Saturday, August 08, 2009

DFW on worship and truth

Not actually from "Infinite Jest," but quite marvellous nonetheless.
The only thing that's capital-T True is that you get to decide how you're going to try to see [life, the universe and everything]. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn't. You get to decide what to worship…

Because here's something else that's true. In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And an outstanding reason for choosing some sort of God or spiritual-type thing to worship — be it J.C. or Allah, be it Yahweh or the Wiccan mother-goddess or the Four Noble Truths or some infrangible set of ethical principles — is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things — if they are where you tap real meaning in life — then you will never have enough. Never feel you have enough. It's the truth. Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly, and when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you. On one level, we all know this stuff already — it's been codified as myths, proverbs, clichĂ©s, bromides, epigrams, parables: the skeleton of every great story. The trick is keeping the truth up-front in daily consciousness. Worship power — you will feel weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to keep the fear at bay. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart — you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. And so on.
Taken from that now-famous commencement speech at Kenyon College in 2005. Read it here before it disappears behind a pay-wall.

Shabbat shalom, my dears.

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Blogger Lioness said...

Ah, but meh. Fully agree with us deciding what has meaning and doesn't but see, worshipping a God and worshipping whatever else are entirely different things, surely. Judaism calls it avoda zara, worshipping of idols (i.e. all tat is not the one God). And anyone that thinks that a God cannot eat you alive has never spent time with (been subjected to?) ultra-Orthodox Jews. I'm sure the same is valid for oter groups. I do believe, though, that there is a profound structural difference between belief in a divinity, regardless of sort, and everything else - unless you turn particular brand of 'everything else' into a divinity but it ends up being the same thing doesn't it, because you've just deified it.

[I am not deliberately trying to be contrary today, we just seem to be disagreeing. A lot. :)]

August 8, 2009 at 4:39:00 p.m. GMT+2  
Blogger Lioness said...

[Insomia still making me mental and as smart as a muffin, I hope I made myself clear but if not - blame me, obviously. I am, after all, the one who wrote it.]

[See? HA!]

August 8, 2009 at 4:41:00 p.m. GMT+2  
Blogger Pacian said...

I've found that worshipping Hayao Miyazaki has worked out quite well for me.

August 10, 2009 at 9:32:00 p.m. GMT+2  
Blogger JoeinVegas said...

Sorry, disagree here. I think it's posible to worship nothing. Oh, wait, that would be worshiping something: nothing. Never mind.

August 11, 2009 at 7:22:00 p.m. GMT+2  

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