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Excerpt from Songs of the Dead

And Then I Read... (p. 118)

From chapter "Necrophilia"

Maybe there are many problems, and maybe one of the problems is God. Maybe God really exists. I’m thinking He has no body. Imagine forever having no body, feeling no physical embodied pleasure, feeling no physical embodied pain. Imagine never knowing the joys of gesture, touch, caress, as winds caress the leaves of trees and as ants tickle the surfaces of stones. Never….God does not join us in our bodies, but has become deeply envious of anybody who gets to experience the beauty (and pain) of living in a physical world. Maybe God hitchhikes into us, not so He can experience with us, but so He can destroy our experience and get us to destroy our own, can cause us to hate our own bodies as He hates our bodies, to fear our own bodies as He fears all bodies. God infects people with this hatred and this fear, and then causes them to infect others, through trauma, through teaching, through the creation of many religions that, in fine spoiled-grapes fashion, attempt to convince us we’ve been condemned—not privileged—to live on this planet, attempt to convince us that this life is not good enough, that we will achieve the bliss of heaven or nirvana if only we turn away from this life. When none of this quells God’s emptiness which, by now, we have even come to accept as our own—when none of this makes Him finally forget that He does not have a body and that others do, He moves beyond the creation of these religions, moves beyond traumatizing us, moves beyond causing us to hate and fear our bodies, moves even beyond causing us to hate and fear embodied life, and causes us to destroy our own bodies and the bodies of those around us. Even more than that, He is trying to get us to kill embodied life, to kill the planet, all so we will not remind Him of what He is missing, the beauty of being in a body.

And He’s succeeding.

What if the stories in the Bible are true? What if they are not merely the ravings of half-mad men in a wholly mad culture? What if they really are the voice of God? What does that mean for our present? What does it mean for our future?

I read in Revelation, “And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth. And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image. And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea. And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood. And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus.”

And then I read, “And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory.”

And then I read in Genesis: “The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the Earth, and his heart was filled with pain. So the Lord said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the Earth—men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air—for I am grieved that I have made them.”

And then I read the words of St. Augustine, from his seminal City of God, “But any space of time which starts from a beginning and is brought to an end, however vast its extent, must be reckoned when compared with that which has no beginning, as minimal, or rather as nothing at all.” The point is that “without motion and change there is no time, while in eternity there is no change.” Changelessness is the essence of God. But life is change. Death is change. The only thing that is not change is stasis: the absolute absence of life, and death. Life, which means change, is, in this perspective, “nothing at all” compared to stasis: an utter lack of life.

And then I read the words of Mary Daly, “Patriarchy is itself the prevailing religion of the entire planet, and its essential message is necrophilia. All of the so-called religions legitimating patriarchy are mere sects subsumed under its vast umbrella/canopy.”

And then I read a definition of necrophilia by H. von Hentig, from his Der Nekrotope Mensch, which is that it is the passionate attraction to all that is dead, decayed, putrid, sickly; it is the passion to transform that which is alive into something unalive; to destroy for the sake of destruction; the exclusive interest in all that is purely mechanical. It is the passion to tear apart living structures.

And then I read the words of the American Indian Aunt Queen James, “Why doesn’t the white man accept things as they are and leave the world alone?”

And then I read in the New England Journal of Medicine, “To be men, we must be in control. That is the first and the last ethical word.”

And then I read in Erich Fromm’s The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness, “I propose that the core of sadism, common to all its manifestations, is the passion to have absolute control over a living being, whether an animal, a child, a man, or a woman.”

And then I read in Genesis: “The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given into your hands.”

And then I read this account from a Vietnam veteran: “I had a sense of power. A sense of destruction. . . . In the Nam you realized you had the power to take a life. You had the power to rape a woman and nobody could say nothing to you. That godlike feeling you had was in the field. It was like I was God. I could take a life. I could screw a woman.”

