According to the Romanian philosopher Emil Cioran a person would be better off not to have been born. He determined suffering is the rule in life and there is absolutely nothing anyone can do about it. All actions, he says, are or will be cause for regret.
The notion of well-being for Emil is an illusion that many people will harbor off and on during their lives but will in the end be unable to sustain. Apparently Emil thinks it would be better to be, now, where he was before he was born-which is where he must be since he died some years ago.
Not having been born myself, rather, molded in plastic, I’m not sure how to think about Emil’s assertion. I suppose he does have a point. As far as I’m concerned my sense of well-being is dependent on the consideration of others, you know, to not step on me, keep me away from aggressive dogs (the ones that like to chew things up), and such. And, how reliable can I expect that consideration to be; I guess there’s a faith aspect to any sense of well-being I might have.
As far as being better off being where I was before I was molded-in that vat of molten plastic-I suppose there is a sense of Oneness in that.
A friend and I were discussing the relationship between art and life the other day. He told me he thought much of life can be described in terms of the movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail. He explained the movie addresses how we create our own truths and manipulate events to suit our needs; how we harbor an inherent dislike of the other and make outrageous meaningless demands in order to demonstrate power over others, and how all this is part of our misplaced desire to achieve a heroic legacy.
Then he described some of the scenes that he thought supported his idea. I liked the one when the knights are taunted by the French who catapult farm animals at them. I found the scene where Arthur and his men are stopped by these strange knights who won’t let them pass through their lands until Arthur brings them a shrubbery pretty funny too.
I guess it all kind of made sense the way my friend told it and probably there’s some truth in his analogy, but after seeing the movie I think a better observation is that although we may do silly things sometimes and take ourselves too seriously once in a while there’s nothing more important in this world than a playful creative imagination.
Sometimes I wonder about the meaning of life; is there purpose in my existence. Buddha says life is suffering; relinquish your desires to find the way to enlightenment. The Dao says be frugal in thought and action and you will come early to the way which will allow you to immerse yourself in the flow and stay centered.
Maybe purpose has nothing to do with it. Maybe I just need to live my life moment by moment, in the flow, on the path to enlightenment. You know, wake up, smell the coffee.
I think there may be some self-discipline involved here.
For me, I don’t think there’s anything as energizing as the onset of spring. As the temperature becomes mild, the birds began to sing and the crocuses began to appear I feel my spirits lift. There’s a sense of rebirth in the air; life reappears after months of dormancy. In some ways it’s like a religious experience.
My friend Pearl said this idea reminded her of an experience she had while attending a revival meeting a while ago. She said the evangelist told the congregation that life was suffering because of the guilt of their sins and the only way to overcome the depths of despair, the fear and trembling of existence was to leap into faith and be born again.
Pearl thought about this awhile but being a bit of a skeptic and seeing rebirth wasn’t in her plans for the evening, she decided to pass on the leap and just deal with the despair and absurdity of human existence the best she could.
Well, all I can say is if our existence is essentially despairing and absurd then why do I have spring fever?
Imac girl was visiting the other day. She’s quite attractive; you’d never know she was a computer if it wasn’t for the USB port below her left ear. We were having a game of Chess; when she plugs in a flash drive she is a very good player. I guess what makes her so good is her ability to consider all possible moves. I still don’t understand how she can know which move is best but it must have to do with strategic positioning; she’ll always move in a way to maximize the preferred end result, which is capturing the King.
It’s sort of like the way determinists think about human actions: everyone is conditioned to act in such a way as to maximize survival in the world.
But, what if the ultimate goal was different? In fact, what if there was no ultimate goal? What if, instead of survival instinct or desire to capture the King, the focus was on the process: of performing aesthetically; of achieving an ongoing beauty in action. That would mean imac girl and I would have free will to act in ways we would consider of greatest worth in our relation to each other and our worlds.
Boy, that would really change the game.
I got a letter from Juju Wilson the other day. She informed me her family had recently gained ownership rights to their ancestral lands near Kununurra in Western Australia. The land is very important to her and her family and she wanted to let everyone know.
When I visited Juju and her grannies a few years ago, they told me about women’s business. Juju said women sing songs of power that are forbidden to men. She said the songs are as old as time; that they were sung by creator beings in the dream time to bring the world into being. The birds and animals, the goannas, rivers, water holes and billabongs all came to be in this way. One day while I was there Juju and her grannies took me to a sacred site where they had each been, in their time, initiated into womanhood. It is a place where two supernatural spirits, the Namarrgarn Sisters, reside. On the wall of an alcove there, is a painting of the sisters transforming themselves into crocodiles.
I think these women are truly fortunate to live so close to their spiritual origins. I wonder how different the world might be if everyone had such a meaningful connection to place.
I’ve been thinking lately about the big questions: you know: why am I here, is there a purpose to life, does the fact my plastic body will never deteriorate mean that in some sense I’m immortal?
I know the ancients found answers in the stars and planets. They used their relative positions in the heavens to predict what would be as well as what to do and when. I guess they needed some assurance the universe wasn’t completely random; that there was a cosmic plan they could base their lives on that would ensure some stability and be some sort of guarantee that existence would be meaningful.
Later mystics organized the heavens into levels one could travel between by gaining secret knowledge rising higher and higher until one entered the throne room of God, where I suppose one could expect to gain a sense of the big picture, especially if God showed up.
I think if the heavens hold the answers, maybe we just haven’t arrived at the right place yet. Maybe in some future rotation of the earth through the universe we’ll enter a rarefied atmosphere where everything will become clear; where we’ll know for certain whether God or chaos rules.
Well, I’m not waiting around. I’ll center my mind, go with the flow, live my dreams and hope the ride isn’t too bumpy.
I was digging around in my closet the other day when I came upon a small stuffed girl doll that I had completely forgotten about; it’s as if, until I found her again she had ceased to exist. It got me thinking about what it means to ’be’. You know, does existence depend on acknowledgement?
So, I went to the library where I found a book called Being and Time written by Martin Heidegger. He starts off by saying Being isn’t a thing so it can’t be defined by logic. Well, I found that fairly confusing: How can something be without………..? But then as I continued reading it all started to make sense: If I am a Being in the process of being-in-the-world and sometimes being-for-others but being careful not to be inauthentic in being so (and might be better off being alongside instead) it would seem my Being is being conscious of being a Being and by being a Being I know for a fact that I am, indeed a Being.
I went home my head spinning all the way. I took the little doll out of the closet and set her on my dresser where she would always be in plain sight. There, she will always be for me, that is as long as I am, I guess.
Have you ever had one of those dreams, as I did the other night, where you’re out in public going about your business and you’re naked or dressed only in your underwear? Nobody pays any attention to you but you are very aware and uncomfortable with the situation.
The common psychological explanations for such a dream range from feelings of shamefulness or vulnerability to fear of being noticed. Freud thought it was an indication of a desire to return to the paradise of childhood.
In my dream I was playing volleyball with a bunch of naked Barbies; I remember feeling dismayed seeing their emaciated bodies; it made me feel pretty good about myself………….it was uplifting really.
I’ve always thought morality to be pretty simple: follow the Golden Rule or as Kant said, “act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should be universal law.”
Or, I guess, do no harm.
Well, I was enjoying a Happy Meal the other day and I began thinking about all the packaging that would end up in the landfill, the plastic toy that was produced by pumping poisons into the atmosphere and the meat that represented destruction of the Brazilian rain forests. I started feeling pretty guilty.
So, I gathered up the remaining fries and supersized soda and gave them to the obese little boy in the next booth who thanked me profusely.
It feels so good to undo a wrong with a right.