We run away when inconceivably terrible things happen because, on some level, we know that the machine that produced them is the same one that produced (and continually produces) us. The lives we lead that briefly contain happiness are constructed in the same network as the foul horror that waits to tear through them – it’s all one entity. The moments of impossible misery and unfairness are the moments when the fundamental contradictions of life as we know it burst open and scream into the abyss. Our world is wrong. Our life is wrong. Your life is wrong. My life is wrong. The lives that were lived before they were lost, though wholly innocent, were also wrong. The lives that went on to destroy other lives, by being devoid of beauty, failed to be anything more than products of that wrongness.
There’s no living with this. Simultaneously, there is nothing but living with this. The World-Monster lives in your skin, in your every thought, in the surface of your screen, in the corner of your smile.
We should all be in a permanent state of grief. That’s where most of us are headed, anyway. The only thing protecting us is Inside – our consciousnesses’ alienation from the suffering of other people. We make gestures of support, we rack our brains to come up with words of sympathy, perhaps we even use the words ‘there are no words’ (or words to that effect), but unless we are directly affected we do not ultimately feel the wound or bear the scar. Our lives just keep rolling on. The Wrongness of Everything fades gently back into the scenery, ready for next time.
We can’t make ourselves believe that Wrongness is fine. We can’t close down our capacity to love things that Wrongness will take away, or our desperate need for possibilities of happiness that Wrongness denies us. We can’t rewrite our very biology (yet).
We can, however, take Wrongness and weave on its surface something new and different, that reclaims the warped terrain of our lives as design rather than ruin. But for anything like that to ever be done, it necessitates seeing – touching – feeling the damage.
People who understandably can’t accept the Wrongness of Everything would like to pretend the wrongness is merely Over There, That Place, Them, That Person, Those People, and would like to believe that if only those things could be removed then Wrongness would also be removed. Bullshit. Some people’s response is to deploy massive amounts of unequally distributed physical power in an attempt to flatten out the variables, and close their eyes to the Wrongness such deeds will inevitably expose. Doomed.
To purge Everything of Wrongness we would have to reach further in and further back than we could even imagine; deconstruct the building blocks, pick apart piece by piece (as a shallower example) how a supposedly acceptable country, culture and world could morph a newborn baby into a festering flesh mass of a man who murders strangers. Tearing down that structure and attempting to fashion a better one would be uncomfortable, indeed bloody and Wrong in itself, not least because it would require the unfixing of our selves and the engagement of the hated change-force. (The secret is that the World-Monster is as helpless and trapped as we are.)
But if we can’t do that, then things won’t be right. Things won’t be safe. Horror will be unavoidable. If not for you, then for someone else. These are facts. Do not pretend you can make it better.
You can weave. You can build. You can adjust your own position. You can learn to live with the unliveable, comprehend the incomprehensible, generate beauty, help others to do so.
You can do nothing.
You can make it worse.
Those are your options.