Thursday, 20 October 2016

Statement of Identity

I'm not exactly the most ambivalent of religion-losers, but I'm still a little envious specifically of that previous life's reality of broadcasting through a simple skull-cap a fairly comprehensive set of values that I could feel basically represented me well. I have also, in previous years, been carrying around this strange and possibly not entirely rational but similar jealousy of homosexuals, for their matter-of-fact ability (when not ensconced in furniture) of declaring their deviation from cultural expectation by the use of a simple word.

It's a funny sort of equivalence, because gays do not actually espouse a homosexual set of values, and presumably their homosexual-ness does not play a part in pursuing their own spiritual fulfillment, but I don't think the comparison is completely unfounded. Until relatively recently in Western history, both homosexuality and Jewishness had been treated essentially as character-flaws and products of bad decisions, and in both cases this attitude seems to have been alleviated by a conviction that these conditions are in-born and immutable, hinging less upon what you actually do than on your internal make-up. More significantly, at present they possess in common the theoretical possibility of blending in, eliminating all external signs of difference, and a defiant and to me inspiring unwillingness to do so.

Usually a passive one, though. Even the skull-capping Jews will not generally proactively broadcast and advocate their own specific manifestations of identity unless they're being annoying, and gays will pretty much point blank not do so unless they're William Burroughs. But perhaps they don't need to, because in spite of everything they a pretty extensive and well-known tradition of being very specific minorities behind them.

Spoiled wankers. Some people don't have that privilege. I can see now that this would have to be longer than I am inclined to make it in order to be done properly, so I'll make do with saying that in my opinion what inspires believing Jews to express their Jewishness what inspires same-sex attractees to express their homosexuality are equally and complementarily important motives, and the reason I am writing all this is that I wanted to sit down and write my updated version of both complements - what I find spiritually meaningful and what I think in the end makes me and everybody what we are.

Serious preoccupation with meaningfulness, whether in religion or literature or maligned science, seems to revolve uneasily around two often contradictory trajectories: morality and anchoring values on the one hand, and freedom and transcendence on the other. My own approach, regarding the former, has become the conviction that the only thing truly justifying and compelling an attitude of high seriousness and disciplined commitment even when we really really don't feel like it is the advocacy and promotion and acknowledgement of the feelings of sadness and fear, i.e., emotional distress. Both our own and those of others, especially those who have the invisibility of theirs to us enforced or encouraged. I think the legitimacy of sadness and fear is important because when allowed to just be emotions they become the basis for real empathy and acknowledgement of our own and others' humanity, and thus the ultimate base of anything conceivably important, and because when suppressed they become wrecking balls, blind and out of control and explosive.

And the thing these wrecking balls wreck, in the insistence as important and urgent and rigid on anything besides people's sad and frightened and vulnerable humanity, is stuff like homosexuals' ability to just have sex with people of the same sex and get on with it, for one, but much more besides. Freedom and transcendence. Part of the reason Burroughs has blown my mind so much is that he is the first person I have seen insist on the specific transcendence of unimpeded homosexual sensuality (or, in his own memorable formulation, "we see God through our assholes in the flashbulb of orgasm"), but maybe I'll let that go because neither homosexuality nor sensuality are the point here.

The point, or the claim, is that once you stop pointlessly getting into people's (or your own) shit, not only do you prevent needless suffering, but you enable a transcendent spiritual exultation of a kind whose existence Western culture seems to have already forgotten about or drastically misinterpreted. When your mind is clear, it's not simply nice because there's an absence of unpleasant noise, but there is room for actual life to actually begin - for the truly enthralling, dreamlike, trance-like, story-like, joke-like, madness-like developments in the face of which it is impossible to continue asking "Why did I even bother getting out of bed this morning?" When you reach this freedom, when you begin to experience this transcendence of the bullshitty and meaningless, you don't need answers because you no longer need the questions. Because you have actual engagement with the world.

So that's me. Hi.