I MUST CONFESS that I still buy the occasional newspaper, especially if there’s a feature about me or my friends or an issue close to my heart. A side-effect of scanning the papers is that I’ve noticed a spate of sensational stories about child abuse, child prostitution and assorted pedophilic perversions. Apparently the Dirty Old Man Syndrome is erupting everywhere: in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Belgium, Britain, Germany, the USA, Israel, Australia, even halal Malaysia.
I was tickled to find a self-help organisation for pedophiles called the North American Man-Boy Love Association of which the late poet Allen Ginsberg (shown at left) was a member. He was once quoted in the New York Times as saying: “It’s a discussion society, not a procurement organisation. I myself don’t like underage boys. But they have a right to talk about the age of consent. I see it as a free speech issue, a discussion of the law.”
Pedophilia is nothing new, the cynic opines. To the cynic there’s never anything new. Ecocide, exploitation, rape, genocide, venality, skullduggery - it’s all been done ever since way back when. Which isn’t saying anything at all except: “Look, don’t bother me, I have problems of my own and bills to pay.”
Perhaps viciousness and perniciousness have always been part of the human melodrama. However, we haven’t always had the benefit of worldwide press coverage of these apparent aberrations. Hence we must accept the challenge of honest, open discussion - followed by deep, quiet contemplation. That’s the only hope we have of transmuting our tragedies into cogent collective learning experiences, if not actual comedies, since it’s not easy to laugh when an 11-year-old daughter of a friend’s friend (or, worse, your own) has just been gang-banged by a pack of demented ruffians.
This is no light topic we’re delving into here. One might have to ruminate through a whole shelf of densely-worded books to study the problem in depth. Nonetheless, a hysterical demand for “stiffer penalties” or “beefed-up security” is no way to resolve anything. Already we are far too punitive in our approach to eradicating crime. No doubt there are instances where a quick tight slap or a sharp rap on the knuckles or a well-timed shout could be highly effective in preventing the recurrence of wrongdoing - but generally we are, as a species, dangerously prone to scapegoating and too goddamned reluctant to accept responsibility for whatever happens in our cosy little artificial realities.
Violent, invasive behavior like rape or molestation arouses deep and ancient fears in the social psyche. It is my contention, however, that such occurrences compel us to investigate their root-causes, to look within our own taboo systems for clues that might help us resolve certain internal conflicts.
Questions of power - and powerlessness - must be raised. Events that manifest externally are often metaphors of internal conditions and circumstances. Patterns of psychosis and neurosis researched by generations of Freudians, Jungians, Reichians and Transactional psychologists need to be re-evaluated and collectively understood. Sigmund Freud’s ground-breaking theories on the Oedipus/Electra Complex, wherein he postulated an incipient erotic tension that invariably exists between Sons and Mothers, Daughters and Fathers - and inversions of these “complexes” along homosexual lines - seem to have fallen out of favor in recent decades. But no metaphor worth its weight in words has a use-by date: there is always a grain of truth in these generalizations that can help us look beyond the surface of actions and events.
When confronted with such unpleasant “facts of life” as robbery, rape, slavery, tyranny and the fascinating variety of abuses we keep inflicting on each other, I tend to examine my own preprogrammed prejudices a little more closely. It’s so easy to feel fear and loathing towards some projected Monster at the threshold of our comfortable domesticity. But it’s far more enlightening, I feel, to nose around the seldom-visited, cobwebby crannies of our own “unconscious” where, to be sure, we are bound to stumble on some moldy skeletons locked away from public, and even private, scrutiny.
Name the deed. I have committed it sometime, somewhere in the illusory privacy of my innermost thoughts. As folk-poet Bob Dylan once wryly sang: “If my thought-dreams/could be seen/they’d probably put my head/in a guillotine.”
I’m talking about the uneasy mixture of attraction and repulsion we all feel in the face of a ghastly accident or when we hear of some unspeakable act. An enraged husband chopping his wife into tiny bits and turning her into a curry. A necrophilic morgue attendant caught with his pants down. A scoutmaster coaxing campsite blowjobs out of his pet cubs. A deranged warlord dining on the raw livers of his murdered enemies. A wild-eyed mind-controlled "terrorist" blowing himself up along with a tentful of infidel stormtroopers. A veteran coach offering his post-pubescent athletes full-body rub-downs as a regular part of his training regimen. Now this last “unspeakable act” I readily admit might have caused me to feel fleetingly regretful that I never took sports seriously enough.
Have I ever “lusted” after a minor of either sex? Yes and no. Yes, because I have encountered extremely adorable children whom I thoroughly enjoyed dandling on my lap and cuddling wholeheartedly. No, because it has never occurred to me that I should stick my prick into any of those tiny, tender orifices. Sensual pleasure is not necessarily confined to the genitals - and I believe there is absolutely nothing despicable about being openly sensuous. Take household cats and dogs for example: are they bashful about demanding their daily quota of affectionate fondling? All living things emanate a vibrant electromagnetic field which can be charged up through bioenergetic contact with a sympathetic field. It is, in fact, an important factor in the maintenance of good health and a general sense of well-being. (Readers interested in exploring this further should read Wilhelm Reich’s seminal work, The Function of the Orgasm.)
