Monday, March 26, 2012

Spring is acumen in: Eves, and their Lambs.
The End Continued: Law as Crime (31)

© Eso A. B., 2012

Blog 30: An interesting reverberation on self-sacrifice( from China).  refers to an AP article in the Washington Post, re “China Website Accuses Dalai Lama of ‘Nazi-Style’ Racial Policies, advocating 'Self-Immolation.'"

The author of this series of blogs has for some time advocated the view that any self-enclosed government system (without an exit clause, by way of, for example, direct democratic elections) is innately a fascist form of government, because in its heart of hearts it (a dried out pine cone), advocates a welfare system for its own members exclusively, and is exclusionary with regard to equality to all who are not members of the government body or are in some other way outside the ‘system’.

The Chinese government is obviously a system unto itself, which  Bo Xilai  may have recently attempted to reverse.

As for the U.S. government, here is Glenn Greenwald (interviewed by Amy Goodman): on the two tiered U.S. justice system and how the U.S. President Obama praises himself for engaging in anti-constitutional activities against U.S. citizens.

Alexis de Tocqueville”: “The American moralists do not profess that men ought to sacrifice themselves for their fellow creatures because it is noble to make such sacrifices, but they boldly aver that such sacrifices are as necessary to him who imposes them upon himself as to him for whose sake they are made. They have found out that, in their country and their age, man is brought home to himself by an irresistible force; and, losing all hope of stopping that force, they turn all their thoughts to the direction of it. They therefore do not deny that every man may follow his own interest, but they endeavor to prove that it is the interest of every man to be virtuous.”

However, in light of my “Oedipus Rex Rewritten” it would appear—in retrospect of course—that de Tocqueville cast himself in the role of the overly anxious mother, queen Iocaste, of Oedipus, who refused to offer her son to the opinion of the Gods to test his character as worthy of that of a future king of Thebes (or China, or America, or Latvia, or whichever leader of whatever country). De Tocqueville committed the sin of optimism without allowing that unreflective positivism may result in tragedy (also shame) for an entire community.

* *  *

Some four and a half billion years ago, there began to appear the first signs of life  on Earth.

I believe that the birth of humankind should be thought of as beginning at this time, 4.5 billion years ago, because if there is such a thing as a divine spirit [to be thought less in terms of being a supernatural phenomenon as a mathematical concept, re: an Einsteinian constant  (=life?) floating in something we may call the Possible Unknowable (=the material void?], it entered Earth’s environment not today, but back then.

The Einsteinian constant did not enter life when the first human beings (Adam and Eve) appeared or when Jesus was born or sacrificed his life when pressed to do so, but with life itself. To defer creation to the time of Adam and Eve, screws up the arguments in favour of the materialists, because such a presumption cannot be called anything but “miracle mongering” accompanied by befuddling though contortions by any number of magicians.

One such contortionist of thought today is a Slovenian philosopher named Slavoy Žižek. Žižek is a smart guy and often right on target with his criticisms. Unfortunately, he cannot resist killing the bird, he holds in the cage, twice over. That is, while he is as correct as the child, who accuses the magician of having killed the bird (instead of making it magically disappear) in the bird cage, Žižek believes that the creative process (the divine spirit in dying) starts with him, rather than having begun 4.5 billion years ago. For Žižek, this enormously long period of evolutionary history, because it is unconscious and, oh! so cautious, does not meet his snap of the fingers criteria for miracles, i.e., “man (Žižek) is the cause of God” (p.33, TMOC). Maybe there is something to meditation after all—if it teaches how to overcome the sense of time and not fear no time or a billion years squeezed into a passing moment.

If divinity entered Earth’s environment with the beginnings of the first signs of life, then it leaves both the theists and atheists puzzed (?drowning in the Possible Unknowable) and without the ability to deliver a believable answer. This is not to deny that it took divinity a long time to manifest itself as a paranormal event (a story that manages to become an event)—when a human being first acts as if God or Gods exist on the basis of no other resources than one’s subjective mind.

