Some ideas, regardless of whether they’re true or not, make me smile. I actually have all of Alan Watts lectures on my mp3 player, and every now and again, while I’m out for a walk, I cue him up and hear wonderful things like this.
I don’t suspect Watts is right on this issue. When we grow tired of an experience, there are slight changes in our brain which make it to where those things no longer release as many reward chemicals as they once did. The human brain is wired up to reward novelty and craftily putting things together. That’s what makes our species so innovative. An experience in and of itself does not carry happiness or dread. It’s based on how our brain is wired up to interpret that experience.
He makes a statement that after we’ve died we say to ourselves, “Boy, that was wild! Now what?” But you have to remember, to want or not want something you have to first have a body. The body is what creates what you want and don’t want. To be disembodied yet asking yourself, “What do I want” doesn’t really make sense if you sit and think about it. A green slimy alien living in a cold swamp wouldn’t want the same things as a human being.
Also, as I mentioned in one of my more recent posts on Cotard’s syndrome, it’s possible to be conscious and alive without emotion altogether. You’re just sort of “there”. If we take consciousness to be a deeper aspect of ourselves, it’s beyond happiness or even suffering. There’s ways to be conscious without either of those things.
But maybe I’m thinking about it too much. It seems that Watts is advocating a certain attitude toward the unpredictable aspects of life. All of his ideas put you in state of mind where you’re just fine with who you are, where you are, and what you are. He leaves you feeling at home in the world, in your station in life, wherever that may be. You’re not a foreigner in this world, weak and frail, soon to die. He advocates we are the world and has this deep perspective on the self. I like his ideas. You eventually come to welcome the mystery, chaos, and unpredictably of life.