Lo siento yet again for not posting yesterday. I just completely lacked the energy, which I'm also lacking tonight but I wanted to go ahead and see what I could do. Naseem and I just got back from a church service which I cannot even bring myself to blog about just yet. It was all I could do tonight not to walk out of there, run away from the shaking, quaking people speaking in tongues...but I sort of wanted to stick around to see if they brought out snakes and let them bite them, Billy Jack style (shout-out, Ryan Supak). I was actually shaking and quaking myself, and they probably thought I was being particularly moved by the Holy Spirit when in reality I was actually fervently scratching my bajillion bugbites all over my body. During the faith healing part I was really tempted to go up to the front and let them try to heal my bugbites, but then I figured I might get smote for being such a smartass. Oh well.
So anyway instead of paying attention to all the stories tonight about this prayer team that raises people from the dead, I was trying to formulate my blog and add a little order to the chaos of my thoughts. I just finished The Moviegoer, which I referred to the last time I posted as a tale detailing the existential quest of one Binx Bolling as he seeks authenticity and genuine life, becoming tantalized by the beauty of his surroundings while trying his damnedest to avoid falling into what he calls the "malaise," or the everydayness of life that can suddenly swoop down on one and bring about a dark period of feeling like Anyone Anywhere as opposed to a specific Someone in a certain place. Does that make sense? To become Anyone is to lose the unique essence of one's being; while he wants to avoid falling into this trap, he's slightly jealous of the individual who can allow himself to become Anyone Anywhere because he thinks maybe life is a bit easier for the Anyone. Alright, so in light of this, here's what I've been thinking about: it's certainly no secret that everyone is looking for something, and maybe not something in particular, but life, which, I know, I know, couldn't be any more general. Say we narrow it down a little more...everyone is looking for the secret of, the solution to discovering authentic and meaningful existence, and from a Judeo-Christian standpoint, the answer is that what we are looking for is perhaps not something tangible, but something transcendent. But here's the thing: do we think this makes us feel alive? Again, based on the Christian ultimate reality, people sin, and if we didn't sin, we wouldn't be human, so if we define our humanity by our propensity to err, does this mean we are saying to live is to sin? Surely not but somehow we find ourselves doing things we would classify as "sinning" and then we chalk it up to life experience. It makes us feel alive...or it makes us feel alive according to society's humanist standard. We do these things just to feel something, anything, even if it's suffering. We allow ourselves to feel pain because that's how we know that we are living. When something unbelievable happens, we ask someone to pinch us so that we wake up; that short, dull prick proves we are engaging in life. In The Moviegoer, Binx relates that "Christians talk about the horror of sin, but they have overlooked something. They keep talking as if everyone were a great sinner, when the truth is that nowadays one is hardly up to it. There is very little sin in the depths of the malaise. The highest moment of a malaisian's life can be that moment when he manages to sin like a proper human (Look at us, Binx- my vagabond friends as good as cried out to me- we're sinning! We're succeeding! We're human after all!)." It seems that to live life in its truest form, to experience all that it has to offer, to succeed and beat the malaise means one must sin and sin well. The world that is in the malaise, which, according to Binx is just about everyone, isn't even up to sinning, not because they think certain behaviors are wrong, per se, but because they are just too lazy.
Have you ever seen the movie Crash? It won the Oscar for Best Picture in 2004, the year Brokeback Mountain was expected to win it all. I keep thinking about that first line of the movie: Don Cheadle's voiceover is describing this desire for touch, for life, for a valid encounter:"In L.A., nobody touches you. We're always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something." I think the reason why this small movie resonated so well with us is because it expresses such a true sentiment. We crash into one another just to feel something; we run ourselves into a brick wall just to prove to the world that we are participating in it's little game. We drink too much, we take too many pills, we jump into bed with people whose last names we don't even know, and what happens? We sober up, the high comes down, our lover rolls out of bed and puts on his shoes and walks out the door. How about that for meaning? This kind of careless, life-is-absurd, Nietzsche-Camus hybrid worldview is destructive but not only do we participate in it, we brag about it the next morning. But, my friends, where is the hope in that?
One of my favorite short stories ever is Hemingway's "A Clean, Well-lighted Place." It's sparse, true Hemingway, consisting primarily of a converation between two waiters in a Spanish bodega concerning their only patron, an old man who faithfully comes in to get drunk. One of the waiters understands why the old man comes back night after night; the bodega is a perfect refuge for someone hoping to escape the black fog that envelops the world. Everyone is looking for a clean, well-lighted place in the midst of a moral darkness. It's just that we don't know how to do it properly. We look for all the wrong things. Finally the waiter, in the depths of malaise, concludes that it is all "nada y pues nada y pues nada". He hails "Nada full of nada, for nada is with thee." Nothing is there. All we have is what we can get out of the world; all we have is our search for a clean, well-lighted place in which to pass the time. I think Binx ultimately comes down on this side as well.
So I have been thinking a lot about this and as dismal as this post may seem, I want to leave us on a hopeful note. The world is not nada. Man is not nada. We don't have to crash into each other to feel or live authentically. We don't have to sin grandly to gain validity. We sin because we are human; we are not human because we sin. Life is not absurd. I believe that there is an Unmoved Mover who not only moves but in whom we can live, move and have our being. It's lovely and true. Now if someone can figure out exactly how one might continue avoiding the destructive behaviors, please let me know because while I can label them as unhealthy and enacted in vain, I can't quite shake them. I find myself continuing to get myself into messy situations just so I can have an interesting story to tell later on. I look for a clean, well-lighted place in every dark corner and announce proudly to the world when I sin well. Can someone fix that for me? Thanks. 'Ppreciate it.
Alright, so just when you thought my posts couldn't get any longer, WHAM. Sorry, folks. But I promise the show's over now. I do sincerely hope that someone has tracked with this even in the slightest degree. It may seem a bit like rambling and I apologize. By the way, I got Skype so if anyone wants to talk to me, please do. My name thingy is aliwisdom sooo...talk to me and I promise I won't blather on about my own existential and moral dilemmas. Maybe.