Concerned that the captive-bred pandas might lack basic instincts, the keepers provided sex education in the form of wildlife videos showing the animals mating in the forests. When this panda porn failed to boost the beasts’ sex drives, the scientists tried the remedy used by millions of humans: Viagra. “We’ll never do that again,” Zhang said with a wry smile. “The panda was excited for twenty-four hours. We had to beat his erect penis with a stick.”
“Most people aren’t open to this kind of thinking now because, first of all, the Church of Rome, between A.D. 200 and 300, began saying that animals do not have souls. They desacralized nature. Then at a meeting on Constantinople in A.D. 553, the Church denied the whole idea of transmutation of souls, the evolution of souls and, therefore, reincarnation, all of which had been very much a part of Christianity before that. The idea was to attract people to the Church with the reward of heaven, so the Church began teaching that the only thing that was sacred is Homo sapiens. If animals were thought to have souls, too, the proletariat would be unhappy, because animals are free spirits, they don’t need to conform to Church orthodoxy, so it wouldn’t seem fair if they could go to heaven too. Jesus said it: He said, “If you want to discover the Kingdom of Heaven, listen to the birds and follow the animals.” It’s there, it’s in the early scriptures. But at the meeting in Constantinople in 553, that reference was very carefully deleted, as was any reference to nature and animals having any spiritual or divine capacity or presence. Your Bible is thinner today than it used to be. Nature was desanctified, and animals were unsouled.”—Do Animals Have Souls? by Michael W. Fox
“As indicated, society’s contempt for the cannabis user is a thinly disguised contempt for the values of community and the feminine. How else to explain the media’s need to endlessly repudiate the psychedelic drug use and underground social experiments of the sixties? The fear that the flower children engendered in the establishment becomes understandable when analyzed in light of the idea that what confronted the establishment was an outbreak of genderless partnership thinking based on a diminished sense of self-importance.”—Food of the Gods by Terence McKenna
Why doesn’t everyone hate the Sims? It’s like you’re controlling yourself, and you’re pursuing the same things you’re pursuing in real life, only it takes about an hour to reach the highest paid job and have a partner and kids. Do you ever ask yourself if there is an actual difference between the lack of satisfaction you get from achieving those things in the game and the lack of satisfaction you get from finally achieving the things you’re pursuing relentlessly in real life? I need a drink.
“What is a poet? An unhappy man who hides deep anguish in his heart, but whose lips are so formed that when the sigh and cry pass through them, it sounds like lovely music. And people flock around the poet and say: ‘Sing again soon’ - that is, ‘May new sufferings torment your soul but your lips be fashioned as before, for the cry would only frighten us, but the music, that is blissful.”—Søren Kierkegaard, Either/Or (via larmoyante)
“Alcohol is used by millions of people, both men and women, and I will make no friends by taking the position that alcohol culture is not politically correct. Yet how can we explain the legal toleration for alcohol, the most destructive of all intoxicants, and the almost frenzied efforts to repress nearly all other drugs? Could it not be that we are willing to pay the terrible toll that alcohol extracts because it is allowing us to continue the repressive dominator style that keeps us all infantile and irresponsible participants in a dominator world characterized by the marketing of ungratified sexual fantasy?”—Food of the Gods by Terence McKenna
I have some feelings. Recently, there have been a few posts that I was surprised to find I reacted to differently than other people. The first was about Gandhi. He is called sexist and a pervert for sleeping with young girls, and also racist for claiming the Jews should have offered themselves up to the Nazis willingly. The second is about a Humans of New York post, where an apparently well-to-do white man talks about how he hasn’t experienced much discrimination from being gay, and that a lot of discrimination comes from people creating problems for themselves, to paraphrase. SJ Tumblr wasted no time in pointing out he was a white-cis-wealthy man, and his opinion is therefore invalid for many gays.
