If the Priory is where the Prior resides, then the Theory is where God resides
Do not disturb! Philosopher at work!
(Perhaps the only thing missing, an unimpressed pigeon defecating nearby...)
Fairy Tales: A Narrow Escape!***
(Subtitle: We can't think our way out of this thing!)
(Reflections of an ordinary, early XXI Century citizen)
Early Wednesday Morning, August 12, 2020 Draft
Time to rise; no rest for the wicked!
(Yes, yes, it needs to be edited down, gimmy a break! But if you do so, keep double-checking as I frequently rework given paragraphs!)
"Modern art is what you can get away with," Andy Warhol told us, his work taking the cake and the Banality of Easel the way someone described it. He also paraphrased McLuhan suggesting that 'artistic' works get approved not just by the few acting out of sometimes perplexing conviction, but by all those dutifully tagging along. The point at which credulity definitely starts taking it on the chin and the word 'travesty' enters many people's mind.
The same manifestation that affects conventional philosophy and religion, man's most venerated cerebral and spiritual enterprises. Unchallenged by multitudes thirsting for reverent fantasy and reassurance by way of meticulous analysis and explanation, their self-satisfied proponents taking themselves as seriously as contemporary art's high priests do, no tongues-in-cheek allowed.
But does something represent an absolute truth, only because people no longer care to question it?
Enough's enough Buddha said about thousands and thousands of Hindu gods; it's man who has to count for something!!! With Antonin Artaud repeating this notion stating it all when he wrote Pour en finir avec le jugement de dieu, asking us to stop this divine nonsense with our imaginary friend, the subject of our manicured dreams. For if man needed to create myths or fairy tales to deal with his own mind and to step out beyond himself so he could look upon himself and heal himself or give himself that extra bit of courage and strength in the face of mostly cruel and often endless setbacks, then for a time and despite almost immediate, built-in and mostly silly taboos, this was fine. Yet superstitions and allegories are usually endless and also tend to stop minds, while the truth even when complex always turns out to be relatively short and when not perverted inevitably leads to more enlightenment. But by beginning to believe his lengthy, embroidered fantasies, his fictions, imposing them as if they were the truth, protecting instant orthodoxies as precious property, he created the beginning of his own degradation. Because fables or myths are dreams, or better still a series of pretty fibs and an elaborate lie however well meant, however well told, represents the seed of destruction that every grand falsehood carries within itself. Beliefs seen to turn into an auto-immune disease, everything black, or white, nothing grey, no life in between, no respect, no tolerance, no Laurel, no Hardy, no Statler, no Waldorf, just living death.
Similarly, what's found at the opposite end of the scale is immodest pride as for its part formal western thought is built on the implication, its point-de-départ, that should we not be there, well, then nothing's really there or worth discussing. That unless a person can give birth to him or herself our collective death would be the death of meaning. As if this planet had none of it long before we arrived, accommodating millions of years of different life?! And as if all of this doesn't strictly imply carpe diem, carpe noctem, that what we see is what we get with a perfect mirror needed as only tool to do save our ass!
Philosophy's sole function should be the removal of all nonsense from the world when all it does is confound and compound, never ceasing to create rather than dismiss exquisite, endless, near lyrical examinations and rivaling conjectures! I know, no Sein no Zen, but notions like Heidegger's forever doctrinaire Sein and Dasein or Descartes' Je pense, donc je suis, I think therefore I am, both essentially flawed as deprived of our consciousness 'being' obviously doesn't necessarily and by itself cease to be! Plus that this very Sein sadly also constantly reminds us of our own forthcoming demise and in this capacity represents no life force whatsoever, in a certain way killing one hell of a party. In Descartes' case the most that we could let him get away with turning I think, therefore I am into what or who I am (i.e. as opposed to others or animals). Better still what André Breton exhorted: I think, therefore I disturb!, though I obviously prefer Unamuno's simple I am, therefore I think. However, what's wrong with I perceive, but does it make a damn difference?
When re-reading so many hallowed texts then, consider the self-indulgent hokum too often meriting some sort of stage direction saying: STOP! Here Mind Disappears Up Rectum! Because, one more time, after close scrutiny nearly all established conventions ultimately point in one single direction---they confirm our pre-eminence and successful continuity with a mindset far more interested in bunker consolidation and arid preservation than in keeping structures open to further experience and thought. And it's hard not to consider oneself above the bacillus when man can slice bread, drive a car, exteriorize, even draw pictures, and it cannot. The reason man's still secretly convinced he's the measure of all that matters, that there's some sort of finality to the scheme of things and this finality is him, when there's every indication that there's no scheme and the earth the center of nothing except to those caught dead on the third and most beautiful albeit somewhat obese bauble from 'our' sun. A sun that doesn't 'rise' anymore than a large building moves up and down its elevators, or a woman's hand shrinks when placed on a phallus. So do let's keep proper perspective here and admit that we must rise to prove ourselves to ourselves for so called nothingness and absence of human existence or awareness are not synonymous, eons simple episodes during which nothingness arising from emptiness is not only a non sequitur but a non plus, though the answer to the question 'What is is....??' admittedly remains a killer.
Including the ultimate 'Where does the Universe itself originate? What is this dark, cosmic fabric, this invisible cloth both holding and pushing around glittering mirror balls like the interior of some giant pinball machine, without tilt or flippers to stop it all or keep it going? A Wurlitzer Jukebox in the sky, only an awful lot larger? Or as in Jacques Brel's La Valse à Mille Temps, and includes not only raging suns and all their obedient planets but according to this minstrel our minds as well? (On the other hand I'm glad everything spins or without gravity we'd slide right off and out, and then what? No more ham and eggs, no more Superbowl, the end of all passion and love?)
-About the Big Bang theory: First there was nothing, and then it exploded... If you can figure that one out, please give me a call!
But then in all that darkness... LIGHT! Perhaps by itself only tamed violence, and sure light are traveling particles but what's inside the particle, this photon carrying an electric load, where did it get it, where did this come from, what is it, that is to say what exactly is this glow... getting the upper hand, ever so briefly defeating obscurity? Or is it some sort of dust, an explosion's dust, therefore sun dust? And again what is this thing called energy? What really are electro-magnetism, heat, cold, this light, gravity and all their waves? Yes, we do know their manifestations, but can you put one in a paper bag for me? OK, thanks, but wait, on second thought I'll have 1 pound of each, plus 1 can of gravitons! For together they not only make us and nearby things move, but also matter and mass millions upon millions of miles away! All of which we eloquently note, describe, measure and calculate - and by the grace of which we live and die - but still cannot factually explain?
As for the rest and sofar most modern western thought not so much the case of pure perception as busy dealing with its own mechanics, a bursting into action called will; i.e. to be is to do. And mainly providing some sort of indexation while pretending to supply certainty through carefully constructed theoretical truths no more real than those large, inane and inanimate wax figures in morbid musea staring us in the face. Or something like Gustave Courbet's The Origin of the World, a portrait hyper grotesque and equally self-absorbed. And yet with ultimate intellectual perversion some brazenly suggesting that we're not even here, that everything is an illusion though after onion soup a toilet door regrettably left ajar pretty well kills off this notion.
Still, with all of this there's absolutely no doubt that a mind stays undernourished and utterly useless without developed senses, except for the cerebellum of course, the electric impulse controlling our muscles so we can move around and ingest in order to keep alive. Whereby there's no cognition without sensory perception, but where - except in Plato's Cave and in the form of allegory - are the dissertations that include references to the brain itself, our touch, our ears and our eyes, our neurology? The stuff vacuum-sealed, bottled-thought custodians still ignore, but of which these days entire populations are aware? Those curators who will react to a massive overhaul of modern thinking only if imposed by some Deus Ex Machina, which never seems to arrive. For in established philosophy and academically speaking is the nose not glamorous enough? And what is it exactly that sounds created by Schubert, Rachmaninoff or Prince make us cry or shiver with joy, unleashing emotions that affect our reasoning, not even phenomenologists touching on the flesh, the blood, the daily reality of sentience? Yes, which Kant's or Schopenhauer's internal and external paths coincided in each of them, their neurons, neurotransmitters and hormones to make them arrive at their thought? And should we not first and foremost accept the absolute primacy of certain objects and conditions: a rock not nearly as inert as we think and still capable of flowing, or else temperature, it rains, this gravity, oxygen, you know.... details like this? Far removed from human interpretation, memory and Gutenberg tooled retention in order to once and for all prevent the damned tail from wagging the dog or the damned cog from pretending to be the machine?
Q: Umberto! Why o why didn't you write: The Name of the Nose? Especially when even a phenomenologist won't...
A: Che cazzo, ragazzo; whatta are you talking about!?
But wait that's not all, what if the praying mantis were the size of a horse? I don't think we'd be writing and reading like this at all! Life by itself not only a blessed chemical incident, but a biological battle of proportions, man luckily and by accident turning out to be about the right size given the measure of this planet. Providing him with enough living space to walk away from displeasure or misadventure often by careful choice, and thereby luckily not the owner of a physical structure so large that he could have stepped over a small mountain or a large hill as in mythology, in Gullivers Travels or like Gargantua and Pantagruel, else - and like the dinosaur - he would have disappeared long ago. On the other hand movies have been made with men the size of microbes or insects, all of which would have created an entirely different situation on earth and could easily have been the case yet never taken into account in thrall as we are with ourselves, the terrific way we are. So that strictly speaking what we have and what we are and despite all that momentary but totally circumstantial prominence of ours is not only thanks to the hand and that wonderful thumb allowing the use of tools and therefore manual actions and multi-tasking indirectly leading to our cerebrum's gradual expansion, as for that matter the presence of the all important clitoris and our subsequent brawn, but to the accident of comparative proportion. Our physical ranking and consequent clever defensive thinking in dealing with all mortal dangers confronting us. Of course I'm lighthearted but believe mre or not, size does matter...
Whereby it still does and always did come down to the same, and remains the canard: I know, who else's, but our superficial take on the world and beyond rules all only because so far no tangible 'outside' condition prevails showing or teaching us anything clearer or superior. Careful, tangible I said.... But should it even exist in all likelihood and by definition superior therefore enslave, patronize or ridicule, and then what? Who wins? Anyway even if this is a strictly academic point it should still be taken into account if anything to force open and humble the clam of our mind.
