One’s Predecessor-Selves

They say skinny jeans are on the way out. Well, they’re not. Not as long as there are women with the legs to wear them. Skinny jeans by J. Brand.

Looking back on my life, I don’t see a pattern. I don’t see a line. I see a chronological sequence of lives of different persons. Not the life of a single person, developing or changing in character, talent, feelings, convictions, predilections, thinking, physique, intellect or culture, but discrete persons, who lived, suffered, then died, passing on no more than the images of their sufferings and how their lives came to an end. Looking back, all I find is this accrual of unconnected images passed down by my mostly misbegotten predecessor-selves. This throws me. Not the unhappy images throw me, but the stunning fact that one’s life can accumulate so many antecedent lives which one’s present life has no attachment to.

A life I remember is that of a child who was sent away to a boarding school of catholic denomination. So was her brother nearest in years to her. The child never knew why exactly, but I think among the passed down recollections of the child is that the parents thought that this was the best solution seeing that they both had full-time jobs, that the child’s oldest sister was in junior high and difficult to handle, let alone that she could be trusted with the care of two of her siblings. I think the child must have suspected that there was more, but, if there was, it was never revealed to her during her short life. The child was the victim of abuse, physical abuse, many times, and sexual, at times only (let’s not make this sound worse than it is). That she would be abused is obvious. In a catholic boarding school there are no circuit breakers for moral depravity. Religion doesn’t offer any, because religion is not a thing that exists by itself but that people invented. People who believe have lost the connection between their existential being and the stories that their contemporaries, their forebears, they themselves have invented. I see parts of the Christian bible (memories of what is written in various versions of it have been passed down to me) as a truly magnificent and surprisingly advanced repertorium of morality. But I also observe how people have been unable throughout the ages to harness this morality and its metaphors (in Christianity: god, paradise, original sin, incarnation, redemption, resurrection, etc.) to their existential being. They have lost the ability to distinguish between who and what they are and the stories they have invented. This is typical for a dissociative disorder. Religion is a collective dissociative disorder. And just as such disorder in a person can result in violence and unboundedness (hence the violence and abuse the child was subjected to), so all religions and creeds have spawned killing fields, ruthless terrorism and hate throughout history right through to the present day.

But the child died long before she could think of such things. At the time of her death she was a strong and fearful believer.

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