My wife observed the other day that her Ayurvedic medicine feed on Facebook, while generally full of health and wellness tips, occasionally posts self-help maxims on how one ought to love and what’s important in a sexual relationship. While these topics are important within the Ayurvedic tradition, we considered the possibility that the author of the feed may have particular personal issues for these posts: there appeared to be a possibly (not to be mean about it) disingenuous emotional tinge to the feed, some kind of hidden personal experience masked behind the formality of the professed wisdom.
This reminded me of a recent tragedy within the online yoga community. An internet yogi was celebrated by many (FB) followers (including myself) for her innovative twists on tantra. Her words and videos were witty, inspiring and bestowed genuinely uplifting light on us. She utilised social media to spread awareness of tantra to the world, and was very public about her own difficult journey to inner peace, how she made it through to the other side, and how her approach might benefit others, particularly women, in their own journeys to realise the Goddness within. A few weeks ago, she committed suicide. Her followers were shocked. Everyone initially mourned, as did I. Some felt betrayed in a strange kind of way: that she’d convinced them she had the key to the world and to suffering, that they’d listened to her words, to her social media ethics, subscribed to her code of living as a Goddess … but perhaps her words were, like the Ayurvedic feed, disingenuous with respect to a clearly troubled inner world.
Our Information Age is characterised by both a heightened sensitivity to our intersubjective situation and individuation’s convergence with text and language. This age ought to afford many new posibilities for an ethics that acknowledges subject-to-subject communication, nuanced with respect to the linguistics of our journeys and how our journeys are different but bound to each other by and in Love. But this ethics has not appeared. Curiously, we exist in a transitory stage where Love is spoken about, often, but its ethics remains firmly monosubjective, where the voice enunciating its ethics features as the single, suppressed, subject, and the ethical voice addresses the group as an object. This ethics of Love remains a traditional subject-object sign regime.
By the time we reach the 21st Century, human relationships have changed, but ethics, by and large, has not. We use the term ethics in the broadest sense, loaded with its etymology from the Greek ethos (codes of habit). Ethics as a value system, ethics as a valuative system of right and wrong, ethics as philosophy consisting of moral axioms and a logic with the intent that it can be implemented and lived viably and vitally by the group (tribes, cultures, peoples). Ethics, specifically, in the bio-axiological sense, of an embodied valuative habitus: these are the axioms we uphold on how to behave, how to live, these are the axioms and this is the logic we are to live the right kind of life.
We use the term in place of philosophy, of which ethics is a branch (a lived branch), and religion, to which ethics may attach itself, embed itself, like a vine upon the tree of spiritual practice, or a virus within the collective body of a church. We have studied the latter kind of relationship implicitly, the way in which Love as a suppressed philosophical term became bound to the Judao-Christian tradition only to emerge psychoanlytically with the Freudian turn. But something went wrong post Freud: Love is out there as a term, Love and the body are socially accepted as inextricably linked, while still largely unpacked within mainstream philosophy. But this Love-Embodiment has become shattered into a myriad of valuative, ethical signifiers, privileged totems empowering contemporary rival techno-folk micro-positions, from self help columns to blogs and Facebook posts.
We make no moral judgement, only one of sustainability within organisational change. These micro-positions are not sustainable as an ethics. Large scale religious ethics had momentum with the masses: it was sustainable, by virtue of … and so on.
“Get to the point.”
“Ok,” says this particular author/I.
And so here’s the prime maxim, in short:
Compassion shall be thy name.
The ethics of the past served as a tribal tattoo over our bodies. It’s a psychic valuative system that is embodied and lived by flesh. But ethics 2.0: it’s a fucking neural network across bodies, tattoos, tribalism.
Fuck, what an amazing thing: can you get with it, boys and girls?!?
If we are to follow Freud on the topic of love, we know the underlying theme of it, beneath all flesh, down to the bone: father-mother-child at the initiation of our being, so of our selfhood’s universal Big Bang, so thence relationships, because father-mother is a relationship, as is mother-child, as is, secondarily but essentially (and ominously), that of child-father. And from these relationships, there is the formation of the domain and range of the relation, the subject and object, if the relation is symbolic (verbal or read), the subject and subject, if the relation is real, the object and object, if the relation is imaginary.
Anyway, to this complex Freud gave a name, a classical motif or archetype: the Oedipus complex, after the Ancient Greek story, wherein Oedipus Rex unknowingly sleeps with his mother, instantiating the tragedy of some mystical curse placed upon his father. A complex is fundamentally a set of relationships, subjects and objects. The fact that we require both subjects and objects derives from the need to specify at times a directionality to relationships, thus creating functions and inverse functions (the inverse determined by what mystics sometimes call intentionality), from one point to another, points given subjectivity or objectivity depending on the functional intent. And so we can get more and more precise with our definition of the complex. But I hope you get the point, which is …
Where is Love in within the complex?
