Of the definitions or manifestations of dionysus, I like best, “the god of ritual madness.” I sometimes see him in such states. More often than not as a totem of sorts rather than a goat: Grape vines woven together and bound like a fasces, but looser and winding; his face is a grape leaf, as are his hands. His extremities are vines that wind back into the fasces: a living fasces. This interests me for multiple reasons. These include the contradiction or tension between the fasces as strength in number and the dionysian as loss of self. The tension is resolved and more when understand that we lose ourselves in the collective. In the fasces, individual identity severely attenuated, if not completely lost. Another interesting oddity is that Dionysus exposed him as a plant god – and a disassembled one at that. Should we devise a name for this manifestation of Dionysus, or should we leave it unnamed?
Despite his penchant for madness, once I asked him the meaning of life. Well, I didn’t ask him so much as I was just considering what would characterize a universally good person that would please all the gods, including the god of the plants. He spoke to me and said, “the good person is the one who increases biodiversity.” Of course he told me this after I had spent much of the day planting and watering. Both his attention to my actions and his approval of them make him a good god.
Dionysus stated that biodiversity requires loss of identity and that increased biodiversity requires ongoing and increasing loss of identity. No explanation was required.
Dissolutions occur at many levels, from the subatomic to the social and beyond. The human experience deals primarily with the individual and the social. Societies must be dissolved or change in order for new ones to form. Change = becoming = the “essence” of life. Normally, the people happy are happy or satisfied enough with the status quo, and there is no active revolution to join. Ever present are the eternal world-despisers. You could join that club, but why would you? Active dissolution is perhaps most often experienced in the temporary loss of self through various forms of intoxication that begin to kill the self, but don’t quite get there. When we die, we return to the world (I no longer believe in an independent, everlasting soul). Intoxication takes us in that direction, but not all the way. Loss of self is a dissolution. It is a becoming. Becoming one with the world and our multiple selves.