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VENUS VALLEY Looks East (part 4 and final!)

Queer Philosophers’ Forum, pt. 11

By Mx. Stevie (or Stephen) ColePublished 8 months ago 9 min read
Top Story - October 2023

Welcome, queerly beloveds, to the last part of a big section of my book-in-progress: chapter by chapter, my LGBTQIA+ centric philosophy chat book will come to you, my rainbow flag waving community, to debate, discuss, question, contribute; and your inputs become my edits, til the finished book speaks for us all and isn’t just me pushing my opinions. Welcome again, to Venus Valley: Queer Philosophers’ Forum.

(Side note: I heard someone online recently pronounce LGBTQIA+ like it was a fancy French phrase, “Le Gibitie Quois” - so that’s exactly how I want you to hear it in your head as you read this and every chapter from now on!)

We’ll end our trip eastward by doing what LGBTQIA+ activism and philosophy have a love of doing in common: breaking down a binary boundary! This time, the one between “eastern” and “western” society/civilisation. It makes it way too easy for us to think about us/them, same/different, foreign/familiar; it pretty much ignores how much crossover there is and how much there is in between; and it makes it way too easy for mindsets like the one I talked about in my White Supremacy in Western Spirituality chapter to survive and thrive (click the link in bold to read the chapter).

So here’s my take on Jung’s take on Nietzsche’s take on Zarathustra!

First things first: Who are all these people?

C. G. Jung, for anyone who doesn’t know, was a Swiss psychologist - one of the first - who took spiritual and scientific language and used it to talk in a symbolic way about what he called INDIVIDUATION: bringing back the separate parts of yourself into balance (literally “pulling yourself together”!); he was fascinated by Asian traditions, rituals and superstitions like Yoga, Taoism, I Ching, and the drawing and dancing of Mandalas; and one of his biggest ideas was that every outwardly conscious male had an inner unconscious feminine ANIMA, and every outwardly conscious female had an inner unconscious masculine ANIMUS. But he also thought the repression and/or projection of queerness was all about, to put it bluntly, mummy/daddy issues, and is copiously quoted by the increasingly-right-wing-authoritarian Jordan (de)B.(unked) Peterson and his increasingly-right-wing-authoritarian fans and followers (or, as I like to call them, Peterphiles); so even though his books have hugely helped my mental health I think I’ll reluctantly have to put him in my box labelled “Daringly Progressive Then, But Problematically Dated Now.”

Even more firmly in that box, frankly, is Friedrich Nietzsche. No one gets too far into learning anything about philosophy without running into him - including Jung himself. A German teacher, whose mental and physical health broke down to the point where he had to give it up and become a writer, specialising in ICONOCLASM: like the pulling down of statues, but in a metaphorical way - pulling apart the structures we all use to set our standards when it comes to things like politics and religion. He didn’t touch the third big taboo dinner-party-conversation subject, sex, very much; but it did play a weirdly prominent part in the two ways people reacted to him… either it was the “Nasty Party” using him as an excuse for their selective breeding ideology; or it was his critics and detractors trying to discredit him with scandalous accusations of homoerotic BDSM (which this chapter will neither confirm nor deny!). I’m sure it was pure coincidence that an English translation of his work was titled The Gay Science. His big idea was the SUPERMAN: the highest potential point of humanity, which we could - and according to Freddie N, should - make happen if we just got out of our own way. The way the Nasties tried to corrupt it into their “master race” nonsense, makes it extra funny how it was taken by two young Jewish comic book writers, Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster, for their hero who came down from the stars to stand up for the little people.

His other big thing was Thus Spake Zarathustra - which brings us back east! Zarathustra, or Zoroaster, depending on what language you’re reading his name written in, was priest and prophet of a Persian religion - one of the earliest times in history when traditions, rituals and superstitions were formalised and institutionalised into something we’d call an actual religion - that was a big influence on Judaism, Christianity, Islam… and queer rock opera icon Freddie Mercury. Our other Freddie, the cranky German one, wrote a book containing his most metaphysical thoughts in the form of prayers, proclamations and parables spoken by the big Z on his journey back to civilisation after years of meditation up in the mountains.

Nietzsche wrote about Zarathustra, Jung wrote about Nietzsche writing about Zarathustra, and I’m here writing about Jung writing about Nietzsche writing about Zarathustra.

