Wednesday, July 13, 2005


I’ve recently questioned what one means when one says he’s having a “personal relationship” with a god. Is it really a personal relationship like one has with friends, lovers and family? I think not. For one, Jesus can’t respond except as you wish him to respond. It’s certainly just an “imaginary” relationship, based on one’s imaginations about Jesus.

Or is the relationship delusional and sort of an actor’s trick?

An actor studies a character (reads the Bible) he’s to portray and then fills out the character (Jesus) in his or her imagination. He takes the character inside himself and then tries to imagine speaking and thinking just like that character. An actor develops an inward relationship, almost personal, with his character, but most actors know that they are creating the character which they are psychologically relating to. I think that’s what a born again is having, an actor’s relationship with a fictional character that he carries around in his psyche, but unlike the professional, the born again is not able to distinguish his own self-deluding.


Strange that in reading Gore Vidal’s fictionalized world histories, the reader can hear so many people who talk so brilliantly. Is it really like that in polite, political society or is that talk a figment of Vidal’s literary imagination? When I was in college in the 60s and 70s, we used to repartee and debate back and forth like that, though not always so brilliantly, so I imagine, if my college peers are now in charge of Washington D.C., they might sound like a Vidal character. Sometimes, though, in Vidal’s sarcastic repartee, I also hear the sound of a bitchy homosexuality in his characters. Don’t ask me why. Am I wrong? Does that say something about my reading skills? Yet, I do enjoy his work. I took a long time to discover his novels of American history. Better, I suppose, late than never.

Speaking of repartee, I still recall a campus movie at Southern Illinois University while I was a grad student there. We watched “The Blue Angel”, a German film about a naive but pedantic authoritarian college professor who becomes entranced by a cabaret woman, played by Marlene Dietrich, to the point that he loses job and career and becomes a clown at the cabaret. Coming out of the film, we were jabbering away about how the pedant reminded us of certain hawks in the Johnson administration and etcetera—endless repartee and dialogue. One of our number, a young man, a musician, who tended not to be as loquacious as the rest of us, when asked what he thought, replied, “German whores sure are fat.” Did I tell this tale in an earlier blog?


“And although each may tend to identify himself mainly with his separate body and its frailties, it is possible also to regard one’s body as a mere vehicle of consciousness and to think, then, of consciousness as the one presence here made manifest through us all.” —From MYTHS TO LIVE BY, by Joe Campbell, p. 131.

Yet, isn’t consciousness only experienced as an individual phenomenon, so that consciousness can never be separated from the individual experiencing consciousness? Thus, the abstract concept of consciousness is not outside of consciousness itself and can’t be spoken of except in an individual and distinct sense?


As I read the Adlai Stevenson biography (1952, his post election loss, through 1965, his death), I’m called back to my youth and how I felt, writing my journals, then, and working on my fiction and poetry, having, all the while, a sense that I would “amount to something”. That’s what retirement means to me, sometimes, now, I fear—a loss of the “sense” that I’ll amount to something, the sense that what I think and do will make a difference. That sense of importance or purpose is the state of mind which I still long for but which I had to give up in order to get and stay sober. In short, I no longer “imagine” that what I do or say makes or will make the slightest difference in the world, and even though nothing I did do ever amounted anything, I still feel very bad about losing the “hope” that I would amount to anything. That’s quite a longing!

“If you are going to go cross-country skiing, start with a small country.” —from Saturday Night Live


ryan said...

belated manual trackback: Atheists would make good Christians

Geo said...

Christians, many of them, have also made the best atheists.

ryan said...

my reply: atheists: you can't help but agree with 'em