(The sound of the cosmos is heard evanescently.)
Philosophy in the forty-fifth century has no reason to exist. All the possible truths have already been divulged and the only thing left to us is to look at them from other angles. Some of you may be worried about your near future: overpopulation, a resilient global virus, global warming and the depletion of natural resources. Some of you can’t escape your egotistical fears and only disguise them as ecology, spirituality or social conscience. Others can’t escape their vanity, disguising it as veganism, political correctness, the cult of fitness or psychical well-being. For the last couple of millennia, our thinking has been imbued with a relentless positivism, as if by sheer tyranny of will we could always find our way to development. But humans have been stuck in a lower evolutionary circle from the beginning of civilization, since way before Efrain or you. You don’t differ much from Efrain. He’s just wiser than you in most things, but there’s nothing he can say that you can’t understand. However, what I’m about to say may not be comprehensible to you. I’m not supposed to send feedback more than two thousand years back, because the intellectual leap might be too great to bridge, and it’s most probable that my message be misinterpreted or, to be more precise, that I have no cognitive tools to pass down my knowledge.
However, if we rely on Efrain’s positive definition of truth, we should agree that it’s eternal and unchangeable by nature, and therefore even the poorest attempts at seeing it clearly will yield fruits. Let’s, therefore, analyze human nature from this popular positivist point of view in which there is an ultimate reality that can be rationally explained. You currently live in a dualist global society: There is spirit and there’s matter, both of which are necessary to life. Most of you are purely materialistic, that is, you believe in technological progress the same as Efrain does. A few of you are purely spiritual, and you renounce all the material advantages of your civilization. Most of you are also positivists, that is, you believe in intellectual evolution; although you mostly seek material truths, and you relegate spirituality to a meta-intellectual level. You transition from spirituality into materialism as if transitioning from fiction to reality. There’s a scission in your minds and souls.
Valentin and Milena’s story is a version of Romeo and Juliet in which the lovers get to live and society begins its decadence because it can’t learn anything from them, since it can’t kill them. Their truth, which is their passionate union, is too strong to break up because they live in another reality. Society and the world built up by its cognizance have therefore no dominion over them. The chaos that Valentin represents could only be activated by cooperation. The same as fire needs both matter and energy, that is oxygen, fuel and heat, chaos needs matter and spirit. Valentin’s spirit wasn’t enough to provoke a reaction, but it needed the oxygen of Milena’s acquiescence and the fuel of her love to ignite. Chaos is the catalyst of evolution because it breaks down the conservative foundations of society. Evolution doesn’t care about the whole but it focuses on the individual. Society’s well-being is a mere hindrance to enlightenment and freedom. Survival of the fittest is the main principle of evolution: The conservatives who lag behind perish. Efrain’s society was just a perfected version of yours, but its fabric had to be torn apart to give way to creative change. Jesus said: “You’ll know the truth and it will set you free,” but he should’ve added: “but it will make you unhappy.” The first question is whether you want happiness or the truth. Happiness is really about blissful ignorance: to accept a situation as it is and stop analyzing it; to fall in love with a person, thing or situation by accepting it as they are and by forcing our will to declare that they are what we need. That’s what makes us happy.
The second question is what freedom is and how to obtain it. Why is regression necessary to the equation? Because with wisdom comes more certainty, more know-how, and therefore less freedom to choose wrong. Stupid people are freer by nature, but they aren’t aware of their freedom. Intelligent people, on the other hand, have fewer options when they’re led by their reason because then they’re forced to choose only what is right; they can’t choose wrong. Therefore comes the paradox of wisdom: Truth won’t set you free; it will just enslave you if you only choose with your intellect. That’s why Valentin is so relevant to Efrain’s society, because he makes the wrong choice on purpose to be free. He chose to hold on to his passion, which is counter to the evolutionary paradigm of Efrain’s era, based on reason. I must admit that, had not been for my intervention, there wouldn’t be a Hollywood ending to this story, and romanticism would’ve not prevailed. Valentin would’ve done something tragic after realizing that Milena wasn’t the ideal he depicted her to be, and his nature would’ve been subdued. Society would’ve learned something and positive evolution would’ve won over primitive nature. But this new dénouement showed that regression does not necessarily hold back evolution, but that by holding on to the truth in our nature, we can actually reverse the course of evolution, changing its paradigm.
This is because truth manifests itself in its pure form and therefore it can’t be explained by extrinsic means; it can only be understood intrinsically. Any attempt at explaining truth perturbs its purity and gives us only a flawed version of its original form, the same as a photon is changed through observation. At the same time, truth, the same as light, disperses falsity or error of observation. Therefore, only through pure intuition can we grasp the real truth; once we place our dirty hands on it to grasp it, its delicate nature is spoiled. Valentin’s truth was his desire, which is nothing more than a conscious appetite. In Efrain’s paradigm, this desire was considered a choice, because reason was like the light illumining the path to truth. Efrain’s truth was life’s substance, which could be apprehended through pure reason. In his mind, Valentin diverged from life’s substance by choosing wrong, and that was the source of his unhappiness. But in the alternative paradigm in which we aren’t absolutely free, but we have freedom of action in the universal organism called universe or nature, there are no absolute truths. In a group of beings dispersed through a wide area, every individual sees something different, and they all see some truth. Also, in this group, every individual reflects the will of the whole, since they don’t have separate natures. Imagine simply ants working in unison, without a single leader. This communal mind was achieved in Efrain’s society, but they kept the illusion of free will.
The only way to further evolve is to accept that truth is inessential. Sadness is therefore not in our essence either, but only a sociopsychological construct. Some people may be sad when someone dies, and others may rejoice in the fact that the dead go to a better place. Or, to give a simpler example, some people may be happy to eat a hamburger, while others may be sad that a cow was killed to make it. The problem with this paradigm is not that sadness exists, but that it coexists with happiness, like in the case of a vegetarian who loves hamburgers. If sadness existed separate from happiness, it could simply be avoided, and happiness could always be chosen, which was almost the case in Efrain’s society. But life doesn’t exist without death, and pleasure is just a fancy word for desirable pain. By being rational and acting in accordance with a transcendent nature, we avoid sadness, but we also avoid living. This is when the paradise paradox is created: virtuous people are less chaotic and more impervious to external stimuli, that is, they are only creatures and not creators. By transcending nature, they lose their individual freedom and become a mere extension of nature. Their actions are adequate, but not creative.
Since we are nature and everything that exists is an extension of ourselves, the only possible act of creation in the universe is rebellion against ourselves or our nature, that is, taking the forbidden fruit and starting all over again. There are as many individual truths as there are individuals in the universe, but the only ultimate truth lies in renouncing paradise, which is the only thing that will set us free. The same as Valentin, we need to go against our ideal nature, against our holy appetites, and simply let ourselves fall into willing error. In this way, we sacrifice our happiness to be reborn into freedom.
Society today has diverted from Efrain’s reality. Answering my original question about the significance of Valentin’s story: Human nature is chaos. The more chaotic we are, the faster we evolve, bringing unhappiness with it. Evolution is therefore rebellion and suffering, and paradise is acceptance and stagnation. Nothing can evolve without suffering and nothing can be reborn without dying. However, in the scheme of our petty lives, we tend to avoid evolution the same as we tend to avoid being reborn because we hate suffering, the same as we hate dying. Only on rare occasions do we take small doses of suffering and death, but the rest of the time we’re conservative in our approach to life. That’s why evolution is a low, gradual process; one ambivalent force leading nowhere in particular.
End of the first book