TUESDAY 21st SEPTEMBER
Yes, there are basically two types of young lonely women: those who bear you a grudge because your reticence in making their acquaintance only serves to emphasize their plainness and, conversely, those who bear you a grudge because your reticence in making their acquaintance only serves to undermine their beauty.† In passing judgement on themselves, such women almost invariably fit into one or other of these categories.† Of course, there are also two ways of looking at them; either as their slave or as their tyrant.
†††† Now if, for example, a young man considers himself a slave of such women, he may feel disinclined to stare at female strangers because he imagines himself to be a perpetual victim of their attractiveness and consequently imprisoned by the desire or need to make love.† Such a man might well imagine himself subsequently sweating away for them like a phallic puppet on a vaginal string.† A female stranger who smiled to herself when he noticed her for the first time might well suggest something despicable - for instance, a personal vanity concerning her looks from which he can derive no consolation, since there is nothing in it which would indicate direct interest in him.† If, in public, this young man prefers not to stare at women, you may be fairly confident that he is busy safeguarding his dignity and independence; that he prefers to avoid compromising himself, to making a fool of himself in the presence of largely indifferent or even potentially hostile strangers.† Naturally, there is always the possibility that a fair percentage of the young women he encounters will leave him cold, in consequence of which he would never think of taking a second look at them.† But even if he happens to encounter somebody highly attractive or, more accurately, somebody who corresponds to his ideal, the chances are pretty high that he will prefer not to tantalize himself, to commit himself to the conspicuously vulnerable category of 'men without women.'
†††† As far as the tyrant is concerned, however, the roles are completely reversed.† He wishes to exploit women, to descend upon them like a beast of prey and utilize them for his own predatory ends.† A young woman who smiled to herself when he first noticed her would indicate that he had influence, that he pleased her and, consequently, that further developments were not inconceivable.† In short, he accepts appearances on a more optimistic, not to say self-aggrandizing, basis, without ambiguity or paradox.† Ideas concerning the tragedy of sex are if not downright repugnant to him then, at any rate, mostly alien.† After all, as he sees it, the female exists to mollify and divert the male and therefore his natural optimism, in this regard, will lead him to dominate and subjugate her for her own good as much as for his, or so the story goes.
†††† Now these two contradictory points of view, taken together, constitute the essential difference between the sexual attitudes of Baudelaire and de Sade, to take two convenient examples from the archives of prominent literary figures.† The former considered man, and by implication himself, to be 'a slave of a slave', while the latter, spurred on by his strange perversions, sought to dominate and subjugate women to his own sadistic ends.† It depends, I suppose, whether you possess an inferiority complex or a superiority complex, whether you consider yourself a slave or a tyrant in this respect, and to some extent whether you happen to be in a pessimistic or an optimistic frame-of-mind at the time.
†††† Without going into unnecessary details, one can surmise that Baudelaire's syphilis played some part in shaping his general attitude towards women, in developing what could be seen as an effort to avoid normal sexual relations, in view of the fact that such a highly contagious and virulent disease would inevitably turn a man of Baudelaire's sensitivity into a kind of island and thus prohibit the natural fulfilment of his amorous desires, particularly with regard to those types of women who, for cultural and social reasons as well as looks, would ordinarily have appealed to him.† But, of course, that is quite another matter, scarcely one to which I need dedicate any more time here, in this humble journal.† Baudelaire and de Sade only concern me insofar as their respective attitudes to women and, by implication, sex are concerned, which is why I drew attention to them in the first place.† A majority of men probably oscillate between these two extremes, depending on their mood.†
†††† Indeed, you could almost use your attitude towards women, at any given time, as a sort of barometer or guide to the nature of your prevailing mood.† I mean if, like me, you went out feeling rather glum, the chances are pretty high that you wouldn't want to look too closely at anybody, that you would rather drift past others undetected, without any verbal or visual commitments.† You might even have got the impression that people were closing-in on you, knew all about you, and were only too aware that the slightest slip on your part would give the whole game away: they could classify you as a victim or even as a pervert.
†††† Yes, they would know that you had taken to the streets because your room had become too constrictive and depressing.† They would see, from the sullen expression on your face, that things weren't quite running according to plan, that something was seriously amiss, that you didn't have any female company and were only out in the vain hope of encountering somebody worth getting to know.
