Having only recently returned from the natural wilderness of pristine lakes and virgin forest, I now find myself in a wilderness of an entirely different sort. I’m surrounded by vast, cold and impersonal canyon walls set upon acres of asphalt and concrete pavement and I find myself moving through throngs of humanity for whom I appear to be a non-entity, unacknowledged and ignored.
And, I’m again lost. Once again the map I’m looking at doesn’t seem to correspond to my location. The roads twist and turn, pass over and under, direction is lost and I think I may be caught in a never ending Mobius strip, or possibly a space/time warp of some sort.
There are similarities between the two wildernesses: both require survival skills, courage, strength of character and know-how (map reading abilities would be helpful as well). The differences, though, are stark. While here, in the urban jungle a cup of coffee is always readily available, the frenzied, sometimes hostile environment is fairly visually and aurally abrasive, not to mention the olfactory assaults one often encounters. Aesthetically this environment leaves me clearly wanting.
Given the choice I’ll take being lost in the natural wilderness anytime.
Fear of the Other
I saw in the news recently one of the current teenage icons is describing herself as gender fluid. I guess what this means is she leans toward a more masculine persona some days and a more feminine one on other days. I suppose the upside of such a concept is that it provides many more options as to romantic involvements not to mention grooming and wardrobe possibilities.
From a biological standpoint I think it’s been pretty clear for a long time that no one is 100% male or female; that everyone shares genetic aspects of both and display both feminine and masculine behaviors, but ‘gender fluidity’ seems to take the idea a bit further.
It’s not like the concept is brand new. Androgyny can be found in quite a number of mythological and historical accounts. Among the Buryat people of Siberia androgynous individuals have gravitated toward and been quite successful at shamanistic enterprises. The Egyptian, Hatshepsut, wore a false beard when at court. The ancient Greeks were known to have favored beautiful young boys. Consider the androgynous likes of the goddess Athena or Joan of Arc. The artist Marcel Duchampe had a female alter-ego Rrose Selavy. The list is pretty much never ending. Androgyny appears to be a statement of personal freedom for quite a number of people.
Even so, I’m pretty sure certain institutions must view fluidity of gender with considerable disdain. Conservative churches and other groups like to keep things black and white, mostly, so the grays of malishness or femalishness won’t be acceptable. The Boy Scouts, who haven’t exactly exhibited preparedness regarding the issue, have recently acquiesced to social pressures and assumed a more gender flexible stance, much to the chagrin of many of their church and civic sponsors.
The whole issue, I must confess, leaves me pretty mystified. Dolls, such as me, may have been given certain visual signifiers which place us in one sexual category or the other but I can assure you sexual attraction or identity is simply not part of our makeup. To me the answer to this controversy is pretty obvious; when it comes to judging or attributing value to people, think asexually.
It’s been raining for three hours and I’m lost again; or should I say still lost. Every once in a while I get this idea that I may know where I am in relation to my map. And, of course, if where I am in reality is this corresponding spot on the map then maybe I’m not lost. It’s just that I’m not sure and there’s no one around to ask for directions, which, of course, stands to reason.
I haven’t seen anyone for quite some time, which does have its definite upside. There are no distractions to the purity of my being-here; no psychic interference or need to perform. Not that there’s anything wrong with friendly exchanges with total strangers but even those are intrusions of a sort.
I think being lost in the wilderness, as long as fear isn’t too much of a factor provides the means to eliminate identity, ego, that pesky Self that tends to get in the way of attaining a deeper consciousness and developing a profound peace within.
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.