There are thinkers, however, who deny that an entry of the divine spirit into human beings occurs with the arrival of life on Earth. I believe this view is mistaken, which mistake is supported by my ‘rewritten’ Sophocles’ “Oedipus Rex Rewritten”. While I agree that the events surrounding the death of Jesus are unique, the uniqueness is not all that different from the ‘failed’ death of Oedipus (the story missing from the Freudian explanation), which, too—after all is said and done—arises out of the demand by a community of Thebes for a death by self-sacrifice, because it assures it of the Holy Ghost that will guarantee it its existence.

* * *

That my ‘rewrite’ should appear at this precise moment of history (1955-2012) necessarily asks if this is in response to a cry from within the community out of a yet unverbalized need. In other words, the theme hidden behind the words “The Wealth Virus” is that the continued existence of a community depends as much on the actualization of the act of self-sacrifice as it depends on the ‘holy ghost’ or charisma that exudes from the act and binds its witnesses through the regeneration of a 4.5 billion year old pact originally known as An Ode to Joy.

Will you tell what future awaits us?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

End: The King Must Die.  (30)
The Moon over the Kings Graveyard.
 © Eso A. B., 2012

At in the following link philosopher Žižek mentions “poetry”. What Žižek says is: “no ethnic cleanthing without poetry”, and goes on to state that some such “pervert strength” is needed to “arouse people”. Of course, Žižek does not recommend ethnic cleanthing, but the statement is made in view of the likelihood (fact, I would say) that we live in ‘the end time’. Unfortunately, the malaise of our times is such that most people act as if such an ‘end time’ will go on for ever.

The number of “my wealth virus” blogs shows that an ‘end time’ can go on for a long time.

[Originally, I visualized this series some 23 blogs long. 23 is a favourite number of mine. I heard the number in my ears out of the blue many decades ago (in the early 1980s) while walking along an a busily trafficked asphalt road in Seabrook, New Hampshire, and, of course, I thought it was a paraidelia of sound. In spite of the casualness of the moment, the memory of it will not go away to this day.)

In my case, the ‘Wealth Virus’ likely began with the arrival in Latvia of a Herrnhuter from somewhere in the Habsburg Empire, perhaps from Bosnia (where Žižek stems from). This was sometime in the middle of the 18th century. The consequences of this arrival are still having effect on me, though in some ways my experience of the 20th century has turned me sympathetic to Luddites, and would be happy to replace the automobile  (I believe the day will come when it will happen) with the horse.

Wherever else my subjective thoughts may have me think, they lead me to agree with Žižēk that there has to occur a moment that will “arouse people”. This is one reason why I hold on to my perception of Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex. The play is both poetry and tragedy, and it has the potential of stirring up many people’s paraidolias concerning death. My personal paraidolic vision is that somehow a friendly and smiling Stalin appears before me, and offers me a shot of vodka along with a pistol. After we down the drink, Stalin takes the pistol and prepares to hand it to me, saying: “I am sorry, man, for being responsible your father was shot.” I take the pistol, but hand it back to Stalin, and say: “Joseph, I rather you do it yourself. Since you had your stroke young (72 years), I give you yet another nine years to live; but then—no ifs or but—just do it. I do not mind if you do not use the pistol. If you prefer, go ahead, and order the concoction from the Swiss, but you must gather the courage and take your life. I also do not mind if you travel to Latvia to do it, because the export of Euthanasia is the only way their economy can survive there.”

I am definitely against killing people or any live thing, for that matter, unless there has been some extreme provocation that involved loss of innocent life. At the same time, I am not against the so-called Sacred King (whoever he-she may be) ordering an execution by offering the murdered the opportunity to take his-her own life by his-he own hand.

This is what the citizens of Thebes (in the person of Tiresias) demanded from Oedipus Rex when the truth about him is discovered.

* * *

An interesting reverberation on self-sacrifice from China.  refers to an AP article in the Washington Post, re “China Website Accuses Dalai Lama of ‘Nazi-Style’ Racial Policies, advocating Self-Immolations.'"

This author has for some time advocated the view that any self-enclosed government system (without an exit clause, by way of, for example, direct democratic elections) is innately a fascist form of government, because it advocates a welfare system for its own members, and is exclusionary with regard to equality to all who are not members of the government body or are in some other way outside the ‘system’.

