REFLECTIONS UPON LEAVING AMERICA= Joyce Carol Oates On The ‘Daemonic’

For some people who cannot — or more deep down towards the heart ‘will not’ — change, only a big disaster, a cataclysmic disaster, will move them out of their refusal to move. This is true of individual persons, as well as large communities of persons like an entire nation.

Today is our last day in the USA, after nearly 4 months — that felt more like 4 years. I am glad to go. My childhood intuition of what is wrong in America was on target, but needed amplifying..

When we run from suffering in our own life, we end up putting a double dose on other people.. This is what America has done.

Any person who says yes to suffering, and does not deny it or flee it as most [99.9%] humans do, is taking up the heart burden, the killing weight, which everyone has put down.. To bear suffering, in the hands of the Daemonic, is to do something passionately loving for all mankind..

Last week the wife and I saw on TV [pbs] in a motel in Joshua Tree desert, an interview with a prolific American novelist called Joyce Carol Oates. This novel was called ‘The Accursed.’ It critiques, exposes, explores, so-called “decent people”, often in positions of prestige and privilege, whose conscience fails. She says in her novel that such people are ‘conscientious but without conscience.’ They know the injustice and other faults in the social–political–economic system, but will not act to repair these failings.

The interviewer was a black man, so he was roused by this description of the failure of ‘respectable’ white people, and kept asking why basically ‘nice’ people are so often unable to act for the good in the world. Oates gave some decent answers, if predictable; she said things like= it is due to cowardice; fear of losing safety and comfort [fear of sacrifice]; ‘the spirit is willing but the flesh is [too] weak.’ She also said, to my surprise, something more true of America specifically, referring to the tradition in America of not speaking out, of always covering over the harsher truths about America with [rhetorical] exaggeration and [vain] idealism..

Then she started talking about ‘the Daemonic’!

The interviewer did not understand this word; he knew it was not ‘demonic’ but it was not ‘angelic’ either.. [Neither ‘evil’ nor ‘good’ as normally understood= so what can it be?]

Oates insisted on using the word, and pronounced it= not die-monic, as in C.G. Jung, Rollo May, and others, but more Greek, day-monic, though her voice slightly trembled and went a little hoarse, as if she too feared the very word, much less the reality. Her use of the term in the story of the novel hit upon, not the only but certainly, one of the core themes of the ‘Daemonic.’

So, when pushed to say what she meant by this strange term, in the context of her novel, she replied that by Daemonic she meant ‘supernatural eruptions’ that ‘punish’ human situations ‘when those situations are unjust and the moral actors concerned lie about it.’ This was striking. It is entirely accurate to the Daemonic in its main mission of opposing the spiritual lie, since its wound/spark in passion is to arouse and drive, ‘energize’, passion’s living and dying for truth– not abstract truth, but the storied, concrete, existential truth of who did what to whom..

The woman came over as obviously a liberal, so disinclined to rely on anything explicitly religious, but ‘supernatural eruption to punish liars, especially those in positions of wealth and power’, because ‘their lying prevents justice coming to human affairs’, is certainly the action of the Daemonic Father Yahweh according to the Jewish Bible.

Sitting Bull= “Americans are great liars.”

Alexis de Tocqueville= the United States was able “to exterminate the [Red] Indian race.. without violating a single great principle of morality..” [‘Democracy in America’, vol. 2, p 355].

Adam Smith= the “vile maxim of the masters of mankind: ..all for ourselves, and nothing for other people” [‘The Wealth of Nations’, book 3, p 444].

D.H. Lawrence= “The American soul is hard, isolate, it has not melted.” Eros cannot touch this soul. It is fearful of intimacy, prurient and puritanical at once. The American soul= armoured.

Freud departing America and speaking to a young acolyte= “This country of yours: I am suspicious of it. Be careful. It brings out the worst in people– crudeness, ambition, savagery. There is too much money. I see the prudery for which your country is famous, but it is brittle. It will shatter in the whirlwind of gratification being called forth. America, I fear, is a mistake. A gigantic mistake, to be sure, but still a mistake” [‘The Interpretation of Murder’, Jed Rubenfeld, 2006, p 515].

The heart in America= brutality and sentimentality. These two are heads and tails of the same coin. The Daemonic cannot ignite this heart. The American heart= merciless.

False soul= wealthy, comfortable, indifferent to the thirst in other souls for the ‘good life’ that is never slaked.

False heart= powerful, aggrandised, dishonourable towards the hunger in other hearts to be worthy of respect that is never fed.

America= the Tower Over The Pit.

The Tower= the soulless and heartless few.

The Pit= the many sorrowing in soul and suffering in heart.

The few have gained the Tower at the expense of the many whom they have put into the Pit.

The lying of the few about what they have done, in establishing a situation of endemic impoverishment for the many, is the crime against God at the core of America. It gives the lie to the myth of ‘American Exceptionalism.’ America is exceptional in never calling a spade a spade, in never acknowledging truthfully the famished soul and the dishonoured heart that ‘rules’ the roost, and always has done from the very start of the madness. Under the oppression, the thrown away people are silent. They collude with the lie of their oppressors about them= they did not seize the dream, they did not succeed, they deserve their lowly and desolate condition. It is entirely their own fault..

American Exceptionalism is a new, and phoney, ‘messianic’ religion, thieving from the Jews their unique status as the chosen. America is not, and never was, the New Jerusalem. Even William Blake was fooled by this false idol.

The bravest people did not go to America from the ‘Old World.’ The greediest people went to the ‘New World.’ The brave people stayed and fought the good fight in their ancient, divided societies. England removed slavery, without bloodshed, through the efforts of Christians in 1825. America’s record on slavery, and racism, is far worse. So it is with everything Americans pride themselves on= all the democratic features briefly on display in early America were soon more evident in other countries..

The only Exceptionalism of America= the great lying. The denial, the pretence, the hypocrisy, in America outstrips the equivalent everywhere else.

In America, the Tower is bigger, brighter, more glittering.

In America, the Pit is vaster, deeper, more grieving.

The few have disavowed their own grief, to rise above the many. They too are paying for the pursuit of trash as if it were golden. But they have the luxury of compensations for the unfaced thirst of the soul and the unaccepted hunger of the heart. The many have no such consolations. In America, when you hit bottom, both religion and worldliness conspire to condemn you for your inability to realise the American Dream.

The Tower will be fatally struck, overthrown by lightning from the Daemonic God.

The Pit will give up its dead.

The Lie will lose its ornate clothing and angry denials.

When the Tower falls, the Pit will reveal the ‘covered up’ Truth.

This is what is coming to America, the supernatural punishments from nature and from history, sent by the Daemonic God.

America is not ‘Vanity Fair’; America is Vanity Ugly= in Hebrew, what is ‘vain’ refers to ‘mist’, something transitory and insubstantial.

The American Dream is the mist that has deceived, bedazzled, enchanted, the modern era.

It is clearing, it will clear, even in America itself.

The rest of the world will see America for the pinched soul and puny heart it is before Americans see it. Yet they will see..

The Dawning of the Messianic will be a cold wind driving away the last of this mist of the miasma of lying.