†††† Yes, you might well imagine it like that, depending, as I say, on your prevailing mood.† Still, the chances are that people won't consider any of those things at all but will just brush past your arm as stranger to stranger, not even bothering or daring to look you in the eye.† For all they knew, you might be a madman, a potential rapist, a thief, a simpleton, an atheist, an ignoramus, a syphilitic, a homosexual, or one of the legions of the unemployed and, worse still, unemployable.† You might be 'on the make' and, as such, the most sensible thing that an innocent young woman could do, in the circumstances, would be to mind her own business in case you transpired to being someone it was difficult to get along with, someone who approximated to one or more of the above categories and therefore wouldn't make life any easier for her.† Besides, if she really wanted to take a closer look at you she could always do it on the sly, when you weren't looking, were side-by-side, or had hurried past each other in a rush to avoid mutual embarrassment.† Once off stage, so to speak, she could afford to relax again.† She needn't feel constrained to make your acquaintance; she would be out of harm's reach and able, in consequence, to assess you at leisure.† But if you suddenly glanced back at her, as though to imply knowledge of her little subterfuge, she would instinctively look away.† You would know that it should be regarded as idle curiosity on her part, the sort of mindless trap into which a young lady of curious disposition occasionally falls.† Needless to say, strangers can be awfully suspicious of one another!
†††† So you continue on your way, inhaling the obnoxious odour of whatever happens to pervade your nostrils, whether it be the accumulated residue of a day's traffic pollution or the acrid stench of somebody's alcoholic breath.† You walk down one street and up another, following a familiar route rather than one which might lead you astray and cause you to scratch your head in puzzlement as to where exactly you were.† Between the couples and the groups of people who occasionally brush past your arm you detect the odd solitary wanderer like yourself, but you don't stare too closely.† You realize that it wouldn't do you any good, since you would only feel humiliated by the sight of your social reflection.† Now if, by any chance, this solitary wanderer were to mumble something as you drew near him, you wouldn't allow yourself to become intrigued, embarrassed, or annoyed by the fact; on the contrary, you would simply ignore him.† You would know from experience that such mumblings were usually negative, the derogatory implications of which engendered guilty feelings.† So if you didn't want to become a martyr to your own guilt, and weren't particularly paranoid, you would have to relegate the person concerned to the maniac level, the irresponsible level, the disturbed level, or, more effectively still from your standpoint, the bum level.† That would certainly be one way to defend yourself from such extraneous intrusions!
†††† And so you continue to walk along the pavement as though nothing had happened, nothing was wrong with the world or with your life, and you were only enjoying the harmless pleasure, after all, of a leisurely neighbourhood stroll.† You pass thousands of monotonous brick-leaden houses which have been strung together in the name of urban civilization: empty houses, brightly-lit houses, old houses, dark houses, new houses, small houses, derelict houses, large houses, renovated houses, even a few blocks of flats, where the inhabitants (if any) are almost invariably locked away in their separate rooms and nestling in nocturnal somnolence, watching TV or listening to the radio, knitting winter clothes or reading the daily paper, washing their hair or complaining about the weather, dozing by the fire or eating their evening meal, and your glum mood goes out to these houses, incorporates them into its silent diatribe, dismisses them as so many residential eyesores, and defensively curls-up, like a threatened hedgehog, in order to retreat into its lone chamber of psychic despair.
†††† Yes, you may well wonder, in this negative frame-of-mind, how it is that these wretched houses don't suddenly disgorge people in a furious riot, or why their inhabitants don't suddenly break out in one ultimate revolt against the overwhelming narrowness of things, as though in defiance of the claustrophobic atmosphere of their tepid lives!† If you had a lethal weapon in your hands, at this juncture, you would almost be capable of using it, of doing somebody a favour by ridding him of his daily humiliations, freeing him, once and for all, from the implacable clutches of his glorified nest, routine chores, nagging wife, importunate kids, numerous disappointments, frustrations, worries, obsessions, depressions, and physical ailments.† Of course, you would almost certainly be considered a criminal and be trodden underfoot.† But what else could you reasonably expect from people who are so accustomed to domestic deprivation that they inevitably become resigned to it and end-up regarding their perseverance as a sort of moral triumph?† Nevertheless, you would have more sense than to cause a neighbourhood scandal, to give vent to your transient spleen in such a barbarous fashion!† You would sooner beat a hasty retreat back to your single room, lock yourself in, like everybody else, and then pretend that consolation can be found in a few cheap cigarettes which, after a while, might even lead to an illusion of pleasure.
