How easy it is to see how Fate manipulates us. It uses all the superficial trappings of life. Distractions purely human. It uses supernormal stimulus to put ideas and dreams in our heads. Fate is the Great Media, subliminally manipulating us.
Did you write the story of the happiest man on earth? Did you kill his parents and gave him a terminal illness? Was that necessary? I suppose he’s cursed to be free now. His life is dictated by his death. He can’t turn to his mother and call her Ma – Ma’s dead. He can’t go drinking with his Pa – Pa’s just dead drunk. So he must seek out something loftier.
We are all born not knowing what happiness is – because happiness does not exist. Not really: not in Nature. Just look around in the whole natural world: can you see anything that is happy? This isn’t cynicism, it’s pure science. Animals are not born to be happy. They are born to survive and replicate – and activities that leads to these things provide pleasure, yes.
He knows he’ll never be happy. Not unless he’s in love. There is a woman he seeks out, he’s loved her ever since youth. He will never have a relationship with her, in fact, she’s married now. And that’s a relief. He never wants her to love him. That amount of happiness would terrify him. It’s pleasurable enough hunting her down, perpetually failing, letting his sorrow for her drown out his grief for his parents (and himself).
And because happiness is a purely human construct, we devise purely human paths to happiness. And just like animals, we find pleasure in the supernormal stimulus that stems from surviving and reproducing: food, drink, sport, adventure (migratory instinct of hunter-gatherers), sex, love, family, friendships, and all our sexually selected skills, art, music, beauty, humour, intelligence, and yes also knowledge of environment and political success.
Along the way the man takes to gambling, whoring, Christ drugs too, and he even allowed himself the weakness of mainstream faith. He joined a Christian prayer group and daily prayed for his Ma and Pa’s soul. Prayed: In that fair land to which I go, I’m going there to see my father. Then he would go out to the Red Light District and do Coke shots off a slave’s tanned belly. And he ain’t being no hypocrite. Sin and purity are one and the same to a dying man.
But then there are many false paths, great distractions, which are manufactured with greater efficiency in our over-consumerist, shallow, media-dominated world. We are all told (subliminally) that great wealth, excess, superficiality, ambition, fame, workaholicism, religiosity, uber-charity; these are all what we should be striving for. We are under pressure, our Fate is being controlled now not by our genes or psychology, but by the pressures around us. Our Fates have been taken over and this leads us to destructive paths.
What is the definition of happiness: it is the absence of pain. Over-ambition, false dreams, and co-opted Fates lead us to pain.
Our happiness needs to be reclaimed. That is not to say we abandon ambition. But we ought to abandon Jihadi ambition. That ain’t healthy. We cannot sacrifice the primordial pleasures. This is why the simple pleasures are the most ethical and the ones we must muster. And this is how it’s possible a worker with a family and a good joie de vivre can be happier than Kim Kardashian.
His Ma used to warn him about bad apples and going too far. But Ma, on my last few days on earth, I’ve got no shot at normal-folk happiness. I ain’t got family, health; I just got ghostly histories. So I gots to try for the big things other folk try for. I’m gonna be a pimp lest I be a bitch to life, you hear? Don’t worry Ma, I ain’t got nothing to lose. This world’s not my home for long. The angels know it too. I’m just a-passin’ through.
The harms of succumbing to our false Fate is not only harm to ourselves, but a blinding greed that harms people and environment. Wealth, fame, religiosity, social pressure; these can lead people to horrible acts. Think of buying ivory, drugs, racism, rape, inadvertently hurting the environment, inadvertently condoning child labour and oppression of minorities. These ills are all the progeny of greed.
He’s been with so many prostitutes now he wants the real thing. He finds the girl he’s always loved, follows her, stalks her, he thinks of raping her. He’s not really religious you see. He don’t believe in an afterlife, there isn’t anyone up there to judge him – and he knows that’s no excuse, he was raised good you see – but death frees the beast. And now he’s gonna do it. Gonna rape the woman he loves. He’ll kiss her lips she’ll bite – but still, the warmth of her breath!
Thinking pessimistically: these are greeds we shall never overcome. Not as a species; not unless, as Einstein predicted, a new World War forces us back into the caves. But as individuals – for our sake, we are selfish after all – let us reclaim our Fate. Let our lives, if they must be manipulated, be manipulated by that familial hedonism, the genuine, more natural pleasures – family, good living, humour, art, music, love, learning.
But he won’t do it. Not out of fear of God, nor fear of Pa. But he hears a good song he knew from when he was a boy. What is that? Caruso, I think. He remembers his grandmother singing and dancing to it. And he can’t defile that memory. How could he be a rapist and recall his grandmother? He couldn’t do it, you hear.
And let’s not for a minute curse the advances we have made. Let’s not be bloody Amish. There is much to indulge in; from internet to Michelin restaurants to seven-star hotels; there’s no need to be Romantic at this point. But let’s not be blind to the powers we’ve unleashed. Not a damn single one of these things can make us happier! They simply diversify our possible pleasures, provide us with more moments free from pain. For God’s sake let’s not be superficial!
If happiness doesn’t exist it must be necessary for us to create it! But let’s do a better job at it than those gods we created.
And when the time comes for him to die, by a roadside, in agony, he merely closes his eye, weeping, like a man going to bed after a hard day’s work, knowing that sleep is more real than the day just past – knowing the two are one and the same. One.