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Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Importance of Desire--Cthulu in Love, and Firefly

 This is kind of a personal and controversial thing I'm going to say, so if you're uncomfortable with that, um, go sing about peanuts and climb on your roof? It's a good use of your time if the stars are out.

Here's this: we've got an issue with desire. Not just in the place I live, or sometimes in my personal life, or in the churches I frequent, but all across the world as a species there's something fading about us. Something insipid and tolerant and complacent.

No, this isn't the old Ayn Rand sheeple argument, or the old "hate everyone who disagrees with you" or anything like that.

But sometimes it looks like we got so wrapped up in tolerance and all getting along, that we began to become very, very angry. We began to--

Okay, let me back this up and explain. See, sometimes I wonder if the 1% got there because they just want money and power so bad, they made it happen--and the rest of us don't really know what we want, so we're totally okay with them just making all our decisions for us. I'm sure that's not true. But I'm also sure it's not 100% false.

People say wanting something doesn't make it happen, but I say just wanting something doesn't make it happen. Longing for something with the deepened, faithful, persistent passion that drives men and women to die or fly or burn paths through the unknown, ignoring all the bruises and scraped knees and torn emotions along the way? That can make things happen against all odds. Against frikking armies. And when two giant desires like this meet--

Oh gosh the fireworks.

People say we're just extremists these days, all on either side of the political spectrum, and that we're just devolving into screaming at each other on the internet. Yes, but that's not because we want something bad. It's because we want something, and we're pissed off that there exist forces that oppose it. That's not the same thing as the kind of longing I'm talking about.

Because frustrated longings can level cities. But a deep desire to change someone, for example, will start by seeing them as a person. It will study the most effective ways to get into their heads. It will realize that stereotyping them--"gah all you Republicans want to suck on the blood of the poor," "gah all you Democrats want us to pray to Allah"--and hating them doesn't work. True desire will throw away plans that aren't working, strategies that suck.

Why? Because true desire wants to succeed, that's why. It doesn't want to sit there shaking its fist at the computer screen while the world burns.

Maybe some true desire wants to fly airplanes into innocent civillian workplaces. That sounds more like desperate depression than desire to me, but for some I'm sure it is a desire. That's a different issue entirely. That's just a bad desire. I'm not talking about that.

I'm talking about the true good desires that we don't feed. Like the desire to change someone who we believe is engaging in self-harmful behavior, or the desire to make people laugh, or to tell a story, or to get that book published.

How many of us stay in dead-end jobs we really don't give a crap about, or go through college and come out the other side all, "well...okay I guess," wandering into the first employment we can find that we don't really want, or don't tell our friends we think they're hurting themselves, all because we're afraid to want something, get shot down, and lose everything? Or maybe we're not afraid, and we just don't care. I don't know.

I know that back in certain times of history giant desires have clashed, and they've been terrible. The entire Medieval period sounds to me like huge desires running over each other like tsunamis--and I'd argue that what we desire is of infinite importance.

But did fearing wrong desires cause us to cease desiring entirely? At the end of World War II, did the entire population of the world die to--well, begin teaching its children to fear the heartfelt--

Okay, I don't know. I don't like extrapolating about history, although my degree gave me some wild ideas.

I just know that if we really want to achieve, we need to want more. We need to get less afraid of telling the truth to our friends, and at the same time more afraid of screaming at strangers. Love is a double-edged sword which takes skill to wield, but if you want it enough...

There's a verse in the Bible, in the tower of Babel story, where God says that there's nothing impossible for man, bad or good, if God doesn't step in and stop it. Maybe you take that as mythology, but there's a nugget here humanity cannot afford to overlook. The nugget that we are powerful. Wanting things is powerful. If you really, really want publication, there will come publication unless God Himself opposes you. (He is more powerful than you.)

I'm saddened by my lack of desire. By the doubt that creeps into me and makes me waste my time. By the way I have the best job in the world, but I still don't maximize its potential 'cuz I'm so willing to settle for less. I don't want that for me, and I don't want that for you. I want you to have desire. The movie Serenity--the "conclusion" to the Firefly series--calls this being a "true believer" and says it doesn't matter what you believe as long as you're true about it. As long as you really, really want it. I think it's obvious that it does matter. If your true desire is to disembowl people, no, I'm not gonna be tolerant and sweet about that. I'm gonna lovingly send you to jail.

But please want something. There's one thing I wish everyone wanted, above anything else, and I'm well aware that's not going to happen. I'll make that request. I'll include that link up there, and I'll say, "want that, and want it more than anything else." But if you can't want that--or you already want that, and it's time for you to want a more specific life goal or mission or vocation because of that--what do you want? Do you know what you want? Maybe you do. How bad do you want it? Are you like me, knowing exactly what you want, but sometimes just not wanting it enough? Do you doubt it? Doubt whether or not you can make that happen, whether or not it's worth everything? Are you afraid sometimes?

Can I hug you about that? I get that. Seriously, if you understand what I'm trying to say here, and you're struggling to whet your desires against apathy and self-doubt, too, take an imaginary internet hug. I'm discouraged, and if you are, too, I want you to have a hug!

If you don't understand, and it sounds like I'm making a big deal out of people just living their lives and going with the flow, well, I'm sorry I'm a bit ineffective. It's been a long day. I'm not judging you, I'm judging me, and it's okay. It's a healthy sadness. Have an internet smile, and go sing about peanuts like I told you to at the beginning of this post.

Let's want more.

I'm not a poet, I'm a singer, so if you read on imagine it with like a gazillion power guitars, an operatic voice straight from heaven, and the best death-metal growl short of a lion's roar.

The creature roars the single note that can rise above the din
Of the cities that are grumbling with its tentacled grin
But what if you could channel that power
What if you stood before the fire and brim
Stone with your hands outstretched and your own fires within
And with one loud scream
Your fire wins
Your fire wins.

Oh God, I want to push off on my toes and leap into the galaxies
But I find myself bound by my doubt-centered gravities
It's like I don't believe!
I want to burst through the atmosphere with flash-flares of love
Like the greenish Northern Lights but with more boom and more thud
But I'm restraining me!
Please awaken me
With the fire of a Cthulu in love

The creature's melting Siberia, already levelled Japan
All your artisanal glasses are returning to sand
And all of Lovecraft says you're equally damned.
But you stand with your arms spread wide
Like a little letter t overlooked by mankind
Pierce my heart, my mind
I'm Cthulu, I'm a force, I'm intense and I destroy but
You are stronger still
Fill me with irresistible love
Irresistible love

Oh God, I want to push off on my toes and leap into the galaxies
But I find myself bound by my doubt-centered gravities
It's like I don't believe!
I want to burst through the atmosphere with flash-flares of love
Like the greenish Northern Lights but with more boom and more thud
But I'm restraining me!
Please awaken me
With the fire of a Cthulu in love

Can you imagine Cthulu in love
I can. I can imagine the world in splendor, too.

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