Vertigo

There’s a vertiginous quality to life that we spend much of our waking hours trying to keep in check. To have sprouted from the earthly mass as mortal beings puts us in precarious balance. This is not just in the sense of our physical fragility, as we’re no longer looking out for predatory animals lurking in the night. The instability seems to be more deeply rooted in the fabric of reality itself, a frail equilibrium which particles assume when they could very well choose not to. Our universe could null us out of existence at any moment, not only through death at the hands of one of its creatures, but simply by changing its laws.

We think we’ve cracked the code with all of the sophisticated instruments available to peer into the mechanics of physics. But our world doesn’t owe us loyalty to these laws. If they suddenly began to morph and evolve, we would have no say in it. This idea is probably not scientifically valid, but it captures the feeling I’m trying to assign to the word vertigo. We are not in control, and to feel it in our bones is dizzying.

Acceptance is the strongest stance. An acquiescence at the possibility of death at any moment. An unflinching gaze toward this amoral universe, not evil, simply too great a force to be bothered with notions of good and bad such as we have developed through culture. Nature is cruel and beautiful. For anything to live, something else has to die. This obvious fact should be enough to remind us that not only death but violence and pain are a part of this intelligent design…Why? No answer. Only a feeling which, through the lens of surrender, assumes a character that makes sense.

This is not an easy truth to give in to. Resistance is futile yet it bears fruit, being sublimated into much of what we know as human creativity and art. Running away from death and towards creation. Divinely inspired yet terribly alone, swelling in a meat suit.

I notice in myself a spirit of misguided rebellion against the superego, a reluctance to adhere to discipline, a push back that approaches senseless defiance. Healthy boundaries become misconceived as suffocating rules and regulations. The self-care function that should be guiding a balanced life assumes the guise of an inner tyrant, whom in order to escape one has to disobey the law of love. This manifests as self-destruction in its active form, or sloth in its passive form. Maybe it’s the pull of entropy; maybe just a slightly off-track application of an otherwise generative chaotic potential.

To dance with chaos one has to, by definition, be open to risk. The risk is not to be consumed by said chaos, but rather to become it. To eat it for ourselves and be so full of it that it seeps out by every pore and infects everything we touch. A deal with the devil entails a commitment to enacting both extremes of this aforementioned amoral universe we inhabit. A recognition that the only difference between a dark magician and a healer is our very human ability to choose in every moment. In this sense, choice itself is Lucifer. The decision to look away from love for a moment, and engage in creative novelty that embraces mayhem.

Without it we might as well be a unified void of narcissism. Only a selfish god would prevent its world from knowing evil. If we’re going to keep indulging in christian language, I’m actually grateful for sin, as one would be in retrospect for a stern teacher. How else could we learn to deal with the gift and burden of free will? And this burden is what’s so nausea-inducing. It’s the vertigo of choice from up high in the control tower, throwing haphazard orders at the animal below, hoping it follows suit.

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