Love’s a thing, definitely born of and/or dependent on relationships, subjects and objects. And if a complex is defined as fundamentally a set of relationships, subjects and objects, then Love must be born of and/or dependent on complexes. Note the plural. Within this platonic realm of the mathematics of Love, there is no proof that could curtail that plural. That plural reads plain. Not necessarily singular … But it’s better to zoom in on this paragraph’s opening position. Which is to zoom in on how Love derives from complexes. Lacan would say the mother fundamental is displaced into a (m)other symbolic object via the imaginary, primordial, practically mytheopoetic fantasy of the primal scene, the child witnessing the sexual intercourse real mother/father . The basic relationships generate secondary relationships, objects and subjects via the function of the mother fundamental’s displacement through a disruption of the ordinary Oedipal complex.
Still, that’s just one example. What about the Hera-Zeus-Swan complex? What of the Lancelot-Guinevere-Arthur complex? What of the story that no one dares call a complex, but is, and must be interrogated, and the nature of its particular brand of love unearthed. Can you guess what it is?
Subject and subject, subject and object:
Functions from one to another, across the repository of Love
That priests call God, that in gnosis drunk we call Christ Kadmonic
Admonishing my wicked body, and coming down hard upon my charmed intellect
The tailor died a long time ago, pulled that Seneca move today, yet here he is,
Reincarnated with some kind of purity, within the Love of his Wife
What his right hand possesses, what his left hand shields
What his feet do, when he does the twist,
What his feet do, when he intercepts her moves,
Along the eternal tango of their Zeus-Hera complex
He loves, he labours, he loses sleep
He loves, he labours, he wins her: again, and again, and again, across the passionately tensored waveform of their so very Argentine narrative.
Easter is near. Parched lips murmer, and that shortest sentence is the lie of today.
Encaved, half asleep, they grasp at the shadows which play upon their walls, those 7 Christ like strangers,
And their hound who sits watch over their dreams, their rising, their supplication.
They depart now from their dwelling, and wander outward, into the peculiar code of our symbolic real world,
Their line of flight is merely from one closure to another, with this brief moment of exhibition, too brief to adjust to the sun,
Their eyes are blinded, and must be led by their animal, into the marketplace they go,
Where the people are surprised, it’s such a mystery — “Are they clowns or travelling players” — “Or desert mystics” — “No they are drunk!” — oh 7, thus embued with sadness of sight’s failure,
“What is this object?” — “What are these goods?” — “These are trinkets of love, like those you saw behind your eyes, as you slept.”
Easter is near. Water is being drawn upwards, to dress those wounds.
And our protagonists are a phantasm, themselves, 7 Holy ghosts,
Who walk above the right handed seas of dissolution,
Who look back at me, and sign to me, with left hand, soon enough I must accompany.
Empress, priestess, hermit and star invoked upon their beautiful forehead:
Limbs of the Father, lips of the Mother, faded Sons and Daughters, somnambulant, green, black, then finally at rest.
Now comes the parting, too soon I think, of soul and time’s connection
And Christmas’ youthful laughter gives way to adulthood’s science, like believing in a gift’s magical materialisation,
And these baleful clouds replace her by my Wharf, washing warmth away to memory, and sighs to Shivaic vapour,
And I am old with reason again, and the drone war rages on, and my third siege commences.
Yet there is the prophet’s rainbow, in the distance, yet there is God fooling around and being playful and awesome at once, abstracting and signing my folly.
Yet then there was me, so full of ingratitude, then greedy for life, and demanding more, devouring, with what daemon’s desire.
As above, so below, I wished with a Kabbalist’s mad rhyme: but I syllogise now, below, never above, not really, it’s just my melancholic misprison of mind,
And finally I approach the vessel, it’s just two steps away, and I am ready to purchase that passage.
Poetry signed me this direction, and love a signified flux and flow,
As philosophers say, signs and signification are fragile in their coincidence, and their marriage is a miracle of meaning, yet projection, yet fleeting, yet lost again with each cycle of karma.
And it was, ultimately, my vanity she denied, for vanity’s doubtful sincerity she turns from me,
And speaks as a stranger, and like a dream, my colourful fantasy of young returns, now it decays within my slow to fade portrait.
Oh this Wintery Spring, embers of irony run across my weary brain,
And the sun sets upon my trek, and I desire only sleep, though dreams cease to arrive.