Da Black Whole

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Santa Anymana: To Be, Not, To Be

Uh, Santa . . . does that beard go over your nose?


Hmm, seems to be more interest in potential presents, anyway....

And Who, exactly, is Santa Anymana?

All questions answered herein!

Did you hear that Santa was just deposed by conspiratorial competitors and Others Unnamed? Downsized. Veritably quarked!

Does this seem right to you?

This isn't some middle-management phudgepacker for I Be Em.

We're talking Santa Claus here. The Jolly Ole Elf Hisself.

Ask people around the office next week, would you? This doesn't seem quite fair....

Have you ever participated in one of those Secret Santa deals? Around Christmastime, anonymous individuals or groups donate time, money, goods, etc.?

Why am I asking you all these questions?

I do not know!

Who are you?!

Ennyway, it's called Secret Santa -- not Hey-Look-At-Me-Santa.

Anonymous love, surreptitious charity: heart 'n soul of the Spirit of Christmas -- of Santa Claus. In a sense, Santa's costume is a theatrical disguise. The costume's also a uniform, symbolic of transpersonal, transtemporal male attributes: bounty, freely given, but also power.

The exponential potency, for example, in a subtle or -- better yet -- undisclosed gesture of goodwill.

"It Works!" as some autistic guys would say -- and not coincidentally, the masters of this form of interaction and communicaton are certain autistics and other "disabled." Often the "disability" teaches lessons of energy conservation and mindfulness that are useful in elder years.

I once observed a six-year-old, nonverbal autistic boy wait in a public restaurant for a "stranger." When the man appeared, the boy showered him with attention (an autistic version of "showering," anyway.)

The boy gifted the old man, in ways subtle and anonymous (indeed, it's possible that the man barely noticed the boy's presence.)

Likewise when a child receives a present from "Santa," the child learns that a spirit of good exists in the world, in a person unrelated to the child.

The anonymity of "Santa's" gift grounds the child in a world of immediate and potential goodness. Santa is alive, not an academic archetype of masculine generosity.

The child receives many impressions of the future, of course. For most of my generation, as kids in the Fifties and early Sixties, Santa was present and visceral. He was a To Be, a transcultural myth and reality, always becoming, emanating backward in time from the heaven we assumed we'd be living: the Kingdom of the Good Father.

[That's what we get for ass uming!]

As the child matures, he or she discovers that there really is no Santa, and that Mom or Dad or Aunt Flibbert or even the Hell's Angels actually coughed up the new GameBoy or Pokemon cards or bicycle. The spell of blessed belief is mangled, heaven mugged.

The kid's still got the loot, of course, but "Santa"? . . . . bwa-haaaa-haaaaa!

Santa's a Not To Be.

Well-and-good. The world does have a few, ah, rough spots. And it truly is not in any child's best interest to believe, and assume, that everything's sweetness and light.

And there the story ends, with the kid struggling into adolescence and adulthood, having leaned the Hard Way (a.k.a. the Only Way) that there Is No Santa, he's merely Been Fooled Again.

All remaining is to slog onward through this tricksy, grim vale, eventually, perhaps, pulling the same loving ruse on his own children.

So I did. Then about ten years ago, I had a Santa dream.

It was a pretty unusual, vivid and intense experience, well-beyond my usual dream-parameters.

I was unaccompanied, surrounded by a large crowd, seated in an outdoor arena, someplace like, say, the Shoreline Ampitheatre in the south Bay Area. I was attending a lecture/concert by a late-night radio-host named Art Bell. (Instead of appearing on-air from his studio, he was on stage, don't ask me, I just dream 'em.)

I haven't met Art Bell, and had no idea what he was yakking about on stage. Next thing I know, a large man comes wading up through the crowd from my lower-right. He didn't have on a Santa-suit or an elfhat, but he looked familiar....)

He was tallish and heavyset, with a white, full beard and nondescript clothing, and though he wasn't ho-ho-hoing with raucous jollies, he was smiling calmly, confidently, emitting benevolence molecules -- though it'd probably be unwise to piss him off, a man might guess.

As he "climbed" up through the crowd, folks parted like the Red Sea.

The guy came straight up to me, leaned in close, spoke a few kind, encouraging words, then passed on through the crowd.

What did he say?

I don't remember.


Oh well. Maybe whatever he said wasn't really important. It's something less defineable about his presence that stays with me.

That was it. He moved off, and next thing I knew, a little knot of people clustered saying stuff like, "He spoke to you!" and so forth. I woke up, kinda confoozled, peeled off my Beauty Mask, cursed the clock, and scribbled the gist down, knowing I'd forget it in minutes.

Now, I'm not saying this guy was the Kringlemeister Hisself -- but he was Somebody Important, even a blind squirrel like yoors trooly got that nut.

I especially dug meeting him in the Ridiculous Context of a "rock concert" headlined by a talk-show host . . . where the real Celebrity was in the audience.

One might speculate that I "called up" some latent shard of Santa from my boyhood, and re-activated him. And, in part, I guess that's so. But without the "anonymous-love" that others gifted me as a child -- without the "illusion" of Santa they sustained, and without the disappointment of growing out of him -- there would have been nothing to "call up" later, neither in dream nor elsewhere.

Santa was hibernating in my life, a psychopompus paterni, biding until my age ripened, until my fatherly inheritance, greatest gift.)

Santa Claus is a megacultural timebomb, a beautiful barb, and ale-ee-yun implant. He exists only partly to delight children. He's also a container of masculine grace-full-ness for boys and young men to grow into, as fathers, step-fathers, and mentors.

As the photo above shows, to many small Western kids, Santa is a primary imprint of male benevolence and authority (he knows if you've been bad, no kidding.) He's a figure of trust but also of awe. When presented traditionally, and not comically or commercially, children sense his divine aspect, even those unafraid.

Santa has been demoted since my childhood encounters in the Fifties, with losses in Christian and masculine influences in America.

But he ain't ded yet!

Santa Claus is a way of saying to men that there are many ways to help kids. He's much more powerful than Everyman. He's Anyman.

He was, then he wasn't, then he always will be.

So, Sarah, even though big-brother "Orion says" . . . why not luxuriate in one last year of communion with Santa? It's a long way between wells in this desert. Drink long and deep, before your forgetfulness.

The concerts come, the concerts go, stage of worlds. The venues and headliners change but love cannot be killed, only given up on.

We sit on Santa's lap and, overwhelmed and distracted, forget his words, and even his looks. Then we slide on down and wander away, some new treasure waving in hand and lifetimes to fill -- and not until later . . . much later, long after the treasures are gone . . . do we remember him again, the kept promise in his voice, the affirmation of his face.

For Sarah, Ben and Orion

Solstice, Christmas 2005


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