“… All this the world well knows, yet none knows well
To shun the heaven, that leads men to this hell”
In the Sinai desert and Paris, we have just witnessed the triumph of horror, the summit of barbarity, the unseasonal festival of unreason, the waste of shame, the scenes of destruction, the murder of common sense, the vortex of compounding paradox and (notably in Paris), the undisputed success of disaster capitalism.
For, in the pathology of stage-4 capitalism, your death is my win. The victims of war and terrorism are the lambs, the pawns and the tools for the immense prosperity of the merchants of death. No doubt, readers will have remarked the dramatic upsurge of weapons manufacturers’ stocks, the day following the Paris massacre.
And if, collectively, we fail to perceive the unfathomable evil and bottomless abomination in the paradox, then all other expressions of dismay are but hollow sounds and empty words. Indeed, “the empty vessel makes the greatest sound.” (1)
I will refrain from further topic comments, for the events have been discussed from all possible angles but one, which is the subject of this post.
But first, I cannot help remarking the contrast between the media coverage of the Russian plane crash in the Sinai and the Paris mass shooting. For the former, an almost detached indifference, with a vein of ill-disguised satisfaction (in the US), versus news full of sound and fury in the case of Paris. Sound and fury signifying nothing (2), for the drone-assassination-program has murdered hundreds of children and thousands of women and civilians, without a remark made, a tear dropped, or a sound heard from the mainstream media.
Not only, but the wave of European terror seems to have given a further boost to the intoxication of dominion of the usual suspects in the Anglo-Zionist-Neocon cabal running the world. Who call for more arms, more controls, more money and more troops in any or all of the 140 countries hosting one or many US military bases.
Still, “as we cannot charm ache with air and agony with words” (3), I will here investigate, however cursorily, the root reasons why so many people, actually billions, accept a state of affair, which is obviously the opposite of political and social wellbeing. While governments attempt and pretend to make contradictions consistent, and to reconcile things which the nature of their being must always keep asunder.
It has been found convenient to attribute current wars and terror to the “conflict of civilizations.” I will attempt to show that the reverse is true. In fact, the two civilizations, or rather the two religions, are remarkably similar in their psychic core.
For both the Christian and the Islamic religions are integralist, that is, are founded on the patriarchal model of the universe and of the family. Patriarchal, hence authoritarian, unquestionable and irrefutable, written in heaven, “For few men rightly temper with the stars.” (4)
In turn, patriarchy, sustained and propagated by religion, starts with sexual repression in infancy. The sense of “sin” produces an inferiority complex, therefore a prompting of submission to the mystic figure of the eternal father and, consequently, of the earthly father and of authority in general.
Though sex is everywhere in the media, early sexual repression isn’t, as the idea is uncomfortable, possibly due to the very notion of patriarchy and of its related order of things, hence one reinforces the other. Questioning early sexual repression implies questioning patriarchy, which equates, in scope, to questioning capitalism – all serious signs of mental deviance and unpalatable heresy.
Nevertheless, a few examples may be instructive, though sadly amusing. Brief background. Public education became a necessity in the second half of the XIX century, when Europe was swept by a wave of nationalist fever. Nations needed armies and armies soldiers. Modern warfare required cannon fodder to read and understand instructions, before being blown off by the very cannon it was designed to feed.
Education implied a syllabus, including teaching the “facts of life”, possibly the thorniest of subjects, given the patriarchal-related reasons already mentioned – the whole resulting, euphemistically speaking, in solutions of mixed-success.
There was, for example, a school in Rugby (England), where the headmaster, clearly an enlightened man, at the beginning of the school year, summoned the boys who reached puberty to his study. And after reassuring himself that the door was firmly secured, he used to make the following brief announcement, “If you touch it, it will fall off.” The boys were then invited to file back into their classes, now equipped to face adult life.
Then there is the episode mentioned by Peter Ustinov in his auto-biography – when a friend of his arrived for a meeting with a countenance showing evidence of having wept extensively. As it is disturbing to see a friend reduced to tears, Ustinov took him aside and asked him tactfully what was the matter. The friend replied that the tears were due to laughter, which he had contained only intermittently, during the last two hours.
It was the first day of a new term at his son’s school. The headmaster, obeying instructions by a government aware of the dangers of ignorance, was compelled to explain the facts of life to those of a certain age-group. He had been rehearsing his speech all through the summer recess. Eventually, in a panic of prudery and unable to bear the sniggers he could already hear in his head, he decided to treat the subject in a pamphlet, printed at his expense. Every boy would find a copy on his desk when the new term began. The pamphlet began with the following words, “You may have noticed, between your legs….”
