17 November 2005

Dystopian Dreams

Writer Mom's Husband (may his tribe increase) hit a nerve for me yesterday.

Dystopia = Fear of Perfection.

I'm not saying that's what he's got, but I do, depending on the definition. My childhood understanding of perfection was that it was what you achieved in Heaven. A final state. Nothing more to learn or unlearn, all things open to your eyes.

That terrified me.

Like WMH I value the journey more than the goal; learning, teaching, helping, receiving, leading, following; all these seem so precious when compared to an unalterable state with nothing more to do or undo.

I wonder how many people out there accept the concept of a heaven and consciously write it off as a destination, imagining it as a place of ultimate stagnation.

I wonder how many of us fear that heaven will be hell.

But I was wrong. The richness, the beauty, the joy of imperfection is in the taste of awe, in the opportunity to marvel and feel so incredibly fulfilled when there's a happy ending or a silver lining or a reason for hope.

Yes hope is a traveller's armour - at the end of a journey there is nothing more to hope for, but hope is only a thin shadow of awe.

Glorious, marvellous - these are 'awe' words. That's why I believe that this life is play school; that heaven, or perfection, will not mean stasis but an eternal, empowered song of every shade of 'wow'.

Weepy movies, dawn light, children, even knowing you did right by someone and made things a little better for them, a genuine hug, knowing you played fair, knowing you didn't turn your back on others to look after number one - all these are tiny, playschool tasters of what is to come in University and beyond.

The things we value from this journey are like the chunky wax crayons that ME Strauss loves. They allow us to create, to express, to develop, but once we respect them, once we really understand them, well, I've heard then there's paints, and clay, and special paper and felt tips and inks that involve skill beyond our understanding. More and more and more.

I used to be terrified - not now.


Billy said...

You're right not to be scared. You won't even be disappointed. You won't even miss the family. How can a state of unknowingness hurt anyone? Forever and ever and ever and ever - the perfection of unthinking nothingness.

Cheryl said...

Dear Billy
I looked at that possibility. I founded it to be the greatest rationalisation for suicide that I have ever found. Why bother, if thats the truth? Why learn anything, why help anybody else if they are heading to oblivion anyway?

On the other hand, do you really believe that evolution gave you the capacity to empathise beyond the reproductive age, or to pair bond, or to gain joy from helping others, or even to feel hurt and resentment and rejection because of other human animals that do not serve your comfort, if that is the case?

As a freak of nature, a mere bioorganism designed to ensure it's kind's survival, we have no need, as the prime predator, for any sense of duty to (or even interest in, or tolerance of) each other, beyond immediate family.

There would be no point at all in evolving the capacity to love selflessly - it runs against the grain of survival of the fittest.

No, sorry, that concept just doesnt make sense - if you were right, then we wouldnt even exist in our current state.

Are you depressed? Maybe you really believe you wouldnt hurt - but those you left behind would. Do you have the capacity to buy your 'peace' at the expense of theirs? I hope not.

November is statistically the month with the highest incidence of depression, college drop out, suicide - you name it. This should suit your worldview - statistically these feelings you may be experiencing are most likely to do with a lack of sunlight and vitamins - a brain chemical imbalance that with treatment can be made to go away. I hope its the feelings that you want to go away and I hope you see that getting help can do that, without screwing up the remainder of the lives of everyone who loves you, or even those who have a right to feel guilty toward you. Hang on in there.

In hope.

mojo shivers said...

I think the journey we're set upon from birth is a elliptical one. We don't so much go from here to there, but from here to there and back to here again. As a deist, I don't believe there is some better place awaiting us. I believe the only heaven and hell is the one we create here and now. As such, there is a point into bettering yourself. There is justification in making something of your life, hoping for the best and striving to make sure the best happens. The whole point is this is your paradise, this is your perfection, if you choose to make it so.

That's why I have a hard time in believing you need waste your time on people and activities that don't make you happy. Life's length mandates that you enjoy every minute of it if possible. You don't need to waste a second on inferiority.

