Wednesday, February 23, 2005

A Response to One Who Commented on this Web-Site

To "Hypnogogic Tripper"--wherever you are (out in cyber-space):

Thanks for the response. Since this reply of mine will have obvious bearing on the general intent of my blog itself, I have decided to include it as an actual posting, for the benefit of any others who may also chance to read it besides yourself.

I appreciate the time you gave to (1) reading what I had written, (2) THINKING about it, and (3) composing an intelligent response. To reciprocate, I will try to respond to your response, more or less line-by-line:

Regarding being true to oneself, and where to draw the line between THAT and one's (so-called) "obligations" to our larger society, I will begin by repeating the famous lines from Shakespeare's Hamlet (they are included, as you may remember, in the posting of my blog which you commented on):

This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to ANY man.

(My emphasis)

Yes, you and I obviously agree on the idea of "encourag[ing] the challenging of established ideas and beliefs," and I too have as a goal (or more accurately a wish or desire) to "one day live in a world of open minded individuals" (your words). And I agree with you that this goal CAN be helped by the spreading of ideas--exactly as you and I both appear to be busily engaged in doing.

But, unlike yourself (or at least how you appear to me at first glance), I am more of a pessimist than an optimist--especially as regards our society and the overwhelming majority of 'average' human beings (and 'average' MINDS) which compose it. It would seem that I have less faith in their ability to be rational human beings (AND learn and grow wiser) than do you. Please forgive me, if I read you wrongly.

I agree with the late Erich Fromm (and many another wise soul) who said that this intellectual (and spiritual) advancement of the entire human race--this advancement in the direction of greater use of REASON and COMPASSION and COMMON SENSE, and less reliance upon primitive animal EMOTION and FEAR and HYSTERIA, this advancement upon which we in the vanguard of thinking human beings have pinned all our hopes (and indeed, we really have no other option, unless we simply want to kill ourselves)--this advancement, I say, may take a great deal of time to actually accomplish--even (as Fromm said) "thousands of years." For what we are really talking about here is the actual spiritual, emotional, and intellectual EVOLUTION of the human race itself, and I think we will all have to agree that this will take TIME, that--however much we may wish to the contrary--it simply cannot be accomplished in merely ONE lifetime.

This does not mean, of course, that we should simply GIVE UP trying to improve or remedy the situation--no indeed! The situation--dire as it obviously is--would DEFINITELY benefit from EVERY PERSON'S diligent, conscientious, and unfailing efforts to improve it by every reasonable means.

Now I have to agree with you that if one makes oneself into a 'squeaky wheel' (so to speak), and SQUEAKS TOO LOUDLY, one will eventually get NOTICED; and (in cases of persons such as myself) that is not always a good thing. Believe me, I UNDERSTAND what you are saying. 'Squeaking too loudly' would, in some instances, definitely seem to be self-defeating.

But I am kind of in a 'catch-22' situation: if I don't 'squeak' at all, I most definitely won't get noticed at all--particularly by the sympathetic minds I most wish to attract and with whom I most wish to communicate--nor will I ever be likely to be able (as is my wish) to contribute in any real or substantial way to the changing (and enlightening) of our society. You will undoubtedly see the quandary I'm in. It seems that if I am to contribute AT ALL (and be honest while so doing), I must accept some level of real risk along with the opportunity.

As regards your words concerning the "ESTABLISHMENT" (as you state it), I will say--once again--that I have little faith in it (or them). The 'establishment', or 'status quo' appears to me, and has always appeared to me, as extremely intransigent, extremely 'fossilized' by tradition, custom, or routine, extremely insecure, and extremely PARANOID concerning the loss of their position(s), power, or privilege, as a result. I know I'm not by any means the only one who realizes this. Persons in positions of power or authority have always been (it seems to me) like this, and probably always WILL be like this (unfortunately), until such time as the human race actually evolves away from this aspect of our animal emotional heritage. And (as I have said) that will probably be a very long time in coming. Read, if you have not already done so, Harlan Ellison's brilliant little sci-fi short-story "Repent, Harlequin, Said The Tick-Tock Man." (It is referred to within the pages of my blog.) It contains MUCH of great relevance to this discussion.

Creating a 'space' for oneself, in order to have room in which to live as a free individual (even if only for moments at a time, here and there)--yes, this is certainly possible--at times and with certain necessary restrictions (or precautions), and I have even done this myself on some occasions.

I have quoted before now the powerful words of Whitman, words relevant to this present discussion, but I will do so again now, for your benefit. They might easily be stated as my very CREDO of life itself, as if I myself had written (or thought) them--they inspire me so:

I know I am restless, and make others so;
I know my words are weapons full of danger, full of death,
For I confront peace, security, and all the settled laws, to unsettle them;
I am more resolute because all have denied me
Than I could ever have been had all accepted me;
I heed not and have never heeded either experience, cautions, majorities, nor ridicule,
And the threat of what is call'd Hell is little or nothing to me,
And the lure of what is call'd Heaven is little or nothing to me. ...

(From the poem "As I Lay With My Head In Your Lap Camerado")

My friend, you whoever you are who took the time to write to me with your intelligent thoughts and concerns (which ARE appreciated), I KNOW that because I dare to challenge the 'system' so vocally and brazenly, my days of 'freedom' may in fact be limited. But bear in mind that I am only expressing THOUGHTS, or IDEAS (as you said); ACTING upon those ideas is a different matter entirely, and I do not ever intend to give the 'Powers-That-Be' any legitimate excuse to apprehend or confine me. Of course, they may try to do just that, excuse or none. I REALIZE ALL OF THIS. I have even been through some of it before, in times past. I am very familiar with all of this, though naturally, this does not make it taste any better in my mouth. I feel sometimes like 'Jesus' must have--who, when in the Garden of Gethsemane, said that he wished he could "shrink from that bitter cup" of trial and adversity he knew he was facing, and was about to have to endure (whether he wanted it or not).

As you yourself mentioned (or alluded to), however, I do not necessarily try to INVITE this disaster by intentionally RUBBING my individualism (or specific 'questionable' individual TRAITS) in their very FACES--although it may sometimes SEEM like that, since I am only a human being, too (after all), and also subject to the same emotions of anger and impatience (though perhaps a little less so than those I call into question because of the same). No, I am not always or necessarily TRYING to anger them, or anyone. I am only trying my honest best at all times to simply BE MYSELF, without nod or apology to anyone or anything--no matter how large or threatening or terrifying it may seem (or prove to be). And I realize I may very well end up only making myself a convenient target for those who love their positions of power a little TOO much, and hate individual freedom of speech (especially my own) a little TOO much--especially when it seems to threaten their power and authority, or call into question the 'received' 'Party Line' of thinking and/or behaviour.

I know all of this, and I have accepted all of this. I have thought about all of these things very carefully and repeatedly FOR MANY YEARS NOW. I have simply decided that FOR ME, there is no other way I can actually LIVE in this soul-dominating, mind-stifling world of ours--a world which (as Housman said) "I never made", and still be--as Shakespeare said--"true to myself"--my deepest, truest, most individual, most unique and God-given, SELF--that self which is truly mine and mine alone, and which no man (or combination of men) can EVER take from me, without my consent (which they shall never have).

Thank you again for your words.