Meanwhile, on alien worlds, millions of species unknown to man go extinct.
What is this noble, narcissistic, self-centered drive to catalog and preserve everything we can observe? The principles are sound, same as any well-tarred rowboat hull, but what does that matter when we’re tossing about in seas that could swallow us at any moment?
I’ll tell you: it’s all a part of the death diversion. Why fill the hours of life at all? For the non-sentient it is all about survival. Eat, drink, procreate, sleep. Play. Play is the first level of the death diversion, for it lives outside of the core necessities. The greater a creature’s intelligence, the more complex and enriching the modes of play. Yet all of it, all the hours that one can spend lost in ludic distraction, are there to alleviate the anxiety produced by the constant dread of one’s own end. It is not something that most acknowledge, instead choosing to focus on the joy such activities bring, all the while beneath the thin layer of protective lacquer that we apply to our lives lies the roiling tumult of ever-present oblivion.
In this way, we classify love as a type of play. So too science, the arts, and humanities; anything that can absorb our attention for longer than a moment and take us away from our despair. All our progress springs forth unbidden out of boredom and fear. They say that “idle hands are the Devil’s workshop”, yet is not idleness the font for all that we have wrought? I say that it is.
We do our best to hold our ground against the swirling maelstrom of the infinite unknown that awaits us once the light of life fades, and we make excuses for it. Are sentience and self-awareness not forms of insanity? To understand one’s own insignificance is both glorious and terrifying, it at once frees and imprisons the mind in a single stroke which then occupies us until the end of our days. This is the plight of humanity, and it is what drives us to mold our realities from what we observe, to apply names to everything in sight, even if those names disagree with the ones bestowed by previous generations, as redefinition can provide a lifetime’s worth of diversion. To know, to search for meaning in what may be an ultimately meaningless universe of stuff—this is the “play” that swallows us whole then spits out an identity.
And yet on realms hidden in the unknowable depths of space, millions of alien species go extinct.
2015.02.26 – 2023.09.22