THE TWISTED LOGIC OF OUR EMOTIONS.
In my previous blog , I had discussed the psychology of wishful thinking and the role of wish fulfillment in shaping our behavior. It was suggested that we are sometimes not aware of our own emotions because they remain embedded in our subconscious mind. However, these emotions surface as wishful thinking in our conscious mind . Therefore , when we try to fulfill our wishes , we are actually trying to accommodate our subconscious emotions. Since this transformation of our subconscious emotions into our conscious wishes is not simple and straightforward , we never realise what our actual emotions are. We simply indulge in wish fulfillment without knowing how our wishes are formed. However , it is possible to understand our own selves by analyzing this transformation but that would be possible only with the help of psychologists. Alternatively , we can understand human mind by reading some of the great novels. I had suggested that the novelist can explain human nature by personifying the emotions and building a novel out of it.
In this blog , I would like to discuss how our emotions twist our ability to think to make us believe in things that we would not have believed otherwise. While the psychologists are familiar with this emotional distortion of logic , as a novelist , I am interested in the unfolding of tragedy because of this distortion. Psychologists study this subject of cognitive dissonance purely from the clinical perspective. However , I am not interested in clinical aspects of this emotional distortion. I am interested in the tragedy resulting from such emotional distortion. The academic scholarship has the luxury of being impersonal. A novelist does not have such a luxury. A novelist is driven by empathy. This empathy arises from the fact that the characters of that novelist’s novel are personifications of human emotions and some of these emotions are the novelist’s own. Therefore a novelist has an insider’s perspective of this emotional distortion , whereas a psychologist has an outsider’s perspective.
I would like to clarify that I have referred to tragedy of human lives that arise from the emotional distortion in this blog so far. This is not to be confused with the melodrama that one witnesses in popular fiction and cinema. Sometimes the human tragedy occurs even when the individuals involved are not even aware of it. Strangely , this is one of the defining features of human tragedy wrecked by emotional distortion. The person concerned would defy the logic which shows that there is something tragic in that individual’s life. However , the emotional distortion would compel that individual to deny the tragedy. It is this persistent denial by that individual that is the real tragedy and not the misfortune that befalls on that individual. The misfortunes happen to all of us. However , our consistent denial would simply perpetuate the emotional distortion. This persistent denial postpones the acceptance of reality , subsequent emotional closure and healing. Therefore the real tragedy of human beings is that our own , very natural , response to emotional trauma that misfortunes inflict on our mind , itself closes our paths to recovery. Our tragedy is not that misfortunes happen in our lives, but that we refuse to heal ourselves because our thinking is distorted by the strong emotions that these misfortunes generate in our mind.
In some sense , this is like a Greek tragedy because we are born with the mind that is distorted by our emotions. However , in some sense , this is like a Shakespearian tragedy because we deny ourselves a chance to heal by perpetuating the emotional distortion of our thinking. One final observation on this emotional distortion is that the resulting tragedy may sometimes appear in the form of delusional happiness. This is perhaps the most subtle form of tragedy.
In the remaining part of this blog , I would describe how I came across this aspect of tragedy while writing my second novel. I have already mentioned that my second novel deals with the theme of reincarnation. I have also mentioned that the novel centres around a chartered accountant who finds that his girlfriend apparently experiences memories of her past births. As the novel progresses , the protagonist changes his own opinion about the idea of reincarnation as his own emotional attachments to his girlfriend grows. I did not intend to write a tragic novel , at least not when I began this novel. However , I realized that it would end up as a tragic story whether I want it or not. When I thought about the reasons for this , I found the explanation that I have outlined above. Of course , given my sensibility, it would not be a melodrama.
Since I did not want to write a tragic novel , I started introducing some positive elements into the story. I thought that I should dwell on the romantic undertones of the relationship between the protagonist and his girlfriend. While making that choice , I was consciously trying to eliminate one of the shortcomings of my first novel. In that novel , the women appear only in the context of the protagonist’s emotional needs. This , I thought , was definitely a shortcoming . A novelist , who wants to unravel the subconscious mind of a contemporary man , can not escape the romance and implicit sexuality from the narrative. However, in the surreal treatment of modern man, I could not have introduced that facet of the protagonist without compromising the thematic integrity. So , when I began my second novel , I was keen to explore that area of our subconscious mind. So, I made a conscious choice of enlivening the plot of my second novel and the relationship between the protagonist and his girlfriend was the most natural choice.
However, even while doing this , I was clear that the romantic and sexual aspect of the protagonist’s evolution should not end up being descriptive. Instead , I wanted it to emerge from the subconscious drive of the protagonist. In addition , I also wanted to explore the the possibility of these aspects of the protagonist spanning across the reincarnation. So , I wanted the protagonist to get hint of his love being eternal to come from the the memories of his girlfriend about her past births. When I reached that point in the plot when the girlfriend recollects her past memories with the protagonist , I realized that there tragic fate of their romance was already scripted into those memories. In other words , even the lighter and enlivening elements of the plot would reinforce the tragic undercurrents of man’s subconscious mind.
Having failed to avoid the tragedy in my second novel , I thought of introducing some some nobility of the soul in the protagonist’s mental make up. I thought that this would enable me to imbue some positivity into the novel. That is where I found the delusional aspect of man’s tragedy. My protagonist tries to be noble in face of the adversities in life. However , at some point he realises that his own sense perceived nobility is nothing but the delusion created by his mind to compensate for the trauma that he had experienced in love. This is where my novel is at present. I hope to depict his redemption once he realises that his delusion of nobility is far deeper tragedy than his unrequited love is.
I would describe in my next blog how difficult it is for male novelists to unravel a woman’s subconscious mind.