Friday, December 28, 2007

Queer Studies and The Mysticism of Everyday Life (12.28.10)

You are bringing some queer ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean. --Acts 17:20

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

14 Comments:

Blogger walt said...

Bob wrote,
"Frankly, if you don't find existence queer, then you're just not queer enough."

Then I coonfess: I am 'queer enough'! There have been times when I was gay, too! I have even noticed feminine aspects to my nature!

A Raccoon's dream - to feel so accepted! And no, I don't want to live a lie.

12/28/2007 09:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful series of posts. Bob's Unconscious, freed from purty-writing-concerns, brings home the lightly-streaked bacon!

Just started Keys of Gnosis, described as right on the One Cosmos bulls-eye, "a vital connecting link" between "a democratic kind of faith meant for simple believers, and divine mysteries so high that hardly anyone can claim to know much about them."
Just starting it, I haven't discovered any direct discussion of the subject, but somehow doubt he's on board with invented ceremonials.

Sure, every family and group has its routines, elevated into minor ceremonies. However, having suffered the misfortune of seeing Jean Houston cavorting rhetorically in a pseud-Greek toga, I'm convinced that overweighting arbitrary ceremonial inventions is a scourge, a [however KewlClever&Ironic] huffing-and-puffing Dionysius in rented clericals.

What's the problem in taking one's individual spirit and simple-or-complicated sensibilities to the, uh, time-tested ones like Mass? I'm pretty sure the others when preferred and used as substitutes are repetitive diversionary tactics, bottled baco-bits that won't tempt the Hound of Heaven and may attract predators. In addition to which, think of the silent power drawn in by those who are not worshipping the religion, but making an effort to hear with "a maximum of precision, and yet, in an unsaturated manner."

Or maybe not. YMMV.

Happy New Year's weekend, everybody.Ah,January 2008, a learning curve for those who still pay by check.

dilys

12/28/2007 09:42:00 AM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

I wish I knew how
to quit you world of matter
bob to the rescue

Motel Zero is a year old, thanks to stumbling across One Cosmos once upon an eternity and thereby getting me off my slacker duff. Thanks Bob, Petey, Dupree, Bob's Unconscious, and all fine furry fellow Raccoons for all the mind expanding mayhem!

So it's partay time at the Motel today, including rides in the Timeless Machine, newly installed in the workingitallout center. Drop by, sample some grog, and take a leap into the O-Pool. Free real bacon!

12/28/2007 10:15:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

You know, one of these days we're going to have to have not just a metaphorical clambake, but a concrete one. If we all promise to queer it up a bit, it could be the best of both worlds. :)

By the way, Bob's Unconscious, you're freakin' hilarious. So's Robin.

12/28/2007 12:43:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

ISS.

That was one of the quearest posts I've ever come across.

oh my,
wv: ffairy swear to odd.

12/28/2007 01:24:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

“…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."

YES! Word, Way, Truth, Life, Light, Love - none of these point to “themselves” as the Reality to be worshipped, but past themselves to their Source. “Religion” is a name for belief systems of all kinds and only a POSSIBLE means to the end – it is never The End. The End is beyond “religion”. The End is a personal relationship with Reality – the living triune God. Spiritual growth is the deepening of one’s relationship with Reality. Unless religion is instrumental to that deepening, has it any Real value? Many worship the Word, the Way, the Truth, etc. as if they were The End. It’s as if one sees a signpost or billboard describing the destination and decides it is enough to have come this far. Even Jesus did not point to Himself as The End, but to the Father beyond Him.

Talking about “the mysticism of everyday life”, I go back again to Paul’s encouragement to “walk by the Spirit”, be “led by the Spirit”. Is that not as queer and mystical as it gets? Or is it? What if it is actually the most practical advice ever given? But how does one “walk by the Spirit”? Hmmm, perhaps The Man Himself provided a clue as to the “how” when he quoted from something written long before.

Just thinkin’ out loud here…now back to eating…uh…reading.

wv: iorfupwh (typing it once should have been enough)

12/28/2007 02:46:00 PM  
Blogger shoprat said...

About 20 years ago I heard a college physics professor say that he believed the quark (the building block of sub-atomic particles) was nothing more then a bend of the three dimensional space into a fourth dimension. If that is even remotely true it would make material existence very "queer" indeed. It would move Physics very close to Theology.

