In all honesty, I cannot say that, after nearly sixty years of living among other human beings on this apparently privileged planet, I have ‘settled into’ life. This is perhaps why the Gnostic vision of a ‘fallen world’ ruled by a deceitful demiurge speaks so powerfully to me. Not infrequently, I feel ‘at odds’ with my human existence and with the world I seem to be awkwardly and precariously embedded in. I can honestly say that I feel ‘in it but not of it.’ I have tried—but only occasionally and fleetingly succeeded—to feel completely like an earthling, but it is far more natural for me to feel like an alien interloper or a transiting voyeur butting into the affairs of this world. One of my friends charges me with being a misanthrope. I would never characterize myself as a hater of men—but I will admit to frequently feeling myself a stranger to them, which is a different matter altogether.
It seems to me that if my deepest and most powerful needs were typically human, then the peculiar disappointments and the alienation that I have experienced would either have crushed my spirit or embittered me to the point that misanthropy would be an unavoidable result. Because neither of these outcomes has occurred, I am now inclined to suspect that my deepest and most powerful needs point some distance beyond the human, all-too-human level, or its typical form of existence. As strange as this must sound to utterly earthly ears, it seems to be true for me. I would go further and say that if these ‘supra-human’ needs were not being met—in the modest, intermittent manner that they are met—I would probably have turned out very badly indeed.
Another way of analyzing this whole situation is to begin from the assumption that there are (at least) two more or less differentiated psychic standpoints—or distinct centers of gravity—from which I am able to function: the human and the daimonic (or spiritual). The latter standpoint is the one that has few or no essential human needs—but instead, yearns for spiritual nourishment that simply cannot be provided (at least not directly or abundantly) from the mundane or human, all-too-human realm. Now, to the extent that my own consciousness has succeeded in differentiating itself from the merely human—and has begun to participate in the subtler, colder, starker regions of the daimonic—the merely human has begun to seem comparatively sticky, boring, bulky, sluggish, scripted, and heavy. And yet, while I’m here on this ‘third stone from the sun,’ the only sane course to take seems to be that of a dialectical balancing act between the two rather different standpoints. My psychological/spiritual conscience tells me that I should strive for a state of creative tension between them—and resist exclusive citizenship in either realm.