“Every act of creation is first an act of destruction.” Picasso’s words reflect a universal truth, expressed not only in art, but in religion, science, politics, history, and economics. It is, quite simply, natural. I was recently told, in fact I have been repeatedly told throughout my life, that I am an extremely self-destructive individual. I can think of countless examples of this personality trait (I won’t call it a flaw for reasons I will get to later) pushing me towards seemingly pointless acts of self-sacrifice. Oddly enough, when I look back on the trail of rubble that is my life, I have very few regrets. From the smoldering remains of my most significant implosions have come my greatest accomplishments.
The duality of creation and destruction has been recognized by mankind from the very beginning, and has been enshrined in the spiritual beliefs of the world’s oldest religions. Hindu philosophy describes a universe in constant flux, existing in perpetuity, but ever changing, cycling between formation and annihilation. Physicists would agree. After the Big Bang, the universe has continued to expand, and, though largely discredited, some still believe it will eventually contract in a Big Crunch, effectively bringing about the end of everything. What happens then? Well, it would seem to me that the exact same initial conditions, infinitely hot and infinitely dense matter, would result in yet another Big Bang, starting the cycle anew. That’s our universe in a nutshell. Hydrogen atoms coalesce into a star, burning bright, and bringing life to an otherwise uninspired chunk of rock orbiting its periphery, until one day it collapses on itself and supernovas, destroying everything in its path. The supernova, though the ultimate destructive force, spreads the heavier elements needed to form new celestial bodies, which may one day themselves give birth to life: our atomic offspring. The inevitability is awe-inspiring.
The self-affine character of the universe ensures these truths hold everywhere in life. Constantly transforming forces of nature conspire against the status quo. Tsunami, flood, earthquake or hurricane, all leave a scared landscape devoid of what once was. Nevertheless life goes on, forever changed, yet exactly the same. “Destruction, hence, like creation, is one of Nature’s mandates.” In the economy Creative Destruction is unavoidable and ubiquitous. The forces of capitalism lead to the destruction of old economic orders, paving the way for a new creation of wealth and prosperity. Take a wide angle view of human history and not only is this reality evident throughout, it has left not one lonely industry untouched. The carriage makers succumbed to the unstoppable progress of the automobile. Earlier, fletchers gave way to gunsmiths. A similar fate awaits every other company in the world; it’s only a matter of time.
Our human nature is undeniable, and beautiful. Brian Dettmer creates glorious sculptures by deconstructing books; carving them page by page leaving only a shadow of what once was, crafting something completely new. His work represents our humanity, and mirrors our true nature in its composition. The broken fragments of our experiences are recombined to become who we are. The future emerges from the obliterated past. From the wasteland of a failed relationship grows the prospect for new love. The uprooting of losing a job allows us to reposition ourselves for greater success. Each failure sets us up for the next accomplishment. Having imploded frequently throughout my life, I often find my only regret was waiting so long to light the fuse and watch my life burn.
All aspects of our lives are at the mercy of this vicious and visceral cycle. The end of an era is the beginning of a new one. So, dear reader, I pose this question: Is a self-destructive demeanor a bad thing? Perhaps a willingness to say, “Fuck it,” and throw everything out the window to start anew is the epitome of the human experience. I am simply embracing the true nature of my existence, of existence itself.