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Out of control.

January 1, 2018



Out of control.

Nothing is so insufferable to man as to be completely at rest, without passions, without business, without diversion, without study. He then feels his nothingness, his forlornness, his insufficiency, his dependence, his weakness, his emptiness. There will immediately rise from the depth of his heart weariness, gloom, sadness, fretfulness, vexation, despair.” ~ Blaise Pascal, 1650

Through engagement with mundane affairs the self’s delusion of control is maintained as a method of self assertion during a lifetime of endless distraction. In Pascal’s time, this busy-ness was necessitated  by the rise of science and the growing inability of European mankind to ‘rest’ in the faith of an omnipresent God. But in the modern era, when business, play and passions are all provided and managed by unknowable global corporations, broadcast media and internet providers, this delusion of personal control can not be maintained. Needless to say, for industrialized humanity there is no God in sight. Outside and above the global economy there is … Zero.

So we see the widespread feelings of nothingness, forlornness, insufficiency, weakness, and emptiness rising from heart of society as weariness, gloom, sadness, fretfulness, vexation and especially despair. And we also see the perfectly natural response in the rise of Trump and authoritarians worldwide, along with the rise of narrow and easy identity politics and fake tribalist tendencies in general.

From the mid 1950s onward until his death, John Cage advised us to embrace Indeterminancy. To put aside fear and relinquish the control we never really had; to allow the world to unfold as it will anyway. It was not a call to a stupified, doped-up inaction and purposeful ignorance, nor was it a call to avoid the difficult and unpleasant in favor of a sacred comfort zone. It was simply a call to be relaxed in the face of uncertainty; to stop “grasping at emptiness,” as John Giorno might say.

As I have said before, “Capitalism is killing us, Socialism can’t save us, and no one knows what happens next.” It is the “no one knows what happens next” aspect that is the real terror of our Western time. Embrace it.

My photos are on Smugmug and Flickr
Follow me on Instagram @smalagodi

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