They poured out onto the streets in their tie-dyed thousands, marching as a rag and feather mob, shuffling, milling, stopping traffic, dropping litter and detritus in their trail, moving toward an assembly point where they were to stand listening to speakers exhorting the crowd to-- to do nothing at all. There was no point in the mass rally. They in their thousands assembled only to be seen as a group of like-minded folks “doing something,” protesting. Doing nothing at all. The occasion could have been for anything, and perhaps it was. A demonstration. The only purpose for at least those with a pretense of seriousness was to be seen hating. It was a communion, this rally, of Big-Hate, a mob of bourgeois bohemians being seen hating.
A tall, thin, straw-haired woman in an India cotton dress turned and screamed, her throat tearing: “America is the most violent nation in history, more evil than Nazi Germany!” Her face was twisted and her eyes were bulging. She carried on in the grip of hysteria for as long as her voice lasted. “We must disarm unilaterally.” Her kind of hate probably felt better for her than any sex she might have had in her life. Her hate was powerful and all her own, stirring, fulfilling, exciting, almost passionate. She worked herself up and let loose on the crowd around her. Most were embarrassed, and not just those who thought of unilateral disarmament as completely stupid, as stupid as the suggestion that she walk unarmed through the South Bronx with a fiver stuck in her pocket. The woman's self-satisfying hatred itself was embarrassing. Her masturbatory performance in pubic embarrassed those who witnessed it. It was all made-up for her benefit alone, and it reflected the ultimate phoniness of the entire massed attendants at the rally against-- or was it in support of-- whatever. It wasn't about anything but the chance to show off in public feeling one didn't genuinely have, in this case, hatred. It was a chance to put on India cotton and show oneself as poor and hip and in a state of rage against injustice. Next day it was back to the office to type and file and live the ordinary drudgery of life as a private person of small to no account. Tiny, straw-haired and stupid. Pointless, dull, and crude. Ah, to have feelings, even if they aren't real. Homely bo. bo. Lots of them in a crowd. “America is evil. I hate America! Long live world peace. Death to America!” Hate. Not just hate. Not just personal animosity toward some wrong-doer whom one knows. Not personal feeling. This is grander, stronger, better: this is Big-Hate.
Big-Hate comes to those who work at it. When it comes it feels pretty good. It must, because those who get it refuse to let it go. They feed it till it becomes their whole life's reason. For one with a lack of person Big-Hate is the person. It makes the person himself Big. Those who don't have it are small. They are even evil. One can rightly Hate them in a Big way. If one can find others who hate big then one is a big part of a Big Hate, part of a Big-Hate. One is no longer a small and stupid woman but is as huge as her inflated hatred, even if that hatred is as empty, flaccid, and as stupid as she herself. The thing to hate though must be Big, must be equal to the feelings generated, must compare in significance to the one who hates it, else the hatred will seem insignificant, matching too closely the person herself. If the enemy is mediocre, then the hatred will seem petty, will make the hater seem silly, pathetic, and boring. No, it's got to be Big-Hate!
As a youth I belonged to a street-gang in my neighborhood, “The Deadly Poets.” We stenciled spectacles on the backs of our Harris tweed jackets, and we roamed the suburbs looking for young people to pound and humiliate, those who didn't wear glasses. “Hey, Two-eyes,” we'd say to some unsuspecting football player, “What doth thou parseth of this: That thou hast a leadless pencil, a 'blunt sword,' as Petronius writes in The Satryicon?” We were the terror of the 'hood, needless to say, feared far and yon o'er the misty moors and twixt the heathery glens. We were a force to reckon with, we were, our mighty pens wielded like scimitars against the Philistines. Unfortunately, as one of our members found to his black-eyed dismay, alone we were goofy and nerdish, likely to be beaten up and our tofu lunches tossed on the ground in disgust by others, even by girls.
