Chaos is my enemy

I actually said that recently.  During a job interview, as a matter of fact.

I tend to like order.  Not to the extreme of stifling creativity or preventing spontaneity, but, overall, I like to have things organized.

I’m not sure that I’m really truly a control freak or anything.  I can go with the flow with the best of them.  I’ve been known to drop everything and take chances/switch plans/directions at the drop of a hat- proverbial or otherwise (hats HAVE been left behind on occasion).

Before anyone starts thinking that I’m perhaps protesting too much, let me just say that I am well aware that my Virgo-Nature (as one of my BFFs- and fellow-Virgo- terms this propensity) sometimes gets the best of me.  I’m eminently self-aware about that little character trait.

I think it’s why, actually, I tend to gravitate to the mythologies of the Ancient Near East and Egypt.  The belief systems that came before and heavily influenced the beliefs and the worldview that would be recorded in the bible- those Testaments Old, New and extra-canonical- were based in the foundational dichotomy of the need for maintenance of order to stave off the constant incursions of chaos in the known world.

The myths- and the societies that developed according to the worldviews contained therein- saw the primeval forces of the universe as sourced in chaos.  In Mesopotamia this tradition was found in the stories of Tiamat – Mother-goddess of Chaos and origin of the world as we know it.  As in the world was created out of her defeated carcass.  Still, such was her power that even after Marduk’s victory her influence continued to be felt since we- and the planet we rode in on- were carved out of her physical remains.

We like chaos.  Or, at the very least, seem to gravitate toward drama and the exaggerated over-turning of societal norms.  Those same societal norms that were instituted in things like the Code of Hammurabi, those Ten Commandments, or the more numerous and somewhat onerous Levitical Laws.  They all served the same purpose.

Order vs. chaos.

The maintenance of the balance of the two.  Not the eradication of chaos- that would mean self-destruction, after all, coming as we did from the body of chaos herself- but the careful manipulation of behaviours so that order can keep it in check.

If the rules aren’t followed, the influence of Tiamat comes creeping back in to mess with the nicely ordered society that the gods- and the kings/priests/leaders who act on behalf of the gods- have created.  For our own protection, of course.  But also for the greater glory of those who hold the earthly power.

I get this- atavistically, and also because it suits my personality.  We need rules- be they rules of morality or practicality.   We also need to understand that rules are contextual in nature.  They are based on specific needs and sourced in specific times/places and, as such, should be subject to change as our context does so.

Somewhere along the line, the order/chaos dichotomy got changed into one of good/evil.  I’d argue that came about under strong influences from Zoroastrianism and its dualism, but that’s a discussion for a different day.

Bottom line (I’m trying to be succinct, for a change)?  Those things associated with order became the rules that described what is good.  Acting outside those rules became all about the evil.

Example?  That little story about the Garden of Eden and getting kicked out and that whole, much later, Augustinian nonsense about Original Sin?  Yahweh gave them one rule- ‘don’t eat from that tree.  The one over there.  All others are fair game, but leave that one be.’  (Obviously I’m paraphrasing here).  And what did they do?  They violated the prescribed order/rule and ate from that tree.

It’s called a ‘cautionary tale’ for a reason.

Right from the get-go we were being influenced by that crafty Tiamat (or her minions, who were myriad and took the forms of demons, ill-winds and, sometimes, serpents) to break the rules and let her get a little of her own back.

That’s an image of her up there ^^^.   It’s also the image that appears on my homepage underneath the name of the blog.  I believe in facing my fears head-on (I’m really not kidding.  One of my cats is named for the embodiment of chaos herself.  I was thinking along the lines of ‘naming something robs it of its power’.  Didn’t quite work out that way.  My Tiamat is pretty chaotic.  I blame myself for the misstep).  Please note that she looks like a great big snake, herself.

‘What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun.’

My buddy- and fave OT dude- wrote that in Ecclesiastes (1.9).

Yep.  We are nothing if not a lather, rinse, repeat sort of a species.  We beg, borrow and often steal the stuff that came before us and apply it- generally willy-nilly- to our own social contexts.  Does that really sound like a remotely rational plan?

Despite my deep-seated appreciation of order, the need to examine from whence our conceptualizations of that order might have come is the very thing I’ve been (over-) emphasizing of late.  We are letting our leaders tell us what we should be watching/buying/doing and how we should be thinking/voting/spending our spare time.  Without any sort of examination or thought given to the context from which these prescriptions are coming.

