Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Question

Life. Existence. As in the meaning of it all. The mechanics I pretty much understand; the Krebs cycle, the passing of sodium and potassium ions through a semi-permeable membrane, RNA and DNA, the whole unholy schmorgesbord of processes that together make a man. Yet, basically, as complex as it is, the body human is no more remarkable a construct than a four cycle internal combustion engine, or a silicon central processing unit (CPU). In the end, they are designs, one sort perhaps by chance, another certainly by intent, each taking energy and converting it into action. But life, or at least sentient life, that's something beyond mere mechanics, biological or otherwise. An ant is a wondrous machine, part of a collective purpose, which goes about it's duties with nary a thought as to why. A merecat stands watch over the colony, with nary a thought as to what's in it for him or her. Life just is, and always has been, what it was, until eventually the brain of one species got large enough to make room for curiosity.

And that's where I arrive; the question. My ancestors, dating as far back as the ice age and maybe earlier, sat in contemplation around a fire, not satisfied merely with the fact that the fire provided warmth and light, but wondered what magic stuff these flames were made of. He looked up at the searing sun and wondered who was keeping THAT mighty flame going, and where did it go when it sank out of sight over the horizon. And he marveled at the moon, which shone so brightly without the golden flame it's solar breathren possessed. Yes, those questions arose and became much more numerous than the answers, and I can only imagine how such a curiosity unquenched could not have driven the first thinkers to madness.

Answers come in so many guises, from lucky guesses, from observations, from sheer deduction, from experimentation, and yes, in a pinch, from fancy. The most bizarre answers arose when there were simply no earthly facts to stumble upon, such as where it all came from and why. God is the fallback, the answer of last resort, when all those extra neurons with nothing else to do fail to put two and two together and arrive at anything near four. Sentience thirsts for order, for reason, for explanations for all things, and in failing to provide them for itself, will resort to creating it's own answers that only it's own manufactured evidence can support.

The simple act of living in this world produces fatigue; we tire of work, of chasing our dreams, of holding ourselves to ideals handed down to us by generations of people trying to live together in something resembling harmony. We expend so much of our mental energy on the task of daily living that many of us loathe going the extra mile to waste any of it on the asking. Yes, the BIG question is rarely approached when all the little questions nag at us long after we thought them answered. It's only when our efforts have blessed us with comfort in our existence or we simply do not care anymore do we surpass the mundane and venture forth to take on the unknown, especially when we have already convinced ourselves it is unknowable.

God, whom we created in our own image, as frightful as that can be, is that unknowable so many of us claim to know. They conveniently ignore the very definition of faith and proceed directly to claiming a direct line to the divine, and in doing so prove that intelligence does not always go hand in hand with wisdom. Yet, so many of us break free of these delusions, and return to the innocence of faith, or abandon illogical mythology altogether in favor of oblivion, a state of surrender to that which can't be known, therefore must not exist. Therein lies a sadness that can't be born if fully embraced with all of one's comprehension.

So I remain here, at this keyboard, facing down the question. the one thing that all those who came before me did not enable me through the process of evolution to take on and make my own. My breathren have conquered the Earth, split the atom, stepped foot on the moon, and have mapped out the very code that defines us, yet they have not even provided me with the right question to ask, much less the answer. This places me in great danger of utter despair, as I spend my alloted time on this Earth amongst tribes of humans dead set on destroying all the life this planet has nurtured for eons of time, perhaps towards some noble end. It's very much like watching helplessly as my brothers grasp the cord of the plug of the machine that took countless millions of lives and countless thoughts to build to arrive at some satisfying conclusion, and we kill the power perhaps seconds before it serves it's long awaited purpose. I can't answer the question. Noble laureates have not answered this question, although as a collective they have surely tried. Priests, Rabbis, monks and shamans imagine the answer, and even swear to have found it, yet the proof of uncertainty continues to be argued.

There IS no answer. Of that I will claim certainty. And I will rest warmly in it's embrace, knowing that when I have lived my alloted time, I will pass beyond this veil that I know so well, and if there IS an answer, then and only then will I even know what question to ask. And from my limited perspective, here at this keyboard, I imagine it will be the ONE thing I ever experienced that surpassed the wonder of sex, and if one can experience that, then one CAN experience nirvana.......


whitesnake said...

OK.........I'll give you the answer if you'll just cheer up!

Somethings in life are bad,
They can really make you sad,
Other fings just make you smile or curse,
When your chewing on life's grissle,
Don't grumble, give a whistle,
And this'll help fings turn out for the best.

Always look on the bright side of life.

When life seems jolly rotten,
There's something you've forgotten,
And that's to laugh and dance and smile and sing.
When you're feeling in the dumps,
Don't be silly chumps,
Just purse ya lips and whistle that's the fing.

Always look on the bright side of death,
Just before you draw your terminal breath

Life's a piece of shit,
When ya look at it,
Life's a lark and deaths a joke it's true,
You'll see it's all a show,
Keep em laughing as ya go,
Just remember that the last laugh is on you,

Always look on the bright side of life,

Come on cheer up!
Nothing will come from nothing!
Ain't that what they say?
Ya come from nothing,
Ya going back to nothing,
What ya lost?

And the ANSWER is

The Michael said...

Snake, I love ya man, but Eric Idle did it sooooo much better!

42 what? Beers?

Buffalo said...

This is a subject we could spend a great amount of time discussing. Good piece, Michael.

You should take a look at Kat's last post. You will find it interesting.

whitesnake said...

42 is the answer to life.

Geez.........too many Pan Galactic Gargle blasters......Zapod!

Now 42 beers.....hmmmmmm so long as it ain't Bud!

Homo Escapeons said...

One of the scariest things about our brains is that if we hear repetitive messages we actually start to believe them...and as you know Nature abhors a vacuum ergo if we don't have an answer for something well sure as hell somebody will come along with one and keep telling it over and over and over until ten, then one hundred and eventually millions of people will believe it.

The current clash of cultures and civilizations is totally depressing and completely inexcusable but hey we have been more interested in money and power issues than global health and get what you give and we are getting it back good and hard.

Relax and enjoy your little piece of the Solar System because despite the fact that the planet put up with Dinosaurs for 150 million years we aren't even going make it to the end of this century.

So what's it all about Alfie?
I don't know but if a 50 ton creature with a peanut sized brain can make it for 150MYs then this world obviously prefers it's planetary rulers ____________!