Being in the wilderness has me thinking about animal rights. The animals here are all so friendly and self-reliant. They come by my camp and pay their respects but don’t beg; they’re not looking for a handout. They appear to feel pretty safe around their anthropomorphic visitors.
They’re happy, I think, in part because they’re free to pursue their romantic relationships, form bonds of friendship, and, for the most part, live a full life to a ripe old age. Which, of course, is very unlike domesticated food animals who may in the best of circumstances be given the opportunity to live happy lives, albeit short ones, in green pastures, but may find themselves on factory farms where their short lives can only be pretty miserable, which makes me think about the ethics of eating meat.
According to Jane Goodall, animals are much more sensitive than we ever imagined. I take it Simians were some of her best friends so I guess she’s not anthropomorphizing the issue. Perhaps from an ethical standpoint we should all be vegetarians at least.
There is a rationalization for meat eating, though, that I find reasonable. The conjecture that, when pre-historic man harnessed fire, cooked food, heavy in protein ignited an intellectual growth that raised humankind, for better or worse, to the imaginative, inventive being she is today. I suppose this allows one to surmise that continued meat eating, done responsibly and in moderation is condonable.
But, as I sit here enjoying my animal friends I’m not inclined to see any of them as potential dinner.
I was reading about Jacques Lacan the other day. He was a Freudian psychoanalyst that structured the human psyche into three registers: the Imaginary, which has to do with our image of ourselves, ego development, I guess; the Symbolic which has to do with our existence as related to social structures, laws, institutions, mores, rituals and such; and the Real which, he says, is realized in infancy but lost with the development of language and almost impossible to realize thereafter. What I think he means is that the limitations of language to fully grasp the complexities of our experiences interferes with any possibility of deeper understanding. A deeper Reality, Kant’s thing-in-itself, I guess, is lost.
And speaking of lost, I am; in the wilderness again. I find myself somewhere out here in a place that doesn’t seem to correspond to my map, which, I suppose, places me in a situation without a referent; sort of like being without language.
I suppose I should be afraid, being as I am truly lost, but there’s something magical about looking about and not knowing what’s beyond the next island. Everything, rock, water, forest have come into acute focus. Sight, sound, odors are enhanced. And I think I can probably retrace my steps (or paddle strokes as it were) to find my way back. But if I do I expect I may lose this wonderful enhanced awareness I now have.
So, I’m staying put for the time being; I’m in a better place. At least as long as the weather holds.
While checking out at the super market the other day I happened to glance over at the tabloids. On one, the cover story was, ‘Jesus doll walks on water.’ Usually I don’t pay much attention to these journals, the sensationalistic stories usually being so incredibly ridiculous, but this one caught my attention being about a doll and all. So, I bought a copy and later when I had time read that a young boy in Florida was playing with his Jesus doll beside a pond one day when the doll suddenly proceeded on its own impetus across the pond toward an old lady on the other side. The doll, so the story related, moved up to and touched the old woman who was immediately relieved of the arthritic pain she had been suffering. The doll then turned around and moved back across the pond to the little boy.
Wow! There were pictures and everything.
As much as I enjoy a doll getting positive attention my skeptical nature questioned the accuracy of the account. While dolls may certainly have independent natures, performing miracles, even for a Jesus doll, seems pretty incredible. But, maybe where there’s a will there’s a way.
I think I’ll take a bath.
Walking on Water
I’ve been reading this truly wonderful book about the history of humankind that suggests, from a biological perspective, all of our social, economic and religious structures are fictions.
The beginnings of language, according to Dr. Harari, provided the means for storytelling. Putting words to phenomena and situations not quite understood produced magical beings and assigned human characteristics to the animal kingdom. These stories spread and were embraced by the imaginative creating a unity among otherwise alien groups which allowed a certain trust to develop, cooperation was established, and before they knew it populations of mutually dependent individuals became what we know as civilization. This, of course, took millennia to occur and the stories tended to lose their impact over time so the stories needed to be modified or replaced, upgraded I suppose, because civilization depended upon social, economic and religious structures to maintain validity.
I guess what this all means is that without fairly immediate familial connections humankind is unlikely to trust or cooperate with others unless they share some sort of fictional structure. They need to learn to play the game.
I have to wonder how many, if any, of these games are good for biological mankind. Social organization of any kind inhibits instinctual behavior, communism undermines individualism, most religions emphasize a next life scenario which doesn’t bode well for biological survival and capitalism encourages excessive consumption which threatens the health of our natural world. I could go on and on.
Well, I suppose, as humankind evolved, shedding unnecessary and destructive genes along the way in favor or a larger brain and opposable thumbs, perhaps a gene or two of dubious worth survived. Maybe humankind’s demise will be the result of a ‘security gene’ that led to the development of civilization.
I’ve, lately, been trying to understand what it means to have team spirit. You probably think, seeing as I have myriad doppelgangers, I should know what it means to be part of a team. But, just because I’m one of a multitude of nearly identical molded plastic dolls doesn’t mean there’s team spirit involved.
Honestly, the concept mystifies me; there are sports teams made up of groups of fiercely competitive individuals that would vie against one another under normal circumstances, expected to cooperate in order to fulfill team goals. Where’s the personal expression in that, I’d like to know. Then, there are communist collectives where individuals pull together for the supposed betterment of all. That must require a sort of team spirit. I’ll bet if a field worker decided to take an afternoon off to write poetry it wouldn’t go down well with his colleagues. The uncertainty of life on the streets might encourage gang affiliations, I suppose, but it might very well draw you into other people’s conflicts which would clearly interfere with one’s contemplation time. And think about those in monasteries or convents that do have plenty of time to reflect but are certainly inhibited in any desire they may have to express themselves through fashionable clothing styles.