My position then, with ultimate wisdom, can't we shrug it off for now? Does there absolutely have to be a 'take'? Has the foul, this different whiff of reckless certainty and learned self-importance not become quite unbearable? Even dangerous in places? Doctors of Divinity and Philosophy at one point having to be dragged out of their sanctum sanctorum, their Prius car or own mind so something like their mirror might help them get over themselves? Getting shocked into reality the way I was by a quick but sobering look at my own skeleton through a revealing X-Ray? Reminding me of my total nakedness and all of us too often forgetting that most of our convictions are linked to moments of structural self-assurance timeless only in our head?!
So yes, why not send the tenured and the ordained alone and naked into the Kalahari? While there re-igniting unbiased curiosity and uncertainty, for instance noticing an animal's hide or plumage perfectly assimilating the colours of surrounding? Pure trickery, for defence or for offence, by optical, mimetic, non-tactile transfer, and nature's way of deceiving, the place where we too must have first learned to pretend and lie through our teeth?
No, I won't get into the kinetic force of it, other than to say this is not contact osmosis. But only one example of somewhere along the line a different, invisible perception/awareness between the animate and the inert occurs that we can't explain and must have included some sort of primal recognition factor. Colours and fake shadows turning into stunning camouflages far, far removed from old parchments, dead idioms, sublime theories and notions. Enough to reject stolid pontification over the excitement of discovery, and also seeing how long our desert dweller's severe thirst for intellectual certainty outlasts the need for a simple gulp of H2O. For up to now are they, nay, most of us not mere well-fed, self-immersed loungers, owners of self-pleasuring speculation and abstraction instead of acknowledging that our only legitimate possession is the sensuous, the strictly local bearing witness to it all? Even if such down to earth love and admiration goes unrequited, life a beautiful but often lousy lover only interested in itself, not persé in us?
Ah, yes, I can picture it now! A stark naked body only wearing purple socks to protect it from the burning sand and some all-ear elephant shouting 'Man, how can he breathe through that ridiculous little thing or even pick a peanut off the ground!?' Or if he were an uncovered she, some wayward, roaming camel roaring 'Hey Joe, dig those puny humps!'. Though probably, and after having cleansed him or herself of all jaded assumption, our nude and two-legged walker starting to fabricate all over again. Amid apparent earthiness still seeking applause and confirmation: finding a tall monolith, sitting down on it to come up with brand new dreams or extravagant explanations and expectations, the way old Simon of the Desert did. But why, for as soon as we stopped building altars and temples and started building hospitals we became so much better off? And what a bad habit all of this exalted thinking, like with this COVID-19 business and how ridiculously contradictory it gets. The king of paradoxes more than dead-on, the faithful doubly condemned when muezzins urge not to come pray at the mosque, instead do so at home! And also not to travel to Mecca, or even dream of touching the Black Stone. Or else the Catholic Church canceling the Pope's St. Peter's blessing or for fear of contamination cutting of the flow of holy water in cathedrals around the world! Proof all this, all props, all theatre. What, isn't holy water supposed to heal? Or is it that when the going gets tough, God ain't home? Heaven in lockout and lockdown? The incredible nerve of it all, and yet the thirst for it unquenchable somehow!
I sometimes wish we were all dyslexic atheist philosophers, properly exclaiming that we simply don't believe in dogs. For the salient question is not how or why life and then make up a tall story as if we were some kind of stopover at the last-chance saloon, but why the question itself! Everyone always asking what is the meaning and destiny of man, but unless you're someone like Kafka and his impossibility of crows, nobody simultaneously asks what is the meaning and destiny of elks and elephants, simply because it's like asking what is the use of elks and elephants, which is none except for their extraordinary grace. And that it is precisely the meaning of elephants - who also have a memory, mourn and cry like us - still not to have a specific purpose so that perhaps we should accept that yes indeed we're those creatures, with not as much distinction between our temples, basilicas or shrines and ant hills as we think. Except maybe for the first of these having a spire and being ornate on the inside with lots of stained glass. And the real difference between us that whereas they can't... we most certainly don't question enough; in particular those misleading, cooked up stories of ours.
All of these keeping the field uneven, maintaining ourselves as the silly beasts we shouldn't be, only smart enough to lock the others up inside a Zoo and what kind of victory is that?! Which raises that other immortal question: What exactly is the point of purpose? Is there one? And does real, immediate danger not provide our only close-up, often short-lived 'meaning'? Just as on another level and when standing before a masterpiece we shouldn't question it, beauty or ingenuity understood, self-evident, mystery and answer intertwined!? Ah, to be born inside a puzzle.... So that when it comes to daily existence, yes we must constantly and courageously ask all the pertinent questions with one exception, the last, the final, the ultimate killer, the big WHY! Because those so obsessed with it in a certain sense... have they not already mostly stopped living? Our real walking dead, killed not by curiosity but consumed by severe narcissism resulting in greed and brought-on hatred in defense of highly selfish and self-serving notions and dreams?!
- Notre Appétit-d'être doit surmonter notre Raison-d'être, the only solution, our only real hope! Forget Ennui, Forget Weltschmerz, instead do something commonly useful for people you don't even know!
It's a fact, there has been only one animal to ever tame himself, with time learning how no longer to raid, pillage, and murder to survive but to trade and install traffic lights, yet after this courageous corporal uncaging immediately starting to cage his mind. This animal, later known as man, simple jumper become ringmaster after breaking loose from the food chain spoiling it all by trying to place the entire universe on his minuscule shoulders, yet in the end unable to accept that sentience essentially changes nothing! In the process accumulating and piling up suffocating wisdom to towering heights by learning to preserve it and permanently pass it on. For contrary to frivolous lore it's not prostitution, but philosophy that's our oldest and most painful profession, though certainly not as well paid. And significant the day we discovered we could even invent 'knowledge', and nothing would strike us down. I'm speaking here not of the so-called original sin, but again, of the original lie. Yes, in classical Greek the word philosophy means "love of sophia, knowledge and wisdom", but isn't it a fact we loved it so much that we started manufacturing it? Simultaneously mystifying and sanctifying it as time went by? Received and soon revered wisdom beefed up more than anything to cater to something deep inside our human psyche, namely our extraordinary vanity, our unquenchable thirst for survival, our need for order, but mostly our dual addiction to certainty and the still deeper emotional need to feel wanted? Knowledge manipulated the way a child closes its eyes pretending it's no longer there, temporarily living in a world with which it feels more comfortable, but unlike certain grown-ups one from which it wakes up no matter what? The formal study of which the pious investigation of old innuendo, of half-truth and fantastical conjecture with all recent doubt quashed practically before these studies are undertaken, in places where anything new gets barred?
Ah, yes, isn't it wonderful..... Everything certain, everything definite, everything definitive even if none of this can be found or seen anywhere under the stars. Just close your eyes and mind and simply forge it in the way that you've always managed, plus the Messiah's on his way anyway so you can celebrate him once a week and pop his balloons. Even better if on top of all this you can self-induce some sincerity; though hundreds of mostly man-child soothsayers of the cloth will by example teach you how to fake even this! In other words an excellent variation on the adage No Sex Please, We're British: Absolutely No Doubts or Change, Please, We're Humans! A set of circumstances and states of mind leading directly to official fantasies, dogma, endless theory and the often terrible powers of possessive suggestion.
What mastery! What control! King of the hill, top of the heap, are we? Yes Sir! But perhaps more like a fantasizing ostrich sticking its head and neck deep into the sand proclaiming it's the Sovereign of the Savannah, forgetting its feathered arse sticks out and subject to laughter or savage attack. Plus speaking of darkness, unlike the momentary closed eyes of that child, a child eventually snapping out of it, what if we had all been born moles, subterraneans, eyeless, yet somehow still with the same ingenuity? How would 'knowledge' have evolved? For there is no molecular reason there cannot be intelligent life without the same old exterior reference points. And would we then have 'imagined' light, days, mountains, oceans, still have invented our gods, our Virgins, Messiah, heaven, the heavens, never even having seen daybreak, seen a bloody thing but darkness? Or no eyes, no skies, and so no pies....? At any rate, for those deriding this playful notion, perhaps they should be more generous, remembering that only the truly free can play freely. Those never guilty of what others have done for centuries, which is... labouring under assumptions and prescribed suppositions a lot. The kind of mental rigidity that led to serious religious and intellectual territorialism and that like his nationalisms have made man earth's disastrous tenant: eyes firmly fixed on chosen truths, brain function whenever possible suspended and detained. As opposed to that child's make-believe world, mind free, not frozen, meandering, generously sharing all his discoveries with other children on the block, though sometimes even kid stuff is objectionable as if there were no rotten kids...
Don't touch that sky, don't touch that mountain, don't touch that theory, it's Sacred, it's Holy, Grrrr, IT'S OURS..!! Better still, and individually, IT's MINE, MINE..!!
Let's face it, to a blind man all the world goes naked. Affirming that human perception and intelligence are pretty circumstantial and by definition conditional. And what about wisdom, knowledge's incidental step-child, isn't it also bewilderingly relative, particularly in the additional light of everything written in and around us having been so blatantly self-rigged? Oh dear, does this a sinner make, the refusal to be that submissive, ever following, meek lamb Agnus Dei? (Thou shalt not eat from the tree of knowledge: Genesis, to which it's proper to respond Sapere Aude: Dare to Think.) Or a positivist and an irascible polemicist? A reductionist? An objectivist? A well-meaning, doubting relativist then? And so on, and so on. Well, no, no, no, no and no again because laborers in the sagacity, veneration or dignity trade measured elevated speculation against measured elevated speculation, and what is being attempted here is to remove beautiful irrelevance gently in its entirety from its august but withering plinth. Placing it in the playroom, away from that addiction to deterministic promise --- the battle between reason and desire, between fact and fancy having been uneven far too long.
