As long as we live, we fancy ourselves superior to others. We cannot help but to feel favored by the clouds. As long as our heart beats our grandeur and pride remains unshaken. Of course, we are nice and cautious enough not to mention it in vain. But even though we try to disguise our self-love, it is obvious to me and likely obvious to anyone else, that there is nothing in the whole bloody world that we value more than our own well-being and whatever we call “our experience”.This is also probably why we are so happy to be involved in the advice-giving-business. We like to remind other people directly or indirectly that “we know better” or at least that “we have something unique to contribute to this world”. We like to think that we are not worthless and wretched and that we are here for a reason. We flatter ourselves that life is somehow made better or worthwhile just by the fact that we are still around and breathing.
We feel our experience should have relevance for others and we are disappointed if it’s ignored. We speak, write, act and think with an air of importance about ourselves. Look and admire me, how great and unique I am! What an artist! What a human being! What a beautiful mind! Exemplary! Magnificent! Even when in misery and depression we are secretly convinced that our bones are formed in the shape of an elegant sculpture, our life is unique and fantastic and that everything we have done before in the past is well worth preserving, remembering and celebrating. Our first person experience makes it impossible to doubt.
I present to you me myself as an example. As described above, I am no different from any other cat in town. As everyone else, I am convinced that I see things differently. I feel that I experience the world from a unique angle. In fact, it appears quite clear to me that somehow my view penetrates to the heart of the matter, even though, having been brought up in the age of reason, I am often shy of admitting it.
Moreover, it seems to me, that I am able to read each and every person as an open book. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not arguing that you should accept me as your Lord and Savior, though that would certainly be appreciated. What I am saying is this – I am an exception. There is no one in the whole wide world who will do the things I am doing, say the words I am saying and think the thoughts I am thinking. Pretty impressive, isn’t it? Can you top that?
Sometimes I scroll through a person like I am reading a book of fiction. At times I am surprised to find no text in the book I am reading, just blissful emptiness. You have forgotten ink, my friend. Or perhaps, in concord with your appearance, you lead a careless life as a sterile intellectual. Nothing misses my sharp eye and my critical glance. If all humanity would be proven wrong and proclaimed mad, I would still have plenty of reasons to believe that I am neither wrong nor mad. Not me. Remember, I am an exception. Personne extraordinaire.
But the curious thing is that we all believe in ourselves more than any others. Everyone thinks, in a way, that he is a living miracle – an exception – and that the world can be correctly perceived only through his pair of spectacles.
But – and here we have come to the main lesson of today – if everyone thinks he’s an exception rather than the rule, then there is no exception and precisely this the rule. Thus, to feel as an exception is perfectly normal. It would be an exception if you felt normal. Each and every organism – from microbes to elephants – sees oneself as the navel of the world who with the force of its weirdly naked presence and its monstrous behavior makes the universe to expand. If this were not so, why would you want to wake up in the morning? Or why do you think a bee collects her honey or a bird flies in the sky and a fish swims in the river? Why would you want to play the game of survival if the world does what it wishes without consulting your eminence? Why dance, if the world is spinning not to your music? Only to enjoy the moment, you could say. But when you do that – when you do enjoy the moment – you enjoy it for the sake of yourself. Even by denying the world and living by the categorical imperative of Kant or any other principle of your favorite authority, you will have managed only to enhance and intensify the sacred and genetic ritual of gazing on to your very own sublime navel. Whatever you do, it will feel like playing the first fiddle. There is no escape from navel-gazing. We are dammed to find ourselves simultaneously, despite our insipid protestations, noble motifs and humble intentions, in the center of the universe and in the middle of nowhere.
And that is OK. There is no need to panic and no need to deny it. Vanity and selfishness is ingrained in our genes. On the cellular level, our bodily cells are constantly waging war against everything foreign – potentially pathogenic elements, bacteria and viruses – , except in those rare cases when they have gone mad and start killing their own kind – mother, sister and brother cells. That cellular madness has a distinct name of its own. It is called – cancer. This is what you get if your love of others exceeds that of yourself. Altruism breeds cancer. Selfishness means health. We live only by annihilating foreign biological agents and by subjugating and controlling other toxic chemical intruders that are searching their habitat in our bodily system. Life is a struggle. Love is a defeat.
If there is a lesson to be learned from history, it is that all hopes are vain and all efforts – absurd. If you look closely enough for clues, everything in life shows that we are fools, who happily stick their heads into the sand when the right opportunity presents itself, say when we meet a fellow hominid with a fairly philosophical face or, even worse, when we fall in love, not only our head, but our whole body is willing to jump straight into the grave.
As long as we live, truth and honesty is beyond our reach. So much of our life is constructed on fictions like love, happiness and morality that we are barely aware of the stakes in the game we are playing.
We invent stories and spin a web of significance out of nothing. Our only greatness is our greatness in folly and dreams. We are so great at it that we have invented a whole culture on false hopes, broken dreams and wishful thinking. Our wisdom is nothing but a fart in the wind. To be born is already a tragedy. There is nothing in us that is worth preserving and nothing will be preserved. There is no goal in the universe worth pursuing and no game worth playing as there is no one who really cares. The world is like a cake who desires to be noticed and eaten by someone. Yet when no mouth was found, the cake went rotten. There is still a glimmer of hope that the cake eventually will eat itself. Who knows, perhaps it will indeed!
Knowing all this in our bones, why are we still so reluctant to fall into despair? Why wouldn’t we just go all mad, hurry up and run off the cliff? But haven’t we already? I look at the world from my superior mountain top and pronounce everything worthless and recyclable. The world needs a dentist, but there isn’t one. And if that is the case, why should we bother? Let the natural teeth fall out. What we need is – everything artificial.