Immolating the convention of existentialist literature, Mahfouz confronts the orthodox elucidation of the meaning of life, throwing a boy into predation into metropolitan mayhem struggling to quiet his search for value in the momentary context of one afternoon whilst surviving the hex of unpredictability leading him into utter loss and chaos delved deeper into the heart of urban idiocy – Mahfouz’s take on the madness of life itself, relieving it of the dishonest delineation other writers had stained on it.
Showing us the naked and unstained truth of what we live in.
Though, it is important to note that ‘The Conjurer’ is not simply a metaphorical allegory of life, rather it exemplifies the human psychology and the impulses of which we are subject to as the world lives as we live inside its void of unpredictability, driven by the point of anxiety – reason versus impulse; therefore the story upholds the sheer complexity and irrationality of living, tempered in the meek context of circumstance.
At first attempt the boy, when asked “to be(come) useful” fails in all the efforts he bequeaths walking back and forth “returning with an empty dish” time and time again ruminating the failure of the human person because of miscarriage of what is expected of him to know whilst constantly degraded by his own mother in the process. Life, therefore in this context pushes man down at the moment he begins to search for value in the world: “You’re good-for-nothing” and “stupid” the mother wales.
On another light, while in the search for reason, we are attacked by temptation – which bites at even the most “delicious breakfast(s)”. “I found the conjurer looking straight at me. A stupefying joy overwhelmed me; I was completely taken out of myself”, even under the shadow of punishment, man seeks for momentary refuge among what he enjoys, and in the end blames the subject of his distraction to the failure of his desire, rather than himself for being distracted as the primary trigger of his failure “He had stolen the dish, yet fearfully I moved away out of sight and wept” “The Conjurer made off with the dish”.
Failure thus brings man into a state of supposed salvation: where a vision for hope is made possible in the situation of hopelessness, even in his state of despair, the boy doesn’t fail to give himself some sort of consolation for the failure he has once again struck in the light of reckless abandon, “I gazed up in fascination at the box, completely forgetting the conjurer and the dish. ” “I paid over the piaster and stood in front of the peep-hole. ”.
Even in the despair of the time being, the boy chooses to “give (him)myself up wholly to my reveries” and go off into multiple ventures, which caused him to “experience feelings that were new, strange and obscure”, and in he end led him back to his dilemma with his mother. For man seizes every opportunity to enter into a problem-free world of bliss to escape for even just a moment. Driven by the desire of the moment to bring him into refuge from the world he lives in: ”I could have some sort of enjoyment with it before being punished.
I decided to pretend my having done wrong” and chooses to follow the voice of impulse and emotion rather than the voice of reason. In the boys exploration to escape reality, he “raced off like mad to wherever my legs might carry (him) me” “ I was unaware of my whereabouts” ”I told myself that I should be resolute and take a quick decision: the day was passing and soon mysterious darkness would descend” leading the boy to a larger dilemma. Running away from a problem does not solve it; rather it prolongs it and may even cause a larger problem to arise, which unfortunately happens to the boy.
The desire of the moment is sometimes what man wants the most, but it does not supply him with the prolonged happiness everyone longs for. The unfortunate boy is then left in a crossroads moment “what direction should I take”. Life, therefore in the context of the story cannot be seen from a rational point of view, for the world is irrational in its own nature. Not all things has a reason behind them, for man acts out of desire and not out of reason in the face of anxiety and despair – as the story would attest to.
Our desire is then defined by the circumstance that stands in the moment of surrender in order to catch a glimpse of hope in hopelessness. Hence life’s meaning, as articulated in the first line of the story “The time has come for you to be useful” proves to be a goose chase. The reason exists, but the void of life is a complex being that cannot be deciphered by human minds, which may lead us into a place where we are “unaware of (our) my whereabouts”.
Life, then can be concluded as a random flow of madness if seen from one perspective, for life is not simply the entirety of all the decisions that you choose to take in your venture “to find meaning in life”, but rather the summation of the choices of a billion other people’s decisions in their own individual lives which intertwine with each other causing morbid madness to be experienced by an onlooker – one perspective, hence the random and unpredictable circumstances that the boy was subject to in the story: “the conjurer’s irritability”, “The disappearance of mother”, “the peep-show”, “the girl’s parental problems”, “the bean seller’s petulance” and “the gypsy’s misfortune”, which all affected the life of this insignificant little boy in search for beans in the span of that one ordinary afternoon.
The boy ends up then in a loss of direction hints that life cannot be escaped by subjecting ourselves to temporary sit backs of bliss. We must take life as it is and all that it offers us. In the end, we must face our problems, or suffer the consequences of creating a larger one.
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The Conjurer Made Off with the Dish. (2017, Feb 10). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/the-conjurer-made-off-with-the-dish-essay