Heaven starts now and only ends the minute you die.

Cheryl said...

Oh Mojo!

You don't really subscribe to the philosophy that 'its all about me', do you?

Rephrase that - can you, personally, be genuinely happy in a crowd of desperately sad people? If it had no consequences beyond achieving more for you, could you kill?

Wow. Reading your brilliant latest post, I don't believe that of you - your ideal 'happy ever after' involves another soul in the mix, even if you express no intention of changing or growing to become their idea of perfection.

I really have to wrap my head round the concept you present. Thanks for commenting!

Billy said...

Dear Cheryl,

I'm not depressed at all (I laugh as I write), though I expect to die by own hand when the time is right; but not for a good few years yet, I hope.

I can't explain the vagaries of the evolutionary process any more than you can, but I certainly don't accept that there is any 'reason' behind it.

I do care for others, though not many, and for animals (probably more so - I'm a vegan), but that is a product of generations of Christian upbringing originating, no doubt, from interested (ruling) parties. I think 'caring' is too often just pity, anyway.

When one thinks logically about these things, one ought not to give a hoot, but it's all too ingrained. We are slaves to an inheritance of lies. The Bard, as usual, knows the score: 'nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so'.

Perhaps thinking as I do, and still acting decently, makes me a more virtuous person than one who fears the consequences of earthly actions in the hereafter.

You are, of course, in the inviolable position of never being able to be proved wrong.

Without hope (but who needs it?).

Cheryl said...

Love your penultimate quip - touche - so are you. Even the unquestioning masses recognise that faith is not knowledge. And no I don't mean you.

Love that you came back and read again.

Really like that Shakespeare quote, and really annoyed that I can't find it in context. Nothing is right or wrong to a snail, agreed. After that there is a whole other argument to face about the nature of thinking/consciousness.

I am especially relieved that I gave you a chuckle, but from my end of the elephant I honestly couldnt tell the difference between a rational and calm belief in humanist thinking, and a rather more wounded state.

Sorry you don't link to a blog - would love to understand your rationale even better.


Billy said...

Nothing is good or bad - there are no moral absolutes. Values vary from era to era, from culture to culture. Who's to say that any version of 'good' or 'bad' is the 'correct' one?

Is it wrong to kill a young girl to appease the gods? The only rational answer is: it depends where and when you do it.

I think snails have the right idea, or at least some sort of consistency. And I do so hate stepping on them.

Not that it's wrong, you understand.

zilla said...

Oh, my. Heavy. I decline to join the debate, but I will say this: personally, any anxiety I've ever had about death has nothing to do with going to heaven and fearing perfection, and everything to do with missing the messy little experinces I get to have now.

Very provocative post, Cheryl.

Writer Mom said...

I thought Billy was talking about nirvana in the first comment.
And nirvana is what stopped me short of Buddhism.
Nothingness scared me. Yes, it eliminates all forms of suffering, but I was willing to keep my suffering if that's the price for keeping my joy.
But now that I've been sitting here for awhile...it might be the best thing for me, to have the plug pulled on my consciousness in the end. Just don't tell me ahead of time.

bart said...

exceedingly well written... you echo much of what disturbs my mind and manage to crystallise elusive thoughts in ways which disturb and enlighten me...

i'm not terrified by life any more, it just hurts like hell at all the wrong moments but i know it will go away and that survival is about acknowledging and accepting boundaries, limitations, weaknesses etc...

if anything, life is more about playing things by ear, listening to intuition, trusting gut feelings and just being there for those who need help, irrespective of what...

there's much going on... i'm still working out an effective rebuttal, perhaps even a rationalisation of the nonsense i went though in previous and more youthful lives... getting there, but finding it so horridly difficult...

thanks for getting me back on track in a way... see ya ;-)

Cheryl said...

----- HUGE SMILE!!-----

Dental Dad said...

Utopia = good place/no place
Sir Thomas Moore coined the term utopia as an amalgamation of two greek words eutopia (good place) and outopia (no place.)
The ideal does not have to exist to be inspirational.