an American's Reflections - Stephen Lapeyrouse’s website

Surrealpolitik, or Spiritual Blithering in California

Bismarck, the “Iron Chancellor” of Germany’s Second Reich, is seen to have given the expression realpolitik to Europe and the world; an email letter I recently received from a woman living near Mount Shasta in northern California suggests another expression as an idea of social order: surrealpolitik.

The human being more often than in my view is wisely or adequately recognized is a foolish creature – rather homo insapiens than homo sapiens. And the human being – even a large number of people – can develop in foolish, illusory directions, as well, or perhaps more often, than in wise ones. In that human, social situation where there is little to no difficulty or challenge to life, happy foolish fantasies seem often to result.

I wrote years ago how in world-influential California there is an advanced tendency for individuals to create their own personally-satisfying “cosmologies” – as if such were not rather a revealing of the comic, cosmic sense of fools, than an example of any serious or sincere search for truth. If an educated Dante, Goethe, or even a Camus, attempt to conceive a complete comprehension of life, man and world, that is one fact; if some semi-literate, safe and protected, mild-mannered, untroubled soul…that is something other! Of Mt. Shasta, with its euphoric spiritual fantasies, I wrote before in English (No. 44, 46, 1996). The recently-received email from there has a very revealing conclusion, attached to a passing political joke apparently being interneted around amongst acquaintances and friends. Here is the joke.

An Israeli doctor said, medicine in my country is so advanced, we can take a kidney out of one person, put it in another, and have him looking for work in six weeks.

A German doctor said, that’s nothing! In Germany, we can take a lung out of one person, put it in another, and have him looking for work in four weeks.

A Russian doctor said, in my country medicine is so advanced, we can take half a heart from one person, put it in another, and have them both looking for work in two weeks.

The American doctor, not to be outdone, said, ha! we are about to take an asshole out of Texas, put him in the White House and half the country will be looking for work the next day.

Note the fact that in Russia an equivalent joke would probably not end with America in the final “stanza”. And though to my mind the “joke” is rather formulaic, and not really funny, that is beside the point I wish to make. After the joke comes the letter’s conclusion (in the direction of “surrealpolitik”):

May your days be filled with magic, love and joy. May your life be blessed with passion, love and miracles.


This is a sample of a kind of blithering (see a dictionary for the very accurate – and telling – meaning of this seldom used word), smiling, “spiritual” verbiage which any serious one in California must meet, and endure, often daily – as if a large number of people there had “surreal” ideas and fantasies of life and world in their minds, and sane, serious people were surrounded by such “unmad” men and women.

“LIVE HEAVEN” – do people who write, or repeat, such hyperbolic, ahistorical, unearthly, confused, utopian, protected ideas live in this world? Not really! In this case they live and, fantasize happily, in their private homes near the secluded “sacred” mountain Shasta (a dormant volcano)…while munching on certified organic foods, and being often weekly oh-so worried about the current colors-glows of their auras, or the correct choice of therapeutic “healing” crystals that they regularly wear around their “stressed”, well-massaged necks! In what percentage of the world – historically, geographically, demographically, socially, economically, culturally, etc, – could one person casually and seriously say to another by way of a sincere, realistic “goodbye” (which itself has an interesting meaning): “LIVE HEAVEN!”?!?!

When one person is going to part from another, there are various standard ways to say “goodbye”. “Goodbye” itself comes from “God be with you”. One can also say: “see you later”, “bye”, “so long”, “adious/adieu” (with their Spanish and French references to God), “take care”, “enjoy”, “good luck”, “bon voyage”, etc. or with letters: “sincerely yours”, “yours truly”, “best wishes/regards”, “all the best”, “love”, “fraternally”, etc. But it is perhaps unique in most of human history to read such a conclusion to a casual letter as “LIVE HEAVEN” (capitals in original). “God (with traditionally only a mere first letter respectfully capitalized!) be with you” comes from a time when life and world were much more uncertain and unpredictable (than it seems to be in this part of California), and was more a genuine wish and hope of safety and good fortune – ‘may God protect you’. (Few people around the world who say “goodbye” are aware – or thoughtful – of the original meaning.) But this traditional call to God “above” the earthly life, has apparently been replaced, by some people near Mt. Shasta at least, by not merely, hopefully – if one has lived a good life on earth – living in heaven post-mortem, but here and now on earth “pre-mortem”. And said very likely with a comfortable smile.

Note also how the first two lines of this letter’s elevated “conclusion” could almost have all of its main words arbitrarily switched around in their positions, and the meaning – to the degree that it is not what in nineteenth century America Henry David Thoreau called “gingerbread” – would not be greatly upset. Such safe, unsuffered, superlative, spiritual….

Those – from Dante’s defined cosmology, through “Faust’s” troubled search, to Camus’ humanistic absurd cosmos – seriously educated minds and experienced souls might wish to avoid, or be forewarned, of such areas of California – for there are many, living in “heaven”, “spiritually” blithering there!

First published in the magazine English, #02, 2001, p. 16.