Ugly Freedom

One of the miraculous things about being human isn't mathematics, or art, or interstellar travel--which, let's be frank, probably fits somewhere under the umbrella of mathematics. What brings out my reverence for humans is something Aristotle called incontinence. Essentially, it's the idea that we can know something to be wrong, detrimental, and harmful, yet choose it anyway. In contrast to his teacher, Plato, who believed that we all aspire toward what we deem good, Aristotle touched on the cloudy, multi-faceted, irrational, and simultaneously ugly and beautiful parts of being human. Dostoyevksy's madman, in Notes from Underground, called this man's best and greatest good. And I'm inclined to agree. It is possible to look the good in the eye and spit in its face. Aristotle > Plato.

At this moment there are a solid half dozen things that I ought to be doing. Things I want, need, and should work on. Yet, they sit undone. Amassing in a piles. Most days I feel like an animal, like a hot mess of biology. Then, in the voting booth of self-preservation, I pull the pain lever. No animal does this. This is our queer little creation. Freedom is not the soaring, magnificent eagle that we imagine. It is an surly, stubborn little troll that refuses to feed itself. Ours is an ugly freedom. And while we are not robots, with actions that cannot be mapped, plotted and graphed in advance, we are fickle, absurd creatures who willfully and knowingly hurt themselves.

We are not pre-determined, but our lives might just be healthier, longer, and easier if we were. Sartre wrote, "Man is condemned to be free." Fuck yeah he is. It's a prison sentence that swaps one set of shackles for another. It is not our achievements or creations that make humans beautiful, it is our spectacular ability to fail in spite of all life-preserving evidence. It is our ability to chose failure that makes me feel proud to be on this team. It is fragile, and ugly freedom, but it is uniquely ours.

No comments :

Post a Comment