This is clipped from a book I wrote in 1988 — a book I really need to write anew. It’s an epistolary novel, so the writing is kind of affected. I expect you can worry your way through it. “Madness,” as the term is used here, is an attempt to claim, as knowledge, a proposition the proponent knows in advance is invalid. –GSS
Redemption Is A Being Aware.
Redemption is finding Splendor in Rectitude. But much more importantly, Redemption Is Egoism In Action.
Egoism is the worship of the self by the self, all the time, for all time. Egoism Is A Being Aware of who he is and what he is doing and why — all the time. It is the pursuit always of values and never of disvalues, always of pleasure and never of pain, always of Truth and never of Madness. Egoism is the recognition that the fullest value of the self is realized through the fullest knowledge of the self.
Egoism is knowing and doing the good through time. It is a set of ideas, but ideas devoid of meaning if they are not put into practice. One can know Splendor by taking those actions one thinks are right. But one cannot know it by merely thinking about what is right, without acting upon it.
Redemption Is Egoism In Action, in the real deeds of your real life. By your self-loving actions, you redeem the errors of your past and make of them the achievements of your present and future.
It is not impossible to avoid doing this. Most people waste their whole lives trying to pretend that past errors need not be corrected. But neither is it possible to avoid the consequences of failing at redemption.
The future is open to change, but only by choice. Any person can take what he has and make of it what he would. If he is willing to make the effort. But he will not have his desires without fighting for them, without mothering them into being. The soul he creates for himself is the one he acts to create. If he fails to act for his values, he cannot know them whole in his spirit.
This is fact. The very highest values of life cannot be provided by other people. To know Splendor, the enduring joy that is the acknowledgement by the self of its own glory, power and beauty, one must know it alone. There is no one who can cause that emotion in a man’s mind, no one but himself. Not even he can cause it if he has not earned it. But if he has, then he has gloried himself in a way no other person could cause — or prevent. To Know Splendor Whole is the highest man can reach, but he can only reach it by himself.
Alone, by his own effort, in pursuit of his own reward. And never otherwise.
Choice is the sword on which Sleepwalkers impale themselves. It is hard to choose, to change, to grow. It doesn’t seem so to us, because we never forgot the habits all of us learn in childhood. “But Children Are Apt To Forget To Remember”. And for those who do, it is agony to choose, to decide, to create, to take a stand, to change in any way at all the life they have made for themselves.
They know they should change. They don’t ever feel right about their acts of Madness. And yet they know the effort growth requires, and the risk it entails, so they reject it as “unrealistic”. As compared to what? Some make feeble attempts at change, but they recoil from it after the first and hardest days. Think of all the fad dieters and two-day health fanatics you have known.
In the pursuit of Redemption, you pay now and soar later, and many people won’t let themselves wait for that payment. They make the same mistakes again and again, and fail to correct them by the same invalid methods, again and again. Unless you take your phone off the hook, you will hear the same sad stories over and over, from the same people, with only the names and dates changed.
Madness, truly. Because It Need Not Be So.
Redemption is possible. But only by choice.
No one sets out to become a Sleepwalker. Because of what we are none of us is forevermore free from the threat of Madness. Each of us — present company included — can wander into the Sleepwalker’s Dead-End. How? Simple: by making a mistake and not acknowledging it.
We are born ignorant, and everything we know we know by discovery. But discovery is a process. It takes place through time. At any particular point in time, we may have to decide about something when our knowledge is incomplete. We make our choice and follow through on it, but we have not by that means proved the truth of our action. We can seek the truth, but if we do not, we cannot truthfully claim to have found it.
When we are faced with that situation again, we can act as we did before. We can say, “Well, it can’t have been too wrong. Nothing disastrous happened.” And in doing that, we compound our error. And much worse, we act to habituate it. We did not seek proof, and now we can try to claim that we need not.
But nature is just. It will not accept that claim in tender for the values our souls require. In that one situation, we have cheated ourselves of our full awareness, and acted to damage our future awareness. We have induced a Madness in our minds, a way of “knowing” without having discovered the truth.
Now if you would understand Sleepwalkers, you must multiply that one case times dozens of Madnesses, each delicately crafted to acknowledge ignorance by attempting to deny it. In preference to being what they are, they frantically scamper around trying to be what they are not. They know the true frenzy of exigent futility as they race around trying to brace their illusions, cover their deceits, portray their misrepresentations and hide from their doubts.
Why, why, why, why? To make things easier? Better? Faster and cheaper in cost? Yes, at first. But not at the end.
Because the Madnesses that begin as time-savers and effort-savers become life-wasters, infinitely draining sinkholes into which Sleepwalkers pour their time in support of their errors. Whether or not they commit any crimes, they are doing injustice. Injustice to themselves.
For each of us has only one life. Every day we let pass without pursuing our full desires is a day lost forever. The past may be lovely or hideous, but it is gone. The future can be wonderful, but only if we make it so.
How can we do it? By redeeming our errors, by admitting we have made them and doing what we can to make them good. By recovering any values we have lost to Madness, as many as we can. And by learning how we first erred, to learn how not to make that same mistake again.
Redemption. It is possible. And it is necessary, if one chooses to know and love oneself whole. It is avoidable, but only at the price of the fullest value of human life, self-adoration.
People ought to redeem their errors, but few do. They can, and they can reap the fullest value of what remains of their time alive, no matter how much they have lost to pain. But most do not.
They fear failing their values, but they fear much worse achieving them. Choice is demanding, challenging but risk-filled. Inertia is pointless and wasteful, but it is “safe”.
For a while, if looked at from a certain point of view, and allowing a Macro-Utilitarian Calculus Of Dollars Per Mental Increment.
No, truly, inertia is not ever useful, but it can seem so at first, compared to the immediately available alternative. And in the long run, it is devastating. Not just to men, but to cultures, to worlds.
Have you ever seen a man on his way down? From drink or gambling or idleness or just plain boredom. It’s not a pretty thing, and it is not without consequences. For every organism, life is profit. The plants and insects and fishes and birds and beasts must produce more energy than that production cost them, or they will die. This is so, too, of man. If he is not making a profit he is taking a loss. If he is not glorying his values he is degrading them. No matter how much he may resent it, life is motion. If he is not moving forward, then he is moving backward.
Nature does not force any oughts upon man. But neither will it let a man do as he ought not and escape the consequences. Thus are we made.
And thus are our cultures made.
We live in a world for which Madness has nearly always been the dominant means of “knowing”. Twice have the errors of our forebears been fully redeemed, in ancient Greece and in The Age Of Reason. We have descended back to Madness from those pinnacles of human achievement.
And we are headed for a collapse.
No man can sustain a loss indefinitely, and neither can any culture. Our nation states and the mental attitudes they inculcate are killing us. Not quickly, and not obviously, but just as surely as a drunk will hit the skids, if he does not change his course.
A collapse, a deluge of death and flames and destruction. We have spit at every value our spirits must have to thrive, and we will be made to pay for that error. All of us, whether we ourselves have erred or not. Many, many millions will die, perhaps even billions. And no one will survive unaffected.