Thursday, 27 May 2010

Religion is Clinical Depression

When I walk into a classroom, or a bus, or a cinema, I avert my eyes from the people already seated. Like a nun.

Timidity. It's not exactly fear - you don't expect a negative reaction - you just feel a need to keep to yourself, to stay out of people's way. Like it's part of being okay.

Nietzsche characterises religion's submission and innate shame culture (in the paraphrases I've read of him) as the downtrodden's resentment and outrage at their situation directed inwardly. From a common sense historical and psychological perspective this seems plausible, but what's more noteworthy and more unequivocal is that this is also a a widely accepted and from my experience accurate characterisation of clinical depression.

Whether this was how and why religion was formed or not, this is the expression of the "organised" religious experience today. It's about finding faults in yourself and redemption in what's outside you. This "slave morality" as Nietzsche calls it, extends beyond the content of out interaction with people and into its style. The true religious devotee sees himself as basically inadequate, and approaches all in life with humble trepidation, like a scared nun.

I am resentful. I am outraged. It's not as simple for me as for the truly enslaved to find my oppressors, and it's far from certain that they exist to the extent that I imagine them, but I channel all this rage almost directly into my timidity. Force of habit, I figure. A little like channelling religion's fervour and revolutionary passion into conservatism and insularity and abstention from things that are for ridiculously irrelevant reasons considered bad. Angry?; Shut up.

The "master morality", which I keep fiddling around with on this blog and pronouncing bombastically about without implementing, would have me walk into a room surveying all its occupants as if they were more or less my minions. This doesn't actually require disrespect. It requires cheek, which isn't quite the same thing. It requires a basic approach of "bring it".

Are you a man or a nun Arthur Pewty?

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