Primordial chaos was patternless save by the order of gravitational attraction enforced upon debris from explosions and collisions. The living can scarce imagine chaos, even our notions of Hell are well organized; “Better to reign in Hell, then serve in Heav’n.” quoth Milton’s Satan. One does not reign over chaos.
The blaring sounds and notorious difficulty of Béla Bartók’s Piano Concerto Number 2 contrive a verisimilitude to chaos which we can hear and see as it is played. To create something akin to chaos on an orchestral scale requires incredible order and talent on the individual scale. Perhaps the tortured souls from Dante’s Inferno would produce such a cacophony.
This lugubrious din, created by a suffering world having seen Dante’s gate and read “Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate” “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here”, becomes the sound of our world which descends deeper than the chthonic realm of Satan, Hades, and Anubis into the primeval chaos of Tiamat through whose maelstrom we reach the deepest abyss swept on by the brushing of the wings of Pazuzu, there to be entrapped as our complete disorder is detested even by the Adversary, even by Satan. How easily we fall to this gambit, to separation from both God and the Adversary, and even from each other. As Pazuzu anoints us with evil, the first gate we enter bids us Gnothi Seauton, Nosce Te Ipsum, Know Thyself. This we ignore as we pass forward into the howling winds of selfishness and rejection of accountability. To know thyself is to be wise and it is Sophia, wisdom, whom we reject.
Even on our way through Mordorian landscape we insist on seeing patterns where none exist. We imagine conspiracies creating a soothing fiction that groups of enemies cause our woes, enemies that we create by misanthropic bundling forming vapid monsters whose vanquishment we seek to give ourselves false hopes of victory and restored order. The ring is not melted by Mount Doom, no, it merely passes beyond all reach, care, and control and we eagerly follow it.
We fail to learn the first tenant of control: to have control, you must reject control.
Liberty is thus; she exerts the mildest of control through a melody, a theme, a tune and bids her people make this joyful noise however they will, with infinite variation in key, in tempo, even in notes, but still discernable to those understanding the base melody. That is all she asks. But we want control, repeatability, punishments, fines. We want Hell; we get chaos.
The darker side, the hellish world, is tyranny which seeks to control everything, even human thought. It is ancient, as ancient as Plato’s Republic where he writes that we must lie and redact literature to obtain purity of thought and performance. It is the stuff of the strong man, the king, the absolute ruler whose word is law and disobedience against whose will results in death or at least re-education. Here the strangest of bedfellows meet – the communist who rejects God and the religious zealot who claims God as the reason for Tyranny. Both claim righteousness in the care of the common man, one in the present and one in the afterlife, and both fail in the nourishment of the very soul and essence of humanity which is the soul at liberty, the good, happiness.
Yet we swirl beneath even these extremes into the boundless suffering of chaos, creators of our own doom, ignorers of the plight of our own populations and those of the world, shattered by our monster quests, by our search in dark rooms for evil black cats that were never evil to begin with and were never there in the first place. Here I give this profitless quest a name: blame seeking.
We hinge our judgement not on the holistic and the just but, rather, on the off sentence or phrase taking extrabiblical eisegesis to levels not dreamed of by its masters Kramer, Springer, and Summers in their masterpiece Malleus Maleficarum, the Hammer of Witches, the backbone of witch hunts. We thusly purge ourselves of the innocent with known sins and put those without known questionable utterances in positions of power. It is not the person that is important but simply whether or not they’ve been caught; we seek control by holding people to account for history which should put us all in prison. Pazuzu’s wings beat strongly and anoint us further as we permit this tyranny to grow.
We worship the popular, overlooking their sins, and grind the poor to dust, ignoring the screams of their death throes as we place housing out of reach, illegalize life outside of housing, and permit our systems, both commercial and governmental, to prey on the weak, even to murder them. These, too, are most ancient follies creating a hellish world but not one that descends to the depths of Tiamat, no, dystopia is still a form of order.