The fact that the Chinese government finds the resistance of Tibetan monks and nuns through self-immolation (self-sacrifice) as ‘Nazi-Style’ is fer  One Who Flew Over the Cockoos Nest, or should one say  ‘Chinese policy of acquiring more Lebensraum at the expense of Tibetan freedom to chose their own communal way of being?’ What will the Chinese government say when the Chinese people themselves will begin to resist their fascists? Call them “Nazis?”

“Oedipux Rex Rewritten” is a universally known tragedy that clearly responds to the presumptions of Chinese government’s fascist presumptions, which, as the play’s centuries long repression gives evidence to, is nothing new. Maybe it is time for Chinese government officials to earn their charisma by self-sacrifice, and if they do not like to do it the hard way by self-immolation, then go to Switzerland and do it the painless way.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Again: What Did Lot’s Wife Turn to See? (29)
Unwrapping the Gift.
© Eso A. B., 2012

I have opined (blog 28) that though the suicide of Hitler did not save him his honour, Hitler did thereby take upon himself the blame for his determination and failure to become a Saint to his people, and that after all the horror and tragedies inflicted by his acts, the German people remained united by the charisma that only a sacrificial death assures.

Stalin, on the other hand, not only persecuted those who would doctor him in his old age, but murdered some of the doctors, then died of a stroke and is said to have experienced death as an agony. While Stalin’s ideology (communist fascism) embraced a far greater circle of people than did Hitler’s (nationalist fascism), Stalins death was a banal event. Stalin degraded with cowardice not only his death, but his murder of millions of people. In no way did Stalin’s death contribute charismatic unity to the Soviet people, who today—nearly sixty years after Stalin’s death—are all consumers of liberal capitalist Pop culture and are as dumbed-down as consumers going about near naked and in dirty underwear anywhere.

While this series of blogs (“My Wealth Virus”) is meant as a supplement to my “Oedipus Rex Rewritten”, the original of which play is said to have been written by an ‘ancient’ Greek  named Sophocles, my ‘rewrite’ centres around the idea that tragedy struck Thebes and Oedipus, because Oedipus was unwilling to pay (love?) for the privilege of being the King of his community with his life. Instead of healing it, Oedipus brought Thebes more misery, brought home to the viewers of the play through the death of more than fourteen people in the circle of the royal household.

That said, “Oedipus Rex Rewritten” furthermore assumes that the ‘rewritten’ version returns a repressed plot of the play to one that, more or less, informed its original version, i.e., that death by self-sacrifice is essential to a just and not-violent community order. At the same time, the ‘rewritten’ version assumes the currently in vogue ‘orthodox’ or ‘classical’ version of the play to be a repressed version, one that has been hid behind a simplistic plot of a son dreaming of sleeping with his mother. Needless to say, the latter ‘classical’ version perverts and degrades the theology implicit in the original.
Blog-end Adlib: [IV] Tiresias’ Revenge (28)
Deconstruction of Thebes in Progress; early March, 2012.
© Eso A. B., 2012

 The riddle of the Sphinx was so simple that any child should have been able to answer it. Instead, it was pretended that the answer would take a “hero” to answer.

When the passing traveller could not answer the Sphinx’s simple question, we are told that he-she was killed and then eaten.
So why would anyone ever walk the road that led past the Sphinx?

The answer to these questions and doubts is that “the riddle” was part of a profound and ancient ritual, that ritual being the sacrifice of children.

The answer to the Sphinx riddle, just in case someone does not remember it, was “man”. At the start of life, he-she crawls on all fours, while grown men and women walk on two legs, but when old walk with the aid of a walking stick.

One may, however, also wonder if “man” is the answer that quite suits the occasion. Since I ‘rewrote’ Sophocles play, I have always believed that the answer should have been “everyman, everywoman” or simply “I”, or if the Sphinx heard “I do not know”, he-she would bellow with a roar: “YOU!”

On the other hand, how can one answer a riddle with an “I” or “you”? The riddle as stated by Sophocles does not answer to either of the above answers.
To arrive at the answers “I” or “you” takes a riddle that is more complex than the one that appears in Oedipus Rex. Indeed, my answer is that it takes the whole play, the entire plot, to arrive at “you”.

