Balliet asked me the other day if I had religious feelings. I told him that generally, people who I know who have lived with faith are better than the ones who live without it. People who live without faith usually live a parody of the worst aspects of the culture and then organize like monkeys to try and stamp the desires on everyone else. Whole industries have been created that way. But, I had to tell Balliet that I haven't investigated my own feelings about these things. Perhaps I've had great religious experiences and am still in shock that such things still exist.
Sometimes I can see how I have attempted to escape contingency.
I always start to ask questions. Has my family harmed me? No. Has the community I was raised in done me any harm? No. Have the religions which offer themselves from time to time done me personal harm? No. Have political parties done me any personal harm? No Have people in the past who did I did not particularly like do me harm? Not really.
The only things which have done me personal harm are technical machines with their exhausts and poisons- food additives- my own abuses- that which dulls the mind from thinking (propaganda, political rhetoric- double-think etc) emotional stress when I am lessened in my self by some remark or judgement- among others.
Now- it is true that family, community, political party, religions can all dull and repress the desire to think and create- but, ultimately, only if I allow it.
I work with people who have violently rejected the present at some point. Call it future shock, call it escape, call it the desire to find something new and vital in the old. Some of them project their aspirations into crowds of people and when the response falls short of their expectation they fall into despair, if I can use a word like that. It's a word I read in novels while in college. While there I perceived a great threat of doom but always felt protected from it. I did play with lead soldiers from armies of antiquity and the middle-ages. Saladin. He had a red smile and a scimitar raised over his head. And I spent a year reading about the Christian martyr's in Rome, especially those poor young people who were the children of Roman officials and made to renounce their faith to their fathers or be thrown to the lions. Some of them were stoned to death. I've always been curious about why control was absolute in those fabled days. Was the world burning in chaos? Were powerful men and women in love with cruelty and manipulation? Did they believe no one would look at them a few thousand years in the future and question everything they believed? Idle thoughts. I've had many lately.
And the future? The future has an erotic pull to it without question.
The present is not what it advertises itself to be but it is fascinating nonetheless. I know the general controversies; know the general trends. I know the various projects. I know the general political philosophy. I know a little about the stock market; the way business is conducted. I know the basic forms of how things are made. I know the general form of professions. I know a little about the life of rural, suburban and city. I know the freeways and bridges. I know the airports- the popular magazines- I know the crowds of faces. I don't know my place, though I suspect that people are attempting to tell me this all the time. I know the various forms of communication; the various forms of rationalization which take place in the society. <
I do know that there are great levels of frustration; great levels of hate and great levels of despair. I know that most people in this society are overwhelmingly normal and good. I am not sure what normal and good is anymore but nonetheless.
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