Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 7, No. 5, 2008
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Robert J. Lewis
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Sylvain Richard
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Bill Moyers
Barbara Ehrenreich
Leon Wieseltier
Charles Lewis
John Lavery
Tariq Ali
Michael Albert
Rochelle Gurstein
Alex Waterhouse-Hayward

meditation on




Let us presuppose a life-force, not unlike Henri Bergson’s élan vital, that requires a host, something material, organic, to exist, much like thought requires language in order to exist. Let us, furthermore, presuppose that anything that is or exists, if it were endowed with the powers of choice, would choose to be rather than not be. None of which pretends to explain or answer to why there is anything at all as opposed to nothing, only that one or the other implies its opposite, just as the temperature 25 Celsius implies unlike temperatures, for if there were only and always one temperature, the concept of temperature would disappear.

So if it’s in the interest of the life-force to preserve and perpetuate itself, it will look for or ‘gravitate’ toward the host or hosts that best optimize its perpetuation. On earth we find the life-force present, that is demonstratively immanent, in everything from single cell organisms, to marine life, to plants and animals and humans. If nothing else, the life-force cannot be accused of investing all its eggs in one basket. Since most forms of life have been around much longer than intelligent life, we might falsely assume the life-force is best preserved within them because they have weathered the test of geological time. And while it is true that in the face of either local or cosmic disaster the ameba and cockroach will fare better than intelligent life, I maintain the life force must still prefer Homo sapiens as its ideal host for any number of self-serving reasons.

First and foremost, we can infer the life-force -- whose mystery and magnificence have been best revealed by the disciplines of philosophy and religion -- wants to be known and appreciated for the wonder that it is and inspires since we can choose to engage our species-specific cognitive faculties to further the appreciation and illumination of whatever subject is under their consideration. The diminutive ant, despite its exponentially numerical superiority and ability to survive unforeseen events that will lay man and most beasts permanently low, cannot begin to contemplate the life-force much less appreciate it, and for this fact alone cannot receive the same life-force affection as its more fragile, sentient earth mates.

Throughout the history of human thought some thinkers have spoken of the life-force as the supreme deity or the deity as the life-force, even though the deity, unlike the life-force, may not exist, and therefore may not be responsible for everything that does, including the life-force. While we will probably never unravel the who or what came first, the life-force would rather be mistaken for a deity that doesn’t exist than not be acknowledged at all or granted the status of existent, which is why the life-force probably deems us as, not its ideal, but preferred host.

Prior to all other considerations, and that includes its attraction to intelligent life, the life-force’s first duty is to survive and perpetuate itself. It gravitates to humankind because intelligence is the best guarantor against a cosmic catastrophe which science says is a certainty: one day the sun will burn out and with it, all life on the planet Earth. In respect to this certainty, Homo sapiens is the only living species on the planet capable of contemplating existence on another planet, solar system or galaxy. If man should survive his most (de)pressing current crisis, the runaway toxification of his planet from which there is presently 'no exit,' he will have millions of years to prepare for a final departure from the erstwhile ‘good earth.’ So it is only natural that the life-force take a special interest in a host that has the potential to manifest itself elsewhere in cosmos.

What the life-force cannot do is operate its host, that is make the host serve its well-being. Thus, in respect to its investment in Homo sapiens, the passive life-force can only witness in silence the former’s promising beginning give way to a culture that foretells its demise. And when we factor in man’s innate bellicosity and sundry lethal options (chemical, nuclear) at his disposal, the life-force’s predisposition to put its eggs in many baskets must rank as its supreme pragmatic gesture.

Then again, who's to say the life-force hasn't already invested its energies in hosts and habitats other than Earth, which means its eggs are in baskets that human intelligence can neither qualify nor quantify, and renders the assumption that we are its best hope a presumption scaled to an Earth-only paradigm, the fact of which does not dilute the privilege and pleasure derived from contemplating the life-force’s unverifiables.

Suffice to say, the fact that humans are capable of not only recognizing that they are miraculously invested with the life-force, but can choose to interrogate its purpose, constitutes more than sufficient cause to designate the wanting to be at the life-force’s bidding for as long as the latter provides the former with breath as the ultimate dispensation.



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