So, with such a riddle in mind, this is how I have ‘rewrote’ Oedipus Rex Rewritten:
There was an ancient custom that if a King wished to pass on the kingship to his son, he had to expose his son to the elements, when but a few days old, for the length of a night on top of a mountain. In King Laius case, the mountain was called Mt. Citheron.
King Laius wife, Queen Iocaste, however, objected to the custom. She was shocked over the ‘inhuman’ (to use terminology of our times) idea of exposing her infant son to the risk of death. When the King insisted, the Queen pretended to go along, but instead of exposing her son, Oedipus, to the elements and ‘wild things’, she had a trusted person, a shepherd, deliver Oedipus to her sister Meirope, who was Queen in Corinth, a neighbouring kingdom. Iocaste had her servants find an aborted or  still-born baby, the dead body of which, she took up Mt. Citheron. The next day, she used this baby as evidence that her child had not survived the night; that the Gods had not chosen to protect him. Thereafter, Queen Iocaste bore no other children, or if she did become pregnant, aborted them (with an atheist’s matter of factness) in favour of her son Oedipus at Corinth.

Of course, Queen Iocaste still wanted to see her son Oedipus on the throne of Thebes. To accomplish this, she had a plan: 1] Prince Oedipus would be persuaded to seek his fortune beyond the confines of Corinth; 2] he would discover his father, King Laius, buying a wagonload of children to be sacrificed; 3] in self-righteous fury, he would kill his father; 4] he would then kill the child-eating Sphinx; 5] he could do the former only with the connivance of Tiresias, the high priest of the Sphinx’ Temple; 6] Tiresias told Oedipus of the one weakness, the ‘Ahilees heel’, of the Sphinx, after exacting from Oedipus a promise that with the end of children’s sacrifices, he would become a sacrifice himself (to himself); 7] Oedipus rewards Tiresias for his demand by burning out the priest’s eyes with fire brands; 8] Oedipus arrives at Thebes a hero of the people; 9] Oedipus marries Iocaste, his mother and becomes King of Thebes; 10] he forgets all about his promise to Tiresias to sacrifice himself.

11] As a result of Oedipus not keeping his promise or making arrangements with Tiresias as to when he would sacrifice himself to himself, Thebes begins to suffer a plague. The plague is a curious one: though he is King, Oedipus is lacking a king’s authority. While everyone in the kingdom defers to him, no one is persuaded quite trust him. Perhaps the best example of the lack of trust is Creon, Queen Iocaste’s brother, who with every passing day—and with Oedipus’s cooperation--becomes an ever mightier oligarch.

12] Tiresias uses Creon’s greed as his tool of revenge. When it becomes generally perceived that Creon will not be stopped from becoming ever wealthier, the entire court of Thebes begins to plot a power grab, each for him and herself. The community of Thebes increasingly suffers from the plague of distrust, and with each passing day fall increasingly apart.

13] When matters have gone from bad to worse, Tiresias arrives at the court of Thebes and reveals to King Oedipus that it is he who is guilty for the social disintegration, and that only his self-sacrifice will save Thebes. Upon hearing the truth, King Oedipus puts out his eyes. For making the truth known, Tiresias is killed by Queen Iocaste.

14] In the end, the only survivors of the holocaust at the Theban court are Princess Ismene, King Oedipus’ youngest daughter, nanny of King Oedipus’s children Iananna, and King Oedipus himself. It is at this point that King Oedipus resolves, to fulfil his pledge to Tiresias, by asking his daughter Ismene to take him to the top of Mt. Citheron.

15] After King Oedipus dies on the mountain, and frightened Ismene runs down the hill with the news, the community of Thebes is freed from the curse of having no one of authority over them. It is there and then Princess Ismene promises the community of Thebes that she is resolved to die at the age of eighty-one (9x9), and the Thebans install her as their ruler.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Blog-end Adlibs: [III] Stalin Died a Murderer (27)
© Eso A. B., 2012

Anyone with a little  literary education in the classical sense, who knows something of the stories important to humankind, realizes after reading my blogspot that the Freudian interpretation of Oedipus Rex, which gave the story its 20th century seal, is a Pop Culture version of the real thing. This version suits the mindset of liberal capitalist ideology, which today, just a decade into the 21st century, pretends to being a secular religion and is waging a crusade to install itself as an institution into perpetuity.

