I keep on having the same conversation over and over again with various activists and people trying to evolve society.
‘What can I do? Am I doing enough?’
‘I do this and it doesn’t fit in with my ideas.’
‘I have to do things to survive in the system that I don’t want to do.’
‘I feel like I should be on the front lines but I can’t manage it.’
Standing back and looking at these kind of phrases, they are all saying a similar thing: ‘The weight of the world is on my shoulders and my concern for the world is all-powerful.’ The standards they are holding themselves to are much higher than those who conform to society’s norms. And taking one step further back they are saying: ‘I am separate from the world.’ This is the bizarre blip of logic which I have found myself in, and it is very pervasive. A division of the self from the ocean of humanity, a kind of ideological transcendence.
When you are in a social circle at the vanguard of change, it is very easy to become separated from the whole. You spend so much time at the fringes that you stop identifying with that you are trying to change. You become, in quite a crude way, ‘transcendent’. This is what allows impossible value systems to emerge, along with confusing cycles of guilt and shame and individualistic self-criticism.
None of us can live an authentic, total anarchism in a capitalist world. Taking that world onto your shoulders and expecting to be able to carry it is a promise to be crushed and broken. As activists, our goal is to transform the world-devouring system into something more creative, not to perfect ourselves within that system.
If you are fighting for a good cause, you have to come out of the other end intact to truly succeed. The movement needs healers, nurturers, carers and therapists in its radical spaces. It needs families, gentleness, comfort and respite from the front lines. A balance between being active and passive needs to be achieved.
Even looking at it from a more detached perspective, the cause needs to look after its warriors just to win. This is not just one battle, but an ideological campaign which could last any length of time – even to the end of our lives.
One does not throw ones warriors mindlessly into battle, expecting them to fight at full strength time and time again without rest. For the capitalist system, people are expendable means to an end. Foot soldiers of the system are not in short supply. They can afford to use people, chew them up and spit them out. The people in power are detached enough from the consequences of their actions to use others, without the bite of conscience.
But for us, every individual person is as precious as the whole.
We cannot allow for expendability, because fundamentally we are in touch with our emotions and sensitive to the world (otherwise, we would not be activists). We cannot commit atrocities or trample over others, because we do not have masks of detachment, and we have not been bent out of shape by decades of false promise.
Activists need to recognise their humanity, and acknowledge their own basic needs before taking but a single step on their path. The capitalist world system maintains itself through the sacrifice of one’s time and the martyrdom of one’s dreams, and we should not be mirroring those warped ‘virtues’ in our own movements.
Do you what you can at this time, in your own time.
There is no way to live a pure life in an impure world, and to even try is to fail. Society is not something to separate from, or demonize as some absolute evil. Instead we need to stay involved, take its resources, dare into the labyrinths of power and come out with its power in our hands. Only this time for the good of all, and the good of the world.
This transformation cannot be achieved (or can only be achieved at immense cost) if you see yourself as separate from the world, and fail to look after yourself as a result. You cannot achieve noble ends if the means are to destroy yourselves and your allies.
You are the good cause.
The equality of species is the cry of the enlightened
They see the web on interconnection that allows us to exist
And that oneness is what is sacred.
The difference between a man and a horse
Shrinks the more you think about it
Realize where we came from
What we all need
And what we will evolve into.
If the difference between species is no gulf
Then what of the differences within a species.
This I believe to be truth…
You can believe that there is ultimately no such thing as race.
You can see the world through universal eyes.
You can believe that everything you have done
Is your own deed, without privilege or oppression.
You can believe that we are all one
And that it is time to move past archaic divisions.
That won’t make it come true
Because the great white sharks in charge have the power
To poison the well for everyone
And they do.
You can say you are not black or white or brown
Just a soul in a body
But will your oppressors see you that way?
And will racists be so enlightened?
And is it in your interests to relinquish your collective might at this point in history?
It is ok to see through the madness of the game power plays
But still play it, because that is how you survive.
Imagine you were offered a pill. Upon swallowing that small, white, round thing, you would cease to feel any of the symptoms of depression or anxiety disorders.
No more insomnia, no more panic, no more suicidal thoughts, no more angst, no more awkwardness, no more feeling isolated, no more feeling like an alien, no more despair.
All of these things would vanish in a matter of minutes, and they would never return. The rate of relapse would be 0%, the pill was that perfect.
