I wrote a poem last night entitled “The Tango over Damascus” that I read a couple of times and got some mixed reactions. One woman from Germany at the milonga last night loved it after having read some of my other poems to her. Another woman felt paralyzed by it. I read it to my mother and she said that it has coarse words and has some misogyny in it. The intention was to paralyze and to make people feel uncomfortable. I want to share the feelings I have about American capitalism and its culture industry. The line about yoga is from a hip-hop song. The line about being a “bitch to Rome” is how I feel sometimes. I feel more like a woman than a man at times, heart on my sleeve not logical and rationale like others sometimes. That is not necessarily a gendered trait, that too is a reduction of the complexity of gender. I feel like I have looked to women for love at times. A tender embrace, just a nice hug. I feel like the Biblical “Whore of Babylon,” an American chemist not applying his mind to directly helping the poor children dying. The Whore of Babylon is in the Biblical book of Revelation, chapter 17. The term, course today’s ears conditioned by several decades of feminism shocks the modern Western mind into submission and questioning. What did he mean by that?
Well, I will tell you. As in the letters of Paul, sexual promiscuity and looking to women to fill the inner void is a trap. Take Romans 1. What is Paul saying when he writes these lines?
24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
I feel that Paul is using sharp language to draw attention to sin. Sin caused by wealth and money. Two-thousand years ago, Romans were the Americans of the day. Dancing their misery away, escaping into a Zen-like state to music and flow of the body. This is a good thing in moderation, with the right heart orientation and spiritual energy. Last night was not that night. I did not feel the energy. I felt the sting from a sinful life path, a failed marriage and several year struggle with the results of my psychological break from reality under the stress of a constant barrage of email from my boss for several months while going through a divorce. These emotions are not something that are pretty. The misogyny is real and I have to be careful. I have to avoid situations that stir the pot. I do not apologize for the poem because it is a momentary reflection of a feeling from one moment of attempted escape from reality.
The thing is there is no escape. The ground is hard and Monday morning comes too fast. So, however, to understand Paul in Romans and John in Revelation you have to see their words in the greater context of the message. They are not saying deny the body as they are not saying hate women. They are saying, be careful with sexuality and do not get lost in the dance of distraction. There is a considerable difference between a mass of poor people and a mass of poor people determined to act together. The prophet, like Lil Boosie tells it like it is no more, no less. Do not kill the messenger, she is only telling you the reality. I feel that perhaps the tango scene is something I need to work into, or maybe it is not for me. I do not know.