adventures in dysthymia

Saturday, August 01, 2015


The duality of Order versus Chaos is a beloved concept for fantasy writers, from Moorcock and Zelazny on down. It might seem an odd idea for those steeped in the Good versus Evil dichotomy of the Abrahamic religions but is an underlying theme in Indo-European polytheism, from the Norse to the Hindus. The gods come to give order to a chaotic cosmos and are not necessarily 'good.' Indeed, they are a reflection of Man himself, with all his imperfections, attempting to create order in his own existence.

Underlying both of these antagonisms, Good versus Evil, Order versus Chaos, is another, more basic dualism: Existence versus Nonexistence, Being versus the Void. All other dichotomies arise from this, the first of the dualities. Our ancestors sensed this even when they did not express it those terms. Light and Darkness it became, and we still express it so.

Or, mathematically, we might say One and Zero, the basis of a binary system. On and Off, Being and Non-being. Both of equal power, even though only one actually 'exists.' But each needs the other to define it.

Zarathustra seems to have recognized this concept, in part, though his teachings contain elements of both the Good/Evil and Order/Chaos conflicts. He was certainly reaching toward it with his emphasis on telling the truth, of choosing that which is over the emptiness of falsehood.

To me, a dualism of Light and Dark, Being and Nonexistence, answers most of the arguments brought up against the idea a loving, all-powerful God. There are two powers, both infinite, both all-powerful. Choose the one you prefer — existence or extinction. Yes, the latter can be attractive, at times.

The other dichotomies mentioned here follow from this one. Chaos and Evil both are forces acting to return Being to Nothingness. In this sense, they are 'real.' They are reminders that the infinite Void is ever there.

We must remember that the same is true of infinite Being. We are part of it. We can not un-become. We may hide from Existence, deny Existence, but extinction is not truly an option. Not that I am saying there is a 'life' after this, only that we 'always' exist as part of timeless Being.

One might define that Being as God. Or not; that is up to the individual. Could the Infinite that contains all intelligences be itself intelligent and self-aware? Maybe, maybe not. Nor do I think it truly matters; Existence is enough, in itself.

But I must be aware that Existence always has its dark companion.

Stephen Brooke ©2015

No comments: