Friday, February 23, 2007

How I Found Eris, and What I Did to Her When I Found Her

I found Discordianism, and therefore Eris, in 1994. I had turned 21, and was in that awkward transition between "too old to be a teenager" and "too young to be an adult". Plus, it was the Nineties, so I spent most of my time wearing black, listening to Sisters of Mercy, and when I wasn't reading Anne Rice or playing Vampire: the Masquerade, I was depressed and wondering What Was The Point Of It All.

I'm not going to tell you that my life was instantly changed the moment I found a copy of Steve Jackson Games' Principia Discordia -- I had a lot of ingrained uptightness to overcome -- but it did take a turn for the weird, and my life has been richer for that weirdness.

See, I'm the kind of person who obsessively looks for patterns. I seek meaning in way too many things. I like to attribute this to my artistic leanings, and truth be told it's served me well in life, both in discerning literary symbolism and in helping me unearth the motivations of those around me. (Yes, we brainy introspective types with English majors and Psychology minors can double as FBI profilers and Lit Critics. Be afraid.)

However, sometimes this passion for pattern recognition borders on OCD. Don't tell us that a pattern isn't there! We just haven't dug deeply enough. Give us time, by golly by jingo, and we'll find it. You just wait and see.

Next thing you know, we're starring in a sequel to A Beautiful Mind.

Into this frothing mass of post-teenage aaaaaaaaaaangst fell Eris. At first, I thought it was something silly, a vaguely coherent-sounding rant that I could use when I LARPed my Malkavian. Then I re-read it. And re-re-read it. Again. And again.

I had to keep reading it because, well, I sensed something. A pattern, a greater truth... as Polonius said, Though this be madness, yet there is method in 't.

And then, finally I got it. It took me a long time to get not because the truth was particularly hard, but because I had to shatter my own paradigm of reality to understand it.

I'm going to try to share it with you. If you don't get it, that's okay. Some people get it instantly; some never do. Some, however -- and I sincerely hope to count you, dear reader, among this number -- read it; don't quite get it; read it again; spend days puzzling it out; and then, at an inopportune and potentially embarrassing moment, you GET IT and have a falling-down case of the giggles.

We look at the world through windows on which have been drawn grids. Different philosophies use different grids. Through this window we view chaos, and relate it to the points on our grid, and thereby understand it. The order is in the grid.

Disorder is simply unrelated information viewed through some particular grid. But, like "relation", non-relation is a concept. Male, like female, is an idea about gender. To say that male-ness is "absence of female-ness," or vice-versa, is a matter of definition, and thus unmeasurable, and therefore wholly arbitrary. Pick a grid, and through it some reality appears ordered and some appears disordered. Pick another grid, and the same reality will appear differently ordered and disordered.

Western philosophy is traditionally concerned with contrasting one grid with another, and amending grids in hopes of finding a perfect one that will account for all reality and will, hence, be True. This is an illusion, because it is based upon the notion that Order is inherently good and Disorder inherently bad. This causes man to endure the destructive aspects of order and prevents him from effectively participating in the creative uses of disorder.

To choose order over disorder, or disorder over order, is to accept a worldview composed of both the creative and the destructive. But to choose the creative over the the destructive is to choose an all-creative worldview composed of both order and disorder.

The human race will begin solving its problems on the day that it ceases taking itself so seriously: LIFE IS THE ART OF PLAYING GAMES.

If you can master nonsense as well as you have already learned to master sense, then each will expose the other for what it is: absurdity. From that moment of illumination, a man begins to be free regardless of his surroundings. He becomes free to play order games and change them at will. He becomes free to play disorder games just for the hell of it. He becomes free to play neither, or both. And as the master of his own games, he plays without fear, and therefore without frustration, and therefore with goodwill in his soul and love in his being.

If you didn't get all that, don't fret. Eris has a way of fucking with you when least expected.

It's really only proper that I end this mostly quoted blog with another quote, this time from Kerry Thornley, one of the co-founders of Discordianism.
[...] before I was a Discordian, when I entered my room only to be reminded by its disarry that it was a mess, I felt a sense of defeat. These days when that happens I just say, "Hail Eris!" - our customary salute to any embodiment of chaos - and then I cheerfully carry on, secure in the knowledge that the constellations look no better.
I'm still uptight in a lot of ways. I still obsess over patterns. I am still a work in progress. But instead of getting upset by disorder, by absurdity, by chaos which doesn't fit in my little grid I call reality... I can laugh at it, and get on with the far more important task of living my life as I wish.

Hail Eris.

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