Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The prostitution of the dead

Ye gods, please save us from the many headed hydra that is Facebook! If this is the modern age, maybe we deserve a re-run of the Dark Ages ...

Trawling through my timeline, I'm gobsmacked by a quote from Kahlil Gibran which goes like this: "If your heart is a volcano, how can you expect flowers to bloom?" OK, let's get something clear here: Gibran was an alcoholic who died of TB and cirrhosis of the liver. Now if you're a drunk, surely there's a lot of anger there and booze was his pain-killer of choice. - Yet still he managed to produce reams of so-called inspirational prose and poetry. My second point is that volcanoes have some of the most fertile land on Earth and lots of flowers grow on their slopes. So it's a totally hypocritical and bullshit quote: anger and emotional dysfunction was the fuel that produced The Prophet not LURV 'N' LITE!

And we're not talking about the Love and Light of the 90s here, which involved Star Trek style channellings and wacky ideas of planetary ascension. The Lurv 'n' Lite crowd of the new millennium are the confused progeny of Louise L. Hay and Shakti Gawain whose trite moral calling cards banish all negativity and confirm what a good person you are (usually at the expense of the proles beneath your feet!) 21st century spirituality is supine, soporific and saccharin sweet: a totally insipid consommé of neatly manicured sayings stolen from those who have long since shed this mortal coil. Nothing is new and everything is a borrowed simulation - it's all sound bites - emblematic of the banality of popular culture. The irony is that the dead are not only being prostituted - but also the living - because they have become the living dead. Everything is wet and weak and ersatz feminine. A politically correct, emasculated techno-spirituality is the new male principle! How do you ensure a yin-yang dynamic when the balance is so distorted? No one says what they truly feel: they hide behind superficial platitudes that wreak of craven moral cowardice. Now half of the Facebook feed is flooded with this aspirational spiritual dross, parading quotes from the likes of Rumi and numerous Zen masters we've never heard of. By posting some fluffy quote from a dead person, it's safe and secure. You know they're not gonna embarrass you in public (à la Russell Brand) - cos they're eating worm!

Everybody thinks that they are oh-so spiritual - when this is the most cynical form of neo-liberal capitalism yet. In Tiru no one does self-enquiry anymore or retires to a cave on the hill (well, except for the legendary sex saddhu, Sven, but that's another story!) They retreat to their designer shag pads, watch Youtubes and download movies from Pirate Bay - launching their new company on the internet while doing Facebook! These twitching zombies of consumption do their sadhana online (and play the guru too!) in a world of Shares, Comments and Friend Requests. Steeped in gross material and emotional parasitism, they are selling a pretend version of their lived experience. This is patently a lie, but it is legitimated by the economic machinery of the society it serves. No longer required to be honest in everyday expression, our emotionality is simply a commodity to be bought and sold. Spirituality has been privatised and depoliticised so that you can formulate a role-playing version of yourself, which earns you future reward. In this Greek drama, the persona bears no relation with reality. No one dares look at the Gorgon beneath the mask ...

The tragedy of this spiritual affectation is an addiction to temporary pain relief rather than the permanent cure of personal annihilation - cos that's too high a price, right?! It seems to be the modus operandi to commodify the words of the dead and wear them as a badge of one's own attainment and piety. Of course, unlike the Middle Ages, you don't actually have to buy an annulment from the church to remove all your sin. You can just hit the Like button or post another Sufi poem and everything will be all right ... you'll be guaranteed a place amongst the saintly!

Delusional and deeply dishonest. But if it gives you a moment's respite from your inner demons - why not give it a whirl?!