From this writer’s perspective (near eighty years of hindsight), the 20th century ended in mid-20th-century with the end of WW2, and two of the most important post-WW2 events: the death (1945) of Hitler and the deadh (1953) of Stalin.

The other half of the 20th century became preoccupied with the victorious liberal capitalist West (chiefly the U.S. and its recently organized NATO allies in Europe) attempting to lead an irresolute humankind in an irresolute way toward a premature death. The death of humankind was solicited in several ways: a) by encouraging overconsumption and the consequent rapid depletion of natural resources (forests, oil) anddegradation of Earth’s environment as a whole; and b) chemical pollution of the human body.

Secularism, having succeeded in recreating itself as a humanitarian theology, continues to subjugate humankind to will of the chief sponsors of this “new” theology—the banks and other oligarchs. The corporation as an individual had overcome mere humanity, and there was no weapon that anyone knew of to oppose this giant.

Which brings us to reminding the reader of the story of David and Goliath. Heretofore, the attention of listeners of this story has been directed toward a tiny individual overcoming a giant by a perfectly aimed stone, which hit the giant directly in the forehead. Henceforth, we will direct our attention from the forehead to the eye of the giant, his modern version being more like that of a Cyclops, a single eyed monster. In our time, the single or the all encompassing eye plays a greater role than the head as a whole, because today the eye looks like a hologram. This is the reason, why Goliath need not be struck by a rock, but by a well aimed story. This is why traditional violence in opposing the corporate enemy is no longer overt violence (as once envisioned by the Bolsheviks), but a true story.

The 20th century produced several true stories, which humankind not only saw in four dimensions (the 4th dimension outdoing the 3rd by also being Live and On Air). The stories are generally summed up by a few words: Hitler, Stalin, and Uncle Sam.

The essence of the stories of the above was that all promised humankind that after they were done told, society would be enjoying a state of economic egalitarianism.

Absolute economic equality or egalitarianism was implicit in Hitler’s and Stalin’s political promise to the people who made up the ‘populists’ segment of the people living under their control. It was the egalitarian message that made both men saints in the eyes of the people they led, even though both saints were—due to circumstantial reasons—bitter enemies, even enemies unto death.

Very possibly, it was the ‘circumstantial reasons’ (the men lived in territories adjacent to each other and attempted to bring equality to their supporters at the expense of the other population), which caused humankind to emerge from WW2 with egalitarianism continuing to be a disputed assumption. No doubt, Hitler’s Reich attempted to enlarge the egalitarian living space for only the German folk, while Stalin’s Soviets pretended to fight for a globalized human paradise. Both would probably prescribe to Marx’ famous phrase: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.

Both Hitler and Stalin perceived that their respective societies (for different reasons) were likely to be repressed by the emergence of successful colonial powers and American capitalism. Colonialism and American capitalism were in an expansionist mood, the expansionism motivated by success (the American cyclops had the ‘ability’ to exploit America’s yet unexploited land mass) and perceived that in order to continue with its success and way of life, liberal capitalism ‘needed’ to control the resources of the globe.

It is of course ‘old hat’ that WW2 ended with the defeat of Hitler, and the discovery that the ‘bias’ that fueled his aggression was anti-semitism.

While few people today connect anti-semitism with Christian heretics, this writer has long (“The Death of 4 European Gods”, Trafford, 2005) argued that Christianity is indeed both ‘older’ and ‘younger’ that orthodox historians allow. The evidence that a ‘heretical’ Christianity preceded Catholic orthodoxy is presented in the same ‘old’ New Testament, where one John (actually Johns, because John was many) is said to be the precursor of Jesus. With the slaughter of the Jews by Hitler, a secular ‘catholic’ (or Christian) ideology ended its program of ‘cleansing’ society of the dissenters to secular order.

The dependence of Hitler for authority on anti-semitism destroys any pretentions he may have had to ‘sainthood’—even if one cannot deny that within his closed (fascist) society of the German Reich, he had persuaded the German people that among Germans he favored egalitarianism. Indeed, the German people remained largely united under this egalitarian ideology long after WW2, because losing the war did not lose Hitler his charisma. Hitler remained a charismatic persona, because of the fact that he had the courage to die by his own hand, and absorb much of the blame for what had gone wrong onto himself. In a post-war society turned toxic by meaningless verbiage churned out by advertisements for liberal capitalism, Hitler’s charisma even if itself toxic, was not destroyed.

