It would take a while, a sudden short one, to realize that the intervening time between going on and moving on is the pace of perspectives. The set-up can be framed using a picture of two men; one sitting in a park bench in a busy street and the other a suit-up gentleman walking past him in intervals of hours, then days, noticeably. The sitting man has no right whatsoever to claim or impose to the busy man walking past him for the last couple of hours to make him stop; nor has the busy man to reprimand the sitting man for doing nothing. Both have their own paces. In this ordinary encounter, perpetuated by the frequency of their meeting points, one thing can spice things up: those in action are liable for an ideological stance.
Within the restless business of the walking man, the sure conclusion to enunciate the sitting man would be to declare the latter a laggard, falling behind the demands of worldly flux and incapable of standing against the tide of ideology – whatever that might be for him. In the eyes of a man who has worked his sweat over the responsibilities he respectfully owns and manifests, the sitting man is an insignificant clog, a project doomed to failure, or given the extent of a little insistence against the walking man’s societal prejudices, the sitting man could just be another weak person who easily relies on comfort zones every other mature move. The walking man stands by his impression that soon becomes a solid judgment after every sight of the other as having a lack of willpower. Driven by the guts to excel a glorified dignity in a political web of counter-discourses, the notorious acts that have to be made would be a lot arrogant for the man who will do anything – or so the walking man thinks of it as the only way there is. Isn’t it rather that the reliance of a forced choice is the impulse of ideology? The walking man, under the pretext that he knows what he is doing, is a walking dead who has already surrendered his vitality to his blinding cause.
In the perspective of the sitting man, the other guy is a pity, a man who has surrendered his soul to the devil, a human who walks in contradiction. What would be the use of moving if it leads to an infinite regression of unsatisfied wants – he asks himself, as if wailing at the caricature of a restless moving object! An object – for men under the instinct of an ambition, a precious goal, are treated no less than objects ready to be replaced, recalibrated, and refigured according to the allowance they think they have. They are objects of fire as a metaphor of unbridled passion: not too little for the experience, and not too much to be burnt, but some are willing to go all out, even sweltering their dignities out of it. For the sitting man, he knows that the cause he is willing to fight in the end is tragic, as all human existence are in the face of life’s atrocities. Things that are held vanish quickly. Persons held dear just disappear. The sitting man contemplates at how life has become and he sits a little longer, pondering on the different faces walking past him, looking at their restless hearts.
The antagonism in this regard is getting higher in a manner that it will not be anymore that surprising to see them bash each other sooner. Their eyes would lock and each other’s judgments of each other can no longer be put to hide. A simple glance, then longer. Irritation comes in. Angered curiosity boils. Then confrontation – an event that would trigger them to finally bout in respect of their own stands or the paces they have assumed.
As the argument would heat up, the sitting man will soon deliver his blows of self-realizations, historical references, carefully-crafted arguments against the meaninglessness of the other’s ideals and pointless unattainable ambitions. Then the walking man will counter the claim of him being a contradiction, returning the burden of definition to the other, defending that the essence of a man is to work and privately gain as propriety under his tutelage. The sitting man will raise his voice with a spite of arrogance of his ideals, against which the walking man will point as useless while sanctimoniously broadcasting, in case the other forgets, the emergence of a new era. For hours, they would argue, on various topics. On the significance of non-action over action: the sitting man invoking the Chinese Wei-wu-Wei, or Sartre; the walking man countering on Heraclitean flux, or Arendt, or anyone following this sort. On how to believe in divine providence and how the walking man counter-claims it as merely childish consciousness towards an invisible father figure. On the meaning of a truly essential workforce: the sitting man stressing the function of other occupations in the line of the humanities, even with little pay compared to corporate ideals, while the walking man praises the corporate world as a blessing to humanity, as a sign of progress, the modernization of civilization. From these points to the other, on the importance of the retrospection against foresight. On the necessities of relationships over capital.
It would be too far as to analogize this as ‘the humanities vs the sciences’, or ‘religiosity against secularism, ‘the old generation vs the new’, or better yet as it might have been obvious, ‘humanism vs capitalism’. The sitting man would read lectures of the end and the walking man would disclaim the former for not trying. For centuries to come, these binary counter-claims will produce subscripts, ancestral lineages in new forms and eloquence: those who describe the problem vs those who prescribe, those who point the mistakes vs those who find solutions, and so on.
But within the subversive points, the only admonish is an interrogative, and perhaps the most human and humbling, one: to ask what has happened, to ask how one is doing, to link each other’s being caught of the influx in the first place and find a normal pace of human connection where both ends meet – even just for once. No later will the sitting man invite the walking man for a talk and the walking man sit beside to do so, for a while. Of course, everybody has to go on; so it is with asking why one is in its current position. After the talk, things will never be the same. For moving on comes in various paces. Thinking before, now, or ahead, of the traces of one’s plans – short or long term – in life could be threatening. The lifetime project of oneself is no longer an elementary assignment. Things will fail part. All heroism will falter. The roads are not cooperative and some are even good only apparently. So a random ‘while’ is needed. Taking things slowly while understanding the world and people is a viable mantra of the patient one – this has to be the basic premise of walking past through life or the coinage called moving on.