Although the idea of the individual, judged by morality and beholden to others for the form of being human and not the degree of striving toward a goal of greatness, remains filthy and horrible underneath its coating of cupcake-frosting sentiment and submission to the winds of life, there is one area where a nihilist could look Jesus Christ in the eye and tell him his doctrine succeeds: that of forgiveness.
People come into this life like drunken men caught by an ocean current, bewildered at these new shores and saddened by the paucity of life to be found there. The past is either barbaric natural selection, or a series of good intentions that bulked our species up like fat men, bulging with emotion but devoid of passion for a real sense of right in the only sense that matters, which is carving from the pattern language of life a beauty which transcends the ugliness, as the universe has been doing since its inception, converting void to light.
Politics is either authoritarianism or anarchy, if you take each thought to its logical extreme (as the years, and iteration of failure and dramatic action, will take it). We are born bitter or we check out early, and become doers of the rote action, evaders of the doubt and death through preoccupation with things we do not care about in the inner parts of us that can think of more than one thing at once and construct from them beauty or emotion. The solutions given to us are bad, and our ancestors, afflicted by the same things that will soon imprint us, have treated us like possessions and left us to the wiles of a world motivated by fear and thus greed, control and snide witty remarks to conceal an inner hollowness.
At some point, those who still have red healthy blood become possessed by a desire to take the fight to the enemy and leave scars of mortal wounds across its jaws. But who is the enemy? In a metaphysical "Where's Waldo," we're left stranded in our angst to try to locate the source of all of this bad, and we always come up short or pick targets that occupy us but obscure what we really want to change. The enemy is no one, or it is everyone; it could be ideas, but even those "isms" we learn in college eventually decompose into simpler thoughts, or rather biological impulses misdirected by illusions so basic we cannot even construct dogmas of them, and there is no way to take an axe to the intangible.
We have reason to be bitter not only from the past but for the future. Since our fellow citizens are checked out of reality, and we need consensus to address a problem, we see them as our obstruction because they, selfishly, refuse to see reality because it is more convenient to remain in denial. We see them as pigs and whores and we would like, if we search our hearts, to murder them all so the few who have chosen to face reality can move forward to do something better with our time than the cycling exhibits of rote-task jobs, shopping malls, traffic-choked streets, news reports of random shootings and government offices where we always are one triplicate form short of what we need. Our reality is hell, unless we have made ourselves oblivious like most have chosen to do.
In the state of oblivion, it is impossible to recognize fault with the design of a system. The patterns we live by are invisible, as are the larger patterns around them, which are invisible because they are mathematical and informational, not tangible. Oblivion makes us see life as being always this frustrating, and the goal of oblivion means that we are busy stuffing our minds with garbage, and occasionally, bad and terrible things happen and we do our best to forget them immediately. One reason we may not see UFOs filling the night sky is that all civilizations face this threshold, and either surrender to oblivion and self-destruct, or reorganize themselves through great effort. Distant stars may harbor only ruins and bitter, devolved apes flinging broken circuit boards at each other.
This balance would make anyone uneasy. It might make them sick. Do we live for the now, and try to keep our minds distracted, or do we do what might make us feel whole, and struggle for clarity, knowing that others will be alarmed that we interrupt their oblivion and slash at us with their words, their money and their censure? What a feast of bitterness -- what a tragedy of inattention -- what a horror, through that inextricable process of nature that kills things that have lost the will to live, all without flashing a neon sign in their faces saying OBLIVION REACHED: DOOM AHEAD, PREPARE FOR GALACTICA FAILURE. It is no surprise so many smart people either outright kill themselves or live increasingly recklessly until drugs, alcohol, disease or pimped-out ghetto dwellers finish the job for them.
Most people take a middle path. They try to live as best they can, and to push those bad (but real) thoughts away behind the TV shows and CDs and shiny new gadgets, and try to live inside themselves as much as possible, while making some concession to the need for ideology. These people -- 99% of those who aren't so incapacitated by congential stupidity, poverty, self-abuse and/or power that they still notice things -- will choke us with their sad paradox. They know a need, but in an effort to balance it with themselves, they have reversed the logic. Instead of doing what is right, they go through the motions of doing what is right to make themselves feel better about being alive, and to hold up a rhetorical sword to others: "I am on a mission! I have a goal! Where you, grey lumpenprole of the cascade of Rome's future failure, may endure only for your sofa and television, I have a cause!"
One reason the internet is disgusting is that all of those who find life frustrating, but cannot yet commit to doing something about it and possibly giving up the little they have, come to it with their supposedly unique personal philosophies to wage war on us in a desperate attempt to prove they are right and we are wrong (nevermind that they have misunderstood the relativity equation, and assumed that a drowning man can rise by pushing down others to drown faster: the water level remains the same!). They bloviate violently, they cajole us for not seeing their point of view, they act like petty philosophers and tyrants -- in fact, their actions are indistinguishable from honest ideologism until we look deeply into them, and see the logic is reverse. They do not act toward a goal.
