What is happiness?

The human mind. What an incredibly complex, beautiful place in which to live. It can be our best friend and our worst enemy all within a simple matter of seconds. Alas, it is the only place we can live. Throughout life, many people will come and many will go. But we will always remain at home in our minds, we’ll never leave. Is this fair? Well, what is fair? To think of something as fair or unfair implies that our homely mind has been given to us. We cannot appeal to the board of mind issuers and say, ‘Hey, I don’t like this mind anymore, I’d like a different one now please.’ No, when it comes to minds, you have what you’re given and you’ve just got to accept matters and get on with matters.

There was an infinite period of time before we became conscious we were at home in our minds, and there will certainly be an infinite period of times long after our tenancy has expired. It could be argued that because they occupy such a brief and insignificant period of time and space, life is just a happy mistake. Others, myself included, choose to embrace this brief reign, why waste the short time we have? The argument would be futile, it is one that has divided minds since their conception in the universe, so I’ll just say my piece and leave the arguments to the enlightened.

So then, what are we to do? Do we live life to the fullest, or do we just patiently wait for expiration? Well, you know my stance as aforementioned. But how do I live life to the full I hear you ask? To achieve happiness and pleasure, you must first understand it. It is said that everything in the universe has an opposite, with that in mind we can agree that the opposite of happiness is sadness. If we are only ever happy, how can you know that you are? It must follow that to be happy; you must have, or at least, have had a certain degree of sadness if you are to say that you are happy. What makes us happy then? The happiness gained from buying yourself a new pair of shoes, is the memory of not having the shoes and now being able to dispel it. The happiness from meeting the love of your life is the memory of the sad loneliness you felt before you met them.
So is the meaning of life and your sole purpose to be happy? Or is it simply to experience everything, and then make your own mind up? I once thought owning a Nirvana CD would make me happy. I then attained a Nirvana CD. It was terrible. But thanks to that experience, I was able to discount something in my quest. Is the discounting what actually made me happy?

I honestly have no idea, I’m not certain anybody can ever claim to know, it was just a thought. Apologies for it not being a very concise one.

Johnny Got His Gun – Is Death More Valuable Than Life?

Johnny Got His Gun was written in 1938 by Dalton Trumbo, and fits into the anti-war genre. The story of this novel will be familiar to fans of Heavy Metal giants, Metallica, as it is the topic of their hit song, ‘One’.

The story follows a young soldier named Joe Bonham. Joe was serving in the First World War when he was caught in the middle of an artillery blast. He wakes up in a hospital bed, and as the story continues he begins to realise he has lost his arms and legs, his sight and hearing, and all of his facial features. However, his mind still works as it always has, rendering Joe nothing but a piece of meat with a consciousness.

Naturally, these events cause Joe to yearn for death. But after a while, he begins to realise that he can still serve a purpose. He wishes to be placed in a glass case and taken around the world, to educate people on the turmoil of war. He quickly realises that of course this would never be allowed. He begs the doctors to end his life through using Morse Code, but the doctors seem to be against this decision ethically. Yet ethically they allowed him to survive as a prisoner of his own mind.

Let us use his same arithmetic for World War I; 9,000,000 dead young men equal 1,350,000,000 pounds of bone and flesh, 27,900,000 pounds of brain matter, 11,250,000 gallons of blood, 414,000,000 years of life that will never be lived, and 22,500,000 children who will never be born. 21,000,000 perished in this war.

This book is an incredible eye opener as to the needless waste of life brought about by war. It begs the question: Is Death more valuable than Life?



Nothing Awry In ‘The Catcher In The Rye’.

The Catcher In The Rye, written in 1951 by J. D. Salinger is a book often related to teenage angst, and was the cause of controversy in America throughout the following decades. Indeed, the murderer of John Lennon, had a copy of the novel on his person at the time of the murder; and gave it over to police as his reason for killing the former Beatles star. As a result of this, people who have not read it have still heard of it, and associate it with depression and death.

I have spoken to many men who say they feel it to be of a dark and demoralising ilk, this resulting in them not even completing reading it. Perhaps it is a result of me only recently departing my teen years that I relate to this text so well. I remember what it was like as a demoralised teenager. Never getting the girl, being too nervous to act, not being interested in school; though I must admit I have not witnessed a suicide.

To me, Holden Caulfield seemed like a cooler, more rebellious version of what would not dare to be. Freedom is Holden’s aim, and if you ask many of the novels younger readers, he executes this aim to aplomb. His frequent expletives and allusions to sexual activity are the things which make every teenagers mind purr excitedly. He constantly blasphemes and does not heed the advice offered to him. Of course he doesn’t, what self respecting teenager would listen to advice? Teenagers know everything, and you adults have got it all wrong, you’re living in an ideological world, you don’t understand, man.

Holden believes that he is mentally older than the condescending adults see him. They see him as a sixteen year old, and tar every sixteen year old with the same brush. He is expelled from school, but Holden is not stupid, on the contrary he has intelligence and an open mind superior to many of his peers. He checks into a hotel, he smokes cigarettes in abundance and drinks alcohol, even getting served. He also hires a prostitute, but that one doesn’t end so well for him. He does these things because he thinks they’re normal. He is proving that he can do adult things, despite being a child in the eyes of many.

There isn’t anything wrong with these things. They aren’t going to lead you to suicide, or evoke murderous reactions. This book is an incredible read, and one that should be wholeheartedly enjoyed.

To the institutionalised reader, this book will sadden you to the core. To the oppressed teenager, it will stir your emotions, inspire you, and most of all show you that you are not alone. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be a catcher in the rye.