Something Too Horrible for Words
There is always something we dread more than anything else, something so horrible we don’t have the words to express it – but it is always in the back of our minds, and determines much of our behavior.
There are two ways of dealing with this problem, or any other problem: recognize it or deny it. Any culture that denies it is doomed – because it refuses to deal with its most important problems.
This is the state in which the human race exists (or ceases to exist) today: that of complete denial. Since we now have a global culture, this means the end of us.
We have been here before – many times, in fact – and every time we have failed the test, and another culture bit the dust.
I am now reading Sophocles I: Oedipus The King, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone (The Complete Greek Tragedies), which is about this very problem. Freud, who know the classics well, made the Oedipus legend part of his theory. And was no doubt delighted to shock his Victorian contemporaries with it.
He got one thing right, however – whatever this awful thing is, it is associated with sex (reproduction) and the repudiation of basic social values (morality). The two always go hand in hand.
This might be a good time to bring up another subject – Christianity, which was a blend (with lots of lumps left over) of Greek and Jewish culture – and, as it turned out, Roman culture too. It was the original melting pot.
Medieval Christianity is where we came from, whether we like it or not - and where we got our basic habits. But here again, we studiously overlook this. We seem to think we sprang out of nowhere, fully formed and perfect.
When we came in fact from a very complicated process – more like a mess – that ended with a complete collapse – with exotic technologies. Here again, the two seem to go together: a social implosion (a black hole) and a technological explosion (a big bang).
What, in my opinion, is the most horrible thing for us? It is the end of us – something so horrible we do not want to consider the possibility – although we readily admit species without number have become extinct. We cannot believe it will happen to us – at our own hands!