The Dark at the Edge of the Campfire: a short prose ramble by Doug

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Tuesday, 23 June 2009

(11:43:24 CDT)

The Dark at the Edge of the Campfire: a short prose ramble by Doug

This is going to be a short, and not necessarily successful, divergence (divulgence, as well) from my normal stye. A concept in mind, that I wanted to say aloud. Write, anyhow. At least briefly. Soon I will return you to your regularly scheduled Doug-style updates.

I have recently become aware, thinking about it, that fear and awe and even laughter all come from the same place: the darkness at the edge of the campfire. Religious parables and horror stories are cousins, of a such. Note the holy reverence we talk about monsters, the frightful way we approach God. The new age "god", the being of light and eternal happiness, is a weak god that rarely snares true believers. (S)He was created to be forgotten. Old school God, with His wrath and demands, that religion has survived and will continue to survive. That religion predates the written record of man, predates mankind even writing of himself as a thinking, internal being, as do our oldest monsters. Dragons and vampires and the undead and face changing demons are ubiquitous, predating culture so that all cultures share them. The same with gods. The same with jokes.

We think of light as a point, a series of points. Many of them man made. We think of darkness as a whole. What's more, while we see and address the mechanics behind light, we understand that darkness has no mechanics, it is just what is always there. At some point, we decided that the darkness had a face, had a personality. We started giving it names. As Nietzsche said, art and religion are just two ways for us to put a white mask on the darkness that surrounds us. It is more than just claiming that God is some anthropological nonsense. Whether or not God is real, that first true taste of what God might be is facing the darkness, looking up not at the stars but the greater, much larger blackness that fits in the cracks between them, and knowing that, unlike light, it goes on forever.

We fear it, sleep in it, shape it, name it, tend to it, destroy it, and try to forget it; but that darkness at the edge of our campfire—the true apeiron of our existence from which the short, quiet angles of light derive their meaning—is the model by which the "beyond everday" takes shape. Except it is essentially shapeless, the very definition of shapelessness, though, I cannot help but notice, we always assume it ultimately has a name, a purpose, a logos, a direction...we make it hate us and love us, but except in kiddie stories we never quite believe, we always acknowledge it is bigger than us, whether it be vampires more than human than human, or a loving God bringing about the end of the world, or just infinite space, so big that all the infinite light still is not enough to illuminate it.

I will conclude by saying this might be the ultimate lack of science. It tries to treat darkness as merely a backdrop to the curious things going on in the world, as something already overcome by rational thinking itself. It will be curious if this instinct to witness darkness permeates even science in the end.

Si Vales, Valeo

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Written by Doug Bolden

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