all odd, against everything, against nature, against life, against science, the life science.  My grandfather will always be strong, dignified, respectful, human, loved and adored, right to the very end.  Just as he has always been.  Just as he is.  He will not be alone, abused, vanquished, non-human, undignified, weak and fragile and depended.  He will remain him, will maintain his self and himself. 


This was my mission, my most cherished one.  I immersed in it completely.  I prepared myself to it for many years as I knew rationally about the certainty (the only thing certain and sure) of death and finiteness.  It became me, my self, my being in the world.  The relationship between us was tested.  Do we truly love each other?   Are we really capable of scarifying and bury and possibly destroy our self for the sake of the self of the other? The moment of truth has come.  I was fortunate it did.  I thank my grandfather for allowing it to happen.


Lying there on the hospital’s bed, on this horrific night of the 21st to 22nd of February, 2001, completely overwhelmed by what has just happened to him, he still immersed himself in me and myself, giving himself to me completely.  As always, as it has always been throughout our relationship, he listened to me, transcended himself and sacrificed himself for me, wishing to please me and make me happy.  He pulled through, sensing his body collapsing, was able to hold my hand and look me in the eyes, listening to me, attempted to speak, knowing I will understand. 


I was selfish, I know.  I had no right, I know.  It was very unethical, I know.  Perhaps in complete contradiction to the mission I just described.  But I am saying this reflecting about it from the present.  Then and there, more than two years ago, I had some, irrational and illogical, hope, that he will manage to recover.  He has gone through and taken so much in life, maybe he can pass this as well.  Like the condemned man, I hoped a miracle will happen and he will return almost to his senses and physical and mental state of being.  After all, our knowledge of the brain and the neurological system is the least of all scientific knowledge.  I also wanted, selfishly, to have the ability to thank him for what he did to and for me and to and for humanity, without being too emotional and dramatic, for all his help and deeds, to announce, show and prove my love for the last time in the most extensive, powerful manner that I can.  I wanted him to go, to permanently lose himself, knowing, being assured, to destroy all possibilities for a doubt, right through to the last second.  


I wanted him to see how much he is loved, that his life’s mission and project to cater for others as a doctor, to love and be there for his patients, friends, colleagues, acquainted, the ill and the needy has succeeded with flying colours.  I told him that he has the benefit and the blessing, now, that he is paralysed and needy and of an inability to be of a need to any one, to truly sense and feel people’s love to him and what he means to them.  Indeed, his patients, acquainted, friends, staff members in the Geriatric institute and the hospital, the other inmates, colleagues, showed their profound love and care in those last days.


The miracle did not come.  He deteriorated, was conscious and well-aware and suffered enormously from his condition and I focused on and devoted myself completely to my assurance to him that I would do anything I can to be there for him and for the end to be the least painful and undignified as possible.  He hung up a month, increasingly weakening unable to swallow and I refused (based on my knowledge of his values) a Naso-Gastric Tube and Percutaneous Endosopic Gastrostomy (PEG), fighting infections, water in the lungs, and dehydration, using infusion and then as the veins collapsed using the sub-cutaneous fashion. 


I acted like a computerised robot, using the programme I devised in advance, with my grandfather’s help.  I prepared this programme in advance and now became it.  During this time, the programme became me, my existence in the world, my being, my self.  It is most useful, this ability to programme oneself to act in a certain fashion and to lose oneself in favour of this programmed robot.  This programmed robot is essentially a self of values and goals (an inner self) detached from the contextual and the tempo-spatial external world and centred around a single mission that completely consumes the self.  There is simply nothing else at this specific moment of time.  The self shuts itself completely from the world and is completely funnelled to a certain, single deed/objective/point.  I was surprised by this fact.  Human beings can really surprise themselves.  Dostoyevsky, Nitzsche, Frankl, Fabry and Camus were right.  They are capable of anything.  They are stronger than what they think they are capable of. 