Well, I don’t see myself becoming a team player anytime soon. The only possibility of that as far as I can imagine is if I were assimilated into the Borg collective. I understand that, in that case, resistance is futile.
I’ve been thinking that lately, an awful lot of what occupies my mind is reactionary. I hear or read something I disagree with and then spend a lot of time formulating arguments which refute these disagreeable ideas or actions. I find this to be ultimately, pretty frustrating because those who hold these disagreeable notions won’t really buy into my arguments no matter how logical or reasonable they may be. I guess such is the nature of religious or political disagreements, which is, or course, where most of the divisiveness occurs.
So, in order to counter the prolonged debilitating mindset not to mention wasted energy this thinking causes I’ve decided to quit reading the morning papers and to also avoid the abrasive exchanges with oppositional thinkers (or non-thinkers if you’ll excuse the bias). I’m going to communicate only with those who share my truths, isolate myself as it were, and invite over only those folks who reinforce my certainties. I’ll carefully select the events I attend and follow the media outlets that share my enlightenment. This way, I should be able to keep my thoughts positive and maintain a serene nature.
Following this procedure I’m sure I will have soon forgotten about all contrary opinions; they’ll no longer exist in my reality and I’ll be able to engage fully in the things that really matter.
I’m finding myself falling into disquieting thoughts on occasion these days. I usually attribute such unpleasantness to physical discomfort; a sore back, being overly tired or whatever. But, when a reasonable physical explanation doesn’t present itself I think demons.
When I think demons I’m not really conjuring monsters such as one sees in medieval paintings; I’m using the term in a more abstract sense, you know, something in the air unsettling my being. Although, if I did think of demons in medieval terms, my demons would probably reflect aspects related to some of the disheartening news that crops up nearly every day. My demons would probably have attributes of some of the mean-spirited politicos who seem to me so bent on imposing their economic and pseudo-religious interests on those most in need of compassionate consideration.
Perhaps, if I envision my demons literally enough I can think of them as scapegoats into which I can stick pins as in the practice of Voodoo and if not diminish what I see as their destructive behaviors at least provide a focus for my wrath, to ease my general discomfort.
And then, when the cloud passes from over my head I can hide my demons away and hopefully not have to bring them back out any time soon. Of course, if I need them they’ll be there.
I happened to catch a fragment, the other day while surfing, of an item about a TED talk given by a woman extolling strength of character as a means of dealing with her obesity. Well, what she actually said was that she was fat, but, she said, that descriptive carries no more weight than being female or, as she declared she was, a belly dancer. This woman, whose name I didn’t catch, was quite attractive in her own way and clearly defiant in the face of contemporary attitudes regarding female body types.
I must say I found her perspective quite refreshing. I hurried off to tell my friends at the spa about this remarkable woman. As it turned out the ladies at the spa, while enjoying the information really didn’t need a moral boost. They feel just fine, they told me, being who they are in their largeness. They then pointed out to me ‘svelte’ when it comes to preferred body type is quite the exception historically. Royalty throughout the ages has often been characterized by largeness of countenance and as far as popularity goes consider the ladies in Peter Paul Rubens paintings.
Well, there’s no doubt they have a point, but in this day and age, with all of the medical caveats directed at maintaining extreme largeness, being too Rubenesque, unless lost at sea, might not be a wise lifestyle to assume.
I was left outside again. I’m lying on my back staring up at tree branches and blue sky; an occasional bird flies by. My mind is wandering; inconsequential thoughts enter, pass through and then exit my consciousness.
Being subject to the whims of my keepers, as I am, I don’t know how long I’ll be lying here; could be over night, even another day or two; which means, if I’m to maintain my sanity, I need to avoid thinking about past pleasantries, the warmth of the playroom, congenial companionship. And I certainly can’t think about what’s next; any thoughts of future possibilities will only lead to frustration. I need to focus on the here and now; total consciousness of the present, let my wandering thoughts scatter like dry leaves in an autumn breeze. I’ll become conscious of the reality that is. Now. If I can do this I may experience absolute truth; the ultimate nature of being; infinite love.
I promise to let you all know what happens when and assuming the children eventually retrieve me. But, if they don’t maybe it really won’t matter anyway. My consciousness may pass into an enlightened state. I’ll be like the Mahatma; he must have been enlightened. He was pretty self-disciplined anyway; what with his fasting and all. I wonder if he lost much weight. My back is getting a bit sore.
According to Michel Foucault, in the olden days, Medieval times I guess, when people got tired of seeing and dealing with the village idiot and others whose sanity they might have found in question they simply gathered them up, put them on a ship and sent them out to sea. Out of sight out of mind, I suppose.
Seems pretty cruel initially but certain medical authorities would have it those folks probably were happier or at least less distressed confined to a predictable environment; assuming the captain and crew weren’t simply inmates in charge of the asylum.
I understand a lot of people in those days saw mental disabilities as some sort of satanic possession rather than a medical issue, which I can understand dealing as I do with demons of my own. But, other cultures have sometimes seen these special needs folks as having access to inner worlds where futures become knowable; which can be very useful knowledge. This belief elevated these seers in people’s minds; it gave them rank and status, commanded respect. As I think about it, maybe such groups had something; there does seem to be a fairly fine line between insanity and genius sometimes.
The issue has me wondering what would have become of the likes of me in Medieval Europe. They probably would have eventually been fine with a walking, talking doll but my skepticism might have gotten me burned at the stake.