Thursday, March 1, 2012
Oaths for the Oathbreakers
Does an anarchist need to honor his word?
Of course, the answer is "no," because no human needs to honor her word. And yeah, categories are notional and labels don't blah blah blah.
But let's just say that things change or feelings shift. You know, like they do with pretty much any person. Of what importance to the individual is their consistency, their dependability? Is this manners or this there something political to the way we speak with others?
Are we justified in lying to the powerful? I know plenty of folks who believe that. Where does that run out? With mightier individual peers? With acquaintances or close friends? Or do you base this on institutions, and their sources of power? Can you justify forging a license agreement but not lying on your taxes--or vice versa?
What about fucking somebody who's not your husband?
Most people I know today would consider that "a private matter," which is American for "I'd rather not stake out a policy opinion on that" or "pass the potatoes," depending on your dialect. But you know, a few people have considered that a very philosophical issue. A very political issue. Anarchists, rightists, socialists all. At one point people cared about this, instead of relegating it to Maury and mental health.
And this goes way past Goldman or Engels or the hedonistic tendencies of, oh, every man in power other than Hitler. It's relevant to consider that more than ten years before she'd decry the hippies as moochers, pinkos, and altruists, Ayn Rand was nailing a man half her age. In a right-libertarian counterpoint infinitely more disgusting than Lennon-Ono's showdown with Cynthia Lennon (which I'm sure Rand would consider irrational and thus immoral), Rand and her lover, Branden, actually confronted their spouses and impressed upon them the rationality of their new arrangement.
What is that Nietzsche observed frequently? That philosophy serves action, and is often an afterthought or apology more than a motivation or incitement? Yeah... Rationalism is a joke. Rand's philosophy fails and Nietzsche's succeeds when her reason is incapable of explaining what his thought sees all too well: man as monstrous as he is heroic, irrational and spirited and resentful of even his own self-imposed rules.
But anyway, back to the question. What about fucking around?
Who is injured here, if anyone, and who crosses the line here, and if there's a line, and so on--these are all major questions. Do we adopt the indifference of the modern day, a practiced ignorance posing as enlightened cosmopolitanism? If so, is there any surprise when we recoil upon hearing what people actually do, just as when we learn what they actually believe? "You drank his piss?" "You actually believe that the Earth is 6,000 years old?" "You watch Fox and Friends?" (One of these I can deal with.)
I have no great respect for philosophy. Everyone has one or a collection of philosophical parts. As a result, I find it easy to believe that some anarchism may be found among the criminals, as a few continental cranks believed. And I find it easy that there is also a Sadian anarchism of transgression elsewhere. Within my marriage I found it in secluded though public sex, this time along a wooded path, another in a parked car. I am not being flippant. There is something to a moment's zeal, even if it takes place in intoxication or animal excitement. There is something powerful there, a moral sentiment as much as the physical urge. But is it enough? What if it breaks agreements or expectations from other people?
Do other individuals matter? Maybe you feel they do. Maybe you feel they do not. And if they do not there is still the matter of whether your words need to relate in any way to your actions, or your past promises to current reality.
I am talking to people who find conflict between their self-definitions. It's common. It's identity creation. You differ with yourself until you bridge it consciously or hack off pieces or accept the dissonance or reconcile them in some other way. We are an assembly of different input, expectations, messages, role-plays, and so on. It makes sense that we are often confused as children and youths because, in short, society's messages do not make sense. Very few of our parents devote themselves to their own philosophy of being, their own relationships to self. Most of us, as with most of us before, merely struggle to manage with very arcane and arbitrary expectations.
I should know. I just spent a few years on stage, with each act becoming less improvised until some segments became formalized. It would be an insult to invoke kabuki but it comes to mind. To everyone else I would extoll the falsehood and emptiness of the bourgeois moral fantasy, the life ending upon breeding and becoming legally lashed to a woman I no longer recognize and who, and this breaks my heart, lacked the ability or willingness to tell me that she was unhappy, too.
So like I say, I should know. And I do fucking know, because my life progressed in ways I never expected. I know how personal truths get confused and twisted by social conditioning. It's scary.
But I tell others they'd better weigh their options when they cheat. I am not one of those moral harpies who leaps upon the object of desire. Nobody, outside of rape, makes a man run around, or a woman run around. Nor am I a believe in marriage, if that's not obvious, as a Platonic ideal. Every marriage is based upon those married. This is simple. People think they know my marriage because I use the same words as them? Fuck them. Marriage, love? They do not exist. I've seen enough "love" and I neither recognize it as my own nor do I presume to tell others that it's not love. You can still love a man who beats you. Makes me sick, but I've lived it. I've seen it. You can still love a person who cheats on you, breaks you down... My grandmother taught me that you can't just say you love somebody. You've got to act like it. I don't say that's what love is. I say that's what love ought to be.
Because none of us own love, and none of us own marriage. Save those we make ourselves. So it's all random, named so we feel we can get along. But some of your marriages and some of your loves seem less attractive to me than biting on a gun barrel, world.
No, what I say is that some people are comfortable with lying and some people aren't. And the romantics who get the urge the worst don't usually want to hide away, at least not for long. And that's what I talk to the would-be criminal about. What he defines as right or wrong, what she agreed to, what she values, and what the contradictions are. Because even if you have a world where the individual is paramount, she won't know what to do until she figures out the things she believes. We primates, in grasping, often knock over what we would also like to keep. And now I am as one more chattering, and what was an elegant thought on the ride home has become a gross ramble. So much for the clarity that comes with being in exile.