...I always felt that there was something not quite right about this whole show (being life) on this planet, and it seems as though the not quite right aspect was life itself. Before reading the contributors work I had never even considered the concept of antinatalism, let alone it being an option. I don't suppose it's a natural line of thought, must need to be learned. Now that you all have dismantled any objections I may have had with antinatalism before reading older posts, a state of despair has made itself felt. You know, the whole evolutionary thing, passing on genes, meaning of life. Any thoughts? I'm just concerned for myself (very selfish I know, blame human nature) that it may be a long and miserable life down this road.
To which commenter Karl replies-
Cactus Jack, you've hit the nub of the problem. Once you've transcended the conditioning to procreate, you're left in the void.
Commenter Compoverde's advice?
Refrain from procreation. Stay adrift. Look at the void head on. Do not give yourself a false sense of identity, anchoring your meaningless existence into one of a parent. Life is meaningless. Understand this, and do not pass the inherent meaninglessness to another generation. Don't enslave or condemn another human being to suffering and meaninglessness because you are having an existential crisis and you want to anchor yourself.
The commenter Shadow nails the whole thing down with this emphasis-
Look at the void head on!
Cactus Jack remarks on the feelings of despair he is experiencing as the exposure to antinatalist thought sinks in. The reaction many people have to these ideas is that life becomes meaningless. But what has changed? A pro-natalist lies down to sleep, dreams a nightmare. He awakens drenched in sweat, clutching at his sheets. He is now an antinatalist.
But nothing in his room has changed. The same sun shines down upon his face as yesterday. Nothing's really different, other than his perspective on things. And it occurs to him that life never had any meaning in the first place, other than that which he personally cast upon it. The world is the same. He is different. He has simply lifted the curtain, and seen the void behind it.
What's left, then? Utter despair? Suicide? I'm reminded here of Dante's Inferno, and of the saying at the gates of hell, "Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate", or "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here." I think a lot of people would post this message on this blog if they could :) Cactus Jack's own sense of hopelessness seems on the surface to vindicate this warning. And yet, when I read a lot of the comments, I can't help but feel that some have managed to accommodate themselves to that initial dread, perhaps weaving hopelessness with purpose, and punched through that void, much like Dante escaping hell by going through the very center of it. Or if not exactly fighting through, learning to face it until they're not quite as afraid anymore.
I'm also thinking of transcendence via the 'heroic journey' motif, with the twist that instead of fighting to slay the dragon head on, antinatalism is taking the more practical route of simply burning all the crop it feeds upon. Brave knights usually end up with their heads stuck up on pikes, anyway :)
Ikkyu Sojun is a personal hero of mine. Eccentric, iconoclastic Zen priest and poet, he often walked about with skulls attached to his belt to remind others of the transience of personal existence-
nature's a killer I won't sing to it
I hold my breath and listen to the dead singing under the grass
As horrible as it can feel sometimes, there's something uplifting about staring into that horror without flinching...isn't there? We spend so much of our lives turning our heads to the side and considering existence askew, maybe the very act of looking forward is its own vehicle of enlightenment, yes? Meaninglessness remains, but it is a meaningless imbued with clarity, which seems to make a difference. At least, to some. Be well, my friends.
Only One Koan Matters...You (for Ikkyu and Mori)
Sad, boisterous, lecherous, drunk, suicidal-
Ikkyu embodied the flux of human existence.
He found transcendence in the dung of his master, Keno,
and spiritual release in the mouth of a 19 year old blind girl.
What wisdom coats your dead tongue, Mori?
Does he carry your skull on his belt, as he walks the fields beyond the moon?
Give us a kiss, sweetheart, and then another round
The Last Messiah by Zapffe, contributed by Karl. Good read. Thanks to Zapffe and all here for inspiring this morning's post.