Stalin emerged from WW2 as a victor. This is not to deny the ‘red terror’, the 10 to 20 million deaths he caused, his failures to analyze the ultimate potential of the Bolshevik RevolutionLenins criticism and testament of Stalin, and Stalin’s suppression of the testament. However, the following quote of the opening sentences of Stalins speech at Lenin’s funeral (1924) gives us an insight into his private thoughts or, as we may say, his ‘spiritual high’:
“Comrades, we Communists are people of a special mould. We are made of a special stuff. We are those who form the army of the great proletarian strategist, the army of Comrade Lenin. There is nothing higher than the honor of belonging to this army. There is nothing higher than the title of member of the Party whose founder and leader was Comrade Lenin. It is not given to everyone to be a member of such a party. It is not given to everyone to withstand the stresses and storms that accompany membership in such a party.”

However, when all was said and done, and none of the many dead rose from the dead, Stalin’s ego got the better of him: he failed to realize himself in the role of the Sacred King, but, instead, acted as if he was not to suffer death. The clearest evidence for this is Stalin’s persecution of Jewish doctors in the so-called ‘doctors' plot’ and apparently never having given a thought of death as having an important role to play in the life of not only a nation’s ruler, but the nation itself.

Because the charisma of Stalin remains that of a murderer, who did not wash himself with the waters of Lethe, and because post-Soviet Russia does not acknowledge Stalin’s evident inhumanity, Russian leadership and role in global geopolitics remains unattractive and uncharismatic.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Blog-end Adlibs: [II] Monsters as Determined Saints (26)
Rearview Mirror with Sunset.
© Eso A. B., 2012

In the following interview, here, Slavoy žižek states that he has greater problems in speaking about Stalin  than he has about Hitler. In fact, I do, too. I liked Hitler, but disliked Stalin. In what lies the difference?

Of course, I know what the end result of Hitler’s political power was. At the end of WW2, I was living in Weimar, the capital city of the German Weimar republic. The concentration camp Buchenwald was on the other side (north) of the valley, from where my family was staying. My address was Peter Cornelius Strasse 10, if I remember right, the last street of Weimar on its Western side. This was perhaps some ten blocks from the Weimar theatre, which I saw burn after an allied bombing attack. When I passed by with a basket of Rundstuchen (buns), a crew of Buchenwald  Inmates from was already clearing the rubble from a bomb that had struck the cobble stone street. One of the men saw that my basked contained bread, and broke away from the working crew (it had an armed guard), ran up to me, fell on his knees, and with his right hand pointed at my basket, alternately folding them in a gesture of pleading, and I believe what he said (though I did not hear it then) was: “Won’t you, Anton, eleven years old refugee from Latvia, please give me one of the Rundstuchen?” I looked at my basket, saw that the find from the fire I had been watching (from only a out ten meters away)had blown the small towel that covered its contents over a corner, and folded the towel back over the basket. I did not give the man his bread. While I hesitated, the guard came up to us and told the man to get back to work and for me to shove off. All the while behind me there was the five or six story round Weimar Theatre building belching flames from its many huge, inverted U [O]7 windows, the flames and smoke coming through most of them. About a month or so later, I was watching from a small hillside outside of Weimar the bombing of Dresden (nearly 200 km east).

When the end of the war came, the inmates of Buchenwald freely walked the streets of Weimar, begged for food, and the German population was told to go look at the camp. I wanted to go, too, but my mother told me not to. I later snuck up to the main gate anyway, saw nothing in particular, and went to play with the handgranades dumpted into a waterfilled ditch on the other side of the street from the camp. I pulled the tab at the tab at the far end of the wooden handle of the grenade. It went KA-BOOM! I was really terrified and threw the grenade away as fast as I could. The content of the canister were apparently wet and did not explode.

