I had nothing to add to this note originally published on the SWORG SWILL listserv on June 21, 1999, but I must say this note was an absolute gem to find in the mush of data recovery I am still mining, if for no other reason than to reinforce the notion that I always tended to agree with Kube, and this snippet was no exception. While he still writes from what is generally considered a leftist niche and mindset, his own summaries as fit in rather nicely into the right of center libertarian mold, where I have stood for a long time. So rather than two hippies in a tent, we’ve got two excavators in a hole.
But what fantastic treasure are we mining but a self-organizing return to traditional values grasped at the individual then wholistic level, without using the apparatus of state to force a groupthink upon a naturally flowing cooperation of human individuals armed with a mutual respect, for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that includes all those who would be king, queen, or even the party feen who should be operating within the epic conditions of the whole. But all good things come to an end in this world of entropy and collapse. The Swill label died a natural death after three of the five of us spent two weeks together in Paris and Amsterdam. Nothing like the sharpened elbows of ego economies to corrupt the stodgy idealism of mere scribblers.
Crash writes: I'm glad that you are so clear on your political position.
Kube writes: This was a joke right? Here are a few clearer generalisations.
1. that everyone is and should be out for themselves (individualism) 2. that everyone is mutually interdependent and only equity (of opportunity to develop what you are) can ultimately deliver what anyone needs (communism, self-interest). That is, the nurturing of the parts is the nurturing of the whole. 3. that such an interdependent and complex system can only work on the basis of control by the people (anarchism, efficiency.) 4. that the task is immense and cannot be perfected overnight (revolution, pragmatism) (also see my position on violence) 5. that human relations are inseparable from material conditions (sociology, biology) 6. that all that is springs from material conditions (materialism, religion) 7. there are loads more, but the above will do to fill in most of the traditional boxes.
Crash writes... Because I'm still working on my position and feel that I'm constantly evolving, I'm not willing to throw my hat into the standard groups (situs, anarchists, marxists, whatever).
Kube writes... Well I've been *trying* to throw in my lot with some kind of standard group or other for longer than I can remember, for the simple reason that I felt it necessary to organize and coordinate in order to have a benign effect upon a hostile social order. But the trouble with all these groups is simply that they're all fucking wrong.
Inevitably therefore, the basis of action, or of any cultural or political system which is its objective, must be individualism. In order for other people to be what you want them to be (whether you imagine this to be "sharing", "obedient", "enlightened", "beautiful" or whatever) you must create the conditions for them to make this of themselves.
And writes... This is not to say that I disagree with Situationism (I want to live in situations!), Anarchism (I want to be free!) or Marxism (we must work together!), but as doctrines they fail to ensure the enlightenment of their own members let alone society at large, and therefore, one must induct that as worldviews they are not necessarily wrong, but they are certainly lacking. My opinion is that they all lack much the same thinga sufficient comprehension of relationship and its role in the creative process (that is, in its creation of the future).
And writes... Anarchists simply refuse to acknowledge the dynamic expansive essence of human naturethey fall back onto small fragmented self-contained worlds (two hippies in a tent on an allotment); the Situationists fell into the pomo Sargasso of 'going with the flow', everything is permissible and utopia will build itself out of nothing at all; the Marxists developed dialecticsbut only to the size of a blastocyst, then stopped. All those libraries of paper, all those pyramids of ponderings on what should be done in Somalia, Timbuktu, Peking when the truth is that their members couldn't collectively make a chicken casserole out of a casserole and a chicken.
And writes... Inevitably therefore, the basis of action, or of any cultural or political system which is its objective, must be individualism. In order for other people to be what you want them to be (whether you imagine this to be "sharing", "obedient", "enlightened", "beautiful" or whatever) you must create the conditions for them to make this of themselves. A world held in the shape you want it to be only by your own expenditure of energy is a world in which you suffer eternal hunger, toil, conflict, frustration and boredom. In other words, it's a paradox, or more to the point, an enigma not a trifle.
And writes... This is the world we live in (reality on the ground, as Gabriel puts it).
And writes... Even the honest desire to control others "for their own good" leads to a contempt for others, whom do not desire "their own good" any longertherefore THEY must instead be punished for being the projected object of YOUR own dissatisfaction.
Hope you don't think that you have figured out the whole of my philosophical slant in these few paragraphs to have blitzed your eBox in recent days. The more I write the less I am confident any real communication can exist outside of fuzzy logic and be bop maxims. A thousand pages later, and there is still room for clarification, a thousand year swoosh, redundancy be damned. However any aspiring philosophy must start from a foundation of concrete suppositions. The GT foundation rest solely upon a single concept. I am nothing in a crowd, and only something by the gift of Goddelivered to me from inside me, those experiences which inspire learning, and by the brutal questioning of all of it.
