I strongly suspect that Suzie is pre-rational. She is neither willing nor capable of rational thought. She is afraid to think about what stars are, insisting that they are most likely lumps of rock. When I press her on why she does not want to think about the stars, she forthrightly explains that the idea of stars being as big as the sun is too scary, and so she “can’t believe it”. She refuses to deal, in a rational manner, with explanations of how the hot water heater works and why her showers turn cold. All she can tell me is that she “knows” how it works so please stop trying to explain it to her, but refuses to test her theories against a measurable reality, and refuses to dialogue about her theories. She doesn’t want to be shown up as wrong, even if it means a warm shower. As she is pre-rational and can not use thought to look at thought, of course she is unable to transcend the self-esteem tied to being right or wrong. A rational person can easily be wrong, as it is not
them who are wrong, only their ideas at the time. But a pre-rational person is the ideas. She has not yet looked at ideas from a vantage point of rationality, and so there is no differentiation between self and ideas. If she is wrong, then she is wrong, and so would feel bad about herself. Feeling bad is bad, so she is right, and there really is no need to look at it any further than that. End of discussion, and why do you never listen to me, I’m telling you that I know how the hot water heater works, so stop trying to explain it to me! From my vantage I can see her avoiding learning to protect her self esteem, but from her vantage she never even knows that the doesn’t know, and can’t question if she knows or not.
On my part, this attitude of ignoring reason irritates me to the point of holding her in contempt and disgust. I no longer value her as a person, and I fantasize of a viral plague that can pick out and sterilize everyone as dull as she, thus easing the lemming like burden being inflicted on our abused ecosphere. How is someone who utterly lacks the drive of curiosity and stubbornly refuses her birthright of rationality much more valuable than a lemming? If she isn’t even going to use the cerebral cortex of her triune brain, why is she more valuable than a lemming?
She is Tom Robbins’ missing link – humanoid yet lacking in essentially human qualities. A living Lucy. Deaf to curiosity and immune to the compelling forces of reason, her comforting thoughts are safe. But cocoon Suzie is oh so fucking boring. How can you be challenged by a safe mass of goo in a cocoon?
And then I see how my irritation at the impossibility of communication spills all the way over into contempt, and I notice that I don’t give a damn what my emotions are towards her, because I’m talking about reason – something that is completely invisible to her. It is no longer about emotions, it’s about facts and ideas. I notice that I’m ignoring the value of emotion, and could care less if I’m being hurtful to the monkey-girl. Emotions are beside “the point”. Which is not only not nice, but as soon as I take a look I can see that it is another kind of stupid, and a base kind of stupid at that. Then I remember that I have the option to be a “centaur”, and by transcending identification with reason include and integrate both reason and emotion, include and integrate both mind and body in my sense of self. And not be quite such a dick. I have the option to open my heart to the stupid monkey girl, and see that she really hasn’t a clue, and be gentle and kind to the moron. Car
ing. Forgive her Lord, she knows not what she does.
Still, it is hard to quickly forgive her assault on the value of the better human qualities. It is not just frustrating that she refuses to engage me personally on a basic level that I consider pre-requisite to the status of adult, but her indifference, fear of, and aversion to reason are an affront to my sensibilities. Is it not insane to be so willfully stupid? I take this affront to my sensibilities personally, and get angry. I can’t just live and let live, and grow my compassion for this soul who is less well fed on the food that fosters her birth-right of human potential. I become disgusted. My soul is poisoned with contempt.
Tom Robbins, in his novel Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates talks of six qualities unique to humans, but not possessed by most of us.
· Humor – not slapstick humor, but humor that delights in the shock of newborn recognition. Humor that is not limited to but is at least capable of wit. Or more sublime, even wink at wit itself, irreverent to the core, nothing too sacred to be shown as absurd.
· Curiosity about things that do not relate to your well-being.
· Imagination. “In order to see reality, you need to use your imagination.” says salon.com’s Cary Tennis. And I suppose wit is the marriage of imagination and humor. In invention the marriage of curiosity and imagination.
· Eroticism. Of course there are many levels of eroticism, from the most physical up to kundalini up to devotional up to non dual tantra. Monkeys can and do masturbate, but a monkey can’t give good head. Mixed with the other 5 uniquely human attributes, the sexual can be fully human.
· Spirituality. Which again is enriched by and properly requires all 5 other human attributes.
· Rebelliousness. Not to be taken lightly, rebelliousness is radical curiosity, radical humor, radical imagination, radical eroticism, radical aesthetics. It is refusing social limitations for the sake of social limitations. Not mere self-interest gone wild, not a regression to the animal state, rebelliousness as a uniquely human trait can act despite self interest in the name of truth, not merely because of self interest in the name of self interest.
