Dissertation Title:

An Absurd Lens: Cultivating Ahimsa and Agency at the Intersection of Patanjali, Camus, Star Trek, and Neuroscience


Kathleen Sargent

Date, Time & Place:

October 4, 2022 at 3:00 pm
in the Studio Classroom at the Lambert Campus


The foundational mytheme of Maiden in the Tower stories is rooted in self-oppression. In those stories, oppressive social conditioning refutes the absurdly diverse nature of homo sapien sapiens’ existence by accentuating the pseudo-benefits of compliance and complacency with oppressive norms. Albert Camus’s Sisyphus and Star Trek’s Seven of Nine are Tower-like characters who utilize an Absurd Lens to identify and decrease their complacency and complicity to oppression.

Sisyphus learns to adapt to oppression with strategies that decrease self-harm while Seven of Nine learns to cooperate within a patriarchal system without compromising authenticity and integrity. Seven’s journey is similar to characters like Rapunzel who, after years of oppression, re-enter oppressive systems compliantly and complicitly and thus continue to self-oppress. Seven instead discovers and expresses self-awareness and ahimsic agency.

Ahimsa means “no harm;” ahimsic agency means to do no harm to self or others. The strategies and tools for ahimsa detailed in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras create increasingly lucid self-awareness that expands and explores the individual’s Absurd Lens, a tool created by self-reflective meditation. Neuroscience validates the efficacy of lucid awareness and ahimsa for creating agency that seeks no harm to self or others. Lucid awareness towards self requires unique self-care strategies that include and accept awareness of individual diversity. The Absurd Lens and the yoga of Patanjali combine to create tools for emotional regulation that express of ahimsa.

Sapiens are mammals who require social interactions with others to survive and thrive. However, self-oppression and suffering create harm to self and others unless a habituated emotional regulation system exists. Emotional dysregulation impedes and negates natural empathy for the diversity of self and others. Emotional pain will occur, but suffering and self-oppression decrease as emotional regulation skills are developed. Ahimsic agency is possible when the Absurd Lens is used to identify oppression of self and others. Lucid self-care creates more emotional regulation. Cognitive lucidity born of self-awareness creates ahimsic values that effectively resist self-oppression and oppression of others.


  • Program/Track/Year: Mythological Studies, I, 2017
  • Chair: Dr. Patrick Mahaffey
  • Reader: Dr. Dana White
  • External Reader: Dr. Susan Beam
  • Keywords: Ahimsa, Agency, Self-oppression, Camus, Star Trek, Diversity, Maidens-in-Towers, Rapunzel, Neuroscience, Yogic Meditation, Patanjali, Self-care