I’ve watched this clip a number of times and wrestled with the ideas that Kateb puts forth about suffering, goodness, and the meaning of one’s own life. If you take the time to do this, I imagine that you will also find yourself changing your mind about what you think Kateb means, whether you think he is right, and how these thoughts might apply to your own life.
It does seem to me that we (as a culture, as individuals, and as human beings) spend an inordinate amount of time and energy trying to create a space for ourselves in which the sense of suffering is constantly decreasing and the sense of satisfaction is constantly increasing. This struggle is exhausting. This struggle never seems to be won by anyone.
What I love about what Kateb has to say is that no matter how bleak his vision may seem, his urging for us to resist the illusion of a sustained sense of happiness and to concentrate on what true satisfaction is possible (to him, love and work), is a truly liberating message. He asks for us to see our condition as it is and to work outward from this point, rather than from a clouded and convoluted vision of what we wish the world could be. Of course, this is not to say that we should not press for a better existence or resist oppressive forces. In fact, I think Kateb is saying the exact opposite. He’s simply advising that we not further burden our existence by clinging to a reality that simply is not possible at this juncture in history, as this will only compound one’s dissatisfaction and suffering.
Also, you will die if you hear the heartbeat of a squirrel…apparently.