For hasn't the time come to cease inventing certainties covering that arse? Because I once saw an exhibition of aquarelles produced by Down Syndrome children and they were the most unusual and unimaginably beautiful works of art that I have ever seen. Pointing towards a beguiling world all their own, not one beneath us, but one rivaling ours. And by saying the body perishes and cleverly suggesting the spirit is immortal, in other words that death is birth, where in religion and for that matter in philosophy can this hidden Mongaloid world be found? What happens after our chemicals happen to settle into a different mixture and texture, altering gods and playing fields? Do established disciplines really have any idea what such a person sees and feels, presumably no less real to him or her? And will their 'soul' forever carry on this way: if so where will 'it' end up? 'Truth' and 'relevance' only to be found in quantity then, in volume, because fewer of these people at stake? Yes, what and where is more real, decided upon by whom, especially when the choice is not between onion soup reality or illusion, but between reality that for one reason or another... is multiple? Anyway, since we're so damn mechanized perhaps one day we'll come up with a reality machine or else bifocal reality lenses, accurately measuring and determining what's true, real and relevant. Dealing with things like sophistry and its many respectable guises, by implication presenting soothing definitions yet representing mostly suitable nonsense, not much more. Or mysticism, escapism of the highest order, though happily mystics don't murder much. Alchemy and black magic then, treated with contempt these days, but not the rest of the hocus-pocus--- collective rationality somehow stopped half way downroad, turned inside out rolling itself into a ball before kicking itself anywhere it wishes to go. Reason turned surreal, or at least slipped into the skin of irrational notions with few noticing or volunteering to admit what's going on.
Most if not all of this evolving in the epoch between Euclid and Copernicus, when we were visited upon by a thousand years of darkness, a time of reason lost when most of the damage was sustained; the birth of insidious intellectual perversion. For the reason Greek and Roman thinkers were such astute theorists mainly because they were free-thinkers, unburdened by intellectual straight-jackets, checks, dogmatic halls of mirrors, double curtains and traps or having to worry about Christmas coming up. Though let it be noted that for all their zeal and just like Jefferson many of these boys owned slaves, fabled democracy for them alone, nobody else, without any problem relegating an entire group of humans to permanent, imposed subservience and servitude. As if these other individuals were useful domesticated animals and meaning that they themselves were not all genius but - though healthy and free well-adjusted debaters - imperfect, inconsistent, crude and cruel, not compassionate at all and morally completely flawed. But at least daring to explore, people within Amor Fati and in strictly abstract terms believing more in civility among 'equals' in a community, than in immortality when after a millennium or more of monotheism and the promise of it all we have to show for are murder, deceit and oppression in massive attempts to corner fluid thought. Whereby - and everything taken care of under some religious law - we're allowed to kill others without risking our own eternity; isn't that just superb?
Even now this persisting twilight, these lingering fogs in so many quarters on this planet - which also includes New-Agers who are already quite mad - or else the truistical notions of Intelligent Design or Directed Creationism in Thermo-underwear as I call it and all of it nothing more than yet another confirmation job - and all this because of the primal need of these and so many others to have someone or something look after them. Yet all too soon leads to the lethal childishness that under some belief systems allows the dropping of bombs in order to make - if not prove - not only a ridiculous but often such a tragic and fragile point. The incapacity then of some to accept doubt, discovery and natural spontaneity in any shape or form, including the observation of the so much smarter part of creation that followed the first chemical explosion of life. The self-perpetuation spark that for a relatively lengthy number of days overrides our demise. The as far as I'm concerned true miracle involved, this here-and-now business of mine described here at many turns and one we should try much harder to remain part yet not attempt to own either, resulting in the hard materialism and disharmony of our Boeings and skyscrapers.
I mean the primeval soup starting to move by itself and turning solid is already amazing, but it jumping out of the pot and beginning to make new little soups is outright astonishing and mesmerizing. That spark travelling unaccompanied towards and picking a suitable partner sometimes miles away together making sure they not only endure but carry on the fire with the variety of ingenious seduction and recognition mechanisms harboured inside all plants and pants. Still signalling eventual disappearance, yes of course, but simultaneously linking a degree of natural renewal through sexual desire, by itself this masterful libidinal bag of tricks. I mean is there anything more ingenious for us humans than a well-timed erection or a pulsating clitoris? I can think of none! And yet some folks still incapable of wonder and marvel, addicted to built-in, ready-made, life-vest theories as they are. Quickly enforced and augmented by way of threat and terror as in 'holy' punishment and as preposterous as was the case of hanging 'witches' in Salem based on Monty Python style deductive reasoning.
- True intelligence creates awareness
- The first notion it produces, recognising the self
- The second notion, to ask the self a question
- This question: Why?
- The third notion, finding the answer
- The one immediately implied, pinpointing purpose
- Man in search of purpose as much as needing a morsel of bread, a gulp of breath
- The difference that he can make the former up, compromising his true intelligence, and a greater tragedy than death.
- Off with saviours and amulets.
The beauty of open courage, the beauty of randomness, the never ending natural eruption and combustion escaping those who make sure that absolutely nothing interferes with their convenient, static, arbitrary, crutch creed explanations; and so never ever dissuaded as obstinacy always confirms their gratuitous desperation. Because the attempted elimination of certain fixed ideas to them akin to some sort of spiritual lobotomy in the face of which they jump on a horse, draw monstrous swords, howl ferociously and fearlessly attack disagreeing strangers. When strictly speaking 'we' can't 'know' anything, a savage but beautiful gnosis never to be entirely ours for the simple reason that the real, the overall not the partial truth is both enormous and short, mobile and fast. Yes Veritas Odit Moras, the truth hates delay, yet it still and often remains beyond us and simply can't be copied, caught, bought, contained or otherwise domesticated; not for private use as it rises above us like a magnificent but sometimes clouded mountain top.
Collective delusion making religion so addictive, even to a paleontologist and scientist like Teilhard de Chardin who despite millions of years of overwhelming contrary natural evidence staring him in the face managed to remain a Jesuit priest and thus a cake eating, fence sitting creationist, and for some apparently a way to legitimise and confirm themselves by falsely anchoring down. Plus especially Roman Catholicism manifesting underpinnings of erotic connotation not only directed at the Holy Virgin, but as reflected by Bernini's sculpture of Teresa de Avila's total ecstasy on the wonderful occasion of a cherub penetrating her with God's golden rod... But first visit the Santa Maria della Vittoria church in Rome and see the damn thing before you dispute this point, and do look at the lush cold marble before you'll note the only thing missing.... a deep and satisfied blush on her face. Sex so much more than the physical, orgasmic, the blind drive of multiplication, at a deeper level confirming, making man feeling not just accepted, but wanted, needed, cared for. With religion, while by itself not in need of man falsely I feel still seen to protect and thereby confirm and so identical to sex making people feel so very wanted and loved. And then of course whoever is wanted and loved must be SAFE? Right? Sex and religion, both strong and completely irrational sentiments sharing an irrepressible desire for belonging, a lair from which and for which many will kill if threatened by eviction. Or from where to prudishly divert eyes from what really is the case inside and with our most unsentimental universe.
- Q: Sir, do you believe?
- A: I do! I do!Yes, indeed!
- Q: Not a just-in-caser?
- A: The very best, I assure you!
- Q: What the hell does that mean?
- A: It was a firm decision!
- Q: So not a natural believer? More like closing a business deal?
- A: That's a harsh assessment...
- Q: Really?
So that it is just as derisory for the gullible to claim all is well, that we're needed and looked after purely on the basis of fairy tales as it is an extreme form of arrogance shutting all doors to mystery suggesting we already know everything there is to know. In other words we should exclude nothing, but believe in very little and also admit that centuries of mainly self-stroking musings have not been a complete waste, far from it, even though our now dead white males have turned out to be not only quite pale but rather stale. Extremely useful musings making ethics systemic as they turned life bearable whereas ire, indignation, envy, greed, disrespect, unreasonable perceptions of shame, fear-induced hatred, retribution and vengeance are all tools... to kill. On one level making us understand the structures and mechanics of language, of feelings, of aim of thoughts, never mind the hundreds of immature and juvenile conclusions that in the process were arrived at: but all of it simply moral teething and part of our growing up. Work, even though radiant considering the primitive times in which they were conceived, never to be taken as an end onto itself. As for instance Spinoza's dozen or so formulae first 'proving' there is a single creator and telling us that God is everything, then concluding in his Ethica that on the contrary, everything is God and thereby to all intents and purposes becoming a free-spirited naturalist atheist nobly turning his back on constructed belief, on constructed meaning, in this respect well ahead of and by a couple of centuries pre-dating Kierkegaard and his 'accompanied' existentialism. 'Accompanied' because of the continued attempt by a magnificently depressing Danish fence sitter to have his cake and eat it, too! Preaching human love while wildly incapable of extending it and yet unwilling to let go not only of religion's mandates, but all its false and pretty comforts, its properties, priorities, proprieties...
Like Kant's de facto and safely sticking to some abstract God code, some God-figure, but still called one of our first modern rationalists. Or else someone like Sartre who agreed with Hume saying the inner self is a delusion, writing that our consciousness resides fully in the outside world, that there is no world apart from the external world, before declaring that experience can no longer be seen as a process of assimilation in which information is incorporated into a personal body of knowledge. Hello? What kind of idiotic, contradicting nonsense is this? At the same time maintaining humanism is a condescending bourgeois tool, while in total denial of the inherent tyranny of anti-humanism. Then incongruently define individual sovereignty and freedom for us while remaining an unapologetic Stalinist or having the audacity to denigrate freedom delivering America and its allies in order to laud the lunatic keeper of that vast prison called Cuba. A smart French moral charlatan who approved of revolutionary blood-letting for abstract ideals while he sat sipping drinks in a comfortable Paris café. A typical situation of obstinate thinking and erroneous loyalties unsurprisingly leading to concrete betrayals and in the latter's case not only spurious but duplicitous reasoning by the lecherous lover I long ago baptized Jean-Paul Satyr... As with de Beauvoir's political savvy, from the same café in 1939 naively maintaining that all fear of Hitler was grossly exaggerated, then repeat her stunning moral and political insight when it came to Mao 10 years on while condemning Camus' revolt against the concept of bloody revolution... as cowardice! No less! Of course there's absolutely nothing wrong with female desire, but a feminist claiming the freedom to sexually manipulate like the worst of them, mixing existentialism with libertinism, is not the shining example of all that she wrote. More like a deliberate second fiddle and night escort, composing a tome on female perfection succeeding admirably on that score as she remained many a mandarin's and experimentally a few ladies' lapdog and still royally got away with this! Cheri, je prendrai un café-au-lit avec toi, mais cette fois-ci pas trop fort... Or else that despicable Heildigger lowering his antisemitic Bavarian Lederhosen to get into wood nymph Hannah's pants, unless this is the tale of a cool and cunning young Jewish piglet bagging the big bad butcher by inviting him in. Either way a man who's still taken seriously merely because his massive, deliberately impenetrable liturgy reads like a Jackson Pollock drip painting offering consistent asymmetric density by the m2 that only pleases professional strivers and snobs. With one big difference in that stepping back from a Pollock work, in particular his Number 21, or Mural, they become unmistakenly beautiful just like their polysphere cousin Cold Dark Matter by the deliciously inventive sculptor Cornelia Parker.