Since we aren’t (last I checked), in fact, a Bronze Age culture trying desperately to assert our National identity among hostile ‘foreigners’ (whose land we’ve come to take) and therefore beholden to any notion of having our actions dictated as we are expected to blindly follow someone’s notion of what is ‘best’ for us, we really have to be looking more closely at these things.

We have so much opportunity and access to information that we HAVE TO make our decisions based in this cultural/social context rather than one that had its day more than 2000 years ago, half a world away.

That doesn’t mean that some of the rules- and the lessons contained within the rules and the stories that support them- mightn’t reflect universal truths and maintain some validity.  I’m not saying that at all.

But c’mon.

Take the time to weigh all sides/voices/contexts and see that we have, in fact, progressed from the city states/nomadic/monarchic civilizations that came so very long before us.  We have evolved.  In every conceivable way.  And the devolution of society that seems to be happening here and there is beyond distressing in the face of this reality.

We need a paradigm shift.  Bigtime.  Let’s forget about the whole externalizing/personification of evil/assumption of the existence of absolute good that we’ve inherited from later iterations of the Mesopotamian and Egyptian worldviews.  Time to let go of childish things- like devils and demons and primordial gods (although not the cats who bear their names) and take responsibility for our role in the balancing act that is life in the 21st century.

The maintenance of order is important.  It balances the chaos- of our own natures and of those things IN Nature over which we can exert no control.

I’m always looking for some order- and some New Order never goes amiss either…

‘I like walking in the park
When it gets late at night
I move round in the dark
And leave when it gets light
I sit around by day
Tied up in chains so tight
These crazy words of mine
So wrong they could be right’

And, unlike evil– and the way in which we tend to pass the buck by labeling and externalizing actions/people as such- chaos will always remain a part of the world and its perpetual motion.

There are things beyond our human control.  Yep.  There are indeed.  But the way we react to these incursions of chaos in our lives is completely in OUR HANDS.

I know he’s right.

There’s been enough chaos lately.  We need some great changes right about now.  But they aren’t going to happen all by themselves.

PS- So much for being succinct…

In case you were wondering… the interviewers seemed to both be pretty tickled by my comment regarding chaos.  So much so they offered me the job.  All being well, it’ll be onward to new challenges and a new venue- one that has a mandate for positive change and proactive involvement.  HUGE thanks to you all hereabouts for the support offered as this first realized step in my journey- more meaningful action in my day job.  Here’s hoping it will allow for the continuation of meaningful engagement in all aspects of my life.  If nothing else, it will help me, personally, to balance that foundational dichotomy as best as I can.

82 comments on “Chaos is my enemy

  1. Wow! Congratulations on your new job!

    • colemining says:

      Thanks, Booksy. Still waiting on the paperwork, but it’s looking positive so I’m hopeful all will fall as it should. Thanks for your support- and for reading! xo

  2. I don’t like chaos either. I can’t relax unless things are orderly. I like rules. I’m a rule-follower. I studied classical cultures, mythology and religion. So of course I loved this post!

    • colemining says:

      Joey-(can I call you Joey?). I like the rules- provided they make sense and don’t rob other humans of their freedoms or endanger the rest of us. I really GET the Mesopotamians, you know? They make sense to me. Even if my love of their stories landed me with my own little chaos monster. Mea culpa Her brother is named for Enki- god of wisdom. Thought he’d counter-balance some of the world-shaking drama. Not so much. Thanks for reading, fellow order-lover and aficionado of all things classical and mythological!

  3. First of all, I really appreciate you saving me the trouble of having to mention the dualistic nature of Zoroastrianism as it applies to it being the transformative mechanism from chaos-order to the evil-good paradigm that has dominated western civilization for nearly two millennia.

    *nav wonders how long he can maintain the pretence of being intelligent and educated*

    I think Zachariah Sitchin wrote some good books along these lines.

    *nav blows it, badly*

    Clearly, we need to consider the concept of entropy—the decay of systemic order—from a classical sociological point of view in considering the issue.