I stayed for virtually the whole twenty-six days, that looked like an eternity, next to him, getting no sleep and collapsing from time to time in physical exhaustion.  Family and friends found it impossibly hard to face him and the situation in which he was found.  Yet I felt a need and security and assurance doing it.  It was the last [time] I felt strong, secured, safe, happy, complete, empowered and existing truly.  His presence in the same tempo-spatial world as me did this.  It was all I needed.  As I told him then, I accept him in any shape or form.  Provided that he is, nothing else matters and is relevant to me.  However, I needed to lose myself, forget myself and my existence in the world, concentrate on him, completely immerse myself in him and his existence in the world.  My views, feelings were entirely irrelevant.  I had to focus on what was best for him.  And so I became a programmed robot completely catered for the self of my grandfather.  It became my role and I learned to play it as time and events proceeded.  I improved with time.  I fulfilled this role, I think.  It was my being and my self.


The staff and myself still tried to feed him, spending three hours on each attempt, each teaspoon, hoping and yearning.  He knew and looked very overwhelmed, tired and hopeless, while still trying to communicate and remain human and himself, moving his head to the staff’s gestures and kind, warm words in their native tongue and touches, closing and opening his lips in kissing gestures, holding and caressing their hands. 


His friends and well-wishers told me, when it was all ended that the last month was completely unnecessary, that my grandfather would have been far better off without it, finishing his existence in the night of the stroke.  They accounted that it was clear from his eyes that he had enough, that he was tired of it all.  I remember how I took him on a wheelchair and he looked me in my eyes, holding my hands and repeatedly calling and uttering my name, apologising non-verbally for his condition, the state in which he was found, explaining (securing, empowering, loving as he constantly did in the course of our relationship), communicating and excusing himself.  I still see the colour of his eyes constantly, greyish blue, with a bit of red and brown, warm eyes, understanding eyes, caring, compassionating and passionating eyes.  It is constantly in my consciousness as a background, taking over my existence when I am free to free associate and when I go to bed.  It is me.  It empowered me in the past and now shows me the incompleteness, insecurity and confusion of my present existence, while still show hope for the future. 


All my life, the inevitable separation from my grandfather haunted me and terrified me, stronger than anything, stronger than my own death, somewhere in the far future.  My grandfather and my research supervisor at the Hebrew University tried to prepare me.  A jealous rival in boarding school used it once to hurt me.  It did not help.  It was my worst nightmare appearing in dreams and in rational life.  I had a month to prepare it, to control it, to deal with it, to take control over it and dominate it, to make arrangements, to fight ill and bad ways of doing things.  I thank him for this.  It made things a lot easier for me.  Perhaps it saved me from myself and permitted me to go on, to emerge in the world and not to be overwhelmed completely and to cease to emerge.


He ceased to exist and I faced a dilemma.  I promised.  I assured.  I gave my word.  He suffered dreadfully, unwillingly, a whole month for this/me/my sake. Yet I felt completely empty.  It was the anti-climax, after the climax.  I was very confused.  I lost myself.  I was me, robot, himself, the other/me who has just ceased to exist.  Then I became nothing and had to start some sort of construction, formulation and reformulation.  I was very angry and frustrated with him and with the world.  Yet I knew he has done his very best and more.  I knew I was released, that I was completely free to concentrate on me, my life, my own existence, my own being in the world, to create, define, construct, organise, formulate and enhance myself, my life, my identity, my self.  But I did not like this freedom.  I was afraid.  I dreaded it.  I was anguished, in true, authentic angst.  And the person for whom I wished to create and construct the best self that I can existed no more.  It was very hard to create myself for myself.  I needed the intentionality, the for whom. 


Guilt also plays a role.  Will it be fair to have my existence in the world complete again?  Won’t it be a betrayal of the person who completely devoted himself to me and my existence?  But this was his wish – his most cherished one – for me to be happy and to have a peace of mind and a complete existence in the world.  Perhaps I owe it to him to be and have a complete existence in the world, a total, complete self?  And not having one will betray him, his self, his mission and memory.  Will perhaps make his own existence in the world less complete. 


I am positive this is what he would have said.  He acted it.  He has managed to overcome a/the destruction of his entire family, community and past life during the Holocaust, the illness of my grandmother (cancer, lung and heart condition), a premature decease of his only daughter and other ordeals.  Whilst he admitted to be severely affected by them, he went on and created new objectives, new meanings, new lives, new beings, new identities. 


