A dark, twisted, existential manifesto posing as a book of daily inspiration.
Revolutionizing the best-selling genre, this thinking man's parody hijacks the format of daily affirmations but offers a different message: only in paradox, truth; only in darkness, light; only in affliction, affirmation. These "daily afflictions" offer readers inspiration, practical advice, and food for thought, as they navigate the jungle of existential terror that begins anew each day. We follow the fictional Brother Void on a spiritual journey, both profound and hilarious, into self, family, love, career, death―and, ultimately, Enlightenment. We learn to "listen to our inner critic," appreciate "the nurturing power of dysfunctional families," "love the wrong person," "succeed at failure," "embrace our inner corpse," and, finally, withstand the "agony of being connected to everything in the Universe." Part spiritual autobiography, part ironic meditation, this tragicomic guide to life's sublime predicaments will elevate and educate the spirit. The truth will set you free, Brother Void reminds us, but first it will hurt like hell.
A Philosophy of Affliction
The Church of Skeptical Mysticism follows the path of daily affliction, not the path daily affirmation. While both are affirming in their own way, they follow radically different approaches to affirmation. Daily affirmations bathe you in light and manifest all that is positive. They promise that you can attract what you wish for by visualizing it. Afflictions make no such promises. They remind you that when you feel desperate and alone, you are. Afflictions mobilize the suppressed power of your dark side. If your inner child can help you cry again, just imagine what your inner critic, inner bigot, and inner psychopath can do to you.
You can't avoid suffering. The right affliction, however, can make your suffering more meaningful. It won't tell you the answer, but it can deepen an unresolvable question; it won't help you find yourself, but it might help you to realize that you're irretrievably lost. A strong affliction is profound yet painful. It reminds you that the truth will set you free, but first it will hurt like hell.
What afflicts one person, however, may not afflict another with sufficient severity. As you make your way through this difficult life, you must find the afflictions that are right for you. For only in darkness, light; only in paradox, truth; only in affliction, affirmation.
Some readers have been so taken with The Book of Daily Afflictions, that they have begun to create their own spiritual circles, centered around the book's message and teachings. In living rooms and rented halls across America, like-minded folks have been coming together in self-organized gatherings under various names, among them: the Church of Skeptical Mysticism, the Temple of Ironic Faith, the Companions of Compassionate Nihilism, and the Brotherhood of Brother Void. In these gatherings, The Book of Daily Afflictions has been used much like a book of psalms. Someone will read the whole affliction out loud, and everyone assembled will repeat the closing affliction line together. Participants have designed their own rituals and made their own rules. Some are more Apollonian, with additional readings and spirited discussion. Others are more Dionysian, using testimony, chanting, and chaotic stomping.
As per official special dictat of The Church of Skeptical Mysticism and
Compassionate Nihilism, Sunday, December 1, 2002:
"Brother Void shall henceforth lend out his tortured soul as a dark brooding existential laboratory to any and all members of the virtual congregation who need a good ontological shake-down. His new duties shall comprise soliciting from congregants their traumas, angst, perturbations, and the like, to include but not be limited to: involuted knots of arbitrary self-doubt, unmetabolized scar tissue, and secular demon-hauntings by various inner-entities, etc. Having gathered the above, he shall ascertain which of these fecund morsels of human pain are most desperately in need of attention, with special consideration to be given to those torments from which there is no recourse. He shall then respond with counsel that offers no false hopes, but rather instills in the congregant a renewed sense of dark purpose, and maybe a chuckle to temporarily ease the cosmic burdens which they carry. This new church program shall be know by the name: Ask Brother Void."
In plain English (please excuse the stiff institutional prose the Church often adopts when it wants to be taken seriously) this simply means: I'm taking questions. Your questions. So: Ask Brother Void.
Note: This being an advice column, please bear in mind the 5 criteria of a good question:
2. A true story.
3. Quirky. (Or, at least, so cluelessly pedestrian that the singular lack
of quirkiness is itself worthy of interest.)
4. May or may not concern bizarre sexual dysfunction/fantasy that every reader is morbidly fascinated with but afraid to ask about themselves.
5. Really really really good pseudonym.