    *nav makes a stunning recovery, 8.5 from the Russian judge*

    • colemining says:

      Bam! Sounds like Nav came back from his holiday full of new inspiration! Not familiar with Sitchin- but I have long maintained that the switch from order/chaos to good/evil is sourced in the Persian influence on the biblical worldview.

      I agree- classical/sociological is the way to go. I concur with the Russian judge (never thought I’d be inclined to agree with Russian officials, things being as they are right now, but whatever…).

      Hope you had a great trip. Thanks for reading, Nav!

  4. lennymaysay says:

    Hope your new job doesn’t interfere with your blogging activities.

    BTW: That Deepak Chopra quote is what my fellow skeptics call a “deepity”.

    • colemining says:

      Lenny- yes. He is one for the pithy sayings, but I like to think that one is true. A ‘deepity’- I like that.

      I can’t imagine it will- since I won’t be spending so much time looking for meaningful employment… I might even have more time to write! Consider yourself warned…

      Thanks for reading!

  5. Aussa Lorens says:

    I love that you said that in your interview. Already you would have been leaps and bounds ahead of most of the people I’ve ever interviewed.
    Interesting thoughts here– I kind of geek out over any sort of discussion over old stories and old human behaviors and patterns that continuously play throughout history.

    • colemining says:

      Hi Aussa! Well, I’ve had enough interviews that I know there’s absolutely no point in trying to hide who/what I am, so felt that being honest about the ongoing conflict I wage with chaos was a good idea.

      Despite all our civilization/technology/progress we are still looking for answers to the same questions we always have done. And the answers we opt to believe ofter recur cyclically. Which is why it is so very important that we remember our shared histories.

      Thanks for reading!

  6. Congratulations on the new job! Success after all your efforts. My take on order and chaos (and please allow for Tired Brain Syndrome): 1. My job is all about rules and order. I am a cataloguer and library database wrangler, trying to order the chaos of the bibliographic universe. 2. A quote from my old buddy H.P. Lovecraft: “…the mindless entity Azathoth, which rules all time and space from a black throne at the center of Chaos.” 3. My pet theory that Original Sin was agriculture, which led (in a surprisingly short time) to our messed-up world. And finally, a fond memory of the Mesopotamian exhibit at the ROM, which I was fortunate to see last October.

    • colemining says:

      Good morning Audrey! Thank you- for the congrats and the support you’ve always shown.

      Librarians (of any sort) are some of my favourite order-keepers. The whole idea of catalogues and well-ordered lists of books gives me comfort in a very real way.

      Lovecraft knew. His ‘old ones’ are sourced in chaos- and await the violation of order for their chance to return. I often dream of cities in which the architecture is slightly off- angles aren’t quite right. Reminds me of Lovecraft and those slight incursions of chaos that sneak in when we aren’t paying attention.

      Interesting- tell me more about Original Sin and agriculture… That’s one I haven’t heard before. Love hearing differing interpretations! I agree that that particular concept has, historically, been the cause of a whole lot of unnecessary pain, suffering and death. It is, by far, my least favourite interpretation of any of the biblical mythology. It’s obscene. Truly obscene. I liked Augustine a whole lot better when he was a Gnostic.

      Wasn’t that a wonderful exhibit? I was a little afraid of being underwhelmed, but seeing my Mesopotamians in my Museum… bliss.

      Thanks for visiting- and the thoughtful comments.

      • Agriculture and original sin — I now think it’s more of an analogous or metaphorical relationship, but I described the idea quite well in a 2012 blog post at
        Yes, that was a great exhibit — the animations of some of the mural sculptures, and the incredibly tiny cuneiform characters will stay with me for a long time. Also the jewelry and ornaments — so elegant and some so “modern” looking.
        You have cats! Another point in your favour.

      • colemining says:

        Audrey- an interesting perspective and wonderful reading of the story. It is certainly cautionary, either way.

        IMHO the doctrine, as created by Augustine, is repugnant and irrelevant. Least favourite ‘rule’ of all. And there are a lot of rules in that big book of myths.

        I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the exhibit- mainly because some people, knowing my background in the area, thought I would find it somewhat limited. But I did love it. My favourite at the ROM since the Dead Sea Scrolls (and did you see that they just found a couple of those that haven’t been translated? Can’t WAIT to see what they have to say!).

