The demons are after me these days. They’re insinuating themselves into my consciousness relentlessly and in ever more devious ways. They invade my psyche with unhelpful thoughts. They seek and find my psychic weaknesses-poke at them to bring them to the surface.
They manifest themselves in the most unlikely places, turning friends into evil antagonists, pleasant situations into depressing occurrences. I must be on my toes constantly to identify their presence-separate them from normalcy. They come by so frequently lately I’m beginning to be able to identify each individually:
There’s Andros the sewer of discord, Alastor the personification of curses and the host of Hindu Rakshasas poking and pestering but perhaps the greatest distress emanates from Kali who is constantly inciting me to violent action.
I’m consolidating my energies. Soon I’ll call them together and give them each a sound thrashing. It may have to wait until spring.
The Jesus People stopped by the other day. They wanted to know if I was interested in learning the Plain Truth. When I didn’t immediately respond I was told that ever since the sins of Adam sentient beings (such as myself, I guess) have found themselves in a downward spiral away from God, and, being lost, attempted to find meaning on their own, their egotistic hubris leading them down dead end paths of misunderstanding and away from the mysteries of life and God’s purpose for all. They told me all I had to do was appeal to God to reveal himself to me and I would then be in possession of the Plain Truth; just don’t over-think it.
I responded that I was cognizant of an essence outside myself, an ineffable aspect alive within and without nature that I recognized nourished my imaginative being allowing access to infinite possibility. It provided a truly positive beauty I thought about and nurtured daily through meditation and community with nature.
Well, we found ourselves at a standstill; they clearly saw me as a lost soul heading south and I was pretty sure I didn’t want to travel their road no matter what direction it was going. They walked off hoping, I suppose, for a more favorable response from my neighbor.
But the thing is there was no animosity present in our exchange maybe because we, on some level, recognized a kindred sense of common pursuit. We’re all searching for the ineffable, just taking different paths. Hooray for pluralism.
The winter doldrums have set in. Nature lies in dormancy and I must admit I’m affected. My thoughts increasingly become dark. It’s like I’m living under a black cloud.
It seems like everyone’s rubbing me the wrong way these days. I’m getting negative vibes from dolls (and people) I usually co-exist with easily. Why does it seem they’re trying to impose their values-values that make absolutely no sense to me or with which I totally disagree. I’m perfectly ok with others having opposing views but why can’t they just keep them to themselves.
And the weather’s terrible; cold, cold, cold. I’m afraid of being taken outside, my plastic body becoming brittle and cracking; then I’d be in a fix. I’d be destined for the scrap heap no doubt.
If I was religious I might be thinking about the sweet here-after, but given the mood I’m in crossing the River Styx is the more likely consideration. I wonder which place houses the more interesting residents.
Oh well, I know it will pass. One morning I’ll wake up to a slightly stronger sunshine which will trigger a change. I’ll once again be my usual upbeat self with an added bit of residual annoyance.
Celestial Steven was waxing idealistic recently about the tenuous existence of humankind. He said, that, early on-that is way, way back in time-cooperation among advanced sentient beings was primary. An individual’s survival depended upon interaction with others. On an individual level everyone was equal.
Problems, he said, began when the individual started identifying with a particular group; with group identification came conflict with others. The whole process has continued to grow and fester into the sectarian, racial, and religious conflicts (not to mention the divisive social class distinctions brought about by economic inequities) we now experience.
So, Celestial Steven said, if we could re-establish the one on one or establish an egalitarian collective everything would be peachy.
Mini-Max, being an unapologetic pragmatic conservative, took immediate exception to this idea. He said it is only human nature to desire the security of association with one’s own kind. The social security and economic stability of such alliances brings about fair competition between groups resulting in innovation and invention that lead to affluence and raise everyone’s quality of life.
So, I guess what it comes down to is racing blindly toward self-destruction as we fall deeper into our tribal differences in the interests of more for us or waking up, over-coming our jealousy and fear of the other and moving toward a more egalitarian world.
Well, I think collectivity may be the way to go but I would hate having to give up my playhouse.
During the renaissance period in Europe, when artists weren’t painting scenes from the Bible commissioned by the church, they were likely painting portraits of the rich and famous.
Among the rich and famous at the time was the Borgia family whose numerous intrigues, rumors of incest, murder and orgiastic engagements made for great story telling in 15th century Valencia.
Often the future Pope Alexander VI’s daughter (and lover) Lucrezia was the center of attention. She was by all accounts a captivating young woman, betrothed twice before her teen years and otherwise regularly used to further the political ambitions of the family.
But Lucrezia wasn’t simply a pawn in the Borgia’s game of political domination. She was a true Renaissance woman, well educated, fluent in a number of languages including Latin and Greek. She was politically astute and well-spoken at court where she cultivated friendships with leading artists, courtiers and poets of the day turning Ferrara into a center for the arts.
When one’s flame burns strong it’s often short-lived and such was the case for Lucrezia. She wound up submersing herself in religion and dying at the age of 39.
I wonder where someone like Lucrezia would fit into the contemporary social milieu. Would she contribute a strong and articulate female voice to the world dialogue regarding politics, feminism and the arts only to burnout in the futility of the endeavor, find religion and end up probably not being an asset to the abbey?
Whatever happened she would most certainly become a media favorite adored by the left and abhorred by the right.
I was thinking the other day about the significance of the temple guardian figures one finds at the entrances of eastern religious shrines and temples. The guardian, I understand, is the symbolic protector of the sanctity of the sacred space; he stands as defender against essence or evil threatening contamination or dilution of the truth within.
