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FEAR AND LOATHING IN CULTURE

March 1, 2013

The Paleolithic simian in people must be contained, and this is the specter at the heart of human culture, after agriculture.

And it is exactly what human culture subjects, pins down and holds in check.

For this simian, in our rationality, is a cannibal and we will serve ourselves of the flesh of our fellows if it is necessary for our own survival.

And the Semitic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) are the greatest testament to that simian as shadow at our heart.

But this Heart of Darkness is seen as such by contemporary human culture precisely because its presence, as an ever-potential explosion of human horror as insinuation, is how we are kept, as individuals and collectively, inoculated against it.

And Religion’s underlying vision of man is that of a convict whose defective nature-and not really because of anything he has done-is the reason he must live condemned to a life of labor, in the fields, and especially as the labor of life as love of God.

For God as the supreme father figure projection is the only one who has the power to hold us in life as human collectives-for without him we are lost and savage children.

And we have always loved and needed-in this sense-Father: he is life itself as communion in his embrace.

And through his love, we can love ourselves.

And even secularly we need to understand ourselves as brothers of Kurtz, as being just as prone as Kurtz was in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness to being enticed and lured into releasing the simian in you the moment you understand yourself to be, somehow, in a position of superiority and dominance over others.

Guilt, following Freud, is a rational equivalent to Religion’s vision of man as defective, impure or fallen from grace (and therefore in permanent existential need of Father).

But along with guilt is also a necessary fear and demeaning-and even scorn-of man’s primary nature,  that all cultures, to one degree or another, partake in.

And in consumer society today, there is a most pernicious scorning and debasement of the “dark side” of the individual; in film all individuals, as a category, hold dark secrets; governments now seek to pound individuals into obeying the speed limits, and it has become, to some extent in World Society today, even dangerous and socially alarming to express your emotions, above all anger and frustration-even just verbally.

And the same simian specter that is Cain lives on and lays siege to society.

But it is because of his onslaught and his bearing down on us as a world collective that we take solace and security from everyday routine and from the vital-intellectual insipidness that is Iphone life.

For how else could you carry on if you were not vitally engaged by some kind of dark and sinister, viscerally energizing threat, much in the way you were delightfully thrilled by the terror of ghosts, the Boogeyman and vampires-maybe-when you were a child?

And today, as the children you are within the culture systems you live in, you delightfully cringe at the thought of pedophiles; you are fascinated by what you perceive as a world of criminal violence, for money or sex-or just rage.

And you thrive in this existential delight of what is nothing more than an illusion of threat, that-just like the tiger in the forest-reinforces your sense of security back in the doldrums of village life (today in whatever city or suburb you live in).

Obviously it is thorough the media that you see the world, and not so much through experience-and much less through critical thinking or analysis.

But the problem-the essential, underlying problem just as it is with Religion and at the heart of culture itself-is that you are a child.

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