And then I read this account from a veteran of the most recent invasion of Iraq: “In Iraq we can do whatever. You think they put all that shit on the news? Man, ask anybody, we rape those bitches over there and we take their men and blow their brains out just like that and nobody ever knows.”

And then I read in Numbers: “Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.”

And then I read in the Journal of Police Science and Administration, “The [sexual sociopath] individual is not psychotic, is not neurotic, is not mentally retarded, and frequently appears not only normal but hypernormal.”

And then I read the words of the researcher Allan Griswold Johnson, who after stating that twelve-year-old girls stand a 20 to 30 percent chance of being violently sexually attacked in their lifetimes (and of course a much higher chance of routine sexual assault), “It is difficult to believe that such widespread violence is the responsibility of a small lunatic fringe of psychopathic men. That sexual violence is so pervasive supports the view that the locus of violence against women rests squarely in the middle of what our culture defines as ‘normal’ interactions between men and women.”

And then I read the words of serial sex murderer Kenneth Bianchi, “When you fuck a broad, you take full charge. . . . You gotta treat em rough. . . . It wasn’t fucking wrong. Why is it wrong to get rid of some fuckin’ cunts?”

And then I read the words of two criminologists: “In every neighborhood there are men who choke their wives or are choked by them, men who cut their wives slightly with a razor in order to see blood at the moment of ejaculation or are cut by them, men who stab a pillow alongside their partner’s head with a butcher knife in order to stimulate the climax.”

Every neighborhood.

And then I remember that recently I saw a poster at a university proudly proclaiming that 83 percent of males respect their partners’ sexual wishes. Which means 17 percent don’t.

And then I remember a conversation in which a man told me that the word fuck comes from Middle Dutch fokken meaning to thrust, to copulate with; dialectical Norwegian fukka meaning to copulate; and dialectical Swedish focka meaning to strike, push, copulate. And I remember saying, “That’s one reason I would never use that word to describe making love.” And I remember him saying, “Why not?” And I remember saying, “Strike?” And I remember him saying, “Yes, your hips slam together sometimes when you fuck.” And I remember saying, “That sounds really violent.” And I remember him saying, “Sometimes sex is really violent.” And I remember being very sad.

And I remember reading the words of Ted Bundy, “He should have recognized that what really fascinated him was . . . to a degree, possessing them physically as one would possess a potted plant. . . . Owning, as it were, this individual.”

And I remember reading the line by the Canadian lumberman: “When I look at trees, I see dollar bills.”

And I remember reading the murder of runs of salmon described as the loss of fisheries resources. I remember reading deforestation described as the wise use of timber resources. I remember reading the damming of rivers described as the capturing of wasted hydroelectric resources.

And I remember reading the words of serial sex killer Edward Kemper, “If I killed them, you know, they couldn’t reject me as a man. It was more or less making a doll out of a human being . . . and carrying out my fantasies with a doll, a living human doll.”

I remember also more words from Ted Bundy: “With respect to the idea of possession, I think that with this kind of person, control and mastery is what we see here. . . . In other words, I think we could read about . . . people who take their victims in one form or another out of a desire to possess and would torture, humiliate, and terrorize them elaborately—something that would give them a more powerful impression that they were in control.”

I think again about God, and I wonder what He is so afraid of. I wonder, like Queen Aunt James wondered about the wétikosi, his servants, “Why doesn’t God accept things as they are and leave the world alone?”

And then I read the words of Mark Twain: “The portrait of the Almighty Father revealed in the books of the Old Testament is substantially that of a man—if one can imagine a man charged and overcharged with evil impulses far beyond the human limit—a personage whom no one, perhaps would desire to associate with now that Nero and Caligula are dead. In the Old Testament his acts expose his vindictive nature constantly. He is always punishing, punishing trifling misdeeds with thousandfold severity, punishing innocent children for the misdeeds of their parents, punishing unoffending populations for the misdeeds of their rulers, even descending to wreak bloody vengeance upon harmless calves and lambs and sheep and bullocks as punishment for inconsequential trespasses committed by their proprietors. It is perhaps the most damnatory biography that exists in print anywhere.”

