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.


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3 responses

6 12 2009
emilylhauser

I turn on my computer, think, huh! I should swing by absurdbeats! And lo, you’ve left a comment by me, already. And then I come here, and this!

I love these kinds of posts/conversations/musings. The “I don’t know what the hell…. Do you?” discussions. And this one in particular strikes a cord. I’m feeling pretty angsty about the world myself these days, and I keep telling myself that it’s nothing new. That my parents discussed whether or not they should have children, in a nuclear age. That, in fact, in terms of human society (if not the planet itself) we are, in fact, far better off than we have ever been in the past. By any measure.

I think it’s me. I think I have come to loose ends, and I am finding it harder to look at the loose, messed, frayed ends around me. I don’t know about Jtte — we haven’t met, after all, I hear she’s very busy! — but for me, the world always seems worse off when there is a mess inside my own head, as well. (Tellingly, I actually wrote “the wolf always seems worse off…” before correcting it. I believe I may be feeling that the world may devour me! Or my granny).

7 12 2009
geekhiker

For whatever reason, this reminds me of that dialogue in The Matrix, where they talked about how the first matrix, with the “perfect world” was a failure, so they had to build a second, “flawed” Matrix. Maybe without one crisis or another, we just don’t know what to do with ourselves.

9 12 2009
absurdbeats

I think there is some sense that crises, being big, add meaning to our small lives. At least, I know that I can be unhealthily interested in dramatic and chaotic events.

But I think for those who are actually going through the experience of impending doom/change, it is real—it’s not just a psychological thrill ride.

I used to have nuclear nightmares, and even as I recognized the chances of that happening were slight, the prospect of the world ending felt real to me.

This is why I want to hear why Jtte thinks we are in the midst of crisis: what is it she sees and thinks and feels?

Maybe she is projecting outward something which is going on in her own life and head; maybe she’s recognized something which was not apparent to her, before.

Regardless, I want to know.

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