By University Paper Help ‘On Transience’, you notice how Freud starts his piece with a reminiscence of the past- “Not long ago I went on a summer walk….” This theme of looking back on the past has become a common feature in any conversation since 2020.
“Remember when we used to think working in the library was a pain?” groans one Ms Jones, a fresher working on a collaboration project with her classmates on Zoom. One of the three students seems to have frozen mid-sentence. “Now increase the pain by a hundred, and you’ll see how I feel about collaborating in a Zoom meeting.”
Ms Jones isn’t the only student who would give anything to go back to the pre-pandemic world. But, unfortunately, everything that you would usually take for granted- such as meeting friends, going to school, partying on weekends – has come to an abrupt halt as social distancing norms and lockdowns force people to confine themselves in their homes. This is most likely why thoughts of how much you miss those moments of social gathering with friends would come unbidden to your mind, and you’ll find yourself reminiscing the past.
As you progress in the essay, you’d notice Freud grappling renewable energy with the meaning of life when your entire future is uncertain. During the time of writing, Freud and his contemporaries had no assurance about what the future held. Technology had yet to reach the advancement of the 21st century, and the grime and death all around called into question the nature of everything that human beings take pride in.
Permanence and Transience
An initial reading of the essay would naturally make you think that Freud mourns the destruction of art, science and civilisation that the war has wrought upon them. With the bombings and lootings, various places of historical significance had fallen to pieces or were barely holding on during the World War. You can see this sense of mourning in all the war prose and poet writers of the time.
However, living during the time of the pandemic, you find yourself focusing more on Freud’s use of the words “…shattered our pride…our admiration…our hopes….” This emphasis on our shows that Freud includes everyone in the shared experience of the war.
This doesn’t limit itself to the war. Freud’s words are an invitation for people with similar experiences to share in the idea of a ‘shattered pride’. This anger and devastation at the pride shattering are directed internally – almost as if human beings finally wake up to the reality that they aren’t living in the harmonious world they have envisioned for themselves.
Freud, who had experienced the fantasy of being a part of civilisation and its eternal existence, is disillusioned and grapples with the sudden realisation the war had brought about. According to him, human beings form a personal attachment not only to their loved ones and the people around them but also to their nation, socio-cultural achievements, political prowess, natural wonders, and scientific achievements. All these become a part of your identity with time.
Hence, in the destruction of any of these, you are bound to feel a sense of double-loss – first when you lose something precious that you cherished, and secondly when you lose that part of yourself that identified with turabian referencing .
This sense of double loss is something that millions of people worldwide experienced as the pandemic took away their daily lives without any warning. The confusion and uncertainty, added with the daily reports of hundreds of deaths and no cure in sight, made the initial years of 2020 something straight out of a sci-fi Hollywood film.
The entire concept of ‘transience’ lies in the fact that nothing in this world is permanent. Hence, when you mourn any loss in your life, it begs the question – “Is the world transient because you mourn it, or do you mourn because the world is transient?”
With these thoughts in mind, you can look back to the early 2020 months when you had to mourn the loss of everything you thought to be permanent. This includes waking up every day and getting ready for school, playing baseball after classes, commuting in overcrowded trains to reach work on time, and the weekend trips to the restaurants.
While the situation is still yet to go back to the way it was before, there’s no doubt that the struggle Freud faced during the writing of ‘On Transience’ is somewhat reflected in the confusion and fear that permeates the current world reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Summing it up,
The lull of quiet that had prevailed after the end of the Second World War broke when the coronavirus turned the entire world into chaos. Those who had not experienced any world wars and lived their lives under the false impression that ‘stability is permanent’ received a rude awakening as they mourned the loss of their “normal.” This is similar to the explorations professional essay writer Freud takes in his essay ‘On Transience’ – a work that you would be able to relate to the most in this current state of instability.
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