Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Final Hour and Forbidden Desires

The Final Hour and Forbidden Desires

I survived Hurricane Sandy and got off fairly easily, all in all. My area (Pennsylvania) was strewn with downed trees that looked like fallen Colossi and my place lost power for 24 hours.  There are some lingering effects.  One of my guy’s co-workers had a non-hurricane-related medical emergency right when it was going on and her place is still out of power. She’s okay now on the medical front and I’m glad, but think her power situation sucks.  We cannot do our laundry because our Laundromat is still without power. (Okay, Word, why are you capitalizing “Laundromat?” Oh, well…).  It is not a fun situation when your undergarments are in a limited supply…  

I spent time during the power outage painting by candlelight.  Yes, I am that nuts.  When I have a personal art project and am on a tear about it, I will not be stopped, even if I’m ruining my eyes.  I listened to my MP3 player while I painted as the wind howled outside and “The Final Hour” music from the videogame “The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask” came on, which as anyone who has ever played that game knows, is about the perfect tract to have playing when an apocalypse is raging outside your walls.  I went outside in it with my guy to check things out… very briefly because the wind-whipped trees were scaring me, though seeing the blue flashes of electricity in the air from blowing transformers, diffused in the clouds, was pretty cool.  And, the next day, with the power out, we took a drive and a walk to look at the amazing wasteland. 

I think it was somewhat appropriate that the project that I was working on (and am still working on) was one of my bone-art pieces.  A couple of days before the storm, I opened up my storage-boxes with miscellaneous leg-bones and jawbones from creatures I’ve found on walks and cleaned for later use and decided to make a mish-mosh sculpture project representing the equality found in death.  It’s appropriate in tone because at the time I was busily painting half of a carnivore’s jawbone, I was worried about trees crashing through the windows and walls… Just the unpredictability and impermanence of all things; and the triumph of indifferent Nature… All that which reminds us that we are small.  

In thinking about my project, I’d decided from the beginning to title it “Equity” and to write up a description for it regarding how I feel that death is the ultimate equality because it comes to rich and poor, successful and unsuccessful, smart and stupid, humans, dogs, cows and horses… If death is Oblivion, then… well, you really have no business being proud of being “smart enough to realize it” more than other people because you ultimately share the fate of the “superstitious.”  If death leads us all “back to God” in some kind of Universalism, the same kind of thing applies, perhaps in a happier way, depending upon your perspective… even if you believe in an afterlife that’s un-equal, with some going to Heaven, some to Hell, or some being reincarnated well and some poorly, it’s still equal in my mind because *the lives we live now will be over* when the Reaper comes.  I’m actually kind of hoping that when my time comes, whatever I experience (“all in my head” or otherwise) that my current “familiarity with death” will make it easy on me, help me to take it all in stride despite the fact that I am very aware of my basic animal-survival-instincts. (As far as I’m concerned, we all fear death, even if a lot of people like to lie about it - because we have instincts, dammit). 

At the same time, despite my easy attitude toward natural cycles, I realized (today, particularly) how much I really want to believe in the supernatural.  I’ve never had any blatantly supernatural experiences (and probably would worry about sanity-slippage if I did)… Considering I live next to an old graveyard and like decorating my home in animal skulls I’ve turned into art, I should be so freaking haunted – and I’m not.  The closest thing I get is the “cat curse” joke that goes on in my household centered on our cat. 

I’ve been reading many random blogs on Patheos lately.  I’ve ventured into the “Spirituality” section (I took a linked quiz on one to find out what my aura color was and I seem to be more of a “Lavender” than anything else, which basically means I’m a space-case. Accurate, I’d say… I like taking stupid online personality quizzes like that, they’re fun).  I was channel flipping and watched one of those “medium” shows today – that large blond lady who strikes me as a charming eccentric and utterly adorable even though I’m not ready see her as much more than a charming eccentric.   I’ve also been reading on the Progressive Christian channel (besides just Slacktivist, I’m a longtime Slacktivist-follower) and spent this evening reading post after post by “Exploring Our Matrix”…

I like a lot of that blogger’s ideas, I really do, particularly his defenses of science as a GOOD THING, but when I read a couple of posts of his where he talked of a monist worldview (no real “soul” apart from the intricate dance of our chemicals and physicality) and his view on Christianity being a type that seems more philosophical in nature and devoid of the supernatural elements, I felt mildly “betrayed” as I often do when I read such people – like I’m reading someone whom I relate to in a lot of ways, but who, if they met me, would metaphorically pat me on the head and think of me as childish and unequal/of less-worth than some for “still clinging” to certain ideas that are stuck in my personal psychology right now.

