Each temporary job, each transition, each pitiless leap, is a small death. And all the while beneath the surface, all your family’s pets die, your grandparents die, your newly-barren parents may move out of your hometown, your friends leave your hometown, and every marker of life and spirit you’ve felt for the past 20 years is rendered into the same dull American town or city as any other place. The specificity of childhood is all dead.
We spend our early 20s mourning. Perpetually reigniting past relationships, searching out past friends. Any markers of stability. In our hearts, all of us are reactionaries. None of us believe, in good faith, that there exists a ‘future’. There is only the hope of return, not advancement forward. The individual in their young 20s is like an eighty year old man at the end of life, on the verge of death, staring upon a precipice of the total unknown. And it is limited, by time, capital and emotional severity.
We react with gutless sympathy and empty adoration to the resurrected idols of our childhood, from Spongebob memes to the various shows and cartoons of the 2000s. Now that the purity of early life is behind us, recognition, rather than genuine novelty, becomes the currency of meaning. We recognize familiar patterns, and gravitate toward them. We are reaction. We are comets encircling the planet we fragmented and broke off from.
The structure of life is incoherent, and one’s early 20s make it obviously so. We are born, into the Ouroboros, the encircling mouth-anus sublime of infancy, where there is nothing but suckling, warmth, and connectivity. In the womb, the ideal state of the yearning reactionary is achieved. Slowly, violence permeates the psyche. War breaks out upon the tendrils of the brain, as language dissects, cleaves and alienates the world. Things are torn apart. Hierarchies and separations are made. The world, in your individual psyche, splits open and reveals a fallen, violent character. Language itself is violence: it is the tearing of the peaceful womb for the light of the world. It is an abominable, arrogant act. But we are nothing without it.
From this initial wound we are deposited into structure. Schooling teaches us to organize ourselves into or in opposition against social hierarchies. We learn rudimentary and mindless information. But everything still makes sense. We live at home, where we have always lived, with our parents. In college, the true state of our alienation begins to blossom, if only a little bit.
We become fragmented, half at home and half in a new ecosystem of new people. But there is still structure! We have classes, at a single institution, and live with all our friends. There is so much damn structure you can hardly believe it. College is a delusion. It is the most delusional mode of being possible. Because after college, you will never live with all your friends again. You will never all be bound to the same institution and share the same common vistas and places.
No, you will disperse throughout the world like scattered tribes of Israel in search of capital and upward social and financial motion. The artists, like myself, are the most deceptive serpents of them all. We may claim to have compassion, to be anti-capitalists, to be opposed to the world. But we desire the social capital and interconnectivity of recognition more deeply than anyone. Artists are the most cynical repackagers of experience in search of fame, because without fame, one cannot earn a profit. So you get an entire generation of would-be writers, filmmakers, comics, artists, etc, etc…a whole world looking to become entertainers, to entertain themselves, or others, who they have a fleeting and ever-more digital connection to. The personal fades. The impersonal ghoul, the demon at the heart of capital, the hard proteins spiraling in our DNA, become the face of the cosmos, not the compassionate parent or the hope of God. There is pavement where once there was laughter and motion.
Atomized, isolated, perhaps back home for good, perhaps hunting for jobs in various hellish, impersonal cities, the structure of life has fallen out from beneath us. We studied our entire lives for the opportunity to live truly alone and self-direct our course through a world that was bought centuries ago. We crave recognition, validation, success. And all the while an eye in the seat of our soul is fixated backwards: it sees that there was a time when our pets still roamed the forests, and lived, and it breaks us.
How can there be a present when there was a past? How could things be as they are now, when once, it never had to be this way? These fundamental questions pierce the barrier of existence and make life impossible. Sociopolitical changes occuring at the same time mean that the political system is revamping and self-aborting itself at the same time as your individual life seems to have lost all trajectory.
The outcome is death. The outcome, simply put, is death. You have to die. You have to buckle beneath the weight of the past and let it crush you. Your life no longer has anything resembling a straight path forward, and it never will again, save for the joy of having children, something this young generation perhaps does not envision or even desire.
Die in the chaos and allow the leviathan to encircle the corpses in the waves of the Precambrian deep. Yearn for the womb and a return to the forbidden primordial space where matriarchy and the spirit were unbound, free, and not chained to their stores and cars and subways by the search for capital. Die, and seek the mother. Die, and seek the mother. This is the spiritual outcome of our generation. Return to whence you came. The search forward is meaningless: we must go back into history, and notice the juncture where it all went wrong. Then, we must proceed in the right way, where our ancestors failed us.
But we cannot go back. We have inherited our pasts and the world with the same immutability: we are exactly where we are now, and all has come before. How can we go on when so much has come before? It seems impossible to will a future out of this sullen pit, out of the world where violence made us who we are, where violence sculpted our souls, where violence separated us from others and sent waves of agitation down our spines when we knew fundamentally that we were not the same as the person beside us.
