Monday, February 19, 2007

Seek Ye the Eye of the Hurricane

I've been teasing you for a week now with my references to Discordianism. Some of you are apt pupils and have studiously followed the links I have provided. To you I say, "That which binds us together like a nutshell counts only as one act." Those of you who don't immediately see the inherent parallel that has with act 2, scene 2 of Hamlet had better keep reading.

I could spend several pages talking about Discordianism. Odds are excellent that you'll see more essays about it on this blog, usually on a Friday. But just this once I'll go easy on you, dear readers, and boil it down to basics, because otherwise you'll have no clue what I'm talking about. And I usually find expressions of abject bafflement quite adorable, so you'd better appreciate this gift.

People spend inordinate amounts of time and energy trying to counteract entropy, which basically says that the Universe likes taking the path of least resistance. This means that the contents of a spilled box of cornflakes will not arrange themselves into a nice little pile, because nice little piles are orderly, and order takes energy. It requires vastly less energy to spill across your kitchen floor in a haphazard pattern. Path of least resistance is taken, and you have a mess first thing in the morning. You then spend time and effort to clean up said mess -- in other words, restoring order. In other other words, you're fighting entropy, and getting less out of the deal because of the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

Discordianism is, at its heart, a philosophy that says: "So what if things fall apart? Who says chaos is bad? Sometimes it's good. Maybe while you're on your hands and knees cleaning the kitchen, you find something you dropped last week. Maybe the pattern on the floor gives you artistic insight. Or maybe it makes you late for work, you lose your job, and then you find a better one." In many ways, Discordianism is Rinzai Zen Buddhism filtered through modern Western absurdist principles:
  1. Things screw up.
  2. You can't keep things from screwing up.
  3. You get really worked up and tense from fixing screwed up things.
  4. Wouldn't you really rather not have to fix screwed up things?
  5. Embrace the screwup -- i.e. chaos -- as a necessary part of your life, and chill.
(For those paying attention at home, I've just linked Zen, Thermodynamics, and Søren Kierkegaard to the same subject in three paragraphs. If ever you wondered why you loved me, here's your proof: I can be geeky in three separate disciplines simultaneously. Go me.)

Today, according to the Official Discordian Kalendar, is Day 50 of the Season of Chaos. The 50th day of every season is special, and today is known as Chaoflux. On the day of Chaos, in the season of Chaos, I found this image on Whedonesque:

(Photo courtesy of The One True b!X)

Trust me when I tell you that this could not be laden with more symbolic imagery than if it were an 18-wheeler with the words "Symbolic Imagery" on the side. In fact, it's going to take me all week to describe this metaphoric goldmine.

So strap in. Things get crazy from here on out.

Well... crazier, at any rate.

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