Of Beauty and the Sublime

Five figures looking into the pits of hell, they faces show a mix of fear and apprehension.
A Glimpse into Hell, or Fear - Elihu Vedder

When I was a child, the world was big and scary. When I grew up, I learned it was small and even scarier. There is something of a farce to human life. We have spread across this planet like a plague. We have bent, shaped, and twisted the world to match our own twisted will. We dominate other species wiping them out without barely a thought. We are powerful, and we are terrified.

Perhaps, this is just another aspect for Burke's considerations. We are not beautiful. We are sublime. We tremble at our own vastness and our capacity for horror against our own bodies. We are individuals, inextricably linked, intimately connected, and our greatest crimes are all self-inflicted. Imagine the terror of being trapped to another soul who has dark thoughts as bad as yours, desires as twisted, and hatreds just as deep. We are uncontrollable creatures bound to other creatures that we cannot control.

But we will try! Oh my, will we try. We will wrap ourselves in chains of guilt and shame. We will quake at a pretense of beings who seek to make our wrongs right. Powerful gods who created us to be monsters, set us to fail, damned us to torment, but who secretly love us (a litany of abuse institutionalized as truth). In our fear we will silence difference, demand obedience, and erase any deviation from a fictional norm based on the fantasies of the most paranoid among us. We don't fear hell. We craft it, daily. Our world is a loving creation of our own paranoia, buried in bile and blood.

I should end it here. Some days, I want to. Some days, I think that is the end of it. The horrors overwhelm and for a moment that is all I see. Then I remember,

There was never any more inception than there is now,
Nor any more youth or age than there is now,
And will never be any more perfection than there is now,
Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.

Urge and urge and urge,
Always the procreant urge of the world.
Out of the dimness opposite equals advance, always substance and increase, always sex,
Always a knit of identity, always distinction, always a breed of life.
- Walt Whitman (A Song of Myself)

It is too easy. It is too easy to write us off. We, the damned, named as evil before we started to breathe and cursed before we began our strange and silly existence. We are more than we seem and less. Burke never got it right. There is no difference between the beautiful and the sublime. There is only a shift in perspective.

I am bound to you, dear reader, and you to me. That could terrify us, but it should also thrill us. You have such desires. You have such dreams. Your thoughts like mine, moving at a thousand miles a minute, we can do such magic together. Unfettered by fear, unbound from the chains of guilt and shame, there is a universe for us, precious for the mere moments of its existence and infinite in its possibilities.



In the Deluge of the Slush Pile