autotelic, autistic, assonance-hole©.

The relentless futility of the “first cause”

No doubt, there are hundreds (thousands?) of years of learned philosophy and literature by greater minds than my own on this matter. But, as I have little to no exposure to them, in my usual and utterly unrepentant way (ego now safe in the admission of its own ignorance), I prattle on the matter because it seems new to me.

We humans, I think, waste inordinate amounts of time, effort, money, and emotion in pursuit of the incontrovertible “first cause”. On any given stage of human endeavor it seems there is waged an unending, roiling war through which some number of “sides” have laid claim to the ignoble superiority of “worst injured”, “worst offended”, “worst abused”, and therefore “most entitled to” or “most justified in” or “most deserving of” inflicting their “side” of things on everyone around them.

Be it land, culture, skin color, gender, sexual orientation, taxes, or pretty much any other topic upon which it is possible to have an opinion, conviction, or belief, assured that there is at least two “sides” that will be locked in a Gordian struggle of blame and counter-blame back and back into the furthest recollection over “who has the ultimate and ascendant superiority of having suffered first.” The apparent point, it seems, is the assumption that, once this “first cause” is established, all other points of dispute magically become subordinate. It’s as if the notion of any form of pluralism is swept from the table at the onset.

It’s bizarre and sorrowful, the human willingness to pretend that “first cause” could possibly be relevant beyond the instant of presence. Shall we compound past errors by attempting to place values on them so we can undertake a new bout of argument on those values for still more centuries? Shall we continue to wryly mutter to one another the old axiom of history repeating itself? Continue to shrug at the thought that the only reason it ever does is this pursuit of “the first cause”?

Sadly, even when we manage to chain up the animal in us long enough to admit that objective “first cause” is, itself, delusion… it cannot offer resolution, it cannot solve the issues of the present, we seem no better able to apply the conclusion to our reactions. For all we insist otherwise, we continue to allow ourselves to be defined by the past in every possible way; we cling to it so tightly that any chance of recasting ourselves cannot but falter and fail.

Indeed, much of “the change” we proclaim today is superficial… we polish the apple and pretend the worm is not coiled about the core.

Maybe the scarier truth is that giving up the relentless futility of the “first cause” would mean completely redefining what it is to be human. Maybe, we’re so terrified at the concept of having to toil to surpass our physiology that we forget it’s possible.

Then again, maybe most of us are just trying to get from day to day and all this mental meandering is its own form of avoidance. Not like I’m standing outside of humanity looking in, is it?