12/28/2007 03:01:00 PM  
Anonymous coonified said...

Nice Nomo.

What the heck is manna? Strongs dictionary of bible words says "what is this, or whatness." Also, an "edible gum-like substance." Some people, like Terence Mckenna, would say that the what the Isralites (some of them, at least) were eating were Magic Mushrooms. Whatcha think of that? Sounds believeable. I could see how "Whatness" and "what is this" could come out of the experience of psilocyban.

12/28/2007 08:09:00 PM  
Anonymous at in la said...

Nomo: you're wrong on a few points from a Christian standpoint.

"Word, Way, Truth, Life, Light, Love - none of these point to “themselves” as the Reality to be worshipped, but past themselves to their Source."

Jesus Himself said he was the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and we rightly worship Him as Lord if we are Christian. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God..."

God or the Source is Love, is Life, is Truth, etc... It's who God is, not only descriptions.


And also,

"“Religion” is a name for belief systems of all kinds and only a POSSIBLE means to the end – it is never The End. The End is beyond “religion”. The End is a personal relationship with Reality – the living triune God. Spiritual growth is the deepening of one’s relationship with Reality. Unless religion is instrumental to that deepening, has it any Real value?


True, God is beyond religion, but we aren't. We are religious by nature. And that's why God established one with the Jewish people.

The Judeo-Christian religions are not ways and means to attain spiritual enlightment, but are responses to God's invitation to a deeper relationship with Him. God comes to man...covenant relationship.

"Even Jesus did not point to Himself as The End, but to the Father beyond Him."

Jesus claimed that He and the Father were One and the same.

This should seem obvious if you believe and worship the Triune God. Three divine Persons in One...

12/29/2007 12:55:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Bravo Zulu, Bob's Unconcious!
May I call you BU for short?
You got the straight aye for the queer guy. Wink wink.

You're raisin' the gaybar of the metaphysical gaydar.

"So I think in Jesus -- not surprisingly -- you see the archetype of the proper bitextual dialectic between conscious and transconscious."

Not to be too keyqi, I would even go so far as to say polytextual.

"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."

Bullsaye! Right on target!

"We always become more gay and lively after a couple of stiff ones, which serve as a kind of "bridge" between the worlds."

Ah yes, it's been awhile since I said this: the bridge over the river why.

Isn't why the first question we ask as children?
For that matter, we still do, don't we?
It's an intrinsic part of the queer Coon's cureyOsity!

Thanks, BU, for openin' the closet door so we can see our wordrobe for what it is! :^)

12/29/2007 04:22:00 AM  
Blogger walt said...

E tu, Ben?

Queer like me: Dang! Who'da thunk it?

12/29/2007 04:28:00 AM  
Anonymous coonified said...

a at in la:

"YES! Word, Way, Truth, Life, Light, Love - none of these point to “themselves” as the Reality to be worshipped, but past themselves to their Source."


Well, if it's implied that reality is a matter of degree, then all of the lesser manifestations of "Word, Way, LIfe, Light, Love" could certainly be seen as pointing beyond themselves, as not 'being of this world'.

Or, we could say that what love does issue forth from the source never ceases to be Divine at all, and should be seen as such in the world; and probably is seen as such by someone who has become Being as Such.

What the Christian Doctrines exactly say, I'm not sure. I tend to be the type to kind of wonder off and looking for experiential validation, corroborating with whatever info I can.

Also:

"True, God is beyond religion, but we aren't. We are religious by nature."

Your right, God is beyond relgiion, but I would have to add that some peoples' relgions are beyond others. For example, the relgion of Jesus is consummate with The Father, as you said. Not everyones relgion is like that.

I could be wrong on these points, though; I am always open to correction. :)

12/29/2007 06:47:00 AM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

Oh dear. So many quips, so little time!

"Straight aye for the queer guy" is priceless, Ben!

Don't you think it's time that Bitextuals and Polytextuals should be welcome into polite society? You should see how they decorated my den!

12/29/2007 07:46:00 AM  
Anonymous dloye said...

Wonder and thanksgiving
Keys to the kingdom.

Tried to congratulate RS on his year of hotel Zero, but can't post a comment there. Hope he can spot it here.

Thanks to Bob, Robin, and coons all.

12/29/2007 07:50:00 AM  

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