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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Quest

The Quest

Seeking the Trancendant among the mundane

As I've said...I've spent my life inadvertantly reinventing the wheel...rediscovering the World.
At a young age, I came to the realisation that things were not as they seem...that Authority could not be trusted...that the pat "answers" were inconsistant, internally incoherant and (often) outright fabrications.
So off I went, seeking answers to the most Fundamental Questions.
Building a workable, more consitant Model of the World.

It began, in retrospect, with my folks..and their misguided attempts to shield me and my brother from the stupidity, avarice and malice of the World. Too, there were attempts to protect us from their own shortcomings.
We didn't find out about the divorce till it was a done deal. We never heard a word about sex, drugs or any of the other sordid realities of life until we were already well versed in them, of our own volition.
So from the beginning there was mistrust of that most basic Authority, one's parents.

This basic mistrust inevitably (?) transferred to other forms of Authority.
As I've covered in the other Blog, 5th grade teacher's over-the-top scare-mongering about Marijuana...equating it with PCP, Coke and Heroin. The strange disconnect with what we were told about alcohol, and what we saw and experienced in real life.
Cognitive Dissonance...Fundamental Dishonesty as Policy.
I, almost alone among my peers, never forgot this unintentional lesson.
When the Lutheran Pastor at the church we were dutifully attending (even though it was obvious that my folks weren't "True Believers") was caught w/ his hand in the cookie jar...another lesson learned...start looking for inconsistancies there, in religion, as well.
All Recieved Wisdom, all Authority, was be taken with a whole shaker full of salt.
In 6th grade, when my budding genius made the teacher (Mrs. Doris) uncomfortable...when I asked too many questions, and wouldn't be satisfied with the equivilent of "because I said so..." or "That's just how it is..."...I was taken to the hallway and told that I was a "basic thinker" (something I knew to be false, LOL) and to "sit down and shut up."
Even then, what I can only describe as my Empathic qualities were quite functional....I could see right through her...she was afraid of the kid who was smarter than her. That's the first instance I remember of this "Empathy"...being conciously aware of subtle cues...facial expressions..body language...quiver in the voice...
To be honest, it kinda freaked me out.
It was the first time I encountered the Fear of Tall Weeds.
This woman intended to hammer me into shape...put out my Light....mow me to a more managable level.
(This idea was given flesh when I saw Pink Floyd's "The Wall" a few years later.)
More and more evidence was, accidentally, gathered.
To be clear, I didn't go looking to be be a freak...
I just noticed things.
And remembered.
7th grade...(seems like i had pneumonia, etc every year) I was excused from PE, a lot.
This was alright with me...I spent the cold, rainy days in the library...occasionally glancing out the window at the "Real Men" running in circles in the sleet.
I hated PE.
I quickly learned that if I wasn't "excused" for illness, all I need do was "forget" my shorts...and I'd be excused (and ridiculed) from participating in the testosterone poisoning.
I learned contempt for Jocks...for "Real Men", this period.
They, it seemed, hated me...I was a" sissy"..a "fag" (?)...I had to look that last one up.
But i noticed that the most 'Manly", most "Macho" among them were the first in line to get my help with homework...wanted to cheat off me on tests....
And these were the folks held in the highest regard by the entire social structure of the school.

Lip service to brains.But that was about all.

Dishonesty, inconsistancy, Cognitive Dissonance... as Policy.

The Myth was more real than the Reality...and woe to him that saw this, and actually said something about it.

Fast foreward... a brief note on High School.
I aced every class...up until the time I ceased to care.
HS was all about social status...cliques.
I found that I was outside of all of them.
I was a "Band Fag" (there's that word again)...and I was in AG (FFA)...and in "Accellerated Classes"...
And I didn't fit with any of them.
By 11th grade, I was a Stoner, as well...the lies about Weed laid bare.Here was a group that would at least tolerate me.Got a kick out of "blowing their minds"..

All this time, I'm reading...above and beyond what I was supposed to be reading.
By the time my class got to "Red Badge of Courage"...and began belaboring it, wallowing in the "average" student's inability to grasp the simplest of concepts...I was at the back of the class, reading the Bagavad Gita (sp-2)...or "Howl" or Blake..or Neitzche.
Passed the tests, turned in homework (often before class was let out)...and was failed for "not participating".
Senior year, an English teacher ( she was hot! but I don't remember her name) counted me "tardy" one too many times...she said, to teach me a lesson. She was mad that I "wasn't performing up to my potential"...meaning, it seemed, that I refused to slow down and help the idiots along.
So to detention I hour after school, for 3 days.
Sat there and read whatever Graduate School- level book I had to hand...homework was long ago finished...
Apparently, this was insufficient punishment...I was fine with sitting there reading..
They tacked on more D-hall...7 days.
So i quit going to D-hall at all.
I was already on the "watch list" due to my hair-length (a subject I'll go into great detail about in the future)
More and more hours of Dhall were tacked on...160 hours, at the end...that they "had" to send me to "In School Suspension".
A week's worth...
Again, this was required work was finished within an hour, and i spent the rest of the day reading.
More required work was given...punitively, I think...and was finished with.
So the Powers that Be hauled me to Cosmetology...held me down, and cut my hair...then sat me down, all 3 Vice Principals to threaten and cajole and feign concern.
I was told that if I continued to ignore Dhall, I wouldn't graduate.
By this time, my Antiauthoritarian Rebelliousness was at an apex...
I told them, Thanks for the concern...then I told them that they were fired.
I quit..right then....But I didn't tell anyone.
I was suspended, in absentia, for a month.
This was in April.
I hung around town...went to the library...generally fucked around...and avoided the redneck cops.
On the very day that I decided to formally quit school, I intercepted the mail and found the letter saying I was formally Expelled..
Big shock to my Dad (I was living with him at the time)...he had no idea this all was going on.
So I got my GED...took the 2 % of the Nation...
Looked foreward to a Liberal Education at University.
Big, Gigantic Disappointment, there...I found more High-School...No philosophical discussions over coffee and beer...nothing but boring classes, institutional mazes, and carreer-track grubbing...
Profound disillusion, on my part.
College was not about learning...about using one's mind.
It was more BS about getting a carreer and getting by with the least thinking possible.
I spent most of my time in the library.
Turned in homework, aced all the tests...
Turns out attendance...and "participation"... was of greater import than growing my mind, or the accumulation of knowledge.
I should have read the handbook more carefully...
And I most likely should have insisted on attending Brown or Oberlin...instead of Sam Houston State.
And i'm certain I should have insisted on keeping my Major in Philosophy...instead of changing to a "more reasonable' radio/television/film....Jobs, ya' lnow...
So, at the end...after retaking my first year's a community college...I'm hauled into the Dean's office...and told that I must retake those classes AT THIS institution, where I had failed them....the communuity college didn't count.
Fine Print!...
So there I was, certain I would be disowned... the Military didn't want me (interesting story)...
And I resolve to be a Chef (I had been cooking for a long while, now)...and educate myself...and run off to Austin to pursue music....and hopefully find an environment more in tune with my , by now, inherant antiauthoritarian rebelliousness.
Leave the suits and ties,commingled with the shitkicker boots, of East Texas and remove to the nearest Liberal Enclave.

