The Manichees & Cathars believed that the body can be spiritualized – or rather, that the body merely contaminates pure spirit & must be utterly rejected. The Gnostic perfecti (radical dualists) starved themselves to death to escape the body & return to the pleroma of pure light.
So: to evade the evils of the flesh – murder, war, famine, greed – paradoxically only one path remains: murder of one’s own body, war on the flesh, famine unto death, greed for salvation.
The radical monists however (Ismailis, Ranters, Antinomians) consider that body & spirit are one, that the same spirit which pervades a black stone also infuses the flesh with its light; that all lives & all is life. “Things are what they are spontaneously… everything is natural… all in motion as if there were a True Lord to move them – but if we seek for evidence of this lord we fail to find any.” (Kuo Hsiang)
Paradoxically, the monist path also cannot be followed without some sort of “murder, war, famine, greed”: the transformation of death into life (food, negentropy) – war against the Empire of Lies – “fasting of the soul,” or renunciation of the Lie, of all that is not life – & greed for life itself, the absolute power of desire.
Even more: without knowledge of the darkness (“carnal knowledge”) there can exist no knowledge of the light (“gnosis”). The two knowledges are not merely complementary: say rather identical, like the same note played in different octaves. Heraclitus claims that reality persists in a state of “war.” Only clashing notes can make harmony. (“Chaos is the sum of all orders.”)
Give each of these four terms a different mask of language (to call the Furies “The Kindly Ones” is not mere euphemism but a way of uncovering yet more meaning). Masked, ritualized, realized as art, the terms take on their dark beauty, their “Black Light.”
Instead of murder say the hunt, the pure paleolithic economy of all archaic and non-authoritarian tribal society – “venery,” both the killing & eating of flesh & the way of Venus, of desire. Instead of war say insurrection, not the revolution of classes & powers but of the eternal rebel, the dark one who uncovers light. Instead of greed say yearning, unconquerable desire, mad love. And then instead of famine, which is a kind of mutilation, speak of wholeness, plenty, superabundance, generosity of the self which spirals outward toward the Other.
Without this dance of masks, nothing will be created. The oldest mythology makes Eros the firstborn of Chaos. Eros, the wild one who tames, is the door through which the artist returns to Chaos, the One, and then re-returns, comes back again, bearing one of the patterns of beauty. The artist, the hunter, the warrior: one who is both passionate and balanced, both greedy & altruistic to the utmost extreme. We must be saved from all salvations which save us from ourselves, from our animal which is also our anima, our very lifeforce, as well as our animus, our animating self-empowerment, which may even manifest as anger & greed. BABYLON has told us that our flesh is filth – with this device & the promise of salvation it enslaved us. But – if the flesh is already “saved,” already light – if even consciousness itself is a kind of flesh, a palpable & simultaneous living aether – then we need no power to intercede for us. The wilderness, as Omar says, is paradise even now.
The true proprietorship of murder lies with the Empire, for only freedom is complete life. War is Babylonian as well – no free person will die for another’s aggrandizement. Famine comes into existence only with the civilization of the saviors, the priest-kings – wasn’t it Joseph who taught Pharaoh to speculate in grain futures? Greed – for land, for symbolic wealth, for power to deform others’ souls & bodies for their own salvation – greed too arises not from “Nature nature-ing,” but from the damming up & canalization of all energies for the Empire’s Glory.
Against all this, the artist possesses the dance of masks, the total radicalization of language, the invention of a “Poetic Terrorism” which will strike not at living beings but at malign ideas, dead-weights on the coffin-lid of our desires. The architecture of suffocation and paralysis will be blown up. only by our total celebration of everything – even darkness.
(from OVO 14 Suffering March 1992)