If the Protestant examples show the difficulties of patriarchal-philosophy-inspired sex-education, the Catholic show its absurdities. Here are examples from a Guide for Educators who, at least in Italy, are/were usually instructors of religion (second half of the XXth century). The instructions are a mix of ambiguity and morbidity.
At p. 23 of the Guide, for example, eight-year olds learn the wise answer that a female saint gave to a “bad man.”
“You want me to do “that bad thing”?
“OK, yes, but only if we go to the main square (to do it).”
“Then you are mad – said the tempter – and went away confused.”
The “bad thing” is left to the imagination of the educand.
After having listed “luxuriousness” among the “capital sins” it is explained that “Luxurious is not he who wears luxury clothes, but he who enjoys the bad pleasures of impurity. We will deal with this in regard of the sixth and ninth commandment.”
At p. 148 we find this example,
“One day Jasmine, Francis and Lucy were playing penance. Jasmine lost and Lucy commanded her to kiss her brother.
“Absolutely not – said Jasmine. And pointing to the Crucifix, “Why don’t you, instead, command me to kiss God?”
“Well – said Lucy – pull the Crucifix from the wall and kiss it three times kneeling.”
“To our God I can give how many kisses you command me to.”
And in fact Jasmine kissed God with such transport that Lucy never forgot that scene. How delicate are the children who really love God.”
Two pages later we find this masterpiece in morbidity,
“Little Tony was as pure as an angel. But how many mortifications and how much grace he needed to keep himself as such! One day his father wanted to help him to put on his trousers for, as little as he was, could not manage it by himself.
Little Tony, “Yes, father, thank you, but without touching me.” And woe betide if anyone entered the room while they were dressing Little Tony. He could throw a pillow at them. Did he exaggerate? Yes, but he lived like a little saint.”
For the pupils in the last term of elementary school (p. 120) we find the example of St. Agnes, who indignantly refused an offer of marriage by Procopius, son of Rome’s prefect. Why? Because she had consecrated herself to Christ, “whose celestial choirs told her that by loving him she was chaste, by touching him she was clean, and by uniting with him she would remain a virgin.” (Note. What conclusion or confusion a child can draw from this example is left to the reader’s imagination).
Procopius denounced her to his father, who had her brought to a “place of sin” so that “her lily would be deflowered.” “She did not tremble, “I have with me the angel of God, who jealously guards my body” – Agnes said. And the first to be run through by the spade of her guardian angel was Procopius himself. Condemned to burn, the flames spared her virgineal body, and instead they burned those around her. She was then condemned to be decapitated.” Why the guardian angel did not intervene to decapitate the decapitator is not explained.
We can only imagine what ambiguous and morbid ideas a boy (or girl) from 8 to 12 may obtain from these instructions. But one conclusion is certain, in the patriarchal philosophy sex is sin and sex is woman – for it was Eve who ate the apple, origin of all our ills. From which follows the subdivision of women into mothers and prostitutes. The perfect mother is a virgin (hence the cult of the Virgin Mary), while the less perfect mother is a reproductive machine.
The extreme case occurs in those Islamic areas, where the female genital organs are removed and cauterized, to eliminate any association of sexuality with pleasure.
But the concept, however attenuated by circumstances and by historic and illuministic evolution, lingers in the Christian world – the concept masked by the undeclared distinction between the generalized mothers and the generalized others. The “others” are subject to the most sinister contempt, as evident by the sexual perversions, by pornography beyond the imaginable and by a pervasive sexual obsession in just about every aspect of everyday living. Obsession reinforced by the association of sex with advertising and by the curious verbal mix of sexuality and scatology (everything “fuck” and everything “shit”).
The ensuing ideology cannot avoid promoting the most sinister reaction, a fascism that overleaps and outdoes itself – therefore armies, massacres, cruelty, contempt, arrogance, bullying, disdain, despotism, abuse, prevarication, shamelessness, crass ignorance and unfathomable hypocrisy.
For fascism is not limited to Hitlerian Germany or Mussolinian Italy. Fascism is an international phenomenon, which pervades all bodies of society of all nations.
A few generations ago, some serious philosophers – as opposed to pop-psychologists – designed a scheme to better understand the layers of the human character. That is, understanding character and the phenomenon whereby masses supinely follow ideologies inimical to their own very interest and survival.
In this representation there are three layers. The surface layer reflects the personality of the average man, who is reserved, polite, compassionate, responsible and, as a whole, conscientious.
