From A to B…

A:  (clasping hands in triumphal display) And that’s how it will all end…

B:  (in pensive mood) All theory is interpretive. All facts are theory-laden. There is no pure objective world out there that we can measure and explain. The act of measuring itself is a creative process. We define reality as we go along. After a while, our own creations become idols, so that a law of physics is merely a cognitive habit. What is interesting to see is that every age in history has presumed possession of Absolute Truth. What will be revealing is that meta-narratives are relative to the epoch’s climate, ideals, unconscious motives, and so forth. Today’s theory will become tomorrow’s mythology.

A:  (visibly offended) My god!

B:  (smiling and sympathetic) But I’m likely to be wrong…

A Modern Hero

A modern hero

We can watch him quietly chewing his dinner. His gaze is imperturbable and his thoughts invariably these:
 
The nothingness that exists in all forms, and the nothingness that is yet to be born.
 
The modern hero awaits (and this waiting period is interminable) for a fatal threat. This threat is anticipated throughout the cycles of the clock. It is always approaching, never disappearing.
 
What can he do?
 
Nothing. Resisting the menace of existence is a futile and wearisome illusion. He will initially find himself in hypertension, guarded against an invisible enemy. Since there is no defence against his opponent, rebellion would represent a defeating madness. Acceptance must be learned and practiced. However, salvation is not achieved solely by the acceptance of one’s own precarious situation. He has no escape, he must sacrifice a distracted and unexamined life in order to become bearer of a strange suffering.  He will be the hated antagonist of any unfounded human optimism.
 
For what?
 
To cure himself of a malady that is not only his own but also a dormant illness that all conscious beings carry within.
 
What relieves him? 
 
From the perspective of the world he has secluded himself in an abstract and spurious discourse; from the perspective of his own condition he has renounced his faith in a world of form and substance, he has lost trust in the socially approved states of consciousness. He lives in a mythological world, albeit, his myth has not yet been written nor can it be.  He is dispersed in a flux of perception that not necessarily implies an objective external world. His experience cannot be communicated, it does not have the logical structure of a normal human situation.
 
 Is there a light at the end of his tunnel? 
 
From the standpoint of the all-too-human, suicide may appear as the last desperate, but effective, act of liberation, but this won’t be his course. He has selected an ambitious journey: The transmutation of consciousness. An intuition convinces him that the reality we live in is only one of many possible creations; and in the sober creation of less restricted states of consciousness he will achieve his ultimate objective: inner peace.

City Walls

I have abandoned everything
  like a monk with weary eyes
I am a hermit within the city walls
Tall towers of light are only columns of dreams
I have fled from the horizon
            to study the core
I am tired of all the signs –
  In a falling leaf
        the whole universe is summarized.
Don’t wake me up!
Let me sleep in my rich delusions
   Let me be like dust
        that never had a name
            it never spoke a word.

Modern Mythology

What’s commonly regarded as the religious sentiment will always find expression in the human realm. Even in our time when the theology of the great religions of the West have been reduced to mythologies, since they have been outsmarted archeologically (bones have been found of human ancestors from nearly two million years ago, long before any Adam or Eve), anthropologically (the themes of the Scriptures are common motifs found in many earlier human cultures), and cosmologically (the view of the earth as middle of the universe has been sufficiently refuted by modern astronomy); even in this time when a literal meaning of the symbols of Christianity, Judaism and Islam are no longer reasonable, there will be an urge to fulfill the role of religion in the hearts of the skeptic modern human being. Even men and women that find the universe absurd, meaningless, godless and pointless have a general sensation that life is too powerful to bear (expressed in their despair), and from that sensation arises a NEED to express this overwhelming power. In some cases such men and women finding no meaning in their lives produce the most striking works in art, literature and music because even the act of expressing one’s own disillusionment with the world turns into a life-guiding and therapeutic activity.

In this new and unprecedented age in the course of human history when all authoritative divine guides to our lives are lost, we still share a common heritage that has shaped and is shaping our lives as a living species. By this I mean the process of development from the womb to a self conscious adult organism. This individual history is shared by all and our minds have been deeply impressed with this organic development which finds expression in our adult life through dreams and symbols (see Freud and Jung). Through symbols we find the surest way to express the non-discursive knowledge of our subconscious minds, a reality everyone holds within his or her own mind. What these symbols seem to be pointing at is a reunification with a totality we have lost. In biological and psychological terms this can be viewed as the separation of the baby from the mother’s womb at the moment of birth and later as the baby develops self-consciousness in its first years, creating the identity of the ego and the external (not-me) world. Some psychologists suggest (like Fromm) that this is the cause of our need to love, to be reunited with the blissful TOTALITY we experienced as infants. I think, perhaps, because of this common experience we all share as infant human beings, mythology and religion arise as a path to find this reunification with what we once belonged to.

Now, throughout history religion has most aptly been expressed in the symbolism of poetry since the symbols of the aesthetic are open to more than just a rational way of thinking. The entire mind is engaged in the apprehension of symbols, providing a more complete entrance to the individual’s inner life. Perhaps this is why science is received coldly by many today because it cannot fulfill the role of a rich mythology addressing not only what is rational in the human being but also what is intuitive, emotional and the like.

The human need to find expression of his intimate experience of the cosmos is not a theory since history supplies us with sufficient proof that this has been a solid fact. Virtually every society and civilization that this planet has harbored believed in some mythological view of the universe.

The question now lies in what form will the new mythology take shape? How will the modern human express his undeniable connection to this powerful universe in terms that are accepted by our current intellectual standards, based on skepticism, pragmatism and scientific inquiry?

The answer will not be hard to find since we share with former times, if not more vehemently, the wonder for existence as such, now that science is exponentially revealing the scope and depth of this universe and the miraculous operations of the human body and mind. The task will be for people to appreciate these facts not only in a dry rationalistic way but in a more engaging relationship with the deeper mystery all these facts are uncovering.

 

 

(This short-essay has been strongly inspired by Joseph Campbell’s insightful gem of a book: Myths to live by)