A pattern of waveslapping against the shorein rock, and the wavesundulate a dead fomentthat’s evidence for us.We were absent whenan express shuttleto Logan’s Pass never cameuntil we wanted to stayovernight in CampgroundC, and make the volunteerto hike the Highline trail.A pattern to adjectivalusage and modifiers likebeautifully sublime is sortof desperate, don’t youthink... as if the Belt Seawere made of GenuineImitation Leather andluridly loosened a notchby some crotch-curiousGoddess who appealsthrough stone striationsfor three graduates ofNiagara Falls to makethe pilgrimmage from NewYork and to wear yoga pantsupon a Haystack boulderand then to gossip aboutfriending a former middle-school teacher who stilllooks buff when they sawhim working out last at theFitness Center? Age-a definite pattern to suchflings that’s haphazardand never ends happily.
Every moment of every day and every night we have the sneaking suspicion that words and phrases are being manipulated and that we, as free-thinking citizens of the world-at-large haven’t a clue as to the real circumstances that mere syllables are reducing to manageable sound-bytes.
The fact is, we cannot handle the complexity of human nature and the events which set that nature in motion. We are free, and yet… not as much free as malleable to the coercive mindset of dictators and delitorious power-brokers of corporations without end.
Our freedom is the freedom that Big Oil, McDonald’s and the National Football League want us to have. Peas or Carrots… Chocolate or Vanilla… Wins or Losses… And there’s not much in between! My point, of course, is that we should be careful. Politics and Entertainment have a tendency to merge, and to blur the distinction that might make us Good and Conscientious Citizens of the Global Community. Our temptations, therefore, include those socially-estute items on the agenda which might placate us with wealth and recognition. We want those things and will continue to want them… until the apocalyptic scenario of The Book of Eli finds relevance among the southern gentry.
And my point is that we might create more forums for authentic conversation and less for feeble equivocation. That is to say, the issues are complex and deserve the full arsenal of our intellectual repertoire.
In other words, let’s talk. Let’s listen. Let’s have that dialogue in which the very syllables of words are discerned and deciphered for the sake of MEANING. What does the information mean? And how do the relationships on the ground provide the most authentic context for that meaning to become an actionable movement within the sweep of human history? In the United States and elsewhere, my sense is that intuition and analysis have been separated by an ocean of wild, undulating waves. Intuition, of course, has the advantage of going deep. And analysis might pinpoint where and when that depth might allow for some precise acumen.
For example, why would we want to believe that Vladimir Putin embodies the qualities of good leadership? He manipulates domestic consumption of rhetoric within the bounds of Russia and flouts the sensibilities of his trading partners in Europe. He rides a horse without a shirt and brandishes an ancient piece of pottery as if it belonged to him… Take care, you guru’s the western world! Imagery will only go as far as the funding of the social imagination, and the semantics of late have had the effect of defunding our hopes and dreams. Do we want freedom? First, we want the leaders we’ve chosen to articulate a vision of freedom that’s more than individual wants and desires. And second, we want leaders who expose the power-hungry for the insecure weaklings that they are… And finally, the remedy to words, words and more words that are neutered and derailed is for courageous individuals to re-attach potency to the rhetoric and to go-about on-foot to the places and the people whom mass-communication often avoids.
It’s a fascinating irony. Or perhaps a “luxury,” in the ironic sense that Monty Python suggests from the Hollywood Bowl: the more human beings, via our various cultures, move and mingle around the globe, the more military manuevers threaten our extinction … and the more we discover about the tenacity of microbes at the bottom of a lake … What is up with that?
Researcher David Pearce, after boring a hole into the sediment of Lake Whillans, says this: “We can start to build a picture of what limits life in extreme conditions and then start thinking about what might limit life on other planets.” And, of course, we hear that innocuous remark and begin to look for practical applications. Maybe we don’t have to work hard for peace… Maybe we don’t have to inhibit major industry from polluting the environment… Maybe the answer resides with those microbes and those unknown cultures and DNA sequences that we’ve never seen before… And maybe, just maybe, if we crack the code, many of us can move to Europa and establish our own colony of like-minded life forms…
Aren’t we predisposed to make these very inferences? And if you would agree, that we are, that we’d rather bypass the dialogue incumbent upon a free society, then you know the next question coming down the pike: Why not stay here, with the microbes at the bottom of that luxurious lake?
Or consider this…
It’s twelve years and counting since a group of well-organized terrorist-cells sprang into action and devastated the western world’s sense of security. At the time, I recall how people would watch the news and crawl into fetal positions, and how they began to question the ways that we work and the ways that we play… And they’d talk about it and wonder if there weren’t other ways to be in the world. And consider how the average blue-collar guy or administrative assistant responded to horror of the World Trade Center crumbling to the ground. Many, in my experience, didn’t reduce the meaning of this tragedy to mere patriotism. Nor did they rush into conversations with the rhetoric of defending our God-given freedoms. News commentators, like Cokie Roberts, Peter Jennings and Dan Rather, lost their objectivity, and became puddles that reflected the depth of the country’s loss … only it wasn’t just an open wound for the United States; it was a confrontation with the doctrine of secular salvation that Enlightenment philosophers had propagated alongside the competing ideologies of Christianity and Islam… That is, the greatest thinkers of the age–Immanuel Kant and Wilhelm Hegel–made us believe in the sanctity of the autonomous individual and the inevitable progress of history, and voila!
There it is. The dynamics of 9/11 debunk both over-arching paradigms (the preeminence of the self and the prowess of history) and send them, with those notorious flights, to the ground… And yet, here’s the place where the microbes survive and have survived. Here’s the place where we can mutate into something more than new and improved DNA sequences. Here’s the place in which we devote ourselves to more than a Sci-Fi solution to the massacres and mayhem, going on everywhere but Antarctica…