I sometimes wonder how it is that "normal" people come to fill their lives with plans and appointments. Are they forever searching to fill every crack that appears in their schedule? Why do I set myself apart from the "normal" people? Because in a very real sense, I am not normal. I am mildly psychotic, maladjusted, and use a steady supply of energy to avoid lapsing into complete confusion about life and our lives. It is I suppose because of the youthful uprooting combining with the parents themselves being in a state of uprootedness as regards family values, societal norms, sense of humor, sexual taboos etc.
I was a rather precociously bright young boy, alternately viewing life through the boyish optimism of one who continually discovers that no task is too arduous, no feat too great and the shadowed gaze of one who sees into most human activity as an attempt to hide from the Truth, or at least to ignore it in the hope that it won't stop and knock here. I think the shock of realizing that I was totally unequipped to deal with my "peers", who had been learning how not to stand out too much from each other for several years already, was what stopped me from simply assimilating the culture and becoming firmly grafted. I learned to remember I was an outsider, and took no small pleasure in being able to cast myself alternately in and out of the looking glass, to view "being here now" as a phenomenon as experienced and as observed at the same time. Naturally I failed to fully wear the mantle of the experiencer, as many of life's foibles can only be performed while in a state of suspended disbelief.
So I come quite naturally to my own state of experiential reality. Set aside as much as I may draw myself, I am at most, and at least myself a unity with my own paradigm. The experience of jumping in and out of the frame of reference is a frame of reference in and of itself, and forms a complete reality matrix in which I am embedded. I try to explain sometimes how to look at events while being part of them but I usually fail. I am not alone in my matrix. I know from reading and observing art that there are many, many other people who have gained some such ability, to a lesser or greater extent, as I have. The truly visionary are often stoned or ridiculed, because "normal" people cannot see the whole of their ideas, or even several layers of them, at once. I think that many people are at their metaphysical limits when they step one layer outside their paradigm. They would experience an incredible psychic shock if they were transferred to another life, in perhaps another time, here on our cozy little planet. Imagine the devastation if you will, if they were somehow torn completely from the matrix of life as we know it and supplanted in some completely alien form, perhaps not even existing, as it were, in a geometry definable with our tools?
I feel an almost malicious joy at the prospect (and I think this joy is reflected in much of Western religious dogma) . How many times have I wished that somehow the world would slip a gear, and instead of a freight train hurtling towards perhaps its doom, carrying five billion screaming passengers and enough concentrated unstable matter to annihilate the whole railroad, somehow there would be five million of us, blessed with most of the retained learnings of a few hundred thousand years of observation and reflection, struggling to live with our environment and with our "super-environment" as well.
I think of our super-environment as being all that is real, but not necessarily perceptible to the immediate sensibilities. It includes concepts (to start out easy!) that have been actually approached from two entirely different concepts, (at least it would appear - more shortly ) such as the ultimate flexibility , change and oneness of the "stuff" of our universe. The zen and the quantum views may both share some proverbs, if they can agree to disagree on some common symbols. But are these truly just a coincidently similar view distilled out of two totally diverse disciplines? I think not. Is not modern science an offshoot of Eastern mythologies, folklore, and religion? Western thinkers trying to codify their beliefs, trying to avoid the taoist intentional contradictions, built systems rooted in observation (of the world, of their minds, of the unexplainable) that grew in complexity and explanatory power until they rivalled the mystics in their ability to render the "stuff" around us less of a mystery. But the contradictions were not removed entirely - they were simply worked around, avoided by careful selection of paradigm. By maintaining their systems at various levels of explanation, or detail, the early thinkers (and us today) were able to build "mini-pictures" of the universe, which were valid if considered within their original bounds. Step outside these boundaries, which we certainly may, and the systems cease to depict reality so much as to entertain and entangle the mathematician, the logician, and the metaphysician.
For no explanatory system can neatly include the entire universe without paradox, contradiction, and no consistent system can explain the entire universe without exception. This is all right, so long as we do not crudely persevere in trying to find, "the smallest indivisible particle," or the geometric "straight line." Simple Newtonian mechanics works very well at our human scale of time and space. Simplistic metaphysics (religion) can be long lived and very compelling, so long as their gods are not lanced by logic, or their Mysteries unravelled by science.
I am impressed by the direction of Buckminster Fuller's thinking, in his hopes that he can help nudge the rest of us toward a more world-fulfilling lifestyle by inventing the solutions needed by that lifestyle... I think he hopes to create some kind of self-fulfilling prophecy, that by believing strongly enough that people can live together peacefully and fruitfully, someday we will.
I think that most human energy today is being expended in the garish and exhausting pursuit of individual and group neuroses, rather than in the healing and wealing of the planet. I believe most forms of mass "culture" are developing into pacifiers, as another way to get past another day without staring Truth in the eye and saying "I take my stand here." A huge portion of our race, endowed with the same creative and loving characteristics as us lucky ones, self evidently ordained of the same rights to life, liberty, and their pursuit of happiness, fulfillment as human, self organizing beings, is today locked in a formidable struggle simply to obtain daily sustenance, while a small portion of our race hurtles unchecked towards a dismal future where our precious mineral resources, and indeed the natural regenerative resources of our planets biosphere, will be depleted beyond redemption, converted to hazardous energies and toxic substances churning about the living quarters of our planet for decades, even centuries, to come.
So what of the day to day here in the USA? Obviously 99.9% of us, myself included, are living an incredibly high energy lifestyle, with little or no regard to the consequences. The economy is our only seat belt, and it is tampered with enough to take away any early warning signs it may give us. Most of us don't even think of it as a high energy life-style. Just driving to work, shopping at the supermarket, maybe the odd luxury here or there. Surely this is no "high energy" conduit? But this is where we are locked into our conventional paradigm. Even just outside our generation and our country live people who toil long and hard just to feed their families and keep a roof over their heads. Beyond our sight, out of touch, are the multitudes, for whom a weeks salary as a clerk would feed a family for months - and that would be the use it would serve. If only the job market for clerks was better in the stinking desert! I for one am obviously aware of the inequities, and the problem, and I am not even volunteering to give up my large automobile, or my spacious apartment, to fight the battle against entropy. But I do consider it. I wonder how it can be achieved. Perhaps if there were a larger movement towards it, and away from our day to day scramble for the luxuries to whihc we are accustomed, I could be more flexible, too. The needs created and pacified by the electronic media could be satisifed at a lower level of energy expenditure if they were not muted and transmuted into the cheap and physical all the time.
Good, close, sincere human contact. Argument, debate. Dialogue, dialectic. Love and trust, endearment over time instead of "love at first sight." Forgiveness, and enlightenment. This is what we really need.
A tall bill of goods, to be sure. I think there are probably people around pursuing these ideals, just as there are motorcycle gangs, and discotheques fueled by quaaludes and cocaine and cool, where people who have settled for now on those answers can feel the comfort of the crowd, and the convenient smugness of being confirmed as part of the "right" group - by the other people in that group.
Perhaps alcohol can even return to being the convivial partner in rituals, celebrations and bachannals instead of the sinister medication of choice for "great" nations overrun by clinical alcoholics. Do we in the U.S. not sneer smugly at the Soviets when we read of their alcohol problems? Who are we kidding? Nancy is talking to Joe Six Pack (more than Ronnie ever did!) when she says "just say no" and she doesn't even realise she should be addressing why that beer or cocktail is in your hand tonight.
© Huw Powell