Thomas Moore updates his Soul & Spirit
blog at Patheos with today's post "Of Human Bondage"
that refers to a passage in his book, Dark Eros: The Imagination of Sadism
(1990). His response to the quoted passage includes:
"Today we wonder why employees go berserk and shoot their employers or fellow workers or why students shoot up our schools. It makes no sense. Why these places where such good things are happening? But of course these very places are scenes of bondage and cutting criticism every day.
I like to distinguish between sadistic and Sadean. Sadean is simply the law of life by which we suffer for our own good and inflict pain on others for their well being. A surgeon and a dentist don’t hesitate to examine and puncture our bodies, though they do try to alleviate the pain as much as possible. Teachers make us read things we’d never read otherwise and take exams and be graded and pay a good price for it all.
But this Sadeian aspect of every part of life can easily slip over into excessive, unnecessary and punitive suffering. Teachers, parents and even doctors can lose sight of what they’re doing and become sadistic, satisfying some deep urge in themselves to inflict pain. Each of us has to be alert to this tendency to become the source of pain that appears when we have gone too far, crossed a line, and moved from otherwise creative and acceptable suffering to actual cruelty."
Moore cautions, "I’m writing this at a time of national elections. Here, too, we have to
be cautious lest our natural and creative instinct to subject ourselves
to a good leader slips into a masochistic desire to be manipulated. We
might enjoy hearing a candidate express his tough intentions because
neurotically we feel a need to be controlled and perhaps abused. These
issues are so subtle that they can be in full bloom without our ever