Here are my assumptions:

When Naqshbandi cautioned that it was better to avoid metaphysics altogether if you could not approach it from your simplest and most sincere self, he was talking about something closely akin to political liberty. Further, all liberty is ultimately a matter of identity. Identity is the core of liberty.

Hence what is for us the classical formulation of a right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness might be translated: a right to exist, to claim a certain identity, and to pursue the satisfaction of this identity. This is easy to agree to in the abstract, though it gets vastly more complicated in practice, wherein we are forced to reckon with the bewildering profusion of identity claims humans are capable of.

Back in The Day, and I want to stipulate that by that phrase I mean the period of the American Revolution, it was popularly assumed that liberty and virtue were nearly synonymous. Corruption, in short, was conceived of as a function of excessive power, such as executed by an unrepresentative Parliament or a tyrannical Monarch. Remove this corrupting influence, this strain of idealism went, and people would revert to naturally virtuous identities. This very quickly proved not to be the case, though the estimations of the proof varied greatly.

We might most all agree, however, on one particular fact of it, regarding slavery. In his draft of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson blamed the existence of slavery in the American colonies on the corrupting influence of the Monarchy. This projection of blame fit with the enlightened estimation that following the Revolution, slavery as an institution would eventually die out on its own. Clearly this was not the case. As such, it might be taken to disprove the notion that the corruption of liberty was purely a consequence of some distorting power.

With Marx, the idea of this distorting power was not limited to unrepresentative parliaments or tyrannical monarchs. It was, rather, capital itself, which had never been gotten rid of. It was capital acting through debt, for example, that drove sentimental libertarians like Jefferson to keep hold of their slaves. Lenin took this a step further in recognizing that the impulse to accumulate power, in the form of capital, existed within the human psyche itself; and, therefore, there needed to be a Dictatorship of the Proletariat so powerful as to rewrite human nature.

So, when critics talk about Cultural Marxism, what they’re ultimately talking about, and objecting to, is what they see as a Cultural Dictatorship aimed at assuming control over all human identity in service to an aim of obliterating the capitalist impulse within the individual psyche. And this impulse is nothing other than masculinity itself.

Which Brings Us to Hamlet

The introduction to Hamlet Among the Pirates that I’m endeavoring to write tells the story of how it is that I ended up with Hamlet as my patron saint. By patron saint I mean in what we might call the classical sense, as previously described in regard to the early Christian cult. In these terms, a patron saint amounts to a higher self. The introduction of HATP, then, needs to get – in an efficient and engaging manner – from Jesus, Captain Kirk, Doctor Who and the Beatles through to Hamlet, who is what I call The Patron Saint of Self-Loathing.

Yet this self-loathing is something different from what I’ll call the naive misandry of Cultural Marxism. It runs deeper than what I’m calling the classical belief in Liberty – that being that could we but remove the distorting power liberty – i.e., the assertion of identity – and virtue would be unified. For Hamlet, the distorting power is written into humanity itself:

What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world. The paragon of animals. And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me. No, nor woman neither, though by your smiling you seem to say so.

Whereas Polonius suggests that Hamlet’s melancholy is the result of spurned love (that he is himself to blame for); and Gertrude supposes it is “His father’s death and our o’erhasty marriage”; the blackness Hamlet has gotten entangled in runs deeper than both. It involves them both, to be sure, but Hamlet’s self-loathing encompasses the entire world, and him within it.

And, as a writer, I need to articulate this point, so as to prepare the stage for the transformative entry of the Pirates. It is all ridiculously, one might even say fatally, ambitious and I’d give the fuck up on it if I could see any other real way through.

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One thought on “Patron Saint of Self-Loathing

  1. Bill Winslow 2 years ago

    Harold Bloom has said that Hamlet’s tragedy is built into Truth itself, by which I took him to mean possibly, that it touches on an utterly unavoidable tragedy, like death itself, but writ deep and large into all of humanity, and experienced exquisitely in a single man known as Hamlet.