........................................................................................ - a weBlog by Snowy and me.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Narcissism, Hypocricy, and Catharsis

  Lazy as I am, one of my bug bears is lazy thinkers. Many of  them I know like the label 'atheist', as applied to themselves. How do I see them? One word they use a lot is 'hypocrite', as used to describe other people in whom they find inconsistency. As far the evidence goes, they show little comprehension of the origins of the word.

  'Hypocrite' was the greek word for an actor. many reading this will be familiar with the symbol of two masks facing in different directions, one indicating sadness another happiness. This was the sign of the mix of tragedy and grief characteristic of Greek drama. 'Hypocrite' is used quite a lot in The Gospels to describe the attitudes of particular priests of the Jewish faith who looked two ways at the same time. To The Romans they appeared to be loyal to the Roman State on the terms it demanded, and in the other other direction the priests encouraged a localism, a loyalty to the soil they lived off, through serving in the temples and going through their rituals on behalf of the people. Rituals which the people paid for, prayed for, and expected to continue. This is theocracy as representative democracy, as proved by the offerings and prayers made in the temples. Votive offerings as votes for God. Whether we recognise them or not every human has their ideas about votive offerings, rituals and votes. Such actions create and uphold societies.

  Whether greek, roman/jewish, or any other period far later in history the idea of the two faces looking in different directions remains the same. The conflict between pain and happiness the jews faced was deepened by such a singular idea of a single omniscient diety when compared with the actions of the gods of foreign military powers who seemingly defeat the people who believe in Him through sheer strength. 'Theatre of war' was no mere metaphor. Atheists I know of use 'hypocricy' with no acknowledgement of the historical twists in the use of the word, using it seemingly at best as a symptom of their distress at the lack of consistency in their world. Or like a swear word....

  'Hypocricy' is like 'narcissism'; both are big words declaring big ideas, and contain myth and story to boot. When either or both are misused to simplify life it is at the expense of nuance. Both are greek and describe the working of a mind and consciousness that engages with recognition whilst being troubled, and not entirely clearly or with success. Greek theatre was partly designed to whip up election fever. In ancient Greece elections were direct, voting was between equals and elections were held whilst hosting theatre and sport festivals alongside the vote. It was like having an election and having a theatre festival, whilst putting on The Olympics as well.

  Modern politics has a lot of theatre in it, and whilst modern theatre often creates a sense of catharsis, a release of the emotions-as does sport for many, both are relatively apolitical unless playwrights and sportsmen deal with directly political subjects and characters. Playwrights usually deal with politics in the relatively distant form of potted biography and satire.

  Narcissim is the process the struggle to recognise yourself in your reflection. Many representative democracies have that difficulty for those that believe in them. This is why many of the led call their leaders hypocrites for being inconsistent with some image the leader has projected, which was not backed up by actions.

  There is a recognition in calling political leaders 'hypocrites', and alas an all too short lived catharsis..... 

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