Of course, as it turned out...Austin was already well into it's attempt at Respectability...
The Armadillo had closed down...the hangover was raging.
The Weird Legions of Redneck Hippies were on the retreat, their energy spent, before the onslaught of "Yuppies" from California...high tech corporations...all the pretensions associated with leaving the unruly past behind.
A Crusade of Conformity was underway...with a patina of the good old Austin Weirdness kept around for the Tourists.
But it wasn't real...
The music and art scene was being codified and regulated and hijacked by corporate interests...
Pot was still plentiful, and was smoked at bustops throughout the city...
But the anti tobacco brigades were on the laws forbidding public consumption of beer, permits for uniquely Austin things like Eyore's Birthday...and omnipresent Cops...
Palpable repression of everything that made Austin Cool...
They cleaned out the Drag...ran off the Drag Worms...street musicians needed expensive permits...taxing the street vendors out of existance....
I lasted almost 3 difficulties got the better of me.
To the Hill Country I the Family Farm that had been moved, a few years back, from East Texas to West Central Texas...

That was 16 years ago.

My folks, of course, remember all of this altogether differently...
Their own role in my crazy life-course has never been acknowledged...
It was me, and my own stubbornness and drinking and dope-smoking and lackadaisical behaviour...
To me, I dealt with the World as I found best I could, given the aforementioned inconsistancies and mythology...
Turns out, from my point of view, at least, that I wasn't meant to "fit" in this world they had fashioned.
Integrity, though it was much ballyhooed, was not , really, all that welcome.
I found that I couldn't lie for a buck...sales was out.
I couldn't work in a "corporate environment", I caused too much trouble', continually pointing out inconsistancies and generally stupid, wasteful ways of doing things...I made waves where none were wanted...nevermind all the rhetoric at the "pep rallies" about striving for excellence.
Something inside me, after all of the above, made it impossible for me to function in a world that was built on lies and was more and more obvious, to me.

So here I am, almost 40...a crippled, bisexual, autodidactic extreme Jeffersonian Liberal...unused to, and unwilling to edit or dumb down my thought for the benefit of the unthinking, fragile minded herd...brutally, painfully honest..about politics, and the shape of the World as I see it...
None of the qualities that I think of as my best traits, hold any value to the world I find myself embedded in.
The incurious masses fear and loath me (the empathy, again...)
And my anomalous-ness that I have clung to and cherished from the get-go...only separates me further from the rest of the species.
Indeed, I feel, most days, like my own subspecies...
Homo Sapiens Amfortii...

What is the lesson...what was gleaned from all this rediculous chaff??
That the World...this "Civilisation"...this Machine that we, and our Forefathers, have constructed over milennia...
This edifice has, at it's foundations, numerous falsehoods and assumptions that have been built upon, repeatedly...and these have, in turn, been built upon..and so on...untill the whole quaking mass is unstable...
We have tacked on "solutions" to every "problem" that reared it's head, haphazardly adhering various and sundry "fixes" and "patches" to the heap...untill the entire thing is now swaying dangerously.
It is unthinkable, for most folks, to question the value of this edifice.
To do so would open too many doors in the minds of men...and the whole thing would hafta be torn down....or it would simply collapse under the weight of it's integral absurdity.
So everyone spends his days ignoring the Dissonance...and quite a few endeavor to "hack at the branches of Evil..."... but none dare "strike at the root".
To do so, and to be honest about it, would require the destruction of it all...and a thoughtful rebuilding, into something more, if not Good and Just, at least more sustainable.
I fear that we, as a species, are not up to that task.
We have (most of us) grown to love our chains...our absurdities.
And, above all, we have grown too lazy and complacent to be so honest.

Thus, the Machine "selects" for dishonesty....for Psychopathy...
For Willful Blindness and for those who are able to look away, and truly believe that "There is no Alternative".

My Hope, thin raft that it is, is that someday...100 or 1000 years hence...some surviving Fire Monkey will be sifting through the rubble of the World That Was and come across my Library.
And that the Spark will Glow in the Darkness.
I fully believe that we are already in the beginnings of a New Dark Age.

My Purpose, such as it is, is to be St Benedict...or one of those Irish Monks...a new Monasticism, Secular in nature...preserving the Light of Reason, in the Vain Hope that we can do better next time.

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