Would you take it?
If you have, then you may have just destroyed a large part of yourself in one fell swoop. Seeking a purely medical solution to a spiritual problem, you would have abnegated responsibility to discover yourself, betrayed your soul in a Faustian pact.
Imagine the power it would give the manufacturers of such pills, to dominate others in such a way. Surrendering to them, you would be free from one terrible affliction but, as the saying goes, out of the frying pan and into the fire.
Depression and anxiety can get in the way of ‘life’, but then, what is this life and why should we live it in this way? Insomnia can ruin a work routine, but why would the deepest part of yourself commit such self sabotage? Could it be that the routine itself is the problem, more so than the insomnia?
I see my mental health problems as a quest, an immense riddle, one that cannot be easily sidestepped or shut down. It is useful to sometimes be free from it, distracted or medicated in extreme situations, but only as a break from it, not a total transcendence. As much as I have been on my knees and begged Mephistopheles to take away the anxiety, the vulnerability, the despair, I don’t really mean it.
These dark feelings and deep shadows are there for a reason. If they were not, they would not be there. If you have any degree of sensitivity, you will look upon the world and feel as much of its despair as you do its joy. We are in a troubled time, politically, ecologically, economically, spiritually, you name it. Our systems are failing, and many of us are clinging on to them to the bitter end, for, to use another cliché, better the devil you know.
But there are those of us who, at the very core of our souls, feel absolute revulsion for these broken systems and the price they are exacting on humanity and the world of beasts and plants. This albatross around our necks (there he goes again!) is a necessary one, and is in fact the only real hope of change.
Imagine you were reading a novel, a fantastical one where a hero must overcome herself, confront her deepest demons and strive to discover what is truly inside herself. She may never fully triumph, never fully reach some ‘enlightenment’ or god of healing, but the journey she makes, the heroism of her character, the artfulness of her life, all of these things are inseparable from her. If the hero of the tale simply popped a pill and lost all motivation or drive to self-discovery, then what a terrible tale that would make. It would be trumpeting complacency as the highest virtue.
Complacency is the curse of civilization, for all complacent civilizations are swift to collapse into decadence. The shadow that stalks us, forcing us to evolve, to get better – this is what drives change.
The pill of all-healing would return us to complacency, and thus to the destruction of our true selves. Such ‘light’ cannot exist in our grey world without doing immense harm to the chaotic, beautiful balance we live in. Already people hide from their emotions by wearing the masks of capitalism and individualism. The price the world is paying for this is immense.
I live in my own shadow, a much taller and more powerful version of myself, and I would not magick that looming power away for anything, or anyone.
There is no pill that can take away all of our problems. But there is a change of perception and paradigm we can all make – to see depression and darkness as a sign that something is wrong out there, and thus drive us, when our energy returns to us, to change it.
I am currently reforming, from pure spirit into semi-corporeality. I can feel with highly attuned senses this filling out. The point of wavering, the half-way mark, I have just passed.
It does not mean I will remain this way from now on, only that the cycle is completing itself. Esteem is returning, self-repair units, silent and invisible, are patching things back together in their gradual way; sleep is easy again and I don’t see any gaping holes when I look down.
Self-esteem collapse is something familiar to me. It is a volatile and dangerous state to be in. I feel destructive, drawn to annihilating things people have got for me. It triggers an infinite feedback loop: ‘you need someone, but you are not good enough for anyone’. The friction of these energies causes internal conflict, and drains the soul of its precious resources. In this state I reject others before they do me, and then feel further conflict and guilt for it (despite the fact that it feels right). Everyone is suspect – just because they haven’t abandoned yet, it does not mean they will not. There is a strong element of despair also, things seem inevitable and unchangeable. The only way is to destroy or get away.
I know what it is to be pure spirit, to feel like you have no corporeal form, invisible and insubstantial. To feel like nothing but emotions raging. This is the space where people develop addictions and destroy all that is good in their lives.
I do not understand it, nor how to resolve it. It does seem to go away, or at least recede into the distance. I have started reading on ressentiment, and thankful to the great scholars who have done work on this phenomena. Now that I am returning to the world whole, I can use this opportunity to learn how to break the cycle, or at least delay its return and have longer days of real life.
