I love this quote by Werner von Braun at the beginning of Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow: Nature does not know extinction. It knows only transformation. A great definition of evolution, I think, and I have always been a fan of evolution because it reveals life as constant motion towards. The question, it seems to me, is towards what? The scientist might say survival. That is the equation of life. You live so you can live and then keep on living while you make more life that keeps on living. Everything from art to romance to French food is merely an expression of our biological need to not die. Yet I find not dying a hollow motivation to write. It turns all of creation into a contest to see who can forestall the inevitable the longest, a contest everyone loses eventually.
Rather a grim equation that, and so the Existentialist would say life is movement towards death. You know where you’re going, friend—the same place we’re all going, the same place everyone from Beethoven to Genghis Kahn has gone. Whistle through the graveyard all you want, that’s the end result.
But what use is this to us? While I am alive I must get up everyday and make choices. I cannot help this or stop it. I must choose what words to put on the page and what to eat and whom to talk to. Whether life is a movement toward death or not, my life in the living is constant choice.
My book moves forward, moves toward, with every word I choose. Every word I choose evolves my story. And as I look at that story, and the story that came before it, and the story that came before it, I can see each story living within the other. None of them dead or trying not to die, but each of them showing me the expanding potential of my choices, each of them transforming, word by word, the evolving expression of love.
If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual and group conferencing.
You can find Bill at: williamkenower.com