The Boarded-Up Mansion of Sacred Awe

Victoria Nelson, The Secret Life of Puppets:

Our culture’s post-Reformation, post-Enlightenment prohibition on the supernatural and exclusion of a transcendent, nonmaterialist level of reality from the allowable universe has created the ontological equivalent of a perversion caused by repression. … The displaced religious impulse surfaces … as an overvaluing of the object beyond its intrinsic function in our lives. Craving its holy objects, its temples, its roadside shrines and absolutions, we have let the transcendental in distorted form invade art, the sexual experience, psychotherapy, even the quasi-worship of celebrities living and dead. …

The contemporary realm of popular entertainment is our main subterranean entry, the grotto entry, to the boarded-up mansion of sacred awe, where we conduct our primitive discourse on religious subjects–a discourse whose crudeness would horrify our pious ancestors, but nonetheless a discourse–behind our own backs.

File under: “Did ya ever look at a dollar bill? There’s some spooky shit goin’ on.”

Shelve with: Milutis, Ether;  Wood, Edison’s Eve.

(Via my man Devon Elliott.) (I haven’t gotten to the puppets yet.)


  1. Sex taking on religious trappings, eh? This might go far to explain both the rebirth of romance among women, and the mainstreaming of fetishism among men.

  2. man must worship something, regardless of any protestations to the contrary.

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