12 June 2006

You are the only enemy you will ever have

In a post entitled "Pavlov's Gods," Rev Max talks a bit about how Gnostics were persecuted and the small sects of previously persecuted Christians grew together and then, in time, ended up further persecuting and pretty much wiping out Gnostics altogether. Sorta like that awesome line in Munich where Jew Steve (Daniel Craig) and company are dancing and drinking wine at that outdoor café, and he blurts out in defense of their assassinations: 'Cause no one fucks with Jews! or something like that. But it was sweet. Now little does Steve remember, but Germany fucked with Jews. So have everyone else, pretty much. Except maybe the Inuit. (However, they're busy enough arguing with the Canadian government about being forced to teach Inuit children the theory of evolution in their schools. And personally, I prefer both the Jewish and Inuit versions better.)

Anyhow, let's take a little look-see at the Gnostics in light of their abstinence from partaking in the violence that is persecution:
Two millennia ago, Christians were routinely set on fire and put to the sword as casually as you and I might light a cigarette.

[…] a Christian faction called the "Orthodox" movement not only survived but flourished under persecution, eventually merging with the Holy Roman Empire and turning the apparatus of the imperial military against rival Christian groups.

Chief among the targets of the ascendant Orthodox faction were the Gnostic Christians, secretive mystics who had stridently opposed persecution and martyrdom all along. In short, the Gnostics refused to play the political power game and were rewarded with extermination.

Fast-forward 16 centuries. Most Christians today attribute the sudden disappearance of the Gnostic schools to flaws inherent in the Gnostic worldview. We are told that the Gnostics were privy to forbidden mysteries; that they "deserved to lose" because their teachings were "exclusive, elitist" and (worst of all) "esoteric."

Read between the lines of the Gnostic scriptures, however, and an amazing, alternate history stands revealed.

The Gnostics stood aloof from history because not because they were cowards but because they were wise. Even though they knew that they would lose their chance to gain power in the short run, they got to keep something even more important — their souls.

Interesting. And I agree. This non-partisan element also runs parallel to my piece on Japanese design practise, in regards to sloughing off elements of self-definition in favour of being "of the moment." And further yet: I am re-reading Thundersqueak, by Ramsey Dukes (writing as Angerford & Lea), and in it he speaks of a children's book called The Wishing Well, by Gerald Heard:
It was a parable about evolution, and began with a group of fish in prehistoric time being visited by an angel who gave them one, and only one, wish: that they could become whatever they chose. Over the aeons these fish evolved: first into land creatures, then mammals, and finally towards man. But the point was that this evolution was a gradual adaptation towards greater flexibility, it involved no specialising or extremes of function. However, at various points in time, these creatures used up their wish and became something else. Some, while still fish, chose to be fierce and voracious — to become sharks. At a later reptilian stage some of the creatures became snakes, others became birds. Later ones chose to be fierce as tigers, big as elephants, or to move in herds as buffalo, and so on. The final division before the present age was that some of the creatures, now hominid, opted to swing in trees and become apes. Those who had retained their wish, who still had the choice over their destiny, had evolved into men. All others had become specialists. […]

The same is true on the local scale of one lifetime. Anyone who specialises and becomes expert in some field, whilst a shining example in the eyes of the popular opinion, is in fact an evolutionary drop-out, a falling star.

Friedrich Nietzsche, The Twilight of the Idols:—
A new creation in particular, the new Reich for instance, has more need of enemies than friends: only in opposition does it feel itself necessary, only in opposition does it become necessary… We adopt the same attitude towards the "enemy within."

Aleister Crowley, The Book of Lies:—
Resemble all that surroundeth thee; yet be thyself and take thy pleasure among the living.

This is that which is written — Lurk! — in the Book of the Law.

So ambiguity and "uselessness" become ideal traits, in a sense. Again, following a train of thought I was having with Georgina in this post, it brings up the power of being undefined. The hard part is the journey from social animal to that of a self-aware entity, and a major part of that is an acknowledgement that you are just a host for a greater experience being had through you. Dukes continues:
You dream of killing me? No, as George Orwell revealed in 1984, that is not enough. You wish to torture and brainwash me until I love you, until the rebel has become a supporter. For you recognise that the enemy is not in my body, but in my mind. But if the enemy is in my mind what happens when I am brainwashed and tortured? When my body's behaviour changes to please you, how can you be sure that it was the enemy that has suffered or been destroyed; how can you be sure that it is not merely a spirit that has been driven out? You have not hurt the rebel, you have merely caused it to vacate my body. The bird has flown; but at least you used to know, or believed that you knew, where the bird was. Now it is beyond your grasp. The bird has flown.

Now I can tell you one place where that bird is secure. It is secure in your own mind. […]

As a tyrant you will spend your life pursuing potential enemies. But it will all be in vain. For the enemies that haunt you, and the only ones you will ever recognise or comprehend, are those enemeies that already exist in your mind. Destroy the whole world and they will live on within you. Reduce me to an empty body and what will you have but an empty body? The bird will have flown back to its nest in your own mind. You are the only rebel there ever was.

This is applicable to all aspects of life; every part of life is a form of projection. You are the only enemy you will ever have.


Anonymous said...

hey ho my good fellow

in my ceaseless tinkering with my new site set up I'm sorry I say I've changed the URL for this piece - its now:


Glad i could inspire - you've inspired me also!

- Max

Fell said...

Thanks, I have updated the link.

Anonymous said...

hey you into georges bataille?

His whole system of non-knowledge is, I think, describing some of the same things you are here - nietzsche touches on many of the same themes as well

but yeah, i agree, specialization is for insects and planets, not people


Fell said...

Actually, I have Bataille's Erotism: Death and Sensuality here with me. I've been meaning to read it once I get on to some writing I've been working on, along with Eros and the Mysteries of Love: The Metaphysics of Sex, by Julius Evola.

But thus far, I am only familiar with Bataille vicariously. Any particular suggestions?

Anonymous said...

Visions of Excess: writings 1927-1939 is KILLER! The literary equivalent of a 1/2 oz. of magic mushrooms - whether its a good trip or a bad one is up to you tho...