This is that place I imagined Hesse took Harry Haller on his awesome journey into the most contagious description of depression I ever hope to encounter. I have lost something I never had. My understanding of genetics, like every other thing I experienced over the past four decades, only served to experientially reinforce an idea I’d long forgotten was only wishes and took to be inevitable.
The idea was that my genetic heir would eventually question the myth of her culture without the influence of my heretical slant during her formative years. I made the decision in acquiescence to the other-half-of-her-genes’ wishes that my only contact be child support after several years of futile 1,200-mile round-trip fireworks-filled visits to see her. In a process of dematerialization begun with selling our house five years earlier, it was the deepest divestment of possessiveness I’ve ever made, propped up by the misunderstanding, the hope, that the curiosity inherent in my genetics would prevail over her culture despite or because of its lack of diversity and our true relationship would return.
She returned all right. First it was out of curiosity about this crazy person her mother saved her from. Her curiosity had its limits. She has never invited me to visit her and since dad died I have no other excuse for showing up where she is. Next it was about saving this crazy person from the same person her mother saved her from. Curiously enough it was Jesus in both savings. In answer to my protest of her condemning me to hell she explained that she just wished she’d be able to see me in the big afterlife party to which my needlessness of her god denied me admission.
Part of what I am facing is the fact that all my curiosities have been partly directed and driven by consideration of becoming a mentor for the inevitable curiosity that would demand first hand experience of her parent after years of estrangement. I have been keeping journals of observations of my life in the world and in my head for four decades, combining and condensing them into more comprehensive theories, and those into essays much the same way I learned to comprehend my college courses.
Coming straight out of the service into freshman mechanical engineering, having dropped out of high school after my junior year four years earlier, I was in a bit of an overwhelmed panic about getting up to speed. I decided I would have to learn to cheat on quizzes dealing with incomprehensible, seemingly unrelated and irrelevant facts, constants and formulas. My method was to sit down with the book and go over the material, rewriting it so that it made as much sense as I could get out of it, rewriting the part I understood in more condensed, abbreviated style and ask questions in class about the parts that didn’t fit, and thence to a little crib sheet I could write on a business card or my hand on test day. I actually never did the last part, having discovered the best way to study information coming from anywhere; hearsay or my own perceptions.
It would now seem that I have prepared myself for the great gig in the sky and find only pie. Pie are round, pi are squared. I have found my place in the grand scheme of nature and my would-be-question-asker, the one with my genetic curiosity has beat me to all the answers because she has the big King James version crib sheet written by the creator of what I am lamely settling for formulating only theories about. These kids these days. As time passes, my gratitude for what I have learned in preparation for her questions is overcoming the sadness of finding a brick wall of religious certainty where I’d imagined curiosity might be.
In reading another attempt to assert faith as unassailable reason at the “thinking conservative” web site Conservativity, I just realized that debating creation versus evolution is like trying to mix oil and water, being distracted by the pretty colors as the oil scum reflects the spectrum of the sun while the toxicity of oil spills ruin water, just as the debaters get off on the fireworks of their own zinger points reflecting the truth from their side of the argument ignoring the toxicity of belief to curiosity. I really don’t care that much about how oddly others view the world, even when one of the oddest ways is the overwhelming favorite of 85% of your local fellow humans. What I do care about is the ruination of the rest of the body when treated as property by a minuscule part of that body. The belief that entities other than human are somehow inferior in purpose or intellect fuels the rape of the earth, enslavement and murder of people considered animals and the cultivation of flocks of barely human dependents on the lie, just to feel better about swallowing it.
This post has been in the “cookin’” file long enough to have lost most of the depression reflected in the beginning. The biggest resolution came in contemplating Ed Wilson’s declaration that a truly curious mind with a scientific discipline, while not necessarily believing in or seeking an intelligent designer, would, if it found a theory so complete that it needn’t exclude contrary evidence to remain valid, prove the existence of at least a design if not the designer to creationists. The cosmic upshot of all these curious scientific minds probing the unknown of their choice seems to be further support and extension of the theory of evolution. Like a living thing it must grow. Certainty is stillborn.
With what humor is left me on the subject, this is my latest attempt to communicate with her:
I don't believe in anything, it is a muscle I was born without. Every time I try to flex it, it's like trying to wag my tail, it's my choice. I don't have a tail, but I do have the intelligence to remember I have a choice and I choose to exercise it on more relevant curiosities than the existence of a master puppeteer up in hebbin' or wagging my tail — though I often wished I could, but then I figure you don't want to hear anything about phantom limbs carried by genetic memory evolved since we swung from trees by them.. Whether we like it or not, no matter what belief system we choose to snuggle up to for bedtime stories and instruction for tomorrow or what theories we choose to keep us up all night probing the unknown, the choice is ours. That is as close to truth as my theories may ever get. Who knows, if I ever arrive at the truth I may find you to be a long time resident — the crazy old lady down by the sea, a creationist, don'cha know? After all these millennia. So sad.