The Miserific Vision

We are all brought up to believe that little birdies sing because they are happy, and so forth. Most of us never learn what birdsong actually is: namely, either ‘I’m the best, mate with me, I give good egg!’ or ‘Go away! This is mine! Mine, I say! Get lost!’ The trees of the forest are not ‘clapping their hands’, as in the charismatic-Christian chorus, they are conducting chemical warfare; it is merely that this happens too slowly for us to watch them shading out and poisoning their rivals. Once you have had the Miserific Vision of how the most beautiful pastoral scene is actually a vicious war zone, there can be no more watching of Disney films. Competition, warfare and eating one another, all the way down to the plants; is that why the Gnostics thought that the world was created, not by any good God but by a nasty fellow called the Demiurge?

It is often asked how people cope with the Miserific Vision; that is, with perceiving the true nature of Life as frantic gobbling and blind spawning. On the whole, people cope badly, but this is no argument for the falsity of the perception. There is nothing illogical about the evolution of intelligence to a point at which it realises it has been royally screwed, but we may nevertheless consider it a ‘miracle’ – perhaps the only one in Creation.

There are four broad categories of post-mortem fates advertised: one, being remembered and honoured by your descendants, or not; two, return to this planet with a higher or lower status; three, eternal life, whether in bliss or torment; and four, Nirvana, or cessation of at any rate individual existence. It is only too obvious how the first three are extensions of the animal agenda of survival and reproduction; the puzzle is how creatures – that is, the phenotypical expression of a more or less immortal informational molecule – can so hack their own programming so as not only to realise that they are process rather than thing, but also to welcome non-being.

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