Category Archives: Religion

Writer’s Log: 2140

Writing is caring.

Writing is, above all, work. But in order to write you have to care, care enough to put pen to paper. Care enough about your characters, your story to do them justice—to write them real.

But if you don’t care, about anything, that’s a problem.

Thumos-PlatosChariot

Plato’s Chariot: Appetite and Spirit reined by Reason

Recently, in a comment to TomBeingTom, I exposed a thought I’ve held for some time: of the concept of contextual layers of personal belief, (or disbelief).

Currently, myself and our Desertcurmudgeon appear to be psychologically dwelling in the outer-most context of the Absurd Universe where all things are meaningless. This setting represents the absolute and final stage of the philosophical interpretation of existence: All Is For Nought.

Recent correspondence between he and I have briefly explored this theory with an underlying current that attempts to retreat from this the Existential Edge. And that’s the crux of this thought. Somehow, if we’re to exist at all, we must forgo the beating of death’s drum, pull back into the light of some meaning, any meaning, to which we can grasp.

If I want to write, that is, learn to write well and practice the art, I need to find some means to divert my eyes from the constant nihilistic allure of the Absurd Universe.

CallOfTheWild

I just read a Smithsonian article about Jack London. The man lived like a champion and died at forty years of age. 40! And accomplished a dozen life-times of adventure and writing. Wow, what a remarkable man. I wonder what he believed in? Deep in the Klondike winter of 1898, did he contemplate the Absurd Universe? What meaningful ideology did he adopt that drove him to seize life as he did? (Thumos?)

Clearly, residing here in the outer valence shell of the atom that is the Universe is no way to live. Contracting one’s belief system back a level, perhaps two, is a deed that must be done to allow any kind of fulfillment or enjoyment in this life. However, divesting too many philosophical layers would lower one into the throes of theology, surely not a level any rational human would accept.

But a layer or two would be nice. Back to some practical stratum where I can ignore the nagging Absurdity and focus on caring about the characters I’d like to write about.

 


Point System: keeping score

We all live by and adhere to a bevy of social contracts.

One of those contracts is the equity of gift exchange. If I take you for lunch, you must, eventually, take me for lunch — or breakfast, or drinks or… Whatever it is, it must roughly equal the value offered in the original transaction. If you spring for a fancy dinner, the onus of return has now shifted back to my shoulders. And so we live, social debt flowing to and fro.

Until one side takes, the other side gives and an unbalanced ledger results. I borrowed your lawnmower, your shovel, your chainsaw and never repaid you in kind.

Without effort from my side, this slight will grow and fester. An unspoken feud may molder and spawn, like some fetid mushroom pushed up through rotting soil.

There is however, one system which lives for an unspoken unbalance: The Mormons.

The Mormons have a charity point system; they must do good deeds, in excess of those good deeds done back onto them. When we lived in Utah, we confounded them and their points-for-heaven tally sheet. We would be our neighborly, good-natured and giving selves; going out of our way to help and assist and donate whatever we could — simply because that’s how we were wired. They, in turn, would try and surpass normal social mores and attempt to double up in pious points.

Now, to be fair, I’m sure this equanimity generally stemmed from the aforementioned social contract. But, on occasion, we were well aware that we’d flummoxed a number of our neighbors with excessive kindness, a gift that tipped the scales in a way that no doubt confounded them no end. We were, after all, the infidels of the neighborhood. The score could not be left teetered so.

Eventually, the weight would shift and we would accept that to remain amicable, we must be a smidgen in arrears; they were headed to heaven, we realized, and the score must tip in their favor.