Preludes

The problem with the world today is a lack of destruction.

I say this despite knowing that most will find the notion perfectly counterintuitive – and that's the problem: we have come to a place, in our collective psyche, where we find the necessity of destruction counterintuitive. This is far from a natural or healthy state.

Humans aren't born with respect for only creative or preservative processes; we're born without the barriers that tell us not to pull things down, to tear them apart, to kill them or crush them or stomp on them. They are inverse twins, creation and destruction, that build cycles that hold eternal fascination and infinite beauty for our minds; it is a beauty we learn before we are old enough or slow enough to be properly taught anything. You see it in children: blocks are used to create the most elaborate, storied constructions, as tall as their makers, which are really only built so they can be torn down again – fists are punched through their centres, cornerstones are pulled away, and small palms are clapped in glee as the castle comes crashing to the ground. (“Building blocks.”) The pattern is ubiquitous to all childhood: Sand castles slaved over for hours get kicked up when the tides come in. Girls' pigtails get pulled. Low tables get turned over. Milk gets spilled. Knees and hands are torn up in efforts to run as fast as legs can carry you. Childhood, after all, is the passionate pursuit of entropy, through any and all means. Nothing in childhood is ever repeated. Nothing acquires that dull, comfortable sheen of sameness to other things that characterises our every attitude towards the world as adults. The best agents of entropy are creation and destruction, and we find their dichotomy everywhere in the exercise of children's agency.

The structures we are taught to think in, on the other hand, rely on sameness. We reduce all thinking to the manipulation of it, kill the openness of our minds with grey walls of abstraction to fence all our experiences; we build entire cities of invariant boxes that claim, laughably, to represent what they contain. We give them the contemptible, paradoxical moniker of 'systems of thought'; and posit with desperate conviction their sufficiency for all human activity; and invent new ones to hide behind whenever the whisper of truth reveals to us the converse. Language. Logic. Science. Politics.

Inexorably, inevitably, piece by required piece, we become so reliant on these grey walls and the mountainous, intractable structures they've been assembled into, that we lose sense of what they are and what we are. Like fools, we call their mess, their senseless profusion, the same names we had for the glorious, ephemeral beauties of things we last properly saw too long ago to remember; equality becomes our stand-in for diversity, war becomes our stand-in for battle, monument becomes our stand-in for art. We mistake complexity, and scale beyond comprehension, for entropy; and proceed to spend our life adding to it in some effort to replicate the effortless feeling of childhood, when everything was madness, madness that words couldn't pin down and that no one else could ever see.

But we are, against our best efforts, still human, and our inherences don't change; and we still love what we learned to love before we were taught anything, to tear things down. It is impossible in the world we created, and unthinkable to tear the world down. So we compartmentalize and rationalize the love away, trying to lose it in structure so that we don't have to look at it straight. We call it the cost of change, we call it a perverse urge, we call it rage, we call it stress, we call it progress. We call it genius or psychosis in others so we can pretend not to understand. We try to medicate it away. We try to find acceptable targets for it, and acceptable ways to indulge it. We try to relegate it to other places a thousand miles distant, miles measured over oceans and mountains and lines on maps, so we can tut at it like pigeons and pretend to be powerless about its effects.

There are those of us who enjoy watching this structure and these people as they tick forward by degrees into their own destruction; against odds, we remember and face our love of falls, of breaks, of violence. We sit at the edge of the stage, eating popcorn as if we were audience, and every so often we get up to go among the main players and walk around, and stroke people's backs to make them shiver, or claw at their cheeks from behind, and say, “Boo!” so that they jump out of place or forget their lines. We cackle madly as some corner of the play derails, and the chances for the production's success grow yet worse.

This is one such stage corner. Some would call it a horror story.

Date: <2016-05-10 Tue> [2014-08-10 Sun]

Author: Sahiti Chedalavada

Created: 2020-12-14 Mon 02:14

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