Friday, February 4, 2011

Fragment: dictators, death drives

Hmm. Where do you suppose this came from?

Toward the end of his life – after decades of sustained cocaine use – Sigmund Freud determined that all instincts act as subordinate extensions of two higher drives: the life drive and the death drive. The instincts in the service of life work to keep the organism alive and see that it procreates. And the death instincts...

Just as the river seeks the drift of the ocean beyond the terminal estuary, all organic matter seeks a return to constancy of the inorganic.

The river cannot choose where it springs. It rolls from the mountain's thighs and into the light, and can only labor on, pushing forward, being pushed and jerked along until it reaches the ocean. And we are no different thrust into the cold commotion of a strange planet without our consent, living under compulsion to go on living through scarcity and strife until our life gives out, with no purpose or prerogative other than to stay alive for as long as we can and force more of ourselves into the world to bear the burden of existence.

Life is a chemical pattern conscientiously aiming, devilishly designed to perpetuate itself. Maybe it could be best understood by way of analogy as the will of a bunkered dictator. A totalitarian despot whose sole aim is to widen his influence and consolidate his rule. Seizing whatever matter he can and forcing it into his service.

Any effective tyrant understands the value of threat, punishment, and reward, and uses each to secure his subjects’ loyalty to his purpose. The dictator life is no different, ensuring that its subjects, by working to fulfill their own interests, are always serving his own.

We are kept alive by pangs. When our body is hungry, it inflicts pain upon us until we provide it with sustenance. It tears at our hearts and sets our minds to a frenzy until we copulate. When the life in us wants something, it puts the bladed spurs into our sides. When we consent, it rewards us with relief. A moment without pain. A brief respite from the billy club.

Satisfying the life instincts is an act of self-annihilation. All contentment in life is the taste of death. Pleasure is the forgetting of life, forgetting the shocks and aches that life inflicts on those in its possession to keep its hold on them. The moment of eradication is the desserts for every want, the final end of every human goal. We act in the hope of never having to act again. Throwing ourselves off every cliff, hoping to find the ocean at the bottom. After all – what is life but wanting? And what is death but needing nothing?

Don't look at me like I'm crazy, please. This is the truth. It is absolute fact. Peace and pleasure are tastes of death, and death is relief from the dictator's demands. The runner runs to escape himself. The fisherman fishes to forget himself. The drunkard drinks to drown himself. We immerse ourselves in art and entertainment, absorb ourselves in our work, lose ourselves in the company of friends. We seek stability and comfort as a means of abandoning the struggle, of placing ourselves in a position of having to toil with life just that much less. We savor our own annihilation; dying as much as life allows us to without achieving death.

Freud said that life is only a roundabout route to death. I intend to treat it as such. I am going to die and life will go on without me. So fuck it: I will live as briefly as I choose and with as little pain as possible. Then I will die and my obligation to dictator will have ended. If I can spare some other souls a little pain of life as I work to spare myself, all the better, I suppose.

Your guess is as good as mine. Comic got delayed; will be up tomorrow evening, surely.

1 comment:

  1. I don't mean to sound simplistic or infantile, but the key phrase in that whole thing was "sustained cocaine use".