How it happened exactly I will never know. Suddenly everything became worthless, everything human per se, that is. This veneer of generic pleasures and conventional raisons d’être became illusory, life taken at face value, submission to the established order; well, I was done with all that long ago. The magic began when my intuition fumbled upon a veritable prospect of infinity. How many different orders of life are possible, how many universes made of other realities must exist simultaneously, in such way, I began to break the biased assumption that this is the only world there is. What an experiment this life here is, to emerge from a field of interconnected activity, full of evolutionary processes. Humans begin to appear unreal and yet beautiful in their playing out the habits of their biology and history, their customs in this unique, relative mode of being we know as ‘life on earth’. From the way we speak, sleep, drink, dress – a rare collection of revocable attributes, a lonely arrangement in the infinite spectrum of eternity. I caught a glimpse only. Glimpses of just one dream unfolding in a god’s sleep; a god that never dies. That god has had an infinite number of dreams in the past and shall have an infinite number of dreams in the future, no two alike. In this ephemeral presence how can I regard anything as immutable, or ultimately, even as real? The very foundations of this world, with its geometry and physical laws, its life forms and civilizations, its space and time, are nothing more than an evanescent chapter in the phantasmagorically boundless ground of being.
So here I stand as raw nothingness, the happiest nothingness to ever breathe the cold air under a yellow winter sun, amidst the foundationless relativity of this dreamlike existence.
The rest I will never know.
there are attempts
yet I never find
any published thought
that will survive
the caprices of history
evolution and death.
I find two words
in one effort to capture
two words echoing
long after the writer
has left the earth.
two words that are as unlikely
as they are ridiculous
to have been written.
they are all
that needs to be said
by a poet…
“The intellect [as] a local effect of evolution, a flame, perhaps accidental,
which lights up the coming and going of living beings in the narrow
passage open to their action; an lo! forgetting what it has just told us,
it makes of this lantern glimmering in a tunnel a Sun which can
illuminate the world.” Henri Bergson
Revolutionary insights are bound to occur every few centuries. Evidence for this is clear since we stopped regarding earth as the center of the universe nor our solar system as the only existent planetary system; the “island universes” discovered in the early 20th century later became proof that we float inside a great vacuum filled with galaxies and our position is not in any way advantageous: we are merely an anthill in a vastly greater desert. Revelations of this sort change the root of all our understanding of the human being and his position in this strange universe. The above discoveries lead to a re-conceptualization of our place in the material plane. There are other revelations that force us to reevaluate our previous conceptions at a cognitive or intellectual level. Kant believed to have transformed philosophy with the same impact that Copernicus’ theory revolutionized astronomy. However, his philosophy as influential as it is, couldn’t produce the radical transformation its author had anticipated. In more recent times Heisenberg dramatically redefined the future of physics with his Uncertainty Principle, setting a perennial barrier to the accuracy of information we can obtain at the subatomic level. It will be safe to speculate that world-changing insights will continue to appear throughout history.
Because we are so immersed in our own opinions and hold with unswerving faith our convictions, it is no surprise that it becomes difficult for us to accept, much less digest, what new ideas are pointing at. The evolution of human knowledge is constantly pushing for wider horizons, breaking free from assumptions that were once crowned as truths but are in reality only provisional scaffolds that permit the growth of more profound insights. Such may be that case with our idolatry to matter; ever since science usurped almost every field of knowledge proclaiming that epistemological certainty is only possible through objective (that is, physically oriented) evidence. Steadily ever since Einstein tried to unify electromagnetism and gravity there has been an increasing wave of believers in a unified theory of reality; which in closer analysis is a pretension to explain the entire universe, or all that is, by physical mechanisms. It rests on an unproven assumption that can be summarized like this: because we are able to perceive the physical universe with our five senses and technical apparatuses, everything we perceive can be explained from that which we perceive. In simpler terms we are convinced that there exists nothing more than what we are able to perceive or deduct from our perception, and although this sounds like the plainest commonsense, we should carefully rephrase that assertion to: we can only discuss what we perceive. But we should not discard beforehand the possibility that this world, every phenomenon at the experiential level, may be simply a fragment of a vaster and greater reality. This does not imply that that greater universe which we cannot perceive should be a concern to science and philosophy but it simply comes as a warning to our proud advancement of knowledge. My case can be summed up in the following way:
If our awareness and intelligence arose out of earlier biological experiments, its persistence on this planet must only be explained by the advantages it has given to our species. Its function has been to assist the survival of our kind and not as we now presume, to solve the riddles of existence. Intelligence did not arise to survey all the scope of whatever exists but only to aid the organism in its survival with its immediate environment. This may be a total and insurmountable obstacle for the arrogance of science and philosophy; merely because there may be dimensions of reality we are not designed to perceive, causes that may influence the physical universe which are not strictly perceivable nor deducible from physical phenomena. This condition could set an experiential limitation to our knowledge –not unlike the uncertainty principle – forever and ever concealing absolute truth from our grasp and revealing us not as possessors of facts but merely as gatherers of illusions.
