Dabar [theme]

He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou find refuge: His truth is a shield and buckler
Psalms 91:4

Be it ours,when we cannot see the face of God, to trust under the shadow of His wings. C.H. Spugeon

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Torture of Meaning

"Looking up into the night sky is looking into infinity - distance is incomprehensible and therefore meaningless." ... for the first time, the first, I laid my heart open to the benign indifference of the universe."

Looking into the chasm of life, seeing the absurdity, that God has placed before man a position wherein freedom devolves meaning, consciousness distorts hope, experience creates the tragic, knowledge admits impotence, judgement defiles truth and wisdom discerns its own failings. It is into this life where the naivety and spontaneity of youth is supplanted by the pause, the reflection, the measuring of life's absurdity, that a man must resolve the conflict that his soul has with the foolishness of finding meaning. If ever there was a need for God, it should be apparent in the agony of man's being and the absence of the ability of a man to have significance. A man lives conscious of meaning and its absence. Therein lies the torture. The true punishment of the 'fall of man' is the interminable distance created by the seperation of man from purpose and the inability of man in his own right to assuage God and redeem that purpose for himself. Whether like Sisyphus we are pushing a rock up a hill, or whether we are slaving against 'weeds' and 'thorns' for our sustenance is irrelevant, we will never overcome the despair of our existence in any attempt to circumvent the absurdness of life.
Where is the torture of meaning without a sense of hope?

When the images of earth cling too tightly to memory, when the call of happiness becomes too insistent, it happens that melancholy rises in man's heart: this is the rock's victory, this is the rock itself. The boundless grief is too heavy to bear. These are our nights of Gethsemane. But crushing truths perish from being acknowledged. The absurd man says yes and his effort will henceforth be unceasing. If there is a personal fate, there is no higher destiny, or at least there is but one which he concludes is inevitable and despicable. For the rest, he knows himself to be the master of his days. At that subtle moment when man glances backward over his life, ... in that silent pivoting he contemplates that series of unrelated actions which becomes his fate, created by him, combined under his memory's eye and soon sealed by his death.

The workman of today works every day in his life at the same tasks, and this fate is no less absurd. But it is tragic only at the rare moments when it becomes conscious.

It remains for man and is a constant of his existence to precisely determine if and how a person can live with full awareness of the absurdity of life and/or with the problem of faith, and with the full implications of what it would be like to live in a world without God and a world of total absurdity. Plenty of people can affirm the idea of absurdity or the non-existence of God on an intellectual level, but that it is a different matter actually than to live out the consequences of that affirmation.

"There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide. Deciding whether or not life is worth living is to answer the fundamental question in philosophy. All other questions follow from that." Camus

Kirilov is a character from The Possessed who commits what he calls a "logical suicide." For life to be worth living, God must exist, and yet he is convinced that God cannot exist. His suicide is essentially a revolt against the idea that God does not exist. He is an absurd character in that his action is motivated by revolt and is done in the spirit of freedom. And yet, he commits suicide.
"There is no refuge from confession but suicide; and suicide is confession." Daniel Webster

Why live?
The examination of life with a view to establishing a legacy, or as a means of determining our personal significance will essentially fail to provide any assurance. This is not to say that life is not worth living, it is to say that the illusions of significance are based on measurements defined by our culture and these criteria are fraught with lies.
Where is the torture of meaning without a sense of hope?
Hope echoes in the wild and limited universe of man. It teaches that all is not, has not been, exhausted. It drives out of this world a god who had come into it with dissatisfaction and a preference for futile sufferings. It makes of life a divine matter.  

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