SPIRITUAL SOAP: Weird & Güd - The Damage in Denial
Denial is a virus; it infects both the individual & population alike.
Before we were The Black Sheep, we were a newsletter named Spiritual Soap. Please enjoy this article from our history!
I enjoy research too much and I’m a shameless critic. Weird & Güd is the conjoining of those misanthropic qualities into something useful: recommendations and fascinations neatly packaged together for you every week, no hermeticism required.
By Nicole Rifkin
The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker — In our work-and-consume cyclical society, we fantasize about the natural state of humans as one of lying in a flowered field, picking berries with our children, and counting the days by the moon and sun. One extreme begets another, however.
Ernest Becker has a theory for that flowered field we idealize as our freedom from society’s ceaselessness. The moment you lay back in that soft, spring grass, freed from work, from lust for possessions, from all the obligations of society, your heart will pound, your eyes will shift restlessly, and your thoughts will become demands, the anxious demands of an animal who has finally sat still long enough to feel the weight of his own mortality.
With a dash of Freud and a hint of Kierkegaard, Becker concocted his theory; we take on immortality projects like work and relationships in the ultimate goal of creating a society that serves as one big coping mechanism, giving meaning to our lives in the face of a towering monster that is our own death. War and racism are the outcomes of failing immortality projects, frenzied attempts to cover our eyes as the monster’s stench fills our nose.
Becker offers no answers, only a heaping serving of existential dread (existentialism: meaning sold separately). For our answers we turn to the essence of the immortality project — the choice to choose a thing among many, the choice to let that thing give us the hope for a life that will feel longer than the truth. There are no answers, but there are always choices. Choose well, but always, always choose.
The moral courage to confront the silence of the universe and the anxiety of meaninglessness is a real manifestation of cosmic heroism. — Ernest Becker
Original Art for Spiritual Soap by Luis Colina
If existential angst is your drug of choice, I’ve written an extended version of this short piece that digs deeper into Becker’s theory and its effects upon us and our world.
Problems & Values Worksheet — I’m a freak for worksheets and orderly lists that I can plan every breath with. This is a special worksheet — it’s used in Acceptance Commitment Therapy, which is a mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral therapy. The premise behind this therapy is that we often avoid what brings us discomfort and it’s the avoidance, not the discomfort, that causes our suffering. By learning to withstand discomfort, we increase our tolerance for it and expand beyond our safe limits. Withstanding discomfort is more easily done when you have a clear understanding of what you do and don’t want in your life.
I’m giving out this CBT homework like a party-favor because it really is; what’s more fun than trolling through your murky thoughts for moments of illumination? At least, it’s a party compared to unconsciously manifesting the same patterns in your life and driving yourself in crazed circles with no understanding of why? (Always drink your coffee before reading Spiritual Soap).
The above list can help you write in values. These aren’t to be confused with goals, which are future-focused;es exist in the present and are priorities.
Do your homework. Come back for the analysis in next week’s newsletter; I’ll explain what your entries mean and how to apply what’s learned. There’s a really fascinating trick that plays out after you complete the worksheet that clarifies where Nietzche’s why that will allow you to bear any how exists for you.
He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how. — Nietzsche
Firebird (Nietzschean Complex), 1959, Victor Brauner.
I hope this makes your week a little weirder and a little güder. Now go forth, be weird, and above all, be güd.
I sit alone at a desk biting my nails to bring you every edition of Spiritual Soap. Is it worth it? Don’t tell me, show me.