Friday, December 14, 2012
Ever since the Financial crisis, the element of uncertainty has come back into repute as more and more pronouncements pile up to the effect that pure knowledge, such as is espoused by the advocates of EMH, is like a fatal substance shredding all of mankind's sublime works, without ever putting anything together again to replace them. The nation has ridden itself sore on the attitude of "exceptionalism", and now dismounted, we limp about crying for someone to come and rub us with the essence of soul.
From the earliest times of the first self-confidence of youth, which it so often so touching, even moving, to look back on later, all sorts of once-loved notions linger in memory even today, and among them is that of 'living hypothetically', by which I mean to say the state of involuntary ignorance of youth in which every step is an act of daring, since it is without experience behind it. There is the breath of revocability about it felt by the young hesitantly entering into life.
There is the thrilling sensation of being destined for something or other that, however vague, is the only certain thing that's felt by the gaze of those who survey the world for the first time. Keeping a watch over my emotions, one cannot say yea or nay to anything without reservation, seeking the possible beloved, wondering if the capacity for killing is there, and whether it is needed, and even so, to what ends? Because, even as my nature rebels against believing that anything's perfect, and therefore morally able to direct me to commit the ultimate crime against humanity, everything that beckons one at the outset of life purports to be so.
Instead, one is guided only by a vague intuitive feeling that the order of things is not as solid as it pretends to be; nothing is permanent, everything is in a process of invisible but never-ceasing transformation, there is more of the future in the unsolid, than the solid, and the present is little more than an hypothesis that one has yet to finish formulating. So what could be better than to remain aloof from the world, nurturing the good sense of a scientific attitude towards facts that are exhorting one to an overhastily acceptance of them?
A character, a career, a definite mode of existence, are all tried in the attempt to reach an understanding of myself, using as a gauge any inclination towards something that inwardly enriches one - even should it be morally or intellectually taboo - one feels like a stride can be taken in any direction, so long as it leads from one instant of equilibrium to the next, and ever onward. And then one day, something may occur that seems to be the very thing, and a drop of indescribable incandescence lights your world and the earth looks different in the glow of it.
When that occurred to me, it became associated with the peculiar concept of the essay, because in the sequence of its paragraphs, it examines a thing from many sides without comprehending it wholly - since a thing seen wholly immediately loses its mystery and melts down into a concept - thus providing me a method I believed best enabled me to survey the world and my own life.
The value of an action or a quality, their essence and nature, seem dependent on the circumstances surrounding them, on what ends they serve, the 'cui bono' of life, such that a murder may appear to us a crime, or heroic; a feather can seem as though it's fallen from an angel's wing when it's actually only been dislodged from a silly goose. So all moral events take place in a constellation that's charged with meaning, and contains good and evil, just as an atom contains potentials of different chemical combinations. `Such a realization makes clear that the play of forces will, in the course of time, tend toward an average value and condition such that even mankind revokes everything that it has done and puts something else in its place; so that for it too, crimes in the course of time change into virtues and vice-versa. For example war-profiteers are now national heroes, and we've adopted the attitude that "si vis pacem para bellum" (the strength displayed in peace wards off War). Whereas at the beginning of the last Century, the assertion that arming to the teeth is a demonstration of peaceful intentions would have been considered dangerously unbalanced nonsense.
Recognizing this brings us to the point where we no longer see the moral norm as the immobility of rigid commandments, but as a mobile equilibrium continually demanding exertions toward renewal. This tendency in me against systematization, against the one-track will, the definitely directed urges of ambition, is what gave rise to the expression 'Essayism', focusing on its kinship to 'attempt' as opposed to exposition. For an essay is not the expression of a conviction, but the unique form that one's inner life assumes in a decisive thought. Nothing is more alien to it than subjectivity, being defined by neither the term 'wise' or 'unwise', 'true or 'false', although nonetheless dependent upon laws that are no less strict though they appear to be delicate and ephemeral.
But what's one to do who is after something that lies between? For examples of lying between are provided by every moral maxim, for instance, by the well-known and simple one: "Thou shalt not Kill". You can see at a glance that it is neither a verity nor a subjective statement. We keep to it strictly in many respects, but we know that there are many occasions when precisely defined exceptions are allowed. But the enormity of cases are of a third type, those in the imagination, or our desires, in drama, video games, news reports, where we leap quite freely from alternating reactions of abhorrence and allurement.
So all we are left with in this great perturbable web spun out in time and space, and in which we are all ensnared, and through which all is shared, is the ability to carve out, or cocoon in, a nook or refuge of imperturbability, a Fortress of Solitude?, akin to that possessed by heroes and criminals - it is not courage, it isn't will-power, nor is it confidence, but simply a tough capacity to endure - something that is as difficult to drive out as the life of a cat even when it is utterly mangled by dogs.
It is from this refuge that I observe, with the hope to be able to serve, by collecting the thoughts that gather and take up residence, sitting like the ghouls in Beetleguise's waiting room waiting to be told where to go, which house to haunt or informed as to how their afterlife is to be spent rather than continue to form wispy cobwebs softening the hard edges of my thoughts. It becomes necessary for them to be swept away, gathered up, and rallied to enable some light to shine unchallenged onto topics purposelessly obfuscated, reshaping issues deliberately contorted by fun-house mirrors of deception, and language malignantly twisted.
Such is the reason and genesis of my compulsion to essay, via essays the USA, and counter what USAy so loudly and monotonously in the face of any facts that would suggest a search for answers not so subjectively shaped by voices of media from many outlets, but more and more, in this land of purportedly free speech, from a single source.
Posted by Robert Lowrey at 5:06 PM