A big part of philosophy, is being ready for debate; a big part of being ready for debate, is being ready for what the opposition and objection to your point is going to be; a big part of being ready for what the opposition and objection to your point is going to be, is being honest with yourself about what the flaws in your perspective are, and questioning yourself before anyone else gets the chance to. Even if the dress looks great on you, iron it out before you flaunt it in public! So the thing my inner critic is shouting loudest at me about this whole piece, is why I’m closing the whole section of a queer philosophy book that’s paying overdue respect to eastern philosophy by looking at what some (presumably) straight white western men think about it? Well the thing about “eastern” and “western”, is that it’s one of the times we get to use the philosophy student’s favourite phrase - It’s just a social construct! I’d love to do what philosophers love to do - especially queer philosophers - and break down some binary boundaries. Where does the east stop being the east and start being the west? Where does the west stop being the west and start being the east? How much influence did eastern thought have over western? How much inspiration did western thought give to eastern? Where in this whole circle do we put the places we call the Middle East? Why didn’t Western Europe during the Cold War years consider Eastern European nations to be part of “The West”? Nietzsche spent his writing career picking apart “western values”, and in Zarathustra he pours those thoughts and words and deeds into a Persian speaker; Jung brought the inspiration he found in “eastern philosophy” to hold a mirror up to his western patients. Seeing Eastern and Western as Us & Them is what leads, at best, to us seeing anything “oriental” as “exotic” - take a minute and see how many movies, cartoons and comic books (and their fandoms) hold up styles and aesthetics like Japanese, or even Jewish, as alien or otherworldly. That’s what we call ORIENTALISM. At worst, it leaves us vulnerable to seeing the world with the old Roman prejudice of “civilised” and “savage” - and when we do, it’s always ourselves we see as above and beyond, with the mission to enlighten the others. Think back, how many times in your school history and geography lessons did you call different countries “developed” or “developing”? As if one country was the model everyone else should live up to? If you can survive it without feeling sick (I can’t), have a listen to people defending the slave trade by saying the slaves came out of it better because we taught them how to read the Bible!

Let’s not be like that. Instead of seeing others as having questions that need answering, let’s see ourselves as people with answers that need questioning.

So, back to me writing about Jung writing about Nietzsche writing about Zarathustra. Nietzsche wrote about the structures, conditions and - our favourite philosophy speak - social constructs, that we’ve stood in our own way by building up, like good and evil or free will and fate, that need pulling down so we can become more than we could by fitting ourselves into boxes; in Zarathustra, the preacher is left outside of society, without status - but is better off than everyone inside it, even though they have food and entertainment, because he’s free of their power of illusion and he can see how they really are. Jung, in a series of seminars, brings it back to the imagery he always used - of alchemical processes of dissolving the outer form of things so they could be joined in creating something new; and the Gnostic Christian perspective of seeing past our physical separation to the reality of our spiritual togetherness - to leave us holding onto two big questions: First, did Nietzsche need to have his breakdown, to bring himself to the point where he could bring all his thoughts together into Zarathustra’s words and deeds? Second, if it’s true that we’re always projecting our repressed sides of ourselves - like the feminine Anima shadow inside the male, and the masculine Animus shadow inside the female - why is our friend Freddie’s projection of his secret inner self, an old man?

(Jung doesn’t bring it up, but I have to wonder if it has anything to do with those homoerotic BDSM scandals!)

Also, side note: the author whose summary of the seminars I read, credits the Jungian school with coining the very term Seminar, meaning a “seeding ground” of thoughts and ideas.

On the one hand, don’t just take anything I, or Jung, or Nietzsche, or Zarathustra, say as if it deserves to be held up as whole and holy: I’m still learning as I’m going along. Jung thought feminine men and masculine women were the way they were because, if we repress our masculine or feminine side too long, it opens a floodgate when we project it and gets over inflated til it becomes our whole personality. And the Gnostic Christian philosophies that influenced and inspired him can easily be turned into the “Old Testament God Bad, New Testament God Good” attitude that’s at the root of antisemitism in the church. Nietzsche was great at showing us what bad social constructs needed taking down, but not so great at giving us good things to build up in their place. Like the ending of The Falcon & The Winter Soldier (as impressive and progressive as that series was), where the new Captain America tries to school the problematic politicians asking, What do you want us to do? By simply answering, “Better”. And Zarathustra’s original theology is where we get a lot of our binary boxed religious ideas like good/evil, light/dark, heaven/hell, angel/demon, saint/sinner, in the first place.

On the other hand, there’s one big way this is all still relevant today. Opening our eyes to the outsiders’ and outcasts’ perspectives on our societies and systems, so we wake up to the problems and power imbalances they have inside them, is the actual meaning - despite how much it’s misused and abused - of our critics’ favourite word: WOKE.

(I’m seriously underqualified to talk or write about the people of colour whose cultural and community perspectives the word comes from; so I’ll just recommend you who to check out, to hear them speak in their own voices: If political protest poetry speaks your language, then Audre Lorde, Maya Angelou and bell hooks (small b, small h); for the history of how the black and queer civil rights movements cross over, Bayard Rustin; and for voices speaking out right now on social media, Laverne Cox and Yasmin Benoit.)


NEXT TIME: How the white western way of spreading their culture to other continents, had more queerness in it than they gave it credit for!


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About the Creator

Mx. Stevie (or Stephen) Cole




Tarot reader

Attracted to magic both practical & impractical

Writer of short stories and philosophical musings

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Comments (2)

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  • StoryholicFinds8 months ago

    Love it ❤️

  • Great presentation & point on shedding another's light upon ourselves that we might come to understand different points of view not only for the differences but for the commonalities we share &, most importantly, to understand both others & ourselves more completely & wholistically.

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