Anything but nihilism

Nothing is for sale here. When I say free I mean untrammeled, unrestrained, self-owned, of inherent value, beyond price. Free love, that old anarchist shibboleth: how quickly in a capitalist society it comes to mean “love without any emotional investment!”

Reductionism is the handmaiden of power: in the law, in modern medicine, in the applied sciences, in finance. Thus, at the heart of power is a great nullity. Not the fertile mystery of the via negativa, much less the zero of mathematicians, but an absolute (and therefore lying) zero. A wanting that can never be satisfied. (In almost every society where people fear witchcraft/sorcery, they understand it to derive from an excess of envy.)

To the reductionist’s “nothing more than” I counter with “nothing less than.” This is a fundamental distinction. Every being is a mystery, and we are each mysterious to ourselves. The reason is simple: “Time and chance happeneth to them all.” (Why doesn’t every MacIntosh apple tree look exactly like every other? After all, they are perfect clones!)

After Nagasaki, after the holocaust? The nothingness of absolutism will continue to envelop worlds as long as it is not countered with love and laughter. We are in the middle of the sixth great extinction event. More than ever, we need to make ourselves vulnerable to the not-always-tender mercies of the cosmic trickster, the god who laughs at himself. Coyote. Job’s nemesis.

Blake’s motto from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell still hits home:

How do you know but ev’ry Bird that cuts the airy way,
Is an immense world of delight, clos’d by your senses five?

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