“What is the meaning of life? That was all – a simple question; one that tended to close in on one with years, the great revelation had never come. The great revelation perhaps never did come. Instead, there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark; here was one.” – Virginia Woolf To the Lighthouse, published in 1927
I wonder what it is that compels us (all) to believe in the possibility for the existence of an essential meaning of life, of existence in the Cosmos. It is certain, on one hand, that the Universe is under absolutely no obligation whatsoever to provide us with intelligible purpose, rationale or meaning and yet, on the other hand, it is also certain that the world within which we exist is engulfed in an efflorescence of pattern and symmetry that at the very least implies some deeper connection or interdependence, hence “meaning”.
The only intuition which captures this mystery with concision and aspirational insight (for me) is that the very lack of overt meaning and purpose reveals by inverse negation and conspicuous absence that a lack of meaning, a lack of unity, and a complete absence of closure and wholeness precisely is the meaning, unity and closure which we are seeking. The paradoxical and persistent presence of absence is the counter-intuitive meaning and closure; not so much as in a “bake your own meaning from meaningless matter” idioms, more that the openness and lack of overarching structure precisely is the overarching structure and purpose of this magnificently complex reality we find ourselves inhabiting and that, equally, we find inhabiting us.