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The cancer of the spirit

"The Earth is full of ghosts now," as Marc Almond sings in Coil's unreleased track "The Dark Age of Love," But how did this happen?

A little at a time, like every other iteration of The Fall. We will get into how, and what to do about it, at a later time. For now, a reminder of What Is All Around. Truth is often painful before it liberates, and it is worthwhile to be reminded of the silent suffering of our species.

Stage One: Amnesia

We start to lose our memory and the context it provides. We begin to lose identity and purpose. Neglect creates chaos and seeds vicious cycles that take root later. Amnesia robs us of perspective and we creep toward the next phase. First, we forget to act.

Stage TWO: Abulia

Then, we start to lose the will to act. Overwhelmed by the fruit of amnesia, we relinquish ever more of our power to shape reality through deeds. We take off our crown and put on a dunce cap. In this state we can be led by the sort of sociopaths that think themselves worthy of leading in the first place. Abulia is the ally of authoritarianism.

Stage Three: Apathy

Disheartened through abandon of self-control and cynicism toward the outer world, we lose enthusiasm, the juice of experience. We lose interest in participating in the web of life at all. We lose empathy for our fellow travelers, closing off from them. Apathy dries out the heart, and it opens the door for hate.

Stage Four: Anhedonia

We lose the capacity for pleasure. We rail against this for a while but the buttons aren't connected any more and there's no sense in pushing them. We go grey inside, and see the world bled dry of color. We try to drown it in the socially acceptable poisons. We fail.

These phases undulate and weave around each other, like all the cycles of life. Trauma accelerates, humor mitigates. But at a certain level, humor does not come when called. This is the moment when the lucky ones experience an intervention. Perhaps you need one at this moment. If so, let me remind you that you are not alone.

The world is indeed a stage, and we the players on it. The word "person" refers to masks worn on stage in ancient times, and each of us has a collection of disguises. I can remember reading the following poem in grade school. It struck me so deeply that I stole the page from the Language Arts textbook. I am not sorry.

We Wear the Mask

By Paul Laurence Dunbar

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
       We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
       We wear the mask!


Stranger-yet-friend, may your masks fall away some day, that your light may be added in the effort against the shadows that bind and blind our minds.

Famine by Rick Munish

Famine by Rick Munish