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.
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.
I am not on this earth to redeem people. There may be a commandment which says I should honour and respect certain people, and forgive them their trespasses, and that my fate is closely entwined with theirs.
But something deep inside is not happy with this moral command.
Why should I invest energy in hopeless, ignorant people?
Why should I try to redeem entitled people who think little or nothing of me?
How do I have a responsibility to these people?
I shouldn’t, I won’t, and I don’t are the answers.
They ought to mean nothing, by any intelligent measure.
So long as I believe I can change them, or that I am dependent on them, I will be left with a legacy of dependence, leading to hatred, and a creaking, forever tired and maligned body.
In fact, it could kill me.
I am not on this earth to redeem people. It simply is not my role. Nor is it even within my power. One who thinks they can transform others through forgiveness and care are greatly misled at best, and utterly foolish at worst. People who want to change will do so whether you are there or not.
It is understandable that we might feel like we need to redeem the irredeemable who morality teaches us we should care about. Forgive their trespasses and try and find to the good in them. It is in the air that we breathe, this morality. And many explosive mines of guilt are planted in our heads from an early age by people repeating the same abusive patterns they themselves suffered. Much poison runs through our veins before we have a chance to learn of its toxicity.
Sadly it is a futile morality, if not extremely dangerous.
The damage done to our bodies by mistreatment is deeper than conscious awareness. The feelings of helplessness and humiliation forced upon us in early years will find some outlet, and a cursory look at history will show that such unresolved pain is an infinite well of cruelty.
No excuses and no remorse can heal this.
If you want to be free from anxiety and your physical symptoms, it is time to turn within. Find and root out the deceptions planted in you to keep you in illusion and suffering. Destroy the obligations which keep you in dependence and a state of helpless childhood. And know that there is nothing to be gained by a lifelong quest to redeem the irredeemable. It is an unfortunate arrangement which even the greatest and most creative minds have sacrificed their bodies and lives to.
I am not on this earth to redeem so-called “loved ones”. Nor to carry their secrets and repressed shame. Nor am I here to suffer their violent and cowardly refusal to listen to their own inner pulse.
Free your self. Say ‘no more’! You have responsibility only to yourself and to those whose respect for you is mutual.
Anyone else is not worth your time.
In a recent therapy session, my subconscious brought to light the crushing weight of soul and system.
The weight upon the soul: being a guardian for others, battling and grappling my demons and theirs (they are one and the same). There will never be any thanks, this is an invisible battle. One I am not willing to continue fighting. They know they can continue as is, whilst I am in the dark place. Perhaps if I pull away into the light they will have to take on the burden themselves. Or continue repressing their shit – fucked if I care.
After all of these years, fighting this soul-battle has left me a husk. If I continue like this, I fear it will destroy me. Already I have avoided addiction to drink and prescribed drugs through the bearing of immense psychological suffering and an anxious discipline. The price has been immense, and it doesn’t get much easier to bear with experience.
How much longer I can go on for, I do not know. Either things will eventually resolve themselves and I will escape annihilation, or I will surrender any hope of trying to understand whys or righting wrongs and somehow go on in a new direction.
This latter option sounds like repression and ignorance would be involved, but the weight of the soul is heavy and crushing. I have been sensitive and open for all of my adult life. It is painful and unstable, the last few days have been extremely hard and signify what is promised. This is no way to continue living, it is fruitless and enervating. Listening to the pain of the subconscious is important, but if that pain is caused by a hopeless quest then the pain itself has nothing to teach but let the fuck go.
It is hard to put this into words, it is as fragmented and centreless as I am.
There is a saying ‘you can take the mule to the river but you can’t force it to drink’ and it is very apt. This simple wisdom is the reason why some people are hopeless. Trying to change them is not my prerogative.
Trying to change myself is.
Seeking justice or retribution is the path littered with rages and extreme emotions. If this is valid to some I understand the sentiment, but I want to move on and not have this narrative continue to dominate my life. Fruitless as it is.
Hopeless people. Why should I care for their souls? I care for myself, in the deepest and truest sense. I need find a more hopeful narrative and pursue this, one creative and beautiful, not mired in an ugly past filled with emotionally, intellectually and spiritually retarded individuals.
The Weight of System
Any activist will be able to tell you what it feels like to have the weight of system upon their back. Even fighting for the good of all is an uphill struggle, and an exercise is misunderstanding and alienation. After the fact, when the matter is won, everyone goes ‘oh yeah, its so obvious now.’ or ‘I was on side all along’. But in truth it starts with a small and intelligent minority before reaching the mass-herd.
The two systems that put their weight upon me, one was vast, the other small and familial. That latter one is a system I could change, as my changing could necessitate it changing. Or not, I do not think they would notice or give a shit. I have again lost hope in the hopeless, which is strangely liberating.