What I mean is… there is so much I agree with in these kind of progressive and world-focused religious views. They seem to be pragmatic, rational, and they hold this life to be of utter importance, which I think is good because too much focus on a hypothetical afterlife or “miraculous” things can make people forget to do the hard work of taking care of the lives they know they and fellow travelers have right now.  However, I *really, REALLY* want to believe in “something more” than the physicality or the monist view.  Sure, it’s rational, and it makes a believer seem really grounded, but something about it just rings… hollow… to me. 

The blog post I read about finding a “Transcendent Life” – that is a post in which he spoke of how the resurrection of Jesus could not be proven or dis-proven, but “does it matter?” because he definitely transcended history and how beyond worrying about or hoping for anything else we should hope to create a “transcendent life” by doing good stuff to be remembered for… well, I couldn’t help but go back to the perennial thought I have on this matter of “What if your life is broken and you *need* another one?”   

Transcendence in memory and a life well-lived are pretty ideas, yet I cannot help but think that very few achieve it.  I think most people wind up like those marked by tombstones in the cemetery across the street that are so weatherworn I cannot read the names and can barely make out the dates.  “1855” and so forth. Those people aren’t just dead, they’re DEAD, as in no one who remembers their voice, their smell, or conversations with them is still living by now and if anyone at all visits the graves, it’s probably for some kind of genealogy thing.  The tombstones remain weather-worn, un-cared for, never replaced because these people are *not* remembered.  Transcendence? What transcendence? Not for them, for Time has conquered them.

To quote/paraphrase a character a film I watched last night in which an idealistic character had died (or was actually just thought dead), “What good are all your ideals when the moment you die, they’re gone?”  - If you have followers, people who admired you, you might be “born posthumously” and “live” greater than ever, but if not… well… sucks to have been you. Goodbye.  

Hmm. Maybe my objections are more like the kind of “consistency and fun” arguments I’ll make in fandom.  It seems to me that a “Christianity without resurrection” or “Christianity without something beyond the material/ an almost-atheism-that likes some of Jesus’ pretty words but that’s it” is… no fun for me.  It’s like playing a “rationalized” “Legend of Zelda” game in which no magic or magical items exist – “What’s the point? I’ll play a different game if I want pragmatic themes!”  It’s not that such a thing is “bad” to have, it’s just… you know, some of what drew *me* to that particular “game” in the first place is something I want to continue to be a part of what I’m playing, even as it all progresses and evolves in scope / in my life.  

(Incidentally, I once co-wrote a long fan fiction for the “Legend of Zelda” series that did play with themes of “the magic going away,” the world’s canon three ur-Goddesses not being as divine as advertised and certain kinds of magic being technological in nature, but my co-creator and I *still* had some “real” magic and an all-encompassing magic/life-force as part of the story because it just didn’t feel right without it.  Even when writing a slightly more cynical “Zelda” world, you don’t destroy all the magic because it’s just *not right* for the setting).     

Honestly, though I still consider myself a “Christian” (despite having not been to church in years, and being one of those wishy-washy Prog types who doesn’t much like the idea of a literal Hell anymore and doesn’t care if you’re gay),  I do have a bit of agnosticism sometimes, and moreover, I feel WEAK for my apparent need to believe in something supernatural – things like the possibility of an afterlife, or a soul that’s not *entirely* subject to our bodies, (and the whims of my wonky brain-chemicals that I know to be wonky!) or some kind of thing or force I can call “God” (or at least “The Force” if I’m feeling geeky).   I mean, some people only “believe” in all that they know *right now* - what they can see, touch, feel, smell and taste *without* being called crazy and that’s all they *need* to see meaning in life.  Meanwhile, I’m here, thinking about worn graves and how the world doesn’t care about you if you’re small and broken and inconsequential and how as a small person, I’m greedy and stupid and weak because I *want* more than that. 

Of course, maybe wanting it for everyone – for everyone to ultimately to find peace and get just what they want makes me less greedy, but probably not.  I worry that I really am just a stupid, worthless beast for even having these desires that are “forbidden” by the rational mind.  In the meantime, I shout in the dark, trying to assert “I exist!” to those who are not listening, which is probably why I’m brave enough to post my inmost thoughts on this blog. (Who reads this thing)? 

In the end, if a tree comes crashing through my window due to the next hurricane and gives me a fatal hit to the head, I doubt I’ll care what’s “real” and what’s not in that moment, and as much of a fool as I was in life, all those who are smarter than me will only be in the ground, too, eventually.  All will be equal. 

Graveyards and hurricanes remind us all that we are all small. 

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