With every additional year of life the creative person becomes more adept at his/her craft but what grows alongside of this mastery is the looming expanse of untranslatable selfhood, that quiet quality of one’s essence that reminds a person of his/her mortal challenge.
Every creative act is an affirmation of life, and those works which we cherish the most go beyond this and celebrate something more than life, the idea of everlasting life, which is itself a projection of human creativity and longing. And we mustn’t assume, as we age, that we have resolved such a thing completely. For, death remains a mystery, and those who protect themselves from the pain of annihilation by assuming it to be an end, defend themselves against their desire for higher forms of complexity, and thus simplify what evidence shows to be a far from simple universe.
No, I remain open to the idea of my own immortality, in spite of the common conceit against such fantastic imaginings. But, I do so, not only out of my desire to avoid the painful thought of thoughtless absence, but also because it allows me to struggle creatively against a worthy adversary. To attempt to transcend my own mortality imbues every waking moment of my life with resonant meaning, and inscribes into the tedium of survival an enthusiasm for the conspiracy to rebel against the state of nature.
Put more simply, the life force seeks continuance, and I cannot find any good reason to caution against this impulse.
I was born to an age that purports to transcend biology, ecology and cosmology. Who am I to intellectually resign to death in the presence of theoretical escapes or temporary reprieves?
What I have found is that the expression of one’s desire for immortality is itself a profoundly satisfying social position, since it surprisingly reveals itself as a quite uncommon position, and distinguishes one as daring and provocative. The shock one grows accustomed to in response to this disposition implies a sort of greed associated with desiring more life than one is given, and I find this wholly comical, since one only has to look at any of one’s fellows for a day to see some life-prolonging act, whether it be the use of medicine or vitamins, or the choosing of healthy food, or visiting a doctor for an annual check-up. In fact, if you knew me well, you would see that I rely very little on those things which might actually provide me with a longer life, much to my own dissatisfaction and some measure of shame, since such healthy maintenance would be consistent with my beliefs. What you will find is that I rely upon what can only really be referred to as that magical sort of quantity, that element of fate, for my hopes at living a long and expansive life in this universe. This could be my folly, but it also might be my wisdom. History will answer this question.
Living through history ought to be a wager. One must place chips on the roulette table of life, if one wishes to learn about the spinning wheel of time, and the little ball that bounces around in it. That little ball is me, desperately hoping to find what is rare in this universe, the coincidence of destiny and desire. Without a wager, one will only see the futility of existence, and the table will appear a distraction, and perhaps it is, but I have spent some time in the emptiness of inner death, and I find play more amenable to my spirit, and the greatest player’s go all in, in an attempt to beat the house.
These are all metaphors, and serve to express a greatness of spirit. And in some way, I do have a great spirit, but this is exactly the problem, that the greatness to which I impiously point is not me, it is the unfolding of a process that lives in me, and was part of me before I existed, and therefore, I can neither take credit for it, nor hide it away. Even my truthfulness is part of my form, but that which is formless in me I am aware of. I feel it, I live with it, I hear it in my footsteps at night when the rest of the family sleeps. As I walk through my house and contemplate the joyful bounty of my little family, I feel something that might never fully come to life on the page, or in paint, or in my voice, and yet it is possibly the most important possession in my soul, a vast wondrous languageless force that grows day by day, if only due to my capacity to widen my perception of it.
This is what Wittgenstein was trying to tie down with his Tracticus, as did Kant with his Critique, as did Lao Tsu with his Tao. And perhaps one day I will attempt to cage the dragon of self, so that it may live in the zoo of human history.
If one day my work grows, and I am able to employ people, and gather likeminded young men and women to expand the scope of my work, we will never be able to return to all these years spent in solitude. This is the shadow of my existential truth and every great artist or philosopher knows this, that the hours spent in direct perception of being can never be fully given away through the medium of language or art, but that it remains a solitary thing, a power outside of human agency. In the late night, while the world sleeps, the sage paces and ponders, and struggles and is agitated by a presence that can never be shared, but only pointed too, as does the insane, and he/she invites others into this puzzling psychic state, and thus continues a secret tradition, that every member would gladly hand over to the public, if such a thing were possible.
I will never stop. And yet, there are plenty of days when I wish I could. This is true, but the majority of my time I am content with my calling, even though I cannot give it a name. The only days I despise myself are those where I discover the full scope of my dependence upon that formless essence out of which my insights come. On these days it is as though a door was slammed shut between the me that is writing these words, and this other higher self that these words are hoping to describe. When I am tossed aside, and left to feel how shallow life feels without creative power, I discover what a divine gift it is to have an imagination, something that can only be served, and never fully mastered.