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Consider the Universe

February 25, 2014

Consider the universe.

A great exhalation of matter and energy. A sighing relaxation. All of everything falling, cascading down the thermodynamic gradient toward its entropic rest. A scattering to the darkness. Here in our part of it, an ordinary star; a profligate, burning away its potentiality, lighting up the cold dead satellites swirling round with a touch of its radiant waste. On one of those rocks, a possibility of the causal order was realized. An upward churning eddy in the ineluctable flow of energy toward entropy. Some frictive quality of chemistry gathered up and channeled a bit of the energy flowing past; on odd kinks of the material fabric little piles of unlikelihood accreted. Then the ratcheting logic of evolution took hold, pushing stray gunk onto an ordered path, bringing into being a dazzling array of growing breathing dying things. A slight fuzz mottled the surface of the planet.

And always these, the living, teetered in their ordered aberration. Hoarding and spending the energy gifted them to push endlessly back upon the liquid chaos in which they dwelt, the constant cosmic pull and hum, each in its separate being was a short-lived thing. The rocks would effortlessly outlast them all. But over and over they reached up, above the ground state, beyond the common consensus of material being, beyond probability. Their audacity became a heritage, handed down from one dying thing to another, just ahead of mortality’s shadow. They were the extravagance of the universe.

Zoom in now. From a moment that the people who got the best stuff first called holy, the earth has been around its star two thousand and eleven times. It is a month that an ancient people named “February,” and so it is still called, though if Old English had prevailed it would be the lovelier “Solmonath” — mud month. We are at a location for which, had this computer Google Earth, I could easily give you precise latitude and longitude, degrees and minutes and seconds and fractions thereof. But it doesn’t so I will not bother.You may guess the location. A small building somewhat inland from the eastern seaboard of North America, across from Spudnuts. Zooming in, looking down, we see… well hello, what’s this little fellow up to?

Let us return to our burrito wisdom. Issuing from a burrito, it may have been insufficient. Start over. Call it Necessity. Call it Fate. Call it the Law. Call it Ananke if you want to get Greek. Some may even call it the Real. It rules. It will have its way with us. And it will end us. Yet a space exists, in which can be our life, our love, our yes, our extravagance. It is a small space but we might regard it as all-important. Certain choices and actions and attitudes can be seen in this way: either we embrace this space of our freedom or we affiliate ourselves with the more certain power of Necessity. For example, in religion some will make themselves sycophants to a divine bully. They may expect to be protected and rewarded; they may just like to think that they are on the same side as the Big Man. The winning side. Others may embrace a different spiritual outlook, and cast their lot not with power but with love. Or just say: this, this is enough, this life, this world, here.

There is a common belief that the problem of social life is that people have too much dangerous primal energy, which must be contained. We would all be murderers if not for a straitjacket of conscience and law. Virtue is found in passivity. But you might also think that the problem, for us and other living things, is always not enough energy and too much straitjacketing. Virtue is active and the murderer a weak and tepid fellow suffering from a lack rather than an abundance. This again is an example of our division.

Now, I am going to go and try to see if I can catch the end of a metal show, so I have to have to cut this short. But you know where I am going. The path has become well worn over the past three weeks as I have sought to bring the knowledge to your minds. Anthony Restivo (with regard to Far Off, maybe not so much with the crockpots) is pushing against Necessity toward the life, the extravagance. He is living up to his noble heritage. Not his American heritage or his French heritage or even his Italian heritage. And not just his human heritage. The heritage of life itself. Performance art? When the first animals left the sea for dry land, that was performance art! It did not really have to happen and maybe it would have been easier not to bother. In the sea, on the land: either way life is a bitch and then you die. But the little buggers did it, and doesn’t it just make you happy that they did? They had that reckless audacity, the same that we can see in young Anthony Restivo.

It is the last day. When the sun goes down Anthony will cut off his remaining hair and walk out of the building. At ten o’clock the people will gather at the Bridge and dance in celebration. In celebration of life.


–“Restivo Watch Day 21: The Rise of Restivo” (2/25/11)

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