Wednesday, 2 April 2014
Everything Old Is New Again
The Yellow King has always been, and always will be. Out amongst the black stars; the ones that take a single moment and stretch it to infinity. With enough black stars you could capture the universe; hold every point in time forever. Through black stars, you can escape the circle. You kill down the telephone line.
We call it "ancient" and tremble at the thought, but it is still nothing more than one more lie to comfort us. The Yellow King is beyond age, beyond time itself. It exists for us through time in the same way as a man does to the photographs in his albums. He sees them in any order that he wants, as often as he wants; windows that cannot close, running contrary to time's arrow.
It has seen every death of every human, an infinite number of times. The Purdue's want to believe it is pleased by the sacrifices performed in its name. But how can it be? Besides the fact that its name is a lie to begin with, how can a few more drops of blood make any difference, just because they are offered as gifts. After you've read your favourite novel for the fifteenth time, does it any longer make a difference whether it was given to you by a friend? The Yellow King watched us crawl from the swamps, watched an erect ape reach for a sharp tree branch and so invent the murder weapon. We cannot please him. We cannot make him notice us. He lies outside the circle.
Or so Cohle would tell us, wrapped up as he is in one more form of addictive self-destruction. That is the enduring frustration with the man. He can cut through the self-serving bullshit of others with remarkable speed and effectiveness. But a psychiatrist cannot turn their critical gaze inward, even those of the amateur drunken arsehole stripe. Sometimes his refusal to tell himself the same lies everyone around him seems to leads to genuine enlightenment. Other times, he's just twisting the knife in to hear himself bleed.
Because what good does any of this do? We cannot learn from the circle. We can't escape it. We can't see it or know that it is there. How are we improved, how are our failures limited, by the suggestion every life repeats itself endlessly like a rock tumbling through space? Perhaps it's true. Perhaps that little girl is trapped in Carcosa forever; will always be brought back to a filthy corrugated shack in the Louisiana backwaters. Perhaps she will never truly escape the Purdues any more than her dead cellmate could. So what? It all gets us nowhere, by definition.
Once you refuse to accept the chain of cause and effect has any real bearing on your actions, it gets a lot easier to convince yourself that it doesn't matter if the AK-47 opens up before or after its owner has been shot in the head. Further, if everything plays out the same way, again and again, then we're not to blame when things go wrong. Not really. We can't escape the circle. So after all this time spent picking Hart apart for his disgraceful self-deception, is Cohle really any better? Is he any more clear-eyed about the world, or does he simply choose more esoteric and more quiet forms of shirking responsibility. Hallucinogenic drugs, atheism, a claim to understand the secret fate of all life. An escape attempt through the black star of Jung's nightmares that can never lead anywhere.
None of this detracts from Hart's failures, of course. Whatever Cohle may believe, for Hart time is still a line. A more common belief, though a madness should not be considered mitigated by popularity, but it holds its own dangers. Fixate on that metaphysical model, and you stare so long at your past failures and grudges that you miss the present entirely, missing every drop of the future as it drips past you and adds to the growing body of water of the past; a dead lake on an alien world. You become lost in your own history, picking through the choices then that might not have led you here. But here is all there is. What does it matter where Hart might have turned a different way and ended up with a teenage daughter he felt more capable of relating to? What matters is that he slaps her in the present. That he protects his daughter from voluntary pleasure through enforced pain. And that this is one more mistake he will refuse to learn from.
Which means he's as trapped in himself as he would be were Cohle right anyway. Like the Yellow King, the flat circle theory is true whether it is true or not. A mapping of mutually exclusive possibilities into a single certainty. The impossible contradictions of quantum theory blown up to the human level.
The realisation that sanity is simply the madness we are born with.