Looking for Slack in All the Wrong Places
Yes, we realize most of you don't care about this subject, but perhaps you don't realize that we don't care that you don't care. For if we did care, it would diminish the very slack we are trying to cultivate and maintain.
Or, to put it another way, we care very much about you and your slack, but slack is often at odds with one's own perceived self-interest. Slack is no respecter of persons, at least in the anonymous sense. Slack is, however, a great respecter of individuals, and in many ways one could say that individualism is slack lived.
What I mean is that if you are not yourself -- if you are living a lie in one form or another -- then you have no slack. Where 1 cannot be 1 self, 1 is a kind of zero, or Ø.
Therefore, the first rule of slack is to become who you are, or at least to stop pretending to be what you are not.
Sadly, many people are so immersed and invested in the Lie, that there is no turning back. Not surprisingly, such a person is heavily defended, so it is difficult to penetrate his dense farcefield and storm his hidden slacktuary.
If your home is not a peaceful and loving I-land of slack in an Øcean of general slacklessness, then you're probably not going to find it. Yes, your religion is here to deliver you from slacklessness, but for most people, family is the field in which this becomes most operative and apparent.
Naturally, the ingression of slack affects other areas -- e.g., intellect, creativity, and social relationships -- but there is a good reason why family is so central to Judaism and Christianity -- why marriage is a sacrament, why children are a gift, and why the family in general is a laboratory of trinitarian Love.
Some form of monasticism also works -- either exterior or interior -- but to the extent that we are drawn down into the world drama, we will probably lose ourselves.
Don Colacho has many perceptive aphorisms along these lines, for example -- and this is a big one -- Few people do not need circumstances to complicate their souls a little.
It should all be so simple: man woman, hungry eat, tired sleep, mind learn, spirit truth, freedom play. But truly, most people cannot handle the simplicity. Complexity inevitably creeps in, which then requires a constant output of slack in order to maintain. Complexity is the way of anti-Slack; conversely, unity, or communion, is slack's seal and crown.
In the end you will lose, because Death is the most dreadful form of slack removal awaiting you at the end of all the complications. Death is so simple! He cuts you down to size, whoever you are, and renders you as simple as a date on a headstone.
If Death is simple, so too must be its "adversary." This occurred to me yesterday while reading a passage by then Cardinal Ratzinger. For the Christian, Jesus has transformed death itself into the ultimate slack, freeing us from its icy grip. Therefore, there is no need to construct elaborate psychic defenses against it. Life is no longer a project of death denial.
Freud had a saying about the purpose of psychoanalytic therapy: where id was, there ego shall be.
What he meant by this is that our psychic world expands as the personal conscious mind colonizes and transforms more of the impersonal and unconscious "it" within (id is German for it). In other words, in each of us is the I and the It, in a dialectical process of gradual transformation.
As you watch your child grow, you can see more of his It becoming I. But most people, as they mature, have to leave a lot of unresolved It behind, only to be unwillingly dealt with later in the strangest and most inconvenient places! For example, residual It from one's relations with parents may haunt a marriage.
Look at a couple of recent examples, the political actor and the socialist predator. Both were waylaid and overtaken by their It.
When the It is roaming free, it always feels like slack. But it is false slack unless it is unified with, and personalized in, the higher self. Look at the fine mess Strauss-Kahn's It has gotten him into! His false slack has been abruptly foreclosed, and all of his power cannot retrieve it.
Such complicated lives those two must have been leading. For a secret life is a complicated life.
We all have a public life, a private life, and a secret life. The public life is our persona with which we negotiate the Conspiracy and get through the day. Our private life is where we are free to be ourselves without reserve.
However, the more of one's private self can be expressed in public, the more content we will be. In other words, you don't want your public life to be too much at odds with your private life. To take the first example that comes to mind, if you are the type of person who cherishes truth, it would be quite painful to be a trial lawyer.
Likewise, the more of our secret life we can get into our private life, the more fulfilled we will be. This is where true intimacy arises -- where there are no secrets, and each can give him- or herself to the other without reserve.
We have all felt this vast realm of slack at one time or another. For example, when we first fall in love, one of the reasons why it is so blissful is because of this expansive feeling of intimacy: of two private selves in communion.
But what happens? The It! It is commonly the case that, to paraphrase Freud, people have a hard time loving the person they desire and desiring the person they love. These two are split apart into an I of love and an It of desire. The goal, of course, is their union and marriage.
This is why most relationships do not just passively "die." Rather, they are actively killed. There is a chilling book about this subject, Can Love Last?: The Fate of Romance over Time.
Many partners unconsciously seek security over intimacy, and accomplish this by covertly undermining the intimacy, which drains the relationship of passion. The relationship feels "dead," which then makes it easy to imagine that the passion is elsewhere. Rinse and repeat.
This "is not intrinsic to the nature of love itself but is a degradation, a defense against the vulnerability inherent in romantic love" (Mitchell).
Of note, the secret life isn't really so secret unless one is oblivious to its absent-presence. It is always picked up on in one way or another, especially by children -- who won't know what to call it -- resulting in the internalization of the family It.
"The parents' secrets are often a palpable presence in the household, even if, sometimes especially if, they remain unarticulated" (ibid). The secret It-self can become "alluring, forbidden, and mysterious." It is imbued with temptation, which holds out a promise to the It that is always broken.
Life and intimacy are always dangerous and unsettling, which is why most people draw back from the abyss of love and look for slack in all the wrong places.