So no, let's just call a spade a spade and brand a lot of this - even if not all the time - inconsistent, paradoxal, pretentious intellectual and moral posturing, more than enough to temper our natural urge towards always latent hero-worship. At least the way today it comes across to ordinary, honest, investigative citizens. As with modern language-based deconstruction theories which, pursued to their extreme lead to a nasty case of decomposition: figure skating all of it, circles beautifully drawn, exquisite axles and soaring triple toe loops, just about choking the bishop in mid-air and much coveted medals in the end, seeking, seeking perhaps, but always stuck in the same bloody freezing ice rink. Beckett stumbling upon it, in Godot, Lucky's soliloquy to be precise, suggesting that massive words don't constitute more life, deliver more meaning or freedom, necessarily deliver anything. And on another level also this simple analogy to ponder: recently Swiss aero-dynamic engineers scientifically 'proving' that it's quite impossible for our dear old bumble-bee... to fly!
Or what about all those notions of time then? Besides the filling in of distance, isn't time mostly the mental space in which we move? Isn't our ontological 'zeit' immaterial in terms of the universe, given that in all our thinking the fatal inhibitor is our own ephemeral fire-fly status, that old three score and ten business disqualifying us from participating in issues of enormity, making much vaunted relativity theories so relative that to us and strictly speaking they become null and void? Lost in the endless waters of space and motion, at least as far as physical man is concerned? And if you don't agree, Prof Dr Heinz Zweidrei-Klean and Herr Dr Schneewittchen of the Max Planck Institute of Extra-terrestrial Physics have accepted to investigate my point, but indicate they'll need 1.3 million 'years' to prove or disprove it. Yes, yes, I jest, but don't they? Because in biological terms aren't we mere temporary syntheses? No Travelling Wilburys, but travelling particles and molecules if not amoebas, in cosmic terms somewhat ingenious, electro-chemical flames? Yes, man the flame, with the earth and all of life a slow burning fire. Even the tree, that humble bumble-bee, extensions of an even larger fire until he, they or it burn off. And yes, yes, life the flame does repeat itself, but never by leaving things the way they were, making our conjugation 'is', a very, very relative and tenuous one....
Meaning that in the same way that we must deal with inherited credo much more knowingly, we must equally accept that there are limits to our importance and perception. That there will always be more than that smallest universe of them all: this space behind our eyes and between our ears. Images of galaxies that don't care about us and thrust into clusters, but reaching us by way of 'old' light. The grand irony of something on the surface of things taking place right now, but having been concluded and changed into something entirely different millions of 'our' rotations ago, and so to us no longer a factual 'truth'. That this to us is a bit of an impractical, nay, futile spectacle at which point it is best to sit down, have a cold beer, relax, and pretend that the red galaxy we saw through our Hubble mirror telescope was a squirt of ketchup on a lens. That astonished as we are to find an atom is in fact another pint-sized universe where protons and neutrons dance and dance to the tune of their quarks, but that all we can do is watch and watch, forever the innocent spectator! A solar system with whirling bodies of its own and earth for all we know a proton in an atom in a molecule of some giant leg of lamb, making us the quantum and forcing us to stand back and reflect at levels we never contemplated before. Discovering that only looking at particles not at ourselves is beginning to understand the universe is one enigmatic system, that the cosmos as a womb or a universe inside a universe inside a universe and so on are all distinct possibilities and our 'playing with and inside this space' though all too human, though not uninteresting also not determinant whatsoever, merely representative of an entirely in itself remarkable but highly uneven, volatile and often self-defeating intellect. Whereby those Big Bang or 'unifying' String theories should not become obsessions in that there could be many space bangs and ripples, folds and strands beyond our mental range, imagination or sight, the fifth essence or the unknowable dimensions as they're called perhaps and requiring a totally new, a seventh sense. Allow only that presumably there is a method to the cosmic chaos, given that not all chaos is madness. And that, again, while not having to give up all exploration which is in our blood, man has to remain much, much more philosophical in the truest, purest sense: above all no dogma or doctrine at the end of which particularly forbidding, supposedly 'wise' men tend to lose no sleep over calling for mass murder and mayhem! Man, while basically intelligent still too often caught up in what can only be described as unfortunate self-absorbed, self-inflicted attitudinal stupidity, deprived of any and all grasp.
All of it very well and sometimes entertaining though what does it all really matter when there's every possibility the human species itself might have disappeared or been eclipsed in say 20.000, 30.000 years in the way that strains of insects were found frozen in time and inside droplets of primordial amber? Man the new fossil, our current collective umbilical cord already stretched to roughly 200.000 years, isn't it going to snap at one point? There being only so much genetic mileage to be extracted from the overly complex human mammal, plus given that as organised societies we've been around a scant 8000 'years' (with our very limited perspective branding the first of these as existing in 'antiquity', though happily one historian when asked what influence the Roman Empire had exercised on modern western society retorted that it was much too recent a situation for him to comment on!), and yet not organised enough to suspend the depletion of our planet when looking at its diseased atmosphere, oceans and forests, its festering coastlines?
(Image provided by the magnificent young sculptor and sub aqua artist Jason de Caires Taylor, see Jason Taylor )
Of course it can be argued that there's nothing to worry about, that nothing disappears in thin air, the earth 'forever' feeding on itself in the way that forests live on their own fallen leaves, branches and trunks, over the ages pumping up hundreds of thousands of tons of oxygen each day, the very atmosphere and topsoil covering otherwise inhospitable rock. But then also consider that we may be too clever to survive, humanity not that forest, only one among its many branches, one becoming way too heavy for its own good and ready to break. Or put differently, humanity found hanging from its own family tree, done in by natural factors which include itself, the sad case of Omphalos broken, lost...
And even upon some unforeseen genetic renewal starting another life cycle on another planet, this only representing a potential stay of execution seeing how we constantly foul the incubator. On the other hand here's an idea, how about shooting all our horrible waste to some barren celestial body? We can already do this, and unlike down here... up there's there's plenty of space! Plus and unless this time round we ourselves decided to arrive as a pollen instead of a virus, come to pollinate and bloom rather than infect, but despite all our missteps that most marvelous thing of all: deserving it or not... still getting this final choice to make! One not to get screwed up through deadly narrow-mindedness by way of one-dimensionality, either way on some hopefully very, very distant day bequeathing ghostly piles of vine-covered rubble, formerly known as New York City, Cairo, Shanghai: Angkor Wat on the Hudson, the Nile, the Yangtze. Anyway, for the time being having to forget about walking our dog along the Milky Way or open a bar on Mars (Ah, yes, those Mars bars, and what a lousy atmosphere...), today everyone fighting over how it all began, biological evolution or divine creation, but few daring to ask how it'll all end. And not apocalyptic claptrap this, only that at the very least and at one point there'll follow an organic scaling down, a drastic planetary housekeeping of Permian or Cretaceous proportion probably followed by a whole new Cambrian explosion and not because anyone says so, but because of the way things clearly work. The chemical seasons of all matter, everything chemical, everything always on the move and fermenting, the majestic but unequivocal seasons of being. That, mutatis mutandis, constant molecular processing and being processed are the only way delicious life can exist and thrive in spurts. Even our social and political forces representing a mitosis of a kind, the organic splitting of 'cells' and 'thought' followed by new formations all the time!
With this I mean let's move away from sophisticated but fearing sentimentalism, at last injecting some courageous pragmatism and realism. Because when two of among millions of galaxies collide, events taking tens of millions of our years to culminate, how can Jesuits, Jews, Salafists, Sikhs and so many other gentlemen for instance, still now really, really believe that this is all with them in mind? (And speaking of being of one mind, but of two worlds... I once saw a hasidic chap praying standing up with his nose close against the wall in the corner of a crowded Paris Air France's First Class lounge prior to boarding a plane to Montreal, no one knowing what exactly he was hoping for, but everyone reasonably certain that it excluded the rest of us). So deny that their ardent extra-existential reveries and vanities and accompanying dieties, their pursuit of certain dis-realities and dis-identities not mere, contrived survival tools which do create a degree of solidarity among groups and tribes, but also lead to out-of-hand ambition and certain elitism often justifying de facto inquisitions? Creed fulfilling an imaginary need, but so often employed to attack? Yes, belief become the psychopath, a weapon in itself in places where clerics with a lot of nerve routinely bless machine guns in defence of religions auto-proclaimed as 'of peace'. Except of course when one dares to ignore, disagree, disobey or simply look the wrong way at which time one gets blown to someone else's kingdom come. For some faith a tool applied to serve a political agenda, for others the malady called 'self-celebration', linked to 'petrified conviction' or acute 'dogmatitis' followed by 'worshipitis', the daily fix of delusion all too often no longer played out as symbolic pantomime, but as a perfect herd-instinct cult. As a result becoming some sort of enduring pandemic covering entire parts of the globe, places where dilemmas don't exist; again everything approved, most certain and enforced! Or is all this simply fear of 'boire la mer'? Man innately terrorised by endlessness, forever wrapping himself in cocoons? Filling this endlessness with endless factual emptiness? His struggle with mortality, infinity and space so acute that he must set boundaries, shores, respite, by way of made-up answers as buoys? Fearing he's drowning before he has begun to swim, and akin to an airplane pilot in combat with vacuity setting an artificial horizon... so he won't crash?