The concept of God working through the individual rather than institutional flavoring is not unique to me, nor is it universally accepted, but I cannot dodge the notion that I am charged in the face of this de facto collective spirit of our contemporary age to put a uniquely 21st century spin on this ancient wisdom, and shed some light on a problem which pits humanity not against itself but against the old demons of the past, and in a word, is sin. In an early poem (circa 1981) of mine, I accuse Lucifer as the author of time. All of nature's manifestations are both inspired and corrupted by the torque of time's swirling perspective. We work finitely within this swirling framework of time, so it is obvious that we should suspect its motives, for the scientific evolutionary mind must suggest that even the most inanimate forces in the universe are driven by native purposes.
Doublespeak and unmasked falsehood crowd into every arena stealing from the human spirit every good motive as time's own author extracts a token penalty for every semblence of progress. Confusion multiplies itself with human numbers. We don't argue good versus evil. We argue me verus them. Confusion versus confusion. History failed versus false consciousness.
Perhaps the best model I can use to highlight the point I am making when I unilaterally dismiss collectivism as the prime mover of spiritual and physical matter, and thus, an unrivaled conductor of truth is the marriage, or lover's problem. I suggest that no matter how close we want to become the mirror of our partner, or merge dissonance to create a more diversified whole, an irreparable separation is evidenced against us. While ancient teachers suggest that the two become one, this metaphor has rarely been illustrated in fact, and only to prove the point that live and die in separation united only for a brief interlude, known only in need or conversely, in giving. History as failure in this regard has shown a bigotry against this unification of two into one. And if two cannot become one, how can dozens, thousands, millions, billions simply and without fracture?
Thus my simple and undeniably old-fashioned point. Even the individual is perpetually plagued and ultimately corrupted by opposing forces. One may argue this diversity strengthens the individual, and thus the whole of thousands can thus be strengthened by this diversity, I hold with the old proverb that a house divided cannot long stand. This approach say other, less insightful accusers, steers me into the traditionally conservative camp. I will not reject the label out of hand, but I hardly think anarchism the way I define it can be held up to the conservative light without displacing a few fundamental concepts of both.
My slant of personal responsibility leads to acceptance of a status quo. I am not talking about doing nothing to change the world in which we live, but I am talking about unholy alliances to the threat to personal autonomy. We are not born with natural or civil rights outside of the social contract. Too many folk presume on the basis on envy and tokenism that what Joe Blow possesses (however gained, and true, evil has laways lent a helping hand to so-called progress), Jim Jackoff is entitled to the same.
The conspiracy of universal equality while a feel good aspiration is not played out in reality bytes either. None are free from the taint of evil, and yet we struggle for greener grass in precisely the same spirit that made the grass seem greener to begin with. Competition and greed. Nothing satisfies us when we know someone else has something that seems better than what we have. The marketdriven culture (just as Marxism predicts) is a vicious line of defense against human nature and natural forces from the outside.
But the "clock" can never be turned back without catastrophe. This is human nature corrupted by greed and envy. Doublespeak and unmasked falsehood crowd into every arena stealing from the human spirit every good motive as time's own author extracts a token penalty for every semblence of progress. Confusion multiplies itself with human numbers. We don't argue good versus evil. We argue me verus them. Confusion versus confusion. History failed versus false consciousness.
"Oh but if you would just read these..." she countered. I again repeated the premise that all works claim the truth, and great works have great legions of followers. Nothing is proved right or wrong except in the minds of believers of this or that truth. Whatever Teresa might claim, Johnny Can't Read has a contradictory truth. Jimmy Can Read has another. Everybody's running around in this crazy attempt to convince everybody else that they are wrong. Teresa smiled at this empasse.
Here's a clarifying sidebar. The year,1982. Mid-summer. Midtown Atlanta. A few days before I had been approached by two strangelooking womenabout my own age just outside the Omniplex. I was 26. Teresa was defiantly overdressed in several layers of streetdrag wool skirting and sweater. I do not recall the other woman's appearance anymore because it was Teresa who gave me her phone number and the Moonie tract. For the next two weeks we saw each other daily. I visited the Unification House in the quaint residential Little Five Points neighborhood. She came by the Howell House highrise apartment I was then sharing with my mother for tea and crackers. It was actually my mother's place, but I stayed with her for six weeks upon returning from Corpus Christi where I lived for twenty months prior. We traversed the city on foot for five or six hours every day, she in low keyed proselytizing mode, me in a gentle informative resistance.
On this particular day we crossed West Peachtree and turned down Peachtree Main along the infamous corner now revitalized but on this day was still marked by the Dunkin Doughnuts and just beyond, the Christian Science Reading Room. Teresa I knew already, was a product of the 1960s subcultural elite. I knew for instance that she had spent her adolescence in a nudist camp, and that background emerging from the fog of unbearable shame had driven her to the neurotic devices of concept-defying heavy clothing and long frizzy hair in which she concealed her dark but very attractive facial lines. I knew she confessed great comforts in the teachings of the Moon organization even when she found them lacking, evident in a few details I will save for another time.
