13. Living and Dead Languages
by Culture and Anti Culture
(For context see Post 1)
Two city dwelling widows of very modest means go to a cheap resort hotel in the nearby mountains for the weekend. At dinner the first night, one says to the other “ My God, this food, it’s terrible!” And her friend replies “ I know, and such small portions!”
No truly post-modern person understands this joke. Even when it is explained to them, its deep irony still eludes them. The joke is metaphorical. Depicting a mundane event in the outer world, it is really about the inner life of human beings. Life is hard, often bitter and ridiculous and it’s too short. This is a profound, fundamental irony and people have always felt it deeply. One may feel this truth as a crushing burden but this joke is a healing elixir to magically lift us above ourselves and laugh at our own absurdity.
A fool will praise a fool
Even a clown sometimes weeps
If you don’t like your mug, don’t blame the mirror
A joke to the tomcat, but tears to the mouse
Honey on the tongue, but ice in the heart
When money speaks, truth keeps its mouth shut
Not all are cooks who walk with long knives
The purse is empty, the judge is deaf
These are Russian proverbs. They come from a deep, soulful knowledge of life . They are not clever or subject to scientific proof, yet they are saturated with truth. No post-modern person truly, feelingly comprehends them and can make use of them.
Post-modern human beings suffer anxiety and depression in unprecedented numbers and out of all proportion to that majority of humanity still excluded from the bourgeois robotic ‘Instrumentality’. A lonely fraction of people amidst our atomized so-called society are constitutionally afflicted by the triviality, the fractured, chaotic emptiness of post modern life and are, as yet, incapable of surrendering to it. They have been systematically, that is to say deliberately and expertly denied the concepts and language to explain their predicament to themselves and others and they have nowhere to go. Drugs, alcohol, suicide.
Enormous numbers of people in the so-called Third World still possess a degree of this almost instinctive understanding precisely because they have not been ruined by post-modern pseudo education. What of us in America, the United States of Bullshit? This truly is the land of freedom in that if you are to have any satisfactory inner life or true human community, you had better get to work and this most especially means creating new language and new, living concepts and a new basis of human solidarity.
We have arrived at the the answer to Shelley’s question, when he addresses the mountain at the end of ‘Mont Blanc’:
‘The secret strength of things which governs thought
And to the infinite dome of heaven is as a law
And what were thou and earth and stars and sea
If to the human mind’s imagining
Silence and solitude were vacancy’
The vacancy of modern life is an evil imposed from above whose ultimate goal is to turn human beings into ciphers, into organic input-output devices of labor and submission. For ensouled humanity resistance, not submission, is the path we are summoned to take.
Avatars of Vacancy
Nike man–Phil Knight
It has not always been thus
Tolstoy by Ilya Repin
“Contemporary humanity is in the midst of many crises. At the heart of them all is the crisis in the inner life of the human being. We are writing for the consciously distressed.”