Nothing comes from nothing

6 12 2009

‘No! You cannot argue with me! The problem is entirely theological.’

‘Well, philosophical, at least. Existential in any case.’

‘Theological. The deepest question of human beings! We are at the point of crisis. We are!’

‘It’s always there. Always. What’s new?’

‘We cannot continue to live like this. No! We cannot!’

Jtte, my orthodox-Marxist-and-orthodox-Catholic colleague, and friend, is at the frayed ends of her orthodoxy.

She is, in other words, less orthodox than she insists.

I don’t know what prompted this crisis, for her, or, to put it less personally, what prompted this recognition of crisis in the world. We keep trying to make lunch or dinner dates, but our schedules block us from anything more than a quick argument between classes.

And it would help to know, because I don’t know what to make of what appears—appears—to be a profound alienation and an acute need to clamber beneath that alienation, to something real.

I don’t want to push this interpretation too hard, not least because I really don’t know what the hell is going on with her. (And, as a conversation with another friend last week reminded me, ’tis best not to insert meaning into the unsaid.)

I am also admittedly puzzled by her insistence upon crisis. What, now, is different? There is nothing new in capitalism, nothing new in technology, no paradigm-shifting breakthroughs in science, no visitations from outer space nor even, to follow up a recent discussion, the barest hint of asteroids or global nuclear exchange or some new pandemic.

Yeah, things are falling apart, but things are always falling apart.

And yes, we are in the midst of an anthropic fucking-over of our climate, but one to which our scavenger species will adapt. Life may be worse in a hundred years, but it will continue.

So why the crisis?

Jtte, at least, is optimistic: She thinks we will become more human, more of whom we’re supposed to be, that life will get better (whatever that means).

Do we need a crisis for that? ‘Existential crisis’ is one of those tropes around which to build a novel or film or some form of art. It’s what happens when we get everything we want or nothing we want or everything we thought we wanted, or when we lose everything, or when what matters becomes jumbled with what does not—it’s what happens when we live, and think or feel our lives.

Crap. None of this is what I wanted to say. It’s not right, it doesn’t fit. None of these words. . . huh. Nothing.

My friend Jtte is sounding an alarm and I don’t know why.