Tuesday, May 17, 2016


There is a situation of irony inherent in all human experience. If we assume, heuristically, that everything we have ever done as a species - all culture, all religion, all art, philosophy, politics, law and science - is an expression of, or response to, our primordial anxiety concerning our non-existence, that we live with an awareness that one day we will be erased from the world - then our concept of self and the actions that sustain, explain, ennoble and educate that self can be viewed as strategies aimed at shielding our “self” from this fear. In this way, culture may be seen as a shared delusion we have created to protect ourselves from this ever-present and all-consuming danger.

We take solace from our belief that others seem to have found a way of enduring, of projecting at least their thoughts and feelings past death through the music, books, paintings, social movements and reforms, they have created. We comfort ourselves with the notion that art is timeless, that religion is timeless, and we form entire systems based upon our obsessive and largely unconscious need to construct and maintain a wall between ourselves and the flood of nonbeing which waits, ready to burst through whatever edifices we have made to protect ourselves. 

 We have done this to ourselves, in our quest for to combat or nothingness, in our need for safety, power, "freedom". We have made addition after addition after addition to the construct we so blithely refer to as "reality", believing that this "self", this ego, this bundle of stories, is something in need of protection or conservation. 

 But what if it is the self in its very essence that is the creator and curator of death? What if the additions we make to combat the dread are themselves the dread for which we seek inoculation? The idea that one must feel sorry for the miseries of the world and the sadnesses one must endure in the face of such misery is so very nineteenth century, a time that many if not most of us go on blindly inhabiting, though the eviction notice was served at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The lasting stench of "modern" continues to waft over the broken anthill bearing witness to a vast and perverse illusion, fabricated from strategies aimed at transcending pure being (anxiety) but which are nevertheless lost in the clutter we have made to free ourselves from the unknown.

- Billy Marshall Stoneking

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