For Freud the essence of all human endeavours was to be found in the instinctual sex drive.
In “The Future of an Illusion”, he emphasises on the role played by the sexual behaviour in determining an individual’s overall behavioural pattern. He believed, thwarted or diseased child-parent relationship erodes the former’s ability to establish and or maintain functioning and mature romantic partnerships during adulthood.
Another example of a theory determined to firmly capture and hold in bondage the quirkiness of human reality could be seen in Bertrand Russell’s ambitious book “Power.”
Russell made the power drive the king of all human motivations, the perennial source for each and every effort of any individual.
Saul Bellow in “Herzog” mentions that much earlier, Hegel had found in the urge aroused by the anxiety of death to crush others to extend one’s life, the source for struggle for power. Hegel, according to him, derives the essence of humanity in history and memory.
While holding the value of history close to their hearts, Communists have expended their lives and that of many others to salvage the future.
A communist leader in Sartre’s “Troubled Sleep” seeks to counter the anxiety of death through the trust one places on one’s Comrade to carry on the one’s work even after we are dead. The grand utopian dream may never be realized but the work will go on.
The element of historical responsibility is too apparent to be missed.
However, from a freer perspective it’s hard to accept the rigid determinism of such theories.
The state of human reality is akin to the consciousness of a marooned, who remembers nothing of his past and has just woken up on a desolate island.
His procedural memory is intact, his instincts guide him towards the essentials and he can survive.
But the weight of unknown past is crushing.
Soon, he will teach himself to forget about it too and would create a new world for himself on a territory from which he is perpetually alienated.
Only once in a while, the pain hits at the back of his throat and he finds himself breathing harder, clutching upon the objects of his make-believe world to regain the nurturance of the oblivion.
Who is he and where he comes from? He knows not.
There is an island of humanity, like a speck of dirt when seen in the context of the limitless universe, probably as its (universe’s) only throbbing heart, its nerve centre, its original goal and its final refuge.
It could well be otherwise. It could be anything.
All we know is that we do not know.
We the leapers, from one unyielding darkness to another.
The plight of the stranded amnesiac hardly sums up to the desperation of human soul, for he can run up and down the entire island to convince himself of the absoluteness of his solitude, but where can humanity find answers to the only questions which matter; the mystery of origin and purpose.
And perhaps it’s the anxiety of being caught between two super human powers of birth and death which keeps human beings restless, the sheer agitation which drives them to bore holes deep into the earth’s heart and then burn the drawn fluids up in smoke, to turn against each other and sink their teeth even into the necks of their own children.
No sooner one tries to determine its location, it becomes part of the past.
So, in a sense only past and future exist. But then where is past in final sense? And where is the future? Forgotten past and unknown future can’t create the continuum of time.
And that’s how humanity stands without the knowledge of its origin or destination, with no real past or future.