        Yes- two cats named for Mesopotamian deities, and a third, an orange tabby named Penny. We’re a blended feline family- my SO is less mythology oriented than I. All are rescues- but Tiamat is mostly Korat- very regal and royal and she knows it, and Enki is a little black kitty. I changed his name, slightly, to Enkidu- since he’s more ‘wild man with a heart of gold’ than ‘god of wisdom’. We call him Dude.

  7. bethbyrnes says:

    We think alike on this, as most things, Cole. This is one of my favourite topics. I am an order fanatic (Virgo rising, Sun conjunct Saturn, while we are speaking in terms of that paradigm and its archetypes) so I prefer structure, routine and predictability, i.e., control. The type of chaos I appreciate is the dissolution of outdated strictures and creativity. But, an orderly version of change and progress. I get nervous when things are in constant flux.

    • colemining says:

      Beth- this one is very close to my heart. The whole chaos/order vs. evil/good thing. I am totally with you on the dissolution of rules based in outdated and dangerous concepts and ideals. I don’t like the flux- which is why I’m feeling like something proactive needs doing to accomplish positive change.
      Thanks for reading!

  8. As I was reading this I was thinking “How in the world does he not have any job he wants?” So I was delighted when I reached the bottom of the post. Congrats and best wishes.

    • colemining says:

      Thanks BZD- I appreciate the sentiment behind that thought. But if I’ve learned anything (and I like to think that I have) in the past five years of pretty much constantly applying for jobs, there aren’t a whole lot of people who see any value in my education or skill set.

      The Humanities have been devalued to such a point that those who study them- and actively engage in experiential learning (often involving travel and other horizon-expanding undertakings) about our shared histories/stories are viewed as having no ‘practical knowledge/experience’. Nothing infuriates me more.

      Fortunately, it seems that I have found people who are among those who get the necessity of being well-rounded and tapped into things that are happening today- and how they are patterned upon those that happened in the past- if you want to effectively communicate ideas while demonstrating positive leadership.

      It isn’t a done deal quite yet (still waiting on paperwork from HR), but I’m hopeful that it will be a positive environment with new challenges and lots of learning to be done.

      Thanks for the visit!

  9. Congratulations (from a fellow Virgo and order-imposer)! I really hope this change will bring about everything you’re looking for and then some. Yay, you. 🙂

    • colemining says:

      Thanks HC! Thinking that this change will be the harbinger of other positive changes to come. Thank you for your continuing support and for reading!

  10. awax1217 says:

    Loved the chaos but now at sixty eight would like to see organization. We were the generation that was going to bring order to the chaos. We did one hell of a job, did we not? Now it is your turn to screw the world. Welcome to my world as Thurber would cartoon.

    • colemining says:

      Thank you for visiting! I believe my generation is content to remain asleep- at least until something big and loud enough happens to shake us out of our complacency. The current chaos seems to causing a resulting roar that might get people off their butts to do something about it all- but change won’t come until we learn to think about and approach it differently.

  11. obzervashunal says:

    Fantastic posting… my fellow Virgo! Must read more over at your site… thanks for this one!

  12. obzervashunal says:

    Reblogged this on obzervashunal : looking @ the Universe… and commented:
    food for thought? I think so…

  13. zoom137 says:

    Reblogged this on zoom137.

  14. yakinamac says:

    Brilliant! And many congratulations on the new job – hope to hear more about it in the future.

  15. wiccarulez says:

    Reblogged this on Wiccarulez's Blog and commented:
    I agree

  16. beautiful…
    I really like the way you write…keep going… visit mine… .. comments will be welcomed..

  17. hoot616 says:

    you must have order among chaos

  18. Monica DiNatale says:

    I like order too. But life is full of chaos. It makes things interesting.

  19. Sounds like an employer recognized talent when they saw it – congratulations.

    Not that I’d ever be a position to interview anyone for a job, but I have a feeling that if I were, and the interviewee broached something like the belief systems of the Old and New testaments and the “foundational dichotomy of the need for maintenance of order to stave off the constant incursions of chaos in the known world,” we would have had a fascinating conversation that would have had nothing to do with the actual job opening.

    And I would have hired that person because anyone able to converse in such topics can probably grasp 99 percent of what most any job entails.

    • colemining says:

      Thanks CBC! We didn’t delve too deeply into the worldviews of the Ancient Near East in the interview, but I think they appreciated my comments about maintaining balance in a work environment and communicating through dialogue rather than debate. I’m looking forward to the new experiences and the opportunity to share some ideas.

