It has become quite fashionable these days to state that matters of faith in the divine is the ultimate source of all tyranny. When all is said and done it may seem a logical conclusion for those in the camp of unbelief. I am not sure if it is because of the rampant abuse of religion, the rise of the new atheism, or that Ayn Rand is back in vogue via the New Yorker Magazine crowd. At any rate, this seems to be to many the last thing to tackle in order to liberate minds in our present society. But not so fast. For those who are not aware of Romanian atheist E. M. Cioran and his brilliant work, they need to be before they begin to hastily reach such a conclusion that has been stated.
Cioran, the modern Diogenes of the late 20th century spared no one, be they religious or secular. In his chapter “Unconscious Dogmas” from his book “A short history of decay”, he refers to the man who has ridded himself of all belief in God as being a fanatic still. As he states,
“life has dogmas more immutable than any theology, each existence being anchored in infallibilities which exceed all the lubrications of madness or of faith. Even the skeptic, in love with his doubts, turns out to be a fanatic of skepticism. Man is the dogmatic being par excellence, and his dogmas are all the more deeper when he does not formulate them, when he is unaware of them, when he follows them”.
Wow, that is a mouthful indeed. And here is where he comes in for the kill, “no theology protects its god as we protect our self…. How escape the absolute of oneself?”
There it is: how do we escape the “absolute of oneself”? Of course this question has been asked and asked and asked a million times through history by anyone that is serious about thinking. But it seems that nowadays it is being pushed to the side of the stage, and seeing faith in something divine as something to escape has taken its place. Many times politics has taken its place, or economics, or whatever. But we keep having to come back to this one question that is at the root of all other questions: How do we escape the self? Now many would say that the self is good, and that to escape it would be folly. Oscar Wilde said, “the only way to deal with temptation is to yield to it.” But even Wilde wrote in his later writings a whole book called De Profundus, renouncing that aphorism. Wilde grew up. And in growing up he saw that being selfless was the route to go.
The thing about the self, is that it plays games with itself. George Harrison’s song “Piggies” kind of sums it all up for me. We are all little piggies playing in the dirt. If someone with a liberating message comes along, we kill the messenger. The little piggy in us is threatened by any magnanimous outpouring of love, because if that love infects us, it will inspire us and require us to stop being little piggies, and start to evolve into becoming human beings. And the self as the source of all tyranny will not only be exposed for what it is, with all its excuses, finger pointing, and subject changing, but it will be dethroned. And when it is dethroned all things are possible.
IsaacMolko on Feb 1, 2010
Have you seen the little piggies
Crawling in the dirt
And for all the little piggies
Life is getting worse
Always having dirt to play around in.
george harrison – piggies