Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Titanic Hubris


"Not even God himself could sink this ship."


(employee of the White Star Line, upon the launch of the Titanic, May 31, 1911)

Famous last words, as they say.  They say that pride cometh before the fall, but it's not really pride-as-such that cometh before the fall ... it's hubris.  Pride can be healthy, but hubris, never.

There are layers of interpretations for anything, and the layers differ in degrees of depth, meaning, and resonance.  The first and shallowest layer, and the most basic, of any interpretation (or act of hermeneusis) is the literal.  So in terms of the literal interpretation of events, we repeatedly witness the cosmic rejection of human hubris in legends such as the tower of Babel, in mythologies such as of fallen angels, in histories of tyranny and imperialism, and so on.  But in adding a dimension of depth to the shallow, literal interpretation of events, we're afforded a glimpse of the flip side, viz., that human hubris rejects the cosmic, i.e., it rejects anything that is "greater" than what it itself embraces, and is ... as if nothing could possibly derail it, sink it, or smash it to smithereens.  And again, we have that learning-from-history problem; it's a situation that is one of those "it happens every time" scenarios, but the learning process is slow.  Why is the learning process so damn slow? Because of the enticement of hubris.  Hubris hypnotizes its captives, and leads them astray, eventually to doom and hard knocks.  

Does the 9/11 event belong to the category of the Tower Card of hubris? It's actually in a gray zone, because it was not an "act of god," i.e., a natural disaster or "accident" per se.  It was a human, titan-field perpetuated act of destruction.  There is a difference on the literal, shallow level, and it is a provisionally relevant distinction to consider when talking specifics.  It is not without relevance that the bible has the words "Vengeance is mine" as a divine logion. Human, titanic (war beings) perpetuations of harm and destruction have, on a basic level, a twofold aspect.  One is that they are dissonant human-titanic actions.  The other is that the human-titanic actions nonetheless are of cosmic teleology, and in all eventuality, at the end of the day, as they say, even human-titanic actions of hubris are subsumed into cosmic τελος. This does not in any way justify them, however, and that is the paradox (but isn't everything paradoxical?).  

You might be wondering about the equivocation in the term 'titanic,' but its referential back and forth is by design here.  The Titans declare war against the gods out of jealousy and hubris; their mode is metaphor for egocentric dissonance with the cosmos.  The horrific sinking of the ship Titanic ironically has become, or at least should be, a relatively contemporary metaphor for human beings to not take themselves and their achievements too seriously.      

There is not a single instance in which a human or human beings could, based on individual or collective ego-hubris, take the whorl of history upon themselves and turn the cosmic course in their megalomaniacal favor.  There are ripples of consequences to human, ego-based actions of aggression, violence, and destruction, and even if they are subsumed and sublimated under the arche of cosmic telos, their mitigation or avoidance would not have diminished cosmic telos in any way.  In short, they don't have to happen.   

There is absolutely no way to outwit the cosmos, not matter how tricky, convoluted, and well planned schemes might be.  τελος is always right there one to infinite steps ahead, embedded, interwoven, and interfused, in morphic fields, history, Chaos, and even "down" to quantum fields; it's the originally-existent ontological a priori per se. Think otherwise at your own risk of peril; be it ideological, paradigmatic, religious, scientific, nationalistic, patriarchal, political, and so forth so on and admixtures of or all of the above, no matter how much you psych yourself into ecstatic zeal, your brand of hubris is nothing special, nothing new.