Why Babylon? It really has to do with a story I read for my American Lit class but it led to me thinking about the changes that have taken place over the past couple of years. Babylon was the great city of ancient Mesopotamia and the center of power, learning and culture for centuries. It gets a bad rap in the Bible for being the home of the Tower of Babel, the Israelites were kept prisoners there for 70 years and is spoken of very unflatteringly of in the Book of Revelation. From these ancient references, Babylon has come to symbolize a decadent culture of fabulous wealth and hedonistic pleasure.
My Babylon is then symbolic of my life of ignorance, arrogance, selfishness, and pride. Do I long for a return to those days? Absolutely not but, every so often a window opens and I catch a glimpse of the beauty or a scent of the sweetness of bygone days. It is upon these things that I stop to reflect after reading F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic story “Babylon Revisited”.
“Babylon has fallen! Aye; but Babylon endures
Wherever human wisdom shines or human folly lures;
Where lovers lingering walk beside, and happy children play,
Is Babylon! Babylon! for ever and for aye.”
-Babylon, AG Stephens
I (almost) never write depressing posts but…
I don’t typically write depressing posts. Depression is something I have been running from for a long time – except for the times when I welcomed it, even relished in it. I have had a passive aggressive relationship with depression. By ignoring and avoiding it I hope to dissipate the power it has over me, or get someone to do it for me. I show my disapproval but I do nothing to actively combat it. Or, at least I never used to.
Definition: being, marked by, or displaying behavior characterized by the expression of negative feelings, resentment, and aggression in an unassertive passive way (as through procrastination and stubbornness).
Behaviors: ambiguity (rarely making an effort to actually explain what they mean), forgetfulness, blaming, lack of anger, a fear of dependency, fear of intimacy, obstructionism, victimization, and procrastination.
For an excellent idea of what passive aggressive behavior try this: instead of confronting your slob of a roommate or accepting maid duty you create an art gallery out of his slovenly waste and bring tremendous shame on him – hopefully, but the problem with this type of reaction is that it invariably backfires.
Nowadays, I refuse to indulge in depression, self pity or “morbid self-reflection”. For too long I was at the mercy of my self loathing and misery and that had to change if I was ever going to have any kind of a better life with whatever time I have left. But, try as I might my past and my mistakes and my depression all come rolling back at me, like a huge black thundercloud rolling across the horizon.
Why my athymía?
I just finished reading a story by F. Scott Fitzgerald called “Babylon Revisited” and it brought a lot of emotions up to the surface. The main character is Charlie Wales and the ghosts of his dead wife and past debauchery haunt him still. I won’t go into the whole story here but he is trying to get his daughter back and earn the confidence of the relations who are taking care of her. His plans are ruined when his past catches up to him in the form of two former drunken friends.
“He looked at her, startled. With each remark the force of her dislike became more and more apparent. She had built up all her fear of life into one wall and faced it toward him.”
What really got me is at the end of the story, his hopes dashed Charlie doesn’t have a drink and bitterly asks “How much do I owe?” That is the question I ask myself a lot. I know that my life has been filled with mistakes; I have hurt the people I love, wasted so many chances and ruined and destroyed any hope for the future. “How much do I owe?” When can I stop looking over my shoulder for fear of the past catching up with me?
I’m glad that I got that out of the way. It is amazing how some trivial thing – a story, a urine test, an old acquaintance from the shelter can bring back unbidden feelings and memories that invite with them doubt, fear, and hopelessness.
What is my Telos?
I wish that I had an answer for this one but, none is forthcoming. Telos is the root word of teleology or the study of purposes or intentions (of things). Questions that lead to this always leave me feeling depressed. I don’t know what my telos is or if I even have one. More often than not I am not acting with any particular objective. Instead of goals or purposes I do what is it that I think I should do next – or more accurately, what I think you think I should be doing. That doesn’t seem very fulfilling but, without an aim my only hope is to continue on this path that has partly been prescribed for me and partly invented by me in the hopes of uncovering some purpose.
Where am I now? And where do I go from here? I’m doing school and doing recovery, running in the mornings and staying occupied in the evenings – usually with homework, the newsletter or this blog. As long I don’t slow down and think about it I don’t really need to know where I am or where I’m going, just where do I go next? Right now, that is nowhere. It’s pouring rain outside and I’m stuck at school which I guess is better than being at home.
Flat Earth Society
I am mortified to discover that people who claim to be celebrities are publicly saying that they believe the Earth is flat!
Here’s a sample from their website:
“Water. Regardless of which train of thought you follow, it covers over seventy-five percent of our planet’s surface. And the atmosphere, also a fluid, covers the entire surface. The difference is why. While flat-Earthers know that the ocean is really just a large bowl, (with great sheets of ice around the edges to hold the ocean back), and the atmosphere is contained by a large dome, the backwards “round-Earth” way of thinking would have you believe that all those trillions of gallons of water and air just “stick” to the planet’s surface.”
The reason this comes up is that I just read an article that some students in some middle school somewhere (sounds pretty sketchy, right!) believe the Earth is flat because of some basketball player, Kylie Irving (who?), said so and the teacher couldn’t prove him wrong. The ‘because I said so’ argument doesn’t hold as much water as a flat Earth ocean!
The fact that the Earth is not only round but, spherical was proven by the ancient Greeks, most likely Pythagoras or Eratosthenes, but, still debated until Copernicus, Galileo and Magellan settled it once and for all. Popular Mechanics wrote an article about this a while back, http://www.popsci.com/10-ways-you-can-prove-earth-is-round#page-11.