The Fear: Trite Angsty Reflections

Previous posts on The Fear I-IV were culled from an autobiographical work called Wreck of Being. It mawkishly details my budding understanding of existentialism through four moments: watching The Wizard of Oz, attending a Leafs game and two Grateful Dead concerts. The book concludes with trite, rambling reflections on what The Fear means.

Now for my truisms: “Bad layering makes for bad burning”. Like every layer – everything from our friends and family to work and dreams – we learn what we need so that survival can be as straightforward as possible. We cannot operate our intelligence without confining it to contexts; to attempt to grasp all facets of existence outside a framed perspective is impossible, would result in a direct confrontation with The Fear and thus insanity.

Truism #2: “Tightly bundled minds cannot breathe.” A perspective must be maintained, but it must not be too confining. The Fear has to be understood and dealt with from time to time, for The Fear is the lurking reality of our universality, of our very irrelevance. It exists and cannot be ignored. Perspectives are vital to living a sane life, but they cannot be fixed. To live within a box of work, wife, whiskey and whist only makes the inevitable meltdown all the more forceful.

And thus my third and final truism: “Layers and The Fear kept in the right balance makes for productive years.” The time in warm and cool layers – the vast majority of years – will always be remembered as the coziest, though the time with The Fear will be the most vivid and affecting. An equilibrium lies somewhere; each to their own.     

Nietzsche without the ‘z’

Having just finished Sue Prideaux’s impressive biography on Nietzsche, I am Dynamite, I planned to blog on aspects in the book. However the ‘z’ on my computer did not work, posing a problem of an existential order.

I was forced to text the word “Nietzsche” to my computer and copy it, which could be considered an existential solution, in that I used one other to supplant another other to enable my opinion on the same.

The truth is that my ‘z’ has been out of order for weeks now and that I just worked around that, given that the ‘z’ is generally a useless letter except in “oos” (the place they keep animals), being “lay” (inclined to doing nothing), famous directors (emeckis, Herog, etc.) and of course Nietzsche’s arathustra.

And so I feel compelled to focus on Nietsche’s final years of insanity when he just gibbered away. “Do I have a mouth for it? Shout I eat that? my mouth I say, I want to eat. What is that here? an ear. What is that here? a nose. What is that here? hands I do not love.” The key to all of this? No ”’s. Or as they say in Canada eds.

Woody Allen, Existentialist

I never bought into the whole religious thing. I thought it was all a big hustle. Didn’t ever think there was a God; didn’t think he conveniently favor the Jews if there was one. What were my sins? Kissing Barbara Westlake when I should have been hanging up my coat? God, there’s much worse. The Germans putting us in ovens. First attend to that. (32-3)

I envy people who derive solace from the belief that the work they created will live on and be much discussed and somehow make him “immortal”. All the people standing over Shakespeare’s grave and singing his praises means a big goose egg to the Bard. A day will come when all of Shakespeare’s play, for all their brilliant plots and iambic pentameter, will be gone with every atom in the universe. After all, we are all an accident of physics, not the work of intelligent design but, if anything, the work of a crass bungler. (73-4)

Excerpted from Woody’s Allen’s autobiography Apropos of Nothing.

The Fear III: The Grateful Dead in South Carolina

We drove sixteen hours to a Grateful Dead show in Columbia, South Carolina. I took the graveyard shift and consumed caffeine pills and coffee to stay awake. I didn’t sleep that night nor the next day, and came crashing down in the middle of the concert.

Awful black clouds wash over me as I desperately tried to think of a sane notion and cling to it. I knew this was just a matter of exhaustion and thought that if I just turned as much of my body off as I could, it would eventually pass. It didn’t work. I knew that I knew nothing, that I really never thought about anyone but myself, that no one existed, nothing existed except my nonsensical perspective.

I tried to think of the most basic things possible. Chair. Table. Lamp. These were words. I understood them. I knew what they were. But then the chair would dissolve into a table and the table would melt into the lamp, the lamp would fade to black. There was no substance, no reality, nothing existed. Chair. Table. Lamp. They didn’t actually exist. They only existed in my mind. The black clouds continued to flow in. If a chair wasn’t a chair, then I wasn’t anything. I didn’t exist. I only thought I did.

Chair. Table. Lamp. I could sit in a chair, write on a table, see light from a lamp. It wasn’t my imagination. I could touch them. I knew I could touch them. Chair. Table. Lamp. I had eyes. I had fingers. I knew they existed…the house lights went out. This was reality. A cheer went up. The band was returning to the stage for the encore. The clouds seemed to be breaking up. I didn’t have to focus my wild stare on anything. I could gaze into the soft colored lights. I was going to live. And stay sane. For now at least.

The GIF: Realizing an Existential Nightmare

Existentialists tend to discourse on our sorry lot as humans in this life, caged between birth and death, trapped in this existence, the terror and nausea of realizing how lousy it all really is. alice trappedFriedrich Nietzsche referred to this terror as the greatest weight: What if this life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unutterably small or great in your life will have to return to you, all in the same succession and sequence — even this spider and this moonlight between the trees, and even this moment and I myself.

starlightThe eternal hourglass of existence is turned upside down again and again, and you with it, a speck of dust!

Jean-Paul Sartre expounded on the horror in his play No ExitYou have stolen my face from me: you know it and I no longer do. beautiful faceLuckily, thanks to our evolved sensibilities and their application to technology, we can see the kernel of this philosophical gobbledygook captured in profound and eternal loops.

car crashcat's tailsexy-girl-gifThe GIF – or Graphic Interchange Format – is, as Albert Camus wrote, basically, at the very bottom of life, which seduces us all. There is only absurdity and more absurdity. And maybe that’s what gives us our joy for living, because the only thing that can defeat absurdity is lucidity.

gopro_bike_rideYes, life just as Nietzsche envisioned it. sex gifexistential

The Existential Play of the Toronto Maple Leafs

The heathen fanbase of teams across the continent – be they in Montreal, Boston, Detroit, Los Angeles or Chicago – simply do not understand. The Existential Play of the Toronto Maple LeafsThey think it is about winning, hugging and celebrating in a crass display, that this is the point of the game. And I feel sorry for them.The Existential Play of the Toronto Maple LeafsThey don’t understand that it isn’t this at all, but, as Camus wrote in The Plague, instead is a reminder of our “never-ending defeat.”The Existential Play of the Toronto Maple LeafsThe Toronto Maple Leafs are only for those who can take it, not the world as we dream, but as it truly is: empty and unrelenting.

The Existential Play of the Toronto Maple Leafs

Leaf goaltender Drew McIntyre

Yes, the Leafs are only for pure existentialists. Their recent travails – an eight-game losing streak – has even brought The New York Times on the Being and Nothingness train, citing the “disturbing situation”, “devastating slump”,  and Leaf coach Carlyle’s catch phrase, “Just breathe. Take it easy. Breathe.” The Existential Play of the Toronto Maple LeafsBut they don’t understand. They use these words devastating and disturbing like they’re a bad thing, like they aren’t needed, like they can be avoided. The Existential Play of the Toronto Maple LeafsThey don’t see the wall behind us, the epidemic that’s surrounds. No. All they see is putting the puck in the net. The Existential Play of the Toronto Maple LeafsAnd it’s just so sad.