Mystics and Trainspotters

The bourgeoise disdain tidings of salvation, not because we are clever enough to see through all delusions, but because we have an unbreaking faith that we are already saved. Evidence of our soteriological accomplishment lies all around us, in the stores that carry our material needs, in the machines that provide us with companionship and entertainment. We are aware, perhaps, that we ourselves are deeply flawed individuals. But something, somewhere, must have gone right for this world to be the way it is; that is the bourgeoise credo.

Often enough, from this state of things both discomfort and curiosity emerge. This way of life does not, after all, make sense. We begin to understand that our lives are made safe and happy by civilization; that civilization has effects we cannot see, and that it is created by forces we cannot see; that its continued existence is by no means guaranteed. We may begin to study in books, to better understand how this time and place came to exist. And for the less historically aware, mysticism takes hold. Perhaps civilization is in danger. Perhaps it must be destroyed and replaced with a better one. Either way, a new path to salvation is laid out in the minds of the faithful, a series of stations ranging from practical, to obscure, to downright strange. A new object of devotion is found in the future state of humanity itself.

With enough history on hand to know how these movements work, though, a true intellectual cannot become a mystic. Disillusioned by the universality of error throughout human history, we are forced to stand on the sidelines and observe the forces at work, occasionally calling foul when they make an obvious error. Being treated to this game in and out every month of the year, we often become trainspotters. A particular movement will take over our interest, and we will become better acquainted with its inner workings than the mystics themselves. In America, the “leftist trainspotters” catalog the splits and merges of Trotskyist groups; in Japan, the “kyosan shumi” do the same. In Japan, the “Aumers” gain an encyclopedic knowledge of the once vast and murderous occult group Aum Shinrikyo; in America, unfortunately, this job is divided between atheists pushing their ideology and religious scholars pushing theirs, with neither group recognizing the exciting possibilities of a trainspotter’s life.

Trainspotters of the mystics always seem to be split between derision, curiosity, and sympathy. The last of these feelings may be the most profound. Mystics aim for nothing less than the creation of a new world in their image– and sometimes they are successful. For even though the mystics are often drawn to futile or dangerous activities, there is a creative power in their world that the trainspotters lack. For as we sit in our bourgeoise palaces, the concepts of laws, money, rights, government, society that we employ are nothing more than the unleashed and structured form of a latent mystical energy, the ability to believe in these unseen things and thereby determine how humans will behave. And to create a concept for tomorrow that does not exist today, we must again harness that power inherent in our minds.

Mystics are the enemy of the individual and the bourgeoise, but perhaps they are a friend to humanity.

Posted: June 11th, 2011 | Politics, Secular-Religious 3 Comments »