Friday, December 06, 2002

Notes from the Brink (Extract #1)

All our writers, artists, prophets, philosophers, sages and messiahs have seen some positive aspects to this life. That is why they expressed themselves in thought, word or action, so that they may influence the state of things towards their own ideals, or to reinforce the values they found and considered to be of value. There is a wide variety to be found in their convictions. But none of them believed in the ultimate meaninglessness of things. Or so it would seem. For even if some lone voice were to proclaim that life has no meaning, or that truth could never be found, that life-denying voice would be ignored as that of a madman. Because whatever a man’s faith may be, he always lusts for certainty. Like Pascal said, all our reasoning ends in surrender to feeling. All honest thinking, coupled with an awareness of the limitations of the human mind, brings the mind to an abyss, from which it is naturally repelled. One may jump into the abyss, and may even find the truth, but this truth is never communicated to another. The one who finds it may live a madman’s life or probably suicide. (It may be worth noting that suicide notes have not received their due in the study of literature. How could they? How many of the so-called searchers for truth would read a suicide-note with the readiness to follow the author if he were to be convincing enough in his justification for his final act? None. The most these would do would be to appreciate the passion of the writing, a common feature of suicide-notes.) It may be easy to believe a Messiah if he were to come and declare that he has the Truth, and it is: Love thy neighbour as thou would thy own self. It is easy to follow him. But one who were to tell you that there is no difference if you were to live or die, laugh or cry, help or harm, wake or sleep, work or dream, fuck or fake, would be branded a lunatic, laughed at or stoned. It may also be worth noting the high incidence of so-called insanity among geniuses. Some, like Nietzsche, turn ‘mad’ after producing works which are regarded even centuries later as valuable. Many more geniuses succeed in avoiding ‘madness’ and are known merely for their ‘eccentricities’.slcw