I’m going to go on a rant now, and eventually I’ll come back around to these posts. It seems to me that the idea of oppression exists in the oppressor and the oppressed simultaneously. The oppressor decides that in order to perpetuate its own identity, it must engage in the ongoing abuse or exploitation of the oppressed. It becomes a piece of their identity. For example, for the college people here, you may find yourself thinking things like “Now that I’ve declared my major as X, I should probably start joining clubs that have to do with X. I should probably get an internship doing X.” When you were a freshman, just having the major was enough. In junior year, you thought maybe you should start looking for a job in this field. It escalates. The point is, since your mental construct of identifying as an X major is completely not based in reality, there is nothing you could do that would satisfy your craving to be a “true” X major. In college students, this causes anxiety. In entire nations, this causes hatred, violence, and murder when the construct being perpetuated deals with the oppression of a group of people. In my opinion, these are different shades of the same color. Just because the orders of magnitude differ hugely doesn’t mean the root is any different. It’s a fear of limitedness. To continue, oppression comes to exist in the mind of the oppressed as well. Perhaps in the form of simmering hatred, or a victim complex. When the oppressor engages in an act of violence against the oppressed, if the oppressor responds with anger or hatred, or something that, to use a hippy-dippy word, resonates with the identity of the oppressor, the oppressor will feel justified in continuing the cycle of violence. Both parties have found themselves displaced from their true selves, and they need each other to continue to feel the way they do. There can be no oppressed without an oppressor, and no oppressor without an oppressed. This is why social justice people are often not actually that satisfied with huge leaps in progress (gay marriage, etc), because their identity is grounded in struggle, not in leading an actually socially just life. They are determined to be victims. Gandhi’s approach, and in general the approach of many branches of Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam etc. was to refuse to give the oppressor something to oppress, hence non-violence. This approach is often called ridiculous, useless, or catastrophic, because it essentially calls for lying down and accepting abuse. But what it’s really dealing with is the instant that you acknowledge an injustice done to you, your mind yes “Ah yes, I am being mistreated, I am the oppressed.” Gandhi’s way was to stop that the moment it happens and say “No. I am not the oppressed, and the things that are being done to me have nothing to do with who I am, and nothing to do with who the oppressor is. Sure, bad things are happening to me, but that doesn’t mean I am a victim.” His approach stopped fueling the fire that always came back to burn the oppressed and oppressor cyclically. The Christian parallel to this is Luke 23:34, when Jesus says “Forgive them father, for they know not what they do”, because the oppressed is stepping out of this self-repeating, unconscious cycle and seeing that these tragedies keep happening because no one is willing to step out of their identities, not even the oppressed. As far as history goes, it is often the oppressed party that begins to stop the cycle, because suffering teaches a lot of lessons, but realize that it hurts the oppressor as well to have to perpetuate this cycle. Because the truth is that it hurts to not have an identity. People would rather identify as a victim than make the mental step of leaving that identity. People would rather hurt their fellow humans than leave the identity of dominator. Identities are comfortable. When you grow up in a world that hates a group of people because they’re X, you’re going to have a hard time slowing that roll. I’m not saying bad things don’t actually happen, and that it’s all in our head. But there is a lot of emotional pain that people create for themselves by telling themselves stories. There is generalization. If you are an orange person and a purple person insults you, that’s not Purple People Oppressing the Orange Man. It’s that one person being rude. Generalizing not only lets the oppressors have strength in numbers, but it lets the oppressed imagine these insurmountable obstacles. People might tell themselves, “Oh, I’m in some group of people that a larger group doesn’t like, and THAT’S why I’ll never live a happy life.” And so on. Ultimately, everyone is responsible for, but more importantly CAPABLE OF (focus on these last two words, tumblr) their own satisfaction in life. Moving on, Gandhi had a very weird approach to things. If you were trying to overthrow the most vicious empire in the world by being nice, you would too. The reason