Hating the captain of the high school football team was fine only to a small extent, and only so long as we were polite when he saw us. But hating him was not to our high standard opinion of ourselves. We tried for a full semester hating the Petrarchians. It was nobler in the mind, as one of us pointed out. But.... No, not really what we hoped for. Over the years most of us turned twelve and grew out of it. Some didn't. Some found big things to hate. Some found that though those things don't really exist in the objective universe, it doesn't matter at all. The point is to hate, to find a way to feel something intense in an otherwise empty being. Those without sense, skills, or talent found meaning in Big-Hate.
This is going to be a tough one, but we must be strong.
Which is more fulfilling:
A.) To save Mother Nature from the capitalist conspiracy that is killing the whole Earth in pursuit of profit;
B.) To save the whales, the Amazon rain forests, and stop acid rain;
C.) To create stop war, create universal love and peace, and stop social injustice right now;
D.) To sit in a laboratory for two years conducting really boring experiments day in and day out?
If you picked A., B., and/or C. you could dress up in India cotton and go to rallies where others can watch you hate the evil system.
If you are boring and don't care about the world and Mother Earth and stuff; if you aren't prepared to “do something right now to save the world”; if, in fact, you picked D. you might well be a scientist. For shame, dupe of the capitalist hegemons. You suck, and all right-thinking people hate you.
To be a teen-age Gnostic is to know certainly that there are answers to the questions of “Why is there suffering in the world?” and to know exactly how to stop the evil conspirators from engaging in it further. To have this higher knowledge, one must “Act now.” It means that because of the frustrations encountered in this state, because of the horror of “As it is,” one should hate.
Knowing what others do not know, having the answers to all the questions of grand import, and not having the personal power to make ones will the norm, one should hate those who thwart the will of The People. Because the answers to the problems of evil in the world are so simple to address and so needed so urgently, the evil must be the result of the will of the most powerful people this side of planet Zargos, must be The Jooos. It's all so obvious. And if in ones life one is relegated to being a clerk no one pays attention to, then one must express oneself in public with others, with The Masses in solidarity with the People.
But one must not be too proud. One must accept that one is part of the problem, also guilty of causing the problem, that one must accept blame for the conditions of the Palestinian refugees and the whales and acid rain-soaked forests. One must humiliate oneself to find grace. To be able to rightly hate, one must first be holy. There is holiness in humility. There is holiness in denial of luxuries. There is holiness in the humility of vegetables and India cotton dresses. There is holiness in poverty-- to an extent that it doesn't actually hurt.
Once the holiness is reached, then the hate is pure. Once one is holy, then the ordinary aspects of ones mediocre being no longer matter. It's not the accomplishments of ones life that matter, its the holiness of feeling and the secret knowledge of the universe that makes one special. When one is holy, then one must hate evil passionately; and one should make sure others are aware of the sin all around us. One must become a missionary of the holiness of-- whatever. Not sackcloth and ashes, no hair shirts and flagellation; one must wear India cotton, ride a broken-down bicycle naked through the streets at rush-hour, must scream hatred, if in slogans. It feels good to feel something, righteous hatred, anything at all but the disappointment of a dull life one cannot better. Hate, hate, hate. Make it a Big-Hate. Join others, bohemian bourgeoisie, bo. bo.s, in a communion of Big-Hate. It's “Doing something important!” Oh yeah, deathtoamerica.
Big-hate is a substitute for feeling. Hey, it must work, given the numbers who join the communion to express it in public. (Shhh: Big-Hate is the opiate of The People.)
For those who are small and dull there is always Big-Hate. For those who are stupid and unfeeling there is Big-Hate to make them feel big and important even if only as tie-dye covered specks in a mob. Together they can change the world. Alone they can't change their underwear. Never mind. Of the rightness of their moral, of the truth of their insights they are certain, for they are guilty, and they are holy. To be holy is to be certain of ones truth. To be certain is to require others know the truth as well. It must be a mission. One must, if one can, save the world and Mother Nature. It's not quite Kant, but he's so hard to follow that let's again never mind the details. All else is morally certain. Hate evil. Big Hate.
