Friday, 9 January 2015

Meaning

'Everything happens for a reason.'

'That's karma.'

'God has a plan.'

Throughout the West there is a desire for us to give meaning to our lives and to interpret what happens in our lives according to some higher purpose.

The fatalistic assumptions we often bring to life events gives us a sense of order and meaning in the midst of sometimes heartbreaking, chaotic and seemingly meaningless suffering.

We are dominated by a sense of 'lack' as though something is missing in our lives. This is the narrative fed to us regularly which enables a capitalist economic ideology to function properly; "you need this in order to fill that which is missing in your life."


To counter this sense of 'lack' we turn to, what Lacan described as 'the big Other.' This 'big Other' provides the meaning to our lives, fills the lack and enables us to make sense of things around us.

This big Other might be God, gods, science, materialism, higher self or whatever. What is important to note is that whatever the big Other is it is in response to 'lack'. Therefore 'meaning' is that which deals with this 'lack'.

I wonder however if there is a need to question this concept of 'meaning' and pursue other ways of determining what we mean when we discuss 'meaning'.

Perhaps we need to be thinking more in terms 'too much' rather than 'lack', in 'letting go' not 'acquiring', in 'self-giving' not 'big Other.'

Perhaps 'meaning' is better understood through the lens of mutual, self-giving, sacrificial love.

Perhaps there is no 'lack' and maybe Jesus' death reveals this in profound depth.

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