Recent Thoughts About the Cross, Powerlessness, and Obscurity

I haven’t put much on my blog recently. The main metaphor for how I feel is “pinned to a cross on a hot day”. One of the main draws of Christianity is the imagination of what it’s like to be pinned to a cross. On the one hand, you’re being made an example of by the ruling power. On the other hand there was so much life left to live, so much potential and possibility for this body, which is cut dramatically short by the public’s need to make examples of people. Part public wrath, part ruling power enforcing domestic order – who knows how much of Jesus’s punishment was due to which… But there is this silencing of any future wisdom which might have come out of the crucified man. Cutting off of life.

But I have my life, so where’s the comparison? My empire is internal. The power which stifles me is my own conscience. I’m supposed to exercise free speech – I have nothing else to exercise. I have no credentials, no family responsibility, no career. I should be making public statements. But I am stuck on a cross. I don’t know how to make public statements. Every once in a while I post to my blog. Even confessing that I’m stuck is a public statement. Yet I struggle even with how to confess. Even making a public statement such as this tears at me. I’m making it, so I convince myself it’s good. I need to say something, because I don’t want all my thoughts and feelings to go to waste in obscurity.

I know that I have a lot of thoughts and feelings which someone would appreciate. I want them to coalesce. There are no rules to life. Maybe I’ll try to write my book again, or another book. All people suggest action. My instincts do not suggest action. I imagine a great crowd of critics, all of whom suggest doing something, instead of nothing. Doing nothing is the sin. Jesus did nothing on his cross. That’s the image, a person who can’t do anything. Jesus did, however, have the advantage of being observed. I am doing nothing in complete obscurity.

Why do I feel like the power of an Empire restricts me from doing things? That, and the disdain of unseen critics. What am I supposed to do? How am I supposed to do it? The horizontal and the vertical beams. Does anybody want anything? Whatever I want, I am cut off from it by learned helplessness. People tell me to do what I want. I don’t want anything. I want other people to want things. I can get what I want if I can give them what they want. But nobody wants anything.

I do want things. I want to be able to assemble a book, for example. Right now, I’m just crucified, so I post to my blog as if that’s some kind of substitute for accomplishing what I really want. Good enough. I reread what I wrote and feel like I’ve said something. This whole thing came out of a need to say something. To serve the dual function of saying something and of helping myself by confessing my helplessness.

I’m not that helpless. I’m just a young man wondering if by the time I accomplish anything I’ll be too old to reap the rewards for it.

My plan rests on, among other things, overcoming my fear of obscurity. To even admit that I have such a fear indicates a partial overcoming of it. Not being afraid of being obscure means that I can act regardless of whether anyone cares what I do. Sadly, I think this is a needed accomplishment, expressing disdain for anybody who thinks their opinion of me matters to me. Not fearing obscurity means not caring what people think, which may itself lead to obscurity, but it can also lead to admiration, since people admire independence. What’s hard is that the very loving affection one so desperately craves is precisely what one has to stop caring about. And I must understand the degree to which I crave others’ affection before I can let go of it. I can’t proceed silently, as if I am immune to their opinions. But the craving lessens as soon as its full power is recognized. I am finally becoming aware of all the ways flattery and affection can reward a person, which paradoxically allows me to stop caring about them so much.

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