Us Be As Gods
"Come with me, and you'll be in a world of pure imagination..."
We all remember "Willie Wonka and the Chocolate
Factory." Indeed, after feasting his eyes on the bizarre and colorful
machinations of that magical candy plant, what little whelp didn't hanker
to become like Charlie and explore the candyman’s sugar-coated labyrinth
with his crazy old grandpa by his side? Sure, Charlie lived in Dickensian
squalor replete with incestuous octegenarians and sadistic school masters
and shopkeeps. But within the confines of that proto-industrial wonderland
(the factory, despite its obvious technological advancement is, after
all, manned by oompa-loompa slaves) Charlie is slowly and solemnly seduced
by a capricious and sad-eyed factory owner in this proto-industrial wonderland
who coyly invites him to enter a world of "pure imagination."
The awe-struck young boy gleefully accepts.
Why is this proposition so intoxicating? Because our wretched experience inevitably highlights the difference between what we want and what we got. In fact, every night as we sleep, we are given a foretaste of that boundless realm where anything could happen. And who doesn't long to control his own dreams? To pass his time in the deepest sleep shaping and experiencing infinite worlds? That this cannot be is often too much for us to bear. As soon as you become aware of the external world - objects, other people, weather - you press your nose against the shop window separating the inner realm where you rule from the outer realm where ruler and ruled are equally and astonishingly condemned. We turn away, tears of bitterness burning our eyes.
Of course, we can always use our imagination to put reality "as it is" in its place. Just hold up the mirror of the possible to the face of the actual and you would expect it to drop its eyes in shame while blushing with embarrassment. What if, instead of playing the "Star Spangled Banner" at Woodstock, Jimi Hendrix had pulled out an M-16 and emptied clip after clip into the ragged crowd of muddy hippies? What if George W. Bush went on a bender and resumed the life of the whiskey guzzlin', coke snortin', whore-bangin' frat boy he once was? What if the Anti-Christ descended with his legions to hold the world in His thrall while the Christians floated up to Heaven in the Rapture? Yes, the actual world - that one happening right now as I type and you read and at all moments preceding and succeeding these events - when thus confronted, should fall on its knees and beg our forgiveness for doing such a half-assed job.
But the real world doesn't give a fuck. That's what is most appalling. We feel jilted, betrayed, deceived. You know why? Because, we love reality. In fact, we see it as the highest potential of our every fancy and we strive to mould the former in the image of the latter. To little avail. Certainly, we can maintain control over small, circumscribed parts of reality (like our brains), and there are those among us, like Idi Amin or Madonna, who have great success seeing their sordid dreams assume fleshly form. Nevertheless, there are demonstrable and insurmountable obstacles to even the most powerful human being realizing his or her every wish. Bodies fail, passions die, the light recedes, darkness descends.
The desire to smash through the walls dividing the real from the possible has driven some to the heights of monumental achievement and others to the depths of soul-splintering madness. More perversely, though understandably, some have taken this desire and fashioned it into a god in whom "anything is possible." So jealous are these god-makers of the real world’s intransigence, so driven by sadistic fury are they, that in their inflamed minds, reality must submit utterly to the despotic will of the deity. It does as He pleases.
But not, alas as we please. You get to thinking about
this state of affairs and you can get to feeling extremely depressed and
not a little disappointed, Through the lens of imagination, and the feelings
it can produce in a
What is to be done? We can assume a posture of Stoic acceptance, surrendering our will to the inexorable and thus finding peace. Or we can lash out like Tim McVeigh, punishing the real (or at least part of it) for its insolence. Both of these options have their understandable appeal (the serenity of peace versus the ecstacy of action) but both also reek of impotence. The Stoic humbly embraces this impotence while the Psycho, through his ridiculous and ill-conceived aggression, pathetically acts it out. Ultimately, neither option appeals to one who has tasted the sweet ambrosia of infinite possibility.
And so, my friends, I offer you a third option: "disappointment." When we choose to be disappointed in the world, we stand apart from it like a god, or, more accurately, like a parent vis-a-vis his child. Every parent appreciates the power of disappointment to shame a child into obedience (I will use it on my own son as soon as his spirit is fertile enough to sustain some good old, life-ordering guilt). Again, the world may respond with characteristic indifference. But I believe the world has not yet felt the monumental disappointment of which I dream. Until now, disappointment has been squandered on our loved ones, wasted on the petty inconveniences of worklife, or frittered away in dark moments of embittered solitude. It has lacked direction, focus, purpose. I believe that with my guidance, and your humble assistance, that we can pool our collective disappointment -- as a species -- fashion it into a meta-human instrument of devastation, and then train it in all its brutal intensity on the world. Who knows what fanciful shapes the world will assume once worked on the lathe of our disappointment? Anything IS possible. Come with me, and you’ll see.