the damned & the saved

There's an interesting post here re: the agonies and ecstacies of so called literary life. What relation does narcissism bear to loss of journey and narrative horror? Is the shame we anticipate in others' eyes, should they learn our secrets, a symptom of a grandiose sense of self? Perhaps. What about the shame we feel in ourselves, at ourselves? Not sure. I had an irreligious upbringing but don't doubt for a moment that it took place in a context of the kind of puritanic protestantism that believes in perfecting the self by means of various mortifications, all orchestrated by sovereign conscience. Years of drug-taking and other forms of attempted escape haven't much modified that base grounding, one of whose worst effects, I think, is a tendency to equate virtue with vicious self-criticism. While I hope I've learned not to inflict those torments on others, it seems I don't yet know how to spare myself ... hell and damnation. On the other hand, I still catch myself sometimes performing in the sight of the god I don't believe in, for chrissake. Or anticipating his or her intervention in my sorry affairs. And yet, can I really claim I've never believed that I wasn't one of the Elect, even as I pretended to want to be among the Damned?

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