Originally published on October 1, 1996
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. A thousand pages later, and there is still room for clarification, redundancy be damned. However any aspiring philosophy must start from a foundation of concrete suppositions. The GT foundation rests solely upon a single concept. I am nothing in a crowd, and only something by the gift of God.
The concept of God working through the genuinely dependent individual rather than institutional flavoring is not unique to me, nor is it universally accepted, but I suspect I have been dipped in the collective spirit of this contemporary age in order to put a uniquely quiet 21st century spin on this ancient wisdom, and perhaps 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 the sin for which wethe generation now kicking against the pricksare being judged right now.
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 perspective. We work finally within this framework of time, but we should suspect its motives.
Perhaps the best model I can use to relate what I mean 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. History as failure in this regard has shown a bigotry against this unification of two into one. And if two cannot become one, how realistically can dozens, thousands, millions, billions, simply and without fracture? Thus my point. Even the individual is 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.
Personal responsibility leads to acceptance of a status quo. This does not mean doing nothing to change the world in which we live, but I am simply restating the oft noted idea about not wasting precious time on vociferous alliances whose represent a major threat to personal autonomy.
We are not born with natural or civil rights outside of the social contract, contrary to what our founders told us, or what conservatives and liberals try to insist is their birthright. As an American citizen, yes, certain privileges are bestowed upon her children as natural rights and civil rights because of a social contract, but as a human being without God, there are no rights, only grievances and positions that one wins or loses in steady nullification of the natural because the world is a conduit of transgression, a mean, ugly, terrifying assault on self and the other. Of course there are wonders and pleasures in this transgressive world, but these wonders exist despite our presence, not because of it. Political correctness is the perfect metaphor for this condition where meanings of words are diverted from a common meaning to a more specific task warranted by the political realm. The graces of political correctness are far removed from any natural graces, but are designed by man's misapprehension of God, of perfection, of the spirit of best practices, we might say today.
Too many folk presume on the basis of envy and tokenism that what Joe Blow possesses (however he gained it, and yes it appears self-evident that evil has always lent a helping hand to all so-called progress), Jim Jackoff is entitled to the same. The conspiracy of universal equalitywhile a feel good aspirationis not played out in reality bytes. None are free from the taint of evil, and yet we struggle for greener grass while negating 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 crowds 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 do not argue good versus evil. We argue me or us verus them. Confusion versus confusion. Good and evil.
Here's a clarifying sidebar. The year1982. Mid-summer. Midtown Atlanta. A few days before I'd been approached by two strangelooking women about 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. Not being naîve to the Unification cult's ways and means, having hit the books on as many of the major denominations among world religions I could find in the libraryfor several years by nowseeking an anecdote to the poisonous experience, I and many, have suffered at the wishing well of the Jehovah Witnesses, I decided I was prepared enough to befriend this curious girl with eyes wide open.
One 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 tiny triangular 24-hour 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 hide 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, or pleasantly wrong, evident in another anecdotal tale I will save for another time.
Keywordbeauty, animals, humans
Beautiful weather, a little warm, but Teresa still wore her heavy skirts and sweater tops. We crossed the busy intersection. I never asked her if she was too hot. Evidently she dressed herself as she chose. None of the other female devotees wore such covering on these hot summer days. A simple concept explained my reactionI took people as they were. Teresa was always polite, gentle, soft, compelling, and now 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 pages, large typefaces, and hordes of colorful cartoon drawings, reminding me a child's publication. This literature literally reminded me of the kiddie biblestory volumes I had voraciously gobbled up as a child, only thinner. These were workbooks, with a quiz at the end. I had not read them. Confident I already knew all the answers I had put them aside meaning to take a half hour to skirt through the topics to meet my obligations to Teresa, but at this point I hadn't done so. Besides I had loaned Teresa a 1500 page theological hardcover called the URANTIA BOOK that had been given to me by a former lover a couple of years before, so I expected a day or two grace period. I never got my volume back. 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. Evereybody'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 having never stepped into it to date, thought this was the perfect time to test the spirits in living color, so I asked her if she wanted to dip into the Christian Science operation 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 older 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. 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.
I'm 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 fools in this game nobody can win. My girlfriend, however, would soon go the way of all proselytizers once she finally realized I was never going to be a convert. With a touch of sadness I realized our salad days were numbered.