The phrase “beyond the pale” originated in the 18th Century (at the latest) and the occupation of Ireland by English rulers and troops. The “pale” was the area surrounding Protestant Dublin, and was guarded by English soldiers. The area beyond was considered dangerous, full of wild, red headed Irish Catholics who probably turned into banshees at night and robbed cradles and impregnated good English wives with their unholy Papist seed.
So, once again we see that a term used to denote extreme moral transgression has it’s roots in classism, racism, and fear of the Other. It would be interesting if we hadn’t come to expect as much. .
If we are to Wake Up, “beyond the pale” is exactly where we must go. Not because of any kind of love for what some call the “dark side” but because whole regions of our psyche have been declared “no go zones” by society and whatever other influences caused us to build a guarded area around our minds. We then call this compound (and do not doubt Camus when he tells us we live in an armed camp) the “real world”..
Transgression may well start out as an overt attempt to catch the guard’s attention. We offend and outrage them, trying to show that we are free of their control. .
But all the while, under their shocked countenance, the guards are laughing at us. In our first explorations into the shadow of society, we have done little else but affirm the opinions of the guards, the censors, the dictators. We have acted like Grand Guingol clowns. Our outrageous actions have been a parody of what they expect, not a true exploration of the Outside. .
The moment we realize this is when the real journeys Beyond the Pale begin. We take off our makeup and put on simple, unobtrusive garments that allow us to sneak out the back way. Then we begin to see the Outside, the Other, for what it really is. Some of it is friendly, some of it ugly, some of it beautiful. .
Now we begin to make friends on the Outside, and they tell us things we didn’t know before, things we ignored when we were parading before the guards. We bring them through the back doors, entertain them in our private rooms, perhaps make love to them. Eventually, we have inside the walls a fifth column, and the city will never be the same. The walls may never fully crumble, but the policies of our watch will be far more liberal than before. .