But on this day she was questioning me had I read the two or three theological booklets she had given to me a day earlier. These rather thin booklets were published in a very simplistic styling, oversized footprints, large typefaces, and hordes of colorful pictures. This literature literally reminded me of the kiddie biblestory volumes I had voraciously gobbled up as a child, only thinner. They were workbooks, with a quiz at the end. I had not read them. Confident I already knew all the answers I had simply put them aside meaning to take a half hour to skirt through the topics just to meet my obligations to Teresa, but at this point I hadn't. Besides I had loaned Teresa a thousand page theological tome called the URANTIA BOOK that had been given to me by a former lover a couple of years before. I never got it back, but of course after admitting that I had not read the booklets but I intended to do so, Teresa countered with predictable and similar remarks.
These confessions led me straight to the point I wanted to make to her. Everybody believes their own version of the truth is self-evident and required for everybody under the sun. "Oh but if you would just read these..." she countered. I again repeated the premise that all works claim the truth, and great works have great legions of followers. Nothing is proved right or wrong except in the minds of believers of this or that truth. Whatever Teresa might claim, Johnny Can't Read has a contradictory truth. Jimmy Can Read has another. Everybody's running around in this crazy attempt to convince everybody else that they are wrong. Teresa smiled at this empasse. Just then we were rounding the corner. I spied the Christian Science Reading Room and asked her if she wanted to dip into there for a few minutes, cool off, rest our feet...
She acquiesced with a sweet okay. We strolled to the reading room. This was not a very large place, fitted into a space nestled in the vee between two major thoroughfares converging at roughly a thirty degree angle, but it was airconditioned and pleasant and waiting for us. I found a chair a few feet from the bulk of the library. Teresa sat in a chair on a perpendicular wall where she was soon approached by an old woman of the faith. They were soon engaged in conversation that barely rose above a whisper. I thought nothing of this, and heard only occasional snippets as I dug into a random book I had pulled. This was a libraaaaaaary after all. Bits and pieces of their chat floated over to me. I was surprised to learn Teresa had been born a third-generation Christian Scientist.
She finally burst into a rapt amazement, profoundly moved by my explantions, and was giddy that God had shown her a sign. Otherwise nothing would have occurred to her. No threads ever match up. Nothing is connected. An intellectual zombie I'm afraid is all so many of the most devoted folks on earth appear to be. Teresa didn't suffer a loss of faith with that event, but I was overwhelmed by the finger of God...
Seemed this was a girl with quite a checkered past. They argued in ever polite tones. The woman persisted. Fifteen to twenty minutes into this routine I overheard the words good and evil, and some reference to the edenic tree of knowledge of good and evil. That was when I spoke up. "Does not the tree of the knowledge inspire knowledge of the DIFFERENCE between good and evil? I inquire of the old woman who to this point had only nodded a respectful hello to me upon entering the room. "Yes, you can say that. Different translations render it a little bit differently, but you can read the CORRECT rendering in OUR books." I replied that I had to confess that I did not know the difference between good and evil. Fire immediately plunged into eyes. "Oh you certainly do, and if you do not, you can read it in our literature. You only have to READ it to understand," she growled.
I countered again that men for thousands of years have argued over these things. I am not sure what I said next but I drew upon current ecological and ecopolitical concerns or some matter such as this, to give a few examples of what I meant by my own confusion with this complex issue of good and evil. She flew into a unmistakable rage, "Oh you are just a troublemaker. You'd better leave. Right now I say. Just leave, and don't come back. I mean it. Don't come back!" I returned the book I still had in grip to its rightful place, and said not another word. Teresa was ushered out alongside me. As the glass door swung close, the pinchedface woman, probably in her late sixties, muttered the word troublemaker one more time just in case I had missed the point.
On the street again I immediately sensed what had just happened and inquired of Teresa, "Do you know what just happened?" She didn't know what I meant. "Do you remember what we were talking about just before we stepped inside?" Again she couldn't piece her memories together. I played it out for her. "We were trying to convince each other to read each other's books. I told you that everybody believed they already had the truth, IF ONLY OTHERS WOULD READ OUR BOOKS."
Teresa's face was beginning to show a glimmer of recognition, but I continued. "Then we step inside and you are barraged by yet another somebody who does exactly what I predicted. It's in THEIR book, THEIR truth, THEIR certainty that all life must bow..." Was this the stroke of God himself drawing us into the Christian Science Reading Room for an example of divine truth, I put to her as we strolled on toward downtown on this sweltering summer afternoon. She finally burst into a rapt amazement, profoundly moved by my explantions, and was giddy that God had shown her a sign. Otherwise nothing would have occurred to her. No threads ever match up. Nothing is connected. An intellectual zombie I'm afraid is all so many of the most devoted folks on earth appear to be. Teresa didn't suffer a loss of faith with that event, but I was overwhelmed by the finger of God in this point blank proof of what I knew to be oh so true...
We are all tools in this game nobody can win.
"Ignorance and virtue suck on the same straw. Souls grow on bones, but die beneath bankers' hours.""