The good shepherd, whom I pause before to contemplate, appears as a better self, a majestic higher order. I stare at it fearfully, struggling to keep up as its visual-sensual-conceptual being grows, looms, enlarges, steals our breath, overwhelms us with its complexity. “That is not I,” we have to say to avoid becoming Jesuit. The feeling then relaxes a bit, goes quiet. We imbibe earth, nut, matter. This lends us weight, we become caught by a planet’s gravity, our journey as ray of light captured into life, made to inhabit human form for a stretch of time: it is like having to endure soul-flattening, soul-crushing pressure. We mustn’t watch as others are judged, tried, executed, given greater than their due share of suffering. I find myself staring in confusion at the alien customs, the tolerance for oppression, among my countrymen. Let us not become crueler, coarsened by feud, faction, quarrel. Don’t allow groups to organize, lest we plot destruction of kings. Religion is an able resistance to the ways of some dominant Other. It brings judgment, the latter being a kind of power, into politics. Radical believers deny one another the right to live by free means in community with like-minded others. That is the future toward which we are led. Don’t let us get caught in games of conversion and conviction by others who believe themselves lords over the lives of others. Religious wars of this sort are fraught with grave dangers. Political fictions make for dangerous games. Desperate people become led by acts of desperate men. That is becoming common again: states that toy with public perception, inventing stories to command the attention of weaponized masses, turning neighbor upon neighbor. Isn’t that the void into which certain public storytellers, writers of history, wish to plunge us? I mean the Bill O’Reilly’s, the Sean Hannity’s. Sadists who derive pleasure through imaginative identification with the State in its role of public executioner. In the past we called them inquisitors. We mustn’t let them thrive.
My break with Christianity as a teenager made me easy prey for the priests of the Culture Religion. According to this religion, the voice of authority is thought to speak through texts — even those most debased. Hence my capture by the gravity of the Cult-Studs, a tribe of Mind Flayers. Think of it as the tribe of the eternal creative appropriation of reality by reality. The creation as once it was dreamt. We must gather ourselves up, make the climb, become premonitory. Equal parts power and curse tinged with doubt. Wolf and bear icons extend outward from a common center, thus allowing my baked potato to order a baked potato at Wendy’s. Sarah and I scroll through photos of Daphne and then night-walk to a house in our neighborhood known about town for its elaborate Halloween decorations. Birds chirp as accompaniment to cricket-pulse in the moments just before total darkness. These days are numbered, we tell ourselves. Notice them. Be present. Superhuman capability and heroism allow characters to march into a foggy forest. Meanwhile I’m not even in the game, I’m on the bench. That’s not a point of view, that’s a fact, says a voice I’d just as soon discard. No need for reality principles here. Allow consciousness to go wherever it wants to go. It wants land and leisure; ’tis a lie, those who say otherwise.