by John Vallen
Thoughts on being human, political, free, and noble. I will update this sporadically.
To encounter our humanity; what did we expect? A tempest turning in our souls, not to be forgotten in the recollection of our genealogy. Alas, that we might have the unbidden dream of a primal past--that we were and still are animals. But for the violence of our being, we would be at peace eternal. Here we stand, with an armistice between the souls of others, but a war with the self raging on. To garb nature in violence, this our compulsion, and to shroud the mystery with silence, this our consolation. On the brink of annihilation we discover ourselves, and the insufferable urgency to turn away, to look back again at mountain and at glen. Yet, into the void we prosper, though nothing bids greetings therein. Oh, the tower we build in honor of this that we've conquered---though the sand holds for a time, now eternity these things undermines. No sooner have we found ourselves than we are tossed again by a raging surge; embroiled again in a tide unknown. To let go, to let go! Again, again, prosper the familia! Our roots are deep, and our selves, forever--here again do we usurp the usurper and forget the longevity of kin. Oh, for the deep of the past; and still oh, for the length of the future. To be human-- etre humain-- this, our burden; this, our essence: a fleeting catch on an undulating sea
Yet, the polis possesses basic necessity. The laws are its dreams, and we the dreamers. Enter the primordial tension between man and his city; where questions are noble and deadly, impious and true. Over against the truth of the laws we find science, and the ruin of the former comes accidentally on the eaves of the latter. To enshrine the law and yet posit the True--this, man, is your struggle. The beast arises in the shape of nothing and lays the whole city low. We know that we've known differently and that we shall again. Yet we die when we know this; we 'know that we know nothing,' not such that we know of ignorance, but that we know of the impossibility of our having birthed eternity. Here, and only here, do we arrive at dawn. And in the light of this ante-twilight, we sojourn in shadows, the ground steady, but our souls meek. That we may greet the infernal disc of the Sun in the rarefied air of our own mortality...
But freedom is our conscious recourse to consciousness; our backwards turning self-knowledge that yearns for foresight and finds instead a plein of possibilities structured only by the infinitesimal specks that dust our gaze. We've buried the lot in so many speck-full dunes merely out of respect for the dignity of so many half-blazed paths through the desert in the shade of Night. Now a west wind blows, if only we peek over these peaks to see that the Sun does set, neither there nor there, but here and only here.
But the authentic democrat asks, "How effective is this current sophistry?" Look! I can pinpoint injustice with swift, grandiose recourse to the persuasive tellings of a nihilist! The edifice is unjust because of its scaffolding, yes indeed. Remove the scaffolding... and there is no edifice...
Shall we escape even the pigeonhole of justice? Shall we be free at last? Here are your chains, my dear, low fellows--this new justice trumps even freedom, and extends your life all at once. We shall worry and grieve (hopefully to no avail) Monday through Saturday, and catch tea at noon. We've demolished the edifice of virtue, and found responsibility in its wake. Now, in these glorious times, we might even valorize irresponsibility, and the desert will be made...we last humans...tamen usque recurret.
To be a citizen or to be a philosopher? To be a man or to be a foggy eyed sycophant, a clouded mind set on self perpetuation--The Good, the God, you are mine, non? As a human, at least, you are mine, non? To be human, to be political? To be warlike, to have enemies? To be philosopher of Man and man-at-arms. To be human, the philosophic animal. In a strong way, I, the youngster, desire the strength to hold the disparate chords of our polity and philosophy together, to forge them as one in my soul. To do, to do!
We are free, equal, honest and "true"--But why? For what? Is our burden to answer this each to ourselves, for ourselves? Is our eminent modern transevaluation simply a disguised devaluation? What of our current naturalism? Wherein our hope to be human and to flourish? Perhaps we look to our idea of the Noble Philanthropist--what secret does his egalitarianism manifest? Adventavit asinus, indeed...
We have an unquenchable thirst lest we become immortal. But to become immortal? What an absurdity.
The full satisfaction of desire is the full cessation of desire--namely death. Are we so satisfied with life that we would aim at death? Wherein lies our fear of the will to live, the desire for life--or, in base terms, our desire for desire?
All of morality is predicated on self-loathing. In the easy disavowal of the barbarity of others, we've forgotten our own, and in this intractable tangle, we chose death over life. In proud nihilism, we proclaim, "The violence of this Gordian Knot must be forgotten in this, our dear post-Alexandrian haze!"