Of course, I believed what the newspapers and radio told me: that the Nazis were real murderers and that Hitler was a violent man and that a self-inflicted bullet in his brain was what he deserved. I had seen men and women walk the streets with yellow star labels attached to them. I had heard that Jews had to be got rid of. At the age of , I did not know what to think of the matter, though by that time I suspected that my father had been shot by the Soviets. By that time, I knew that Hitler had lost Stalingrad and perhaps the war, because he had told his soldiers to take Stalingrad and fight to the last man. Many years later after the war, I read that Hitler had been supported in his policies by many German and American banks and business corporations, and that Hitler’s rocked scientists and many Gestapo had been hired by the Americans to help them out in things that they were not yet so good at.

Somewhere, I read, perhaps in a book that was a war memoir or description of WW2, that there was a moment in the fight over Stalingrad, where the Germans and Russians were separated by only several decameters, and Stalin personally ordered the men to hold Stalingrad or die. The following Stalingrad link gives a better account of the blood and lives lost at this ‘street fighting academy’.

* * *

About four years before I was eleven, at the age of seven, after the Soviet authorities had seized our twelve room apartment in Riga and the seaboard villa at Yuhrmala, I found myself in Soklehni, a farm, belonging to my aunt (youngest sister of my grandmother). I believe it is among  the shortest trip anyone ever took from wearing white sandals and riding a German made childrens tricycle to standing with bare feet in cowshit. While the change in environments was in many ways shocking, a five or six hour drive by car over a country road and getting car sick, and soon thereafter being beat up by two country boys for allegedly destroying a nest full of nestlings of a small bird, it was also an exhilarating experience. For the first time in my life, I was in an environment no longer contained by the rituals of urban life. The Baltic-German nannies were gone, and my mother had no idea how to take care of three children at once, her youngest being barely one year old. From that time on to this day, I have been entirely on my own.

The uncomfortable relationship that had arisen as a result of getting a bloody nose from the boys, had to be soon resolved, the sooner the better from the point of view of a seven year old. My parents had packed some of my toys in Riga to be braught with us. One of the toys included a small hammer, a jig-saw, and I have forgotten what other ‘junior carpenter’ tools. The next time, I met the two brothers, I showed them my tools, and they really liked them, and I could see wished they could have them. So, on the spur of the moment, I gave the set to the boys as a gift.

It is hard to forget what happened after my father discovered that I had gifted my toy tools away. He called the farm household together into the kitchen, and began to accuse the boys of being thieves, of taking advantage of a city boy unfamiliar with his new environment. He demanded that the boys return the toys to me. The father of the boys, a militant looking thirtyish man, a “new farmer” defended his sons. I was then asked by my father if I had gifted the toys to the boys. Totally shaken, I shook my head and said “No,” though I knew that I was lying. I was returned my tools in an atmosphere of bad vibes all around.

Several months later, in January of 1941, my father had to return to Riga to vote. The Soviets demanded an obligatory participation in the elections by at least the head of the household. Shortly after he arrived in Riga, he was arrested and spent the time until he and all the inmates of the prison were deported to the Soviet Union at the outbreak of WW2, in June.

When the two boys heard that my father had been deported, I remember hearing them say: “He got what was coming to him.”

While everyone else stayed, the “new farmer” fled the farm with the retreating Soviet Army. I have no idea of what ever happened to them, nor do I think that they know anything about me. I assume that they may have been killed in the war, which early on advanced with real blitz speed.

 * * *

After the above and many other war related experiences, after some fifteen years (after serving three years in the USMC, of which 18 months were spent in South Korea), I found myself in Boston attending a class at Boston University. By that time, I had read a little Dante, Cervantes, Plato, Aristophanes, Sophocles, Iliad and Odysey, Kant, Schopenhauer, Leibniz, Turgenev, Dostoyevsky, Goethe, and what not. At that time, the many Latvian farms contained a small room that served as a library. All the above mentioned authors and many more were there. There was also the Bible, the New Testament, and The Sins of Youth, the latter which taught me that masturbation can weaken the development of my brain. I was anxious not to be discovered at or with a shrunk brain. I had let myself imagine that I wanted to study theology. Instead, I got a seminar with Robert Lowell, an American poet, who after reading my first submitted poem said that he thought that I was a “surrealist”.