Monkey’s don’t have political dissidents, they only have up and comers to the Alpha Male throne. They don’t rebel against the social order, because they never transcend it to begin with. Being contrary to the Alpha male is not rebelling against the social order, it is participating in the established and accepted social order of seeking dominance.
Human politics is often about toppling the current monkey, but true rebel forces fight for their cause, not just their position after the war is won. This gives us the uniquely human pathology of religious wars. At its best, rebelling, as opposed to taking a contrary stance, requires the rebel to transcend what is being rebelled against by seeing and refusing its unnecessary limits. We have the brave rebels of the French revolution, of the Copernican revolution, and even of the sexual revolution. The cutting edge is made of sharp rebels.
· Aesthetic appreciation of beauty. Other animals may appreciate a pretty face, but their interior decorating lacks panache. Aesthetic appreciation can invoke wonder and awe. Aesthetics weds curiosity with spirituality to produce wonder. Enjoyment of a setting sun is prayer, because it is appreciation and attention and openness. A pagan celebration of our sacred world of being.
From the book:
“What is it,” Maestra had asked quite rhetorically, “that separates human beings from the so-called lower animals? Well, as I see it, it’s exactly one half-dozen significant things: Humor, Imagination, Eroticism – as opposed to mindless, instinctive mating of glow-worms or raccoons – Spirituality, Rebelliousness, and Aesthetics, an appreciation of beauty for it’s own sake.
“Now,” she’d gone on to say, “since those are the features that define a human being, it follows that the extent to which someone is lacking in those qualities is the extent to which he or she is less than human. Capisce? An in those cases where the defining qualities are virtually nonexistent, well, what we have are entities that are north of the animal kingdom but south of humanity, the fall somewhere in between, they’re our missing links.”
In his grandmother’s opinion, the missing link of scientific lore was neither extinct or nor rare. “There’re more of them, in fact, than there are of us, and since they actually seem to be multiplying, Darwin’s theory of evolution is obviously wrong.” Maestra’s stand was that missing links ought to be treated as the equal of full human beings in the eyes of the law, that they should not suffer discrimination in any usual sense, but that their writings and utterances should be generally disregarded and that they should never, ever be placed in positions of authority.
“That could be problematic,” Switters had said, straining, at the age of twenty, to absorb this rant, “because only people who, you know, lack those six qualities seem to ever run for any sort of office.”
Maestra thoroughly agreed, although she was undecided whether it was because full-fledged humans simply had more interesting things to do with their lives than marinate them in the torpid waters of the public trough or if it was because only missing links, in the reassuring blandness of their banality, could expect to attract the votes of a missing link majority. In any event, of the six qualities that distinguished the human from the subhuman, both grandmother and grandson agreed that Imagination and Humor were probably the most crucial.
But none of this appreciation for the elite of Homo Sapiens that Tom Robbins calls Humans explains my revulsion of Suzy when she flatly tells me that she refuses to consider what stars are made of because if stars were actually distant suns then the universe would be too big and that would be too scary. Or when she tells me that she does not believe in dinosaurs, or even in fossils, because the thought of the world being that old is too scary and she can’t believe it. She not only has a super human (or sub-human) lack of curiosity, but she is willfully ignorant. Ignorance with a willful purpose. This is revolting to me, and I then find her repugnant as a person altogether. I can not comprehend such a vile rejection of human potential.
I’m aware of Jung’s ideas that what we hate in others are the un-integrated shadow portions of ourselves. If I loved myself and accepted myself as I am in how I throw away my human potential by for instance not meditating regularly I wouldn’t feel so disgusted by seeing her throw away her human birthright of rational thought. Yes, I am also revolted by my own apathy and ignorance, but my ignorance is willful only in it’s lack of discipline, not in its avoidance of following a simple train of thought. I’m like a body builder who is too lazy to lift weights, which is pathetic and worse, but not like a body builder who refuses to believe that lifting weights leads to muscle growth because that would threaten my happy little world. But the difference is only in degree of apathy, indulgence and ignorance, not in the fact of it, so Jung may indeed be right that my contempt and loathing for Suzy has as it’s roots self contempt and self loathing.
So just like Suzy, it’s a challenge for me to transcend my own self-identification. Like her, my self-identification makes me less willing and able to see and appreciate the truth clearly because I have to busy myself with self-sense protection. I identify with curiosity. I identify with passion for truth. If, through the power of meditation and insight I habituated my awareness to look at curiosity and to look at passion for truth, instead of from it, my self sense would step out a level. Maybe then I would be less insulted by Suzi’s willful ignorance, and could properly appreciate her.
Writing all this down helps the process of differentiating from my disgust. Saying that she disgusts me and laughing about it somehow opens a little breathing room. The inbreath after the rant.
But to become that Centaur who can not be a dick will require more of me than this page. And so, to my discipline.