I am someone who periodically goes though short periods of despair. In these dark moments, I feel hopeless, lost, dependent and incapable. The anxiety is high, insomnia is almost inevitable, there are sometimes thoughts of self-harm, and lots of self-loathing. The way out seems distant, and the light at the other side is no comfort in these horrible moments.
These are uncomfortable and painful feelings. They really make life feel like it is a burden to live. But I am starting to rethink despair.
Despair is not nice, but I feel it can be a drive to positive change. The feelings of hopelessness, whilst unproductive and destructive, do have the flip side of forcing re-evaluation.
We learn through failure. Strength is rising when you fall. Being proven wrong is a necessity to finding what is right.
In order to be a truly ethical and good person, we must evolve and change; for this is the way of nature. This means we need the openness to be challenged, and sometimes to be proven wrong. Being able to lose battles, it seems, is as important to winning them.
Imagine an unconquerable will, that overthrows an oppressor and takes power. What will happen when this all-powerful, immovable force stays in power for too long? What good would that do the people?
I do not advocate feeling despair, at all! It is not exactly a choice. And it is not exactly nic. There are certainly better ways I can go about having the modesty to re-evaluate my life. But despair has been an effective way of doing so thus far; a heavy price to pay for necessary change.
I know that high expectations and a need for instant results feed despair like nothing else. Its very easy to feel like you have failed when ‘not being there yet’ leads to feeling like a total failure. My challenge is to change my pace, accept that I am not there yet, progress slowly, and be patient.
This way I need never feel self-induced despair again, and can change and evolve in a healthier way. Nonetheless, those heavy days of despair were intense bringers of change, they showed my courage in continuing on through it, and I do not feel regret toward such dark emotions.
Since Sunday I was feeling a strong sense of despair. It ended today. I do not feel exactly great, or stable, but I have made some re-evaluations, gained some courage, and change my ways according. For all the hardship and indignity, I feel again that I will get somewhere better, slowly but inevitably.
I have been experimenting recently with staying away from the nest.
It was the built-up feelings of frustration that propelled me out. I remember a day of boldness and surety, really striving to carve out a place for me in the world.
The next day the momentum started to wear off. I was somewhere without my own personal, safe space. Back to the nest, and then away again.
But this time away meant feeling a strong sense of abandonment and desolation. I had a feeling that the spirit inside would not let me sleep, so I left, cleaving through the night to return to the dark nest.
On that night journey back I felt little of the usual fear. It was like the subconscious was projecting out onto everything, it did not really seem real; things did not seem as they were but only a figment of myself. Symbols representing something beyond my knowledge.
I listened to the spirit and it felt a lot more comfortable on its return. Waking up in the small hours of night I felt a strong sense of abandonment and desolation, and at the fringes of that a fear of self-harm or destruction. An underlining depression and dread.
I cannot quite explain it, only to say it is right at the front of the chest. I am glad I was in a familiar place when dealing with such emotions, because I was able to get through them without much alarm. In an unfamiliar place, it could have been much harder.
Life is not going to be as easy as moving away from abusives to somewhere safe. On my own is not exactly safe, and unfamiliar is not exactly safe. There has to be a careful back and forth until somewhere good is found. If indeed somewhere good is possible.
Maybe, at the risk of the depression talking, this is life now. Maybe we are thrust into tragedy and the best we can do is survive it until we die. Looking at the appalling lot of the people I was forced to grow up with, I can only compare it to something like a developing nation which must suffer enormous tragedy in order to industrialize. The legacy of abusiveness and repressed pain means there is immense suffering by default. The spiritual and emotional retardation means that members of this stunted family start far behind others, who are nonabusive and encouraged a lot more. Instead of a deranged unit which destroys its own interest, most people have a more functional organ which can achieve synergy and unity. As such, none of us can achieve the impossible standards of society, and a demi-success is all we can sustain. I can achieve only an orc-like existence, at the fringes, barely alive, unblessed by the light that shines, and comfortable only with warped creatures of shadow. Without my wretched god of snarling darkness and self-loathing, I am naked and anxious, left to trembling and the cruel punishments of the soul.
All the sentimentalism of souls and eternities and objective meaning are just there so that we never have to see and understand the ultimate futility of Nature. Its beauty and good feeling only fleeting, its ultimate end the stillness and demise of everything. If this is the case, striving for the ultimate state of society will only aid us materially; existentially nothing would have changed. People will suffer anxiety disorders and depressions under socialism. Not because of oppression and injustice, but because this is the legacy of evolution. Humanity will always find something to make itself miserable, as much as it strives to change and struggle for better. All human effort, a vigourous struggle to swim to the surface, but never does a foot step upon the shores of elysium.
