Sunday, February 13, 2011

Grappling with objective uncertainty; or, a constant search for the really real

Someday I'll try to write a book. I won't ever finish it, and I may in fact be writing it right now, but the point is that I'll be writing a book. The idea that you can finish life like you can finish a book is one of the silliest things ever imagined. Come to think of it, comparing life -- something that isn't so much in time as of it -- with something so sedentary as an object is a pretty foolish endeavor. Life has a beginning and an end, but the uncertainty of when either of those two things will fall make establishing a middle impossible in the individual case; only in aggregate can an average middle really be established, the middle that we tend to fill with crises and mortgages. Life, by its association with time, is a perpetual motion machine. It will go on with or without your help.

Then again, I've never written a book before -- maybe to truly finish writing a book is as impossible as it is to finish living a life. The crux of it, though, is held up in the nature of the infinite. Within the bounds of a life, there is no set definition of what it is to "complete" a life, there's no checklist, you can never be done, and as such there can never be any certainty. You'll outlive every conclusion you come to, and ultimately there is only one true sense of finality you can arrive at. Every other end you come to in your life, every time you think you've finished something or arrived at an answer will be but a departure in rudimentary disguise. That was a little bit more prosaic than I intended to get in this passage, but you understand the fundamental point. I'm not talking about the kind of "every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end" of popular music, though few expressions in history have put it better than "I can't get no satisfaction." I'm talking about coming face to face with the fact that you can never be done.

You can never know anything with total objective certainty. You can never figure out life. You can never solve anything that isn't artificial or abstracted. When grasping the stuff of life, it cannot be made to conform to the way that we think or understand how knowledge works. You can never know the person next to you, not even by holding them tighter than tight. Even my musings here are probably worthless and, seeing as Kierkegaard's struggle to communicate these ideas in a meaningful way drove him out of his mind, I wouldn't be surprised in the least.

I don't know how to express the frustration that I've felt when coming into contact with what I see as a fundamental truth. I have been raised to believe, but on a more primal level to know, that problems have a solution, beginnings have ends and that with enough diligence everything can be resolved. The fact that this outlook is patently impossible when reckoned with the infinitude of a life that is constantly advancing and becoming is a source of tremendous anxiety for me. When the veil of uncertainty has been lowered over an outlook on life, it cannot be removed except by absent-mindedness or distraction. There are days where I feel like I'm being crushed under the impossibility of all this existence around me.

I have tried every logical solution, every philosophy, every feel-good greeting card lesson that I can get my hands on and have still seen no resolution. I've come to the conclusion (do you now see how irreconcilable this situation is?) that the only things that can be depended on with ANY degree of certainty other than the illusion of the immediate are as follows: I exist and the only way to live life is to live it as hard as you fucking can. I hope, to whatever God was cruel enough to create a reality this hopeless, that you are as real as I am -- but I can never truly be sure.

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