I feel the seductive pull of despair.
It is like a familiar dark cave: what if I can just crawl into it, and curl up, and hide from everything that might be going on outside?
It is like the glistening blue of ice: what if I just surrender, and allow it to freeze me — softly, painlessly, sleepily — and then there would be no worries about anything anymore? Just glistening, bright ice.
It is like the mathematical perfection of a black hole — everything is pulled in, and nothing comes out. No urges, no anger, no desires — everything disappears into the blackness.
It is not my own despair that I am feeling — it is the collective despair of this huge and powerful body politic, whose system of governance seemed so sensible, so well-designed, so trustworthy not so long ago; a unique achievement of human political thought.
But not anymore: the democratic mechanism at its heart came up with the brilliant idea that intelligence and compassion are not needed anymore; that all they bring are threats, confusion, and complications. Of course, intelligence and compassion have been scarcely there anyway. At most, they were present as ideals, as a promise — and in the form of their mundane and fallible representatives: expert knowledge and basic decency. Now these, too, are out of fashion, replaced with blind ignorance and vulgarity. And so the whole body politic lashes out madly and indiscriminately, like Cyclops blinded by its own fear and anger…
It’s like finding oneself on an aircraft where passengers democratically decided that all this nonsense like navigation, radars, computers, safety procedures, nuances — all this is but unnecessary complication to the simple task of flying; the flight would be much more efficient (and don’t forget “free”) without them. No wonder there is now turbulence, and turmoil, and despair.
So I open my heart to this wave of despair, yield to it, surrender to it; take a plunge into this darkness — into my inner share of it. This strange gesture of our body politic has a suicidal quality to it: something needs to die if life is to go on — and so in the inner realm, it resonates with the same longing to let go completely, with the will to die.
In this dark place I am pulled into, nothing matters and one cannot hide from the utter meaninglessness of life any longer. The outside noise ceases, the mind gives up and falls silent — and there is no knowing anymore whether there has ever been any difference between the two. And then there is no time, but just a space of bright stillness…
At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless; Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is, But neither arrest nor movement.
T.S. Elliot’s description is strikingly precise: I recognise the place. There is the dance — and then there is laughter.
We are not on an aircraft after all, this laughter tells me — to continue this line of metaphors, we are on a spaceship, a beautiful blue-green spaceship. She is still in orbit, and this can never be changed by our follies, however outrageous. She couldn’t care less about our democratic choice of captains, however absurd. And she is more than capable of wiping out our excesses from her green-blue surface, perhaps along with many of us if that’s what is needed — but what of it?
If it be now,’’tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come: the readiness is all.
And intelligence and compassion? But isn’t that the greatest folly of all: to look for them in political institutions?