Lost property of the soul

For an age arrested by an oppressor versus victim binary, the new sacrality is resistance itself. The tyrant above, real in some ways and imagined in others, has become the scapegoat and a means to fill the gap left in the relatively empty post-modern soul. The barometer of virtue, then, is no longer constituted by acts in service of a higher ideal; it is instead the very performance of the ‘anti’, the rolling credits of which are the abyss.

To deny the performance of the ‘anti’ and to live a reality impassioned by progress is to conduct a political existence that honours the value of your own soul.

This performance of the ‘anti’ sees negation take the place of an ideal, and its epistemic methodology is paranoia. The concrete manifestation of this paranoia, its logical consequence, is a conspiratorial outlook which imputes violence into every social relation. The spectrum of linguistic resources available in every day life then becomes compressed, for the need to defer conflict after all is real, constant, and pragmatically sound. If you don’t want to set yourself on the periphery, you must adopt the morality expected of you: see how this is necessarily a performative adoption, inspired more by the desire to avoid conflict and subsume yourself into an accepted bracket, so the performance becomes the safe-zone.

The painful ambiguity here is the fact that a great deal of this imputed violence is ethically on-the-nose; in the interests of society’s progress, there is helpful change occurring, partly as a result of this methodology. However, an antagonism is born of this in two ways: 1.) the methodology, while having some useful outcomes, is erroneous and 2.) as a result of it being erroneous, it changes the very framing of social relations in every instance, cancelling out a great deal of the utility it once had. The catch-all morality that is the process of performing virtue cancels out its own potential for goodness; negating not only its practical outcome but dissolving any genuine ethical impetus such an act had. When the show is put on in the interest of accruing nebulous social capital, the soul is disingenuous and impotent.

Put simply, framing social relations in such binary terms and conducting action performatively leads to destructive concrete application. The effect of this on the individual soul is profound and, in the wider societal context, proper progressive change is diluted due to the ever-expanding remit of its current methodology, which unfortunately hands a ready-made straw man to conservatism and its adherents.

performing the ‘anti’ is essentially a negative act and contributes nothing to the human soul save the thrill of a transient victory. Victories which in any case may be few and far between, incremental or at their worst rights-violating. Save these qualifiers, there is utility there for the betterment of society, but it is rendered sterile if it is not supplemented by a positive base from which an upward gaze can be sustained. The good fight is one that seeks to promote a divine individuality, as restoration of the respect for that indivisible unit, the human. The futile fight is the fight for its own sake, as a performance for that abstract and relatively useless audience, the collective.

The lost property of the soul is embedded in (and needs redeeming from) sociality; a performance put on for an undefined and anonymous audience in the interest of storing up one’s treasures in the opinion of others contributes little to personal happiness or societal progress. Genuine empowerment is a gift bought from the self and given to the self; an appetite for permanence is doomed to be left unsatiated if one’s life is lived in a state of war, carried out solely to perpetuate its own spectacle.

I see a real need to deconstruct the spectacle and turn the performance of virtue into a constructive, positive practice. For, if change is to be effective, it needs to glorify individuality and contribute to the nourishing of the soul. Violence borne from zealotry is firing a gun with closed eyes, while critique borne from reasoned consideration is the building of a better future. True narratives around oppression have a proper place and real utility; we shouldn’t let them be diluted by a superficial, soulless performance carried forth by an erroneous, paranoid outlook.

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