†††† Without too great a stretch of the imagination, one can quite understand how certain traditional religious beliefs came to have such a lasting influence, how people were gradually seduced into regarding their life as a penitence, an atonement for that indiscretion of indiscretions - original sin!† When one is trapped in such a depressing world, it seems only too logical that certain people should attribute a form of Divine Retribution to the problems with which humanity are daily confronted.† They may be inclined to associate the world's shortcomings with a continuous punishment (for original sin) simply because the essential nature of things seems too disconcerting to be wholly attributable to anything else, least of all a Supreme Being.
†††† Yes, but when you realize, in light of original sin, that these shortcomings are partly attributable to yourself and partly to the world in general, to those people you often come into contact with, then you have nothing to fall back on but yourself, nothing to do but stare yourself in the face and admit to your mirrored reflection that no traditional deity, whether now or in a thousand years' time, is going to tell you what to do, since that is largely if not entirely your own responsibility.† If you 'wimp out' and convince yourself that life would be intolerable without some form of conventional religious faith, a faith built upon the foundation of certain extraterrestrial beliefs which necessarily presuppose the existence of a Supreme Being behind all Creation, then you can either do away with yourself or, alternatively, seek consolation in the relative knowledge that a traditional religious faith is better than no faith, with the implication, willy-nilly, that you would rather go to the grave superstitious and deluded than face up to the reality of living in a purely humanized world, a world where it is up to you personally.† There is no alternative.† Either you seek the delusive consolations of conventional religious faith at the expense of your self-determination, or you refuse to be so consoled.† Anything else is presumptuous.
†††† Indeed, it's as presumptuous or, more correctly, deceitful as was some religious lecturer who once informed me (I had been foolish enough to allow myself to be dragged along to a lecture by some Christian organization one Saturday afternoon) that many young people were going through life with a terrible depression weighing upon their minds simply because they refused to allow Jesus Christ into their lives, a Christ Who would purify and redeem them as long as they put their trust in Him, a Christ Who would stand by them in times of need, etc.† Well, much as there was some truth in what I heard that afternoon, I walked out just before the lecture had finished and the collection box come all the way around.† I walked out and didn't look back, and not simply because I was privately disgusted with the limitations of the lecturer's argument but, more importantly, because I had previously arranged to meet a friend at another part of town and had been assured, when first accosted with intent to being driven to the lecture, that I would be returned to my pick-up point in good time in order to be able to keep my rendezvous.† As it happened, that didn't transpire, since they probably thought I was bluffing in the first place and had no control over the lecturer's timing, in any case.† Someone informed me whilst I was on my way down the steps of the building, already over fifteen minutes late for the rendezvous, that no transport facilities had been† provided for the return journey and that I would therefore, and much to their regret, have to make my own way back to the centre of town.† That did it!† Not only had I been tricked into attending a superfluous lecture but, to cap it all, I had been cheated out of the return journey, to boot!† I was furious with myself for not having had more sense in the first place, for not having forbidden myself to be seduced into attending such a thing simply because some of them were French, and I had foolishly succumbed to their charm and language at a time when my admiration for all things French was probably at or near its peak.
†††† However that may be, I eventually found my own way back to the centre of town.† Though I wasn't exactly in a state of euphoria about it, despite the far-from insignificant consideration that I had managed to get away from the place before things there became unduly oppressive and, as far as I was concerned, repressive.† On the way, I turned the essential substance of the lecture over and over in my mind and, in doing so, I realized how tactfully, craftily, perhaps even unwittingly, its perpetrator was deceiving people.
†††† Oh yes, many youths and, for that matter, adults were going through modern life with a terrible depression on their minds all right, of that I knew only too well!† For I was suffering from just such a depression myself, one doubtless born of loneliness and an inability to meet anyone with whom I could merge or, rather, submerge myself and possibly re-emerge a new man a few hours or even days later.