(Lion to Lioness, peering over the Maasai Mara veldt)- What the hell is that....!!!???
(Her, spotting a Wildebeest with a long, black beard)- I think it's an orthodox Gnu!!
(Him, puzzled)- No kidding! What else is Gnu...!
(Her)- It doesn't matter, does it? He's different and cute!
(Him)- But only if he knows he's from this Kingdom, like that Acacia tree!
(Her) - One of us, no matter what?
(Elephant) - I'm all ears...
(Him)- But convictions what they are... likely a more difficult task!
(Elephant) - I'm all ears...
(Her)- What are you saying, that Super-Gnu's not in the stars?
(Him)- Yup! So stop Gnu-flecting!
(Her)- I only genuflect and bow before you!
(Him)- Don't overdo it, honey!
(Elephant) - Man, here I thought I'd heard it all...
Creed, ethnic origin, traditions and institutions, the eminent Dr Lévi-Strauss tells us, a by-product of a world that started without us and one day will end without us. Einstein in his 'God' letter, rightly I feel, acknowledging as much. A place where despite appearances, and without any disrespect to anyone, we all did come from the same stardust and like it or not end up in the same cosmic cauldron. So that for now and on the purely physical level let's at least realise that tectonic plates and all their seismic activity are still capable of keeping the world's crust slowly but violently on the move. That a small planetary wobble can make all mammals including man extinct, that volcanic ash-induced ice ages covering continents with hundreds of meters of unliveable deep frost are not a thing of the past; in short that life and the earth have not stopped evolving now that we're here. That whale skulls and enormous jawbones have been found high up in the Peruvian Andes and that pink salt is mined in the Himalayas which only means one thing, and that is that these majestic mountains also were extended seabed once. Or else that hyena fossils have been found high up in the Canadian arctic indicating that these lands weren't so arctic at a certain point in time. And that lush northern Africa covered with savannahs and lakes turned into the burning Sahara less than 12 000 years ago, with fossils of giant sharks, sawfish and electric rays dating back 50 millions years getting dug up in what today is the Libyan desert and deadly dry, barren Mali. Plus that what is currently known as the Black Sea was once a low lying sweet water inland lake with sophisticated Thracian settlements at its shores predating the Egyptian Pyramids by at least 2000 years. Tribes suddenly finding themselves swept away at the receiving end of a huge Mediterranean salt water flood, after the fact and much later described as being of 'biblical' proportion, originating at the Bosporus after glaciers and ice caps at the top of the earth had melted to substantially raise sea levels during epochs of extreme global warming.
And that none of this had anything to do with human activity or divine punishment, so that while it behooves us to stop cutting down trees and bloody well clean up our plastics and industrial act, greenhouse periods also form part of planetary seasons making that we'll always only be the flame that jumped into the flambé pan, that off-spring of light, that spark in boots, in trousers and skirts, that short wild dance in the universe together with our bosom friends, those superb plants and their amazing architecture, those wonderful insects and those sometimes bizarre looking striped, spotted, hoofed, pawed, clawed, scaled, horned, finned, furred or feathered cousins of ours. A ball, a dance, too crazy, too magnificent to end until the fires die, only to spring up elsewhere in that long, long night... likely with entirely new music to dance to and starring unrecognizable creatures and crops.
We, for now, the third force between volcanic and solar action only until these very fires through core exhaustion and solidification or else some sort of collision decide to alter everything, and we're not so quietly asked to dematerialise. Adaptation by disappearance as it's called and also referred to as the evolution of extinction. Unless of course we did manage to get away, circling a new sun/star by way of moon, asteroid or planet hopping, a long-distance yellow cab. But NONE of these aspects adequately reflected in contemporary philosophical treatises and dissertations having come to public attention, still carefully looking inward and the other way, building outmoded thought on outmoded thought only for completely adrift academic purposes. In which no free and open philosophical search takes place, parasitical positions firmly re-taken from 9 to 5, all subsequent energy getting wasted in defending these. With abstruseness sometimes bordering the perverse lacking any link to people's lives, as if the word 'new' itself anathema, with the cultural divide between science and the contemplative humanities a case of two solitudes. As for the rest, this has nothing to do with the quality of our thinkers, but over the centuries and even now where out of some sort of obedience they arbitrarily apply what is commonly called premature closure, truncated reasoning likened by me to serious intellectual coitus interruptus. Through convention compartmentalised or ideologically lobotomised man not only carefully painting, but feeling and thinking by number. Constructing sometimes admirable yet by now incomplete thought, dismissive of the idea that what is required is not more mental spinning... but more courage and a minimum degree of metaphysical defiance.
Yes, slow, essential change making all things tick, is assuming that we can stop and linger, hang on, always bloody hanging on, implying we're above change not part and parcel of it not a little silly or worse: the height of egregious attempted, organised consolidation? For what are these 20.000 or 30.000 man years anyway but a quick drop in the ocean of cosmic 'matter/time/space', organic or not, in a place where in human terms when all is said and done and except for brief but enormous and violent outbursts, nothing much takes place? Not inherently of course, but because of our abysmally limited perspective, that severely curtailed and therefore insignificant presence. We, sadly, the universe's ephemeral, marginal and totally immaterial witnesses? Making that even should we be the universe's prize biological trophy, we by implication also represent its failure. This by letting us escape that lousy food chain yet still ambush us with unexpected viral pandemics; leveling down the multitude and so not sustaining us beyond the fleeting and the contingent, on top of this permitting others among us to play sordid endgames by repeated ways of ... self-destruction?
I know, die we do and strictly biologically speaking die we must, but by giving the good and the strong a couple more centuries of life like the Greenland shark we would at least get to live down our errors and in the end avoid so much man-made tragedy and grief. The case of smart not random evolution, even though there are dangers of our own making in this again, and I'm thinking in terms of equally lengthy deadly dictatorships. Human minds then, so fragile, capable of grasping the ages but in an immediate, searing physical sense remaining brutally temporary and in the end to what avail, as no matter what.... Sorry folks, we just can't think our way out of this thing? We the brilliant bubbles below hair and hat electro-chemically built to burst way too soon who should learn how to contemplate their own stool in order to bring them down a notch, or more.... On the other hand, as bubbles go, there's no great champagne without them, so that ostensibly we do perhaps, somewhere, somehow, still play an extremely minuscule role as long as we preserve ourselves in the Dom Perignon bottle and that bottle stays whole! For isn't one bundled up bundle of cells throwing a piece of rubber at another conglomeration of cells that picks it up and brings it right back not an extraordinary cosmic spectacle? Oh, I'm sorry that was my neighbour Harry walking his dog. But please, let's not start this again, the over-indulging in rampant fantasy at the same time exaggerating how clever and significant all those famous predecessors of ours were. On whose shoulders it is said we stand and who made us what we are today, as if in aviation terms by reading up on da Vinci and his fantastical flying machines is what ultimately got us to the moon; the constant scraping of the bottom of the barrel by those who might as well say there would be no Neil Armstrong without Columbus crossing the Atlantic and overly disposed towards simplistic deference and adoration. Over-doing and re-doing that think-thing, rehearsed and rehearsing just as they were told... and told... and told, but in the end not much more than complacent history readers, incapable of meaningful, auto-generated, open, advanced thought.
With all due respect, what we as fire-flies ought to consider perhaps is turn A Brief History of Time into A Timely History of Briefs and String Theory, that Phantom of the Cosmic Opera, into as many as Bach's Air on a G-String melodies as possible: precisely the down to earth joy that's missing from most 'traditional' thought, except perhaps for Socrates suggesting that a personal life in itself left unexamined to the fullest is not worth living: examined he said, not crafted, not constructed, not fabricated, manicured, not devised, in complete denial of the natural world! Because, putting it like Duke Ellington, And a One, and a Two and a One more Time, besides the real but perhaps impractical, however elegantly dreaming up the rest is not the same. In fact it can be damned dishonest and no longer acceptable, like making up the news.
The significance of most pioneering Greek and Roman poets, playwrights and philosophers therefore of a purely historical nature, nothing else. With Pliny the Elder already rejecting the mad idea that private lives get renewed by our death after he witnessed innocent Pompeii's total, utter, wanton destruction. Or Lucretius and before him Aeschylus and Pindar speaking splendidly and freely well before the slow thousand year killing of uninhibited thought. Only eventually to be followed by folks like Kant, Hegel, Hume, Rousseau, Schopenhauer and his porcupine parable and evidently one of these creatures himself; today all this work of great interest, but strictly for historians and proper thoughtless nerds. After close reading all inherited thought to be affectionately put aside, and superseded by our own determinations unless they really, really, still coincide. Especially Wittgenstein's maintaining that all our answers lie in language, seems like an obsession with the arrow, not with its path. Or that there cannot be absolute truth as mathematics are unable to prove this, the so-called incompleteness theorem. With it dawning on Gödel and many others that mathematics are imperfect and finite in their capacity to embrace all of reality for the simple reason that not all reality is logical or rational by linear human standards, but random and fluid, a chameleon, nearly impossible to define, draw or trap. The Stoics by way of the Cynics coming closest to understanding what life really has to offer by asking us to face truths without preaching resignation, in other words accept life tacitly and as such perhaps best be called the Tacits. Though even these guys still far too self-centered for a world by definition needing to be shared, despite once in a while looking over their shoulders concluding that only a good man or woman can be wise. Whereby wise means generous of course, and not always their case. But who is perfect, besides you and I?
