Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Suicide of the West Part 2, The World without a Center, Durkheim's normlessness

Go to part one HERE

Part II

So, what if something like religion is true? What if Plato and the Greeks were onto something, that there is an ideal world out there, perfect and incorruptible and that the more we imitate it, the more we morphically resonate with this realm the more we incarnate the source of all life ? If so, then the moment we cease performing religious rituals the less life resonates in our material Realm, we have nothing to stem the natural entropy of disintegration and death inherent in the universe, the very form of existence loses its borders, all becomes formlessness, all becomes normlessness, all becomes Kali bringer of death.

So, we now have a place unconsecrated, enchanted by machine-gods, in the center is no God but money, and it cannot hold. 

Mircea Eliade in "Consecration of a Place: Repetition of the Cosmos" tells this story,

“According to the traditions of an Arunta tribe, the Achilpa, in mythical times the divine being Numbakula cosmicized their future territory, created their Ancestor, and established their institutions. From the trunk of a gum tree Numbakula fashioned the sacred pole (kauwa-auwa) and, after anointing it with blood, climbed it and disappeared into the sky. This pole represents a cosmic axis, for it is around the sacred pole that territory becomes habitable, hence is transformed into a world. The sacred pole consequently plays an important role ritually. During their wanderings the Achilpa always carry it with them and choose the direction they are to take by the direction toward which it bends. This allows them, while being continually on the move, to be always in "their world" and, at the same time, in communication with the sky into which Numbakula had vanished.

For the pole to be broken denotes catastrophe; it is like "the end of the world," reversion to chaos. Spencer and Gillen report that once, when the pole was broken, the entire clan were in consternation; they wandered about aimlessly for a time, and finally lay down on the ground together and waited for death to overtake them.

This example admirably illustrates both the cosmological function of the sacred pole and its soteriological role. For on the one hand the kauwa-auwa reproduces the pole that Numbakula used to cosmicize the world, and on the other the Achilpa believe it to be the means by which they can communicate with the sky realm. Now, human existence is possible only by virtue of this permanent communication with the sky. The world of the Achilpa really becomes their world only in proportion as it reproduces the cosmos organized and sanctified by Numbakula. Life is not possible without an opening toward the transcendent; in other words, human beings cannot live in chaos. Once contact with the transcendent is lost, existence in the world ceases to be possible--and the Achilpa let themselves die.”

DESMOND FENNELL claims the Mishmash of values and rules at the root our collective suicide.

“That factor is the societal condition which sociologist Emile Durkheim, in his seminal book on suicide, termed anomie, or normlessness. 

" Anomie is a concept developed by Emile Durkheim to describe an absence of clear societal norms and values. In the concept of anomie individuals lack a sense of social regulation: people feel unguided in the choices they have to make. Durkheim distinguished between egoistic suicide, anomic suicide, altruistic suicide, and fatalistic suicide, broad classifications that reflect then-prevailing theories of human behavior. Dismissing altruistic and fatalistic suicide as unimportant, he viewed egoistic suicide as a consequence of the deterioration of social and familial bonds. "

"...let us note the immediate cause of suicide is an extreme pain of soul, while the act itself is a deliberate ending of the pain by destruction of consciousness.

We know what happened to those “primitive tribes”. A tribe’s younger generation, instead of encountering a framework for life that made sense to them as it had to their ancestors, increasingly encountered a senseless mishmash of values and rules. As a result, they increasingly experienced that potentially lethal pain and found definitive or temporary release from consciousness through suicide or repeated drunkenness, or both. Simultaneously, the tribe’s fertility fell as it moved towards a collective suicide.

When a preponderant power introduces its own rules system into a long-established community, so that elements from two opposed systems of rules cohabit, anomie ensues in the affected community.....might be described as ideological colonisations with a professedly idealistic purpose which, like the European interventions in the “primitive tribes”, aimed to bring about a morally better life.

....from the 1960s, American consumerist-liberal values and rules were introduced in the US, and through allies, to its west European satellites.

Everyone could also become enlightened and modern by accepting a series of new values and new rules of behaviour, thought and language which were at variance with the European heritage in key spheres.

It produced what we might call “sufferers” and “opportunists”. The latter, taking advantage of the normlessness, increased the number of murders six-fold, entered carelessly into sexual liaisons which led to many more single-parent households than the European average, and so on.

Younger generations, undirected by their society or their devalued parents, played a large part in this social disintegration.

The sufferers were of two kinds. Some, frustrated and offended by society’s failure to offer them a coherent framework for life, destroyed their consciousness. If women, they more often made do with self-harm (an attempt to make the pain bearable by transferring it from soul to body).

Young men and women harassed by bouts of the pain sought respite from it in temporary escapes from consciousness through binge-drinking and drugs. The other kind of sufferers, mostly men, took their lives during periods of prosperity because they had despaired of achieving, that increasing enrichment which society led them to expect."

The solution is a sacramental imagination, shaped in religious ritual, a radical religious re-imagination that transfigures the entire cosmos.

You can support such an effort here

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