TWIRLING: THE VOLTAIREAN UNIVERSE
By Uthman Shodipe
EVEN long before the advent of human enlightenment, even long before the ancient philosophers roused themselves in conscious stirring about the nature of human journey and the aspect of heaven, there has always been a riveting muddle about the fount of human existence, the attribute and the characterisation of the creative God-head and the essence of our conflicting realities.
That primeval question still rebounds even in this age where man pretends a full compliment of enlightenment and thereby intrudes to the abode of the gods. At least, some there be that hold presently that they can evince the character of the creative founts by cloning man and thereby displace that first creative essence.
But in truth, man inhabits a nebular still. We are often in a twirl rapidly being spun by mysterious forces, which we can hardly contend with. Despite our learning and pretensions, despite our alleged mastery and conquest of the observable physical forces of nature, we repose yet in wanderings, hurtled now and then by mysterious intrusions whose characterisation we cannot grasp, whose purpose does not yield to analytical enlightenment.
And thus, in this twirling and sundry spinning amid the unknown forces, the weak and the strong are prostrated in equal degrees. The withdrawn and the intrusive are at once spun with the same vehemence and malignant disruptions as the heavens may wish.
In this universal turmoil, the human journey then is invariably solitary, frozen upon a path long decreed by forces invariably indifferent to the human capacity to absorb the variegated challenges strewn along his path. Meaning: if the rhythm of life has any consistency at all, that consistency must only be observable in disruptions and uncertainties. There is no mortal yet that can exert himself from the cradle to the grave in declarative perfection of all ends, nothing is clear-cut. It is apparent that the gods cannot be assuaged. The decree of heaven is unchangeable, locked up in a frowning riddle.
The attainments of seraphic emblem do not exculpate the good man from the searing fury of fate. Never. He who is woven in transcendental graces of curative majesty does not stand immune from sudden tarnishment and ruin. Happy tidings are not exclusive to the forces of good. Even the most ill-fated and repugnant character amid this unknown journey are sometimes often transported into the heights of blissful omnipotence and contented awe.
There is always a rise and a fall. There is always a ruin and tarnishment even in the most unexpected places. Yes, evil prospers and sometimes the good withers in perishing ill-luck. And yet the heavens are silent, mocking, twirling all of us in sheer mechanical indifference.
If there is no recompense for the just, if the fury and overwhelming mightiness of evil can eclipse and consume those who harbour in the light, then why is man here? To twirl in endless uncertainties, being hurtled from an interlude of bliss to the valley of despair, lacking the transcendental might to defy and confront the forces that are primordially predicated on suppressing his humanity.
From Sophocles to the great Nazarene, these issues had challenged variegated philosophers, athwart the ages but none yet has offered a pellucid, comforting refuge for man. Even the Nazarene who was clearly a favourite of heaven, who knew the twirling he would confront upon the podium of fate, who had a grand prophetic vision about his embattlement – but what did he do upon the Calvary? He equally probed and sought answer to his conundrum.
And Voltaire, in his own befuddlement about the twirling the heavens have subjected us to, resorted to philosophical resignation. He told us: “let us cultivate our gardens.” This may not be encouraging but what do you do amid this twirling and uncertainties, when righteousness is often halted by the despiteous throng.
First published Friday, January 31, 2003.