If we become survivors
the elect few
to renew the significance
of toil and dream,
if we are the last
two Rimbauds in lands
of shadow and cave,
what message will be engraved
in the red clay of poetry,
will we bring the knife close to earth
carving steep heavens in the surface of rock?
That the world is coming to a dramatic end, there is no doubt. The senseless habits that occupy our days and the recurrent suffering that strikes our hearts are nothing less than signs of an exhausted species, a moribund creature. We are hanging from a crystal thread that will snap as soon as we begin trembling too much; and it is bound to happen for panic and fear are the approaching certainties in our uncertain world. The feigned order we see in this world is accomplished only by the most ailing methods. The structure of our societies, politics and ideals are childish mirages that are sickening our marrow; from the hopeless effort to create a functioning world will sprout the most disastrous consequences. As long as we quietly consent to the monotony of capitalism, the guardian role of politicians and the greed of our material dreams, the monster inside will grow more impatient, more violent, more desperate and will soon rise to devastate the utopia of a frightened race.
The problem begins by avoidance. We have avoided very skillfully the mysterious circumstance of being flesh and blood machines wandering through a colossal void in uncharted space. We have avoided awareness in order to just act out a scheme that is blind and absurd. We are doubly cursed for being an animal that thinks. Animals are innocent of our sin because they have no prolonged awareness of their circumstances, they can only act and remain in their true state. Our role would have been the same if the spark of damned consciousness would not have arisen in us, making us slaves not only to action but also to unnecessary thinking. The problem as it stands nowadays is that we cannot escape our second function, and the need to think is something we cannot avoid but must bear it as a sickly appendage. As soon as we start thinking the world becomes complicated and conflictive. It is too late for us to return to the blissful ignorance of animals and plants; we must bear the seal of our punishment and fulfill it to the end.
The tension begins when we have to conjure up all the rational bits that create a human moment and its interpretation. Memory explains the present by that which we learned and saw in the past. Both in normal life and in intellectual activities the memory functions as the glue that unites pieces of the fluctuating flux, trying to create a rational and understandable structure. Memory is a kind of discourse, a narrative we must have at hand to make rational sense of the world. The frontiers of our mind and its ability to shape and transform the external world are limitless. The 21st century has inherited a vast wealth of experience and knowledge that has enabled any one member of our species to access any kind of information within seconds. What seemed like an advantage in the natural world has now become an omnipotent weapon, able to pierce history to the beginning of time and reach the slumbering interiors of molecules and atoms. That capacity is out there as we live our day to day and ignoring our potential will only feed the anarchy that is to be born. Yet this potential is unattainable and misleading because our tools are inadequate. We cannot grasp an irrational universe through the rational thought of a human being. This assertion is not meaningless; it is as accurate as saying that you cannot contain water inside a strainer. The world is water and our intellect is a punctured container. Some things are not meant to be. The paradox is clear: we act as blind uncaring weaklings but carry the rage of a powerful intellect inside. Our power overwhelms us, we succumb to its ferocity. It tells us that things are not right but we wish not listen to that prophetic voice.
We are speaking here of the dream of a coming apocalypse. Such a view should not be taken literally. Humans will live much longer but blood and despair will taint future’s sky. Look at the hysteria of our age. We have reached the utmost tension of this struggle. The mind has rebelled against the Herculean responsibility that was appointed to it: to maintain order in a disorderly world. At this very point, when centuries of illusion are challenged and we cannot no longer continue as hypocrites of a corrupt world; exactly when we give up on our young hopes and reveal the frailty of our fragile world, then we will cross the threshold of madness. That is to say, we will enter a perceptual world in which reasons and rules break down and only the spontaneity of the moment reigns. A deliberate jump into chaos— a word that will one day signify liberation, release, realization. To have renounced the artificial laws and codes, the shackles of money and possessions, the sterility of reason; a day in which freedom will be here but will reveal how atrocious and belligerent we really are. Strife and conflict will prevail in direct proportion to our greed and neurosis. Only when we have erased the inherited layers of insanity may we return to a harmonious relationship with nature. The approaching sorrows will serve as our Purgatory – a redemption that will only be possible, alas, as we journey through madness.
Return to Beyond Language
A curious reflection took place in my mind earlier this evening. As I was watching a video about the ancient Greek and Roman arts a terrifying and threatening thought came to mind. Let me try to capture the sequence of this reasoning. The Greeks attained such perfection in sculpture perhaps unequaled in subsequent times. They idealized the world of man and conceived a universe of harmony, balance and beauty. They portrayed the human body in all its subtleties and achieved an uncanny realism in the reproduction of the human form in three-dimensional space. Yet in all their glory they also acknowledged the frailty of men. Even their gods are seen as creatures that battle with an ongoing conflict within themselves. Their sculptures often present the contradictory impulses of the rational and irrational in men and women. They urge us to restrain our insatiable whims with the bridle of Reason.
The Greeks are remembered and identified by such ideas. I was left wondering what ideas would identify our age. What monuments have we created that, if they were to survive the caprices of Time, would speak for a set of ideas that were born out of the last few generations. I speak of the themes of despair, existential anguish, cynicism, and the awareness of transience. Since the times of the World Wars artists, writers and thinkers left a bitter flavor in their creations; our collective self-esteem has not fully recovered from the blows of those violent times – in fact we still live in such times. Perhaps human history has and will always be a story of wars and catastrophes. We also recognize a turbulent loneliness and alienation inseparable to the world of globalization and capitalism. Our advanced technology enables us to become fully aware of our brutality and all these modern themes become unavoidable to any spectator of the world. Do we have any monument that will reveal this to posterity, as the Pantheon makes us recall of the Roman adoration for absolute perfection in the Heavens?
That’s to be answered by those that shall come. But at this point a startling and dreadful possibility interrupted my meditations. Even if our age has turned slightly pessimistic and lives in a perpetual state of convalescence, has it yet considered the possibility that it will not survive? Didn’t the Roman Empire with all its grandeur and power fall to ashes and now lies in ruins? Why are we to suppose that our current liberalistic society will prosper to the end of time and not come to a disastrous finale?
This possibility seemed very real. Our current ideals of materialistic prosperity might not be the most wholesome and can one day, in times of desperation and lack of resources, claim the whole world as its prey and our world: only another rotten carcass of a deceased civilization.
Let the millennia tell the truth…