Watching http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ue72gvJvpi8[/video]]this earlier, the final scene from Don Giovanni (with the excellent Bryn Terfel in the lead role), and reading some of the comments underneath it dredged up some themes I've been pondering. Commenters on the clip summarized it thus: "Don Giovanni refuses to repent so the Commander sends Don Giovanni into hell... He dies mocking divine punishment, which makes him an enlightenment hero... Or an idiot."
I've walked away from my recent face-off with the abyss even further convinced that "existence precedes essence" and that life and its meaning are whatever we make it. If there is some good in the universe, we have not discovered it--we have created it. God may (or may not) be a useful construct for orienting ourselves toward certain things, but God does not exist outside of our own subjective perceptions. Same for Buddhists and constructs like nirvana, enlightenment, etc. The nature of truth is radically subjective, though there is also a consensus element of it. But you can't pick up or touch or lie down on or in "the truth."
I've not come to any total conclusion, as I increasingly see my own stupidity and the impossibility of ever being able to come to a conclusion on such matters. But it's got me wondering about how I want to live my life. I know the "truth" and value of morality as a close companion of freedom. I don't have any questions or problems with most of the most basic precepts. But I do wonder about the path of "excess" versus the path of "chastity." If one, upon one's deathbed, realized or knew that God wasn't watching, what would one regret more--a tempered life or an excessive one? Is Don Giovanni heroic, or is he an idiot?
I ask not out of idle speculation but because this crisis of logos I've been going through has left me wondering about the choices I've made in my life, what I've emphasized and what I've neglected. I've emphasized the "spiritual" and the search for truth for so long, and now that I feel like I've come away from that empty-handed, I'm wondering about the side of me I've neglected--the side that nearly all the religions and philosophies I embraced told me to repress, control, or temper. Have I wisely saved myself a lot of suffering by only rarely indulging that side? Or have I been living a half-baked life?
I don't regret the choices I've made in my life because I have never compromised my integrity or failed to respond to my deepest passions. But I wonder... if religion is the green curtain, and there is no man behind the curtain... Why respond to injunctions to chastity, asceticism, or temperance if desire seems more fun, more alive? It is easy when sating a desire seems relatively harmless and safe. But what about it when it's not so harmless or safe? What if you're driven to push the limits of existence? At the moment of death, what would make you smile--having left a blazing trail of excess, or having walked the straight and narrow?