Well, that was a depressing tangent! It feels true to express it, painful though it is. For some reason I also find it utterly hilarious. Do I believe such nihilism? Some part of me must do.
The other reveres Elder trees and sings of optimism through bleakness, always seeing light on the other end of the cavern.
I remember being a burnt out husk, in my early twenties. A wasteland after an emotional Battle of the Somme. Something like a vassal state, spent of resources and plundered into a barren. Trapped and stuck are the words I would use to describe that era.
I can’t remember particular days, because I don’t think it was possible to individuate them. Just a sense of going nowhere, there being no hope, only danger outside. A place of threat and humiliation, worse than the one I was in. I had no personal space, it would constantly be invaded. No matter where I put anything, it could not be guaranteed to still be there the next day. It was an example of the total system of the family at its absolute worst, and in those years the seeds of dissent had been sowed wide and thick. There was no way I was going to be like these, seemingly semi-sentient, people.
All of this created a feeling that something was wrong. It wasn’t a rational exercise, as it is now. I didn’t have an insight into psychological disorder and derangement, as I do now.
It was deranged people, out of control, hurting me. Repeating the cycles that destroyed them; petty and pathetic people. The lost leading the lost.
The justifications of ‘discipline’ were paper thin. Humiliation and insult is not a tool of discipline. It is the way deranged and hurt people bring down others, because they haven’t learnt to manage what happened to them.
I remember always hiding away when guests and relatives would come to visit. It would make me feel guilty, not being social. It would also make me seem alien, and ungrateful. But I didn’t have any energy for them, my emotional energy was spent and wasted on two deeply stupid and violent adults.
Now I see that hiding away as a means of grasping on to some independence, and most certainly an act of defiance. I will not play your games or pretend. I am actually quite proud that I managed to pull that off at such an early age. Nothing could move me out – uncle is sleeping, uncle is tired. Yeah tired of your bullshit perhaps.
There was no point trying to justify things – within their destructive system you do not have a choice. You owe them your time and your energy, the authoritarian morons have the final say. That is the price of their “security”.
But this legacy is a futile one, and still rears its head occasionally, even to this day. Sometimes that feeling of stuck and trapped comes back, even though I made massive advances away from the destructive system which tried to destroy my spirit and bring me into line.
When I look back over my shoulder at the last decade, I see big blocks of black void. No light can penetrate through there. It was only really around the age of twenty-six or so that I begun to make up ground, finding freedom and responsibility in squatting and protest sites.
At last I had a chance to be proven, and there was proven. Years free from a destructive system ruled by the thick. It was only in the last three or four years that I started living, and I have no compulsion to stop doing so.
Now I am half-way between, here and there. I still have connections to the system, but I feel myself transitioning away for good; playing out the inevitable anxieties.
And if it wants to dig its claws into me, now I am knowledgeable enough to find all the chinks in its armour and strike back.
And certainly strong enough to shatter it, to lay into them with words three times as violent as they once layed into me.
I only need to be pushed far enough.
Most people spend most of their lives believing in most of the lies
Fed to them before they had the ability to challenge them.
When Pandora’s box first sprung open, around December last year, the feelings were horrifying. It felt like death (or worse, debilitation) was just around the corner. I had no way of understanding what the emotions flowing to the surface meant. I had no means to deal with sleepless nights of feelings of panic.
Slowly I learnt these things, until I was able to restore some kind of dignity and ‘normality’: a rhythm that made existing bearable, troubled though it was.
Now when the Gates of the Psyche open, I listen. I know what it is, and I know what to do. The screaming inside, the anguish, the flailing desperation, it is familiar to me. I can more or less estimate the effect of insomnia on the next day. I do not want to close the Gates as fast I can anymore.
There is such a thing as dealing with the symptom and not the disease. This is valid, to a degree. To constantly experience symptoms is horrible. Insomnia is the best example of this for me. I do everything I can to prevent a sleepless night (a symptom of anxiety and unresolved emotion).
But it is so easy to forget the disease, and obsess around the rituals to cure the symptom!