Or else Erasmus of Rotterdam, already showing us how difficult it is to become and remain a humanist, while exposing many of man's ugly faces in In Praise of Folly. A work so earnest it must have been close to heresy in its day, a hay-day of frozen, artificial truths. He an anti-philosopher really, who to his credit rejected silly, arid, punctilious rationale in favour of passion---a measured dose of sweet madness and playfulness. A man who hated people remembering and obeying what they heard, wishing for them to clap their hands, live and drink lustily as excellent disciples of folly. Not bad for a fifteenth century chap, traveling on a mule who didn't take himself all that seriously, but who was unable to separate himself from the Church. But how could he during the time that Rome had a suffocating, totalitarian hold over every aspect of life? And what about Nietzsche, the nonconformist, following the first, the hesitant earlier exponents of the Buddhism-inspired Enlightenment? The first one to fully break the mould, that hold of a priori divine presence over nearly all traditional western thinking, not so much killing Him but banning God to history, in a sense saying 'You're fired!' In the end spoiling things with incoherent, syphilitic twaddle, already losing the plot before getting hit by that horse in Turin, but a philosopher only wanting man to be strong, not pathetic, independent and free at the expense of no one; a notion I fully subscribe to. Though at the same time a somewhat pessimistic, self-contradictory chap, and as such an aphorist for all seasons, capable of paradoxically opposing evil and good. In the end without a consistent line of thought, never quite having expressed that profound, temporal joy unlike vulgar, shallow hedonistic stuff is our only meaning, probably because in his humourless personal life he hadn't run into much. A man detesting all religions for being Utopian and playing up to our weakest instincts, yet not blushing to reinvent an ancient prophet for his postulations with the ridiculous, gospel structured Thus Spake Zarathustra, in which he attempts to mortally and morally replace this God. As if we have a choice, for besides mostly abusive and abused fantasy is the only other option not some sort of existential paralysis, le mal d'être, in the end leading to... un-being?
So that again, yes, yes, these men and so many others made an indisputable but transitory contribution to our development as speaking, seeing, feeling and acting beings, if anything by showing us sometimes rather unintentionally how better, or how, at this point, no longer to proceed because of what we now know and they did not. The new realities which are not 'new' at all, replacing old ones so sadly contrived. We, the blessed, through truly enlightening, break-through investigation (from Galileo and Newton, to Darwin, Einstein, Watson and Planck, from particle physics, paleo-anthropology, DNA and modern evolutionary molecular/cellular biology, to the origin world of vital photosynthesis, neutrinos, isotopes, bosons, fermions, photons, dark matter, dark energy, dark gravity and so on) as total laymen and men in the street finally able to assess. No longer in need of primitive impulses, of awkward philosophical theory or religious doctrine. Free, free at last. No more beautiful bullshit that once saw us through but also kept us down. Able to stand back and really contemplate our common, limited, yet quite fascinating destiny with unfettered appreciation. Who beg to differ by placing mind over myth and matter over mind even when this cuts our own species down to size. Regaining the natural sense of awe and joy we nearly lost through intimidation and purely cosmetic artificiality.
As for morals, it is clear by now that tolerance and justice are entirely linked to developed intelligence, the lack of it, coarse primitivism, producing inequity and unspeakable social cruelty. That all known gods were born after our civilizations formed so that religion is derived from our innate morality and not the other way round, and by which it conversely follows that brutal cultures have such brutal faiths. Marking the arrival of the saddest irony of all, the spectacle of arrested thought turning man back into beast, his creeds incorporating his most horrible attributes and defeats, never his victories. The observation that sense takes centuries to become common and moral evolution in so many quarters stopped dead in its track. Anyway, nature as a whole unforgiving, undemocratic and amoral, only man potentially considerate for the simple reason that while it takes two to be decent, in the long run and pragmatically speaking, empathy and tolerance make such eminent personal 'common' sense. With the purest and noblest among us precisely those whose generosity comes without some held out or 'divine' reward. Our real saints secular souls, unheralded, unpaid, invisible, remaining completely anonymous while others appropriate religion and go to Calcutta to elevate themselves, as if there can be no goodness without the holy Muppet Show. That circus of robes and screens of incense - to fool the devil, you must understand - or should we call it laughing gas as on so many it has a similar effect?
Q: Micky died for our sins; where do I find Disney's heaven?
A: Over there! Third one on the left, it stays open every night and all day long!
Q: Does Thomas Cook go there?
A: Ah, yes, they all do!
Q: Picking me up from my members-only cemetery?
A: Never fails! In the worst event from the nearest bus stop!
Q: But how would I get there?
A: By imagining it! The way you deal with everything!
Upon his return from space an astronaut having looked back down or up at us said he saw no disease, no wars, no cars, that it was beautiful! One of us, one of ours, not particularly rueful about finding neither Heaven nor Hell and seeing no Christian or other people's space/time cruiseships sailing around including any sign of the millions upon millions who passed through here before us, waving, anxiously waiting for us to join them on their deck. And so no lunch with Columbus, barbeque with Neanderthals or thanking the much plagued Pharaoh for finally letting the Hebrew slaves go; all of this - Cm'on, Really? - too ridiculous for words! Though he did miss seeing you and me roasting on the beach and wished us well knowing that we were there. Beautifully alive on that blessed, self-contained, brave, blue heavenly body circling an amazing mass of light and warmth when seen up close, but a humiliating micro-pixel when spotted from as little as 100 million miles removed! Is this therefore not the moment to accept the magnificence of life on its own unique terms for perhaps only the second time; first so innocently, in the very, very beginning, and again only of late? Without the intervening interference of sanctimony, of artificial despair, silly threats of damnation, the torments of a sulfurous hell, the fire, the brimstone of it, the deliberate perdition of it, places where even seraphs fear to tread? Without the feeble crutch of tailor-made yet devastating eternity promises filled with bored-stiff angels, sainthood and all its supporting drama, dogma, and rites celebrating a goodbye-see-you-later kind of God. Without feeling that for us, here, there's no grand role left to play, that we have lost our meaning, as if we ever really had one or for that matter really need one!? Not as übermensch, superman, but simply as superSchmidt or superJones. Man whose only greatness lies in his courage to face and manage, if not completely influence his own destiny, one no longer in need of fictitious heroes and at last grown up?
For haven't we put far too much capital in the search of lofty exterior 'meaning' without which, it has been suggested, we cannot live? When the opposite is true, that what's uniquely important in a human life is immediate daily purpose and reason; remove or defeat it and see suicide rates rise. Native American self-decimation the horrible example of it, deaths by pointlessness as they're described. And even in the unlikely event that there exists an organised power some place high, must we then really think of it in terms of it 'revealing' itself by way of sainted comic-strips given the abject cruelty it constantly displays, never really protecting or loving.... but then again how could it, let's get real for once? And yet still courted with naive worship, that ignoble form of begging on knees when normally speaking we're guilty of nothing? Relief in prayer nothing more or much better than some aboriginal rain dance only exposing gratuitous despair? Myth and hymn coincidentally connected by that terrible Y again, the singing of deadly, mainly white Songs of Praise or as some will have it the dabbing of Psalm Oil. All of it ultimately meaningless only reflecting only man's highly personal hopes, needs and fears and which if I were He and existed would not only bore me stiff, but really piss me off? Te Deum tedium... as it ought to be called! I mean is there anything more pathetic than singing Erbarme Dich, Mein Gott..., Have Mercy On Us, My God..., Miserere Mei, Deus...or listen to more of that sterile, emasculated priestly Gregorian chant imploring that tricky old hypnotist up there; the one created by way of our own masochistic lore?
- Yes, yes, what is it?
- Lord, I have bad news!
- Well, what is it?
- It seems, m'Lud, that we have intelligence on earth!
- Oh, SHIT! How did that happen?
- I don't know, m'Lud! An accident....
- So now what?
- I don't know, m'Lud! Search for an answer... meantime... at least pretend you care!
- Or they'll fear that you set them up!
- No. I didn't. I have better things to do! You just said it, it was accident! So next time, let's be more careful!
- Next time, m'Lud?
- And only if these prove that they're worth it...
- It doesn't look that way! Too many morons and arseholes!
- Come ye sons of bitches? So, then why do I have to pretend anything?
- I know, it's disconcerting! They even believe that prayer and sucking up to you fixes everything...
- No matter what I do, or do not do? I might as well not exist...
- You might as well, m'Lud! But let them pretend that you do, just in case...
- In case of what? This is getting very confusing! I had more fun making zebras and tigers and spiders!
- And I do love those stripes you always use...
- I only copy my wallpaper, you dope!
Celebrations on occasion totally superseded by self-hypnotics, the ecstasy and delirium of Lima's Rose and the Hildegard von Bingen brand and as such not much different from Haitian, Cuban and Brazilean pagan voodoo and Santeria rites, although it is presumed that the latter besides being quite unbalanced suffered from epilepsy as well; quite the cocktail back then. And yet all of it deprived of the overwhelming sincerity and honesty, the explosive joy of Black American Gospel singing and something that nobody should ever take away from these good folks, letting them be, letting them be...., even if while profoundly admiring the expression one doesn't necessarily share the substance of their exuberance. In my personal case a Hosanna in theatrical and musical fairy tales not involving the King of Glory as much as Hakuna Matata, something like... the Lion King! And all of which reminds me of one Peter O'Toole, in my book one of our greatest philosophers whose favorite greasy, wine and whiskey stained jacket could no longer be cleaned and was sent back to him with a Dry Cleaner's note saying Item Returned To Owner In Unimproved State, a wording he so much loved that he decided he would use it on his tombstone... And why not? For if so many of us behave like pets or worse like slaves, perhaps these should no longer speak of their Maker, but of their Owner! And through this lively anecdote only to say that yes self-deprecation and humility are fine, but self-humiliation is not.
For don't we need self-esteem to achieve the highest degree of universal decency on our own, as a final victory over evil? And is moral equality not what the world needs most right now? Whereby we're our own 'meaning'? Besides, what happened to genuine dignity? Don't we know by now? Shouldn't we? And whereby dog-fighting or arguing over the above or not, that exponential personal growth rather than incessant inference or mere glib phrase-making needs to be our game! Remaining supremely pragmatic at all times, instead of incongruously turning temporal philosophy or even modern science and technology accompanied by their brand new mythologies into some crypto-religion yet again. With holier than thou hierarchies accommodating classical power-seekers aided by the usual suspects, those habitual acolytes and sycophants, never forgetting that scientifically speaking we still do not understand the extraordinary double birth through metamorphosis of caterpillar and butterfly, of tadpole and frog, man incapable of concocting an organic capsule from which under a hot lamp and pouring some water over it a beautiful rose or strawberry will grow. Or for that matter, and to hell with Fabergé, by himself create an egg that actually works...!
