Going down to the core, trying to winnow what is from attribution. Then trying to put it into words.
How artificial, exactly, are social conventions? The monkey dance and all the posturing and ritual of day-to-day interactions between humans seem amazingly contrived, sometimes pointless. Often silly. That doesn't mean they are unnatural.
They feel unnatural to me, but that is because of a baseline established long ago. I know when I feel most me. In a situation that will require extreme physicality and allows no mistakes; where the body and mind have to be simultaneously utterly free and utterly disciplined is the best of me. Those times bring out the best not of who I am but of what I am.
Nowhere in there do I find the faintest echo of social concerns. No angst. No fear of looking silly. “What would so-and-so think of me know?” would be a suicidal distraction and has no place in that mindset.
There are emotions at that level. But they are very few, less nuanced, and they feel more pure than the many, many things our social brains consider emotional.
There is joy: it is a pure, soul-singing state of elation at the beauty of the world, or the connection felt with all things, or the grace of survival. Beyond words. My mother once told me that a religious fanatic is what happens when a person only feels this once.
There is fear: Not “False Evidence Appearing Real” but the supercharged, battery-taste-in-the-mouth animal awareness of impending and inevitable death. Can’t even really write around this without changing it into ‘fear of’ or tacking some philosophy on it. It’s not even fear of death, because death is too abstract a concept for this mind. It is just a feeling, another soul-singing but at a different pitch.
Maybe there is lust. There is a deep level, but since lust centers around another human I don’t think I’ve ever felt it without some social attributions impinging.
That’s all, perhaps. Anger doesn’t make the list. Personalize a fear and decide to do something about it and you have anger, a purely social thing. The simple (in theory) and very effective (in practice) trick of learning “don’t take it personally” wouldn’t work so well if anger was pure.
Not love. When joy is felt it is often misinterpreted as “universal love”… and romantic love is one of the few social emotions that approaches that pleasure and intensity, so the attribution is sort of understandable… but love, whether romantic or social or agape or patriotism are profoundly social and profoundly constructed. The notion of romantic love was invented and even today hasn’t spread to all cultures.
Not anxiety, obviously. Nor despair. Certainly not indignation or jealousy.Assuming I’ve written this non-word concept well enough to be understood: Are there other pure emotions?