Rationally, I was too aware that this is life.  People die.  It was always in my conscious.  My being and self has always been completely frustrated, suffering and angered as a result of my loss of my mother, to whom I was incredibly attached and who was a pure source of good, love and warmth, when I was merely four years old and the incredibly, undeservedly injustice done to me and even more so to my grandfather and grandmother.  My mother was my grandparents’ sole daughter and for my grandfather an only compensation for the complete destruction of his past.  Later on, I replaced my mother and became his life (together with his life’s devotion, as a community doctor in a very misfortunate part of town, to the needy and to humanity, in general, empowering them and himself [my interpretation]), with all the responsibilities it bore.  And I have always been angry at this utter injustice of the need to separate, to cease to exist, to lose everything permanently, to have a complete, permanent nothingness.  I dreaded it.  I protested, objected to it with all my might and being. 


Yet I do feel empty, what about my own authenticity and true feelings, experiences perceptions? Maybe a compromise?  Not succumbing and going on searching, creating and reformulating the self anew.  Just as he strived to do.  Whilst at the same time be kind to the self, be authentic towards it, treating it nicely, not rushing things, taking things slowly and thoroughly, not forcing the self to do things it is yet to be ready to do.  The valid, true thing to do is, perhaps, to live, emerge, engage and interrelate with the external world and to be authentic and true to oneself, to one’s pain, suffering, sincere wish to be happy and fulfilled.  Perhaps if one engages in/with life in this fashion then things would fall into place and arrange themselves.


I was contemplating existing just for the mere sake of existence, being for the sake of being, life for the purpose of living, fulfilling my physical part of the living self – enjoying the sun, the sea, the warmth, the birds, the beauty of the world just for their sake.  Is it sufficient? I ask. How long can it last?  Will I betray my grandfather if I found another intentionality, another for whom? Yet he wanted it so much.  This was his biggest desire in his last years.  For another source of security.  But, he has not achieved it.  Will it be fair to achieve it when he is no longer here?  Would he have failed, had I achieved it? He who has never failed anything, who had the touch of gold, turning evil to good, pure gold. 


Is the answer me, my sake, for me, myself?  Is it not solipsism, narcissism, egocentrism?  Can’t it be the answer for humanity as a whole, general entity? Live and love, life and love (Leben und Lieben) you, for you, yourself!  Take responsibility for your self! Engage with yourself!  Be true and authentic with and to yourself.  And do so for yourself, your sake.  Love yourself.


One needs an enormous strength, power (macht) and self-assurance to live this way.  It is not for the weak and fainthearted.  One needs to be empowered, to will to power (Nietzsche) to be able to do so.  And is it feasible?  Doesn’t the self need to transcend him/his self in order to reach him/his self and be conscious of it (Laing; Frankl), conscious of the consciousness?  Don’t we need to dereflect in order to reflect (Frankl)?  There is more doubt than assurance, more questions than answers.  Is this human existence in the world?  Questions, doubts, dilemmas, uncertainties, certainties of uncertainties, tensions, passionas and passions.  Undoubtedly.







Posted by Alon Serper on 11 August 2014 08:20:29

Current rating: 0 (0 ratings)

Bookmark this page to:Add to Live Add to Google Bookmarks Add to Delicious Add to Digg Add to Blogmarks Add to StumbleUpon Add to Yahoo Bookmarks Add to Terchnorati Add to Twitter Add to Yahoo MyWeb Add to Reddit Add to Facebook

Blog post currently doesn't have any comments.

Sign in

By signing in you accept these
Terms of Use

Latest blog comments

Nic Wickens
THoughtful and interesting

Alon Serper
Let us understand the other side, engage him or her, put ou...

Alon Serper
Thank you Sameera, Racism is inexcusable. There canno...

Sameera Patel
It is always heartening to come across a non-mainstream vie...

Online Community Manager
These confessions pages are certainly a very interesting (i...


Telephone: 041-504 1111 | Fax: 041-504 2574 / 2731 | E-mail: info@mandela.ac.za

PO Box 77000 | Nelson Mandela University | Port Elizabeth | 6031 | South Africa