Thursday, June 10, 2010

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16 Sex and Johns Eve (1)

Many years ago like everyone else, I believed that Johns Day was “an ancient and beloved Latvian festival” celebrated on Midsummers Eve. I still believe this to be true. However, after much reading, searching, and Rubik Cube type of back and forth turning of the wheels in my brain, I have discovered information that causes me to think that the Johns Festival also represents a now nearly lost world of myth and religion.

Because Johns Eve is upon us (in my neighborhood we celebrate Johns on the evening of the 22nd of June, see here for more information), it has occurred to me that I could tell my readers a story about one John of the Johns we know, but whom we have pushed into the background and into a dark closet reserved for mummies. Because John does not happen to be for me a mummy, the story I will tell may seem crude to some. On the other hand, it is as alive as I can deliver John to you.
As a preface, let me tell a story that is both myth and a story. The story is about King Menelaus and his wife Helen. Many of my readers will know the story by way of Homer, the Greek poet, but here is how I understand it. In fact, I owe my understanding to philosopher Michael Degener, who translated Paul Virlio’s book “Negative Horizon”. Degener’s introduction touches on both King Menelaus and Helen. Degener gave me a much better understanding why the story of Helen and Menelaus is so famous, and that its fame does not depend on the fact that Helen was abducted by Paris, or that—as the poet Christopher Marlowe said—Helen had “a face that launched a thousand ships”. The last a reference is of course to the Trojan war.

Degener presents Helen and Menelaus as individuals who set the scene for visual enactment of contact between “psychic interiority” and “concrete exteriority”. The following is my brief recount of this event.
King Menelaus is so infatuated (today we say, “in love”) with Helen, that he set up throughout his kingdom Helen’s statues. After Helen is abducted (most likely she was willing) by Paris and she is no longer a face in Menelaus’ immediate view, the statues—previously as if alive—stare back at the king with blank eyes. Without Helen, Menelaus falls into a deep void (some would say “funk”), which the Greeks called pothos. The last is a word from which the name of a common house plant and the word pathetic. In other words, Menelaus fell into the “void of longing”. As a result of this void of longing, longing turns to war for relief.

What the stage (of Aeschylus’ Agamemnon) portrays is the mystery that sets things in motion, but at the same time predicates the possibility that the motion may end in a disaster, i.e., a tragedy.
Let us return now to the Johns Festival. It is a very old festival not only for Latvians, but for all Europeans. The trouble is that no one remembers whence it came and what it is about. The explanations that we have all connect the story to a Christianity that was first introduced by the so-called Catholic world. The latter presents itself as the only world that ever was. This is not true.

All we have to do is go read the beginnings of the New Testament to be assured that John (the Baptist) (the Anointer) (the Healer) was the predecessor of Jesus. All of the stuff about John waiting for someone to come who is greater than he is a matter of editing-in a displacing event. A displacing event is what the Latvian media is doing this very day by displacing the Johns Eve Festival by calling the festival by such names as Lihgo Festival, Midsummer’s Eve Festival, The Big Family Picnic, and so forth. The fact is however that John never agreed to leave the stage, but was pushed off it. This does not mean however that the Johns are not alive or that the Latvians have overcome their “void of longing”.
This is the story of one John named John the Baptist. It may be a shocking story even to those who live in the 21st century and have seen and heard about everything. Here it is.

John was a man probably in his mid-forties. He was a sinewy man. His mind was oriented on healing the sick. In the process of healing them, he also taught them. He taught them to be honest with themselves and others. In Latvia, he probably lived in Jersica. In Russia, he was probably from Yaroslav. In the Byzantine Empire it was Jerusalem. He (and many like him) walked the then borderless and forested world, and visited the clearings in the forests where there sprung up households and villages. Because the Johns were itinerants, and thus under the special protection of the Sun, Midsummer’s Eve and the summer solstice was their special day. Most of the Johns did all they could to return on that day to the household or village of origin. The event became known as Johns Day, even as it is celebrated on the Eve of Johns.
The Latvian tradition has it that one may not sleep on the night from Johns Eve to Johns Day. This is to make sure that everyone gives their support to the Sun—so it may rise came Johns Day.

Our particular John had no trouble staying awake. He was celibate and had no young woman to make him want to go to bed. John kept himself pure for the Sun. When his body had the sexual need beyond endurance, John locked on to his will, imagined his need as an old hag, and masturbated. The strange thing was that the face of the old hag turned into an ever more beautiful face, and at the moment of orgasm shone like the Sun.

What does this story have to do with NOT-VOTING? Let it suffice to say that there is truth in arguments that you may not have heard before. This is why you should look at some of the preceding posts and see what the next will bring. (To be continued in Blog 17.)

Asterisks & Other Readings
Compulsory voting in the EU Parliamentary elections
The abstentionist elephant
Electronic polls
On the Meaning of Voting
British Government Attempts to Bracket the Constitution
Ground Zero for Thought
Why Forced Positive Thinking Is A Lot Of Crock?
The forest

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