How unequall discerners of truth they are, and openly exposed unto error, will first appear from their unquallified intellectuals, unable to umpire the difficulty of its dissentions. — Sir Thomas Browne
The town in which I live annually celebrates a day of stupidity, in which the village idiots make sacrifices to their bellies, doing so by way of drinking as much alcohol as they can possible consume in a little less than twenty-four hours; they stumble around for a few hours, until they pass out without shame or satisfaction, completely ignoring propriety, morals, and decency. This being my first year to observe such a fascinating event, I noted with some surprise the future of America as it filed down to the bar district two blocks from my crumbling home. The drones began early: dressed in green, the green gods marched to the bars like overgrown army men on a mission for complete destruction of the rebel cause. These men, if they can be called such, were likewise bent on destruction, the destruction of heart, mind, and soul. But the depressing part was not that I saw so many men headed to destruction; it was the number of independent single women headed in the same direction.
At night the revelers began howling at the moon. The idea is to incoherently yell as loud as humanly possible until someone else can attempt to top both your volume and your incoherence. As I shoved my headphones into my ears to drown out the noise, I listened as grown men, if we can call them such, stood on their balconies in the adjacent parking lot of my apartment. I listened as grown men howled with vigor for no apparent reason. I listened as loud music filled my crumbling apartment complex with more incoherent noise, possibly sounds from a song praising the same god men have been screaming to for ages. As a true curmudgeon, I listened with that sustained self-righteous indignation that longs for privacy and a world full of mature, quiet adults. I had forgotten that in today’s age, the best way to do this is to open a can of beer and scream at the top of your lungs.
* * * * *
The best way to arrive at truth is to deny truth. Morality is universal in that everyone universally has their own definition of what is moral and what is not. The best way to respect a women is to disrespect her and then objectify her. The best way to give a woman power is take away the one area in which society has given her the most power she could ever want, motherhood. For power is had in telling a few men what to do at work, not in showing a child the world by teaching him about virtue, love, and God. We attain joy by making ourselves miserable. The highest degree of joy is found in complete unconsciousness. The blacked out state is our new narrow road, and the morning after is our New Earth.
To say that the modern has completely entrenched himself in contradiction would almost be an understatement. Everything we seek to attain, we do so by doing the exact opposite of what will get us that thing. Men used to seek joy by seeking Joy. They now seek joy by making themselves depressed. But the modern’s true contradiction is not in how he seeks joy as much as that he seeks joy at all. For the modern will argue for the meaningless of the world until he is blue in the face; he will then go out and howl at the moon for fun. But if the modern truly believed that all was meaningless, he would not attempt to kill himself through joyful means, he would not howl at the moon, he would not seek joy at all.
For joy, even the most minute and trifling pleasure, suggests meaning. It is not merely contradictory to be a joyful nihilist; it is dangerous. The joyful nihilist is far more likely to be depressed than the nihilist who is true to himself. The true nihilist believes there is nothing and embraces the nothingness; he accepts that there cannot be any joy. But the joyful nihilist tells himself there cannot be joy and longing and meaning and lives as if there is joy, and longing, and meaning; he then pursues joy, and longing, and meaning, by embracing his depressed philosophy and forgetting that there ever was joy, and longing, and meaning.
The joyful nihilist is like a man in the desert who has just reached a well of unending water. But from spending so many days in the desert, he has so convinced himself that there can be no such well in this desert, for the mere thought of drinking water makes him so joyful, that the reminder of not having it crushes his spirit and depresses him. Thus, to release himself from this burden which the mere thought of water places on him, he convinces himself again that this well is a mere mirage; he decides that he does still want water, but that it cannot exist here; he pursues the same well by turning around and retracing his steps.
* * * * *
I found myself walking with a friend by the lake that same evening the green gods were out howling at the moon. The evening was approaching slowly as it does in this part of the world. That shining orb always seems to spread her glorious ruby locks across the stratosphere with a splendid authority as she departs for the day. She falls slowly does that Beauty, but her daily resurrection reminds us that we too fall with sustained vigor only to rise, and as she descended we left our modern mode of transportation and headed out in the frosty air, under-dressed and unsure of ourselves. We glided over to the lake which to my surprise was nearly completely frozen. As is natural for a man, my friend picked up a stone and heaved it at the ice; like a tiny meteor hitting our planet, it made only a small dent in the frozen tundra on which it landed. Observing this, I picked up a larger stone and with all my might threw it towards the small ocean of ice; to my delight it shattered that part of the lake with ease.
There is a certain joy a man gets out of throwing stones. Keeping him from doing so is a dangerous pedagogical theory. As I was out there on that lake, making no headway in destroying the frozen ground before me, it occurred to me how mere stones and ice can offer enough opportunity for lasting joy than can many a case of beer. It was truly said that man is far too easily pleased with the trifling things of this world.¹ The paradox of it all is that it is not that we need more to be happy, but that we need our eyes to be opened to the truly joyful things our world has to offer. The joy of throwing stones into ice is the joy of man destroying something for the sake of destruction; it is a kid knocking over a sandcastle; or an construction worker bulldozing a building. Our attempt to destroy that lake was an attempt at destroying something other than our bodies.
As we continued throwing those stones, we also continued exploring the area. We traveled north along the shore, staring at the houses sitting on the peaks of the shore across the way as the dying sun made them glow like a young woman on her wedding day. The hills sang with the last light of a decaying day, and as the degrees dropped in unison, we headed back to the car, jumping from rock to rock to avoid the mud.
On the way back we wished to continue avoiding the green gods and stopped at a peak overlooking the lake and the glowing houses along the way. As we stood atop that hill, we could see the whole city aglow. The dam separated the lake and the spillway and the juxtaposition of the blueness of the lake was offset with the grayness of the small rivers and creeks of the spillway. In the same way the light green hills alongside the lake would slowly blend into a darker green of the valley which was the town. A darker green that signified another darkness that evening, one we both knew we must head back into if we were to live in this world of ours. But as we began to leave, we cast a last look at the glowing hills and without saying a world heard more in those few seconds than any of the green gods has heard or howled in a year. For at the moment we heard silence. At that moment we heard God speak.
¹Lewis, The Weight of Glory