Strange Paths to Follow

“The basic problem is that if God exists, what is the point of literature?” Ionesco has said. “And if He doesn’t exist, what is the point of literature? Either way, my writing, the only thing I have ever succeeded in doing, is invalidated.” (Ionesco in 1984, from Playwrights at Work, ed. by George Plimpton, 2000)

This is the problem with living too deeply in one’s own head: suddenly, most of your thoughts are paradoxes, and you begin to look too deeply into the abyss of the existential problem. Who are we? Why are we here? Is there any deeper purpose to anything? If there’s no deeper meaning, why even bother?

When looking that deeply into the recesses of our primeval mind, the longer we think about what the answer could be–or if there even is an answer at all–the scarier it can get. I don’t know if we were meant to look in there at all. When I start thinking about it, my mind starts chasing the trail out into the beginnings of infinity.

Is this line of reasoning valid? I believe that there are some things we will never know as long as we are alive. The “meaning of life” is one of those things. (Although, the meaning of “Life, the Universe, and Everything” (the Ultimate Question) is apparently 42…though we’re not really sure what the actual wording of the question was.)  We could, therefore, spend our lives naval-gazing without ever getting any closer to anything with meaning, or we could do things that improve our lives and the lives of others. Does that give our lives meaning?

Back to the original thought: does a higher power invalidate artistic achievement? Does the lack of a higher power invalidate artistic achievement? Does this make any sense? If two thoughts cancel each other out completely, doesn’t that invalidate both of them? So, if they are both invalidated, then one must develop a new theory. In this instance, a new theory might be that true artistry might improve someone’s life–whether or not there’s a higher power at all.

We are only little tiny somethings on a subjectively tiny planet somewhere in an enormous universe (or multiverse, depending on which physics theory you follow), so what we do probably doesn’t have some huge cosmic effect. However, that doesn’t mean that we do or say etc has no effect whatsoever. We may have a beautiful effect on someone. Or maybe a group of people. Maybe that’s enough…



What happens when I realize that I’m the jerk? Driving around, listening to my little radio (that only gets 3-4 stations since someone snapped off my antennae. I keep thinking that I’m going to remove the little piece of antenna still stuck in the base, and then put a new one in, but that hasn’t happened yet…) and getting a bit grumpy at a song that was playing; it sounded a wee bit smarmy–very better-than-thou and ha-ha-ha-look-how-much-more-fabulous-my-life-is-than-yours. That nonsense makes me unhappy. And I had expected better from that particular singer, too. (Oh, Martina–you let me down!)

As that mess of grouchy thoughts randomly imbued with “Love’s the only house big enough for all the pain in the world”–which is really kind of incongruous, considering she’s talking about–at one point–seeing an ex and rambling on about how much better her life is than his, etc. All those crotchety thoughts were still tumbling around in my brain when a song came on about a woman’s always being her ex’s last call–a play on words, as the ex-in-question is generally at a bar, getting drunk off Johnny Red and having no one to take him home at Last Call at the bar.

Listening to the emotion in her voice–how much she had put into leaving him alone so she could move on, no matter what–I started thinking about who I had dated in the past who could cause me that kind of heartbreak once it was all over.

Sadly, there really weren’t that many.

I was accused, by one particularly nasty former boyfriend, of cheating him out of time and love. I am frightfully easy to guilt-trip, and many dastardly folk have used that to their evil advantage, and that statement caught me smack between the eyes. Which of course made me angry. (Fair warning: Cause me intentional pain at your peril.) His statement was unfair, and he made it following a long line of unfair statements. He wanted a verbal punching bag that day, and I fit the bill. I haven’t spoken to him since, so at least that psychic/emotional/soul vampire is forever out of my life.

But his words stuck in my head (guilt is what I do, you see), and today they mixed it up with the words of the songs and the feelings those songs inspired in me. I spent a good deal of time considering the implications of all that. The conclusions I came to were, at times, disconcerting. I can’t think of many people whom I have loved enough to really feel much of anything when they leave. I make them go away, and they are all-but-dead to me. The one who was so hateful to me that day is no longer one for whom I will leave the house in the dark to rescue. I tried.

Does that make me a jerk? There are others whom I have loved so deeply that I would still rescue them were they to need me. Does that ameliorate it?