MUSE EFFECT #5: END OF LINE

Somewhere in his sprawling Exegesis, Philip K Dick wrote of grieving every time he finished a novel over losing touch with the characters he had created. While he was writing, he was involved in the most intimate and fascinating of friendships. When the story ended, the friendships went away. PKD wrote how he’d be cast into such grief that he’d swear he’d never write another book. Then, after a little while, almost secretly from himself, he’d start again.

After I first met Florida I made a point of saying I was not going to write her any songs, though I wasn’t quite sure why. Now, I have a better idea. I was not wanting to go through another ending.

I might see her again, but I imagine that my experience of her as Muse is ending. I could be wrong on that. The MUSE EFFECT depends on the state of the relationship being unknown. It has to feel pregnant with possibility, and I have to think that even should we see each other again, I will have reasoned that state of possibility out of existence, and just accepted the world as it is.

In a word, bummer.

Ha. Seriously, though, dude. Bummer.

I understand to some extent why it is that we avoid loss and embarrassment and grief. We experience the loss of status on a direct neuro-chemical level. We’re ‘wired’, so to speak, to climb the survival peaks. Neurochemically, nothing succeeds like success, and nothing fails like failure.

Since adolescence, though, I have been fascinated by what we might call the counter-intuitive perspective of Lao Tzu:

Therefore the humble is the root of the noble.
The low is the foundation of the high.
Princes and lords consider themselves “orphaned”, “widowed” and “worthless”.
Do they not depend on being humble?

It likely won’t make sense to many within this context, but I want to note for myself at the least that rational progressives like Brett Weinstein are really in search of the understanding of Lao Tzu when they seek for a more humane alternative to so-called Darwinian evolution. It is exactly in the fundamental interconnection between the low and the high that justice lies, not in some contrived benevolence of the high for the low.

So it is, to return to the context at hand, that any true love is founded in the depths of our own devastation. We cannot avoid our doom should we truly serve our divinity. Such is the message of the crucifixion; and so, appropriately enough, Florida and I arrived at the end on Good Friday.

I tried to explain this to her yesterday, though as usual it was a waste aside from being one more potentially edifying experience in the futility of such conversations. This futility, perhaps, is rooted in the fact that there is no need for her to understand and no real need for me to tell her. It’s like laboring to explain to someone why it is that you have to sleep at night, where the real need lies in simply going to bed.

Reality is what remains even when we stop looking at it, or talking about it, or wanting it to be. And the depth of my devastation simply is. I have within, which passeth show, these to be but the trappings and the suits of woe. And explaining that to her, or anyone else in particular, is not only beside the point, but a downright departure from character.

Which is not to say that there is no holy purpose in its articulation. Hence these soliloquies.


Those students of history who decided that George Washington was not truly a servant of republican principles (note the small “r”), but was in fact just an agent of the class of Virginia plantation owners of which he was a part (the so-called Virgnia Squire-archy), have not quite understood who he was. I say this because their notion (which we might call Marxist could it not be traced back all the way to Plato’s Republic, and on, into Homer’s Illiad) of Washington as fundamentally motivated by the perpetuation of class interests doesn’t take into account how seriously he took the behavioral idealism of that class to heart.

Washington was fixated from childhood on learning and embodying the character of a gentleman. We might regard this as merely for show, were he not so fixated on it as to (in many instances in the Revolution) put his life in mortal danger in its service. It is this same fixation on adhering to the behavior of disinterested virtue that led him, when the war was over, to walk away from the power he had already achieved and might have sought to perpetuate. And though it’s harder for us to understand, it was this same devotion to an ideal that led him to reenter public life, to once again submit his Fame to the vicissitudes of Fortune by accepting the Presidency.

It’s in light of this model that I might understand my dream this morning that I was secretly president. I can’t recall the details now, but only that essential fact: I am secretly president.

This secret presidency relates directly to the way I romanticize my own destruction, in the way that Christians came to romanticize the crucifixion as evidence of Christ’s nobility. That’s why the Romans mockingly wrote Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews (represented in Christian iconography by the four letters INRI – the Roman alphabet having not yet distinguished J from I) on the cross where they hung him. The high is rooted in the low.

So I see now that my attempts to avoid my grief, my feelings of being “orphaned”, “widowed” and “worthless”, of being over the hill and all the rest, were exactly wrongheaded. Again, I understand why we as individuals seek to avoid those feelings, as we might seek to avoid crossing the ocean in a raft. There be monsters in the deep. Still, what else is really worth doing?

But even beyond that, aside from any idealistic embrace of noble purpose, the simple fact remains: I’m already deeply depressed, albeit in a relatively functional way. I have within which passeth show, these to be but the trappings and the suits of woe. Whatever mask I might put on for people, I know what I feel when alone, in my own depths. I need to address that.

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