      Oh, how I wish the wider world would think more like you (and I- and others hereabouts) do, CBC. But I seem to have found some of those people who appreciate the breadth of my perspective and experience.

      Thanks, as always, for reading and for your support.

      • CM,

        It took me a bit of time to find my current job, and I’ve come to realize that the wait was worth it because it’s a very good fit for my skills.

        Call it Providence, serendipity, karma or whatever, sometimes it takes time for the pieces to fall into just the right place in order to be both fulfilled and successful.

        Thank you for your kind words, and for aiming for the highest common denominator, rather than the other way around.

      • colemining says:

        I am very optimistic that this gig will turn out to be worth the wait.

        I honestly feel that our common denominator is a lot higher than we give ourselves credit for. We may be easily lulled by nonsense, but when it comes down to it, we do like being challenged and required to participate. I find that to be true more and more- people are tired of being spoken to as if we are children who don’t know what’s best for us. Movement is afoot- and some of it is pretty promising!

      • Yes, I’d like to think that bread and circuses can’t keep the masses occupied forever.

  20. flaspada1971 says:

    Reblogged this on Le Passioni Nascoste.

  21. Mirza Usman says:

    is that Egypt Artwork?

  22. […] has been a most interesting week.  I was Freshly Pressed (!)- that little thing I wrote about chaos/order- and as a result a whole lot of new folks have come by to visit.  Thank you new folks!  […]

  23. catholhu says:

    Thank you WordPress for Freshly Pressing this post. The topics in this post are among my favorites. One point for clarification, however, chaos is not necessarily disorder. Order and disorder are perceptual phenomena arising from chaos, which is simply unpredictability.
    You may enjoy this:

    • colemining says:

      Thank you for visiting! Your point is well taken- in a contemporary sense. In the ancient world the two were opposites that needed to be balanced for the smooth progression of the cosmos. That said, chaos was not necessarily a completely negative thing- the material world was created out of its substance, so without it, we wouldn’t be here.

  24. Can I add another point the Tiamet myth of destructive chaos was very late Mesopotamian, in Sumerian mythology she is Nammu still the primordial sea that gave birth to the heaven and earth, (Ki and An) she was the Supreme Goddess of that early culture until usurped by Enki her son / husband. Virgo (Ninlil) became Queen Goddess as the wife of Enlil who usurped Enki. Loved post but both Pisces (chaotic primordial creativity) and Virgo (daily bread) are necessary.

    • colemining says:

      Thanks for visiting! I admit I used the most well-known iteration of the primordial myth- the Enuma Elish that features Marduk as the hero, and vilified Tiamat (the mother goddess of all) somewhat- for the sake of expediency. She was a good ‘mother’- she initially sought to protect the younger gods (as they made noise and disturbed Apsu- the primordial ‘father’) and acted against them only when Apsu was destroyed.

      Knowing little about astrology, I’m not sure of the connections between the signs/representations and the Mesopotamian deities (both early and later), but I agree that both earth and water- in balance- are required and revered as being of equal importance in the worldview. There can be no order without chaos- they are intrinsically linked, and both are required for the maintenance of the universe.

      Thank you for contributing your perspective to the discussion!

  25. Center for Youth Empowerment Programs says:

    Really thoughtful

  26. […] I know that Cole would maybe have issues with the god part but she’s so cool she’ll allow it. Each to their own […]

  27. oogenhand says:

    Reblogged this on oogenhand.

  28. […] The term is often used negatively to describe an unmanageable event or circumstance.  The artists who participated in The Goat Rodeo Sessions have turned that definition on its head.  They prove that order- constructed through the work of many- can be used to overcome chaos- another specific point I’ve chatted about recently. […]

  29. […] worldview hearkens back to that whole order vs. chaos dichotomy I’ve talked about before. Back to the beginnings- to our creative origins as we […]

  30. […] The rest of us tend to be a little more pedestrian in our understanding of things. So the myth-makers, now as then, use the familiar to tell the stories that want telling. And to set the examples that need setting. Star Wars: The Force Awakens revisits the New Hope we first encountered in Episode IV. Cycles. And the continuing battle between good/evil or dark/light or order/chaos. […]

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