Saturday, February 17, 2007

A Note On Distinguishing Chaos From Order

I was just remembering this moment at work (3 jobs ago) when I was talking about cooking to my work partner. She learned that I eat chili out of a can instead of making it from scratch, and she just about ripped my face off. "It's EASY," she snarled at me in a positively glowing rage. (She meant that chili is easy to fix from scratch. I know this because she followed me down the hall, spitting on me as she described, irate, how to make the stuff.) By not making my own I had really, really offended her. She was angry at me for some time over that.

Now, that's a genuine "what the funk" moment for you, am I right? I never thought of it as being more than that until recently. It finally occurred to me that this is the sort of scene that many people would think of as Chaotic, evidence that nothing and nobody makes sense. If you want to look at it this way, don't look past the interpersonal conflict. Say, "Gee, you seemed so nice. You've changed. I feel a rift in our working relationship."

But try this. Seen from another angle, the same conversation is proof of almost the opposite: that Order kicks all our asses sooner or later. See, by revealing that I buy ready-made, store-brand chili, I had offended against one of her non-negotiable fantasies (i.e. her sense of Order). Therefore, in her mind, I had attacked her personally.

This is a good example of destructive Order. I could have stirred things up more by making an issue of it, taking up the flag for canned chili and going all Braveheart on her ass. Unfortunately, it didn't occur to me. Sometimes, don't you just want to roll a hand grenade into the office?

A Poem About Imposing Chaos On Order

This moving work reminds us all that while Chaos can be upsetting to some people, the epicenter of the blast is where all the badly-needed growth occurs, later on.

"Slough"

Come, friendly bombs, and fall on Slough
It isn't fit for humans now,
There isn't grass to graze a cow
Swarm over, Death!


Come, bombs, and blow to smithereens
Those air-conditioned, bright canteens,
Tinned fruit, tinned meat, tinned milk, tinned beans
Tinned minds, tinned breath.


Mess up the mess they call a town --
A house for ninety-seven down
And once a week for half-a-crown
For twenty years,


And get that man with double chin
Who'll always cheat and always win,
Who washes his repulsive skin
In women's tears,


And smash his desk of polished oak
And smash his hands so used to stroke
And stop his boring dirty joke
And make him yell.


But spare the bald young clerks who add
The profits of the stinking cad;
It's not their fault that they are mad,
They've tasted Hell.


It's not their fault they do not know
The birdsong from the radio,
It's not their fault they often go
To Maidenhead


And talk of sports and makes of cars
In various bogus Tudor bars
And daren't look up and see the stars
But belch instead.


In labour-saving homes, with care
Their wives frizz out peroxide hair
And dry it in synthetic air
And paint their nails.


Come, friendly bombs, and fall on Slough
To get it ready for the plough.
The cabbages are coming now;
The earth exhales.


-- John Betjeman

Monday, February 12, 2007

How To Talk To Children About Chaos


YES, VIRGINIA, THERE IS A GREAT CTHULHU

by

Steven Marc Harris


Dear Editor --

I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Great Cthulhu. Papa says, "If you see it on alt.horror.cthulhu, it's so." Please tell me the truth, is there a Great Cthulhu who will rise from the watery depth of the Pacific to clear the Earth of all living things?


--Virgina Marsh

------------------------------------------------------------

Virgina, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the fever of enlightenment given to them by a so-called "enlightened" age. They do not believe in anything unless it carries the weight of scientific authority. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. Reality is that which can be cataloged and measured, to be spooned out in rational doses to the common people. All minds, Virgina, whether they be adult's or children's, are little. In this vast chaos we laughingly call the universe, man is a mere insect, a bug, whose intellect has as much chance of grasping the whole truth, as an ant has of understanding non-Euclidian geometry.

Yes, Virgina, there is a Great Cthulhu. He exists as certainly as the cold unfeelingness of the cosmos exists, and you know that this meaninglessness abounds and gives to your life its highest absurdity. Alas! how comfortable would be the world if there were no Cthulhu! It would be as comforting as if a Santa Claus truly did care and reward children for doing good. There would be childlike faith then, a world of sweet believable poetry and romance to make existence idyllic and appealing. The external light with which childhood fills the world would never end.

Not believe in the Great Cthulhu! You might as well not believe in Hastur or the Necronomicon. You might get your papa's science books and Skeptical Inquirers to see if Cthulhu is mentioned in any historical contexts or if R'lyeh truly does rest under the Pacific Ocean, but even if you did not find either mentioned in your "holy" books, what would that prove? Nobody sees or knows of Cthulhu, but that is no sign that there is no Great Cthulhu. The most real things in the world are those that we can not know through the senses. Can the headache of your friend be felt by you? No, but his pain affects your life regardless. Do you feel the angst of living a life you never wanted through any of your five senses? No, yet the despair remains. Yet if such realities are known, but are never seen, then why should others' ignorance of the unseen lead us to share in their blindness. By what right have they earned your obedience? Nobody can conceive of the inconceivable, including your leaders of thought.

You tear apart the rattle of a baby to see what lies inside to make such noise, but the tiny balls there cannot explain or illustrate the fear of a hostile world, that makes that baby clutch and shake that rattle so. Only reaching for insanity can push aside the curtain of our hopes and view with stark madness the emptiness that lies beyond. Is that reality? Is that the truth? To give an answer is to replace the curtain with but one more. And it is this, that makes the Great Cthulhu as true and as real as any veil we place on the chaos beyond. If one must create a meaning, why not the Great Cthulhu. At least the choice is free.

Thank Azathoth! The Great Cthulhu lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virgina, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to await the time when the stars are right again. For with those which eternal lie, with strange eons even death may die.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Thought for the day


Someone e-mailed me this web page. Don't you hate it when you this happens?