Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Most Jealous God

My Dear Wumpick,

Of course, you must expect your patient to be excited about—that day. She is a Christian, and it is only natural that her Christianity should provide her with a reason for excitement.
It should not, however, be difficult to snare her through the rampant demonization of the holiday (how I hate that word, with its inimical terminology!). There are some humans—more and more in these days of endless sounds and screens—who cannot do without constant stimulation. See if you cannot get her to be one of them, one of the haters of silence and the lovers of choice.

To the lovers of choice, the utter insanity of the temples of commercial diversity is a positive pleasure. The infinity of opportunities to buy (an infinity in impression only; alas! how far we are from being able to introduce that real degree of inventiveness that the Enemy manages with mysterious effortlessness to display) provides them with a rush of delight, a feeling of freedom—what they call freedom. For we have taught them that to be free means simply to have as many choices as possible. In fact, so deeply have we ingrained this definition of freedom in their minds that many of them literally cannot be happy without having a choice in the matter. They are like spoiled children who, on being offered their favorite dinner, object to eating it on the grounds that they were not allowed to serve it to themselves. I have actually known adult patients to sit through entire films at the cinema, for which they paid exorbitant sums, in complete agony because they were not consulted when the film was chosen—even though it would have been exactly their choice if they had been consulted. I have known women to turn their noses up at dresses which they had admired in the shop, merely because Aunt Germaine made the purchases, and so deprived them of the pleasure of turning the other dresses down. I have seen men order hamburgers at restaurants only because their companions joked that they were incapable of ordering anything other than their usual bacon and cheese.

These all may sound like trivial matters, and in the grand scheme of things no doubt they are trivial. But you ought not to dismiss them as lightly as is your wont. If you can get your patient to become impatient for choices ... well! With such small stones the road that leads to destruction is paved. Many pebbles go to make the path; but the more and the smaller they are, the smoother the road, and the less likely it is that the patients will notice.

The deification of choice has been one of our most powerful tools in recent years—and I do not just refer to "choice" in the obvious sense that the humans use, when they make it a euphemism for our Sacrament. Choice is a god of many faces, and that is only one of them—the most horrible, and also the most obvious. Your patient is not likely at this point to fall in any obvious way, not likely to clearly break any commandments. See if you cannot get her instead to violate the spirit in which the commandments were given, by desiring choice from its own sake. It is one thing for a man to be gluttonous, or unthrifty, or unchaste; the Enemy will frown on him for it, to be sure; but he is after all only being inordinate in his relations with a creature, and he is drawing some real pleasure from his experiences—temporary, minor pleasures, to be sure, but pleasures still. He is, if the expression may be allowed, a relatively healthy sinner and feels some guilt about his excesses. But the man who is glutinous, or unthrifty, or unchaste through a need to exercise his choice—that man, Wumpick, is—and I say this with admiration and approval—very close to being a demon. He has no pleasure in his food or his toys or his women—no pleasure in the things themselves, but in the power which he feels himself to possess in being able to exchange them, or at any rate to discard them and replace them with other, newer, better models, at any moment. He considers himself to be as free from serving creatures as possible, because he feels himself free at any moment to replace this creature with that one. He does not realize that instead of being enslaved to a few objects, or subject to some forms of concupiscence, he is actually slave to them all, subject to them all, slave to objectivity itself, for his need to be master, owner, buyer, esthete, consumer demands constant, ever-changing fodder of slaves, possessions, purchases, beauties, and buys to prop up and feed the insatiable appetite for choice—which he takes for freedom—which we have created in him. This so-called freedom is a most jealous god. (Since your patient is a reading woman, by the way, I will just mention here that she ought not to read Hegel at this time. He of all the moderns came closest to describing this slavery of the masters; and a good description of any phenomenon is dangerous, whatever the ultimate sympathies of the one describing. If we could get your patient to become a follower of Hegel, that would of course be excellent. But chances are she is not ready for such a step—or not ready yet.)

Do not think that the area of human relationships is exempt from this slavery to choice. I could relate to you detailed histories marriages destroyed piecemeal by choice, "in a manner that would equally surprise and charm you." With the males there is usually some initial exterior stimulus of boredom at home and beauty (at least comparative beauty) abroad, and with the women the comparable emotional stimuli. In former days, married people felt these same things and in many cases disregarded them. Now, taught from their youth that it is their right to choose in what way they shall be happy, they are is likely to divorce or break or open their marriages—it is all the same to us—on a whim as they were once likely to preserve them in great stress. They have all eaten the phrase "pursuit of happiness," spat up the happiness and swallowed the pursuit.

The really great thing about this attitude from our perspective is that it prevents them not just from doing the good that they will, but even from regarding it as good. They develop a constitutional aversion to beauty, truth, and goodness not, as the philosophical relativists did, on some theory which, however false and Fatherly, is at least an attempt at submission of self to a system, but on the poor argument of their own "free" will. In traditional relativism each man is isolated by conclusion of the philosophy; in practical—may we call it "pure"?—relativism, men are isolated by axiom. Each one, though he does not know it, is setting himself up in the image of Our Father below.

And your thought I would be writing about the Season! Bah!!

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