However, where brute force, coercion, and fear tactics come into the picture, we have to diagnose the behavior as pathological. There’s a world of difference between seduction and rape, between persuasion and compulsion. And, most importantly, there is always a need for mutual respect and love. A society that repeatedly exhorts young people to respect their elders is definitely out of balance with itself. Respect must always be reciprocal and spontaneous. It must be won honestly, not elicited at gunpoint or by wielding the cane.
Without this basic understanding, is it any wonder that our do-as-I-say-don’t-do-as-I-do forms of parochial authority have generated such a horrific spectrum of abuses, particularly of disenfranchised factions like children, women, animals, indigenous cultures and “illegal immigrants”?
Here it may be useful to turn our attention to the work of Immanuel Velikovsky (1895-1979) - medical doctor, psychoanalyst, classical scholar and cosmological theorist extraordinaire. Having given up his medical practice to study with Freud and Jung, Velikovsky next got involved in helping his father compile a monumental history of Hebraic culture. Before long Velikovsky was fluent in several ancient languages, and found himself completely engrossed in his research. A gestalt of pre-Christian lore began to form in his fertile mind, leading to the publication in 1950 of his first book, Worlds in Collision. In a nutshell, Velikovsky’s hypothesis was that the Earth had undergone at least one cataclysmic trauma within human memory, when an electromagnetic derangement of the solar system caused Venus and Mars to approach perilously close to our planet, resulting in dramatic aberrations of her spin, axial inclination and the temporary collapse of her magnetic field. Needless to say, the havoc was nightmarish beyond comprehension. Entire civilizations were erased with barely a trace. Continents drifted thousands of miles apart, radically altering the very surface of the Earth and her climatic zones.
When the dust finally settled, the human survivors had regressed into animality, totally amnesiac about the horrors of the cosmic holocaust that had hit them like a million nuclear disasters all at once. The only way to heal and move on was to quickly forget. But buried deep within the collective psyche of the human race, distrust and resentment of God (or the gods) had formed the seed of a primal existential angst that plagues us to this day.
And thus perpetual doubt and egoic insecurity festered in the racial memory, erupting now and again in amok episodes amongst the scattered tribes. The irrational urge to ravage and plunder in quasi-ecstatic surrender to the wild promptings of the Id became the basis of human history. After each release of pent-up primal rage, the rampaging hordes would suddenly turn into farmers, artisans, merchants and philosopher-scientists. This Jekyll-and-Hyde pattern of human behavior, and the inner conflicts it engendered, produced a schizoid dichotomy in our moral sense:
Daddy beats us when we are Bad. He says we must be Good. But we can see that Daddy does Bad things sometimes. We want to be like Daddy. We shall be Good when Daddy is watching us - but when he isn’t we can be as Bad as we want.
In 1955 Velikovsky published Earth in Upheaval - augmenting his original hypothesis with fresh evidence supporting his catastrophe theory. By this time the American scientific community had been alerted to the threat that Velikovsky posed to the entire edifice of academic dogma. He was dismissed as a charlatan, a quack, merely a publicity-seeker. Velikovsky was primarily a medical doctor and psychoanalyst; he had no business venturing into the archaeological, paleontological and cosmological domains. Catastrophe theory? Totally beyond the pale, outrageous and amateurish, if not outright crank. To make sure no paradigm shift would be triggered by this maverick scholar, the university community browbeat Velikovsky’s publisher (who specialized in academic works) into rejecting all his future manuscripts. In effect the publishing firm had no choice: if it continued to entertain Velikovsky, it would lose all its lucrative textbook contracts. And so Velikovsky was forced to use a non-academic publisher, which seriously undermined his credibility in the eyes of the reading public. It wasn’t till after his death in 1979 that scientific evidence from various space probes began to validate many of his cosmic scenarios.
As a development of his catastrophe theory, Velikovsky had put forward a clear diagnosis and prescription for the healing of the human psyche. Beyond a certain point, protective amnesia was counter-survival. We had to convert our cellularly-ingrained traumatic experience into conscious memory. This cathartic release of the genetically-transmitted emotive charge would ultimately lead to maturity and wisdom, a coming of age of humanity.
In short, Velikovsky was advising the human race to see a shrink. Or at least recognize the critical need for uncensored deep memory retrieval and rituals of reconciliation as a prerequisite of emotional healing.
