All right friends, there’s a glow in the air, and that great big shiny yellow thing seems to have reappeared. Remember, the thing you saw when you went to visit your grandparents in Arizona over X-mas? The leaves on the Park Blocks’ trees have fattened, and now wave broadly once more over the delightfully under-dressed young ladies of PSU. The sky is a deep blue, like looking over the side of a boat floating in the Gulf Stream, a dark and intoxicating blue, against which the fir boughs shimmer and wave in gentle kissing breezes. Ah, an idyll is Portland in May!
And this inevitably leads my mind to think of only two things: the Bible and Nietzsche! OK, maybe there is a third thing, but in this culture, overt sexual attraction is all too often equated, incomprehensibly, with disrespect … sigh …
This term I’ve been taking an excellent class on that bushy-lipped German charmer taught by the acrobatic (mentally as well as physically) Dr. Steven Fuller. I would certainly recommend the class to anyone – given they be of flexible mind and strong stomach. For, you see, ole Friedrich is a powerfully persuasive sonofagun, and a lot of the things he wrote tend to dull those shiny green leaves I waxed poetic about a few lines before. My personal favorite quotation right now is, “For you murdered the visions and dearest wonders of my youth.” Jesus, man, somebody get that guy a shot of tequila and a joint, posthaste!
It’s necessary that one always maintain a state of cheerful cynicism when dealing with stuff like that. First of all, Nietzsche himself urges you not to accept him without question. But you forget, or think he’s being coy, and the rhythmic power and persuasive elegance of his aphorisms have a cumulative effect that breaks you down until, crushed under the weight of heavy ideas like the death of God, the meaningless-ness of truth, or the triteness of egalitarianism, you end up curled into a fetal position in the closet, wishing desperately for a tumbler of absinthe and a ball-peen hammer.
It’s that way with all dogmatic writing. There is a lulling, almost hypnotic appeal to letting go and giving yourself over to a superior mind, a superior paradigm, to let loose the reins of reason and merely drift with the flow, borne along on the weight of lovely, eloquent hot air. The danger is when you float right over the cataract and find yourself bloody and smashed on the rocks below. I say: let your wit and your own ideas be your barrel and anchors aweigh. Just hope you don’t get trapped underwater for 30 hours like that guy going over Niagara did!
It’s the same way with the Bible, really. It’s a good idea to have, at least, a passing familiarity with that particular text if you want to live in our society. Bible-thumping Christofascists (like the College Republicans) notwithstanding, Judeo-Christian philosophy, mythology and imagery permeate Western society, whether your name be John or you’re talking about the match-up between the Cavs and Pistons as David and Goliath (sorry David, not this year, even with King James). Even if you are one of those black-masked folks I saw at the May Day extravaganza (by the way – why the masks?) and you hate the patriarchal system in all its iterations, it’s good to know the enemy, right?
Christians too need to be careful reading the Bible. It’s dangerous stuff, in the wrong hands- just like Nietzsche. The Nazis embraced both, remember- it just shows that they’re elastic enough writings to be wrapped around almost any agenda. Let’s look at a couple of examples from the Bible for a minute, to clear your head of any lingering ideas that God himself pounded that book out on his laptop.
The first fish in the barrel has got to be Leviticus. Few parts of the Bible are so clearly obsolete. Many of the rules in this book have to do with living a few millennia ago before there was refrigeration, e.g. don’t eat three-day-old meat (Lev. 19:5). OK, sure, one good way to get people to heed this advice is to tell them God commands it. Lives were doubtless saved by means of this. And the long list of whom not to fuck from chapter 18 is hilarious. But the stuff about stoning witches, burning prostitutes and selling daughters into slavery is abhorrent and barbarous at best.
Another favorite of mine comes from that tight-ass Paul, specifically from the first letter to Timothy, verses 10-15, where he gives the sisters hella props, “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing – “
Wow. Enough said? There are, of course, scores of further examples. The idea is to think for yourself. Right? Is there any other way?
Me, I believe in God; but I also believe in myself. If you pay attention and keep your wits about you, it’s usually not hard to tell the shit from the pearls – and if you get beat up a little in the process, hey, that’s life. It’s yours to live as you choose, so choose well.