The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Wind Done Gone

1) Alice Randall, author of “The Wind Done Gone” was at the Speculative South conference (along with Harry Harrison and Harry Turtledove) and it was delightful to meet her. What was truly inspiring was her analysis of her intent. It was a quite calculating deconstruction and attack on “Gone With the Wind”—the most popular and utterly poisonous novel in American history. To have young Black children forced to read this in Junior High without providing context is inexcusable. The Margaret Mitchell estate sued her for ten million dollars, and it took her over a million just to fight the case…but she won. Her book deals with the possibility that Scarlett O’Hara had a half-black sister…and that Rhett Butler DID notice that Scarlett “wasn’t beautiful.” And that Mammy (did Mitchell really have to deny giving the woman a name? Or a family? Or any hopes and dreams of her own?) had practiced infanticide against the po’ little white babies. Wow. What a subversive book. And when I think how much America loves the story, it’s rather terrifying.
2) The concept that racism is hard-wired is interesting in a political way. I would suspect that many on the Right OR the Left might have a problem with it, for different reasons. On the Left, to the degree that you think it’s all Tabula Rosa, the idea that something like Racism might be innate (to a greater or lesser degree, but in the vast majority of people) is disturbing. But on the Right, which seems to me to assume innate characteristics, if we assume that this is innate, then a conundrum arises. If you admit (or take the position that) racism is innate, then in looking at the racial situation in America you have to see that blacks are in an almost uniquely bad situation: cut completely off from their cultural roots, outnumbered ten to one by a group that has an innate predisposition to dislike them and find them unattractive. Under such a situation, blacks would have to be significantly SUPERIOR to whites to ever get even. Ever. So you have a limited number of options: either you approve of racial quotas, set-asides, entitlements and preferential treatments to compensate not just for historical events but the seemingly inevitable conclusion that if you DON’T do these things and the subconscious racist tendency—found in almost all human beings—will manifest in any situation where whites have power over or outnumber blacks. In other words, almost all situations. Don’t want to do that? Then the only honest thing to do is say “I don’t care what happens to them” and let the chips fall where they may. But then, of course, you lose the right to ever criticize them for the poverty, crime, and lack of education—you KNOW that this will result if you don’t leash the hounds of human tribalism. But truly…you DO have the right not to give a shit. But you DON’T have the right to not care AND point the finger. Take your pick.
3) In studying writings on the unraveling of the human ego and the state of enlightenment, I begin to suspect that I understand more clearly the reason most world religions are structured as they are. They know that actual enlightenment is “the small boat”—it is not for many people. Frankly, most aren’t up to it. Most people just want to have a comfortable dream. Fine. So teachings have to be constructed in multiple levels, so that they work for you at whatever level of understanding or maturity you have reached. This is one of the brilliant things about Christianity, by the way. It can work for 5 year olds, and it can work for sixty year old geniuses—but on different levels. But if I’m right about this, even after the unraveling process, in order to move through this world, you have to wear the residual ego shell. And that implies that those social rules which abide at the level of unconscious competence or reflex, which are in alignment with the deepest emotions and genetic imperatives, will remain. Implication: those who can automatically, unconsciously, function healthfully and joyously in all three arenas need have little fear of drastic external transformation upon Awakening. Those whose external behaviors are out of alignment with their inner nature, on the other hand, will probably destroy their lives in the process. Caveat Emptor.
4) Another implication here: a bad habit is going to be based upon a false ego identity. If you could identify the aspect of your personality that clings to the behavior, you might well be able to “unravel” it by investigating it deeply enough. Isn’t that part of what psychoanalysis is about, really? I know that if you investigate a headache thoroughly, giving it weight, sound, color, motion, and so forth, in rotation, the headache vanishes. Would the same thing happen to fear? Guilt? Anger? Seems worthy of investigation.
5) Fifteen minutes in the morning: 5 minutes visualization for each of the three arenas. To this end, Once the “Heartbeat” meditation is mastered at a basic level (you can do it continuously for 15 minutes) you should go to the next level. You should visualize the end point of results in each of the three major areas. Five minutes for each. If you are sharp and clear, and excited, and motivated to TAKE ACTION and actually follow through…great. But if the visualizations are muddy and unclear, or negative emotions arise, or you can’t follow through, it behooves you to use your morning meditations to investigate the “darkness”, the confusion, the obstructions. Give them identities. Get to know them. Name them. And then use the Literary/spiritual autolysis process to deconstruct them. Meditate daily, and look carefully at the question: DO I FOLLOW THROUGH on my exercise, my emotional/physical intimacy with my partner, my career moves? If not, you know the work you have to do.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

4) Another implication here: a bad habit is going to be based upon a false ego identity. If you could identify the aspect of your personality that clings to the behavior, you might well be able to “unravel” it by investigating it deeply enough.

I’ve been a lecturer, coach, novelist and television writer. For the last forty years I’ve been involved variously in the martial arts, and for all my life I’ve studied and enjoyed yoga. Not that I worked at it as hard and honestly as I should have—I’d be a combination of BKS Iyengar and Bruce Lee if I had.

Sorry for the mirror.