May 19, 2006
Irony so rich, you can taste it. It tastes like marzipan.
Mots as bon as any now being offered. Who knew there is a Jefferson Lecture?
[In the 1960's] communes inevitably turned religious thanks to the hallucinations...some head--short for acid head--would end up in the middle of Broadway, one of San Francisco's main drags, sitting cross-legged in the Lotus position, looking about, wide eyes glistening with beatification, shouting, "I'm in the pudding and I've met the manager! I'm in the pudding and I've met the manager!" Seldom had so many gone so far to feel aloof from the middle class.
But I was wrong....
The rarest of analyses, poignant sociology.
That a wound to one's status, not to one's body, not to one's bank account, not to one's general fortunes in life, that such a wound to one's status could have such a severe effect upon the psyche of the human beast, is no minor matter. It means that we have come upon a form of anguish that is somehow primal. Even the most trivial and the most unlikely circumstances can be colored by the beast's constant and unrelenting concern for his own status. Which is to stay, his own standing, his own rank, in the eyes of others and in his own eyes.
Regrettably, in pursuit of the wisdom that there are Two Ways, the Way of Life and the Way of Death, there are gleeful echo chambers (even those propounding "all the right things") where soul-on-soul target practice is sharpened almost daily, an addictive atavism with seriotonin surges tasting like brandied marzipan to all but the wounded.
To honor Good&Happy-ness requires that one be aware about the temptations of status and honor, and to sort the real from the pinchbeck. C.S. Lewis' The Inner Circle comes to mind.
And you will be drawn in, if you are drawn in, not by desire for gain or ease, but simply because at that moment, when the cup was so near your lips, you cannot bear to be thrust back again into the cold outer world. It would be so terrible to see the other man’s face - that genial, confidential, delightfully sophisticated face - turn suddenly cold and contemptuous, to know that you had been tried for the Inner Ring and rejected.
A comment on the Lewis lecture refers to James A. Gittings' saying what I've been reaching for:
From lifting up of many rocks, Lord,
In Shechem, Rome, New York,
I have learned - O, well I've learned! -
All steeples late or soon become
High places, filthy haunts of Baal,
All altars soon are bright with blood,
And all shepherds, butchers be,
"We"-ness. Bright or bloody, depending. And wired-in hard and deep. Horsepower supercharged by the Stench of Enlightenment.
all shepherds, butchers be,
"Spirituality" per se, lit with unearthly wattage from the three worlds, is, like untrammelled and unsublimated sexuality, a bug, not a feature. Unmoored, heady, unaccountable, it wakes up smelling of last night's mean and authchthonic cyber-triumph-über. Dressed in derivative philosophical vestments, when lobbing rocks at toddlers it is barely morally distinguishable from the gap-toothed fundamentalist who forcibly shags his cousin. Shut up, the crowd explains, based on "Knowing Something." We're entitled to our cruel public fun because we're smarter. More spiritually evolved. You, on the other hand, Don't Get it. Might someday. We'll let you know....
To whom much is given, etc. Success and high spirits is a test of allegiance. Test the spirits, sort the fruit, etc. It's all information, sooner or later laid out for inspection. Barnyards with pecking orders and worse. Calling itself beauty.
Note to self: Simple and safest
- look for the path of frisson-exempt virtue;
- be terrified of complacent self-congratulation;
- notice the undertow of status, avoid intoxicated capitulation, believing your own publicist;
- take pleasure in gratitude, contribution, and as much connection as is willingly offered;
- add to the stock-on-the-shelves of Mercy in our corner of the cosmos;
- study, hope, and pray for the life of the world, and the life of the world to come.
- Remember always that eternity gleaming through the ordinary light of day doesn't make me important for noticing it. Or, in the long run, necessarily better than those who appear not to. They could be deodorized saints, with silent stealthy laser vision into the hollow core of my cherished Inner Circle.
By our fruits
We know ourselves.
Via Kathy Shaidle
7. If you love true knowledge, devote yourself to the ascetic life; for mere theoretical knowledge puffs a man up.
11. Those who, because of the rigour of their own ascetic practice, despise the less zealous, think that they are made righteous by physical works. But we are even more foolish if we rely on theoretical knowledge and disparage the ignorant.
On these topics the concerns of Rene Girard and Gil Baillie are never far away. "Spiritual" pursuits without the preeminence of the search for the Truth, wherever it leads, constrained by charity, tread a pre-determined often bloody path.