Death and Dreams I
(First in a series)
The hardest thing in this world is to live in it.
How I wish to be a character in some shining epic of fantasy, in which heroes always conquer evil, the innocent are saved from peril and destruction, and people reside in harmony and freedom. I do not. To those who may have noticed my absence, I offer the apology of shame, and of an abiding sadness that I find no surcease from as I return to the Blogosphere. My heart is rent to witness the strife here at my bloghome, between my friends and colleagues, detractors and foes, between human being and human being. How bitter it is to contemplate what all of us would be doing, were we to stand, armed with more than words, upon the bloody fields that are crackling with flame under skies that rain down screaming death. I perceive such short distance between halls of civil disputation and the morgues that harvest the fruits of conflict. Indeed, they are the same place; our hands are bloody with the gore of dead children.
I have found a refuge of sorts, there are places one can go and hide from the stinging whips of guilt and smothering clouds of shame. Is that not what we do best? Turn from the scentless, duodimensional pseudoreality, itself enough to evoke slinking, kicked-dog stirrings of fear and guilt, and reduce our ability to perceive those emotions even further, with the almighty power of separation that the reduction of life into a number can bring? We are a nation of nonpareil separators, those who play the degrees of Kevin Bacon game with the comforting, obscene litany of morning cup of coffee, underpaid Wal-Mart bagger, local Republican fundraiser, idiot savant warmongering crony politician, multinational weapons manufacturer, theocratic aggressor state, shrapnel torn infant. I separate myself from that child now, as I write these words and plays these clever, charming games of intellect and wit. How can a word like sin be so tiny, so terrible, so true?
Just as the Imperialist Demigods of Death and Destruction blithely command their willing henchmen forward into ever greater ejaculations of slaughter, we occlude the Divinity inherent and immanent in every human being, with our unwillingness to do the simplest, most difficult of things. We rage, we rant, we weep, and we take shelter in the cocoon of comforting conversation and jetons les grands cri. â€œThis is not mine, I did not make this happen, I did all I could to oppose it, what more can I do?â€ And truly, such claims rest in somnambulant comfort in realityâ€™s bosom, suckling upon the sweet teats, the favored regulars of the sophomoreâ€™s afternoon salon, â€œprivilegeâ€ and â€œwealth.â€ So does Lucifer seduce us from our birthrights, giving us petty challenges and entertainments, cajoling us into playing the games of â€˜more is lessâ€™ beneath our false masks of suffering. Our portly cheeks stretch and twist, barely tasting the ironies that season the hardpack jerky, flash roasted flesh of those who died and suffered to bring us our comforts. Play on, cries the Master of Hell, and forget the gifts of Illuvatar.
Religion being my bane, I twist its mythologies and metaphors to my own purposes, knowing the archetypes from which I steal. Yet I would not have thought, six years ago, that the road to perdition would be so tiring, or that endless rage is as numbing as death as I imagine it. I perceive not an exit, for damnation will claim us all, even if only in the tiny spaces between the words of inculpability we tell ourselves, or the quiet moments after we have drunk ourselves to oblivion and defined gluttony itself with the abandon of thieves fleeing the crime scene. But as we tread, with shoulders bowed or heads held high, towards the doom of men, might we not don an armor, take up a shield emblazoned with one simple crest? The blow will still fall upon us, the hammer will still come crushing down, but preservation and protection are not the partners we seek. Our Masters have defined it for us, our battle hymn rings clear: Unto the smallest child, let mercy be unknown. As this shrieking Wagnerian opera lilts in our ears, what whispers may pass from our lips, and alter the symphony that we have set to page and flesh so long ago?
Only this simple truth: we are responsible. For each dead child, for the living hell in which billions suffer, for the maiming and the bombing and the endless horror. We must take up the ownership of the authors of terror, cast our gaze upon the literature that justifies them, accept the tender for the mechanisms that power them. â€œWe are the world,â€ and indeed so we have made it. The world is ours, to rape, to pillage, to destroy, to consume. And so we do, from the cloying comfort of our spacious shelters, with the practiced ease of the most rapacious carnivore, in the complacent tones of the righteous, buoyed up by the knowledge that our God of victimhood protects us with his loving hands.
The time has come for we on the left to accept that we have long since past the Gates of Hell, and forgo our urge to cling to the comfort of lost hope. We stand at the brink, indeed we sail down from its heights into the abyss, tied to our bolder brothers who declaim that we soar to heaven. If theirs is the purity of evil, ours is the evil of our own false purity. If theirs is the myth of â€œcreating our own reality,â€ ours is the creation of the reality of myth, a testament of irresponsibility and a torah of persecution. Knowing as we do how all holy books are writ in the blood of dead children, it is now time for us to set aside the comforts of our own faith, and take off the blinders by which we hide from our sight the crutches weâ€™ve walked with for too long.
The hero gods die, they wash away the sins of the mortal races with their holy blood, and they trace the path to Nirvana in the shining steps of their return. And while none who live can claim to have seen them, the knowledge of them burns in every heart, and alights every imagination. How simple then, must it truly be, for we who create those gods with profane ease in a thousand different iterations oral, textual, and visual, to take that step again, and create the mythic reality that we must? For today, it seems that a better tomorrow can be only in myth, and that the reality of the future is made from bleakness. If we sustain that belief, as the believers we mock and scorn sustain their mythology of bloodlust, how then are we different from them? How do we deserve release from the Abaddon, or free the children destined to exist only in a Sheol of their fatherâ€™s sins?
For the dead, there are no more choices, no more opportunities, as well as no hurts and pains. For the living, there is a choice to be made, an opportunity in horror, a lesson in hurt and a goad in pain, for that is what it means to live. The future is a dream that begins with the tiniest chemical transaction in the microscopic regions of the densest flesh, where Darwin and Augustine dance, and Ganesh and Gandhi play. Let us be the dreaming gods who create the bright world to come, for the sake of those who will never see it.
This, our time, is the beginning. Of both the end, and of what is to come.