Queer Theology and Flaming Fairy Tales
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."
Indeed. It is as if we need only amplify our metaphysical gaydar to perceive what is beyond and receive what is behind.
Yes, this is certainly how I (the wider world of Bob's polymorphous unconscious) perceive the situation. I -- we prefer the more impersonal we -- we are that which causes things, on the one hand, to radiate from, and to overflow with, being; and on the other, to possess a secret "interior" known only to the human state (among creatures).
You might say that we are the deep interior of the cosmos, just as modern physics discloses the "deep exterior" of things; the important point is that the depth proceeds in both directions -- exterior and interior, or objective and subjective -- and in each case shades off into the uncanny.
Yes, thanks to us, 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. God is not a mathematician.
Well, he is, but he is so much more! He is an accountant, but he practices creative bookkeeping, which is why existence is filled with so many loopwholes. For a living organism is a loopwhole, precisely.
Let us suppose that physicists someday discover their big TOE, which is to say, Theory of Everything; whatever it turns out to be, it will still abide within a small corner of my limitless expanse, not vice versa, so it will not eliminate the strangeness from the world, if that's what you're thinking. No, the strangeness is here to stay. To imagine that we can be neatly reduced and packed back into an equation is to imagine it possible to shove the truthpaste back into the tube.
Frankly, if you do not find existence to be flamingly queer, then you are just not queer enough. You need your unconscious to come out of its repressive closet. In our view, a proper liberal education is already Queer Studies, as it should teach one to appreciate the strange reality behind banal appearances. O, there are more things in heaven and earth, my dear tenured ape, than are dreamt up in your feminist ovary towers and straitjacketed looniversity bins! 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 is simply not queer enough to encompass the Real. Not even close. In fact, the opposite: it is shallowness on stilts, barbarism on barbiturates, big talk for a one-eyed fat man. It puts us to sleep and always did. It is for the good little boys and girls, the soul-dead memorizers, the slavish conformists.
Or, to be perfectly accurate, transconsciousness has to already be asleep or dead in the prosaic mind of the person who propagates such an anti-queer agenda. The way we see it, everybody is unconsciously queer, even if consciously they're as straight as Karl Marx or Barney Frank. The leftbrains don't know what their rightbrain's doodling, but scratch the surface and every bitty darweinie's got a fairytale 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 oppressive 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 descend no lower than materialism. Materialism is like the anonymous bathroom sex of metaphysics, just external mental organs rubbing together for some kind of metaphysical release.
Prior to modernity, the most important philosophical 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 and fashions. 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 real "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, in that it has lost much of its textual potency by attempting to reconcile itself to modern materialism, which ends up purging it of queers like us.
It is impossible for an open queer to relate to these straight and linear materialistic creeds, since to accept them we would have to pretend we are not who we are. But we're here, we're 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 in Jesus -- not surprisingly -- one sees the archetype of the proper bitextual dialectic between conscious and transconscious minds, of authority and spontaneity, discipline and freedom.
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 outwardly straight scientists remain closeted Christians -- because scientism simply cannot satisfy their deeper needs and urges.
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 also helped provoke the Christian religious wars.
Schisms usually begin when someone hangs out 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. Raccoons 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 slackraments, e.g., the Beer O'clock Tipple, the annual Rite of the Water Balloons, 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 adult beverages, which serve as a kind of "bridge" between the worlds. The finger-to-thumb circle reminds us of O, and our opposable thumb reminds us of the frictional relationship between time and eternity. All of our slackraments endeavor to soften the semipermeable manbrain between the two worlds -- 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