Sunday, February 7, 2010

out there

Faith makes its arguments from the lack of evidence. Faith insists from the heart, it proclaims from the soapbox of experience, that perpetual as if, that sense that unseen eyes are upon us. Faith places its placards beneath windshield wipers and beside the pizza coupons on the screen. It always know better than you. Faith always has a lot to answer for.

Biology breaks it down into deceptively simple chemical markers, behavioral alchemy based on the pressures placed upon our shared ancestral pool, and upon the recent received wisdom of culture. We see the bushes shift and sway, then we see an animal burst forth. We learn to expect the hidden, anticipating ambush, projecting an enemy from the insides of our minds. The price of mistaking an empty wood for an ambuscade is a dose of anxiety and some wasted time. The price for mistaking an enemy waiting for an empty wood is everything. There are errors that are much cheaper to make than our notions of perfection allow. We learned to hedge our bets, walk careful, and talk low. We learned to pray to unseen actors, just in case.

I wouldn't say that there's nothing out there. Most of our many modern cultural mistakes have been those of hubris, thinking because we get one answer right, that we have aced the test. We bury old truths for shiny beads, listen to the voices of mechanized ghosts and forget how to sing. We package ourselves so carefully and completely that a hermitage would be a redundancy, believing sad, statistically impossible models of utility and success. We treat our deities like football teams, cheering our one truth on towards victory. The spirit only knows freedom, the religion only knows restraint. Whatever is or isn't there, it isn't what you think. It isn't what I think, either.

We are a convolution of happenstance and time. Each of us is a community, derived from an ancient compact between animal and plant, each cell a temple of this mystery. Swarms of viral agents, legions of bacter, armies of fungus. Sense and sentient is a continuity, rather than a pinnacle. We stare in the mirror and think ourselves chosen. We think we are stars when we are at best a colorful walk-on in an long complex ensemble show. We are shaped by the secrets of the eldest of hungers, we are altered by the world we turn and twist. There is dismal sorrow and great joy in us. But those things were there before us, and they will be around long after we are bones, junkyards and strange statuary of stone and bronze and steel.

Words are sounds and words are music. Words are art and they are tools. I use them liberally and with little care. Without giving away the playbook, that is the point. We are bound and released by language, and by silence, by act and stillness. Some journeys are laden with purpose, some seem to refute even the notion of meaning. Some aim for heaven, some for hell, some for the wealth and comfort of the world. Some strive for nothing more than absolute extinction, sleep of sleep, retreat from all that is manifest. I leave a trail of ink and kisses, wandering ever deeper into the unknowable.

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