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Tao of Desire Tao of Desire
by David Sparenberg
2013-05-03 10:01:41
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Some people continue to get it wrong, most especially intellectuals, critics and the social script revisers.  With good intentions, they talk to us about the lack of meaning.  But because they believe that meaning is a spiritual condition and it must transcend circumstances and point to a value-beyond, they fail to recognize that within a materialistic context meaning is an investment in materialism.  For those so invested, and this is the sleepwalking yet shop-a-holic majority, meaning is defined and aggrandized between poles of acquisition and possession.  The problem then is not with the absence of meaning but the limitations of meaning.  Effectively one does not address the materialist over lack of meaning in contemporary life but rather on the shallowness of the meanings afforded within material confines.  Creatively, a person should not even reason and argue with the materialist when enchantment and subversion penetrate farther and intrigue.

(Sidebar—a page from the troubadour’s handbook might read: The materialist is haunted.  Like other human shards, the materialist has a shadow.  The shadow is a sinkhole, a vertical cavern.  And that hidden place is inhabited by long neglected powers.  If you do not believe a lover, go back and ask Plato.  At the end of reason he returned to the cave!)

Because we live in a society of clutter, where the hoarder is an accepted social category, the majority of citizens inhabiting the floating world of materialistic civilization are simultaneously obsessed with meaning, over-busy and stressed with purpose, and ruined by shallowness.

Because of this, I do not speak of meaning but of desire.  Desire is primal; contemporaneously we are not.  Desire is also dangerous and shaded with darkness, because desire is an urgency of passion: it is fertility pushing upward from gestating depths.  In this, desire may well belong to the feminine mystery of earth and psyche, what Lao Tzu calls “the valley spirit” and Goethe refers to as “realm of the mothers”—a dimension of the imaginal that causes his Promethean-linage Faust to shudder.

Indeed too much meaning, especially in such a context as the sub-reality of the floating world, may well be betrayal, a serious denouncement against the raw, edgy mystic of participation, in the same way that abundance of information is mistakenly interpreted as deliverance, when most dreadfully it is but a cleverness inventive for avoiding encounter.  Through time people have learned to be clever, perhaps to the same measure that people have accommodated themselves to being shallow.

As for words, they are of two basic types: those that reveal and those that conceal; those that expose our beauty, spontaneity and our vulnerability, and those that mask and keep us from being seen.  Not, of course, from mutual viewing as marketplace cutouts or purveyors of fads and fashions, but certainly as enshadowed shapeshifters and dreamers in the surreal incubation of alchemic and cosmic mystery.

If one type is of a Tao of Desire—desire for recognition, participation, embrace—and is powered by the radical of identity survival and the radical of freedom, the other type is a pursuit after meaning through norms; this latter arrives most often at defining itself in defensive mode in the world mall of miniature mirrors and superfluous things.

In terms of language, a person might ask: How do I use words—to open the way for pathos or to construct a labyrinth to hide within for breeding of monsters?  In terms of meaning and desire: A depth remains unsounded; individuation is shaped in the process of choices.

David Sparenberg

24 April 2013


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