“Existentialism. A relatively large word. A distinguished word. An impressive word if it is dropped into conversation at the proper moment. But what does this word mean, when it is deflated of its pomposity? Supposedly existentialism is opposed to essentialism. That is, while essentialism is devoted to the essence or essential form of an object in the external world, existentialism is concerned with its existence, that is, with its content. Well, I suppose one could stand back and state the obvious… that existence and essence are clearly related to the two hemispheres in the brain, the left which is endowed with an analytical ability and the talent to delineate forms, while the right is conceptual and develops content. But then our age is not very interested in matters which are of little use.
‘Another way to reflect upon existentialism is to consider the turmoil in which it was born. Existentialism was born in Europe at a time when industrial revolution was sweeping the Continent. Machines were profoundly changing the economic landscape of European society, demolishing the Habsburg old… creating the British new. Among that which was new was a conviction, an emotion which had been in decline for centuries before… that conviction, that emotion… was hope. For the first time in centuries man and woman again began to feel themselves to be the masters of events and no longer insignificant, impotent pawns. In this rush of hope and new capability, man and woman…felt that the old now could be completely discarded … God, knights, romantic love, chastity, castles,…all could be cast aside in one sweep. As events proved, however, such optimism was premature, for too much of the old yet remains with us, even though our lives have changed so much… that we now bespeak of ourselves as modern man and woman. The truth is… that while a small part of our lives has changed tremendously, the rest of the spectrum of our society remains doggedly the same. Thus, has it been that the exuberant age of existentialism quickly bloomed, then died and disintegrated into our present age of gloom and despair.’
It was the fourth Sunday in August. White clouds had sailed above throughout the summer. Now dark clouds began to gather and light rain fell for over a week as the first signs of autumn began to appear. Omicron and Aura hiked up the hills around and behind the University…to the top where there was a lake. The rain was coming down gently but steadily.
Despite the weather, Omicron was still in high spirits after his musical triumph. There were so many things he wanted to do now. There was so much to think about. Aura had been reluctant to travel very far in the inclement weather, but Omicron’s spirits and banter persuaded her to go. As they approached the protected area where the lake lay, the Light diffused through the clouds and reflected in such a way that the lake seemed to be as clear as crystal.
‘Well, now that I have your undivided attention for a few minutes, after all your past glories and such,’ said Aura. ‘I would wish to consult you concerning the wedding which is to be. And soon to be, I might add.
‘Now this wedding is scheduled for a week from now, you know. The food is all ordered. It was no big thing, Mom just pushed some buttons. Dad will realize the import of the occasion when he has to pay for it out of his energy surpluses, but then that is one of the privileges of having a beautiful daughter like me.
‘Now I am shopping for clothes for the wedding and for times immediately thereafter. So you need to order yourself a tuxedo, and then we must select rings. I have searched the catalogs until I am blue in the face. We need to go to the Creative Center and see these things in person.’
‘I guess I haven’t been much help…’ Omicron said, ‘with the musical and all. But as far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t matter. None of it. We could get married in the all-together for all I care.’
‘Omicron, such madness. This marriage is not for us. It is for our families and for our larger families, our bands, our tribes, the nation.
‘We are One now. But a wedding is the only way our tribes can really express their Love and caring for us and also sanction the marriage. In your tribe, the community must sanction the marriage before we are allowed to bring children into the world. In my tribe, we must be functioning like good chimpanzees before blessings will be bestowed. Our tribes must sanction the marriage… for it is only by virtue of the sustaining help and Love of our communities that we shall be able to prosper and Live productive Lives. It is only by virtue of our tribal communities… that we may progress from physical, to intellectual, to the Cosmic levels of Life, to use the terminology of your tribe…well, of all of our tribes… Communities at higher and higher levels… tribe, nation, country, world… become more and more essential as progress is made. So we have to put our bow ties and our bloomers on and sing our May Song together.’
‘Come on, Aura, Love,’ said Omicron. ‘It is August, not May, we have already sung our songs. Let’s toss our clothes and go swimming.’
‘Not on your life, my mad lover. You’ll freeze jumping into that ice. Then you’ll die of hypothermia when you crawl out.’
