giovedì, giugno 25, 2009

Death, monkeys, and dancing bears

Thinking about the meaning of death in different cultures these days. My study of non-European cultures has been either so academic or so pop, so Bhagavad Gita or else Monkey!, that I have no practical idea what death means to people outside Europe. There's something rather brutal about the dominant thread we have in Europe and North America now. Centuries of training by our religion to see life as a linear progression to death and to the subsequent judgement of our selves, as we now understand our selves, by God, who we comprehend as another self. I think we still have that pattern, if you can call something so simple a pattern, in our minds. But now, for so many of us, especially in Europe, who have been repelled by the church, we've lost even the small complication of the assumption of judgement at the end - just the simple linear sentence of our selves, growing and aging and dying, and then a sudden full stop.

But in early Christian theology (well, not REALLY early - really early, it was a death and apocalypse cult) there was a conception of the afterlife that was less deeply personal. An idea that on death, we came to understand the will of God, and being in heaven was the same thing as being part of God's will. The release of one's own will, which leads inexorably to the idea of the release of the self - of our consciousnesses in any way that we can understand consciousness. Though from what I remember that's an idea that was resisted by the people who wrote about heaven, and when I listen to Christians going on about God's will they're able to contort their mind into believing that surrendering yourself to God doesn't mean not being your self anymore. Too pagan? Too frightening? I don't know. But the release of the self. Imagine that. You could spend years trying to imagine it. A lifetime. And once you did - once you could imagine that - surely you're no longer your self . . .

I think being alive is the process of being able to release your self. I think I'm very excited to be moving close to Asia and to start taking my holidays in countries and societies I don't know a fucking thing about in any practical sense. My head was full of it last weekend when we were in Brussels Far East museum - Congo-era colonial visioning of the east extraordinaire, to the tackiest effect possible, and I was standing there in the middle of all the Chineuropean fantasization, thinking - I don't know shit. I don't know shit. No cleverer than that fat corrupt shitful bastard Leopold II. I've never gone outside of my cultural comfort zone whilst travelling so I'm really not used to thinking like that. I don't know shit. A bit like death, really.

Sorry if this post is coming off as morbid or (retch) "emo". I'm actually in top form. Rather in the grip of pity for Michael Jackson, though. I don't know about iconography but I think historians will look back on him as a sort of textbook figure about what obsessive fame in our era can do to a delicate person. I was going to post a video of a "Love You Save" performance from the late 70's - that song's in the running for my 'Best Song Ever' trophy - but having just looked at it again I couldn't help but feel, as I was watching him grin and dance around superbly, that I was geeking on a dancing bear with a ring through its nose and no more memory of the wild, no conception of the bad it might do, nothing except not fucking up, not fucking up and getting burned by its trainer . . . Couldn't do it. Poor dead dancing bear. Poor thing.

In testament to pity, here's the only joke about his death I've heard so far that had nothing to do with little boys (and I've heard at least a dozen already):

A post-mortem will be held to determine which was the cause of death:

A) Sunshine
B) Moonlight
C) Good Times
D) Boogie

2 commenti:

Baywatch ha detto...

what is it with you and that monkey?

Mistress La Spliffe ha detto...

Basically, he's the punkiest monkey that ever popped. And he knows every magic trick under the sun. He's magic. Monkey magic. Monkey magic. Ooh.