Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Giving a Shit: It's Important

“When you say I am a force of nature, you're not saying I do not have responsibility. What you're saying is: I have responsibility.
Mr. VI

Beneath the Laughter
Do you know what I hate, man? Other people. Fuck. I swear to God.

Look at them: born into status they don't deserve, with intelligence they don't deserve, with money they don't deserve! With natural skills they don't deserve! Fuck. I hate it, man. How fucking dare they judge me when I've worked this hard, come this far? Fucking Christ.

It comes and goes. Back and forth the emotions go – buffeted from passion, rage, anxiety; underlying it all: why not me?

We judge others a lot over what they have, under the guise of what they do. We tend to come to assumptions that aren't just wrong: they're probably as close to heinous as one gets. It's an easy step: “that person,” who judged you (and how dare they, right?) to “those people.”

Of course, once you've made that little step you've come into a whole new world. Now you can reap wholesale justice and judgment all over. I can't tell you how many times I've heard folks talk about “affirmative action” with barely veiled disgust –

Those people! Lazy! It's not like they were slaves, themselves! And it's not like that mom working three jobs can't work any harder!

We talk about sympathy, sometimes, in the world of magick. Some of us talk about it a lot. Some of us take a new word and pretend that it doesn't essentially mean the same thing. (“I'm not like those eclectic Wiccans. I have rapport. It's adapted, to the New Age. Which makes me totally better.”) But then again, doesn't it mean something else, too?

1. Harmony of or agreement in feeling, as between persons or on the part of one person with respect to another.
2. The harmony of feeling naturally existing between persons of like tastes or opinion or of congenial dispositions.
3. The fact or power of sharing the feelings of another, especially in sorrow or trouble; fellow feeling, compassion, or commiseration.

Let's take a gander at it's Etymology (while I riff off VI):
Sympathy: 1570s, “affinity between certain things,” from M.Fr. sympathie, from L.L. sympathia “community of feeling, sympathy,” from Gk. sympatheia, from sympathes “having a fellow feeling, affected by like feelings,” from syn- “together” + pathos “feeling” (see pathos). In English, almost a magical notion at first; e.g. in reference to medicines that heal wounds when applied to a cloth stained with blood from the wound. Meaning “conformity of feelings” is from 1590s; sense of “fellow feeling” is first attested 1660s. An O.E. loan-translation of sympathy was efensargung.

To be in harmony with something else: this is the goal of all magick, even if it involves an idea, a God, a group, or simply – other people. It is perhaps humorous at the rabid antipathy which swathes itself in the clothes of sympathy when it comes to magicians in groups: here we are, continually trying to put ourselves into communication with Something Else and suddenly what springs up is pure Hateraid. For fucking everything, man.

And I dig that. I share your rage. Well, I did. I'm sure in a week or two, the rage will maybe return. But it will be changed.

I've realized this game I've been playing. A game I played for a long time, and will probably run the risk of playing again: demeaning others, so that I can seem to shine. It's lame. I'm pretty retarded, you know?

All of that elitism, all the swagger? It was because I couldn't admit that I didn't know everything. Therefore, rather than look into it, I decided to just kick it to the curb. “Who needs that? Paltry moralism.” “But, why the fuck should I?”

And sometimes, that is exactly what things are. Sometimes, though, you're lying to yourself. And you're lying to yourself because – quite frankly – admitting that you aren't fucking perfect is hard. Don't you have the badass skills of super-Magi-hood that you had to tear tooth and limb from the fucking world? Did you not have to suffer to learn? And in an instant, it can be crushed. Smashed on the shores, by someone offering a gift with their left hand.

And that's not particularly auspicious, now is it? So you reject the gift. You say: “only those people do that. I'm not one of them! I'm better! I've done this longer!”

The subtle poison of elitism, fueled by your antipathy to the world around you, drips in. Because now you can just tell people that you're fucking better. You can tell them that, in the end, you went your own way. And look how awesome you are. Hoo, boy. Aren't you ever?

Of course, you're not in sympathy. Not with your fellows, who you will demean. And certainly not with the world, which you hope to influence. And a magician really ought to know when they're not in sympathy with something. When they're actively in antipathy with something. It's kinda like an exorcism, isn't it?

And so you shall exorcise all your friends, your contacts, your fellows. One by one as you run your mouth, repeat how awesome you are endlessly, and then continue on. Swagger into the sunset.