†††† Oh yes, I knew all about social loneliness and sexual frustration, ostracism and rejection, the plight of the intelligent individual in the urban wilderness, ethnic exile in an alien environment, an environment at loggerheads with my natural and cultural instincts.† I knew about as much as a young person could know about such things without going completely crazy and attempting to do away with himself or, failing that, with certain others.
†††† Oh yes, absolutely!† But that didn't alter anything, that wasn't enough to erase the years of depression overnight.† And neither were those flagrant lies about Jesus Christ!† Whatever simple or conservative people might think, it wasn't Christ who would make war on depression or, for that matter, on the numerous other afflictions, misfortunes, disasters, and diseases with which modern man was confronted.† It wasn't Christ who would stand by you in times of need, even if some of his teachings did.† Christ was dead, crucified, finished!† Killed once by the ancient world and killed again by the modern one, with its rampant barbarism and concomitant disregard for inner truth, its heathen idolatry before a plethora of superhuman 'stars' ... from film and pop to sport and glamour.† Christ was simply the pretext certain people needed for getting together, forming a sort of social club where it was assumed, for purposes of convenience, that he or, rather, He (with a capital 'H') was still alive.
†††† No doubt, such people required an ulterior motive to drag their humiliated bodies and souls together once or twice a week, in order to perform special ceremonies for one another.† And when they had performed their various religious duties, sung Christ's praises, listened to the same old sermon as though it were totally new to them, made a donation to the church coffers, and received the clergyman's dutiful blessing, they could rub shoulders on a more down-to-earth and mutually acceptable basis.† They could ease their minds by discussing Mozart's piano sonatas, the history of French Impressionism, the immorality of contemporary cinema, the joys of a country picnic, the fallacies of Nietzsche's philosophy, the irreverence of Bertrand Russell, the latest African famine, the inferiority of other so-called World Religions, or the futility of atheism.† But if these and other such subjects began to wear thin or to lose their cutting edge, they could always let themselves go in a lengthy bout of unrestrained hymn-singing, or even take it upon themselves to wander about preaching the Good News to people.†
†††† Yes, they could tell all those poor ignorant souls, the legions
of unbelieving atheists, about the great advantage of belief in Christ, His
ability to transform souls, to erase depression, give one new strength, hope,
life, etc.† And if that didn't work, they
could always resort to someone great, like Napoleon: 'The Bible is no mere book
but a living power that conquers all who oppose it.'† Indeed, they could even resort to Queen
Victoria who, on being questioned, one day, as to the secret of
†††† So the church-goers have their weekly get-together which allows them to bolster one another up and even gives some of them an opportunity to meet somebody of the opposite sex who may subsequently prove more beneficial than anything else - a woman, say, who may give the interested man access to a pleasure that will fill his soul with well-being and thereby enable him to travel around the world condemning alcoholics, smokers, drug addicts, and atheists with a new ardour in his veins, born of the conviction that love is all it takes.
†††† But it's not Jesus Christ who can work the miracle, it's not Christ who can authorize their social and/or sex lives (though even if he could† one would have to accept the possibility that he also helps unbelievers too, since they often have successful social and/or sex lives as well).† No, Christ doesn't know of their existence, and even if, by some incredibly remote chance, he did, he would probably feel indifferent towards them or downright upset that they were using his name to further their own ungodly ends.† For whatever they've achieved, by way of social and/or sexual advancement, they have authorized by themselves, granting themselves a social life which is built upon the foundations of a few expedient delusions without wishing, for obvious reasons, to accept or admit to the fact that they are actually deluded.† After all, a fair number of them would have to face-up to the fact that they are really pharisees who had opted to make a deal with religion out of ignorance or fear or some private ulterior motive as often as not connected with sex.
†††† Yet such a confrontation with the self, such an admission of moral weakness, would doubtless prove undesirable, if not downright unbearable, to most of them.† It would raise too many awkward questions, questions which were better left not only unanswered but safely buried beneath a mass of lies and expedient delusions.† For whether or not one is consciously aware of the fact, it is an implicit law of nature that whatever one does, over an extended period of time, one must acquiesce in it wholeheartedly, else risk going insane.† Even a thief, an embezzler, a liar, or a pervert must fully acquiesce in what he is doing if he wishes to maintain his psychic equilibrium.† Otherwise he will sooner or later make a mistake, give himself away, become paranoid, nervous, unstable, and thereby turn his life into a neurotic hell-on-earth in no time.† There is no alternative.
