Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Iron Heart

The problem with sucking on the teats of Dionysus is that, at a certain point, you don't know how to feel anymore.  Your heart turns numb, an anesthetic that creeps slowly up your chest until it enters the brain and you turn off, because there's nothing else to do.  There's no reason for it, none at all.  Apollo cannot enter the mind if it's been turned off already, and then there's no reasoning, no logic.  It doesn't surprise me that the teen who went on a stabbing spree doesn't remember doing any of it, or the mother who killed both her kids (admittedly, she was on alcohol and meds) doesn't remember it either. They can't remember if their minds have been turned off.  They have become robots of the Unmaker (as I've talked about before).  All emotional impulse, instant gratification, without thought of the consequences, a cut, a bleed, release the adrenaline and make it all feel better. It will all go away soon.  Except it won't.

I've seen so much recently, from the smiling news reporters who, story after staccato story, tell of the most horrific acts mankind has ever known, and then move on to weather and sports as if nothing has happened.  I'm surprised more news reporters haven't ended up in mental institutions, suffering from PTSD just by reporting on reality.  And kids want constant emotional turmoil, because the deafening silence of "nothing happening" is unbearable in today's world.  If nothing is going on, if Justin Bieber isn't constantly in the news, having done something, usually negative, because that gets more attention, then something is wrong.  The mug shots and tattoos and scantily clad pictures rotate around instant-grams and tweets and pictures that are as permanent as they are forgotten.  Today's shirtless pic is followed up by tomorrow's nude, because that's what the world wants.  Constant hormonal flow, without recourse of thought or reason.  Nothing that stops and watches the permanence of the rings forming in the trees, for our eyes are taken to the leaves blowing away, a flicker of movement, resulting in nothing.

Even in music, numbness is a feeling as prevalent as love.  It caused an entire movement (one that's not gone away, just experienced a brief glow in the spotlight) of forced emotion, trying to squeeze out every drop of emotion, the highs and the lows, out of anything. The opposite of emotion is not reason, but the absence of emotion, as there's nothing to fill that void.  Nietzsche would have quoted in this day and age "Apollo is Dead," and he'd be quite right.  Because if there's no thought behind feeling, no reasoning behind love, there's no point, is there? We could whip ourselves into an emotional frenzy, hurl ourselves off a metaphoric cliff, and there would be no notion of what was on the ground below.

It goes for Christianity, as well.  There's nothing more amazing than the emotional effect of God's word through a song. Listen to I Then Shall Live by the Gathier Vocal Band and Ernie Haase and Signature Sound, and not get goosebumps, I dare you.  It's so easy to get emotionally worked up in a service, as you sing chorus after chorus of a song, but it's got to have some meaning behind it.  For if (and I've seen this) you spend all Sunday School listening and singing to Praise & Worship songs, and are filled with emotional responses, and then leave without any Reason behind it, the glory fades until the next time. God wrote the Bible not just to express His love for us, but also to impart his wisdom. But some want the emotional support without the wisdom.  I think it's almost like a drug.  Go back and listen to the song linked above 50 times in a row (no, actually, don't do that), and the emotional effect will wear off. The words will be recessed into the back of your mind until they've lost the impact that they would have had before.  That's the problem with emotional highs... they never last.  But if there's Reason behind it, something that takes the emotion, stretches it out, analyzes it, applies it to your life, finds patterns and examples, the emotion sticks like super glue onto your life, and it lasts forever.  Because you've made it your own.

Anyone can work someone into an emotional frenzy.  Hitler did it, mass hysteria at the Salem Witch Trials is another example.  Keep the emotion going, so that you don't step back and think about what's really going on, and it'll be fine.  Except the Unmaker always wins that way.  When the emotions have become numb, and you have to find more and more extreme measures to make you feel anything, then the things which weren't even thinkable at one point suddenly become real.  Go on a shooting rampage in a school?  Sure, why not?  It releases feelings and hormones and tension... until the police are ready to shoot you, and then reality hits for one moment, until it's blacked out by the illogical step of shooting yourself.  The Unmaker is very willing to show you what you've done before he pushes you over the edge.

All this is why there has to be a balance between Apollo and Dionysus, between Reason and Emotion.   It's why, again, I have to return to Friedrich's painting "Wanderer Over a Sea of Fog", with the Traveller standing upon the peak of the mountain, shoulders calmly but firmly taught, head erect, confident in his stance, able to Think and Feel, and keep the balance between the two.  Without this, he would surely tumble over the edge to his death.

It's so very easy to just give in to the emotions that swirl constantly like the wind atop that mountain. So easy just to succumb to the breathtaking highs and depressed lows that our lives will inevitably bring us.  And in wanting those highs, constantly, we eliminate the opposite by taking medication, and we forsake Reason entirely.  It's dangerous, for those without Reason can be manipulated, and they stand atop the peaks without sure footing.  Without Apollo's guidance.... it's a long way down.

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