Too Embarrassed to Live

We do not know why we are here. Hence, every expression of disinterest — and worse, every dismissive certainty – about this question bespeaks a detachment from life itself. There is no life without definition. There is no definition without essence. There is no essence without purpose.

“Why are we here?” To the extent that this question has become a laughingstock, a joke at the expense of men of the prescientific old days – to this extent we late moderns have no meaning, which means no life. Nihilism may be defined, insofar as nothingness is definable, as just this: our sense of cosmic embarrassment – which is to say our metaphysical immaturity — about confronting the only question that really matters, the “Know thyself” question. Our cowardice in the face of the most ominous uncertainty, the uncertainty that is almost definitional in itself. The childish giggle with which we hide from our eternally uncomfortable situation. The reflexive shame (which we conveniently mistake for pride) with which we deflect our investigations to almost anything, almost everything, rather than accept, unflinchingly, the burden of life under the burning light of our own soul’s challenging gaze: “Why are you here?” 

To resist the urge to hide from that challenge is to live, in the proper sense of the word. We moderns are the most ingenious hiders.

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