Sunday, February 17, 2013

Death and unicorns

And God said: "But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves: For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God."
-Exodus 34:13-14 from the Bible

And the atheist said: "If I were not an atheist, I would believe in a God who would choose to save people on the basis of the totality of their lives and not the pattern of their words. I think he would prefer an honest and righteous atheist to a TV preacher whose every word is God, God, God, and whose every deed is foul, foul, foul."
-Isaac Asimov 


Preface: If you came here for the unicorns, sorry but there won't be any mention of them in this post. I just thought it juxtaposed "death" nicely and so I put it in the title. BUT, never one to disappoint intentionally, I've gone through the effort to find a picture of this happy unicorn below. 

Happiest unicorn ever.


It’s no secret I’ve turned to the dark side (see: "Atheism"). But it happened just very recently, and very gradually at that. A years-in-the-making kind of deal. In 2008 I identified as an existentialist/absurdist; this was when, for the very first time in my life, I audibly entertained the notion that life is intrinsically meaningless and without purpose. It hit me like that Mayweather shot to Ortiz; that shit came out of nowhere, and the enormity of such a notion pretty much knocked me out cold. I think that’s inevitable when you’ve been reared since the womb to believe in things like God, higher purpose, and the it’s-all-gonna-be-okay affirmation: “Everything happens for a reason.” All are, of course, human attempts to cope with the uncopeable. That’s essentially the definition of absurdism, the school of thought I owe so much to, all praise to Albert Camus, philosopher and author of The Stranger. The absurd, per Wikipedia, “refers to the conflict between the human tendency to seek inherent value and meaning in life and the human inability to find any.” Is that beautiful or is that beautiful? 

For the longest time, I thought God was a white dude in the sky, monitoring and judging us all. But, now newly equipped with my absurdist beliefs, I had no choice but to ascribe God an upgraded, better meaning. I won’t go into it too much, but in 2008 moms introduced me to the Conversations with God books, and instantaneously they heaved my mind high to the revolutionary teachings of New Age spirituality. God was no longer a He; God was now a thing I couldn’t quite describe or define, for doing so would limit the immeasurable scope of such perfection and immaculation (whatever that means). Long story short, though I’d officially removed the clamps of Christianity from my beliefs, I was still clinging tightly to the idea of a God; He, or It, just came by way of another vehicle now. (All that being said, I still recommend Conversations with God to everyone; it’s an amazing book with plenty of application in the year 2013, and world peace would probably prevail if everyone owned a copy.)

Then Jerry Seinfeld/Larry David and Woody Allen came along. The former pair nihilistic misanthropes, the latter, a steroided, upgraded megaphone to the tenets of absurdism. I dove deeper, deeper into the darkness. “Everything happens for a reason” became “Things happen... and what's the deal with meat skewers? Can you believe these things?” (Reference to the hilarious video below.) But still I wasn’t able or ready to give up on my updated version of God as the undefinable, that sort of eternal--for lack of a better word--STUFF, residing with, around, about us all. I was, in my own way, still coping with the uncopeable. 

Then the landmark moment. My man Richard Dawkins showed up in late 2012 and shut the fucking gym down. Even now I’m shaking my head, awed by the one-in-a-billion fortuitous chance of my coming across his book. I’d torrented a bundle of ebooks at random, maybe 150 or 200 in all. As I was perusing the list, trying to decide which to read first, I saw it sticking out like a rogue boner: The God Delusion. I’d never heard of Dawkins before, but the sheer boldness of his book's title did enough to pique my interest, and as they say, the rest is history. Delusion taught me more about evolution than all my high school science classes combined; I learned that socially, we’ve been programmed to grant unwarranted respect to religion and its respective beliefs, and that needs to change ASAP; and I realized just how blind and brainwashed you have to be to maintain religious beliefs in the 21st "Age of Information" century. But most importantly, most monumentally, Delusion finally gave me the courage to drop God completely from my mind’s steeple. I stood over the cliff, arm outstretched, the Omniscient One suspending pathetically in my clutch and eyeing me for pity like a droopy-eyed dog; the fascist I am, I looked the poor bastard straight in the eyes and LET GO. 

I can say it now, 99.99 percent positively: There is no God, whether it be invisible white dude or invisible we-are-all-one spirit. There is no meaning to life. There is no heaven. There is no soul, just a brain liking the idea of one. There probably is the world of the relative (where we reside) and the world of the absolute, but the latter can be felt only in death, and by definition one can’t feel anything in death, so for all intents and purposes there really is no such thing as the world of the absolute. YOWZA! If you think that's a bleak, depressing prospect, well, you’re absolutely right is the problem. 

I don't say any of the above with pretension or condescension, like I'm better than the twenty billion percent of the world still clutching to its respective ideas about God. Promise. I'm just consistently time and again blown away by the universe and all its mysteries for whatever reason, and so existential matters pretty much consume every thought I have not related to Jeremy Lin or humpin some hunnies. Finding the truth and getting it across time/space matters to me, and what I've figured out and gotten down to a science is that the old, universal adage that TRUTH HURTS is no bullshit. In fact, it's probably an understatement, best compensated for by Ernest Hemingway, who gave his own grimmer version of the adage, saying "Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know." Jesus fucking Christ. Anyone who says it like that... is it any wonder the man took a shotgun to the face? Outlook on life that irreparably stark, can you blame him? 

Of course, I'm being partly facetious. Sure, I don't condemn Hemingway's decision to call it quits, and sure my life outlook reads similarly to his, but please don't think there's any "reading between the lines" to do right now, like I'm trying or even thinking of trying to emulate Hemingway's grand exit. (Although that would technically be honoring the saying that "good writers borrow; great writers steal" [from other writers]). No, I will not be submitting an app to join the NRA just so I can get mines and go out with an emphatic bang. Nor will I hang myself like Madoff's kid or stomach a mouthful of arsenic a la Madame Bovary. Fuckkk thattt. Just the opposite. Knowing death is a finality, I'm doing everything humanly possible to stay as cowardly as possible, such that any potential run-ins with Her Lowness (death) can be avoided. As Woody Allen humorously said, "I don't want to achieve immortality through my work; I want to achieve it through not dying." 

I'm obsessed with it. Death is a finality. Isn't that fucking insane? It's literally the last thing. T-H-E Last Thing. It's the incomparable behemoth of be-all-end-alls. Salvation is nothing but specks of dirt and ash. When the priest says, "He's with God now," that's just the best way he knows of saying "The end." 

I'm sorely and sordidly tempted to just stop right here, but then this might be the most depressing blog post in the history of depressing blog posts. (Actually that's more my being facetious. If I've done my writing job properly then you're not depressed, but somewhat entertained.) Plus, there's a voice telling me that I gotta come with the uplifting denouement; that baiting you into the snow, just to drown not only you but your entire family and all your ancestors and all your ancestors' puppies and kittens in the avalanche of grim death, is generally unacceptable; that I gotta at least come with the shovel and try to dig you up. 

But then another voice is telling me, fuck it. What's the point? You're just gonna die anyway. 

Reaper fugitive OUT! 

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