There is nothing, absolutely nothing that triggers stupidity and mendacity—and, consequently, the repugnance of the free spirit—like politics and religion. On the other hand, there is nothing like art (including literature) that causes intelligence and integrity to flower.
Dogma and ideology aside, politics and religion are about authority and control. Art is about freedom. I have never respected, nor think I ever will respect authority, any authority. As a child I was cowed by authority, starting with my strict, religious father whom I eventually feared more than loved. At best I have learned to avoid authority, to avoid all that represents the patriarch, that intransigent, bull-faced facsimile of fascism, from the parental dictatorship of belief that any intelligent child can only suffer from, to the tyranny of society, its prejudiced opinions and unjust (nonegalitarian) laws and the hierarchy of baboons and Babbitts meant to legislate and enforce them.
Of course, when it is counterproductive and against common sense not to do so I will obey authority, or at least wont irk it, but I wont respect it. I respect men for being men, women for being women, children for being children—human beings. Authority is nugatory as a human value because authorities are robots. Authority has no soul, no humanity. The man exercising it may have, but in his role or guise as an authority (ie. one who has power and control over others) he does not. He’s a robot, an artificial so-called intelligence—which is to say a stupid, futile, degenerate creature for all the respectability society accords him. His only possible use is that of a semaphore.
Unfortunately, semaphores, when they are flesh and blood, become icons without which society apparently cant function. And so society itself becomes stupid, mendacious, lacking in integrity. Its heroes, those it respects most, those it lifts up to tell it either what to do or what it means—its icons in other words—are really nothing more than toadies. Bellwethers perhaps, but they are still patsies to an imbecilic system of beliefs and bureaucratic machinations.
The adjective “noble” sounds stuffy, old-fashioned, but I’ll use it anyway. There is nothing noble about man but his freedom. And no one, absolutely no one can dictate, or at least has any right to dictate to another what his freedom is or ought to be. I realize by this logic men are free to be stupid, to be unfree. Let them be if they wish it, but dont call them noble. And if good then that word has lost its meaning. In the long run, I prefer the word nature to “good” or “noble” because the latter have too much unsavory baggage tied to them.
And what is a natural man? A man who is free of politics, religion, and society itself. His freedom is his intelligence and integrity. He is his own man and no one else’s (not even if he has given himself away in the passion of love). He swims against the tide if need be. He pays no attention to the rationalizations of authority. He salutes no man but the man he loves—only for being a man.
He puts society in its place and either scoffs at society’s icons or ignores them. However, he is no Confucian; he does not love what the people love. He loves what he loves in his freedom to love as he will, to respect what and as he will, and to live the inward life—life of spirit and soul—that’s his alone to live and his alone to determine. He’s all about making his inward life correspond with his outward life.
Finally, I have more self-respect than to worship a hypocritical society’s God, or call that fanciful being my refuge. My refuge, if I need one, is my own truth, not anyone’s dogmas born of a myth or myths whose values arent mine, whose doctrines I have no use for. What I do have use for is the poetry and philosophy—the literature, art, culture—of my own myth, even if it’s a product, which of course it is, of cultural lore and my own fancies, my own intelligence, my own imagination, my authenticity which comes from being my own authority.