“Let them think what they liked, but I didn’t mean to drown myself. I meant to swim till I sank — but that’s not the same thing.”
― Joseph Conrad
It is a secret to no one that we exist, and yet, the definition eludes us when left unexamined. It is tempting for the more personal ones of us to conflate existence with life, a general state of being that characterizes the conscious from the unconscious.
The more analytical ones of us would state that existence is a conceptual state of conceivability. If we can conceive of a concept, say “A”, then we can define the hypothetical laws governing its being. However, there is a third path, one that would be more objective to us as communicating systems that have created language out of a necessity: if a concept can be conceived, we will find a name for it that resonates with our subconscious worldview, and truly we live in a world of concepts.
We are stuck in-between two worlds bound together through conscience; the physical and the metaphysical are to us two sides of the same coin. Mass is a form of energy, and all matter (and non-matter) is energy interacting with itself in ways that are yet to be fully understood. What can be said with certainty, however, is that all is energy and void, and yet, our vocabularies have expanded to the point where no one person can know even their native language in full. We have in our minds created the world as we know it: a collection of metaphysical objects that have no basis in reality were it not for the way that we perceive them.
We won’t delve here into why we call things the way we do, but will mention that “ex-” + “sistere”, the Latin origin of our concept of existence, meaning “to take a stand out”(of what? Out of null.), itself coming from our Proto-Indo-European h₁eǵʰs + steh₂, that also, in the same manner, means “stand out”, points to our humanistic understanding of what it is to be.
We’re already deviating too much from our initial theme… Let us get back on track with another quote:
“There comes a time when you look into the mirror and you realize that what you see is all that you will ever be. And then you accept it. Or you kill yourself. Or you stop looking in mirrors.”
― Tennessee Williams
To exist is to be part of the only true physical paradox in existence: there being something other than void. Whether we were created by a God, whichever God it may be, or spawned out of a Big Bang, is an eluded misconception spawned out of our desire for clojure (no, closure (no, the other closure)).
Though the previous hyperlink should have pointed you towards the pathological definition of autism, the reason why we require closure is because we psychologically wish to define ourselves in a limited system, because through defining ourselves as an element of a limited system we artificially inflate our sense of self-importance to a level that’s at least somewhat bearable.
We postulate that there has to be a beginning to all of existence, to us, to everything around us, despite each consequence requiring a cause. We allow ourselves the conception of a true beginning no matter how practically nonsensical it is; if God made us, if the Big Bang made us, then what made God and/or the Big Bang, and then what made that which made those? There is no end in sight. We are confronted with the most uncomfortable notion of a paradox that exists outside of our self-devised mathematical mental gymnastics.
Human thought throughout history kept evolving towards a further and further understanding that we do not matter. Every time we’ve tried to limit the scope of our identity and standing in the grand scheme of things, we have eventually deconstructed it in order to reach towards broader, less comfortable horizons.
It is time to accept that ultimately, after-life or not, souls or only machines, we do not matter. The span of time we live in is null in a world that has and will exist forever. The span of the space we inhabit, too, is null. We do not matter in the grand scheme of space-time and, as humans, we do not matter as a form of life. Most of us if not almost all, do not even matter within the scale of our species, and further even, on the scale of our generation, or country.
“The thought of suicide is a great consolation: by means of it one gets through many a dark night.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche
This realization is at the same time liberating and discouraging. When everything in life goes wrong or seems absolutely meaningless, which it more often than not is, the thought of irrelevancy can almost be as calming as that of suicide. We seek an escape, either physical through putting an end to our experience, or psychological through putting an end to our ego. But what are we without our ego, and what are we without our life? We are nothing.
Perhaps even with them, we are nothing. What meaning can there be for us to go on despite the difficulty of our being? Sometimes, it’s hard to believe that there are some people out there who do not spend every waking moment wishing that they were dead. It’s more common than you might think, but it gets even spookier: not only do these people not want to die, but some of them are actually happy and enjoy their lives. It’s atrocious, but it’s sadly true.
And so the rest of us have to live an empty reality where we force ourselves to live, and we wonder why do we even bother? Why do we subject ourselves to perpetual stress and fight against ourselves to stay at least somewhat successful and by extension respectable in a society we don’t even care about? Every week, maybe every day, we want to give up. We fear what we will become if we let go, but we also want to avoid the responsibilities of making it to the future.
Some of us choose to retreat in video games, some of us choose to retreat in fandoms overflowing with pornography of endless degeneracy, and some of us choose to retreat in infantilism and drama. Regardless of your poison, what you are doing is redefining your own standards of success in an attempt to escape the one imposed upon you by society. We no longer live to live. We live to survive in a world where physical survival is basically guaranteed to people with enough material goods to read a bunch of pixels on a screen that do not light up.
Ultimately, there is no game for us to play, and therefore no end game. When existence was badly designed enough to forget providing you with any kind of gameplay, just like autists in the early days of Minecraft, you have to create the game yourself. It is hard to ignore the sea of people that have decided that you’re playing a competitive game of Counter-Strike. For some of us to have fun, we have to trigger our teammates instead, in an attempt to have them team kill us and get booted from the game. And once you run out of games that do a good enough job at distracting you from reality, life doesn’t seem worth it anymore.
“But in the end one needs more courage to live than to kill himself.”
― Albert Camus