Their strife is not mine, and their system is not mine. By giving up on them, I am opening myself to something new that I actually want. Releasing the burden from my back, that familiar weight, is liberation!
The void is frightening, but so is a slow, grinding death.
The capitalist system cannot be so easily ‘given up’, because it dominates so much of life and controls the means of survival. But the smaller system is actually not so dominating – it is a matter of emotion and familiarity alone, not material supremacy. It can be done.
If I have courage and trust I will found a new system or help an existing one evolve. I have done it before, I can do it again. I must do this or eventually collapse and break down, perhaps into alcoholism or Valium addiction, watched over by mocking shadows. This is really being made clear to me now, the imperative is frightening but at least strong. I should not pressure myself to change instantly, but certainly to take the steps now and plant the seeds to flower in Spring. Else, annihilation looms.
Greatness is thrust upon, and terrible is the drum-beat of nature! But this is the only way, as proved time and time again by my own complacency and that of Empires risen and fallen.
I am not afraid anymore, and I take this task with grim resolve. All my sensitivity will be to love myself and those others who deserve it. Whilst I wish to become more stoic and mindful, to lose the whisker-like sensitivity which gave me so much good and created so much beautiful song would be too high a price.
What is isolation but to feel that your suffering is unique to you, and that no one else could possibly understand what is occurring inside you?
The fragmented society of individuals, where people walk by without knowing you, means you can be surrounded by any amount of quantity, but no quality. A million, million people can see you but not one make you feel like a person sentient.
Who cares about you, or can afford to, as orders from above dictate a false economy of scrambling for life-boats and tight purse strings (known in political rhetoric as ‘austerity’)?
The troubles and anxieties of moderns were unknowns to ancients who had fates and gods. The suffering of isolation must weigh heavily on any utilitarian’s scales, marking the failure of our times to bring happiness, even with all of our technologies and advantages of knowledge.
The prescribed panacea to the isolation feeds into it, for it is no panacea at all but false promise. Facebooks and Instagrams and such non-communities distance us from sentience, that of ourselves and others. Addictive, fleeting and empty mediums.
Like filling a void with dust.
I do not want to be made of dust, to be insubstantial and misunderstood but who has the time?
A final cure for isolation there is not, for any of us can grow old, see their friends and family fade, and be trapped in a non-life on the sixth floor in some grey tower of dying. But for the now we could have far more recognition and true being than is afforded us by soulless digital mediums, if only there were some way to wean people away from the heroin of Facebook.
A true and genuine faith in the transformative power of community is needed, and this high-morale state is the only way we can achieve our goals of egality and ecological health. The cruelty of the system makes it harder and harder for this true resistance to form, but no one ever said a life alienated was ever going to be easy.
Through therapy I am at least able to find someone who can go into me, and in reflection have his own sentience confirmed. After enough sessions so strong a bond is formed that we reach a point of mutuality, even if it is largely me sharing my angst and mental health troubles.
This is an extreme example of healing through being known. If one other person could for one moment understand and feel what it felt like, how much a sorrow would be lifted! Then real healing could rapidly work upon the wounds and I could walk alone some of the way. Imagine if ten people made that time and effort.
If the inflicter will not ever listen, will not those others who have been inflicted?
Isolation is terrible for a person. It can be conceived of as torture, in the long term worse than any physical death. That some particular souls have endured isolation for years because of belief in God, or the stars, or what-have-you, gives little solace. How pathetic for humanity to need higher powers just to fulfil some basic need. Faith is only beautiful to me when it is a thing of aesthetic magnanimity – not desperation and feeble clawing at the skirts of god. I want to surrender my ego for the beauty of the cosmos, not for the vulnerabilities and feelings of alienation threatening within.
I believe in communities and fellowships and kinships upon earth, here and now. To serve each other as the ultimate unity and escape from the icy loneliness threatened by individualist non-society.
There is such a thing as serving yourself before you serve others, but how much easier it is to serve yourself when the others you can serve appreciate you! One does not need to come before the other, and it is foolish to believe one ever will.
If I could be satisfied in myself I would never strive to do anything for the better. If like a monk I could meditate still as a stone I would fathom no art, no songs and no stories, and these creative gifts would wither away, or shrink like a muscle unused. I need you, I hope you need me too.
Total communion is the breaking of boundaries between people and a temporary wholeness. I do not wish to sound too utopian or longing as it happens often already, in the dance hall as much as the bed-chamber as the temple ritual or therapy room. But I would not still feel great bouts of isolation and hellish loneliness if there was not this shield of ice around my soul still – so at least I can say this total communion is not yet regular enough for me!
Look now – we need each other, says the science and says the spirituality, so isn’t it time to put money where mouths are act upon this however we can?