|Dr. Oscar vs. Akahige - Boring Philosophy Drivel - avoid!|
December 5 2000 at 4:07 PM
Response to "The Choice": A story about what could have been.
|*** To the reader ***|
If you have never seen Kurosawa's great film, Akahige, then the basis of this post, and the allusions I make to selflessness in medicine and the play on the name of Oscar's alter ego may really make no sense at all. If that's the case, it's probably best to avoid this worthless, esoteric, garbage post. It's probably best to just avoid this post in any case...
Thanks for the post, Oscar. Excellent, enlightening. Fascinating to know you've been struggling with this personal dichotomy all these years. It's not often that I get a chance to read such obvious soul searching and second-guessing ones' chosen life path. The way you wrote it was so personal, so 'un-full of shit' and seemingly sincere -- I was really impressed.
I for one think the path Oscarhige took is admirable, in a stuffy, idealistic sort of way, but I would take issue with the usage of such an austere lifestyle as a social weapon, or a tool of professional coercion or subordinate motivation. Perhaps the real Oscar found this prospect unsavory...and is why he chose the path he did.
The problem with this philosophy is -- if Oscarhige really believed the 'world at large is better' theory of self sacrifice, he might be just as well take the next step in realizing that life itself is completely pointness...nothing empirical, nothing factual or scientific offers any evidence to counter this.
His considerable studies would have taught him that. He might not want to believe it, but at some point all men of science, all people of any modest quantity of learning confront this. Someone as detatched, focused, and selfless as Oscarhige would likely have arrived at that same conclusion -- which would make his behavior disingenuous, and Oscarhige would be relegated to the status of a walking self-contradiction, a human fallacy...however magnanimous sounding he was. He might have concluded that, as both my friends the Marquis de Sade and Robert Green Ingersoll have said, "the only real good in the world is human happiness" and that the only real point of life is to make others happy. Medicine is one route to this, but surely not the only route. Curing the diseased is noble, and necessary, but ultimately, no more or less helpful to society as a whole than enjoying yourself and bringing joy, fun, and excitement to those around you. Specifically choosing to limit onesself, to circumscribe the boundaries of what is permissible pleasure and what is not on the basis of saying the two cannot coexist, would be a fine argument if it did not appear as though the real Oscar had some serious, if understated regrets about having chosen the path he did. I disagree; if we were to infer that you consider the possibility that you have wasted your life, I object.
In other words -- that lifestyle was not a real choice. I don't know if you feel any guilt, but you clearly shouldn't. Oscarhige isn't in you, simply because you can concieve of him.
And here's why. Oscarhige doesn't seem burdened by useless ethics, aside from The Code, which at best seems to be of varying value, depending on the doctor. Surely, a wholesale subscription and adhereance to The Code, or a total lack thereof, will not necessarily make one a better doctor, or a worse one. More is required, obviously.
As a man of science raised by a hypocrite, Oscarhige may be expected to have been jaded by and unimpressed with empty, academic philosophy in his early years; he may even have taken to medicine and the sciences out of spite or to appease his father. Since he likely lacked any supplemental inspirational philosophical upbringing like the Aum Shinrikyo or Scientology, Oscarhige must surely have become acquainted with The Truth of science, both in gengeral education as well as how it pertained to his chosen field.
This Truth of Science has a way of converting intelligent people who have been put into a position of having it explained to them by someone qualified enough to do it well.
The Truth is nothing more and nothing less than the cold, emotionless, logic and beauty of the Cosmos -- the periodic table, gravity, light, heat, and all the majestic mumbojumbo laid out by the likes of Pythagoras, Copernicus, Keplar, Newton, Hubble, Einstein, Carl Sagan, Stephen Hawking, and millions of their contemporaries over the millenia.
Taken as a whole, their Work teaches us only one thing -- it shows us that neither Oscarhige, nor the real Oscar, could possibly be 'right' or 'wrong', and that it is patently impossible to 'waste' life, or even 'waste' time, since these things are ultimately meaningless when boiled down to their most basic universal elements.
Any meaning in our lives is meaning of our own invention; society is a shared, cherished delusion. The effort we put into improving it, in whatever way, is rewarded directly and indirectly. We may not even personally recieve any benefit. Oscarhige understands this well...he just appears a bit too rigid and mypoic. I think Oscarhige is a mostly harmless figment of the real Oscar's imagination, but'd I'd be wary of Oscar choosing to beat himself up too much over guilt, real or otherwise. It's not only unhealthy, but undeserved.
And...if it's any consolation, you're not the only one who wrestles with the notion that he is a life-wasting sluggard from time to time. The "I coulda been a contendah" frame of mind is hard to shake sometimes. And what's worse, the burden of an expansive, mechanistic personal philosophy that runs against the grain is common socialization is that, from time to time, you seriously question it yourself.