Sunday, June 13, 2010

Then Virgil The

"Then Virgil, the personification of poetic insight, appeared and conducted him through the labyrinth of hell, which is the place of those fixed to their desires and fears, who can't pass through to eternity."

Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

* * *

When you are fixed to your fears and desires, when those fears and desires occupy the entirety of your thought, your consciousness, when those desires and fears, cemented by habit, become walls, blocking out everything but the self-fulfilling misery of unquenchable desire and unmitigated fear, you are, in a word, fucked.

Hell is the place of the fucked. There is no fire-y furnace, no horned demon lord. There's just you fucking yourself because you can't let go of the hurt, the bewilderment, the loss, the longing, the stupefaction that comes when life doesn't unfold to meet your laziness and dolor. Being smart is no balm. In fact it makes it worse because you have the capacity to see the depth of your fuckedness, but have no ability to unwind it.

It is no sin, no stain, no judgment to be fucked; it becomes so only when you refuse to take the cure, when you refuse to let go of whatever it is that is keeping you locked in place, just as the lost souls at the bottom of Dante's hell are frozen in ice.

Viktor Frankl, in his seminal work, Man's Search For Meaning, in describing the condition of concentration camp prisoners says this:

"What was really needed was a fundamental change in our attitude toward life. We had to learn ourselves and, furthermore, we had to teach the despairing man, that it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life - daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual."

As a man who has devoted hours and hours and years and years to talk and meditation and excluded the demand, the call to action, I can tell you it fucks you up right good. Right action, right conduct, right answers to the constancy of the tasks presented to you is the unfucking I am writing about. I am not dismissing the substantial benefits of meditation, or thought, or discourse - quite the opposite. The argument is that all such thought must be matched to action. How else will you know what the right answer is? But having figured it out in theory you have to have the balls to test it against reality.

Your unwillingness to grow a pair is the cowardice that fucks you.

* * *

One doesn't need to be captive to the horrors of a concentration camp to learn this. In fact, their suffering, humiliation and death are the prices paid for you to luxuriate in your fucked, stuck life. Another marker of the fucked is the paucity and dearth of an imagination that can see others have suffered more and worse and have overcome such suffering. It may have come at the point of blade, or the barrel of a gun, but freedom is something more than living.

You are going to die, my friend.

When will you live?

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