Saturday, September 11, 2010


As we filed into our bleacher seats I could see them all. A Howitzer among the grove of pines, a Patton tank draped to look like a hillock, the machine-gun emplacement beneath a log — they all stood out like shadow puppets on a blank wall.

“Out there before you, we have hidden several points of enemy attack behind camouflage,” announced today’s combat training instructor over his bullhorn.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but that was the moment I crossed the threshold from avidly attempting to become a “normal person” in western civilization to preferring to remain who and what I find my nature to be, despite the arbitrary cultural meritocracy imposed on the entire field of unique variations we individuals are at birth.

That experience in the woods of Camp Lejeune, N. C. occurred when I was seventeen and here, fifty-four years later, I am still discovering ancient embedded warps blended in to make me seem normal to parents, teachers, drill instructors, professors, bosses, policemen, general acquaintances and strangers on the street — in so far as they care that their sense of normal is not violated.

Imagine three infants having colored lenses implanted at the time of birth, one red, one yellow and the third blue. None of them would see the colors of reality as it is. When anyone points to an object and tells them it is green, whatever color their filter causes each one to see they will call green — and every other object with that color they will call green. They will grow up agreeing on the colors of everything until the day doctors remove the implanted lenses. They will be viewing reality as it is for the first time, but, because of their conditioning, they can no longer agree on the names of the colors.

This scenario was initially dreamt up as a metaphor for three newborns from three disparate birthplaces absorbing the local mytho-cultural norm as a requirement to satisfy their longing for belonging to wherever it is they find themselves. The removal of the lenses occurs when the three separately acculturated grown-ups meet in a mutually alien location and must describe reality as it is to one another — they must first discover the existence of their filters before they may be used to triangulate the entire spectrum of reality as it is. I use three subjects for the possibility of a resolution to the direct conflict likely between any two, such as exploitation or war.

This post is inspired by the emerging realization of a second layer to the lens metaphor going back to the already absolute uniqueness within the range of the human genome of each of the three individuals at birth, the field for which each culture acts as the normalizing filter compensating for the natural differences, the color blindness of each.

Although it is quite natural for denizens of a habitat to form a familiarity with the ways of one another to not only find food but to avoid becoming a meal themselves by recognizing dissonance in the normal passage of the day, human cultures have, through language, created mythical, institutionalized norms by which each newborn is thoroughly indoctrinated before being allowed to experience nature as it is in the normal passage of the day. If we are not aware of the myth of the culture within which we live, we have no chance of seeing nature as it is, much less understand how another culture could see it so differently.

Humans are animals able to convince themselves nature has the purpose intended by a creator as a gift of property for their exploitation as its superiors. Cancer is a disease convincing the body’s cells to join them in making the whole rest of the body something to convert. If western civilization’s myth could possibly play out, the biomass of Earth, Gaia, will become nothing but humans and their genetically modified crops, period. The body dies before cancer can eat it all.

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