he slept with young girls in his bed was because he was taking the practice of awareness I mentioned earlier in regards to the oppression cycle and extending it to his own sexual impulses. The point was to avoid any sexual contact, and to increase in mental awareness. I admit it was weird, and I’m not necessarily justifying that specific practice, but for real though have some context. When Gandhi told the Jews to lie down and offer themselves to the Nazis, it was again in reference to his approach of non-violence. The idea was to remove the victim mentality from the Jews. The Nazis expect the Jews to run and hide and resist, because that’s what a victim would do. But when a person gives themselves to their oppressor willingly, the oppressor has no choice but to think “Wait a minute, that’s not supposed to happen. Something is wrong here.” The knee-jerk reaction is to think that non-violence is ridiculous, and that’s kind of the point. Because all of us have the oppressor/oppressed duality imprinted in our minds somewhere. Where there is a dominator, there has to be a dominated. And many of the major religions of the world have been saying for thousands of years that this is not true (Jesus just sat on that cross and died and didn’t blame a single soul). It’s not true when you are oppressing yourself for not getting a good grade on a test. It wasn’t true when any nation killed any other nation. Any voice coming from anywhere (yourself, TV, your country, your friends, your family, etc.) telling you that you are better or worse than anything else is wrong. The affluent white man talking about his experience as a gay person, and how it lacked discrimination is not terribly significant until you see how harshly the commentator is rejecting the idea of no discrimination. They are saying “Well of COURSE you haven’t experienced discrimination, because of X, Y, and Z, but I have it so much worse than you because I’m blue, yellow, and pink, so stop acting like everything is so great and let me go sulk in my dusty corner.” The point is that it doesn’t matter at all what the affluent white gay man is saying on tumblr, but the moment you react negatively and piss all over him, you’ve already lost your own battle.
The undertow has gripped the wave. The salt washes the wound. We begin again, or not at all.
What if beginning—this beginning, any beginning, The Beginning—does not lie back, like an origin, but rather opens out? “To begin” derives from the old Teutonic be-ginnan, “to cut open, to open up,” cognate with the Old English ginan, meaning “to gape, to yawn,” as a mouth or an abyss (OED).
We gape back. We make brilliant machines for gaping. They inscribe a universe that appears to open endlessly. Indeed, its speed of expansion now seems, stunningly, to be accelerating—as though replaying the initial surge into materialization called the Big Bang.Or more suitably: the Big Birth. A strange “dark energy” pushes the universe infinitely out. In a centrifugal expansion that is paradoxically without center, glamorous conflagrations of star death glide along on the same momentum with nurseries of nebulae incubating fetal stars. The galaxies interlace like a circulatory system: the nonlinear geometry of chaos is figured everywhere. Astronomers, who had once focussed upon “jewel-like lights that moved in eternally recurring patterns,” must confront the possibility that the starry galaxies and their creatures are “barely more than flecks of froth on a stormy sea of dark matter.”Darkness upon the deep.
Do we—religious or irreligious—just gape a moment, yawn and look away? Does this sheer exteriority, this bounding boundlessness, wash out every signifier of human difference? At, say, a hundred billion galaxies times a hundred billion stars each, how should we empathize with these impossible quantities? Virtue—religious or irreligious—calls our gaze back to the streets, to meet a human scale of need with humane projects. But then: behold the chaos of suffering that bursts from the margins. Just try to focus on a single issue. On ecology, economics, race, gender, sex … They all come flooding in. Difference multiplies difference. These Others refuse to stay faceless. Their eyes form galaxies.
We contract back into the cozy microcosms of a self, a love, a solidarity of spirit. Each one collapses into bottomless waters. We fail again to close off the infinite. Not the self-enclosed totality of an abstract infinity: “For me, it can never be one,” says Luce Irigaray of this “fluid expansion.” “Can never be completed, always in-finite [infini].” Unfinished.
“Remember the clear light, the pure clear white light from which everything in the universe comes, to which everything in the universe returns; the original nature of your own mind. The natural state of the universe unmanifested. Let go into the clear light, trust it, merge with it. It is your own true nature, it is home.”—Tibetan Book of the Dead (via crscwldpt)