I'm not really all that mysterious

coping with existence

Level I

Not sure what exactly changed this evening, after I gave up with lying in bed, weary, defeated. Maybe it was the odd impulse to write this line on a random scrap of paper:

Let lightning strike me now!

Not sure what that’s supposed to mean either, but here we are.

Level II

The problem with existentialism (at least the Camusian variety) is that it doesn’t have any answers. It is, in a way, an anti-religion. (Although I am wary of saying that religion has any answers either.) Or, perhaps more accurately, it is a meta-religion.

Level III

I’m trying to find a satisfying explanation for the term religion. Like most -ion words in English, it’s from Latin, and various sources parse it to be re- and ligere or perhaps re- and legere.

Ligo, ligere, lixi, lictus, or perhaps ligo, ligare, ligavi, ligatus both mean “to bind,” and various Christian theologians use to illustrate the relationship between God and humanity. Interestingly, during the Roman Republic and then the Roman Empire, there was a governmental position known as the lictor who essentially seemed to serve as the bodyguard of anyone who held imperium. Lictor seems obviously derived from ligo, ligere, lixi, lictus, and may refer to the fasces, the “bundle” borne by the lictor, seemingly symbolizing imperium itself.

The fasces make me think of agriculture, and there is a lot to be said about the nature of someone who has the power to grow food, and how many early creation myths probably center around the harvest.

On the other hand, lego, legere, lexi, lectus is generally parsed as “to read” and it is where lex, “the law”, is derived from. Since the religions that Western Civilization are generally concerned with are all based on various sacred scripture, this would certainly fit as well. Legere can also be conjugated as lego, legere, legi, legatus, however, from whence legion is derived, and it means “to gather,” “to collect.” In this sense, religion can be seen as a collection of traditions.

When seen through a Christian perspective, the idea of gathering is very integral. One of the sacraments, Holy Communion, is based entirely on the notion of gathering together a community, and it is this sacrament that the Catholic Mass centers on.

Interestingly, the word lignum, meaning “wood”, also seems to be related. Whether this hearkens to some kind of tree worship (I immediately think of the Druids), or whether this is simply the fact that wood is something that is gathered remains to be discovered.

Level IV

Etymology non-withstanding, I was taught that “religion” meant “way of life” and therefore could be broadly applied to many philosophical systems that are actually deployed as solutions to the problems of existence, and thereby definitely including Eastern philosophies such as Taoism and Buddhism.

So what I mean by “metareligion” is that existentialism doesn’t describe a way of life, per se, but rather can encompass any and all religions. In other words, just because you believe in God doesn’t mean you can’t be existentialist, or probably more accurately, just because you’re an existentialist doesn’t mean you can’t believe in God.

Level V

But this was all a segue to the matter at hand: at some point, you’ve got to make a decision. You can’t just sit on that existentialist point of crisis for the rest of your life. Either you make a decision, or the universe makes the decision for you.

(As an aside, existential hell exists because you can always revisit that point of crisis, even when the decision has already been made, even when it was completely out of your control. Case in point, from time to time, I still think about the point of crisis I had about 10 years ago, when I decided to tell A how I felt about her. This memory can still wake me up with a cold sweat, and I think a part of my soul withered after that day.)

But what is gone is gone. What never was, shall never be, world without end.

Level VI

So filled with the energy of existential release, I set myself to work on decreasing the amount of entropy filling my apartment. I don’t understand why it’s so difficult for me to keep things in order. I suppose I just have too much stuff, and I would probably be well served by just throwing everything away.

One of these days, I may finally get everything into order, but it’s definitely not going to be any time soon.

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