Jean-Paul Sartre reasoned that the loss of belief in God causes an existential feeling of abandonment. He was referring to our losing the potential for divine guidance but Jon Adams’s feeling of abandonment is a new one to me. He wishes he could still believe there was someone up there who knew him completely:
Atheist author Christopher Hitchens often remarks that he’s relieved there is no god. He abhors the notion of a god who monitors our thoughts as tyrannical. “Who wishes,” he asks in the introduction to The Portable Atheist, “that there was a permanent, unalterable celestial despotism that subjected us to continual surveillance and could convict us of thought-crime[?]”
Like Hitchens, I find that god, the Abrahamic god, objectionable. I do, however, wish that there were some being who knew my every waking thought—the good, the bad, and the ugly. And when I did believe in such a being, I felt less lonely. (To be sure, believing that my thoughts were being monitored was cause for anxiety. But that anxiety was outweighed by the comfort of having someone totally understand you, and more than you understand yourself.)
So to compensate for no longer believing in any omniscient being, I try to be radically open, honest, and expressive. It borders on voyeurism, really. And often my frankness comes at the expense of social tact. On first dates, for example, I volunteer all the most embarrassing information about me. If they’re still interested in me after these disclosures (and they rarely are ha ha), then they’re worth dating.
My blogging, too, has largely been driven by this loneliness. It allows me to free some thoughts from my head—well, to the extent that I can articulate them into words.
I sure identify with that ridiculously anti-strategic approach to dating which confesses everything bad upfront so nothing about me that would lead to my rejection will be revealed only after my hopes were up. And, as I just mentioned a few days ago, I also think my blogging is motivated in part by an insatiable desire to reveal myself. Though a kind of compulsive truthfulness, rather than loneliness motivates me. I do not need to feel unknown to want to be known. I cannot get enough of it even when I have it.