Since I did not wish to be “a surrealist”, but was intrigued by it all the same, I ended up reading quite a few books on mythology. That is how I came to read Sophocle’s Oedipus Rex again, and perceived that the riddle of the Sphinx had not been yet solved, but remained a repressed literary mystery. It occurred to me that the riddle remained unsolved, because people did not wish to think of unpleasant matters, the riddle of the Sphinx being one such. The answer to the riddle, in my eyes, was that the Sphinx was actually a temple to the Sphinx, and that it was a place where children were sacrificed.

It took me many years to reimagine and rewrite some of the other happenings taking place in Sophocle’s tragedy, but I feel rather happy to have freed the play from the burden of Freud’s Pop Art reputation, and returned it to the arena of politics. In short, the chief priest of the temple of the Sphinx was not the Sphinx, but the seer and chief priest Tiresias. What Tiresias asked Oedipus was not a riddle, but he told him that if the sacrifices of little children was to end, he would have to substitute his life for theirs.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Blog-end Adlibs: [I] God is Unconscious or
Death of Self-Sacrifice. (25)

I believe that the true temperature was -16C that morning, down from -25C

© Eso A. B., 2012

The Monstrosity of Christ” is a book worth reading, whether the reader is interested in the reasons why it interests me or whether he-she finds additional or other reasons. Though not an easy read, the book reaches for an important political issue. Alas, it does not answer it.

As I understand it, Christ is referred to as a “”monstrosity” because philosopher Žižek (vs Professor Milbank, who does not  object to the term) sees Jesus as a God-man who, when all is said and done, boils down to an atheist. Not that Christ is a “monstrosity” per se, but because he dies as if for God, Who does not exist.

For Creston Davis, who writes the introduction to the book, the significance of the argument over Christianity between Žižek and Milbank is that “Christianity as approached by Žižek and Milbank uniquely proffers an emancipatory exit beyond the deadlock of capitalism and its supplement, liberalism—which in truth is a false politics sequestered by the owners of production in the name of freedom.”

Creston Davis, who writes the Introduction to the book, presents the reason why the argument between the two men is important: “The significance of the … debate ultimately arises from the fact that modern Christianity has finally met its doom. So I want (to raise)… a fundamental question: What becomes of theology after secular Enlightenment reason has run its course?” (p.21)

The answer to the question, as I see it, is whether in spite of being “doomed” as a question for theology, Christianity is able to continue as an “activist”. In other words, though the debate may, in the end, turn out to be rhetoric among the mute, there is enough juice (the monster) left in Christianity for it to affect the false politics of liberalism.

This “monster” put to sleep by liberal capitalism and its politics by putting something of a Dostoyevskian veto over the word 'slaughter'; Milbank: “Kirillov [of Dostoyevski’s “The Devils”] tries self-assertion, but logically concludes that the only irrefutable act of ‘divine’ self-assertion is self-slaughter.” If taken as not only ‘logic’, but also as a negation of self-sacrifice, self-slaughter does indeed act an inhibitory force against anyone’s assumption that every human being’s subjective presumption for him- and her-self is economic egalitarity.

While our time is more than vane in assuming that our post-post-modernisms are the last word in sophistication, whether it be religious, philosophical, or whatever, my belief is that such sophistication was within reach of many ‘ancient’ thinkers, as well. My personal proof of this can be found in Sophocle’s famous tragedy “Oedipus Rex”, which I have retold in “Oedipus Rex Rewritten”. My ‘rewrite’ centers around the argument that while child sacrifice as practiced at the Temple of the Sphinx at Thebes, is rightly put to a stop by Prince Oedipus, Oedipus was able to do so only by promising to replace it with self-sacrifice. When Oedipus the King failed to honor his promise (to Tiresias, the priest of the Sphinx). the plague of Thebes began and does not end until as a consequence of the death of most of his family members, Oedipus comes to understand that he indeed must self-sacrifice himself by self-slaughtering himself. As unpleasant (monstrous) as the word ‘self-slaughter’ is, the up-beat twist (which both philosophers fail to state) of their argument is that the word changes its meaning to “self-sacrifice”.

Though I concede that there are certain monstrous obstacles to my slip-slide from my perception of self-slaughter to my perception of self-sacrifice, it may be that these ‘obstacles’ are empty and mere rhetoric, which must be and is overcome by direct action.