People with a keening desire for god and transformative spiritual experiences have always made me a little wary. There is a general ignorance regarding how much suffering this relationship can entail. In an article about mysticism, published in the Fall 2013 issue of Parabola, Mirabai Starr writes:

“The year I turned forty, the day my first book came out, a translation of Dark Night of the Soul by the sixteenth-century Spanish saint John of the Cross, my fourteen-year-old daughter, Jenny, was killed in a car crash.

“Suddenly, the sacred fire I had been chasing all my life engulfed me. I was plunged into the abyss, instantaneously dropped into the vast stillness and pulsing silence at which all my favorite mystics hint. So shattered I could not see my own hand in front of my face, I was suspended in the invisible arms of a Love I had only dreamed of. Immolated, I found myself resting in fire. Drowing, I surrendered, and discovered I could breathe under water.

“So this was the state of profound suchness I had been searching for during all those years of contemplative practice. This was the holy longing the saints had been talking about in poems that had broken my heart again and again. This was the sacred emptiness that put that small smile on the faces of the great sages. And I hated it. I didn’t want vastness of being. I wanted my baby back.”

Christ_of_Saint_John_of_the_Cross

If you believe in the goodness of god, do you really know what you are talking about? Because life is more complex and contingent than the pat pseudo-spiritual phrases modern, secular culture enjoys trafficking in. Everything happens for a reason. Why don’t you tell that to the mother whose child has just died?

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Every now and then, during meditation, I’ll cry. They aren’t tears of distress, nor of purely parasympathetic arousal (I’ve got supported bridge pose for that!). They represent the meeting of two trains of inquiry I’ve had for awhile regarding ethical behaviour.

A Rwandan genocide survivor at the Gisozi memorial in Kigali looks at pictures of victims of the genocide, in which 800,000 people died. Picture: Reuters

The first train of thought extended from a discussion regarding non-harm and mass consumerism in which the collective conclusion was the inability to avoid harm and focusing on minimizing it. Despite my dissatisfaction at this conclusion, I could not think of another way to approach living in a system of logic that devalues human life and life in general by replacing that value with the exchange value of capitalism. So, my rationality failing me, I relegated this problem to my unconscious to crunch on.

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I still think about trauma these days, although I tend to think more about the anxiety spectrum. There is afterall, something very fetishized or at least, detached about anxiety. Anxiety is not an emotion oriented towards something present, but rather, is future oriented. Anxiety is our fear of the future. It is a ghost fear, a fetish fear, it is at once less present yet more pervasive than fear itself. It is fear intellectualized, no, grotesquely magnified beyond reason by a reason derailed.

Modern society has no roots, no history, no grounding. We drift in a perpetual freefall, this strange sensation of exhilaration, panic, and numbed boredom, that tight feeling in our chests, the wind in our faces. The dream and the nightmare of the modern man, his most deepest desire and most fervent fear, that which lies below our perverse fusion of lust, anxiety and reason, is the belief that he might actually be falling into something…

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Original Title: of psychoids, modernity and trauma
Original Post Date: December 1, 2006 @ 5:14 pm

atomic-bomb

There’s a new body of discourse peaking over the horizon and it smells surprisingly numinous. It’s the intersection between modernity, science, psychology and suffering: trauma, or “traumatology” as it is sometimes called.

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This post described the reason for the O.div’s continued existence, but I will also comment here on its subsequent discontinuation. The O.div was a project that began to honour the Greek god, Dionysos. Over the years, that purpose became more contrived. I have since come to see that everything I did for god in the past was very childish and in a way, rather perverse, although it was undeniably real. The old ways of experiencing the gods have run their course. As such, I now have great difficulty in relating to the O.div’s old posts and the attitude in which they were written, even if I still agree with what I wrote. Of what happens now, I feel no desire to speak of. However, I will quote one of my favourite Christian mystics, San Juan de la Cruz (John of the Cross) who wrote:

In order to arrive at that which thou knowest not,
Thou must go by a way that thou knowest not.

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Original Title: the odivinorum lives again
Original Post Date: August 27, 2007 @ 6:30 pm

on this day of our full lunar eclipse.

After over a month of being inaccessible, the dns has finally been renewed. In its period of digital convalescence, the odivinorum was suddenly forced to grapple with the stark reality of its finitude: Why does this blog exist, does it really matter, etc. On its 2nd year anniversary on this domain name (over 3 years if you count ye olde livejournal days), the Odiv had a classic existential crisis. And I have to admit, the possibility of losing all this writing didn’t bother me as much as I thought it might. Because I still have all the important thoughts I’ve shared here in my head and I could write it all out again, although not verbatim; details rarely concern my Sagittarius-heavy, Mercury-weak chart.

So why continue blogging? Because maybe these words might spark ideas in someone else’s head, or maybe they could help illuminate more obscure arenas of discourse, but above all that, I like to think of the Odiv as something less cerebral, like a siren, or an alarm call. Sounds deliberately created to arouse, annoy, and awaken, forming a constant 24 hour fixture in the aural landscapes of the modern metropolis. A modified excerpt of an email I sent to a dear friend yesterday:

Modernity, it seems to me, is a society in a constant state of crisis… which is really profoundly tragic in a way b/c ppl rarely thrive on uncertainty and the unknown… What an ontological nightmare we have on our hands, and yet, what unprecedented existential opportunities… Modernity’s song is the endless wail of the alarm call, of the siren. At least, I wish it could be. A song that pierces the dreamlike, unconscious grooves and rhythms of everyday life, a song that warns us of danger or that signals the occurance of an accident, of damage, of trauma. But most of all, it is sometimes a song that promises hope for anonymous aid, aid that rushes towards a scene of an equally anonymous violence. That the state will temporarily suspend its drive for meaningless productivity and efficiency, that even the machine itself must bow down, must make space for emergency aid, is something that excites me.

Henri LeFebvre spoke of the desire to reinstate the Festival into “everyday life”, but the Festival at its heart is a violent, Dionysian celebration, and modern culture is founded upon the denial of Dionysus and the desacrilization of matter. To reconstruct the Festival today is inauthentic. But the screaming ambulance, the bellowing firetruck, these vehicles in a state of emergency, represent one of the only kinds of genuine recognitions of the material world created by the state, one of the few, true moments of disruption and humanity in modernity.

So. Let my posts be like alarm calls…