For isn't it disturbing to note how crowds knowing so much about divinity and philosophy, know so little about being truly philosophical? That only earnest enquiry and the inevitable victory of real knowledge over subjective pontification can lead us to victory over our lingering cowardice, testify in favour of our ultimate maturity, our final peace! And just as it is foolish to truncate forward-going reasoning the same applying to those only dreaming in name. For friends, devout believers, and if not devout certainly devoted, if you must why not entertain the notion that He struggles to keep it all together. That like most of us and with the best of intentions, He miserably fails sometimes, with so few giving Him a helping hand. That when all is said and done, He's so Human... Rather than that perfect but Inhuman God waiting to get us, a sort of sadist to boot. I mean, once you believe, can't you go all the way, believe anything you want, owners of all that glorious devotion? Why then shackle yourselves, and when dreaming not dream all out... to guilt free, proud, here-here-land? Or is this already too rational? But if you won't be rational, will you at least not be unreasonable? Or too practical, like that young American I read about, a matter-of-fact believer, praying year after year for the Lord to give him a new bike and never receiving one, concluding that stealing one and asking for forgiveness worked far better. Signifying that bespoke dreaming is what we get, apt reveries, featuring a convenient, tailor-made God. And the philosophical and religious lead-up to it only exposing pettiness, a tragic lack of humour and imagination and all too often the deep absence of true understanding; restrictions all sanctioned by long dead, perhaps shining yet understandably era-confined minds.
All this over and over and only to say that if one really must believe that there may be something in adoring the hybrid animal deities in the pantheon of older cultures like the Hindu Ganesh man-elephant, the Egyptian Anubis man-jackal, the Aztec Quetzalcoatl man-serpent, or the femme fatale temptress-songbird Sirens, not to forget our own fish-tail Mermaids all pointing at a playful, folk origin rather than some divine 'revelation'. And why a new dawn is needed even though and as Faulkner put it the past is never over, in fact not quite 'the past', but still one whereby current guiding philosophy and religion get put into requiem form, or else into a child's theatre of the mind where by now surely they belong. Leaving us with only one broad formal philosophical and theological discipline, termed perhaps (Studies of) The History of Unfinished Human Thought. Accompanied by a twin piece called The Redundant Plea Contained In All Past Human Rumination And Reflection?! In his Library of Babel the opposite of what Borges calls a detailed history of the future because we should study precisely so we don't over-regurgitate... Something from which the aloof clerks of philosophy and creed in the eyes of the public have been totally removed, for again what a disappointment.... those in charge of stimulating intellect without apparently realising it... stifling it with endless, suffocating frozen truths and rules. All that profoundly obliging conformist work by the yard whereby the forever complacent and compliant forget to get themselves a mind. Sailing through life not living it or contributing to it in any specific way by becoming graduates of a system, as such appearing to be completely dispassionate, recognising very little, discovering nothing, only offering piles and piles of words. All of these in the service of highly suspect usefulness, for if succinct purpose is timebound, then unfortunately uselessness is timeless and best symbolised by the complex futility of Swiss artist Tinguely's intricate and perfectly functioning kinetic Heureka sculpture that even includes a mechanically swinging hay fork and is likened by some as an enormous, failed Rolex. And so thought-constructs that not only go deeper and deeper, but essentially and ultimately and in solipsistic extremessuppress, as if we can only think... with a diploma! Those illiberal dissertations that get denser in ever more turgid displays of entrenchment totally ignoring evolution, physionogmy, climate, geology and other dominant external or internal conditions and elements. Going INWARD thus getting darker and cluttered with waste yet applauded for their rigour, but more a case of overdosing and ceasing to be nutritive because deliberately deprived of generous new light that pours in from all sides! For one overlooking that insects whether flying or crawling and so many aquatic life forms may well be far more interesting than the wasteful, stupid/smart land mammals that on so many levels we've become! Or that taking in the perfect peace of a windstill morning surrounded by lush, motionless trees beside the very quiet yellow sand of a sunny coastline smack in the middle of all that chaotic cosmic violence is the greatest miracle of all even if providing us with a false taste of immortality. And not to forget that only at the very, very end of that vast, slow, moving parade, directed or not... MANKIND! Including its sensory cognition tools and its relative physical individual size, but also with a mind that still too often entertains unrealistic, near criminally innocent and preposterous thoughts!
The first one to 'play' history like total football a certain Giambattista Vico, a XVIIth century Italian philosopher who followed in the footsteps of another Neapolitan, Giordano Bruno burnt at the stake a century earlier, the former the one coming closest to fully freeing himself. Not only by attacking the Church but Descartes the reigning brain of his day who for all his anthropocentric rationalism and regimented 'methodical doubt' managed to remain a devout Catholic his entire life. (Pascal already saying of him: speak of triple contradictions, speak not of doubt but of confusion, of trying to have one's cake and eat it, too...). With Vico arguing that man had successfully faced three ages: the Age of Gods, the Age of Heroes and was now embarking on the Age of Man with no further need for morale boosters. But also talking himself out of a comfortable job by refusing to sit on a Faculty in ultimate denial of its members' faculties at the University of Naples in 1699, selling all his worldly belongings to prove his point and going on to starve to death for lack of income. But this now needs no longer to happen to men and women of utter intellectual integrity, and if some still feel trapped why on earth insist on working exclusively on the intricacies... of the trap? In order to show off? Like the criminal lawyer not for a moment believing in a murderer's innocence, but pleading it only so he can prove that he's sharper than the rest, smarter than the judicial system, smarter even than the truth and purely a matter of unstoppable personal ambition?
Allow me then to add, here, now, today, and in conclusion that there are a handful of myths and faerie or fairy tales from which we needn't escape, from which we needn't be set free. For we don't have to deprive ourselves altogether of our fantasies, we only need to carefully remember how perverted political and religious so-called romanticism endorsed wasted living and accounted for much abject cruelty ignominiously resulting in millions of violent deaths. Belief systems and doctrines still thriving in too many places out there, when these other fables are the happy exception: bereft of the inherent intellectual dishonesty of all the rest of them. Differing from your run-of-the-mill, multi-striped scribbling and scripture because they attempt to unmask ostensibly benign falsehoods, near hypnotic and addictive to so many, not create or perpetuate them. Alice in Wonderland's adventures from the other side of the mirror in Through the Looking-Glass coming to mind (contrariwise, continued Tweedleedee down the rabbit hole, if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's the logic.) or else The Emperor's New Clothes, without forgetting Orwell's farm of course. And what about toothless Tigger in Winnie-the-Pooh, isn't he absitively, posolutely honester than most of us will ever be? With one superb quote remaining to end this brief exposé and somewhat personal tour d'horizon, not intended to offend, but to help set free the slaves even though in their bewilderment and as a primitive response these'll often savagely attack anyone making this attempt. How bizarre, slaves rising to remain slaves, but it happens moreoften than not. And how utterly tragic, again, the rabidly credulous in essence pining for the death of death.... yet turning to murder to obtain it!
This then a quote from another one of these rare works, The Wizard of Oz, the old fool caught in the act of deception. Dorothy's exclamation to be precise, on another farm, at the end of the twister after she awakes:
"Auntie Em, Auntie Em!
There's no place like home!...
There's no place like home!"
That's right, little girl, there is absolutely nothing wrong with home: our here and our now. Human existence not needing to be fraught with feelings of fear or a colossal sense of vacuity once official fairy tales have been exposed for what they are. Simply put, we must stop kidding ourselves, cut out the crap, for even if we're not particularly significant, we're NOT worthless. And at the risk of sounding like Peter Sellers as Chauncey the dim-witted gardener in Being There, I truly think it's what Voltaire meant a couple or more centuries ago when he closed Candide with the ambiguous Il faut cultiver notre jardin, urging us to cultivate our delicious earthly garden, retrieve lost dignity and move on to live authentically. Never missing a beat, a notion to which before him Epicurus out of his Garden or even Montaigne, though outsiders certainly no strangers and both moralists of the first order to whom existential pleasure remained essential, stayed faithful all their life. Lusty moralists they, not puritanical sybarites and already aware that we often observe and think from within a too self-assured, partially self-constructed, partially delivered comfort zone, with few guessing what can happen to our house-of-cards moral balancing act, capable of the overnight crashing into horrendous ugliness. And that what we like to think of as free will, in fact the response to so much by itself pernicious feedback. So that overseeing and inspecting this with much humility is the only key to successful continuation. Not fanciful escape, the attempt at spiritual emigration to timeless places nowhere to be found, on top of that... all that elbowing to get in.
Put differently again, all this representing the last and hopefully longest lasting phase of all. The First, at the dawn of 'our' days, one of light and innocence, the Second, one of fear and survival, the Third, one of fear and sustenance, the Fourth, one of fear, fantasy and order. The Fifth, one of cautious self-empowerment, fear, fantasy and shameless exploitation, followed by the Sixth, one of self-induced darkness and but also the beginning of the struggle to free ourselves. Then more recently the Seventh, one of drifting into despair and a sense of the absurd as reflected in bleak XXth Century theatre and literature, but now, possibly, the time ripe to do away with all that atavistic fear: at one point in a life the thought of death repulsive, yes, but certainly not always. The very elderly among us having lived and loved fearing the act of dying, the possible pain of it, but otherwise mostly indifferent to the thought of death and more philosophical than many of our socalled thinkers whereby for them there is and was no such thing as 'nothingness' if you can figure that one out; just peace. And when only one of the two is inevitable, it's not life that is absurd, but death! So that nothing is 'absurd' except wasting our stay on this heavenly body, and that what is nothing to some, every bit as magnificent as the piece of art that man himself still represents. This piece of attitude, no longer worried about his ultimate insignificance and seemingly mere decorative cosmic status, finally remaining indifferent to the whole and as such nature's only knowing rebel. Yes, rebellion is man, for despite his highly temporary magnificence he does remain the cosmos' very own beautiful mishap. And therefore one who with a touch of anguish, but also with a touch of anger, dares to shout: 'Screw the Universe!'. Not throwing the existential hat into the ring, but shaking off sadness and submission, and thereby majestic, heroic at last! That to be also is to challenge and accuse like Zola, thence real dignity come! For who the hell does anyone think we are!?