†††† So a man who refuses to join what he regards as a glorified social club simply because he believes that it is fundamentally a self-deluding lie, has no real option but to shun it.† He is either compelled to acknowledge God in his own fashion and on his own evolutionary terms or, alternatively, to remain agnostic or even atheistic.† Naturally, if he wishes to remain intellectually even-handed, he may opt for agnosticism.† But if he is goaded-on by a fierce hatred of the world's injustice, cruelty, hypocrisy, prejudice, narrow-mindedness, and deceit, then he'll probably opt for atheism.
†††† A philosopher who can't disprove the assumed divinity of Christ or, for that matter, concepts like the Immaculate Conception and the Resurrection, because he concedes to the irrelevance of logic in dealing with such concepts, is by no means intellectually defeated.† On the contrary, such a concession would be intellectually positive, an assertion, in complete honesty, that a given proposition of, say, 2 x 2 = 4 cannot be altered to 5 or 6, no matter what one might personally prefer.† In fact, it would be an indication of intellectual integrity derived from a given premise: namely, the claims of the Scriptures taken at face-value and with due regard to the validity of faith.† Naturally, I'm not concerned, in this journal, with the evolution of the Scriptures under the aegis of medieval scholasticism.† I am not contending that various parts of the Scriptures were carefully revised or reinterpreted in order to strengthen the foundations of otherworldly supremacy and simultaneously safeguard the authoritarian power of the Church; though I'm well aware that such a procedure may have been in accordance with theological requirement.† No, the point is that certain aspects of the Scriptures prompt one to say either 'Yes' or 'No', not to disprove them.† And we also know that some of the more subtly transcendental doctrines of the Church are completely meaningless before a man who 'lacks the faith', since he can't acquire religious faith once he assumes that it is only the faith itself which works the transformation in people and not the possibility of there being anything tangible behind it - a living deity to whom it should directly relate.
†††† Indeed, any aspiration which religions like Christianity might make towards universal supremacy is both illogical and unjust.† Yet the more theological gaps one can expose in them, the greater is the possibility of their sinking into the vast realm of long-accepted myth, along with the Nordic, Celtic, Roman, Greek, Chinese, Indian, and Persian myths of old.† That must surely be the fate of an official religion whose devotees and doctrines prove insufficiently convincing to attract the huge numbers of disillusioned unbelievers who remain firmly anchored to the world of the faithless, and whose need for a more relevant and credible religion remains sadly neglected.
†††† When ordinary people treat the established Church lightly, when they see the duplicity and hypocrisy of its principal upholders all too clearly, then its end is surely in sight.† Needless to say, it will be a true Day of Judgement when the people democratically cast off this anachronistic burden and thereby relegate it to the subterranean archives of old-world mythology.† Until then, those who are unable to prostitute themselves upon the altar of expedient superstition must continue to avert their eyes from the sordid cobwebs of their age, depressions or not!
I have allowed my pen to wander on at some length on this vexed subject of religion and, since I still haven't exhausted what I wish to say, I shall now allow it to wander on a little further.† To begin with, I am going to remind myself that I was indoctrinated so persistently, rigorously, and methodically with Christianity that, for several years, I almost saw it coming out of my eyes.† As a Roman Catholic, I was brought up, until my tenth year, in regular service of the Church.† I attended Holy Communion and Confession unfailingly every week.† I was well-versed in the Catechism and other teachings before I really acquired so much as the faintest notion of what it was all about.† There were always so many words to memorize that one hardly had time to reflect on exactly why one was memorizing them in the first place.† One just took it all for granted.
