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Sorry for the delay in your early-week Electric Degeneration. But, to make up for it, here's a lengthy but timely editorial submitted by a degenerate:
DEGENERATED X-MAS, or SCROOGE'S REVENGE
I imagine that one will hear- once again - the exasperated voices which arise this time of year announcing what anyone with a modicum of sensitivity recognizes the whole year through: namely, that the reality-hating finger of materialism, regardless of the political costume of the hour ( e.g. capitalist libertarianism, communism, racist-fascism, etc.), necrotizes everything it touches. It killed Christmas some time ago, though one might think this hot news to some for all the complaining. In any case, so far as I'm concerned, the point is moot - Christmas died, murdered by a power worse than infidelity and far less noble than paganism; the process of comodification devoured it from its apathetic entrails outward. Christianity sold itself into slavery at a bargain price.
Maybe, then, it would make sense for someone to talk about how he REALLY feels around this time of year,.... and it has nothing to do with "peace on Earth, goodwill to men" in my case.
By the time this sees print, those Nativity Scene-things will be up all over the place with the image of the Christ child all happy in a manger, which, itself invariably appears more comfortable than a bed down at the Hilton. Everyone in these scenes (Joe, Mary, the Shepherds, etc.) seems, at best, artificially thrilled and, at worst, triumphantly bored: "Ho hum. Well, there He is, the Messiah, King o' Kings and all that. Let's go home and eat some turkey."
The entire attitude surrounding Christmas has always disturbed me. Hell, it has filled me with horror and disgust, to be honest about it. Look, here we are with this child born in a barn who, thirty years later, gets beat to ribbons and killed in a manner worse than that reserved for rabid dogs all because he shared a message which, at heart, amounts to "Love God" and "Love one another" and "Treat one another with some mercy and compassion, especially when you don't understand the other person." That little baby in the manger was born to die and I'm supposed to be happy about it? Of course, the way I tell the story doesn't quite fit in with Santa, Rudolph, Elves, and last quarter corporate earnings, so no one's encouraged to think that way. Still, the manger causes me to feel somewhat less than cheery, despite what the Malls, the Christmas Carols, and the Pulpits demand of me to the contrary.
For me, finding the Cloud around the Silver Lining's nothing new, though. Have you seen those cute reproductions of the old "Guardian Angel" prints wherein said Angel, gentle and smiling, hovers behind two stupid waifs who are doing something mindless - crossing a treacherous footbridge, or picking flowers on a cliff edge in the Alps, or something like that? Presumably, the Angel is keeping the kids from danger. Now, one of these pictures hung over my bed when I was very, very young, and, one day, it occurred to me that maybe the Angel was trying to shove those kids to their deaths. I was four years old at the time of this revelation and reality has since supported the suspicions of my infancy. It is as if Evil most often travels under a guise of sweetness and light, like serial killer John Wayne Gacy and his silly clown get-up; perhaps we all participate in the sticky, sappy absurdity of Evil in the most innocent of acts - our willful glee at at a child born into poverty in a barn, a child born to die. Pass the fucking turkey.
Maybe Christmastime, regardless of one's religious-spiritual leanings, ought to be a time one faces with utter sobriety the depressing, maddening reality of the winter darkness - a darkness which descends from without in the shortening of the daylight and ascends from inside of ourselves, from the unfathomable depths of our souls. Death comes on; Saturn-Kronos, Old Age Himself, sits with the scythe awaiting the opportunity to judge and mow down all us children born to die. For the cold cuts down the plants, but their seeds are thus scattered and planted, and that's the ambiguity of this season, the ineffable character of Winter: In the midst of Life, there is Death, but in the midst of Death, there is new Life being born. The two exist simultaneously, mixed up with one another - there is no escaping the one by pretending refuge in the other. Both must be honored.
Everything is upside down. Instead of fat, bearded men in red suits on every corner begging money or enticing us to buy this, that, or the other frivolous gadget, we ought to see skeletons and corpses and orphans gripped by despair. Or, rather, we ought to pierce with cynical eye the illusion presented by the Happy Fat Man and see the knife-fanged Devil hiding within the comforting red suit; Saint Nick is just the mask Old Scratch wears this time of year when he sneaks down your chimney in the middle of the night to anaesthetize and murder your sleeping soul. He's the Sweet Faced Angel about to push those silly wide-eyed kids off the bridge.
There is no living without Death. The false existence, the economically motivated and sterilized image of Life which has replaced the actuality of Life in our culture denies Death, only affirms "vital drives"; denies decay, conceives of ageing as a disease; dismisses pain and the necessity of suffering in the pursuit of Wisdom; denies Wisdom; perverts Truth into the commodity called "information".... And yet, we are the most violent people to have ever walked the planet. We are the least RESPECTFUL of life and nature. We are the most informed, but on the whole we are a race of idiots and fools. We abuse ourselves in a million ways and industries erupt in order to make masking symptoms profitable - e.g. aspirin for headaches - instead of our choosing to cease the abusive activity. We deny the darkness within us and it returns with a vengeance, sometimes disguised as entertainment and Hell-bent on making us recognize its power one way or another.
Perhaps the best thing we could do this time of year is to recall all of those whom we have known who were born to die and whisper their names as if they were prescious and to let them rise from the dead within us and laugh and cry once more through us. Maybe we could see that the stable is also a tomb and the manger a casket and remember that the frankincense and myrrh the Wise Men brought were the resins used in the preparation of royal corpses for burial: The Magi knew what THEY were celebrating.
Then again, I just drive a van for a living.
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