Thursday, 30 October 2014

WE'VE LOST THAT EDENIC FEELING

"Whoopsie daisy! Took a wrong turn out of Paradise, and wound up in Hell."

by Andy Nowicki

According to the Bible, God decided at an early stage, following the initial construction of the heavens and the earth, that "It was not good for man to be alone." The Almighty then devised a plan for man to find fulfillment in his own kind; that is, he split humanity in two, creating wo-man (or "out of man") from the first man's rib.

So the first couple, the now-famous Adam and Eve, came into being. It was God's initial scheme for the establishment of community, for an erasure of human loneliness, but it backfired somehow. Man found a way to re-alienate himself from the true desires of his heart. Some say the man's illicit consumption of a forbidden fruit was to blame, and others maintained that a seductively slithering phallic-shaped creature bewitched the first woman, provoking the treacherous rift. Whatever was the case, the deed was done and couldn't be un-done. What God had joined together, Adam and Eve had found a way to put asunder.

Because of these unfortunate circumstances, man and woman – a pair originally designed to provide joyful succor to one another – instead grew apart, having lost the loving feeling that had so thoroughly infused them both when their Creator first spun them into existence. Neither man nor woman wanted to be alone, but neither found joy in the other's company anymore, either. Man's Creator, once an ever-present force in his day-to-day life, a constant companion even, soon faded from the scene, declining even to speak or show his countenance, until even his very existence came to be questioned by some, and thoroughly doubted by others.

As for man, he transformed from a creature firmly rooted in his divinely-mandated identity, to a spiritual nomad, never at home anywhere on the face of the earth, never truly at peace or at rest. He became an incorrigible Misfit: like one whose clothes never clung to his body properly, being either too loose or too tight, his shoes shoes either too big or too small, never "just right." His state of soul is perhaps best described by Soren Kierkegaard in his sprawling, magisterial and supremely abstruse work Either-Or. Speaking to man in the direct second person, the author tartly observes: 
"If you marry, you will regret it; if you do not marry, you will also regret it; if you marry or do not marry, you will regret both; Laugh at the world’s follies, you will regret it, weep over them, you will also regret that; laugh at the world’s follies or weep over them, you will regret both; whether you laugh at the world’s follies or weep over them, you will regret both... Hang yourself, you will regret it; do not hang yourself, and you will also regret that; hang yourself or do not hang yourself, you will regret both; whether you hang yourself or do not hang yourself, you will regret both."
This quote is almost comical in the extremity of the bleak perspective it presents, but we must put aside those aspects of it which savor of melodramatic pathos  a characteristic self-consciously inserted by Kierkegaard himself, great wit and raconteur that he was, to match the pseudonymous persona he was adapting for this portion of the text. Instead, we should recognize the truth that bleeds through the moaning, groaning, mournful, uber-curmudgeonly words of the speaker. Much as we might not want to admit it, this bombastic jerk's assertions are absolutely correct: regardless of the choices we make in life, there will always be cause for regret. Whatever we do, we will still forever be vexed by an infernal itch that, try as we may, we simply cannot scratch. Such a piece of work is post-Edenic man.
DJ Soren K: Don't jerk with the Kierk!

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One of the things that man badly wants is the very quality his foreparents forfeited: the sense of security which derives from knowing his place within a divinely-ordained existence. Exile from Eden has resulted in the very opposite effect: the atomization of man; Adam's sons have been atomized; ripped away from their roots, cut off from their Source, they dwell now in a perpetual agony of longing for that which first fled from their first father and never subsequently returned.

This baleful state of being is only rendered more unbearable by the conspicuous erosion in religious faith afoot during our indecently hedonistic and loathsomely materialistic age. Man is, properly speaking, a spiritual animal: a godlike being inexplicably strapped to a rotting carcass, awaiting transfiguration while suffocating in the middle of a hellish, death-soaked swamp. But when the prospect of redemption grows dim, and the carcass is all that remains, man's desperation deepens. If he cannot obtain the satisfying "loving feeling" of belonging with woman – who has grown cold to him – or from God – who has simply disappeared from his sight – man turns, (un)naturally enough, to idolatry.

Today, however, man's idols aren't usually presumed preternatural entities. Often, with a certain type of faithless man, idolatry means developing an attachment to a given ideology, as an attempt to make a disingenuous end-run around the inevitable nihilism of atheism. Political movements can indeed ignite quite a fire in a formerly dulled, jaded heart. There is something thrilling about the prospect of being part of a multitude assembled to hear an important speech by a gifted orator, or to march in a rally holding a sign, or otherwise to advocate on behalf of a cause – to be, in short, visibly righteous, at least in one's own mind, before the eyes of the world. But mass movements, whatever they are, whichever cause they advocate, nevertheless retain an essential artificiality. They are less concerned with being than they are with being seen. (Think, for instance, of the insufferable attitudes that always seem to manifest themselves around election time. Does any faithful Catholic kneeling before the altar and receiving the Host feel more worthy of Heaven than many of those smug louts emerging from the secularly sacramental "holy of holies" that is the ballot box, dutifully sporting their "I voted" stickers?)
"Wow! I'm a really great person!!"

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It is, of course, one's duty to stand for good, to oppose evil, to bear witness to that which is true and worthy of defense, in determined defiance against the principalities, powers, thrones, and dominions who mean us endless and perpetual harm. But our ardent desire to be surrounded by fellow-travelers marching in lockstep towards a shared goal is precisely what showcases our stubborn inability to adapt to the disillusionment of our post-Edenic exile. Somehow the notion that we are pretty much on our own, with little real opportunity to influence any outcome, is just too depressing to contemplate, much less admit to ourselves.

In fact, the very cursed state of atomized isolation is itself hard to bear. It causes us to entertain some rather foolish fantasies. We want very badly to be able to stand in the midst of a crowd of like-minded individuals: spouting the same slogans with one voice, making the same demands from the powers-that-be, and in the process, subsuming our autonomy into some nebulous but prospectively enthralling "collective will." We wish to dissolve ourselves into an orgiastic, Dionysian ecstasy of communal bonding. In short, we want out of our self-enclosed alienation, and seek the alluring prospect of renewed covalency with our fellow exiles.

We "Alt-Righters," for example, look forward to the day when our ideas and ideals (disparate as they are among different factions of our community) won't render us a hated, marginalized minority, considered positively leprous by polite society, as is the case today. We fantasize about someday becoming the New Establishment, of knocking our enemies out of the high towers they currently occupy, and taking their places of power for ourselves. The lust for a sense of attachment to a cause, in this case, merges with an overall burning wish to belong, even to rule.

But what if belonging simply isn't in the cards for us in this vale of tears? Perhaps we were NOT put here for the purpose of becoming a part of an ever-growing scene with ever-more ascendant popularity and appeal. Perhaps instead, we are simply meant to serve as brave witnesses to truths which may never be acknowledged, but which are no less truthful for all that.

(to be continued)


Andy Nowicki, co-editor of Alternative Right, is the author of eight books, including Under the NihilThe Columbine PilgrimConsidering Suicide, and Beauty and the Least. He occasionally updates his blog when the spirit moves him to do so.

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