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Western elusion: diversity and inclusion (II)

Updated: Jan 14, 2023

A settlement in Wiltshire, lost in the mists of time. In spring, there is a fertility rite whereby a virgin is taken to the old stone circle and offered to the gods with a single blow from a ceremonial knife. The ritual has modified over the years, now the priests no longer kill the girl—they bring the knife down just behind her into a pig’s bladder filled with blood; the blood drips down the altar, the illusion the girl has died is preserved.

The girl returns to her parents after three months, except it is said she is sister to the sacrificial victim—she has lived with her uncle and aunt since she was little (since the winter frost was very hard and we all ate acorns for want of food); now she’s back. “No, no—it’s not Freya, this is Feya; we were fortunate enough Freya was offered up for the harvest bounty.” “They’re so alike though!” “Aye, alway were almost like twins—that’s what our elder folk used to say, ‘Could be twins.’”

Now, if you happen to get too curious—let’s say you are an antient autist—you might start to ask questions; perhaps you notice that “Feya” has a birthmark on her arm exactly where Freya had one. “Don’t see why they can’t both have the same birthmark?” “Tush, it’s unlikely—ain’t it? Never seen it on pig or hare or man.” “I don’t know what you mean, mate.” Our autist is met with sarcasm, with bristled responses, with shrugs of shoulders…if he persists, then he might end up in the stone circle—to make contrition to the gods, or perhaps to have his throat slit…for real.

You don’t mess with the mythology, with the sacred enactment—if you do then you threaten the community. What I described above is an elusion whereby the act’s efficacy depends on the collective agreement that “a virgin really died”—if a virgin didn’t die, then the crops and the community’s very existence are in question.

At a certain level, everybody *knows* that Feya is Freya but you know you know you have to play along (the knowledge is implicit); perhaps it leaks out on occasion when someone says, “She’s so like Freya,” and the parents say, “Oh, she’s very like her.” <<nudge, nudge, wink, wink>>. It is taboo to make the elusion explicit—the obscene truth here being that there is no virgin sacrifice (in other words, we’re more humane than we think—but what would the neighbouring settlements say if they knew that, or are they faking it too?).

To recap: an elusion is a pretence in a pretence in a pretence. There’s a mental illness where you pretend to have a mental illness and in Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958) Jimmy Stewart loses his love in a tumble from a church tower then meets a woman who looks like her (who is her; the death was faked) who he transforms with clothes and make-up into his lost love—then he loses her again, for real this time, at the same church tower (compulsion to repeat, you only died for real the second time—the time you pretended to be yourself; and that’s mythological).

We have a Western mythical elusion today that is especially played out with women (but also black people and some other racial groups). The elusion is that white men pretend women are in charge but really white men are in charge and then, as with Prince Harry, they play the victim. You pass a water company van with an advert on the side that shows a confident woman manager and a black engineer in charge—behind the van seven white men in orange fluorescent jackets toil away. If you attempt to foreground this mythology you will be met with shrugged shoulders—“dunno mate”, “can you say that, though?”—and what amounts to reaction formation.

The myth—the taboo that underpins it—has to be preserved, and it is preserved in an unconscious way. People who break taboo are ostracised; and to be cast out from the community has meant death for man since the beginning—you’ve been left to the wolves and other human tribes to “get”. Well, not always, if you survive, per Aristotle, you become a beast or a god—the only two entities to subsist outside the human community.

The myth is fiercely defended—mostly through refusal to see “Freya is alive”. “Ha, ha, she’s dead, mate. Don’t be daft—you saw her die at the ceremony.” The reason why corporate executives have to make grovel-based apologies because they were caught out, for example, wearing an SS uniform to a fancy dress party at 17 is that to break the taboo in any way threatens the entire symbolic order and society itself (i.e. the crops won’t grow next year)—hence the sacred objects (women and blacks) have to be re-sacralised and cleansed through public contrition and apology (conducted through approved *sacred channels*, perhaps an apologetic interview with CNN).

Hence “rational” Western societies are as driven by mythology as ever they were. People who fully question the taboo, rather than break it by “accidentally speaking the truth”, are placed beyond the boundaries—“Nazis”, “white supremacists” (beasts and gods).

The taboo is protected so fiercely because to break it induces the sensation Stewart experiences in the above clip—vertigo; it’s the vertiginous sensation that Freya is alive and only you know—everyone else says she’s dead, yet you suspect they know really (related films: Invasion of the Bodysnatchers; The Wicker Man). For many people, it’s as much a wish to protect themselves against “spiritual vertigo” as a genuine belief in the ritual that causes them to deny reality so strongly. If Freya isn’t dead, if blacks aren’t victims, if women aren’t competent…spin, spin, spin—faster and faster, just like an experimental jet out of control. Do the priests have any power at all? And what happens if we do a real human sacrifice?


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