The free life, without struggle, unfragmented and detatched from the necessity of action, appears in the guise of frivolity.
Frivolity thus stands against the Spinozist, Marxist, Stalinist and scientistic axioms that freedom is the recognition of necessity.
The whole man is revealed on the level of a frivolous life. We must laugh at him.
How do we reconcile individual sovereignty through frivolity?
The answer comes via Dante’s Purgatory XVI, in which he explained how the world came into being in an act of spontaneity. There was no pre-determined reason for its creation, which was an act of total freedom. The spontaneity of this act was likened by Dante to a child at play who turns eagerly to what delights it. Such unrestrained freedom became the foundation for positing our own human freedom. It is because we were born out of this spontaneous action that we can go on believing that there is such a freedom for us.
Or again, in Dante’s Paradise I, Beatrice says of nature that all things have their bent, their given instincts. Just as a flame always rises when lit, a stone always falls when dropped. This is the natural order.
The question should already be rising in the reader’s mind - are we like that? Think of that child, who turns spontaneously without necessity ‘to what delights it.’ The answer to the question is, most emphatically, no. Beatrice explains by expanding upon the theme of creativity with a metaphor from art. ‘Just as form is sometimes inadequate to the artist’s intention, because the material fails to answer, so the creature, that has power, so impelled, to swerve towards some other place, sometimes deserts the track.’ In other words, within the description of the order of the cosmos, Beatrice emphasises that human beings are the odd ones out, with the power to deviate from the cosmic order.
Man can break the rules.
Just as Eros, the primordial god of Creation and Life and Orphic symbol of the divine likeness of man, broke out of the Cosmic Egg to disrupt the goddess Ananke’s equilibrium of Chaos, man too can break the rules.
Man can break out of the straitjacket of closed systems be they religious, economic, Dawinist, Spinozist, kabbalistic, Marxist etc.
To accept a system as closed, to accept freedom as necessity, is to withdraw into nature, to return to Mother Nature, to Ananke and an amorphous state of pre-Eros, pre-Love and pre-Being. Closed systems are the path to entropic death.
The systems we compose for ourselves can neither be closed at their beginning nor at their end.
© John Dunn.