My biggest fear used to be that I'd die alone. That eventually, my rage would consume me completely and I would be lost – forever – and alone. I took a whole lot of solace in the Liber AL line, “I am Alone. There is no God where I am.”

I had no idea what those words meant, beyond what they conveyed. What was being described before me was accepted at face value. Now, at last, I could be Godless and Joyous. That guy was, and probably still is, a total fuckup. A fool who has no idea what he's doing, and can't admit it because then the sham would be up: just human, hardly divine.

So I got to piss on everyone's parade to my heart's content. Go back through this blog. You'll find plenty of it. Constantly shielding the blows with new stories. Constantly saying the same things. Endlessly. A loop – potentially played out for eternity. Antipathy taken to an extreme. I was wrong. But you knew that was the point of this half-mad diatribe, right?

I wasn't the elite. I wasn't as good as I let on. I never have been, I never will be. Only human, but strangely still divine.

Which is a funny thought – here I was raving about my desire for “Cthonic Divinity.” Did I know what the fuck those words meant? No. I still don't. Not yet, maybe never. Maybe I die, and I never finish what I started. Maybe I fall asleep, and just – don't wake up.

It happens. All the time. Believe me, I know. So, here I am thinking about it, and suddenly I wonder: what kills elitism?

Sympathy. Actual sympathy. Not this: I take X and put it in Y, and then it becomes Z. Not some hocus pocus mishmash of thought. Actual sympathy. Also known as “giving a shit.”

When you “give a shit,” that is to say, when you can enter rapport with something else – because you care then it is a great gift. For both parties. This is, as I understand it, the essence of agape. The ability to “give a shit” about the entire community. To love them, feel with them, understand them.

Not telling them that they are shit, and they're fuckups. Not telling them that they're broken because of – whatever. But remembering that you falter, too. That you fall down, and that sometimes you just do not know and this absence of knowledge (ignorance as Anti-Gnosis, if you follow me). Of course – if you realize that you don't know, and that your tacit assumptions are wrong – then you can actually make use of Gnosis. You can seek that information in one way or another, or perhaps, multiple ways. Who am I to tell you how to seek what you seek?

Or you can decide you've gained 100% true knowledge of the universe, and that anyone that questions this is ignorant or wrong. And then you can piss on them for how much they don't know, really let them have it.

Watch the person scuttle off, feeling miserable and injured. Aren't they pathetic? Weak. Willing to give up! And look at you – so powerful.

Of course, you're probably denying yourself something when you do this. You're probably restricting the possible flow of information (and while that's not wrong, as noted above, it has it's own distinct drawbacks). You're probably making a lot of assumptions, constantly. You're probably not asking the right questions.

People told me this, of course. And then they gave up. Because, you know, why bother? Clearly, I was perfect. I'm a little less perfect today. That's okay with me, though.

I know something, now. First: I know that I will not die alone, in a state of isolation. Second: I know that I “give a shit.” Sometimes, I give too much of a shit. But let's take one step at a time.

My name is Jack Faust. I don't know shit about the universe, but not long ago I thought I had it all figured out. Except that part about why my life sucked, and people occasionally hated me.

I'm just like you, maybe. Or maybe not. Maybe you're not like me at all. That's cool, actually. I like that: that means you can give me access to your understanding of the universe. You can help me know it better, if I let you.

But if you're running around talking about “those people,” and “how wrong they are,” then maybe what you need to do is can the hateraid. And start giving a shit.

Of course, that doesn't mean being a doormat, either. Giving a shit is not the same as letting people manipulate and lie to you, and then just taking it. It's not blindly accepting whatever you're told, and just going about. You have a right to tell people antithetical to your development, as a person, to get the fuck out. It doesn't mean they're bad people. But who wants to have the same fights, over and over? Who wants to go through the same bullshit, over and over?

No one. So, seriously, try giving a shit. A little bit of sympathy goes a long way.


Frater Serpentis et Aquila said...

I enjoyed reading this post. I agree (or that is to say, sympathize) with a lot of what you had to say. I think it's cool when occultists are willing to call themselves out and make a point.

Sounds like a bit of that Jovian grace has settled into your Sphere, eh?

I try to practice certain principles every day to keep my ego in check and to sympathize with my fellow man as much as possible. But it's a daily thing.

From what I understand, you are an Aries. I am a Scorpio. Not to be separatist, but I think personalities like ours in general could take a dose of what you just said. Like, for real.

And lolz @ your use of the term "haterade". :D


Scylla said...