There is no order to chaos, but to approach it, order is lost as is the right mind. Its tools are tooth and claw, clamping jaw and ripping arms, that rend us all by our own design and with our passive permission. Unlike the predator, chaos does not consume, it merely randomizes and atomizes to destroy order, productivity, value, and happiness. Its teeth are an infinite and conflicting set of laws which no one knows or fully obeys, and its claws are pointless diatribes against all things – this we call media, professional and social.
Neither knows satisfaction as the tooth is only satisfied by creating more teeth even as the shark has fifty rows thereof and the claw seeks only destruction alone; remedy and correction cannot exist. No, when remedy is attempted after one diatribe, the attempted remediation is the topic of the diatribe nouveau. The arms rip; they never embrace or commit.
They know no peace and rest only when oblivion, chaos, turns them to dust. They are the ultimate doomsday machine, and we are on the bridge of the USS Constellation approaching its maw. Commadore Decker’s valiant act has shown us that the machine can only be destroyed from within, and the quest is perilous as our escape is uncertain. Yet, Tiamat’s destruction gave life to man; to live is to risk all for death is the certain outcome, only when death will come is at issue. We must join the quest and, like Decker, we must have an obsession to drive us. That obsession is love of the other, and even love of ourselves.
Star Trek’s doomsday machine was defeated by the explosion of overloading impulse engines as the Constellation gave her last gasp to save the universe.
Our doomsday machine is fueled by our own impulsive behaviors, our lust for hatred, our creation of monsters and conflicts that are a vapid agglomeration of dislikes formed into imaginary vampires whose lives we seek to extinguish with sharp stakes and tongues. In this lust for hate and rejection, we become the ultimate hedonists, seeking that which pleases albeit our pleasure is destruction, the creation of chaos. Ancient hedonists seeking absence of pain with maximization of pleasure, Epicureans, would be shocked; we wallow in pain and lust for more. Ezekiel writes the truth when he accuses the harlot-personified Israel of paying others to do her harm, the penultimate act whose ultimate manifestation is chaos; we are Ezekiel’s Israel, we pay for the care of tooth and claw, we give succor to our destroyers for they be us and we be they.
Hope, we posit, springs eternal yet it was seen only after all horrors escaped Pandora’s box of destruction. The BBC’s I Claudius has “let all the evil that lurks in the mud hatch out” on the emperor’s lips – his hope for such an overload under Nero that the doomsday machine would be blown out and the republic returned. Despair is Hope’s mother, and only the courageous can pull the sword from the stone and protect Hope as she gives birth to Love and Happiness. Hate asks for no courage, honor, no good thing. Hope asks for our lives and souls.
Hope is Christ Crucified and her progeny is the resurrection of the dead into the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom of infinite love. In this Kingdom, it is not the strong man that rules but rather wisdom and love. Hate lurking in the chaos of the seas will be no more and the last enemy, death, will be defeated. But we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.
Or shall we? If we serve Pazuzu and embrace the darkness, are we not dogs remaining outside the gates of the city? Yet we do serve evil and embrace darkness for the sake of our own lust for suffering. Theodicy asks how God can permit such suffering in our world, permit evil to exist. Ethics demand we ask ourselves the same question.
If we dare ponder this, dare look at Medusa the dreadful Gorgon even in a mirror, our response is often disgust and revulsion, an impulse to force order, to force change. We must reject this impulse and remember that control is achieved by rejecting control through Liberty and Love, not by the heavy yoke and muzzling the oxen that tread out the grain, by imprisonment and murder. We must face the reality that the world has many peoples for whom even the façade of self determination eclipses the ruddy flames of tyranny be it governmental or religious. This only they can remedy, and all we can do is sing Liberty’s tune and support those who seek her.