†††† Anyway, at the age of eight or nine I became an altar boy at St Joseph's in Aldershot and proceeded to assist the priest with the tasks usually associated with such a position, viz. praying at Holy Communion, opening and closing the altar gates, carrying a large Bible, swinging the censer, kneeling before the altar, holding the Cross, and so on.† I even wore the obligatory black-and-white frocks which, as I recall, were invariably too long for me and usually tripped me up whenever I got up off my knees or walked around.† In truth, I was mortally afraid of disappointing the Blessed Virgin, that mother-substitute on these occasions.† Everything would go against me if I had the misfortune to drop something, to fart, cough, or sneeze during prayers or, worse still, stumble down the altar steps onto the rails below.† It was of the utmost importance to remain composed, in order to prevent oneself from doing anything unseemly in front of the congregation, especially once they had flocked to the rails with their mouths open and their tongues lolling out to receive the blessed sacrament, when an indiscretion on one's part could have been so costly to priest and communicant alike!
†††† Now this ordeal lasted, as I said, until my tenth year when, following the death of my maternal grandmother, with whom I had always been pretty close, my mother summarily dispatched me to a Protestant Children's Home in Surrey, doubtless grateful for the opportunity to get me out of the way at last and start again with someone else, a new husband whom the existence of her mother had previously denied her.† From then on it was a question of Baptist inculcation, the rites of which were so different from all that I had already learnt, since the Blessed Virgin scarcely figured at all and, by way of contrast, the baptismal font was of supreme importance.† In actual fact, it wasn't a font at all, in the Catholic sense, so much as a rectangular trough in which an adult could be totally submerged whenever there was the prospect of a new and sincere declaration of loyalty to Christ.† The 'convert', already effectively a practising Christian, was simply formalizing his declaration so that, through a sort of symbolic rebirth, people would come to know of his earnestness.† Whenever this happened, and the vicar had just lowered someone into the water backwards, you realized that the Baptists had acquired a staunch supporter and that nothing would deter the person concerned from following in Christ's hallowed footsteps.† It was an extremely important occasion in Baptist ritual.
†††† Well, I remained Baptist property, if unwillingly and unofficially so, until I left high school at seventeen.† There was no possibility of my avoiding the Sunday services - absolutely none!† As a rule, you attended church once in the morning, followed by Sunday school, and, assuming you didn't go to Crusaders that afternoon, once in the evening, followed by coffee and relaxation in the adjacent Youth Club.† However, if you wanted to play football in the local park, as I usually did on Sunday afternoons, you had to smuggle your boots out of the house and wear such kit as could be mustered for the occasion under your Sunday best.† There could be no question of getting too dirty anyway.† For indiscretions of that crass order were strictly taboo and, in the unfortunate event of being discovered, would have met with severe repercussions, including the possibility of a sound thrashing, coupled to a cold bath.† Now if you wanted to watch TV, as I occasionally did in the evening, you were severely admonished and absolutely forbidden to do any such thing.† Sunday was the Lord's day and nothing else.† The most you could hope for - other, that is, than a succulent roast lunch and the sight of some pretty girls in church - was a game of chess, draughts, ludo, or snakes and ladders; though it was also permissible to play the piano, provided you didn't play for too long and only kept to the more conservative, and hence religiously-orientated, pieces.† Absolutely no jazz or boogie-woogie!
†††† Well, as far as the rest of the week was concerned (and excluding the compulsory religious education acquired at school, which, I guess, was more Anglican than Baptist), the most you could be thankful for was the fact that you didn't have to go to church.† Early-morning prayer meetings were held, without fail, at 7.15 and usually lasted between fifteen and twenty minutes.† They generally consisted of Bible readings interspersed with routine prayers, though occasionally the Bible was dropped in favour of anti-drug reports, crime surveys, The Pilgrim's Progress, or missionary stories.† But never for very long, since it was always regarded by the house parents as the real cynosure of such meetings, their veritable raison d'Ítre.
†††† Before and after these prayer meetings, however, you did some housework, which included hoovering the numerous carpets and/or dusting the even more numerous items of furniture to be found throughout the spacious old semidetached house (the house parents' private living quarters on the second floor excepted), and when the time came for breakfast - as, indeed, for lunch and tea -† you knew in advance that nothing could be eaten before someone had said grace.† A boy who refused to say grace when his turn came would be refused any food, it was as simple as that.† You had to be grateful for everything, even the badly cooked stuff!† Naturally, my appreciation of the food was somewhat compromised by the unflagging persistence of this mechanical routine, this "For what we are about to receive ...", which made a religion out of gratitude and elevated food to the status of a benediction.
