The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Where does "further" lead?

“Impartial Distrust, combined with an understanding of the word `further’, is all that is necessary to awaken from the dream state.”
--Jed McKenna

While at the African Martial Arts symposium this last weekend, an Afrocentric gentleman expressed disbelief that I didn’t agree with his contention that white people, white culture, is especially violent and corrupt. How could I see and acknowledge the injustice, lying and prejudice, the colonialization and mass murder, without seeing that, well, white people are as inferior as white racists think black people are..?

Ahem. Sorry, can’t go there. My new friend is trapped in the dualistic mind-set, I’m afraid. But the corker was that he suspects that I don’t let myself think that “truth” because I want white folks to buy my books. Wow. That’s actually kind of interesting. He’s close to a truth there, but not squatting on it. The truth is that if I didn’t have to live in a world dominated by white faces, that I might not have begun the philosophical inquiry that led me to mistrusting all of presented reality, and eventually to the spiritual path I find myself walking.

To believe that whites were especially corrupt would demand the same kind of thinking I’ve always loathed in bigots: to assume that the presenting situation is equivalent to a peek into the soul. In gradeschool, I KNEW that I was smarter than the teachers assumed I was, and while it hurt, I felt myself sort of bifurcating…a quasi-personality disorder where I was compartmentalizing the pain while acting cheerful and upbeat.

The fear was indeed that I would not be able to survive if I let people know how angry and hurt I was. But the outgrowth was that I trusted nothing, and no one, to tell me what reality was. Not the church or the state, not my parents or teachers, not men or women. No one. I had to work it out for myself.

Wherever I looked, I watched people organizing their reality to make themselves look good. Realized that from every human perspective, the world is revolving around whatever group the viewer belongs to. Wow. And that their entire philosophical set will exist to justify their greed and fear, while making it look noble and loving. Double wow.

Sorry, but I can’t buy into any of this crap. And that was what separated me-I had no tribe, really until I met science fiction fandom. And you all know the problems I have THERE.

Now, we’re all alone. Every one of us goes in the box by ourselves. But we deal with that reality differently. For me, every time I thought I had an answer, I assumed it was just another question, and went further.

The whole “Lifewriting” thing with balance and the Hero’s Journey and so forth, is designed to point in the direction of Truth. That Truth is ascertained by taking action, not by reading philosophy. It can be glimpsed as we try to balance our lives, but never quite put into words. Want me to try?

“There’s nothing. And that nothing is everything.” Pretty bad, huh? If you can make true sense of that, (not fortune-cookie sense) you’ve glimpsed it. If you feel a bit sad, but simultaneously exhilarated, you’ve glimpsed it. If you laugh at the cosmic joke, you’ve glimpsed it.

And that glimpse makes a mockery of black versus white, gay versus straight, male versus female, Christianity versus Islam, Right versus Left. They are all part of the same thing, the differences created by human perception, even the perception of individuality created by perception, like a snake eating its own tail. It’s a joke, the biggest joke there is.

While I’m alive in this world, I feel like I’m sitting in a movie theater watching a flick. And it’s entertaining. But I don’t buy it for a moment. Watching each side of a political argument using the same data to come to different conclusions is like watching two men argue about which side of a sandwich is better.

And yet, it doesn’t mean that, from the perspective of the game, there is not truth or “better or worse.” But you can never forget it’s a game, or you’ll go right to sleep.

One of the most interesting signs of the ability of human beings to perceive flaws in others that they cannot see in themselves is in the accusation of blind sheep-hood, made by the Left and the Right about each other.

Global Warming, according to the Right, is a boondoggle slavishly adhered to by lock-stepping eco-zombies worshiping at the church of science. No thinking person could possibly believe this crap.

Support for Iraq, according to the Left, is a mind-warp inhabited only by Bush-worshipers who can’t see the forest OR the trees, people so frozen with fear that they’ve done a horrible thing that they cannot even process the truth.

Each side is so self-righteous. Each side is employing the exact intellectual plowshares that get beaten into swords as soon as the voices get out of control…or the talking stops.

It would be sad, except that I remember that I’m just watching the show. As soon as Jason is grown, however, I’m looking for the exit. I’ve enjoyed about all of this I can stand.

No, I’m not talking suicide. That’s that life-death duality thing again. This is bigger than life and death.
The whole “adulthood” thing is necessary at least because only an adult can raise a child. Want to see what happens when children raise children? Look at the disintegrating aspects of the inner cities. Look at the percentage of violent criminals who never had a biological father in the home. Look at people who spend their money on depreciating goods. Watch the infomercials promising something for nothing. Watch the politicians who can sway the country by punching the fear or shame buttons, the lawyers who free murderers by playing the race card, the pundits who sell hate-speech disguised as satire.

It’s all so sad. And funny.

God, I love this life.
“Further” is the key. When you think you’ve got it, you don’t. If you think you’ve run out of “it” you’re close. If you can resolve those dualities, you’ve got it. As long as you know that “it” is nothing. And everything.

Isn’t this fun?


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