"Giving a shit" - is why, despite every time I try to run screaming for the hills, I end up right back at CUUPs.

This is my community, these are my people. Without CUUPs, they get to chose between one poisonous faction or another, and... goddamn it, my lofty tower of too-cool-to-care gets dashed to pieces... but I can't let the newfish down.

Cat Vincent said...

Superb, Jack. Important thing to say, said with truth and, yes, sympathy. Every mage should have this nailed to the inside of their eyelids.

Mr VI said...

Did I actually say it like that? I forget, it was early.

I think it was more like "When you become a force of nature, you don't give up responsibility, you take on responsibility for everything, good or bad."

Or something. Either stands

Rose Weaver said...

Pure gold, Jack.

No matter our level of skill, the type of work we do, we all have something important to contribute... in some way. We may all be mages, witches, sorcerers working at one level or another, but in the end, we are all human, no better or worse than any other. You have verbalized this, not only with great sympathy, but also with tremendous grace.

I sympathize with every beautiful word.

Jason Miller, said...

Very important message, eloquently delivered.

Nicely done.

Frater A.I.T. said...

Lovely post, and I definitely feel you. I've danced that dance myself; it takes serious maturity to open yourself up to vulnerability and give a shit. Because you can't be hurt/shunned/judged if you don't give a shit. Fantastic post, brother.

Norma said...

Awesome. And now that you are really, truly open, I'm betting you'll be surprised at how quickly things move. I think you just may have kicked it into third gear, brother.

Jack Faust said...

@Fr. SeA: Maybe it has, man. Maybe it has. Can't ever be entirely certain - but things are looking up!

I use a lot of meditation and such to control my temper. Over the last few months, I've felt like my sympathy with others has grown enormously from what it was before.

The problem is, of course, the anger. When it kicks in, full fury, I find it hard to remember that folks are folks, too. But I've been going to Saturn, recently, to cool the all-powerful fire of Mars. *laughs* I don't know if it's working, but the only thing that's gotten worse is my smoking.

Re: "Haterade": I always forget how to properly spell it. Huh. Maybe it's because I loathe Gatorade...

@Scylla: Poisonous factions can be a problem... I wish I'd figured out the solution, by now.

@Cat: Thanks for the kind words!

@VI: You said the quote I had above, right before we got cut off. When we got back on the line together, you said what you just quoted. Both were good, timely, and relevant. Many thanks, my Heathen friend.

@Rose: Thank you. Seriously.

@AIT: Yeah. The fear of judgment is a mighty powerful fear. Keeping it in check is the goal!

@Jason: Thank you. And, I want to take a moment to apologize for mocking one of the religions you consistently make use of and discuss (Buddhism). There's probably a lot there that I'm ignorant about, and I guess I'll have to correct that at some point. I bring it up because you challenged me on the issue, and I never said anything. It was because I suddenly realized I was ignorant. Heh. Repeating theme of late.

@Norma: Things are sailing smoothly at the moment... And I think the next storm will be a bit easier to weather. I think. Who knows?

Gordon said...

From my perspective this is one of your most "chaos" posts. I see that deep left inclusionism -that refusal to leave others behind over mere words- in what you're writing here. Threshold of revelation, brother.

Good stuff. It's perhaps best not to over-interpret it with spheres and planets and blah blah blah? It's growth. In a complex system, sole attribution is a fallacy.

Also - Stop smoking more, dammit! Can I beg you to think about becoming interested in looking at emailing me about Champix? :)

Mr Black said...

i touched about this subject awhile ago and while it seems nice, i always get my ass kicked with that quote "no man is an island".

Frater Serpentis et Aquila said...

Re: Faust,
Meditation works wonders! And two important works that have really helped me keep myself in check have been certain principles outlined in the Kybalion, and also the book of Alcoholics Anonymous (Yes, I am indeed alcoholic). With those and some meditation, I tend to stay at bay most of the time nowadays.

But I do understand. Once that rage kicks in, I lose my sense of humanity also. That Mars aspect of my basic celestial makeup takes over, and suddenly, all my energy gets sucked into it like a black hole. I scare even myself sometimes. I would try to temper this with Saturn, but then the poles shift and I enter into a morbid depression. Venus tends to lighten things up for me a lot. Venus work can definitely smooth my relationships in general.

That, or a good DMT trip now and then takes care of it nicely. :D

Mica said...

I loved this post. It is a meme I've been experiencing (and battling with) for the last several months: being more vulnerable, letting down those walls, and permitting for real connection and growth.