Drifting away from the sacred:

Thoughts inspired by
reading Peter Lamborn
Wilson's The Sacred Drift

by Feral Faun

My feelings when I read Peter Lamborn Wilson is that he wishes to live very much as I do, yet he looks to thc realm of spirituality as a means to achieve this. To me, it is evident that this is another false path to autonomous self-creation--precisely because it is a path...and one that has been tried so often its failure should be self-evident.

The surrealists called for divergence from all known paths, yet their project proved to be absurd because they sought the marvelous in a passive way outside of any "spiritual" context. Nineteenth century materialism made the mistake of killing god without reclaiming what god had stolen from human beings and from the world. This left a wasteland. The surrealist attempt to use a kind of materialistic mysticism to reclaim this was bound to fail, in part because of its passivity and in part because of its reliance on the Freudian "unconscious" as the realm from which the marvelous would spring.

The "unconscious" realm. like the "spiritual" realm, is a social creation which relegates aspects of our lives which would best be left open and accessible to a "hidden", "other" realm.... But Freud never even considered claiming what had been relegated to the "spiritual" for the "unconscious." When Jung did so, he did it merely by equating the "spiritual" with his highly questionable construct, the "collective unconscious"--thus, reclaiming nothing.

The surrealists had no use for Jung's extension of religion's existence. But they also never recognized the banality of the Freudian unconscious--the marvelous is not there except on rare occasions by accident. The marvelous will only become an everyday reality when we reclaim for our everyday lives that aspect of living that has been relegated to nonquotidian realms.... This reclamation involves the active creation of marvelous, passionate intensities--not mere passive waiting.

It is the individual's capability for active, conscious, empassioned creation which was usurped to create the realm of the "spiritual" and was, thus, relegated to virtual non-existence. With the creation of gods all creative power was taken from the individual and invested in these invented beings--and their earthly representations. The marvelous was turned into a gift from elsewhere.

The development of god coincides with the development of social control. God is, in fact, very much like society: neither one exists in itself--god exists only in the belief of the religious, and society exists only in the activities of social individuals. Yet god and society enforce the activities which continue their reproduction. The difference is that god exists only in the realm of belief--or ideas--whereas society exists in the realm of material interactions and so creates relationships which coerce even those who oppose social control into reproducing social control.

Capitalism has exposed the material basis of social interactions at the same time as it has created material social mechanisms to motivate people to continue social reproduction. In other words, god and the spiritual are no longer necessary mystifications to enforce social reproduction. But the social mechanisms created by capitalism do not and cannot transform individuals into the conscious, autonomous creators of their own lives and interactions. Rather individuals are transformed into cogs in the mechanisms. God and spirituality remain as a solace (Marx's "opiate"), an escape and a facet of one's social identity (i.e., an ideological commodity). Stealing back the creative energy from the "spiritual realm" now is equivalent to taking back the power to consciously create one's life and interactions from society. But it is essential that we not forget that this war against society includes an attack upon the citadel of spirituality.

Recent revivals of mysticism, paganism and shamanism among certain radicals may be misguided attempts at reclaiming their lives, but they appear to me to be a retreat in to a fantasy realm in the face of seemingly overwhelming social forces. These revivals indicate the continued lack of confidence of those involved in their ability to create their own lives, their own monuments, their own interactions. It may also indicate a fear of the unknown--a preference for models, for paths, for systems of guidance--because in a world of autonomous creators, or unique free individuals, there arc no guarantees; nothing is certain; all of the maps. definitions and paradigms disintegrate..... Such a world is a world of terror and of wonder. For the courageous, mostly the latter.