But what of us, what of America? Our descent into Tiamat’s lair is caused by a maelstrom of hatred and mistrust punctuated by the pains of ubiquitous barbed critiques impelling society downward and outward into the great sewer of chaos. Calls for unity are specious and as ineffective as the strong men whom we put in power; this is our problem: the forces of discord outweigh the gravitational forces that bind us together. The balance is disrupted by blame seeking and acceptance of tyranny for a false sense of security rising above the gravitational cohesive forces which are trust and mutual respect set to the tune of Liberty.
The solutions are legion if they but sing, even hum, the tune of Liberty and live the ethics of equity and equality before the law to address past, present, and future. Trust is roundly broken and while blame seeking is a toxin, accountability is the antidote. We must change our ways, and criticize in order to hold to account or to improve, not to destroy.
But Medusa’s image is a frightening one, and those who seek controlless control must face vexing conundrums, perhaps dichotomies.
One may suppose that we advocate for less police presence when in fact we advocate for more but of a different nature. Trust is badly broken, and the problems are largely matters of policy even more than individual variations policy interpretation regarding the use of force, and the use of lies to trick people into confessions. When we turn the page and there are police present in dangerous areas, risking their lives as they do every day, and those stalwart police are truly there to help, to keep the peace, and to protect and innocent, trust will be restored. So long as we maintain a police force whose primary job is to apprehend and convict, we shall fail for these are the ways of the tyrant, not of Liberty.
Perhaps the most potent viper atop the Gorgon’s head is the Vipera berus, the common European Adder, that is, the poison of having enslaved persons and the lingering toxins from those venomous bites. Like Vipera berus, the poison has not been fatal, but an abundance of injections have occurred, our self-help has made strides towards true Liberty but our lack of follow through has prevented healing, and the damage continues as we seek to deflect blame rather than take positive actions to build. While it is good and right to discuss reparations, the concept of reparation is one of restoring a prior balance which never existed in the first place due to the actions of our ancestors, due to Jim Crow, due to endemic and systemic racism. Here we must again reject control in order to have control through Liberty. We must enable and promote cultural and individual self-determination, and we must fund the efforts of various communities to do just that saying not our will but their will be done in the name of Liberty and the establishment of trust, justice, and order. And yes, police must be a key part of this, police who are there to help.
This list of our needs is long, and solutions are many but none are possible so long as we continue to tear each other apart, seek blame for everything that turns out not to be a good idea – of invent failures for those ideas that did turn out well, and flood the media with nothing but bad reports. We must turn our eyes to the good while glancing at the Gorgon in the mirror as we slay the individual vipers atop its head. As we go forward, rejecting control in order to have the easy yoke and light burden of Liberty, we will indeed overload our own negative impulses to blast away the doomsday machine that we’ve created and unleashed upon ourselves. “Cry havoc!, and let slip the dogs of war” will not be in our minds or on our lips, no wars on crime or drugs or poverty or the cause célèbre du jour but steadfast determination to build trust, to make order mutually beneficial, to achieve and facilitate life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Yes, there will be real wars, violent crimes, acts of incredible barbarism and terrorism. Yes, vast populations will live under tyranny, misogyny, abject poverty, virtual enslavement, and in starvation. And while we argue about this, while Tiamat pulls us into chaos, the world begins to heat because we fail to act. Again, there are solutions and not what you’d think. While we argue about tyrannical controls on energy, we could be building large nuclear plants that power carbon removal from the atmosphere. We can do that right now, but we don’t. We’d rather argue and seek control.
We must do what we can, when we can. To do anything, Tiamat must be faced, and a coordinated effort is required to pull ourselves out of her maelstrom. To do this, trust must be restored, the hand reaching out must seek to help, and we must grasp each other’s hands and pull. This is the ultimate liberty, the freedom to give one’s self for the other.
Let us consider, in closing, the words of René Descartes: Je pense donc je suis, I think therefore I am. Does Je ne pense pas donc je ne suis pas, I don’t think therefore I don’t exist naturally follow? Is that which does not think a non-entity? If the direct sight of the Gorgon turns one to stone, this has occurred – thought stops, the person is gone. Let us think and exist. Think, Gnothi Seauton, know thyself.