And finally, I think again about Erich Fromm, and his fundamental question: “Is necrophilia really characteristic for man in the second half of the twentieth century in the United States and in other highly developed capitalist or state capitalist societies?”

And I think about his answer: “This new type of man, after all, is not interested in feces or corpses; in fact he is so phobic toward corpses that he makes them look more alive than the person was when living. (This does not seem to be a reaction formation, but rather a part of the whole orientation that denies natural, not man-made life.) But he does something much more drastic. He turns his interest away from life, persons, nature, ideas—in short from everything that is alive; he transforms all life into things, including himself and the manifestations of his human faculties of reason, seeing, hearing, tasting, loving. Sexuality becomes a technical skill (the ‘love machine’); feelings are flattened and sometimes substituted for by sentimentality; joy, the expression of intense aliveness, is replaced by ‘fun’ or excitement; and whatever love and tenderness man has is directed toward machines or gadgets. The world becomes a sum of lifeless artifacts; from synthetic food to synthetic organs, the whole man becomes part of the total machinery that he controls and is simultaneously controlled by. He has no plan, no goal for life, except doing what the logic of technique determines him to do. He aspires to make robots as one of the greatest achievements of his technical mind, and some specialists assure us that the robot will hardly be distinguished from living men. This achievement will not seem so astonishing when man himself is hardly distinguishable from robot.

“The world of life has become a world of ‘no-life’; persons have become ‘nonpersons,’ a world of death. Death is no longer symbolically expressed by unpleasant-smelling feces or corpses. Its symbols are now clean, shining machines; men are not attracted to smelly toilets, but to structures of aluminum and glass. But the reality behind this antiseptic façade becomes increasingly visible. Man, in the name of progress, is transforming the world into a stinking and poisonous place (and this is not symbolic). He pollutes the air, the water, the soil, the animals— and himself. He is doing this to a degree that has made it doubtful whether the earth will still be livable within a hundred years from now. He knows the facts, but in spite of many protesters, those in charge go on in the pursuit of technical ‘progress’ and are willing to sacrifice all life in the worship of their idol. In earlier times men also sacrificed their children or war prisoners, but never before in history has man been willing to sacrifice all life to the Moloch—his own and that of all his descendants. It makes little difference whether he does it intentionally or not. If he had no knowledge of the possible danger, he might be acquitted from responsibility. But it is the necrophilous element in his character that prevents him from making use of the knowledge he has.”

Earlier I asked who is in charge. I ask now, What is God so afraid of, that he must through his servants destroy all life on earth?

i Wétikois described by writer Jack D. Forbes in “Columbus and Other Cannibals” thusly: “Many people have examined the subjects of aggression, violence, imperialism, rape, and so on. I propose to do something a little different: first, I propose to examine these things from a Native American perspective; and second, from a perspective as free as possible from assumptions created by the very disease being studied….Imperialists, rapists, and exploiters are not just people who have strayed down a wrong path. They are insane (unclean) in the true sense of that word. They are mentally ill, and, tragically, the form of soul-sickness that they carry is catching….The wétiko disease, the sickness of exploitation, has been spreading as a contagion for the past several thousand years….I believe that this form of insanity originated long ago in several places, but principally in Egypt and Mesopotamia. Subsequently it appeared in India and northern China and much later in Mexico and Peru….To a considerable degree the development of the wétiko disease corresponds to the rise of what Europeans choose to call “civilization.” This is no coincidence….Over and over again we see European writers ranking as “high civilizations” societies with large slave populations, rigid social class systems, unethical or ruthless rulers, and aggressive imperialistic foreign policies. Conversely, societies with no slaves, no distinct social classes, no rulers, and no imperialism are either regarded as insignificant (not worth mentioning) or primitive and uncivilized….Native people have almost always understood that many Europeans were wétiko, were insane”.