†††† So at the end of the day, when you were weighed down by homework and there seemed to be nothing under the sun to be really grateful for, you said your prayers in an equally mechanical fashion, before climbing wearily into bed.† Then it was that, with the withdrawal of one or other of the house parents from the dormitory, you grabbed a pornographic magazine from whichever of your fellow sufferers had managed to secure anything from school-friends that day, ducked under the blankets with a diminutive torch, and began to scrutinize its erotic contents with a lively if nervous curiosity.† Oddly enough, this little clandestine episode was the most you could expect in the world of sexual experience since, if by some remote chance you had managed to find a girlfriend in the outside world, it was strictly against the house regulations to bring her into the dormitory or into any other room where there was no houseparent on duty to keep a protective eye on things.† She would have to sit downstairs in the crowded living-room, where the possibility of sex of any description was virtually nil.† The house parents provided little incentive for the indulgence of appetites which ran contrary to the Lord's will and, consequently, such appetites were starved and perverted, in true puritanical fashion!
†††† Well, if that kind of upbringing wasn't designed to turn any reasonably intelligent person off Christianity for life, I wonder what would!† If its persistence wasn't guaranteed to produce a negative effect on anyone over an extended period of time I can only regard the person concerned as either mad or stupid, and perhaps even a born saint.† Indeed, if there is one episode that stands out in my memory above all others, in connection with my life at that time, it has to do with the day Dr Spovey, the Home's legal inspector, having got nowhere in an attempt to make me see the error of my ungodly ways, called the male houseparent aside and informed him that I "will be a tough nut to crack".† Imagine it!† They wanted to subjugate me, to brainwash me into becoming an obedient slave of the Baptist faith in order, presumably, to continue exploiting me both emotionally and financially in years to come.† The mugs!† If there's one thing they'll regret, it's that they never cracked me.† And I hope they fucking-well choke on the fact!
†††† So there you are.† I have
described some of the influences which helped me on the way to my current
position, turning me against Christianity, particularly its Baptist
manifestation, which was, after all, the thing I was really in rebellion
against; though I didn't fully realize that fact at the time and, even if I
had, I doubt very much that, after so many years of anti-Baptist revolt, I
would have walked straight back into the arms of the Catholic Church again, as
though nothing had happened in the meantime, no modification of knowledge or
awareness taken place in consequence of my enforced sojourn in the enemy camp.† Time cannot be reversed, and therefore I
could no more return to my Catholic roots than to my childhood in
†††† For the next link in the chain of my anti-Christian progress, however, I had to wait until, as a humble drudge-ridden clerk in a prestigious West End office, I made the mistake of falling in love with a beautiful young woman who confessed, one fine day, to having been a practising Christian before she took up with or, rather, gravitated to some kind of Buddhist commitment to Transcendental Meditation instead.† For me, who had only loved her from a distance and idealized her beyond all imaginings, that was like a slap in the face.† A practising Christian?† What-on-earth could she mean, I wondered.† Though I was presently to get an idea when, making the most of the opportunity circumstances now provided me with, I finally got round to asking her out, only to be informed that she was engaged all week and, given the nature of her social commitments, would probably remain engaged for some time to come.† Not only was she regularly practising TM in the evenings but, as I now learnt to my utter amazement, she was still associated with her church, her father being a vicar, and would consequently be singing in the choir, learning new hymns for the forthcoming services, helping him prepare his sermon, etc., so that there was hardly any time to spare on more earthly matters.
†††† Well, that certainly stumped me!† I had waited patiently for a young woman who not only effectively kept me chained to an uncongenial office job for several years but made it extremely difficult for me to get to know anything much about her, on account of the fact that, with the exception of periodic visits to London at the end of each university term, she spent most of the year elsewhere.† It was fairly evident that these private commitments - this Transcendental Meditation, the hymns she was learning, etc. - were of more importance to her than the love of a self-confessed admirer; that the singing of esoteric verses was of greater importance than putting an end to someone's unrequited love; that the mechanical rituals associated with the worship of a divinity who only existed in the mind of certain people was more important than the amorous desires of somebody whose existence was all-too-physically manifest.† The fact that she had dedicated her spare time to TM and the Church, in that order, meant that certain other persons would have to suffer the consequences.†† For her attentions were evidently focused on things of greater import than the all-too-mundane desires of some rash and impudent male who had unfortunately fallen victim to sexual ambitions beyond his station!
