iPonder

Emotion – An affective state of consciousness in which joy, sorrow, fear, hate, or the like, is experienced, as distinguished from cognitive and volitional states of consciousness.

Often it is difficult to decipher ones emotions, more so if your consciousness does not want to explore it further. A harmless example of this is what one feels as a teenager (or these days as a eight-year old) on seeing a cute boy in the school assembly. The initial reaction is to enjoy the excitement but not to dwell on what caused it. However, a more complex example that comes to my mind is that of the emotions experienced on first hearing major news about someone/someplace geographically or psychologically far from you.

I just finished reading “The Reluctant Fundamentalist,” by Mohsin Hamid. It is a work of fiction that describes the feelings of a Pakistani who owed his success to the great land of America. The book was a pleasurable read but it also made me reflect on a few things.

Do you remember your initial reaction on hearing the news about the attack on Twin Towers? Of course, this is a question asked to non-Americans who have not lived in New York.  Or what you, who has never been to UK, felt on hearing the news about Princess Diana’s demise? For as I mentioned, we are talking about what we experience when we hear some terrifying news about someone/someplace  for whom/which you have no particular conscious feelings as such.

On some clear reflection, I remember that when I first told about the 9/11 attack, the only thing I felt was curiosity. On having seen some video footage, I was shocked. Who’d imagine someone could do that to America? It was only after they started talking about the loss of lives and showing images of petrified citizens that empathy kicked in. If the 9/11 attack had miraculously resulted only in financial and infrastructure loss, with no human being hurt, I may even have been amused by the whole episode. This realization shocked me but I realized that somewhere down inside, I have those little grudges against the country that seems to play games with its weaker counterparts.

Now, I love everything American as much as you do. I watch their movies, read their books, use their numerous products, have worked for them, and hope to visit some of its most fascinating cities sometime soon. But I also grudge it a few things. Very difficult to explain, but I guess this the affective state of consciousness as opposed to the volitional state.

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