Sunday, August 16, 2009

20 Prisoners of the Law

It is not difficult to get a perspective of what smoke and nicotine does to one’s body and to begin doing right by it. This is why telling a smoker to “break the habit” often works. However, sometimes a habit is difficult to get a perspective on. Two habits difficult to deal with are neo-Christianity and death. Both for their own reasons so saturate our consciousness that try as we may, some of us cannot look at them with a fresh eye.

Following of the imposition of Christianity and peace through violence and terror (“just war”?), the populace found it expedient to submit to Truth as it was told it from Above. The “Truth” of course is nothing more than the Word (edict, law, order) under the control of a bureaucracy that interprets the Word according to the wishes of the powerful princes and their courts. After being taught for several hundred years running that Christianity is love and to associate this love with Jesus Christ in Heaven, the populace is now unbelieving if told that Jesus in Heaven cancels out love. Likewise, after being told for centuries that death is for God and the secular authorities alone to decide upon, people are shocked if told that life as well as death is their own, and that a voluntary and a self-willed death is the goal of consciousness.

However, as my Blog 18 explains, before incest was tabooed and the taboo became engraved in stone as “law”, the laws of the mind prevailed. In the dream, the counter of the bar is made do as the altar, and the barmaid becomes “mother” with male genitals. The dream denies the values of our society, which are not only neo-Christian, but essentially fascistic, that is, they are superficial, positivist, and directed from Above at the public as advertisements (propaganda in an earlier day).

What hides behind the conflict between “natural” law and man-created law? The Greek playwright Sophocles in his play “Oedipus the King” explains this. The story tells of how a prince marries his mother (as if he did not know who the Queen of Thebes was), how the citizens of Thebes discover the lie, and why as a result Thebes faces social collapse. Unless the king resigns or is cast out, Thebans believe that their city will suffer a fatal demise.

Nevertheless, there is another possible interpretation of the story. It appears in my rewrite of the Oedipus story. See “Tiresias’ Revenge”. [February, 2009 ]

My interpretation argues that in order for Oedipus to earn the right to become King of Thebes, he has to suffer the risk of exposure on a mountaintop. If he (as an infant) survives one night on the mountain, it will mean that the Gods look at him with favor. However, Oedipus’ mother does not want her son exposed to such a risk. The queen offers to sleep with the goatherd who is standing watch if he will let her steal away her son. Another baby, quite dead, is to be put in Oedipus’ place.

The problem this “saving” of Oedipus from the risk of death creates is that by gaining a life not risked, he loses a kingdom. He loses the kingship in two ways: a) the other infant’s corpse (drama demands that this baby is murdered) tells everyone that the Gods did not favor him; and 2) Oedipus did not face the test demanded by the society of Thebes through its sacred by-laws.

The mother of Oedipus, Iocaste, however has a solution. When her son becomes old enough to become king, she will have her husband and Oedipus’ father, the king, killed. Following Laius’ murder, she will marry Oedipus, who through her will become king.

The story told by Sophocles follows this latter line, which shifts the guilt of what plagues Thebes onto the incest taboo. The taboo serves the as a sacred by-law as much as the test of the King’s son over his suitability to become king.

If the drama escapes the notice of modern critics and lends itself to the Freudian interpretation, i.e., son desires to sleep with his mother, it is because we desire to escape the kind of maturity that asks us to accept death and go into that good night with understanding. This neo-Christian doctrine, introduced by priests serving secular princes on the make, had its critics, but—as the erasure by Oedipus’ mother of the need for sacrifice and the violent way that neo-Christianity came to power shows—the critics were killed and the incest taboo was accepted as the very truth of God and Nature.

The denial of the need for self-sacrifice and its substitution with state murder (only the state has the right to kill) is the dogma of our day. The dogma that tells us that the individual has no right to take charge of his-her own life-death, penetrates even the circle of so-called revolutionaries. While not averse to war, they have a nihilistic concept regarding self-sacrifice, i.e., one kills one’s self (a better word is one “explodes” as a “suicide terrorist”) to kill as many bystanders as possible. In effect, the resistance of intelligence to neo-Christian dogma and its violence wrought modern state has been cleansed of the arch-Christian concept of death as a responsibility of a mature mind.

The absence of death from the lives of modern individuals has resulted in unsustainable numbers of people populating our planet. Because of habits long preached and enforced by the modern state in alliance (a charade) with state-created neo-Christian religion, one unexpected result is a exponential increase of human births.

The 6.8 billion people on Earth today are far beyond the 2 billion that our planet can support and sustain indefinitely. The established mindset believes that war and pestilence will eventually take care of the surplus billions. At the same time, death of 4.8 or more billion people begs the mind to perform murder on such a scale, that it cannot face it. Nor can it think of a solution. After all, it has condemned the acts of Hitler and Stalin as atrocities. What is to be done?

At the present (see ), we imagine the problem as an invasion of aliens. Since we cannot think of killing them as Hitler would have, we imagine death as a kind of perpetual concentration camp. Still, as the film illustrates, our mindset is not free of fascist solutions.

P.S. A philosopher from the left, Slavoj Žižek, opposes self-sacrifice and taking charge of one’s own death. Žižek, a Slovenian Marxist philosopher, who is now international director of the Birbeck Institute for the Humanities at London University (Financial Times, 3/6/2009) is against individual sacrifice. While in one sense Žižek fresh air in a rancid political environment, the air is so much under the control of inertia that it keeps even Žizak from breaking away from the neo-Christian shadow.

In his book called “Interrogating the real” (2005), Žižek discusses a film called “The Life of David Gale” (2003). According to Žižek, the film supports “[sacrifice] right up to suicidal sacrifice, as the only proper ethical virtue.” Writes Žižek “…the film fails: it endorses an ethics of radical self-sacrifice for the good of others; it is for this reason that the hero sends the full version of the tape [the evidence]… because he ultimately needs the symbolic recognition of his act. No matter how radical the hero’s self-sacrifice, the big Other is still there.” For Žižek the big Other continues to be big enough to check the will to self-sacrifice.

On the other hand, what if the big Other auto-projects through an act of mimesis? The question that arises is what are we to do with it then, when it is, thus, real?

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