Death of God. Loss of meaning. Disenchanted cosmos. So goes the litany of an educated elite, convinced it knows better than, say, religious devotees. But nature (or what’s replaced it since its debasement) abhors a vacuum. So it’s not as if ditching transcendent myths has given our species space to breathe. Scared of other kinds of invisible entities – the almighty airborne viruses – some folk who never wore masks before now wear them voluntarily as they pay obeisance to Science, leaving them on even in airy, almost unpeopled outdoor environments. And whatever the logic behind denying oxygen to the brain, these acts of personal sacrifice help dispel stigma against Muslim veils.
See, God hasn’t really died, just transmigrated into high tech, and the ghost of atomised meaning has filled the gap, conveniently reconfigured as a zillion apps. App for the apple that got Eve and Adam banned from Eden (the Creator was damned if He’d suffer their virtuous vegan egos, no, the old fascist craved flesh: lambs, goats, cattle, Abe’s second son, and even His own, and over the last two millennia God’s appetite has grown so immense that even the daily sacrifice of dozens of species can’t appease it). App, too, for apparent, as in seeming rather than manifest; app for appropriation of personal data while users remain distracted…
Where was I? So the re-enchanted cosmos comes to us courtesy of the New Age made visible by the free-loving ’60s that congealed into the greed-fuelled ’80s when computing really took off – so who needs psychedelic enlightenment with Big
Brother Tech to safely regulate the doors of perception and open licensed Windows onto virtual dimensions? Yes, the digital age wants to tell us that reality, like truth, is relative. We may as well sit back and be entertained. So we ride the great conveyor belt of life cocooned in illusion until events beyond our control crack the shell. And as reality enters, we tend to react with fear, rage, denial, defensiveness. While progressive disenchantment is normal, even necessary (loss of belief in Santa/ideals/pseudo-democracy/immortality), the process got supercharged by Covid – or what its crude staging reveals about world leadership to anyone paying close heed. And so some sadder but wiser folk are sorting through the rubble, if not to put their old lives back together, to clear the decks for renewal – as others retreat more completely into illusion.
My disenchantment with medical science came early. Screwed up by surgery, I explored alternatives. Some healers were helpful; others weren’t. But I learned to understand my body and the global ecology as phenomenally complex integral, interrelated systems. And last month, after revisiting the funhouse of mainstream medicine, I wanted input from a more holistic practitioner. The one I had in mind sounded fine on the phone, so I booked a consultation + bodywork. But during my session, she kept veering off topic. And why not? At her hourly rate, a five-minute detour = $10. To hang around for hands-on therapy could prove expensive. Besides, by then, she’d asked was I vaxxed, sounded stoked that I wasn’t, and alluded to a thousand-year battle between good and evil. In doubt about her competence, I asked how long the treatment would take and, met with a predictably vague and circumlocutory answer, told her I couldn’t afford to stay for it.
At some point she’d proposed herbs for one of my issues. Maybe I could take something useful away? So off she went to her dispensary, leaving me to savour the silence and survey my surroundings for the first time. The room bristled with crystals and amidst bric-à-brac, below an idealised image of a Native American, stood a little pink china unicorn. A sinking feeling filled me, followed by an urge to escape. But, like a properly socialised adult, I waited.
When she returned with a small brown glass bottle, I asked what it contained. ‘I don’t give out my formulas,’ she said. Gobsmacked, I said if she didn’t tell me, I wouldn’t feel good taking it. Adamant, she explained that former clients had given her secrets to rivals. How old was she, twelve? I solemnly promised not to betray her if she’d just tell me what herbs I was paying for. ‘Not the proportions,’ I assured her. After some more humming and hawing she named four. Was that all? (My GP combines 17 Chinese herbs in my customised mix and even lists precise ratios on the script.) I noted them down, wondering if she’d left a few out; mistrust was mutual. Before I left, though, she spoke long and zealously about her anti-vax campaigning, which sounded like her true passion, not this naturopathy business. She seemed better suited to activism than listening.
I could have done more homework before I made that appointment. Sometimes it pays to wade through several pages of Google results… because things like submissions to Parliament speak volumes about their authors. So even if you despise the MPs who parse policies and pass laws, the fact that anyone with internet access can find your document should give pause. ‘Anyone with a pea brain knows’ that omitted commas, frequent typos, CAPITALISED PHRASES, subjective judgements like ‘This is ridiculous!’ and hyperbole like ‘This technology will destroy all living things on earth’ can kill credibility.
After two days of taking her herbs exactly as prescribed, I developed a tic in one eye, fierce diarrhoea and violent stomach cramps. So I googled the four herbs (the aptness of which didn’t wholly convince me), then called their purveyor. Sounding distinctly defensive, she said none of her previous clients had ever reacted that way. Maybe something else had caused my symptoms?
Definitely not, I said. Put on the spot, she conjectured that I must be ‘very sensitive’ – which I’d mentioned during our session, though she’d taken no detailed history. She then proposed a much lower dosage, which I could slowly increase, but her shortness belied her compulsion to run on when I’d been an attentive audience vs. a dissatisfied customer. So much for accountability. Which reminds me… Does her response sound familiar? It’s more or less what most doctors told countless patients who tried to report seriously adverse effects from Covid jabs. And as for the irony of her outrage at secret ingredients in the vax… When we believe we’re on the good side of a war against evil, fairness can be the first casualty.
Some people, maybe most, want to have their cake and eat it; want the best of both worlds – real and virtual, earthly and spiritual – rather than to face FOMO and choose. But once disenchantment occurs, it can’t be reversed. Romantic visions of, say, tribal people prior to dispossession only feed stereotypes that mislead, and the rationale for gouging crystals out of the ground for the new-age market (the land’s loss = our gain?) is like mining rare-earth metals for smartphones – unsustainable. Yet business as usual means ignoring context in the name of improvement. So we save wildlife from extinction by breeding it in zoos (at a profit); save humans from pandemics (engineered in labs?) by mandating meddling with natural immunity; transplant a midwinter festival into a summer setting and stud the austral subtropics with blow-up snowmen, reindeer and Santas (far from home: a melting North Pole). Is this annual routine that hordes of atheists uphold – a mass-consumerist orgy of shopping, gorging, boozing, bad movies/music, and willy-nilly gifting that swells the global glut of used packaging, the volume of landfill, the ranks of undesexed predatory feral pets etc. – a counter-intuitive way to honour the birth of a god who preached the virtues of poverty?
Solstice blessings, y’all!