They act toward themselves, and use the goal like those little crabs who glue shells and sand in a clump around them for camouflage. They hide behind "activism" so they do not feel the cold hard fear for this time, for the past and for the future, and realize how tenuous their own grasp on wanting to exist in it can be. Haven't we all felt that touch of cold night, a velveteen breeze with the promise of dew, sneaking in that window we must have forgotten to close and stroking us with a scent that touches on the beautiful freedoms of childhood, and so in contrast to the present, pointing out what we're missing and converting a thing of beauty into the touch of death, fear, horror and failure? When we are blocked by anger and frustration, things of beauty become hateful, because they are not what we have, and they remind us of our two options: go into denial (anarchy) or force ourselves ahead through personal fascism (authoritarianism) even though it means our whole lives will be unrelenting work.
Forgiveness intrudes into this state of mind, and gives caesura, because like all states of transcendence ("grace" in the Christlexicon) it reminds us of the goal as a pattern in a pattern language of reality, placing the tangible aside so that we can see what complements our souls and completes us as people. This completion is not individualism, which means "placing of the individual before everything else," but a transcendence of both individualism and the Crowd around us. It is a clarity of mind through beauty, and one of the few times in life we can think clearly of more than one thing at once, because we have woven all into an upward current like the thermals of a fire, the sinuous waves of an ocean storm, or the image left in our mind by a treeful of leaves where we cannot see any one but can see all as a ragged, beautiful shape.
We forgive those who abused us as children, or did stupid things to us during the day, not because we care for them, but because we want to free ourselves from them, and by freeing both parties from the resentment that keeps us earthbound, return focus to the goal. Some say it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness, where others say it is better to forgive the darkness, and light a candle so you can read, or cut some pushups, or ignite your own flatulence and send a blue flame into the night proclaiming "I am alive!" Forgiveness is giving up on the treacle of what has failed and moving toward that which is more ideal. It takes us from a negative logic of detesting something, to a space of emptiness, from which we can reconnect with creative logic and instead of acting out our fears of the negative, reach toward what may be beautiful. (Most people fear emptiness too much to let go of their hatred and impotence, because at least it's something tangible. It will be there tomorrow. It seems immortal. The more miserable it gets, the more immortal it seems, which is why people love to suffer -- so long as they can bore us with the details.)
I encourage us to forgive on several levels:
* Forgive the idiots around you. It's not that they don't know what they do; it's that they're designed to not even consider knowing. They can do no differently. This is why in greater civilizations, they were told what to do and removed if they could not do it.
* Forgive the past. Let go of the old symbols, of the "Lord of the Rings" style visions. That which is truly eternal will be recreated if you act logically according to the pattern language of life. By holding on to images, you reverse your logic, and act so that the goal leverages you, instead of leveraging yourself toward the goal.
* Forgive the future. It looks horrible, doesn't it? It's an illusion. Nature's mathematics are designed with strict boundary functions that regulate systems so that a small amount of abuse makes them apocalyptic, but that gives them the ability to right themselves quickly. The idiots will plough ahead like lemmings and at a future moment, in free fall over the churning surf, will whip out Wiley E. Coyote styled signs saying "WTF FAIL," and then plunge into the abyss. Mourning them and cursing them are less productive than eating your own waste. Move forward toward the creative goal.
* Forgive the bloviators. They are your future allies, once they accept that trying to uphold themselves as the universe, with all else (in backward logic) a leverage toward the self. They bloviate because they need a cause so they do not feel doubt, and through this process of cognitive dissonance, where the individual invents an alternate reality to compensate for lack of importance or satisfaction in the one ultimate reality which may not be fully material but converges on materiality, they create "activism" of improbable things. The more improbable the better, because when one leverages activism to justify oneself, the goal is not to achieve a better state, but to have a cause for existing. So try to find those unicorns and sodomize God, because it'll keep you busy until you're too old to take yourself so seriously, and can look forward to coasting into an oblivious death.
Forgiveness is a form of nihilism that cuts us free from an obligation to consider this time sane, and the actions of insanity which adapt to its lack of sanity, important. Forgiveness slices it away from us so we can use our real powers to make changes to the design of reality, reflected in its pattern language, and allows us to use the principle of nihilism: believe in nothingness, and use that nothingness to remove the unimportant, which is that which does not have a necessary causal relationship to the interconnected design of the cosmos. Act not for practicality, but beauty, because what is practical is illusion, and when we forgive it, we give up on it in the one positive context of giving up -- we move past the dying to the living.
If you take a reverent attitude toward forgiveness, and forgive this world and its people for their illusion, a stillness will settle over your soul. You will feel the past leave you like a headache at dawn, and leach out of you like an illness fading away. You will feel silence in your mind and soul, and what is not silent will be possessed with contemplation of a goal, which in a non-linear fashion involves combining all of the factors of life into a holographic rope fashioned from the pattern language of the universe. You will feel power as you see what you can do to move past the confusion and horror of recent history, the lies of others, and the bloviation of those stranded in not forgiving these lies.
This stillness will be followed by action, but -- not yet. Wait for another moment. In this new stillness, you will for the first time experience the reverence for the universe and the grace that mystics speak of, where its beauty will return. Yin and yang, darkness and light, anarchy and clarity, chaos and order... they form something that is like a warm hand, cuddling you its child. Somewhere a voice like the hum of the earth is encouraging you to go onward, to create, to make beauty wherever whatever exists. Nihilism has removed both hatred and apathy. And as you think this, the cold air of the night -- reminiscent of those rare moments of freedom in childhood when you forgot the rules, and played fearless in the darkness -- intrudes on you in your lonely room with a hint of dewfall, and you feel a love for the universe that you can craft in seed and sword, for as long as you live.
April 27, 2008