"The Long Dark"
by Chris Floyd
"We are in the Long Dark now. Both hope and despair are the enemies of our survival. We must live in the awareness that we might not see the light come back, without ceasing to work - with empathy, anger and knowledge - for its return.
We must be here, in the moment, experiencing its fullness (whatever its horrors or joys), yet be elsewhere, removed from the madness pouring in from every side, the avalanche of degradation. We must be here, now, but also in a future we can’t see or even imagine.
We must see that we are lost, with no clear way forward, no sureties or verities to cling to, no roots to anchor us, no structures within or without that will always keep their coalescence in the chaotic, surging flow.
We must live in discrete moments of illumination and connection, pearls hung on an almost invisible string winding through the darkness. Striving, always striving, but not expecting; striving without hope, without despair, without any certainty at all as to the outcome, good or bad.
These are the conditions of the Long Dark, this is what we have to work with, this is where we find ourselves in the brief time we have in this vast, indifferent, astounding universe. As I once wrote long ago, quoting the old hymn: “Work, for the night is coming.”
So do we counsel fatalism, a dark, defeated surrender, a retreat into bitter, curdled quietude? Not a whit. We advocate action, positive action, unstinting action, doing the only thing that human beings can do, ever: Try this, try that, try something else again; discard those approaches that don't work, that wreak havoc, that breed death and cruelty; fight against everything that would draw us down again into our own mud; expect no quarter, no lasting comfort, no true security; offer no last word, no eternal truth, but just keep stumbling, falling, careening, backsliding, crawling toward the broken light.
And what is this "broken light"? Nothing more than a metaphor for the patches of understanding – awareness, attention, knowledge, connection – that break through our darkness and stupidity for a moment now and then. A light always fractured, under threat, shifting, found then lost again, always lost. For we are creatures steeped in imperfection, in breakage and mutation, tossed up – very briefly – from the boiling, chaotic crucible of Being, itself a ragged work in progress toward unknown ends, or rather, toward no particular end at all. Why should there be an "answer" in such a reality?
What matters is what works – what pulls us from our own darkness as far as possible, for as long as possible. Yet the truth remains that "what works" is always and forever only provisional – what works now, here, might not work there, then. What saves our soul today might make us sick tomorrow.
Thus all we can do is to keep looking, working, trying to clear a little more space for the light, to let it shine on our passions and our confusions, our anger and our hopes, informing and refining them, so that we can see each other better, for a moment – until death shutters all seeing forever."
Full screen recommended.
Leonard Cohen, "Anthem"