“Alas! there cometh the time when man will no longer launch the arrow of his longing beyond man—and the string of his bow will have unlearned to whizz! I tell you: one must still have chaos in oneself, to be able to give birth to a dancing star. I tell you: ye have still chaos in you. Alas! There cometh the time when man will no longer give birth to any star. Alas! There cometh the time of the most despicable man, who can no longer despise himself.”
— Nietzsche. Thus Spake Zarathustra.
The sun, as we see it in the sky above us, is steady and dependable.
Its light can sometimes be harsh and blinding, but usually, its presence is calming, warm, and reassuring.
Our ancestors saw the sun with the unassisted eye, but we have access to technological and scientific advances that add layers of depth to the sun as a metaphor for light and wisdom and the presence of The Father as an idealized representation of our own highest psychology.
This new perspective on the sun as a star shows something “behind the scenes” — like a biographical movie about the private trials of some luminous and accomplished figure, or the secret struggles of a benevolent monarch.
Scientists believe that the sun is a turbulent ball of hot plasma — a state of matter first identified as “radiant matter” in a lecture by Sir William Crookes in 1879.
Lightning is also an example of plasma, and the two are very often related mythologically.
Lightning is the power of the sun that strikes the earth.
The core of the sun is made of hydrogen undergoing nuclear fusion, which generates the light and the energy that reach our planet and far beyond. The sun has no hard edge, but within its approximate circumference, there are multiple churning layers of matter that move and rotate at different speeds. Its gases “boil” outward through thermal columns. The apparent surface of the sun is beset by storms and sunspots, periodically ejecting plasma and magnetic clouds out of the sun’s atmosphere and into interplanetary space.
It may seem stoic from a distance, but the sun is chaos under control — chaos given shape and a predictable path by its own mass and gravity.
They say that courage is not the absence of fear, but the control of fear.
This is also true of order and chaos, both in the world and inside of us.
When Nietzsche wrote about the Last Man, the despicable man who could no longer despise himself, who was not in some sense always at war with himself —he was talking about a man who, in my estimation, is “already dead.” A flatlined automaton incapable of self-reflection or self-criticism — a creature without chaos.
We are all men born of the earth — animals — children of chaos. And we all carry chaos inside us. If we were to free ourselves from this chaos completely, it would mean our death and negation. It is only by overcoming the chaos within and keeping it under control that we are capable of excellence or creation.
When a computer program is written, it contains no chaos. There may be errors in its code, but it does exactly what it has been told to do. It is a “bot.” Its character is not playing, and there is no game.
So many young men today seem to approach life as if they are already dead — like computers searching for a code to run. They’re looking for life hacks, sets and reps, and the perfect morning routine. Some course they can buy or the ten-step program that will deliver the results that they think they’re supposed to want.
They see some man, some self-luminous shining exemplar who seems to have it all figured out, who has or seems to have everything they think that they want, and they gravitate toward him and circle around him, and he seems bright and calm and self-assured.
But they are too far away to see that man shines so brightly because he still has chaos inside him.
That man is at war with himself, and he always has been. He’s still fighting his own demons and dealing with old and new dilemmas. He hasn’t got it all figured out — he’s still figuring it out. He’s still playing. He’s not running a code. He’s making it up as he goes along. He is creating. That’s where the fire is. That’s what keeps him alive and makes his matter radiant.
The King still has chaos in him. He’s just learned to control it, or more of it. He’s learned to use it and create with it.
Your inner chaos is your tailor-made test, your ongoing initiation.
If you don’t learn to manage it, you’ll just be a mess. All over the place.
A shapeless cloud of gas.
The challenge is to acknowledge that chaos and use it.
So many men try to pretend it isn’t there and suppress it — denying inner turmoil, even to themselves, and it eventually manifests itself in wild, disorganized, erratic behavior. The solution most often presented by the female-oriented, imploding black hole that is modern Western civilization is to live and luxuriate in that inner conflict and trauma and allow it to eclipse the higher man — the man who tamed wild horses and domesticated wolves. The man who does not hide from chaos, but who runs toward it and imposes his will upon it. The man who makes chaos his own.
As you find ways to master your own chaos and control it, that chaos will take shape and you will burn more brightly and generate your own gravitational pull, and others will be drawn to you.
And they’ll think you have it all together — that you have it all figured out.
They’ll be too far away from where you are to see that you are a burning ball of chaos, always overcoming new challenges, spinning internally, feeding on your own flame, but getting better and better at containing that chaos inside a single, glowing sphere.
CONTROLLED CHAOS RASH GUARD
This essay inspired the creation of a rash guard. In submission grappling, new students tend to have disorganized, “spazzy” energy, and more advanced practitioners become increasingly calm and controlled. Because they’ve learned to control that chaotic energy and use it more effectively and efficiently.