However, Omicron was full of happiness and Love and in his shorts dove into the sparkling water. The moment he crashed through the crystal surface he knew he had made a mistake. The water was shallower than he had thought and filled with weeds. He had to struggle to the top to keep from becoming entangled on the bottom. The water was so cold that his body was in shock. He could not climb out of the water in the rocky areas from which he had dived. He frantically struck with arms and legs as he tried to batter his way to shore. When he reached the shore, his legs became tangled in weeds and his feet were cut on sharp stones on the floor. Aura ran out as far as she could and helped him back onto the ground.
‘Well that should show you, Omicron. You nearly killed yourself. Now get back into your clothes before you turn blue.’
‘That water was sure inviting,’ Omicron replied, his teeth chattering, ‘but when I got inside, it nearly swallowed me up.’
They stumbled away from the water together, Omicron gaining warmth in Aura’s arms. They moved about a hundred yards…to a recess in the side of a hill…where they huddled together…Omicron started a fire with his laser lighter, utilizing dead pieces of scrub oak they hastily gathered nearby. When he was dry and warm, they turned downward through the hills, Omicron holding Aura close to him around the waist.
When they approached the Jasmines’ cluster, Candace ran out shouting that a message had just been received for Omicron on Cerebrum from Washington D.C. They hurried inside and Omicron punched his code into the console and pushed the print button. The message was displayed and printed simultaneously:
Mr. Omicron Blue,
The musical written by the Dionysus group of the Golden Sun Tribe has been reviewed by representatives of our office and has been approved for full production. A time for negotiation of terms and signing of contracts will be set during the coming week.
The United States Music Academy
Omicron jumped for joy, grabbed and kissed Aura, and danced through the cluster. He hugged Aura’s mother, and shook hands with Philemon.
‘Well, this is it, Aura,’ he said half humorously. ‘Now I’m going to the top. There will be lots of money. But best of all I’ll be a name and I can write for the Academy in the future for a salary and won’t have to supplement my artistic salary with scientific work on the side. There will be the nationwide tours, of course. We’ll go to all the Creative Centers and see the premiers and be presented to the audiences. We’ll have the best talent and equipment to work with… that the country has to offer. We’ll be rich and famous!’
He raced over to the terminal and pushed several buttons. In seconds, a bottle of champagne appeared and toasts were drunk by all.
That evening Omicron walked alone by the Bay. The moon cut through the clouds to illuminate land and water in a mosaic of dim Light and shadows. Omicron was depressed. Yes, he had triumphed. He had been given what he always had dreamed of. However, suddenly his Life seemed dark and gloomy. There would be money, perhaps fame and a guaranteed Livelihood. He could write music all day and night if he desired. However, he knew it was wrong. The good news was superficial glitter and appearance. In reality, he knew that he belonged with Aura at the University and not in New York. Also he belonged in the world and not off in an ivory castle writing music. He strode quickly up the nearest hill. He surveyed a panorama illuminated with a ghastly Light.
‘I must keep my gaze upon the True and Just,’ he yelled to the Bay below him. ‘I must do what is Right no matter what temptations appear to entice me.’
Before him he saw ‘a field that a half-clouded moon illuminated with a vague twiLight.’ It was the symbol of Cosmic step 18… Deceptions. ‘A tower stood on each side of a path that disappears into a barren landscape. In front of one of these two towers a dog is crouching: in front of the other, a dog is baying at the moon: between them is a crab. These towers symbolize the false security which does not foresee hidden perils.
‘On the physical level, this step represents deceptions and hidden enemies. On the intellectual level, it signifies the darkness that cloaks the Spirit when it submits itself to the power of the instincts. On the Cosmic level, it expresses the abysses of the Infinite.
‘Remember, son of Earth, that whosoever dares to confront the unknown faces death. The hostile spirits, symbolized by one dog, wait in ambush… the servile spirits, symbolized by the other, conceal their treacheries with base flattery… and the idle spirits, symbolized by the crab, will pass by without the slightest concern for disaster. Observe, listen… and learn to keep your own counsel.’
The answer is easy, he thought, as he composed a letter to the Academy in his mind. My future is here with my Love, what e’re betide us. Aura and I will be going to school here. One must keep his eyes on True principles… or he is easily and quickly lost.
He then strode down the hill, which was covered with flowers. A few birds joined the chorus of Nature… as Omicron with lighter step hurried home to his Love.