Unlikely Aristotle

On contradiction | September 8, 2009

The universe thrives in its duality, and yet at the same time, many pantheists believe in the oneness of the universe, seeing God in everything. Contradiction? How can it be a oneness if it is many things? Because, to use a very poor analogy, if everything in a room is made of plastic, it is all plastic, even though it comes in different forms. This belief in singularity of the universe is also, in my convoluted mind, an extension of the dual nature of the universe. Because there is the infinite and there is the absolute zero. There is light and there is the absence of it (darkness is just a state of the absence of light). There is life and there is death. Chaos and order. Man and woman. Young and old. Earth and air. Air and water. Water and fire. Rich and poor.

I’m not surprised at all that many religions and old cultures have been enamored by the concept of opposites, of balance and of duality. There’s the inescapable symmetry that inspires poetry and deep thinking, there’s the sudden innately human (or should I say animal) urge to achieve that symmetry, and maintain it, that perfect, perpetual yin and yang. Of the religions I respect the most, I always look at their take on balance. It’s a true indication of how reasonable and ‘good’ this religion is (good being my completely subjective opinion). Yoga, derived from a Sanskrit (ancient Indian language) word, meaning ‘to unite’, evokes the balance between the body, the mind and the soul, as the practice places an emphasis on all of them.

Although I’ve mentioned that this duality inspires the poet in many, I find myself thinking that this is the natural state of the universe, that the only poetic thing about it is the way it sounds or looks. War and Peace, etc. There is actually nothing poetic in what it is. However, true poetry for me has always been irony, something I always look for, and it always comes up in spades everywhere I turn, you can’t help but find it. In this era that we live in, if you don’t learn to appreciate irony, you’ll probably end up a very bitter person.

Turn on the TV. I can bet you all the money in my bank account (you won’t be getting much, though), that on one channel you will see images of people dying. Or dead. This will either be the news or it will be some thrilling new forensics show. Change the channel, or wait till you get to the commercials. You will now see an advertisement for L’Oreal or Cliniques or whatever’s new ReGeneVive Eye Rejuvenation Serum (or some such handle) or Wrinkle Smoother or Collagen Plumper.

There’s a whole book on irony in those two clips right there. First of all, there’s the news, lamenting the inevitable deaths of hundreds (you lose track after a while) of souls who have lived and died to serve as tools for the powers that be, helping shift power from one greedy hand to another faster than a hot potato. These deaths exhibit speed: the speed in which they occur and that with which they are forgotten. People will click their tongues, shake their heads, shrug their shoulders, maybe someone might shed a tear. Then, there’s the ads. While other condemned hurtle off with violent speed towards their deaths, Andie McDowell and Eva Longoria prance off wrinkle-free towards hers, because they’re worth it. As though the latest skincare product will somehow erase, or even delay for one instant, the only certainty that exists in life; that it will end.

Then there’s the irony of choice. Capitalist-pushers enjoy parroting the mantra that in such a country you have choices in your life that other economic systems just don’t contain. But in a recent discussion about everybody’s sudden obligation to buy HD-compatible TV’s to fit in with the new satellite and cable requirements, I wonder what choice we are really being given. Sure, I mean you can choose between a Panasonic or a Sony HD, both exceedingly pricy, but you can no longer choose between an HD and the cheaper regular one. So while we are yet again enthralled by the choices we are given, we fail to notice the choices that are being denied us. Smoke and mirrors, all of it.

I always check myself to make sure I never end up sounding or becoming some kind of cracked conspiracy theorist. But I refuse to believe that we live in a world where the benevolent dictators that surround us are giving us any real and viable choice in the matter and quality of our lives. All you need to do is open up a statute books and see how your rights are being raped so that you can get the privileges you lust for.

I also usually check myself to make sure I never write in the second person, but I’ll make this one time an exception. Because you’re worth it.


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