Friday June 26, 2020

Lo Lobey, the hero of Samuel R. Delany’s novel The Einstein Intersection, does something radical. Through him, Delany gets readers to enter imaginatively into a cosmos where an Orpheus archetype overtakes and renders as a minor subplot the story of “Green-Eye,” the book’s Christ figure. For many other black authors, however, including nineteenth-century fugitive slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass as well as black feminist science fiction writer Octavia E. Butler, Christianity occupies a position of importance as bearer of myth. But in every case, it’s a Christianity “heard” and interpreted — Christianity turned into dialogue. Call and response. The Bible is rewritten from the perspective of the slave rather than from the perspective of those loyal to a lord or master. Douglass identifies a “divine Providence” acting upon his life, guiding him toward freedom. Butler, writing a century later in the America of the post-‘Civil Rights’ era, speaks not of Providence but of “change” — strongly distinguishing this god from the one worshipped by Christian American Crusaders. Which side are you on, y’all? Which side are you on?

2 thoughts on “Friday June 26, 2020”

  1. As I roll downhill towards non-existence, I find myself less and less willing to buy into any discussions that give current meaning to christian mythology. Sure, it’s historical role as an instrument on control and suppression is worth continued examination, but only as tool to refute irrationality and the absurd incorporation of medieval dogma into 21st C life.
    None of this, of course, should be taken as a criticism of your always-interesting posts!
    Merry Christmas.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks, Bruce — Merry Christmas. Sloughing off a Catholic upbringing was a key part of the individuation process for me. From late adolescence onward I imagined myself an atheist. I took comfort in Marx’s dismissal of religion as an “opiate of the masses.” Religion seemed no more than a nightmare weighing upon the brains of the living. As these trance-scripts attest, however, psychedelics caused me to rethink some of my former views. Dogmas and orthodoxies remain my nemesis, but I’ve warmed to what some call the “perennial philosophy,” with its embrace of mystical experience as the “root” of the world’s various spiritual traditions — a root that then gets scrambled and distorted as the mystic’s “trip reports” become codified by subsequent interpreters and absorbed by machineries of state. Alongside that openness to the mystical path, I’ve also come to doubt one of capitalist modernity’s founding myths — the one that equates secularization with enlightenment. In my view, the old myths and stories never go away. Western science is a useful construct, and I’m happy to accept some of the fruits of its labor (vaccines, medical procedures, etc). But as a narrative framework, it remains as imperialistic and control-based as the Christianity from which it arose. Secular societies don’t do away with gods. The old gods are just given new names. Rather than seeking a purely “rational” worldview, then, I prefer now to track and compare the various myths, seeking those that enable a pluralist, animist, panentheistic storytelling framework. This seems to me the best way to combat the monotheisms (especially those that purport to be “secular”) on which all existing states are based.

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