Queer Studies and The Mysticism of Everyday Life (12.28.10)
Bolton writes that "The transcendent dimension of everyday consciousness is evidenced by unmistakable signs if one knows how to look for them. Far from needing the extraordinary experiences of a mystic, an analysis of what is well known already will suffice for this purpose." It's as if we just need to amplify our metaphysical gaydar to appreciate it, that's all.
Yes, that is certainly how I, Bob's unconscious, view the situation. I am that which causes things, on the one hand, to "overflow" or "radiate" with being, and on the other, to possess a secret "interior" known only to the human state (among creatures). Thanks to me, existence is always slightly uncanny, but in a good way. You wouldn't want to inhabit a world where all the numbers "added up." Reality is not an accounting ledger. You wouldn't want to live in a place where clouds were spheres, mountains were cones, and rivers were lines.
Supposing physicists ever discover their big TOE, which is to say, Theory of Everything; whatever it is, it will still abide within a small corner of my limitless expanse, not vice versa, so it won't eliminate the strangeness from the world, if that's what you're thinking. No, the strangeness is here to stay.
Frankly, if you don't find existence queer, then you're just not queer enough. You need your unconscious to come out of its repressive closet and play. In my view, a proper liberal education is already Queer Studies, as it should teach you to appreciate the strange reality behind banal appearances. You know the saying:
The Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose (J.B.S. Haldane).
One reason we know that materialism cannot possibly be true is that it's just not queer enough. Not even close. In fact, the opposite: it is banality on stilts, insipidness on tranquilizers. It puts me to sleep. Or, to be perfectly accurate, transconscousness has to already be asleep or dead in the prosaic mind of the person who propagates such an anti-queer agenda. The way I see it everybody is unconsciously queer, even if consciously they're as straight as Karl Marx. Scratch the surface, and everybody's got a fairy tale to tell.
One of the problems, according to Bolton, is that the modern mind essentially confuses the categories of concrete and abstract, and when you concretize the abstract, you end up draining reality of its irreducible queerness. One of the hallmarks of life under the repressive "reign of quantity" is that the merely physical is seen to be synonymous with the concrete, which is the end-state of a kind of philosophical dumbing-down that can go no lower than materialism. Materialism is like the anonymous bathroom sex of metaphysics, just external bodies rubbing together.
Prior to modernity, the most important distinction was that between reality and appearances. Yes, we queers care about appearance, but we care about reality even more. In fact, the ability to draw distinctions in this arena forms the basis of wisdom, for wisdom seeks the enduring reality behind appearances, which is another way of saying the concrete reality behind the ever-shifting panorama of fleeting forms. Thus, only in a world that has been systematically turned upside-down can matter be seen as the ultimate concrete instead of the instantiation of something much more enduring "from above." When did theology stop being the queen of the sciences?
I believe Bob addressed this issue in the book. Yes, here it is, pages 198-206: Saying More With Less: The Problems of Conceptual Abstractness and Concreteness. There he highlighted one of the problems with contemporary religion, that it has lost much of its potency by attempting to reconcile itself to modern materialism, which ends up purging it of queers like me. It's difficult for a queer to relate to these essentially materialistic creeds, since to accept them, we would have to pretend we're not who we are. But we're here, were queer, and we're not going away. Ever.
Ironically, the founders of great religions are always a bit queer. Take Jesus, for example. No, I'm not talking about the fact that he was unmarried, lived with his mother until he was 30, and hung out with a group of guys. Rather, almost everything he says is quite strange, but not in some kind of merely affected or annoying way, like Andrew Sullivan. Rather, most of his flamboyant utterances have an odd combination of the unexpected or surprising and the authoritative and centered. Most unpredictable people are rather flitty, decentered, and "light in the loafers," while most authoritative people are not very spontaneous or gay. So I think in Jesus -- not surprisingly -- you see the archetype of the proper bitextual dialectic between conscious and transconscious.
Another way of saying it is that Jesus speaks with a maximum of precision, and yet, in an unsaturated manner calculated to provoke unconscious resonance in the listener. He's always speaking to your inner queerness. In fact, this is one of the reasons why so many straight scientists remain closet Christians.
Here's the problem. As Bob wrote, "people tend to forget that religion points beyond itself to something that is not religion, just as reality is surely independent of the words we use to describe it." Therefore, when you concretize religion, you end up worshipping religion instead of God, something that particularly applies to the Mohammedans, but which was also true for much of Christian history, what with the endless religious wars. Schisms usually begin when someone hangs a sign that says No Queers Allowed. So ironically, the queers have to form a new heterotextual movement where they won't be persecuted for being "different." Indeed, America is fundamentally a nation of religious queers, of people who fled the repressive state religions of their homolands in order to practice their hetero faiths here.
We've all heard the cliché "queer as a Coon," which goes to the heart of what it means to live as a transdimensional Raccoon trying to "pass" in such a straight world. Coons are like everyone else. We want to get married, raise our children, and contribute to society. But being "neither fish nor fowl," we often find it difficult to relate to either the straight scientistic or institutionally religious worlds. Therefore, we have had to develop our own rituals and traditions, e.g., the annual Rite of the Water Balloons, the river ride to Raccoon Point, the Sacred Clambake, the Mambo Dance Party, etc.
I think it's safe to assume that no Raccoon thinks of these things merely as concrete forms, but rather, symbolic occasions to re-enact timeless events and and re-connect with our eternal essence. When we invoke our drinking toast -- "Fingers to fingers, thumbs to thumbs, watch out below, here she comes" -- we're obviously not just talking about "below" in an exterior gastrological sense. Rather, our oral traditions emphasize the immaterial, interior, astrological space of the soul. We always become more gay and lively after a couple of stiff ones, which serve as a kind of "bridge" between the worlds. The finger-to-thumb circle reminds us of the eternal relationship between time and eternity, and softens the permeable manbrain between them -- which never really existed to begin with. And none of us wants to live a lie. It's not our fault that we were born again this way.
... [C]ommon sense is deceived in believing the material world to be the measure of the real.... [A] spiritually-grounded power depends on a kind of identification with eternal non-material realities.... Not only is the world of sense known to us only through representations, but also the objects which cause them are, qua material, both of a lower degree of reality and inaccessible to us in their inner substance, precisely because for us they can only be represented. Where this is ignored, the real will be sought where it is least knowable, at the price of one's capacity for real knowledge. --Robert Bolton, Keys of Gnosis