Saturday, April 23, 2011

Another belief system

I'm glad no one else believes like I do. After all, my beliefs change all the time. Sometimes I believe in a kind of Marxist Christ à la Pasolini, the emaciate reciter of the beatitudes, befriender of the poor. Sometimes I believe in the Christ who wields a sword, the judge who will separate the condemned from the elect and put an end to endless ambiguity. Sometimes I forgo believing the divinity bit and see Jesus as Jefferson did, a charitable sage, a philosophe par excellence. Someone whose words exceed his deeds. Sometimes I believe Jesus too was seduced by the Devil and returned from the desert to rule this earthly realm, only to fail. Hunger and thirst will do that to you.

I'm hopeless. Sometimes I believe the world can be perfected, if only I could eliminate all the arseholes in it. Sometimes I believe that the world is what it is and everyone is mechanically living out their genetic destiny. It's all code. Sometimes I believe in free will, the Great Man theory of history, and the Declaration of Independence. Other times, I believe we're mired in randomness, that there is no choice, just happenstance, and to pursue happiness is a sham junket. Sometimes I believe in mathematics. Other times, I believe numbers are just a form of poetry, a way to describe beauty, hopelessly idealistic. Sometimes I believe in predestination, but then I realize I don't believe in heaven or hell. Sometimes, I believe that we are merely a mess of biological urges -- feed, fuck, fear, and flee. Other times I believe we have an eternal spirit, one that will come back to haunt this place.

Sometimes I believe money will make me happy so I play the lottery, cheat my neighbors, stockpile cash in a 401K. Sometimes I believe money is shite, the root of nearly all evil, a waste, mammon, Baal. Sometimes I believe in sex, other times I believe in chastity. Neither has made me happy for long. Sometimes I believe that love conquers all, that love outlasts death, that love can move mountains. Other times, I believe that love is as fleeting as the scent of a rose on an early June breeze and can only be experienced in rare epiphanies. Sometimes I believe in Spaceship Earth, other times I believe we are grounded, the world is flat, and there is no place else to go. This trashpile is our only home.

Sometimes I believe I'm an ignorant son-of-a-bitch and sometimes I believe I know it all. Makes no difference if I talk loud enough and carry a weapon. Sometimes I believe in the inevitable March of Progress -- that androids are the next logical phase in the evolution of our species, that men and machines were meant to mate. Sometimes I believe humankind will eliminate itself in an orgy of warfare and lizards will rule again. Sometimes I believe the Internet -- the hive mind -- is superbly analogous to the individual brain's wiring. Other times, I believe the internet is a modern Tower of Babel and will lead to the disintegration of the self. Sometimes I believe that work is good, that it gives me a reason for being. Other times I believe the yoke is too burdensome, that I should shirk it and live like the lilies of the field. Sometimes I believe that the fundamental things all peoples hold in common can overcome superficial differences. Sometimes I believe that there is no way to bridge the chasm between cultures, religions, languages, world-views, and that we are doomed to everlasting conflict and competition. Sometimes I believe in music, Bach, jazz, effin rock 'n roll, but after I've sated myself, I fervently believe in silence.

I believe I will live forever under the earth. I believe in getting lost, never turning back, stubbornly moving forward like U. S. Grant at Cold Harbor. I believe there is no way to avoid tragedy even though my day-to-day existence proceeds in farce. I believe in the Nicene Creed unless asked to recite it, then I see its absurdity and believe I was brought up in a certain church and that's all there is to it.

I believe that others are steadier in their beliefs and I believe that makes them dangerous. I believe in community, that life cannot be sustained without mutual respect, a shared vision of the common good. I believe every individual is unique and belongs only to a community of one. I believe in the primacy of pain as a motive force. I believe in grace, healing, compassion. I believe we can ride off into the sunset together. I believe we'll never see the light.

Ofttimes I believe in nothing. I follow the brook back up the mountain to its source, stumbling over rocks, roots, fallen limbs. I get stuck in boot-deep mud and slip. It's raining but I get up and keep going. I'm not aware of anything around me, anything overhead. Maybe emptiness. My emptiness. Sometimes, as the poet said, it's only nothingness that can comfort us. I believe that.

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