Return to Beyond Language
If we must submit to the irrationality of following all logic to its end, conclusions may turn shockingly paradoxical. I once heard that we have chosen our life from the very start and that our experience on this planet is simply the revelation of our original choice. If this were true then the absurdity of our suffering would be justified since we have chosen beforehand to experience it. The question that remains would be: why have we forgotten our original choice? Why does life present itself as an unknown unfolding instead of being the realization of one’s desire? By some obscure mechanism our original choice has been obliterated, life remains a permanent surprise. At first this seems like another form of fatalism except for the fact that we have chosen that predetermination. On the other hand, most people believe that the universe is a spontaneous happening and we must choose our way through the hazards of spontaneity. Our life is the result of all our choices, but how do we ever get to choose anything? I sat down the other day to think this one over and I discovered that my choices are really just reactions to whatever is presented to my mind. From the pettiest choices to the most important decisions I simply obey a feeling, logic or a whim. In all of these cases I am subject to what simply happens inside me. Should I buy a black or blue pen? I wait for a moment, experience a certain sensation of pleasure in black and I buy the black pen. Should I live in Costa Rica or in India, I wait for a moment, a logical-emotional labyrinth emerges in my mind and by the end of this involuntary frenzy, I make my decision. Naively speaking, thoughts are like emotions, they arise involuntarily and by a law of their own. Most people are identified with their thoughts, but if you ask them how they fabricate a thought they must inevitably answer: it simply happens. So, if my decisions are nothing but reactions to what is presented to my mind, what is allowing these perceptions? If we submit to modern scientific thinking, to explain a perception in the human mind we must pursue a long path through Psychology, Sociology, Biology, Evolution, Neurology, Chemistry, Physics, and we will end up with an ultimate theory for the universe as seen by man. In very simple terms, what we experience is the result of the whole arrangement of the cosmos, and if we knew every bit of information about this arrangement, we could predict ourselves. Again, we fall into an unremitting fatalism.
But what’s the use of all this reasoning and the contemporary compulsive adoration to logic and reason?
I choose not to know.
“Puppet on a string” by Steve Whitney
From this region here to that other geography
From this sober dream to that brittle philosophy
From this silly present to that uncertain future
From this strange human to that evolving creature
From this labyrinth life to that simple death
From this fleeting day to that final breath
What consoles my hopeless eyes?
Why must raindrops fall
and stir my soul like Debussy’s piano,
delirium in an orchestra of round ripples
each droplet unites with the puddle
in this unknown street of Nygårdvej
Why can I not resist this temptation
Of studying the motions of a
I raise my head a few meters
a different world comes into view
a realm so close but so inexplicable
of these men and women of modernity;
so you see two worlds bound together
One as ancient as numberless time
The other new by cosmic comparison
And worst of all, I must confess
this thing frightens me above all:
the road mankind has fashioned for itself,
that relentless evolution of man’s world
not long ago we lived flat on a finite earth,
now the cosmos has expanded to insane proportions
we are a micro-dot in a cold dark shadow
Are children aware of our ancestral roots
before we were in trees, but now
riding in motorized wheels
is there a Nostradamus among us
who will reveal the end of our obsessions,
or will it never come to an end,
like this puddle should turn into ocean
if these drops from heaven
never cease to fall.
His gaze was dismal. His face pale and furrowed by his old skin. And those eyes… almost inert yet burning with sadness as if they were looking straight into empty meaninglessness. What happened to him? Had he found irrevocable proof that the universe has no purpose, had he understood the absolute nonsense of existence? His face was like an ancient ape, the first animal in the history of the universe to become aware of mortality – the original simian that understood:
” I AM
but I must die one day”
Oh poor old man!
Those eyes scanning the infinite indifference of the civilized world. Somewhere in the glimmering of his left eye I read his thoughts.
They were thoughts of a hopeful pessimist:
My life in shadows.
My life in this modern world
Splendid technological forms unfurled
Nobody knows the monster that’s been created
But who will listen to my voice recluse and alienated
If only we could invent a new auspicious religion
To bury our fears and escape ever-lasting oblivion
The old man stood up and got off the bus and sat by a tree. And then we rode off into other streets, other corners.