So that the only damn time for humanity to ask Why, What Was The Point would be after a furtive, an immense Gamma Ray flash had destroyed all life on earth. But then, who'd be left to do the asking? Therefore don't ask, even now, today! Accept the whole point is that life itself is the point, and none other. Ay, if only all would listen and stop defending their fantasies with stipulated reasoning as if a rational approach to the completely irrational suddenly establishes truth and fact. Passing through life like brainwashed Manchurian Candidates, have-bomb-will-travel 'idealists' all too often acting in the name of nursery stuff of the most destructive and pernicious kind, become fanatics not of real but of imposed, unnatural harmony and not the friends of hours, friends of ours that they should be. For together we form the Hollywood cast and despite all appearances play in the only motion picture that counts; in other words any cosmic live audience the dream, not us. Because really, from any perspective, besides untimely death and despite his undeniable genius man's only persistent enemies are false light and lingering misunderstanding. And he doesn't improve matters by not 'farming' himself more responsibly, or as masters of negation allow himself to be misled by fear induced willful ignorance, the partial abrogation of his intellect and so the delegation not only of his judgment, but of his conscience. By not living exuberantly whenever and wherever possible, by erroneously thinking that dignity's putting on a robe accompanied by all imaginable rituals of pomp-and-prejudice, but basically analgesic lollipops for big kids. Even with last rites getting taken for a ride, because though it would be nice it just ain't so! People favouring myopic notion over suitable humility and huge, elaborate lies over simple courageous truth: man the abdicator, the adulator, the manufacturer, the fabulist, the banal miracle worker of the walking on water variety, the cowed, the groveling and cowering often mindless conformist, the derelict, the great pretender with a frightening capacity to inflict pain and block out genuine thought. Don't let him seek perverse solace, machinate meaning, invent an existential alibi worth killing for: living by itself is never a crime and life while daunting at times not some sort of huge injustice perpetrated on mankind. Plus that something which cannot easily be explained is not necessarily empty, let alone absurd. So while Signore Vico called it the Third Age, why don't we call all of this Phase Eight, and see what happens?! If lived equitably it may well cause fewer societal convulsions and also fight heartburn.
Revised, unedited end of June, 2020 draft
Originated some time during 2002
***Fairy Tales (Merriam-Webster Dictionary): A story in which improbable events lead to a happy ending. Hence the suggestion of achieving a narrow escape from 'improbable events' or for that matter apocryphal endings, by inching back to something closer to probability but still rather good. Like saving the life of a girl trapped in some unreal comedy. Snow White stepping into our living room wiping her brow exclaiming, phew, finally got out of this goddamn fairy tale, may I come in?
Everything you've read here has been said or written before by people as far back as Democritus, Lucretius, Heraclitus, Diderot and Holbach, I later found out. This a summing up by an ordinary XXI Century citizen, arriving at his own perspective without 'formal' indoctrination, pre-conceived notions or pre-acquired certainties. Just common sense, absolutely no despair and a good pinch of ontological courage, although I have bad days too. Yes, cognition commoves, it is not for the fainthearted, but priceless if one has balls. For life is not a rehearsal for anything, this multiple act play is ìt. The trick is not to waste time on self-stroking Revelation, or for that matter on being an arrogant nihilist, but insist on becoming a compassionate... Now-ist. Or Be-ist. Yes, Be-ists not Beasts, the taming of ourselves our only victory, our sole and distant glance at purely symbolic eternity! Become men modern, as Dylan Thomas put it, who do not go gentle into that good night! But rage, rage against the dying of the light....
Accompanying seminal prose poem
A FUNERAL FOR IMMORTALITY
(Subtitle: The Lodes of Time)
There is no sweeter contingency
Yet consider the promise of endlessness but finding all things good, become all hell
So that the possibility of immortality's own death sneaking up, to this deception we should not over-react,
when still in need of
Indeed, if immortality were a woman who had a certain way with us, holding herself out, making us go and go on, when otherwise and long ago we would have given up: yes, such is the power of suggestion and the degree to which our fears and at once the self-preservation behind our beliefs, do stimulate
The terrible power of fantasy, as it is called
For as it turns out her generosity always exactly mirrors our generosity towards ourselves
Now one day such a lady surely deserves a warm-hearted elegy, seeing how before our very eyes she suddenly grew so very old, and cold. Or was it slowly, but nobody paid attention? The cause of death, since you ask, usually ignored in as formal an outpouring as an obituary, and futile bringing the matter up except perhaps for those themselves blindly moribund. And having loads of time coming up with a suitable epitaph, there rarely existing need for impatience or thrusts of other sorts
For it is nearly impossible to write a well-reasoned prose poem on something that isn't quite real, something like a real enough obituary or elegy for afterlife and the reason lady-embodiment serves us well. For in defence of things it must be given a try as life only valued as a constant 'raging against the dying of the light' so often leads to the de facto denial of one. Like the stating, as so many do, that wisdom is 'accepting life's limitations' and from there swiftly going on to suggest how terrific and infinite and un-'limitated' the next one is. Commencing the search for the holy grail of this immortality, even when there is not the faintest hope of finding it, the real, organic universe unable to function in this fashion. Or, as a friend of mine expresses it, immortality having no future at all
And which I only now begin to understand
But let us return to the task of burying a lady: it is not easy celebrating someone who never was and could not be, someone comforting and fanciful, alive superbly in our desires, one we only recently and to our great shock learned no longer lives among us. Gone, defunct, dead and needing to be buried with great pomp, out of respect for what we perceived were her extraordinary accomplishments: dishing out limitless, beguiling reward as recompense for our own perceived victories and qualities. A spell-binding, an overly generous lady, deserving an elaborate grave, a solid grave, for she was uncommonly elusive and thought to be extremely tall, with all of us knowing her but none of us ever really seeing her, even though, incredibly, we would kill for her if we had to, chips down and seemingly in the service of some deep need
With an elegy or obituary that could say a lot or not so much, because she meant a lot or not so much, depending on to whom one spoke. In fact there could be more than one of each, the irony that she knew so many and survived such a long, long time in the minds of most. Longer, and get this, than all her admirers, adherents and good friends put together. The Daily Telegraph probably celebrating her service to King and Country. The Times her estates. The Guardian her fellow man and Radio Four her forceful voice. And that is because we are all so very much inspired by anything or anyone confirming what we already stand for, making every attestation like it rich, because... in fact... our own
Though strangely, dead or simply disappeared, she keeps on popping up, sighted by those who can't give up, wanting to have a fresh go at her. When the only thing the poor dear wanted was to be remembered, not be seduced again or in the other extreme driven to exhaustion. Or ridiculed by some, because that's the way we are: sometimes good, sometimes nasty, just don't push and as long as either way we bag redemption. But seriously and swiftly removing tongue from cheek, is it not the premise of promise of such another life, the one after the one we know to be so short, precarious and cruel, the sole element of change that possibly makes sense? For what is the point of extending life, with one just as fraught with uncertainty? And therefore making the dreaming up of one that is neither, such a perfectly natural endeavour? Putting to good use the one faculty which makes us differ from all other living creatures: Need something you cannot have, thus badly want? Why, invent it! Throwing in a couple of miracles like walking on water to sweeten the pot!
Then go buy it! Therefore a need itself, and so very facultative. And artificiality on the surface so very beneficiary. For it certainly seems to work in other parts of our existence, like matters economic: half the world living decently by the fabrication of products that are either useless or invisible. Goods and services based on fear and contingency. On mere impression and suggestion, with them crazy or smart enough to provide the stuff and us daft enough to buy it. Yes, along broad lines it works, just like the Cold War. The economic catalyst without which we would all have been eating dirt and for decades fostering industry upon industry keeping us directly or indirectly in a job. Though nothing ever happened, no shots fired, only those empty, angry menaces and threats. And what did Yves Saint Laurent ever do for Joe Pizza? Sodomy and velvet hats? Just what everyman was pining for? Of course not, but let the poor designer be, you do get the point: he successfully employed thousands of us in hundreds of stores in a dozen countries, or more. But in the end, both Yves and the Cold War tired and went. Yet fatuous immortality, despite all funerals, ever so kept her allures
For on a further level it is self-evident that there can be no life without death, that death is watching over us, worse, that life can only be... by killing and consuming another life- form. So why then eliminate the notion of death? The refusal to become an ancestor like trying to steal the horizon: it cannot be done and to begin with does not make sense. But by insisting on doing so, by trampling on others in the act, by being blind to every breath-taking landscape on our road, what are we achieving, anyway? To a growing number of us the secret lying in staying away from this sort of thing, by overcoming existential fears and silly ambition. Not craving immortality and reward the answer, ignoring that innate vulnerability to incentives of the kind. For it may be that in this ignoring and the human dignity it engenders lie the only timelessness that matters. Additionally and as a by-product, a delightful element of discovery left to our children, a stretch of road truly their own, nothing handed down or for much longer. The case before. Yes, not having their existence cut and dried after the ignoring... no longer ignored
Is this not the very least that we can do, bequeathing them life's magnificent sense of adventure, the one that we are busy claiming on the late side? Therefore, besides her obituary, the funeral for immortality, our lovely but somewhat sly and once ancient lady, should be an extremely joyous and even repetitive one. Itself an unending New Orleans jazz funeral with laughter and dance flowing through the streets of five continents. Listen! Listen to the sway of that music, slow drums rolling, brash brass and soft reeds blowing, all feet moving, all man's skins aglow
What a way to live
as live we must,
lodes of time
far from over
(Conceived just prior to Fairy Tales, the Essay)
Man should neither live
like mole afraid
nor as someone’s slave
‘ been given
Only taming himself
by feeding not stealing from his other,
raging at injustice
and at day’s end,
any held out
P.S: Unless man learns how to alter orbits or change spheres he'll remain essentially meaningless, except to himself of course. It's not going to happen, but I'd be impressed meeting someone who's not a slow-burning chemical reaction, a walking bio-factory, and still says hello... Someone not taking in 3 times a day, excreting no waste, not having to breathe for a life. Someone equal to the Universe, not a slave to it, not a bubble. Without a penis as link, without a navel, become a small roving planet. Yes, man the Planet, Planet Man, not establishing a blood-line to the gods, apotheosizing, not Promethean, not even a Nietzschean Man God, a true phenomenon, truly significant and so much more than little Emperors or small Popes...