†††† To be sure, it would be much wiser for a young woman like her to dedicate herself more exclusively to people within the confines of the religious clique than to allow herself to be senselessly drawn over to the service of outsiders.† One can imagine the voice of her conscience or, rather, conscience-substitute (guru?) saying: "He was obviously deluded.† One just cannot be too sure of the uninitiated; they're full of faults.† It's wiser to avoid such people.† Yes, it's wiser to establish an esoteric morality, a morality in direct opposition to nature.† It's wiser to avoid all those who question us, who doubt us, for the simple reason that if they're not with us, they must be against us!† We must fortify ourselves against the monotonous encroachments of the outside world.† Be civil, not servile!† Be brave, not grave!† If you can win fresh devotees to the path, particularly young ones, so much the better!† Bring them along!† Introduce them!† We can use their help to further our interests.† Transcendental Meditation is now practised in over seven-hundred major cities throughout the world by about one percent of their respective populations.† As a result of this remarkable breakthrough, the crime rate in these cities has fallen by approximately the same percentage...."† From which remarkable coincidence we should deduce that the people formerly responsible for one percent of the crime have now turned to TM instead!
†††† So some sanctimonious guru with a Cosmic obsession with the astral plane is gradually worming his way into the hearts and minds of his devotees, is slowly but surely remoulding their views according to the dictates of his personal whim, intimating to them that private opinions are superfluous to one who is striving towards the Clear Light.† Meantime, in another part of town, a minister is informing someone that he can have Eternal Life if only he gives his heart to the Lord and refrains from sinful habits.† Whilst in yet another part of town a young woman is selling introductory magazines which advertise her sect.† She is quite pretty as well as disarmingly charming, and whenever she stops a young man (as frequently happens) and makes a sale, she calmly informs him, albeit with a degree of pride faintly mingled with condescension, that she loves him, even though nothing could literally be further from the truth.† "I love you," she says again, staring into his rather startled eyes with all the professional candour she can muster.† Yet if, by some remote chance, one of these young men should thereupon reply: "If that's the case, why don't you come home with me and prove it, then?", she would probably blush and scuttle away like a panic-stricken crab.† She would wonder who-the-devil he thought he was!
†††† Yes, quite so!† But life goes on pretty much as before, despite all the apparent and relatively superficial changes in evidence.† Eminent clergymen invoke the rain during a period of severe drought.† No, they don't do a rain dance, for that would be pagan.† They simply recite certain prayers in the hope that God will hear them and make the rain fall!
†††† However, in returning to the subject of that girl I fell in love with, a girl who, in her own words, had been a practising Christian, I can't pretend that I now hate her for having spurned my advances and harboured certain unsympathetic delusions about me.† Hate would be too strong a word and, besides, how can you seriously hate someone with whom you were or had been in love?† With a clergyman father, that girl couldn't avoid being indoctrinated in Christian, and more specifically Protestant, beliefs.† She was bound to be deeply influenced by the various religious practices and theories of her church and, as such, she can even be regarded as a victim, one of many hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of victims who, even in adulthood, are rarely more than someone else's mouthpiece, a sort of puppet galvanized into action by some worshipful autocrat who looks like purity personified but mentally rapes the sexier of his female followers and actually succeeds with one or two of them every so often, forcing her legs wide apart and pumping away like a dog in heat.
†††† Yes, she would probably think that he was being kind to her, that they were fulfilling part of their daily devotions to The Almighty by regularly making direct contact with the life force.† All the same, she wouldn't have the nerve to look into his big wild eyes too often; she would be concentrating on the numbing effects of his blood-engorged penis, on his sexual assault which almost seemed to be rupturing the walls of her vagina as he manipulated her with savage intent, as though he wanted to carve her in two, putting an end to both of them in one long orgasmic passion of sexual oblivion.† But when he had lapped up her juices, like a grateful dog, and left her to stagger into what remained of her clothing, she would never attribute cruel or brutal motives to this 'man of God', this 'leader and teacher'.† How could she?† They had only been making love, after all, and that was sufficiently self-explanatory.† She, too, could afford to avoid proposals from the outside world!