A modern crisis

 

 

 

We were born after a whole deal of postures and attitudes had been tried and dismissed. It seemed to me that this was the first time in human history when life was unbearable even while we have all the basic conditions for survival and a surplus of commodities. We live in the absence of a raison d’être and our very lives could actually be defined as the search for that sacred reason. We would and probably will travel around the globe and consume every possible experience in search of that elusive understanding that could justify and make sense of all the seemingly senseless gyrations between birth and death, hunting for that catharsis that would erase our feelings of inadequacy and insufficiency.   

If I am allowed to make a stand on the current emptiness that governs the modern rebel (and I must state that this rebel is even reluctant to assume this label), I could place him or her within a crisis of value. Let’s formulate this crisis. The ‘fortunate’ human being that is born in a middle-class or higher family is bestowed an excess of leisure, which is occupied with an endless parade of distractions, vague and short-lived entertainments that do not provide deep-rooted satisfaction. This repetition of material hedonism is deceiving and can engage the individual in a merry-go-round of renewable pleasures that are futile in their long-term effects. What an overwhelmingly urban and global society presents as the content and purpose of leisure is more often than not a distraction, a veiling of our impoverished consciousness. The value crisis in which we are situated stimulates thus, within the rebel, a sort of antagonisms against life in general and humanity in particular. Is this a wise human race encumbered by trivial pursuits? 

The rebel stands in an existential agnosticism. What can replace the insipid routines, what solution can one offer to resolve the dilemma of human baseness? If leisure represents the time humans can delve in their purpose, our reasoning would lead us to suppose that the average human lives for unchallenging and ready-made experiences. What about the higher fields of art, music, religion, love? Have these been explored sufficiently by the modern man? Do they offer any comfort? All questions with no ready answer, the rebel is obliged to ask without answering, merely pointing to the emptiness without offering a substitute.
 

The rebel doesn’t conclude hastily but is eager to explore any alternative. The contemporary paradigm is of a successive development from school to career, love to family, wealth to belongings, material accumulations to distractions; yet all this is seen as a deception, a reductionism of the natural potential for a human life.  The rebel is apt to adopt a cynical skepticism towards the replacement of one mode of life for another. Life becomes an experiment, a lonesome journey through the limbo of uncertainty. Could religion fill this gap, could music appease this anxiety, could art express this loneliness, could love heal this wound? The experimenter enters them all and many others with caution but will urgently surrender if any of these would deliver him from the surrounding emptiness. Yet traps abound, the guinea-pig rebel still has within the seed of conformism, soon things lose their depth and life abandons its impetus. How to keep the zest for life awake without returning to the dullness of a repetition-ridden soul? 
 

It may seem we are doomed, that any experience by force of repetition becomes insufficiently satisfying for the abyss of hunger that grows inside.  

These reflections surge from a modern crisis. A crisis from our lack of meaning, our absence of value. This, in other words, can be called a spiritual crisis. But the themes of this crisis are not god or original sin, it rather belongs to practical ontology, that is to say, a transforming of the quality of being, producing a reality that becomes not only bearable but powerful enough to sweep away the myopic awareness of normal human life. A new understanding might be wanting, a new wisdom of what we understand human life to be, what we do and what we aspire to; a journey that requires a mixture between philosophy and adventure, a compendium of revolt, daring and openness.
 
 
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The impossibility of faith

This is a statement made by one of so many human creatures that roam this earth; and it is the belief of the author of such statement that opinions are ultimately relative to their background, therefore limiting “the impossibility of faith” to a narrow discourse that is and will be shared only by those that have a similar mental constitution, in short, those that share the rare tendency to doubt, question, and challenge all forms of knowledge and experience.

 

So, without complicating the matter too much, what is, in brief, the impossibility of faith all about?

 

To convey opinions through the awkwardness of words, one must first of all be able to express the circumstances from which the opinion arose. This provides the reader, first of all, access to the frame of mind needed to understand the opinion. So, before you judge too quickly the impertinence of my opinion (the impossibility of having religious faith), I will present to you my humble case.

