(A work in progress)
A recent experience has compelled me to put in words a view I’ve always gravitated towards: that the threat of meaninglessness, of total indifference, while psychologically tormenting and hard to live with, is nevertheless a relief since death is final. The threat of indifference is really in trying to come to grips with the fact that everything you’re now doing, have done, or will do, is just another process in nature, with as much or little meaning as a rock rolling up and down the hill – the torment, the terror, is fixating on the fact that you’re afraid, devastated, tormented while picturing to yourself that this experience is akin to the rain falling. The rain has no interiority, no reflective capacity; it is oblivious to its effects, positive or negative. It rains, and rains, and rains and that’s it. Why should this be so bad? The simple reason is that it appears the sense of meaning, at least for humans, requires a certain sense of permanence, a concreteness that validates these experiences beyond their immediate effects. Meaning seems to require transcendence.
The proof of this is how devastating events can make the world and everything you believe seem utterly meaningless. A recent event in my life has made me question and doubt every single thing I’ve done in life – what has been the point in building carefully to this point? Why have I not taken more risks? And of course, the corollary is that even if I did do these things, taken more risks, been reckless, they too become meaningless; the actions different, the meaning, the same, nil. Thus, it appears that one is stuck imaging different courses of events that would have voided one negative experience but nevertheless would not have made experience in general anymore meaningful. One is compelled to draw lessons from events, from experiences to generate the permanence that meaning appears to require – this happened because of X. This “X” can be outside the individual control, fate, or some such ( general religiosity) ,or within it ( X will mean for me). And thus you’ll need to do Y or inform someone of Y. Or whatever platitudes we learn from our failures and negative experiences.
But again, these platitudes serve us while living, they serve us in allowing us to bear the unbearable yet here we are still faced with the stark fact – a world of indifference does not care about the world with platitudes and the temporary relief one may experience from learning a lesson is equivalent as learning nothing from the perspective of Death, the great equalizer. In other words, we have here an imagination of a state we cannot experience, a state wherein our triumphs and failures are equally imperceptible – the permanence one seeks in meaning is undermined absolutely by death for here no one has the ability to view and judge for themselves it’s permanence – whether or not I do things right for my children, for my community, for my state or grandiose, for humanity, the results of my actions are permanent only in so far as I exist to dream it. To think it. Once I’m gone I cannot be disappointed or happy with what I’ve done, nor can I regret not doing what I should have done, or any numerous reasons that compel us to behave in certain ways. Once we picture this exactly, it should be realized why the problem of suicide really cannot be answered by simply maintaining or focusing on the pleasures, or responsibilities in life. It compels many not to but consider that, if I die, while you may judge me harshly, I will never hear this judgment. Ever. I only experience this judgment on the way out. Consider, also, that all that are hurt by the act of suicide will themselves die and no longer ever experience the pain and hurt that accompanied the act.
Thus, in the end, the indifferent, absurd world while tormenting provides relief in death. It ends. The suffering ends. The suffering is meaningless but at least, it ends. In response to Cioran’s devastating epigram “It’s not worth the bother of killing yourself, since you always kill yourself too late.” One, in the throes of nihility, may say “Very well, but better late than never.” Which gets me to the threat of meaning. What happens if this isn’t it? What if Death is neither as permanent or final as we may think?
Let’s think the most horrible, and even worse absurdity, the notion of a literal, fire-breathing Hell where the morally corrupt, the unjust, and “unbelievers” will be cast. Forever. What if all those fundamentalists are right? You will burn eternally for your sins, however small. This is rather terrifying, moreso, than the permanent indifference of the void. I often wonder how people bear this terror, those that really believe in God, The Eternal Torturer and are themselves of questionable ( if not outright immoral) character.Of course, people lie to themselves, take refuge in forgiveness and such but then they must experience a certain terror when death approaches. For anyone who believes that God, the Eternal Torturer will come back to pass judgment on us all, the end of his or her life is the end of the world. Consider that in death there is no experience of anything -the indifference spoken about earlier- you are one with the void and and thus the passing of time is something you cannot be conscious of. This means that at the end of life, of your bodily existence, even if you died a millennia before the last judgment your very next experience will be your resurrection and judgment. The moment you die is the moment you experience the end of the world. Because the time that passes between death and the end of the world cannot, in principle, be experienced. Am I not right in calling this a worst absurdity? To die and then immediately awake to be punished infinitely for finite crimes? Must not the devil have created such a world?
This is where I’m at for now. The rest of this note is supposed to expand on actual cosmologies I find interesting insofar as they purport a grand vision of life. I will get to that another time. Basically, some random thoughts on heretical versions of Christianity, reincarnation, and such.