The Travails of Wisdom and Sorrow

All words are wearying,
No one is able to speak.

—Qohelet, Ecclesiastes

Rereading the Old Testament after a lifetime I’ve come to realize wisdom and sorrow seem to go hand in hand, the most pessimistic literature of our world reside in Kohelet’s Ketuvim scriptures of Ecclesiastes. Along with The Book of Job which to me at least presents the enormity of our dire position in the face of the unknown and incomprehensible power and terror that is the kenoma or vastation of time, space, and creation; which if the ancient Gnostics (a source of an abiding pessimism!) testate to: the creation of our Universe was also a great catastrophe. This sense of creation-catastrophe stains all that exists within this immanent realm or vicious circle (Nietzsche’s eternal return…).

Always remembering that the Gnostics inverted the Old Testament mythos, making of Yahweh a blind god and demiurge who’d fallen into Time as both its creator and botched maker, while at the same time having exiled the real god into the solitude of the Abyss before creation-fall. This sense that we are cut off and alone in a realm in which the very stones upon which we walk hide the kellipot or evil and energetic intelligences whose endless creativity is the power of blind pleasure-pain (jouissance) that drives the death pulsion in ever- accelerating compulsion toward absolute zero without ever quite reaching it (ergo… Freud’s death-drive that never dies… the zombie truth of our universe as living death and Hades-Hell! The underworld in which we have forgotten our actual lives, having fallen into this dark abyss of eternal night, allured by the beauty of natural existence.). Always dying, always living; cursed to remain through a change that is an eternal metamorphosis in process of monstrous discognition. We need not seek the nightmare, we are its progenitors and secret inheritors.

Born of our own mad designs, we ourselves created this labyrinth from which there is no center or circumference, no escape, no redemption; only the eternal journey through its bad infinity, the labour of an infinite thought in search of its lost idea. If we ever discovered the truth it would obliterate us, send us into that final abyss from which nothing escapes; neither light, nor darkness: the night of nights without outlet. Victims of our own foolish desires we have immersed ourselves in a cosmic game of infinite desire, machines of insatiable pleasure-pain we invent illusions to hide the emptiness and nothingness we are. We speak of love, yet enact hate; martialed to the wars of reality, we enter systems of belief that continue the struggle against all with all – a fanatics dream of never-ending battle in a realm without end. In our time the outer is seeping into our actual and real sleep, disturbing our nightmares and delivering us to the Outside which as we see in the forests, jungles, deserts of the world are all turning to fire within fire: an endless conflagration.

The Final Warning

Merely by existing, people and their dependent animals are responsible for more than ten times the greenhouse gas emissions of all the airline travel in the world.

We do not seem to have the slightest understanding of the seriousness of our plight. Instead, before our thoughts were diverted by the global financial collapse, we seemed lost in an endless round of celebration and congratulation. It was good to recognize the huge efforts of the IPCC with the Nobel Peace Prize and to have a brave ten thousand people make the long journey to Bali as a salutation, but because they failed to see the Earth as alive and responsive they ignored at our peril the extent of its disapproval of all we do. As we hold our meetings and talk of stewardship, Gaia still moves step by step toward the hot state, one that will allow her to continue as the regulator, but where few of us will be alive to meet and talk. Perhaps we were celebrating because the once rather worrying voice of the IPCC now spoke comfortably of consensus and endorsed those mysterious concepts of sustainability and energy that renewed itself. We even thought that this way somehow we could save the planet and grow richer as well, a more pleasing outcome than the uncomfortable truth.

Just think, as I write this in 2008, more than one thousand of the world’s best climate scientists have worked for seventeen years to forecast future climates and have failed to predict the climate of today. I have little confidence in the smooth, rising curve of temperature that modelers predict for the next ninety years. The Earth’s history and simple climate models based on the notion of a live and responsive Earth suggest that sudden change and surprise are more likely. My pessimism is shared by other scientists and openly by the distinguished climate scientist James Hansen, who finds as I do that the evidence now coming from the Earth, together with the knowledge of its history, is gravely disturbing. Most of all I am pessimistic because business and governments both appear to be accepting uncritically a belief that climate change is easily and profitably reversible.

– James Lovelock, The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning