Apr 15, 2010


Disclaimer: This post is purely based on personal views. And it also contains mature content. If you still think acne is the end of the world, please don;t read it. I cannot afford court cases.


Is it possible to define emotions? In its entirety? 
This post is about emotions. Not my emotions, just emotions in general. This post is chiefly about the definition of emotions, the staple bread and butter of writers and poets all over the world. To make a connection between feeling them and putting them in words.  Above all, this post is chiefly about defining pain or the inability to do so.
To begin straightaway; I believe that there are four primary emotions:
Most emotions are a direct or indirect manifestation of love. Love cannot be defined as one single emotion. Some have referred to it as a state of being.  Some think it’s a range of many emotions. I think of it as a huge ship with many lifeboats attached to it.
This emotion is probably the one waxed most eloquently about. Everybody wants to define love, and it’s not their fault. It is, after billions of years of existence, still an undefined quantity. A mystic variable in a sea of other conjugate variables. Is it a quality, rather than quantity? I wouldn’t know. I can’t define emotions.

I (personal opinion) consider it to be an opposite manifestation of love. Anti-love, if you will. Hate is driven by nothing if not the sheer force of love. The absolute monstrosity of it or the stark vacuum of it. You hate something when you have the strongest desire to love it or be loved by it but something, something got in the way.  Hate is defined in many ways; mostly synonymous with fire and black. But that’s not what I want to talk about.

Now this is one hell of an emotion. Fear motivates like nothing else can. Far more than ambition. Fear is crucial if you want to succeed. If you ever hear of a fearless leader or achiever, know that its bullshit. A person who isn’t afraid of being left behind will never go that extra mile. It is vital to have fear, it is abnormal if you don’t. It may be fuelled by love/hate, but that’s not what we are discussing. Fear is mostly defined in some format of a chase. Or a debilitating paralysis. Most of them are inaccurate. Again, I’m nobody to judge.

Ah, now we are talking. Pain is always different. Pain is always the same. I firmly believe that it is impossible to define pain in its entirety. You cannot, cannot define pain. Not if it’s real pain. If you are a writer, and you think you have defined your character’s pain accurately then your character didn’t develop properly. You couldn’t make your character come to life.

Here are some hypothetical situations. Tell me if you can define them:

1.       Imagine a 10 year old girl. She is an ordinary girl in terrifying circumstances. Imagine her being surrounded by let’s say 5 drunk men. Imagine them ripping her clothes off and raping her one after the other. Like she’s not a living entity anymore.  Imagine her crying, begging for mercy, screaming in terror, being battered down, fainting in pain, coming back to consciousness and then slowly going numb. Imagine her lying there as those animals take their turn. Can you define her pain?

2.       Now imagine her father. He’s looking at the bloody mess that was his daughter. He knows she’ll never be the same again. He can’t find those bastards. There is no trail and his girl is now mute. She won’t talk, she won’t move, she will only follow him with those wide eyes that are now the windows to her damaged soul. He wants to kill them, but he knows that won’t help his little girl anymore. He is watching her drying inside, and he’s helpless. Can you define his pain?

3.       Now imagine this 17 year old girl. She fell in love; she had a child out of wedlock. And then fought to keep herself and her baby alive every day of her life. She kept running away from the bricks, from the kerosene, from the lathis. She eventually gave birth to her bundle of joy. She added to her misery. She wasn’t accepted anywhere. Her son faced the brunt of it every day of his life too. He was a bastard for life. The son of a cheap harlot. He finally couldn’t take it anymore. So he ran away, left his mother alone and made a life for himself. He protected himself, and became comfortable in the life he had, He had no time for old ladies anymore. And one day she came to his door asking for mercy, and he turned her out, calling her a whore. Can you define her pain?

There can be thousands of such examples, but my aim isn’t to depress you. It is merely to emphasize how futile it is sometimes to expect that we can define anything. We are extraordinary, in the way we emote. And no science can take the away for us. There is no analysis, no definition for what we feel and who we are. It’s merely an inadequate method of feeding your own theories.
I want to know, do you think we can define emotions? Any of them?


Johana Hill said...

Everybody feels differently. So maybe we can define our emotions through expressions?

Such! said...

Yes, of course. But Jo, I was talking about defining them through the medium of words. That's all. Expression is a different matter altogether.

Continuum said...

You can never define an emotion. You have to feel it. Writers attempt to create the scene to make us understand. I understood the pain of the girl, father and mother, but I didn't feel it. And so I can't define it. Maybe if I'd felt a similar pain, I'd then be able to relate to it, but I'd still not be able to define it.
I'm not making sense.
By the way, you've given me a new perspective on my HATE for everything. Brilliant take.

S said...

You were right about the comments thing, Suchi.

Americanising Desi said...

no way can i define em! you caught me!

i m dumbstruck!

Such! said...

@Aanch: Yes, the HATE was muchly directed at us. Inspiration, almost.

@Sharan: Yeah, well. Im sagacious.

@AD: :)

Himanshu said...

Was having similar thoughts right now.
If language was supposed to help us convey our emotions, then Language is such a fail.

However, all your examples are pretty extreme on one side (pain, to put it in words. :P). I am sure you would have had similar experiences with the other end too. :D

Such! said...

@Himan: My whole point being that pain is much more difficult to define.

L.R. said...

I believe you can define the emotion itself, but not the level of it. Everyone has a different level of pain, grief, sorrow. You can't seriously compare or imagine what the other person might be feeling.