For many, the temple (or church or other social or economic institution) embodies a culture with which they deeply identify. So I got to wondering what would happen if that culture was compromised. What would happen if our sacred cultural space(s) were invaded by a malevolence that convinced us the tenets we’ve always held to be irrefutable were in fact not only refutable but quite false; without merit of any sort?
Since so much of who we are, how we identify ourselves to ourselves and others is tied to these now discarded cultural tenets do we become ‘culturally autistic’-blank stare meeting blank stare as we pass on the street unable to relate in any way to our neighbors beyond basic physical functioning?
I’m really not too worried about this happening to us dolls as we’re pretty tightly united by our vulnerabilities. Here in the playroom, we have managed to maintain our basic values even with a fairly steady influx of new and diverse members. The rules we set for ourselves focus on maintaining a mutual respect for each other’s self-worth as well as a collective sense of strong group participation that leaves no one out.
So, I think we have pretty good control of the sanctity of our playroom space and I guess we probably don’t need a symbolic guardian figure although there has been some discussion about forming political parties. Is two too many?
I-Ron, the post-modern man, was telling me the other day he never misses church on Sundays even though he doesn’t believe in God. He said he enjoys the company of the faithful while knowing he will probably never and, anyway, had no interest in experiencing the faith himself. Then, he said that, come to think about it, he didn’t really believe in anything particularly other than those immediate impressions that allowed him to go about his daily activities.
So, when he found out one of the members of his congregation had taken his own life recently and how unsatisfactory that action was in the eyes of the congregation and the church, all he could think of was the scene from Dante’s Inferno where the suicides are imprisoned in trees and are constantly pestered by the nasty Harpies landing on them, breaking off limbs and causing much pain and distress.
Although he felt a bit guilty about not feeling any remorse and pretending concern, I-Ron could only see the story as colorful and not the least bit disturbing.
Well, even though I do lean toward a moral relativity myself I had to feel a bit sorry for I-Ron; how can one really enjoy life without having strong moral feeling of any sort? I wondered to what level of Hell Dante might assign I-Ron.
Dr. Freud said if you have a strong superego it will help you subdue those baser instincts and depraved inclinations (which he called the id) and keep you on the straight and narrow.
I guess my superego must be pretty good because I’ve pretty much avoided participating in any of the seven deadly sins very much. As I think about it, I’m pretty modest, my desires are nearly non-existent, I don’t eat very much, am generally pretty good natured and I really try to keep my room clean.
So I guess maybe I might be thought of, in all modesty, as a good role model for the younger dolls, you know, someone to look up to. They might even find me admirable even saintly, after I’m gone; someone they can place on a pedestal as the paradigm of virtue. And then maybe they’ll build a temple for me where I can be forever held in the highest esteem-even worshiped. Maybe the Church will canonize me and actually make me a saint.
Boy, what a thought! I wonder what Dr. Freud would say. I hope he wouldn’t think I’m suffering delusions of grandeur.
Have you ever had a supernatural experience?
It could have been something you dreamed was going to occur that, later, seemed to really happen. Or maybe you saw something that you were pretty sure couldn’t really exist in the world as we know it. Or, as you sat contemplating things a message from beyond seemed to pop up out of nowhere, maybe from an incorporeal being.
Apparently this sort of thing happened to people living in medieval times pretty regularly; the difference for them was they had a more fluid idea of what constituted the real world then we do today.
I was reading the journal of three 12th century monks who set out to find the ‘terrestrial paradise.’ As they traveled to the east they encountered little people ‘no more than two feet high’ and went through a mountain region where there were basilisks, unicorns and dragons. They passed through a region of constant darkness where ‘mournful shrieking came from sinners drowning in a sea of serpents’ and ‘a giant chained between two boulders’ was being tortured with fire….. Well, the account goes on and on, one extraordinary event after another.
In my rationalistic way of thinking it all seems very imaginative. They simply were encountering things they had never seen before and were interpreting them in terms of the magical world in which they lived.
I don’t know if I should be happy in my understanding of the natural world or sad in my inability to realize a truly magical kingdom.
Not too long ago three new dolls joined our playroom family. Muscleman and Bobble-head St. Patrick were the first to settle in and it didn’t take long before Muscleman began imposing his will, bullying the other dolls. He was constantly jostling Bobble-head St. Patrick and causing the rest of us grief.
But then Athena showed up.
Scale can be very disparate among dolls and Athena has a considerable size advantage over most all the rest of us. That fact plus Athena Parthenos’ warrior mentality quickly changed the playroom dynamic.
Muscleman, as you can imagine, has a very large ego and he initially refused to recognize that his days of domination were over. Athena had to whack him down a couple of times before he got the message. Even then he continued to yell and boss dolls around but eventually things settled down and Athena no longer needed to wield her physical size and strength to maintain the peace.
The playroom has always been, up until Muscleman showed up, pretty egalitarian. Most everyone tolerates others’ idiosyncrasies without too much complaint. But, the turmoil did get me thinking about how tenuous group dynamics can be-how opinions can form and change and political pressures can develop-what can happen when a strong personality feels compelled to impose its will.
Bobble-head St. Patrick is really quite a pleasant doll but he does have the reputation of being quite strong willed. What if he suddenly got the notion to evangelize and got some (maybe a lot) of the other dolls to embrace his religious beliefs? Would we all then be expected to follow the tenets of their beliefs?
And then there’s Mini-Max, who’s quite materialistic. He’s been accumulating toys of his own for some time. He’s already been hinting that he could use more shelf space. What if he began bribing dolls-offering them favorite treats in order to acquire more room for his possessions? Would the rest of us end up having to live in the closet?
Well, hopefully my imaginings are nothing more than just that. But, it does make me think a just and fair judicial system is nothing to sneeze at.