Alone, alone, alone. What's a boring dullard to do? Free to do as one will, one does nothing but flee ones freedom to try to return to the comfort of the herd. The protection of not having to be alone, the communion of the holy bo. bo.s
To save the world is important. To hate social injustice is a big thing. To feel deeply about Suffering of The Palestinian People is to have a Big-Hate. To sit around in a lab doing the same boring task day after day is more or less what most of us do anyway, and we don't get much from it because we don't do much in it. It's humiliating to be so boring. One expects more. More is required. And when more is not forthcoming, will never be, then one must seek out something that at least pretends to give meaning.
Modernity is for some an empty thing of trite routine and alienation. The meat of living is gone. There is no heroism left. There is no pain and glory. There is no order for one to find a place in. But if one can find an order, make one in the barren midst of Modernity, then there is hope. If one can make an order in the wasteland of Modernity that gives one a group to be of, a place in the group, and a holiness in the belonging, then one can again find a reason for living; and if one can find an enemy who is totally evil, then in comparison one can find oneself entirely holy, not alone, but one of a group of angels who must eventually triumph, even if one must die for this Eden's return. Life, no longer pointless, becomes certainly worthwhile.
To hate modernity.
“To be a scientist requires not only intelligence and curiosity, but passion, patience, creativity, self-sufficiency, and courage. It is not the courage to venture into the unknown. It is the courage to accept-- indeed, embrace-- uncertainty.”1.
The essence of fascism is the submission to the certainty of hierarchies of order and power. There is more, but order is primary. Within order is place; and in place is security. All is right so long as the order is authoritative. Every injustice, every outrage, every cruelty and harm is good if it follows the order of the hierarchies. Crushed by the Great Chains of being, those who are crushed are embraced by the certainties of its rightness in an order they need now understand. The kingdoms: Mineral, Vegetable, Animal, Human, Heavenly; all things have a place properly therein, and each kingdom is above or below in right order. Today, cut off from the old orders of the Middle Ages, from the age the certainties of God and Heaven and Hell, the newly free are lost in their freedom, and they, some, resent it, not only for themselves but for others. There is no certainty no more. Science? No, there is in it the need to be uncertain. Modernity itself is a vast openness, a destruction of order. Modernity is a freedom of individuals to not know. It is unholy. It does things that further alienate The People from the natural order of life as it was. Food is no longer organic. People no longer live n communes together, and they don't know the names and personalities of each other's ducks. Modernity is a privacy. Life is chosen and made by virtue of the individual. No one has the power to make others do as they should. There is no order. It is therefore evil. One must hate such evil. Lonely, lonely, lonely; and dull. Unable to feel, too stupid to think, the fascist flees to the remnants of the herd and the lash of the moral master of order, the povertarian who promises forgiveness if only one repents of ones rebellion against the Gnostic vision, if one returns to the community of the Human farm.
Life is out of balance. We in the Modern West have too much because we've taken it from those who now have too little. We should give back to the community. We are not at one with Nature like authentic peoples. Out of balance.
“Like the Hippocratic writers, Galen believed that illness was essentially the result of an imbalance in the body.” 2.
What kind of world are we seeing in the povertarian Gnostic's presentation of reality? One medieval. We see a world-view of sado-masochistic pseudo-religion, of a missionary zeal without a mission, without a purpose outside the egos of the missionaries. The humility that one finds in surrender to a higher power in the truly religious is here replaced with the Gnostic's vision as the higher power itself. God, in this nightmare world, is the povertarian Gnostic's vision of the paradise he will create on Earth. The Gnostic is the prophet of his own vision of the Eden to come. He repents of his original sins, just like a true believer, but he doesn't do so to attain a clearer purpose but to sanctify his current superiority over others. And then, others must attain to be under his control, the control of the neo-serf in bondage to the lord of the farm-hold. Balance restored, order made right again.
More next time.
Before I forget, "deathtoamerica."
1. John M. Barry, The Great Influenza. New York: Penguin; 2005, p. 261.
2. ibid: p. 18.