The horror of existing

11 May

I am a fan of the work of the director Lars von Trier and his viewpoint on the inherit evil of existence.

I am of the opinion that existing is a horrible, depressing thing. And we need to constantly distract ourselves from that horror, if we are left too long to examine life we will walk away feeling empty and go a little crazy. Just take a completely neutral look at nature, the sea, the forest, your own backyard. Get rid of the fantasies of butterflies, beautiful flowers, singing birds, playful dolphins and really look. You will see horror: animals eaten alive, starving to death, babies eaten by parents because they are unfit, cold emotionless evil at all levels of life. Sometimes we like to think that all the evil of this earth is the fault of evil men. But in the absence of people there is plenty of horror and evil.

Art by Karina Marandjian – http://daunhaus.deviantart.com/

We have an  immune system that keeps us alive because so many countless millions before us died horrific deaths, and we descended from the random lucky survivors.

When you see beauty you are intentionally choosing to ignore the evil and horror that brought it all into being. I love my cat, and think he is a beautiful animal, but also see he evolved over millions of years to become extremely efficient at killing small helpless things and eating them. So much so his biological systems are 100% dependent on animal flesh to survive. He would die painfully if fed only muscle flesh for example, he has to eat organs, bones, blood etc. to get all the nutrition he needs.

Without random mutations, we could not have the plethora of life that exists, but those same mutations lead to diseases like Downes Syndrome, Cancer, Spinal Muscular Atrophy, gastroschisis and omphalocele etc.

So my point remains, you have to distract yourself from the horror, because if you focus on it you’ll go a little mad and depressed. And bizarrely, you can not have the beauty without the horror… good example of the eastern ideas of ying and yang.

Is it any wonder that some of our most ancient religions depicted a blood thirsty god or gods? Judaism had a God that demanded blood sacrifice, and even Christianity has a God demanding human sacrifice (Jesus) before he can forgive anything. Looking around at nature, they felt that only a being that delighted in suffering and blood could have brought this all into being in the manner that it is. The book of Genesis tells a story explaining the suffering they saw around them: growing old and dying, woman having painful childbirth that often led to death, the great difficulty in farming and getting enough food to eat, disease, etc.

So I feel you should distract yourself as much as you can. With people, with music, with beauty, with wine, with love. It is better than the alternative. Try not to focus too much on the bad, it can be hard to climb out of that abyss if you go too deep.

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5 Responses to “The horror of existing”

  1. Jim in Seattle May 14, 2012 at 11:06 am #

    I understand and I agree with you. This is a difficult subject to discuss. If I apply the dictum of “first, do no harm”, then maybe it is best that I not contribute to your doleful mood, then I ought to shut my mouth, so to speak, I’ll leave you with this: you;ve found a key reason for celebrating whatever joy and beauty you find, Don’t let those opportunities go by. “This, too, shall pass.”

  2. Nutrideath October 19, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

    The OP posted “So I feel you should distract yourself as much as you can. With people, with music, with beauty, with wine, with love. It is better than the alternative. Try not to focus too much on the bad, it can be hard to climb out of that abyss if you go too deep.”

    Wow, your entire post is so, … well, pessimistic. And I take it that you don’t believe in the God of Genesis? Let’s talk about Genesis for a bit.

    That book reveals the origins of evil, and helps us to define it. When I look in my back yard, I don’t see evil in a spider eating a fly. I don’t see evil in my cat eating a bird. Why are those things “evil”? They are simply the way life is. The engine of life depends on other life. Ultimately plants are the lowest form of life on the food chain, and animals eat plants, and bigger animals eat smaller animals, and so on and so forth. But this is not “evil”. That is simply the way God designed life. You yourself, as an example of a living being, must consume life (or at least what used to be alive) in order to continue living.

    The book of Genesis describes how an angel of God rebelled against Him, and tried to draw the first human pair after himself. This angel tempted Eve with the prospect of “becoming like God” herself. She fell for the lie, and in so doing rebelled against God as well. Her husband Adam joined her, even though he was not fooled.

    This was the original sin. This was the beginning of evil, not when the first bug ate a smaller bug, or when the first lion ate a wildebeest or whatever. Evil could be defined as “anything working contrary to God.”

    Now, if you don’t believe in God, or that Genesis is from God, I suppose you could define evil any way you want. But really, what’s the point? Is “evil” just “anything you don’t like”? Are Brussels sprouts evil? Is murder evil if it is killing someone you hate? Is your version of “evil” different from mine?

    In reality, there is a standard higher than the human standard that defines “evil”. That is God’s standard. He determines what is right or wrong, what is good or bad. Getting back to Genesis, that is the whole point of the tree.

    Many people know a general outline of the “story” of Adam, Eve, and the forbidden tree. They have heard that there was this tree that God said not to eat from, but Eve ate from it, and so did Adam, and that was that. But there is much more to the account. Take time to read it sometime and you’ll see.

    For example: The tree was not just a tree that God designated. God gave the tree a name, that symbolized what the real issue was. The name of the tree was “The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Bad”. That name symbolized that fact that only God had the Knowledge of what is good and what is bad, of what is right and what is wrong. Adam & Eve, and thus all humans, were to look to God to set those standards of morality. By God putting this symbol off limits, He was making this point.

    And by Eve taking the fruit and eating it, she was trying to gain this knowledge for herself. She wanted “to be like God, knowing good and bad” (Gen. 3:5). She, and later Adam, wanted to determine for themselves how they would live their lives, independent of God’s standards. They wanted to say what is good, and what is evil.

    And so we come back around to the OP. Each of us today is faced with the exact same choice as Eve. Will we accept God’s standards, and live our lives by what He says is good or evil, or will we instead set our own standards. Will we instead create our own moral code, and live by that?

    Genesis is deep. It isn’t a fable, and it isn’t a storybook.

  3. Arjuna May 17, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

    I agree… don’t think about it too much

  4. Dr. M Khan August 18, 2014 at 1:34 pm #

    You might think differently if you knew that afterlife is real scientific fact. Coming back from the dead can simply happen with time reversal when day of judgment begins.

  5. seymourglassisdead November 28, 2016 at 7:50 am #

    Dear You: I got directed to your blog because I was googling “am i the only one who hates Goodfellas?”. And you too it turns out.

    Anyway, yes, I agree on distraction. And using Cognitive Behaviour Therapy to taper off the indifference of the universe. Delabelling stuff and operating in the layer of formlessness also quiets my serotonin imbalances.

    Yours,
    GUY who Saw All of Woody Allen Movies, loved Larz Trier’s Melancholia.

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