There would not be social tragedies if this surface layer were in direct contact with the third layer, representing the deep biologic core of the self. In this biologic core, and under favorable social conditions, man is essentially honest, industrious, cooperative and capable of bursts of empathy and personal sacrifice for a noble cause. So far, this third layer has found genuine expression only in the great works of art, especially in music and painting.
But between the first and the third, there is an intermediate layer, consisting exclusively of cruel, sadistic, lascivious, rapacious, hypocritical and envious impulses – the cumulative results of the repressions induced in early life by the patriarchal scheme of life.
Fascism is the outward and supreme expression of the second layer and of repression-promoted religious mysticism. It transforms the masochistic character of the old patriarchal ideology of suffering into a sadistic religion – mirror of the intermediate character layer just mentioned.
Examples are ubiquitous and countless. Given the current and popular theme of the “conflict of civilizations”, let’s consider the annual “prayer breakfast” at the White House, where herds of European politicians flock in a pleasure trip, at taxpayer’s expense, in the company of wives or lovers. And while the latter go shopping, the former listen to the presidential tale and learn that “God Bless America” and that America is “under God”, as printed on the US dollars (who but the blind cannot see the symbolism…). And while priest, pastor or officiant read from a sacred text, a marine in Nevada presses a button and, with a drone, dispatches a few dozen humans to the promised land. All for the triumph of freedom and pornography, of course – pornography of the soul.
Repugnant as it is to admit it, ISIS’ terrorists (or similar), are of the same ilk as Washington’s godfathers. As amply documented, ISIS’ Middle East was planned by the Anglo-Zionists-Neocon Washington’s dominant cabal.
Still, we may observe in passing, that the Russian thinkers of the October revolution were keenly aware of the distortions arising from mysticism, and of the patriarchal origins of mysticism. But they lost sight of the problem, and concentrated almost exclusively on the economic aspects of the revolution. Whereas, as we still painfully realize, the patriarchal tradition, with its attendant roots in mysticism, linked to early sexual repression, still holds mankind in anguish and people at bay.
Mysticism, repression and anguish brought forth in this sonnet, as yet unrivalled in rendering the idea.
“Th’expense of spirit in a waste of shame
Is lust in action, and till action, lust
Is perjured, murd’rous, bloody, full of shame,
Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust,
Enjoyed no sooner but despised straight,
Past reason hunted, and no sooner had,
Past reason hated, as a swallowed bait,
On purpose laid to make the taker mad.
Mad in pursuit and in possession so,
Had, having and in quest to have, extreme,
A bliss in proof, and proved, a very woe
Before a joy proposed behind a dream.
All this the world well knows yet none knows well
To shun the heaven that leads men to this hell”. (5)
1. King Henry V
3. Much Ado About Nothing
4. King Henry VI, part 3
5. Sonnet #129
“To things of sale a seller’s praise belong” (Love Labours’ Lost)… but I am not a salesman and I am not attempting to sell nor, certainly, to sell the unsalable. Through the year, I have received several emails, with questions regarding Shakespeare in general, quotations for various occasions, practical ways of tapping into his works as a resource, and other inquiries on similar themes.
I am particularly pleased when a student writes explaining how the use of this or that quote, found in the book, made a particularly good impression on his/her instructor.
Given the proximity of the holiday season, I am suggesting (repeat “suggesting”, not selling or advertising, or commercializing what I wish to keep and retain as an eminently non-commercial blog), to look at the book that gave rise to the blog.
And… if wondering what to give to a friend, relation or young relative in high school or college, you may consider a copy of “Your Daily Shakespeare.” He who is, or will be, involved in any form of public speaking, or in preparing written messages to persuade, exhort or incite, will find this reasoned dictionary very helpful, and almost invaluable.
Invaluable for the ease with which it guides the reader to the right quote, and for the inspiration arising from just consulting a pertinent quote, even if the quote itself may not be used, or used in its entirety.
It is the ideal guide for the speaker, for the reader and, yes, for the writer. For there is an invisible link between good writing and good music. And Shakespeare is to writing what Beethoven is to music.
The following short video will give you an idea on how to use the book when preparing a presentation,
Finally …. as I said when first I introduced the book, if you cannot use it as such, it doubles as an elegant paperweight. At over 3.5 pounds, and 1400 pages it can hold its own against the severest wind.
The cost is $24.00, including US shipping and handling, the latter amounting to $7.00. Of the balance, $2.00 go to a cat shelter, given my persuasion that cats are intelligent, refined, elegant, born psychologists – and, like most serious persons, they have an instinctive sense of humor. Humor, by the way, which you will amply find among the thousand Shakespearean reasoned and commented quotations in “Your Daily Shakespeare.”
Book Store Link, http://yourdailyshakespeare.com/book-store