Now this long digression on Velikovsky is necessary to our discussion - if only as a demonstration of how stubbornly reluctant humans are to confront the mystery of our origins and to acknowledge the abysmal gaps in our historical memory. By refusing to face the truth for fear of its “nastiness” - in other words, to “save face” - we are prepared to go on living in a neurotic hell of programmed unawareness, rather than endure the brief pain of remembrance, acceptance, reconciliation, forgiveness of our own so-called sins and therefore others’ - which is an absolute requirement for true happiness and contentment. But, no, we insist on blaming it all on somebody else. And thereby keep missing the opportunity for authentic self-knowledge, ultimately the only kind of knowledge that won’t destroy us.
What, then, do we make of our assorted “philias”? Why can’t paedophiia simply be an unconditional and uninhibited love of our young? What’s so wrong with us that we have to carry it to the crazy extreme of wanting to screw them? Is it because we have been made to feel ashamed of our need to fondle and caress and cuddle? In a community of sexually fulfilled adults, every child would be vouchsafed the inviolability of his or her innocence. For in such a community, guilt itself would not exist.
What of necrophilia - the erotic abuse of the dead? Is it not a twisted form of ancestor worship? Or perhaps a chromosomal crossover from our hyena and vulture days, the heady days of drooling carrion-eating? Personally I don’t feel at all turned on by cadavers, but I can vaguely understand how an extremely shy or timid person could be forced into fornicating with the non-living - simply because the dead don’t tell tales or talk back and they can’t refuse, reject or resist. But, then, wouldn’t it be more hygienic (and politically correct) to discharge one’s libidinal excesses on a lifesized inflatable sex doll? Could I myself be lured into such a macabre sexual experience? Over my dead body!
On the reverse side of necrophilia, our myths abound with instances where a Queen or Goddess has succeeded in getting herself impregnated by a deceased husband. The Egyptian Goddess Isis was said to have conceived her son Horus after her consort Osiris had been murdered and cut to pieces - simply by using his severed member as a dildo while reciting ritual incantations.
I mentioned coprophilia - an obsession with shit - and now I’m beginning to regret it, because the subject can get really messy.
But the relationship between toilet training and military discipline has long been observed, particularly by that eclectic savant and student of bizarre behavior, Robert Anton Wilson - who, in his revealing study of conditioned reflexes, Prometheus Rising, drew attention to the sphincter-contracting fear of paternal punishment around which soldierly training revolves. Being tight-lipped, tight-assed, constipated, scared shitless - or, conversely, loose-mouthed, loud-bottomed, diarrhoetic, flatulent, artillery arsed - are expressions commonly heard in army barracks.
As an amateur fecologist myself, I have developed an elementary theory about the universal truthfulness of shit. Hunters rely on its traces when stalking their prey. One can glean an astonishing amount of information from the careful analysis of faecal matter. Indeed the study of fossilized dung is a formal academic discipline in its own right, known as scatology. You can tell exactly what the subject had for breakfast (input) simply by scrutinizing his, her, or its droppings (output). Unfortunately modern sanitation has made it extremely difficult to become an authority in this field.
Coprophilia as a neurotic syndrome has been sagely commented upon by no less an expert than Stanislav Grof (pictured right), former Chief of Psychiatric Research at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center and later Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Prof. Grof’s theory of the Basic Perinatal Matrix - conditions and circumstances surrounding one’s birth experience - constitute an immeasurably valuable model of early trauma patterns. For example, the tortuous process of being squeezed through the birth canal - with its attendant anxieties and horrors, mixed in with sensory data like the aroma of urine and faeces and blood, plus the slimy sensation of slithering down a stygian tunnel towards the light - oftens imprints the psyche with a confusion of violent, hellish images, which later results in a tendency to will into being the violent, hellish reality of war.
The entry into physical reality for many of us is a pungent, panic-inducing, life-threatening event full of gory, gooey, ghoulish subconscious memories that can result in an unconscious hankering for a return to the safety of the womb - in other words, the sanctuary of the fetal domain where no irksome responsibilities reside, where the All-Sustaining Mother provides and protects, where no decisions have to be made and therefore no possibility of error or failure exists. This results in a chronic sense of anomie or alienation - an inability to feel for others.
Grof was convinced that a person’s predisposition towards optimism or pessimism depended largely on whether his or her experience of birth was smooth or rough.
Most clinical psychiatrists are of the opinion that such theories are basically a load of crap. They prefer the biochemical solution of dosing the “mentally ill” with synaptic suppressors and assorted tranquillizers. In effect, these practitioners tend to follow the conventional unwisdom of ignoring the causes while forcefully attacking the effects of disease. If they were transferred to a law court, they would be advocates of corporal and capital punishment. Stiffer penalties, beefed-up security, and so on.
What Grof - and a growing number of his more adventurous colleagues - advocate is “pneumocatharsis”: holotropic therapy, deep breathing, hypnotic regression techniques that trigger dramatic death/rebirth experiences in the subject. In other words, a good honest look down our own genealogical and reincarnational time tracks.
No blame, no shame. The name of the game is opening to the truth. For the truth, as Velikovsky was only trying to remind us, shall set us free.
[This article first appeared in the December 1996 issue of Journal One.]
|Hmmm.... warped tendency... or what?|