 

I adore religion; it has fascinated me both in my youthful years of religious piety as well as in my later years of recklessness and agnosticism. I’ve lived both sides of such opposite worlds, I’ve had to cross through the tenebrous chasm that separates the comfort of a religious established life from the frightful unknown that constitutes the emptiness of near-atheism. I haven’t become an atheist, I cannot confidently claim that there is no god or that there is no supernatural reality. I simply withhold my judgment and allow a blank white space to fill the answer. I have fallen prey of the impetuous force of the scientific method, which as sound as it may be in this day and age, I admit, I still hold some caution against it. I’ve written before about the limitations of science and won’t dwell on it here. But to finish the point, it has impressed deeply on my mind and I cannot dismiss it easily however skeptical I am about its capacity to resolve the mysteries of human life.

 

Even after I started to doubt every religion or religious claim, I continued to have a respect for religion, a secret infatuation for the solemnity and profundity that religion usually conveys. After a suicidal and conflictive adolescence, I finally came into friendly terms with religion again, but this time from the perspective of a spectator and not so much as a member. For the last seven years I’ve had the great delight of studying and investigating the religions of the world, uncovering so much wisdom that is to be found in the poetry, symbolism and narrative of religious thought and feeling.

 

So, what makes me today say that it is impossible to have faith? Faith is complicated to analyze. From a reductionist point of view, I can affirm like many others that religion is nothing more than a social phenomenon to keep the members of a community or society passively functioning without rebelling against the system. (the opium of the people, as Marx once coined it). Other rational views establish faith as the response to fear, the necessity that arises from the fear of the unknown, the fear of disease and death, fear from the impotence man has in a world full of dangerous forces that can easily upset his petty order. Another view is that religion is a genetically wired aspect of the human psyche, that we are bound to create religious system because of the evolution of our brain. Other views establish religion as the longing to return to a previously lived experience of totality (such as when we were fetuses or infants, when the differentiation between ego and the external world had not yet been firmly delineated). These are all views I’ve learned from others, they have not actually been developed by me. Nonetheless, they all point to sensible possibilities… religion as universal as it is may have an identifiable cause in one or all these theories.

 

What I’ve concluded is that you don’t need to invalidate or refute religion to be able not to believe in it. Religion is simply a matter of insufficiency for many of us. Fortunately or unfortunately, we don’t have the innate passion to submit to the religiosity of the blind believer; we are unable to digest the nectar of spirituality without some trace of justification. That’s why for some of us religion is not received with disgust, simply mistrust. We need not dismiss it by some rational argument; we are simply waiting for some kind of revelation that will allow us to embrace it wholly. The revelation or justification can come in the garment of rationality or in the euphoria of irrationality, yet without it, we are unable to have faith.

 

The impossibility of faith is not an a priori dismissal of religion as false. It is the incapacity to believe in the precepts of transcendence without the arrival of some signal, a manifestation physical or psychological that can make us say: I see everything clearly now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We… post-postmodernists?

Our Age is too near to get sight of its boundaries, it is too early to understand its misconceptions. We are too dogmatic in our denial of dogma, absolutely certain in the impossibility of absolute truth. We refuse categorization, even the relativistic classification nauseates us with its blatant inaccuracy. We have exhausted the map of the expected, we have sailed off the edge of objectivity. Is there enough courage at last to tear open the last unexamined convictions?

 

Science has detonated such a bright flash in the sky of our conceptions, it left us bleakly trembling under the paleness of the explainable.  Our lust craves for some personal knowledge beyond the downpour of communication.  Yet, we are still too philosophical in the claim that philosophy is futile and irrelevant, too logical while we humiliate the world into meaninglessness.

 

Every man has always been in error. We scrutinize the lack of breadth in antiquity, humans living under the conditions of necessity. But has the wealth of leisure begotten any real savory experience of the magnitude of the universe? Do we not still live under the dining lamp, stuff our heads with hamburgers and neglect the vastness of space and time only to idle hours of curiosity?

 

Do we prefer to stand still in opposition to progress or move frantically to and fro in opposition to linearity? Is there much to gain in opposing the current of history? Does the weight of our question collapse under our temptation to doubt?

 

Why do we seek definition?  How can we induce our subjective universe to submit to our words before we have been able to glance it all? Existence is too chaotic to wear the stale garment of adjectives and deductions. Whatever we seek – if we seek anything at all – lies beyond the fortress of definition.

 

Let the living eyes of the future bury us with their dead words,

                                                for we will be by then … dead things.