On balance, the extreme emotions and suffering have done more good for me than harm. Though it is extremely discomforting and disturbing, with a great risk of harming my relationships with others, without the great motivator of extreme emotion I would still be lying to myself, in exile and on the run.
It took until the age of 28 to find somewhere I was happy, useful, and accepted for myself. Yet even there, everything that was inside remained inside. The Gates of the Psyche opened, and I had to face what was within. Even to the death of my time in an anarchist utopia, the emotions inside forced themselves into priority.
But I was lying to myself, even in a place so true, I was in exile from my own emotions. I know what to do now, to shift into adult consciousness and break the chains of dependency holding me back. It is no longer the case that I believe depression to be arcane and beyond explanation, I know the causes and I know it to be psycho-logical. It is just a question of finding the right time and the safest way to step free.
A shadow will loom over most people for most of their lives. Without knowing it, this shadow will bring them ruin. They might never realize how life has short-changed them, or how they have worked against their own interests, because of this shadow. The shadow will be hidden behind morality and social pressure, two extreme sentinels hard for the best of us to overcome.
Some un/fortunates will be so overwhelmed by it that they will either turn to drink and drugs to keep it down until their self-annihilation, or somehow vindicate themselves against the seemingly impossible.
By not dealing with it, you are not freeing yourself from it. Only by facing it do you overcome it. But who wants to face it, when it is so hard and such a lonely path to walk?
The price of lying to yourself is the seemingly arcane depression and insomnia. Red marks on the body, back pain, skin flaking off your hands. Anxiety and trembling, nightmares and endless dread.
The body is communicating to you, because the body remembers every pain and every injustice. It is screaming to be heard, to be acknowledged.
So many of us are writhing and suffering for nothing, serving a morality which does not serve us. Why are you protecting the honour of the honourless?
Seemingly innocent things like forgiveness, understanding and compassion for others, come right back round into uncontrollable hatred and spite, cruelty for others.
It is very simple and very psycho-logical. When you have to forgive the unrepentant, when you have to have compassion for those who treated you like an object, when you have to show trust to those who broke all trust and harmed you when you were helpless, your body will continue screaming in helplessness, and horrible emotions will continue manifesting (however much “Christian love” you think you have).
So long as traditional morality is obeyed, the emotions which run deep beneath the conscious mind will not be brought to the surface and experienced as feelings.
When morality tells us to forgive and forget, rather than to truly love ourselves by acknowledging our bodily wisdom and speaking the truth of what happened, we consign ourselves to suffering – not to mention those who face our “random, unexplainable wrath”. Anger which cannot be directed to the source will be misdirected upon others. The most hate-filled, spiteful and bitter of all will be those who think themselves ‘forgiving and compassionate souls’. It is impossible to be such when you hate those who hurt you, so deeply and absolutely.
It really is not that hard to grasp, and it really is not that arcane. Once you pull your head from morality’s arse that is.
One hurt and humiliated should seek reparation and acknowledgement for that pain. They should find a trusted person to help them rediscover their pain, so that it ceases to control their consciousness. They should listen to their bodies, not to the morality which goes completely against their own interests. They should seek vindication, cutting off whoever they need to from their lives if need be, and start to look for those who truly love and care for them.
Namely, those who do not expect them to lie to protect an abusive partner, or a father who was an absolute prick, or what have you.
This is the way to resolve the pains stored in the body, and to be free from depression caused by feelings of helplessness. Even more so, this is the way to prevent the demons inside turning you into one of them, repeating the cycle, inflicting pain and harm from the infinite source of inferiority and helplessness deep inside.
Fuck your compassion for them, what about compassion for yourself first?
The false temple of ten thousand misguided years needs to be brought down to the ground, stone by stone. It is time to stop worshipping an illusory Father. A new monument needs to be raised to truth – an open palm facing up toward the sky.
There is nothing good in lying to ourselves, and nothing good in respecting or protecting those who do not deserve it. I speak of course of the irredeemable – abusive partners, bosses, parents, family.
I do not trust those who have suffered and yet speak of forgiveness and compassion for the worst of humanity. I trust people who first serve their own interests through honesty, who free themselves from dependence upon abusers (the wellspring of hatred and vileness), to stand in the true light of their own self interest.
Only such a soul as that can be free from the price, and thus able to choose to be truly loving and forgiving, to those who deserve it.