Friday, April 10, 2009

TC: The Problem of Evil


Untitled study of a dog: Adolf Hitler (n.d.)

The Wizard makes the argument that our displeasure with the sufferings, pains, discomforts and inconveniences of our state may be attributed to a deficiency of objectivity on our part. We simply fail to see that when things go wrong in our little corner of the universe, there must inevitably be some other corner of the universe in which things are going right.

In the language of the casino, the Wizard is the House. The House wins every argument. Merely to argue for the sake of arguing is no more than a form of pastime on our part, a kind of playing.

A scholar once estimated the odds on life as six to five against.

This opinion was reiterated as the epigraph to a thesis on game theory.

The author of the thesis was consulted in the course of the tense policy debates that went on behind the scenes during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

One recalls the coeds being fetched home from their dormitories to Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids in those days when the end of the world seemed at hand. In their plaid kilt skirts with the large decorative fake gold safety pins; the chilled red kneecaps, raw in the northern light; the silent fathers packing the cheap imitation leather suitcases into the trunks of the Detroit iron cars. What was there to say. The incipient end of the world was that of which one could not speak, and anyway it was cold and getting late, the motor was running.

The end of the world didn't happen that time but according to the odds it might have. In the infinite game to say that it didn't happen but it might have is the same thing as saying, next time it will. In the infinite game we are the moving pieces and the players are elsewhere, distant and unreachable.

In my roominghouse in those days of the incipient end of the world there were discussions all night and on into the morning. If the world was about to end, that must mean there was evil in the universe, for we all of us regarded the end of the world as an evil prospect indeed.

But if the world were to end there would be no winners, so exactly who would be pleased, who would benefit?

Do the evils suffered on this globe, by some inconceivable means, contribute to the felicity of the inhabitants of some remote planet? we asked.

Though these questions were never answered then, and in the long interim since that time nothing significant has happened that I am now able to remember, to distract me from them, they have continued to haunt me.


Still life: Adolf Hitler (n.d.)

And there was another time. Spring eventually came, the northern springtime with its lilacs and its clouds. Late one night down by the river in a glade one heard, as one passed over a bridge solitary as an unresolved unit, distressed outcries, and saw then light from inside a car, and the figure of a woman, like a phosphorescent marine creature glimpsed through the murky deeps, struggling to escape the car.

And wending one's way through the night afterwards one asked again, of oneself, is there a planet upon which there exist Beings who take some gain from this? Whatever this is that has happened?

And since then, more of the same, seemingly, else why would one have had to work so hard to forget it all?

Then latterly the Wizard explained these things.

In distant parts of the universe there exist perhaps conceptions inconceivable to us, as yet; still we must study on them, and attempt to reckon.

Moreover the Wizard has spoken to us as an adult addresses a child, of these realms, and of the causes that emanate from them, and pass through us, much as neutrinos, passing through the peaks of our heads and downward thence through our shoes, penetrate the core of the earth, and emerge out at the other side of the globe, and continue unimpeded across the universe.

But these causes have consequences; which they leave in their path as a kind of detritus, a stardust which is the stuff of evil.

The Wizard is a Hunter and takes for granted these distant Beings made animals for us as food and playthings, but reminds us also that as animals are to us, sustenance and diversion, we are to the inhabitants of that remote planet, who gorge upon our souls and toss our bodies about at their pleasure, sending aneurysms and ischemia at random, sowing tumors and deformities merely to please a whim, driving us mad for a passing fancy, blinding us, inducing us to swallow our tongues, choking us with asthma, all for light entertainment.

Like schoolchildren playing with computer programmed toys they have fashioned bubbles which float through our arteries to explode at exactly the moment they wish.

Perhaps now and then a particularly clever player in this cosmic game will devise an epidemic and whole large parts of our species will fall prey to the most excruciating of fatal contagious diseases.

The Wizard explains that these Beings on their remote planet may deceive, torment, or destroy us, for the ends of their own pleasure or utility solely, to what extent they wish, from now to the end of Time, and that we would be wise to consider this as only the beginning phase in their plan for us.


Untitled study of a dog: Adolf Hitler (n.d.)

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