It seemed funny that one day I would go to bed in her arms and the next not feel anything, like a switch had gone off. But no, that wasn’t honest either. This had been building for a long time. Our silences were getting longer. Our arguments more frequent. How do you stay with someone when there are no dreams to build? No purpose to accomplish? No meaning? No meaning —that was the monster that drove us away from one another in the end. Always.
It took a couple of months before we were both convinced there were no rules about sexual activities in Hell and our spouses were not going to show up out of the blue. It was hard to start a sexual relationship in circumstances of such bizarre uncertainty, especially for an active Mormon and a good Christian, both lost in a Zoroastrian Hell. We were like virgin newlyweds. All my life I’d been raised to believe this kind of thing was wrong. All my life I had lived with a strong sense of morality. How do you give it up? How do you do things you thought you’d never do? Where do all the things you believed go, when all the supporting structure is found to be a myth? How do you know how or on what to take a moral stand, how do you behave when it turns out there are no cosmic rules, no categorical imperatives? It was difficult. So tricky to untangle.
I have told this to few people, gentlemen, and I suspect I never will again, but one day when I was a young boy on holiday in Uberwald I was walking along the bank of a stream when I saw a mother otter with her cubs. A very endearing sight, I’m sure you will agree, and even as I watched, the mother otter dived into the water and came up with a plump salmon, which she subdued and dragged on to a half-submerged log. As she ate it, while of course it was still alive, the body split and I remember to this day the sweet pinkness of its roes as they spilled out, much to the delight of the baby otters, who scrambled over themselves to feed on the delicacy. One of nature’s wonders, gentlemen: mother and children dining on mother and children. And that’s when I first learned about evil. It is built into the nature of the universe. Every world spins in pain. If there is any kind of supreme being, I told myself, it is up to all of us to become his moral superior.
La voluntad, el deseo de vivir, es tan fuerte en el animal como en el hombre. En el hombre es mayor la comprensión. A más comprender, corresponde menos desear. Esto es lógico, y además se comprueba en la realidad. La apetencia por conocer se despierta en los individuos que aparecen al final de una evolución, cuando el instinto de vivir languidece. El hombre, cuya necesidad es conocer, es como la mariposa que rompe la crisálida para morir. El individuo sano, vivo, fuerte, no ve las cosas como son, porque no le conviene. Está dentro de una alucinación. Don Quijote, a quien Cervantes quiso dar un sentido negativo, es un símbolo de la afirmación de la vida. Don Quijote vive más que todas las personas cuerdas que le rodean, vive más y con más intensidad que los otros. El individuo o el pueblo que quiere vivir se envuelve en nubes como los antiguos dioses cuando se aparecían a los mortales. El instinto vital necesita de las ficción para afirmarse. La ciencia entonces, el instinto de crítica, el instinto de averiguación, debe encontrar una verdad: la cantidad de mentira que se necesita para la vida
Supposing there is no life everlasting. Think what it means if death is really the end of all things. They’ve given up all for nothing. They’ve been cheated. They’re dupes.”Waddington reflected for a little while. “I wonder if it matters what they have aimed at is illusion. Their lives are in themselves beautiful. I have an idea that the only thing which makes it possible to regard this world we live in without disgust is the beauty which now and then men create out of the chaos. The pictures they paint, the music they compose, the books the write, and the lives they lead. Of all these the richest beauty is the beautiful life. That is the perfect work of art.
Since we are nothing but packages of tepid, half-rotted viscera, we shall always have trouble with sentiment. Being in love is nothing, it’s sticking together that’s difficult. Faeces on the other hand make no attempt to endure or to grow. On this score we are far more unfortunate than shit: our frenzy to persist in our present state — that’s the unconscionable torture.
People are ignorant of what any street clock knows. Why? Because the crack that cleaves existence also swallows their existence-reflecting consciousnesses. Thrown back into existence, the poor souls don’t suspect that a moment ago they didn’t exist – and only isolated things and persons, swallowed by the crack never to return to this world, arouse a certain fear and foreboding.
Tell me something. Do you believe in God?’Snow darted an apprehensive glance in my direction. ‘What? Who still believes nowadays?”It isn’t that simple. I don’t mean the traditional God of Earth religion. I’m no expert in the history of religions, and perhaps this is nothing new–do you happen to know if there was ever a belief in an…imperfect God?”What do you mean by imperfect?’ Snow frowned. ‘In a way all the gods of the old religions were imperfect, considered that their attributes were amplified human ones. The God of the Old Testament, for instance, required humble submission and sacrifices, and and was jealous of other gods. The Greek gods had fits of sulks and family quarrels, and they were just as imperfect as mortals…”No,’ I interrupted. ‘I’m not thinking of a god whose imperfection arises out of the candor of his human creators, but one whose imperfection represents his essential characteristic: a god limited in his omniscience and power, fallible, incapable of foreseeing the consequences of his acts, and creating things that lead to horror. He is a…sick god, whose ambitions exceed his powers and who does not realize it at first. A god who has created clocks, but not the time they measure. He has created systems or mechanisms that serves specific ends but have now overstepped and betrayed them. And he has created eternity, which was to have measured his power, and which measures his unending defeat.’Snow hesitated, but his attitude no longer showed any of the wary reserve of recent weeks:’There was Manicheanism…”Nothing at all to do with the principles of Good and Evil,’ I broke in immediately. ‘This god has no existence outside of matter. He would like to free himself from matter, but he cannot…’Snow pondered for a while:’I don’t know of any religion that answers your description. That kind of religion has never been…necessary. If i understand you, and I’m afraid I do, what you have in mind is an evolving god, who develops in the course of time, grows, and keeps increasing in power while remaining aware of his powerlessness. For your god, the divine condition is a situation without a goal. And understanding that, he despairs. But isn’t this despairing god of yours mankind, Kelvin? Is it man you are talking about, and that is a fallacy, not just philosophically but also mystically speaking.’I kept on:’No, it’s nothing to do with man. man may correspond to my provisional definition from some point of view, but that is because the definition has a lot of gaps. Man does not create gods, in spite of appearances. The times, the age, impose them on him. Man can serve is age or rebel against it, but the target of his cooperation or rebellion comes to him from outside. If there was only a since human being in existence, he would apparently be able to attempt the experiment of creating his own goals in complete freedom–apparently, because a man not brought up among other human beings cannot become a man. And the being–the being I have in mind–cannot exist in the plural, you see? …Perhaps he has already been born somewhere, in some corner of the galaxy, and soon he will have some childish enthusiasm that will set him putting out one star and lighting another. We will notice him after a while…”We already have,’ Snow said sarcastically. ‘Novas and supernovas. According to you they are candles on his altar.”If you’re going to take what I say literally…’…Snow asked abruptly:’What gave you this idea of an imperfect god?”I don’t know. It seems quite feasible to me. That is the only god I could imagine believing in, a god whose passion is not a redemption, who saves nothing, fulfills no purpose–a god who simply is.
All I can tell you with certainty is that I, for one, have no self, and that I am unwilling or unable to perpetrate upon myself the joke of a self…. What I have instead is a variety of impersonations I can do, and not only of myself — a troupe of players that I have internalised, a permanent company of actors that I can call upon when a self is required…. I am a theater and nothing more than a theater.