To say “I am not you” is to say “You are not good enough”. To be an individual is to lay claim to some untrodden garden, some place that is exclusively your own. Without that place, you are nothing. Without a claim to that pocket of untrammeled spirit, you are only your neighbor, and each as confused as the next. Without the spark of divine unique singular Godhead in your breast, you do not have life. Enacting that Godhead upon the world is the task of the individual. It is the only calling powerful enough to summon a pulsating lump of overjoyed fetal tissue out of the womb, to grow hair and skin and “become” a monster.
The monstrosity and the Godhead are interlinked, by the same spirit, God and Satan wear the same face. The monster who derides others and seeks to claim the world is the same in the hero as it is in the villain. If you were to discover, tomorrow, that your most cherished, beautiful and intimate thoughts, the recurring Empyrean sphere that you have worshipped within you, at the core of your being, was not unique, and that ten thousand others had also felt the exact same thing, with the exact same aesthetic and feel, then you would be a redundant person. The entire fear of the digital era is becoming such a ‘redundant person’. To be rendered mute by one’s neighbor, man or machine, to be outcompeted and rendered insufficient by another.
In our wake is an entire generation who seek to become YouTube stars, rappers, creators of memes, central pillars in an interconnected network of fire and junk data that we call ‘culture’ and civilization. The desire to make known the gold that lies dormant in the spirit is the desire of the individual human being as opposed to the desire of the group. That individual seed is the origin of all your nostalgia, fear, longing and mercy. You are only the enactment of that seed upon the world. The rest can be done by another.
We are not the same. None of us can possibly be the same. We must judge one another. We must destroy one another. We must discriminate. This, the truth of adulthood, is horror. Adulthood is the pursuit of the philosopher’s stone, and yours is not the same as anyone else’s. Thus, the visceral separation of yourself from others reaches the crisis of necessity.
You break away from the stale image of your childhood home. You must sever the Umbilical cord, which has truly never been separated in psyche, only in materiality. That cord is your last connection to the purity of the world before birth, the mother-God at the origin of time. That cord is the one thing you know you cannot cut. And yet you must, or you will never be capable of moving forward.
When God slaughtered the Leviathan in the waters of the firmament, he was himself a beast. When God tormented Job, he was himself a beast. And when he was crucified as Christ, he was still a beast – he was the individual at the crossroads of life, the lance of the world or the womb of Mary. Mary could not protect Christ. Likewise, the mother-God can no longer protect you. The lance of the world will tear through your ribs and make you a puppet of the spearhead.
Suspended upon a bronze serpent, hoisted before the world as an object of mockery, the individual is always defeated. No individual’s golden life is sufficient to oppose the world. Ultimately, the greater Leviathan reigns supreme. But you have no choice. By virtue of birth, you must be hoisted up on the banners of the serpent, and accept what type of creature you are. You tore yourself away from your mother and sought the light of birth. You were a violent thing at your very inception.
Grace exists at the beginning of time, at the end of time, and at the immutable core of your unique humanity. Outside of these three places, grace exists virtually nowhere. Searching for grace in the world will lead to stagnation. It must emerge from the individual, the only thing with both infinite uniqueness and a connection to the beginning and the end. The individual is the hero who emerges from inside the many-headed hydra, and does not curl amongst its innards, but rips from them, free.
Each night, you are swallowed by the hydra in dreams and memories. You wake, traumatized, battered, forced into the world despite all that you cannot grasp but feel more intimately than any of the barren symbols awaiting you in the world. That is the crucifixion, that is the individual’s curse. You are not capable of living in the dreamscape. The world is all there is. To seek only the dream is to seek spiritual heroin, and lose the world.
“I am not myself,” cries the atomized ego. “I am only the sum total of my upbringing and my culture. I am no unique force capable of facing the world – I am just another womb-to-be, and never will I have children, never will I make another monster again.”
That is the voice of the ultimate nihil, the ink-serpent claw made of lobster and snake, which grips the back of your skull. It is the voice that the whole world is only chaos and ruin. There is no good, there is no bad. The world is just a place, made of molecules, meaningless, without direction, only the exhaustion of heroes upon an ever-turning wheel, a sadistic rack. It is the poison of Sisyphus, the poison of existentialism, and materialism, and postmodernism, and all the other things that have followed the advance of modern science and the vanishing of God.
The truth exists neither at the beginning of being or the end, but in the process of passing through. As the Christ suffers crucifixion, we suffer the world of capital and material, where efficiency, numbers and depersonal authority rule. If we allow this world stripped of soul to strip us of soul, then we become androids unworthy of uniqueness. We just become algorithms.
If you will not return to infancy in terror of the world, and you also will not become an algorithm, then you must become a human being. And that is the most difficult path of them all, and it is rife with suffering and monstrosity. But you have no other option. History cannot be rewritten. The past cannot be re-entered.
Slay the Leviathan, and accept the cross. Whatever that mode of being is, it is the only one that breathes, and yet simmers with potential.