|Russia’s FemPunk Pussy Riot. Can Art overcome Ignorance? Probably Not.|
I was 21 years old when I finally decided to dispense with the belief in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost. The decision was precipitated by a “mystical” White Light episode which led me to two mistaken beliefs that (1) I was somehow “special” and (2) that what we call “God” was something that could not be contained within any religious vocabulary. The more I studied and compared religious ideas the easier it became for me to scoff and ridicule people I saw still locked within their accepted belief systems. All they had to do was read the same books I had and they could see for themselves that their precious religious beliefs were based on a cultural transmission based on nothing more than hearsay.
I have been following the Pussy Riot trial story in the media for a few weeks now. The story is simple yet one heavily laden with of supreme postmodern irony.
The “trial” of three members of the band was precipitated by a 51 second anti-Putin performance at an altar of a Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow in March 2012. The three ran off and only after a video of the performance went viral on YouTube were the three members hunted down and arrested. The Russian state prosecutor wants three years in prison for the defendants for… wait for it… “abusing God.” Not sure if he meant Jehovah or Vladimir Putin, but like I said earlier, what supreme irony. Lenin and Stalin must be spinning in their graves.
While the performance was unquestionably brave and the closing statements of the defendants worth reading, I’m afraid they won’t be ultimately effective or triumphant in their battle against the religious and political systems that have been arrayed against them. There have been many, many examples of how fruitless a career being a religious rebel actually is. Most probably one would lose their head or their life. The biggest danger for a religious rebel is to believe that the battle can be won by virtue of their will and intelligence. But as we have seen throughout history, ignorance is far, far more formidable than knowledge or intellect. And one overarching reason why ignorance, especially religious ignorance, is still so pervasive is because people are hard-wired to defend their ignorance to the bitter end. People who claim knowledge of spiritual matters actually only speaking as if they know in fact that what they speak of God or spiritual matters is true. The priests only need people who are even more ignorant in these matters than themselves to make the enslavement complete. When one of the Pussy Riot members complained during the trial that, “(t)he biggest problem is that nobody listens to us,” one may be forgiven to hear the faintest note of disappointment or puzzlement that their art is too incoherent for public consumption.
The character role of the Spiritual Rebel has its antecedent with the figure of Jesus Christ, the archetype of all religious rebels. And we all know how that fucking story ended, and more importantly, how it failed to bring about any kind of decent world in its aftermath. It seemed that nobody listened to or understood what Jesus said either, and merely reacted to what they imagined he must have meant and twisted, diluted and distorted his words until they came out as so much nonsense. No wonder the words of Jesus could never be lived by people who call themselves “Christians.” Jesus’ words (what little remain) of love and peace must forever be destined to be incoherent. The members of Pussy Riot will not achieve anything by playing butterflies being tortured on the rack. It’s already been done. Nothing was proven and nobody cared. If only the human ego was not so tied up in preserving religious fantasies, but let me tell you, it is the rare person who will admit to what they previously believed in was wrong. Let me say that I “get” what Pussy Riot is attempting to do. But in attempting to shock or rouse their fellow Russians from their acceptances and allowance, Pussy Riot is bravely going down a fruitless path. But what good is bravery when it’s wasted on actions that do not effectively get people to question their scene? Better to work on one’s self-transformation and be an example to society before taking on society.