Chaosmos and How We Survive Tragedy Together

James Joyce’s concept of living in the time of chaosmos provides a powerful insight into our ability to survive, relying on both tough-minded and tender-hearted individuals. . 

People encountered record-setting rainfall during Hurricane Harvey, experiencing the tremendous tragedy and displacement that follows a storm of its size. Amidst the destruction, two different, but not dissimilar, types of individuals showed their valor: the tough-minded and the tender-hearted. These mindsets must be paired together to save others and survive the disasters of life.

In this episode of Living Myth, we consider James Joyce’s concept of living in the time of chaosmos and how it relates to our ability to survive.

It is the job of poets to act as seers.  And the Irish writer, James Joyce, looking towards the future, coined the term chaosmos, which puts together the two great words about the origin of the world. That is to say, the cosmos, which is the world in its implicate order, and chaos, which is the world tipping towards darkness and towards dissollution, and towards the great abyss. And in a sense, he was saying a number of years ago, ‘Welcome to the chaosmos.’

…This is the second time in a couple of years that there was a 500-year storm in Texas. So, welcome to the chaosmos, where what is supposed to be a once in a 500 year period storm happens twice in two years, as if time itself has been collapsed, or been disordered. Or, changed so radically that we don’t know what’s coming next.

…We live in hard times, when the tendency to become hard-minded and hard-hearted can intensify as a reaction to the pressures of the great uncertainty, and all the radical changes around us. It becomes easier to grab hold of something that offers simplicity, or a way to rationalize everything. And there also develops a tendency to committ to fundamentalist belief systems, to a fixed ideology, or even to a strong-man type of leader.

This episode is no longer available here, but you can access it through Living Myth Premium.


Living Myth is a production of Mosaic Voices, featured in partnership with Erraticus. This episode was originally released on August 30, 2017. Additional episodes are available at www.livingmyth.org.

(Image source: Ben White/Unsplash)

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