News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Nonsense that Heralds Meaning

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Nonsense that Heralds Meaning

There are no grand unified solutions to the current political and cultural upheavals in the world as we know it today. The issues are simply incapable of being addressed on a one-size-fits-all model. Instead, there will be particular remedies in situations as the times demand. These "solutions," however, will not be real solutions. Instead, they will simply reiterate the growing destructiveness and helplessness that individuals experience before a nihislistic juggernaut.

The Internet, "reformation," fundamentalism, secularism, etc. are symptoms of a far greater and deeper problem. What many philosophers and theologians in the west have addressed, and Muslim thinkers are now facing is the phenomenon of levelling. This is a malaise whose symptoms include spiritual anomie, political and cultural alienation, and rampant materialism. Secularism is itself a symptom and not a cause. Many religionists believe that they can resolve the problem by returning to a purer form of their religious heritage--this is an illusion because the modern disease simply hollows out any meaning from these traditions and either incorporates them into a useless and meaningless cliche or serves as the armature for more evil and insidious motives.

Those who suffer from this disease--and we all do--are faced with two alternatives: either become one with the faceless masses, that phantom of secular mythology "humanity," or take on the task of finding one's self in the face of a a transcendent reality whose existence is never given and ostensibly is non-existent. If you have seen Tarkovsky's film, "Stalker," then you are familiar with the absurd emptiness of the modern spiritual landscape, as well as the individual "seeker's" status in this landsacape.

Politicians will attempt grand unified solutions. To no avail. We have seen in the past what these political solutions germinate: the concentration camps, gulags, Rwandas, cultural revolutions, education camps, rape camps--all simply represent the way that the modern homunculus envisions solution. Since all is quantifiable, then mass society itself must run according to rigorously definable formula and theorems. All must conform to a faceless anonymity, since difference upsets the calculation and produces incoherent blanks in the smoothly running machinery of political expediency.

All must achieve sameness because anything else threatens the uniformity of the solution. Difference implies specialness-specialness implies non-standard treatment--non-treatment implies a desire to get something for oneself that others cannot have.

Bin-Laden et al. represent a romantic response to the facelessness of this evil. Harnessing the energy of violence and holy terror, they hope to run the locomotive of levelling off its track. What the romantic terrorist does not realize is that they are simply manifestations of this greater spiritual void. Even were they to win, their solution would simply be a mirror image of the demon they hope to vanquish. They would create a state in which the individual supposedly would find their ultimate home; but there is no home in the void. There is simply a camp that is set up to quash all individual responsibility in the name of a greater truth embodied in a doctrine whose authority is assured not by individual experience of its truth but by communal indoctrination and totalitarian regimentation.

We in the west, of course, fare no better. We have lived with the consequences of levelling and have visited its rapacious lusts on other peoples, exporting thereby the evil that lurks in our hearts. We have hoped to cleanse ourselves of the ugly face of human deceit and murderous resentment by sanitizing our own lands and homes and casting the demons into a wilderness that we ourselves create in lands we deem unenlightened and undemocratic.

There are certainly manifestations of this evil at home, but it only lives within the hard-wired minds of serial killers. We image the truth of this evil in our stories and shows and it serves as entertainment for our young and at our evening meals. Although we know that the evil is a biological malfunction, we secretly delight in numbering how many bodies are buried under the house or discarded along the roadside like so much trash.

The greatest boost to faceless anonymity is the internet, where we can live and dream as disembodied spirits, without responsibility and without facing the consequences of our actions. Again, the dream of living a life without friction and pain is an anodyne whose unreality simply makes it more alluring. We lose ourselves in becoming what we are not, and assuming roles that we could never achieve in real life. And thereby the notion of real life loses its meaning; all becomes simply a concatenation of ones and zeroes whose meaning is that it is.

The internet promises that information solves problems. But not all problems involve information. Life's problems demand blood and sweat and emotional and intellectual harmony--but when the mind becomes a computer all is turned into an algorithmic series of routines that find fulfillment as simply as the belly finds fullness. The internet promises debate and openness so that all is accessible to all and no one is denied access to the information that they need to find answers. But when there is no one there and the questions that need to be asked are not asked, what is the use of a universe of information?

The point of this post is that these words I write are simply meaningless, but will also seem to herald a meaning that touches something that cannot be put into words.

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