Wednesday, July 05, 2006
NOT IN FOR TREATMENT
In some piqued crest of my often placid ocean of distaste for the inanity of small talk, I began answering, “How’s it going?” with “Nonstop.” “Without my help,” or “I haven’t seen it all day.” To, “How’s the world treating you?’ I still reply, “I’m not in for treatment.” Every time that last exchange is repeated the implications of being in the world for treatment grow more numerous and profound. I have come to observe that it is a rare bird indeed that doesn’t consider itself at the mercy of the treatment they assume the world, or worse, its Creator dishes out to them. Even amongst a large group of people suffering or enjoying the same such imagined treatment, each is wondering, “Why me?” I don’t quite see how that works — unless of course your name is Truman. But if, instead of a hollow backed set in the studio of a reality show and actors reading scripts, the entire world really was designed to reward and punish just you and every one else is cooperating with the plan — yeah, I could see that — not!
I remember noticing when I was young, and much more intuitive than I’ve retuned since, that the demeanor of the adults would alter whenever I would enter a room and they would kind’o cater to me. This led me to spinning around quickly at unexpected times to see if I could catch the world changing the set or the actors brushing up on their scripts. The clincher was when I caught mother and dad cleaning up after guests had left around two in the morning of Christmas day. I never told them I’d found proof of Santa’s nonexistence, but watched as they perpetuated the lie for years. When I grew older and wiser about the world it became obvious that my first grade teacher was the only one in on the world-as-trick-or-treater plot and everyone else was victims of her judgments. After all, the hypocrisy of adulthood in reference to children has always made them go into an “adult around children watching” behavior whenever a toddler enters the room, so normal adults were off the hook. The next year I decided that all teachers were in on the teacher/god plot. When I had finally encountered enough “teachers” in school and out I realized that there is no conscious plot anywhere, there is just this perpetual reinforcement of treaters and treated, with a lot of pass the buck blurring the distinction. Like Roger Water’s teacher in “The Wall” punishing children with the frustration of his being punished by his wife. “Every body needs some body that they can look down on,” Kris Kristofferson sang, “If you ain’t got nobody, you can help yourself to me.”
Somewhere along the line this culture ingrained a hierarchical myth of knowing in which, if you could twist the words just right with more impeccable logic or utter them in a louder voice or field a bigger mob that agrees with you than the next guy, it made your certainty superior to his. So the all pervading idea that one is in the world for treatment is easy to understand so long as one considers the culture of his birth ultimately right and life as a process of trying to get it right too, like practicing a gymnastics performance to achieve a ten. To appeal to such a court or any clubby portion of it for approval, sets off alarms in those who are given to asserting their authority and the myth perpetuates, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. That way there be dragons.
Righteousness is mythical and truth is inexpressible. Intending to nail down truth reveals much more about the limits of the vision of the hammer. Expressions through art come closest when treading so obliquely light so as to polish with praise. There are shifting degrees of probability with no conclusions possible. There is no falling down if the bicycle of truth telling is not peddled, there’s very little real gravity in myths. As the coiner of the peace symbol once said, “The surest sign of a nervous breakdown is that everything you do is extremely important.” With only two weeks vacation every year the perpetuators of the cultural mainstream never relax enough to consider the back shelf of unspoken angst among its members; the frustrations of behaving according to unshared standards; the accumulation of debilitating prosthetics acquired for enhancement of appearances (they are, after all, little emperors themselves busy weaving their own invisible clothing too, just to keep up); promises gone to lifeless burdens long before term, the erosion of dreams by the reign of encroaching regulations, and the nagging notion that there's gotta be a better way if one only had time to think about it.
It is possible for humankind to evolve beyond this adulthood when individuals see that it is the terminal tautology of a myth desperately trying to wrap itself in the armor of fact. Possibilities are limitless beyond probabilities until they are explained away to the storage room of foregone conclusions, never to disturb the lawn again.
So, no, I’m not in for treatment, but if you are, be sure and hire a lot of people who will treat you well and work real hard because they’re expensive and never done with you.
I once heard karma expressed as teeing up a golf ball in a tile shower room and hitting it as hard in whatever direction as you like. Something akin to treatment occurs. It isn't doled out by the shower/world/god but as a natural result of the golfer's attitude toward and treatment of his environment. Who knew?