Some translations of the Old Testament of the Bible begin something like this:
In the beginning, when the Earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep, the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light!” And there was light.
Science calls this moment of light the Big Bang.
Unlike the serene scene of a dark, formless void with the spirit of God moving upon it, the ancient Greeks believed in Chaos. Chaos was both a place, where the gods resided, and the god from whom creation sprang.
Among Chaos’s first creations were the earth, the underworld, love, darkness and night.
The ancient Greek religion isn’t the only one with chaos gods. They appear all over the world, including, in ancient Egyptian culture, the battle between Isfet (chaos) and Ma’at (order), which reminded me of Crowley and Aziraphale.
During our collective quarantine, comedian Duncan Trussell has been talking philosophy with actors Marcus Henderson and Brandon Sanders, and they released one gathering as a podcast and one of the guests mentioned chaos figures, and pointed out that President Trump is one.
To explain chaos figures, he pointed to Ego, Peter Quill’s father from the movie Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
, played by Kurt Russell. In the film, Ego is a god who puts down roots on as many planets as possible in an attempt to spread his seed and alter the universe.
Trump obviously is not that sort of chaos figure, but he’s the sort of person who shakes things up enough to change the way some people operate and the way some systems work. We don’t know what the results — aftermath, if you will — of his time as president will be, at this writing.
But this isn’t about Trump.
Chaos is defined as:
a state of utter confusion or disorder; a total lack of organization or order
A chaos figure, then, is someone who disrupts existing systems in such a way there’s a sense of confusion along the way — most likely at the beginning.
COVID-19, although not a person, is a chaos figure. The Boston Tea Party was carried out by chaos actors. Gandhi, Hitler, Mandela and Stalin were chaos figures. Not all of them are for good, obviously. They merely disrupt, often drastically.
Let’s look in the mirror for a moment, shall we? How are you doing right now? Could you use a little chaos in your life to disrupt your patterns? Maybe it’s time to jump in a ball pit or go bury yourself in the sand at the beach or go dance in public. Disrupt yourself. You’ll thank me later.