Monday, April 2, 2012

In Celebration of Love’s Labors Lost (Part 3)

Akhunaton and Family

For the next few years I found myself living parallel lives. Externally, I was in a domestic partnership and had to claim my adulthood by getting a job, leaving the parental nest, and building a life with my own nuclear family. Internally, I grew increasingly fascinated by metaphysical conundrums, greedily devouring whatever literature came my way that might shed some light on life’s complexities and mysteries.

Courtesy of Creative Arena
It sounds trite but nevertheless true: even if each of us was born with an instruction manual to guide us through the various stages of life, only a few would bother reading it.

I’m not one of those few. I chose to view my life as an open-ended experiment, learning by trial-and-error, with only integrity as my soul compass. An honest scientist doesn’t doctor the statistics or tamper with empirical evidence, regardless of his or her own peculiar beliefs. If one is genuinely interested in living a true life, one cannot be governed by others’ opinions – although it’s always wise to pay attention to feedback, be it negative or positive.

Very early in life I saw through the abominable hypocrisy of what we loosely term “society” (I refer to it as the Cultural Matrix). I was appalled that loaded words like “bastard” or “blasphemy” remained in popular use long after the insidious influence of the Church had waned – even though their meanings are couched in and tainted by false piety and quasi-religious judgmentalism.

Illustration by Ben Heine
“KEEP OFF THE GRASS” and “NO TRESPASSING” signs are a symptom of sociopathology arising from an obsession with ownership and control. Why plant grass if your children aren’t allowed to lie on it and bask in the sun? Why construct a fence around a space where no artificial boundaries existed and then claim exclusive rights to it? Will the fence keep out the wind and airborne viruses, will it prevent the entry of alien ideas?

Such a distorted view of reality results from obeying a base impulse to Acquire and Protect – instead of following the nobler impulse to Attune and Harmonize. The former behavioral pattern leads to ego competition, exclusivity, and entropy (disintegration); the latter facilitates enlightened cooperation, inclusivity, and syntropy (reintegration).

Painting by Alex Grey

Frank Harris: "My Life & Loves"
To retrieve and record in writing every memory fragment of my life and loves would be a monumental task indeed – and, much as I’m occasionally tempted to emulate Frank Harris, who in 1922 shocked the literary world with his self-published memoirs, filled with graphic accounts of his sexual and political exploits, I shall save such a self-indulgent project for, as people say, my old age.

What prompted me to embark on this series of essays was the recent discovery of an amusing oil painting, long hidden behind a stack of framed artworks in the clutter of my study. It was a first attempt by my Luxembourgeois lover - yes, the one I met in New Jersey at age 17 and with whom I maintained a steady correspondence for 11 years. We met again in late 1979, in London, and she decided to relocate to Malaysia to share my life and times, for better or worse.

From her perspective, it must have been for the worse – because she decided a few years ago to stop communicating with me. At the time, I figured she was undergoing some sort of mid-life crisis – menopause, perhaps – and that she would get over it and begin to remember the good times we had, not just the sad moments.

Well, some are slow healers – and some, alas, choose to never recover from emotional wounds. I find it difficult to understand how anybody could possibly maintain a grudge for the rest of their lives – and yet a few apparently do.

No matter what terrible things people may have done to me – they need only apologize to achieve reconciliation, redemption in my eyes, and a gradual restoration of goodwill and friendship. I have experienced my share of outright rejection and scornful dismissal (a woman I was briefly besotted with actually called me “a perverted creep” which cut to my very core, but if she were to add me on facebook tomorrow, I would be overjoyed to renew contact with her, seeing as how she was once David Gilmour's squeeze).

The fact remains, once I open my heart to somebody, it stays open – even if the psychodynamics between us deteriorate beyond the limits of endurance and we are compelled to buffer the friendship with some space and time.

"Lustrous Love" by Alex Grey

At one point I began to suspect I was only in love with the idea of love – not anybody in particular. The problem is, in English, we only have ONE word to describe a complex and multifaceted dynamic spectrum of feelings and behaviors that has perplexed even the brightest minds and wisest souls for generations; and that four-letter word is LOVE.

"Kissing"  by Alex Grey
Very early in life I became aware of the biochemical basis of our animal responses to environmental stimuli. Primal drives like the desire for food and sex can be said to be universal – at least in terms of life-forms familiar to us. Humans may be the only biological species that has compartmentalized itself to the extent that we require a mystical experience (whether spontaneous or drug-induced) to remind us of our intricate interconnections with the entire electromagnetic spectrum which has generated the astounding variations on the magnificent theme we call Life.

Otherwise, in our anthropocentrism, we tend to view ourselves as separate from - and even superior to - other forms of life that constitute the planetary biosphere. Therein lies the basis of our cannibalistic, suicidal and psychopathological interactions with the earthly ecosystem that gives birth to and sustains us.

With a favorite smoldering siren
I have never been able to take monotheism, monogamy, or the notion of monopoly seriously. Even when I was dating delectable Barbie dolls and smoldering sirens who kept me on the edge of emotional and erotic exhaustion, I still saw other women as wondrous embodiments of my Twin Flame or Anima. Whenever a lover dumped me for another, the pain I felt was not so much because she had made her physical assets available to some other aspect of myself – but that her body was now unavailable to me.

The late great Robert A. Heinlein once came up with the concept of “pantheistic multiple-ego solipsism” - a phrase that perfectly describes my overall belief system.

I consider myself primarily a cosmomythologist. As such, I’m constantly on the lookout for heavy-duty metaphors that serve a greater understanding of our existence, elucidating the mythic context in which all phenomena occurs.

The Ouroboros in the seal
of the Theosophical Society
For many years I have been fascinated by the symbol of Ouroboros – the serpent devouring its own tail – which is generally acknowledged as a representation of “the cycle of life, death and rebirth, leading to immortality.”  

In effect, the Ouroboros symbolizes the perpetual cyclic renewal of life. The erotic subtext of eating, of course, is familiar to those who – according to an archaic law preserved in our statutes – deserve to be whipped and imprisoned for 20 years, simply for indulging in metaphorical and not merely literal coitus.

Some are cunning linguists and others jolly good fellators, or both. A privileged minority has evolved beyond sexual polarities and, like the Ouroboros, taken to self-cannibalism (more commonly known as autofellatio) – an acrobatic feat demanding fantastic contortionist skills.

Nokulunga the Pythoness: she's my facebook friend!

If asked to state clearly and emphatically what I ultimately desire to achieve, I’m sorely tempted to point at the Ouroboros - at the risk of being permanently labeled “a perverted creep.” The way I see it, being totally self-contained (and therefore no longer emotionally needy) in no way prevents me from simultaneously being eukaryotically erotic (another way of saying "polymorphously perverse") – in short, a fun guy to be around.

Tattoo Art by RPB
Primate yogi (pic courtesy of Forum Sains)