Inquiry: Estrangement XVIII – Between Consciousness & Oblivion

Young woman playing violin watching musical notes journey into space

by LJ Frank

This series on estrangement seeks to understand some of the differing faces of estrangement and the crossroads it approaches for good or ill.

What will and is occurring to you and I? Entropy is a physical law. Death appears to be a loss of consciousness of who and what we are. The very core of what makes us individually and collectively human is then irretrievably lost. 

“We are made out of stardust. The iron in the hemoglobin molecules in the blood in your right hand came from a star that blew up 8 billion years ago. The iron in your left hand came from another ~ Jill Tarter, Astronomer

Theologies and belief systems are ways to cope with our existential aloneness. Our consciousness breathes through our thought processes and language as we create words based on our translation of the world around us. We define and give attributes to beings and objects for the sake of approachability, control and or self-empowerment and consequently embrace ideas about belief and reason.  

In the Swedish Film, The Seventh Seal, directed by Ingmar Bergman, a man plays chess with death in order to prolong his life – his consciousness of who and what he is. The film reveals the silence of God. Man dies in the end and is estranged from the living and his existence fades into oblivion. His consciousness is no longer. 

“Each of us graves perdurance, groundedness, community and pattern, and yet we all must face inevitable death, groundlessness, isolation, and meaninglessness.”  Existential Psychotherapy, Irvin Yalom

We talk of the mind’s eye as that which is superlative to our physical vision for the sake of comfort in our otherwise estranged aloneness. Through the mind’s eye we detect spirits and ghosts and the spiritual – the nature of consciousness suggests something exists outside of “I” and beyond us, even the understanding of consciousness itself. Consciousness instills us with questions. And consciousness is the foundation of conscience. The severance of either, shatters the humane.

Man’s inhumanity to each other through violence and war appears to be a struggle between the consciousness of “I” and the absence of conscience.  

The self-help guides define and interpret our struggles to maintain our consciousness of being alive through the pursuit of the youthful face, the fit body, the foods we eat and myriad of spiritual minded guides in order to “control” the inevitable estrangement between life and death. 

Still, does the energy that leaves our body at death have a consciousness? A memory? How? Of what? Of whom? 

Our daily existence becomes a form of evolving estrangement…channeling our emotions and thoughts…thinking about this moment we are alive and striving to experience life in whatever form it arrives, whether through the limitation of our body and or mind or the situation in which we find our self. 

We create relationships with each other, write about each other, design scientific formulas to lengthen life, we are consciousness-based beings whom through art, architecture, history and science we seek to prolong the memory of the human experience and species, though individually our mortal coil will be set adrift. 

We create artificial intelligence to demonstrate (a quickly evolving symbiotic relationship – the humanized machine?) a presence and potential transcendence or the very least an adaptation – to our estrangement with this physical life, as some seek to breathe humanity into our technologies. We are in the midst of an emerging paradigm for which we know not the outcome. The principles of exploitation of life and thought on earth do not apply to death. 

The Earth is temporary and eventually will die…what will remain? Perhaps the only knowledge another “being” may have of us is that a consciousness existed in this part of our galaxy through the technologies we sent into space should those technologies be recovered in an accessible condition. Science fiction and fact overlap.

To transcend and give comfort to our estrangement we engage in a game of chess with death and language – the language we create (and continue to invent) inspires us – to identify a creator and confidant who we have named God among other divine titles. We seek comfort, pleasure, love, belief and trust – the physical and mental in its various shapes, while knowing all can flee in a heartbeat – an estrangement between consciousness and oblivion.