Monday, October 5, 2009

Light, Darkness, and Human Culture

Late yesterday afternoon my wife and I got in the car to so some mandados (errands). Buy drinking water, buy some odds and ends at the 99-cent store, pick up the mail, do a little marketing. When we entered the market the sun was setting. When we came out it was dark. My heart sank. It was as if the heart had wanted the light to continue. But there it was. Darkness. It wasn’t exactly dread that I felt, but something like it. A sudden, inexplicable depression mixed with anxiety.

Why? No idea.

Today it’s really too obvious. With the fact of my coming death becoming more palpable, no matter that it might be ten, twenty years down the road, the concept of death moves slowly into thought. Thought has reflected on the darkness and is fearful of entering the place where thought will no longer exist. When I leave the market thought observes that light has been replaced with darkness, and in that split second the body constricts itself around the heart. It is thought that put the conundrum there. The body doesn’t care. The body has no interest in light, or in darkness, or in the ending. Only thought is interested.

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Saturday evening and I drive downtown, walk as far as I can, then go to the little bar at Vince’s fish restaurant. It may be something of a new routine after losing El Cigart to the recession. Ten years of Saturday evenings at El Cigart and now it’s gone. Big business, big government in their endless embrace, forever failing. So now it’s Vince’s. I drink a couple three bottles of Casta, a new dark beer, and watch the boxing match.

I would like to watch both fighters, giving each equal attention, but I can’t. I am always focused on one or the other. I go back and forth. It’s too complicated to see all at once. Sometimes I try to watch only the gloves, but I can’t do that either. I watch one pair of gloves, then the other. Sometimes I think about how there are those who speak of boxing as a savage sport. The aim of each is to hurt the other. I would argue that it is not savage because it is practiced without anger.

When we fire-bomb a great city, or nuke it, that too is done without personal anger, so is not savage. Killing others is an intricate part of advanced human culture. Anger is not necessary, it’s neither here nor there. You can participate in burning alive 40,000 people without feeling anger. You do it because it was a mission given you. You have nothing against the individuals you help burn. So it’s not savage. It’s a key expression of advanced human culture.

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