SETI is certainly an admirable attempt to grasp out to the heavens; it scours for sounds with an extraterrestrial origin. Once, during the 70’s, a cruel, quick nerdgasm was achieved in the form of the “WOW” signal. Sadly, never to be replicated, that 72 second signal had many hallmarks of being from a source other than us, as well as not originating from any naturally occurring “space noise”. But beyond that, not much has been heard, other than the space crickets. This begs a leering question- would we truly hear or notice a consciousness beyond our own? And what would we do with that information? We have difficulty understanding each other on a good day.
But what layers actually do exist? Are we wrapped in a flirtatious mystery as we plod on unaware- pedestrians amongst a sublime we do not see?
What does this have to do with politics and where we are as a nation- a society, you might ask……
The culture of Empire allows two paths, but both place the human as the pinnacle, not part of a web . Your soul can be fed with big box religion, valuing dominion over all, and a requisite need to see “others” as corrupted and evil- and of course all are to be dominated in one sense or another. A prerequisite of faith is needed for this path, conveniently allowing the mind to shut down as part of the user’s agreement.
For those not so inclined, there’s the materialism of folks like Sam Harris (torture woo-hoo) or the body previously known as Christopher Hitchens. Perhaps no allegiance to a Daddy in the sky, but Daddy on the ground is certainly in charge, and is truly all that matters. Words are used as weapons in this realm; they serve to feed the ego of mankind and the writer. You won the argument but lost the planet.
We can desperately search for words from above, be it a God or an alien, all the while missing the sounds of our own beautiful home. Mind you, I haven’t ever even tried a hallucinogen (I know, that’s hard to believe) but think of this: When people use those substances in a truly yearning, searching manner- they are often met with the natural world screaming out a consciousness to them. If I go too far with this, I know I will make many uncomfortable and they will quit reading, opting instead for more traditional fare, but please let that slip of light peek in your mind….you have to wonder what all that means. Is the natural world conscious of what Empire is doing to it, but without a means to communicate the raging folly? I guess it’s not enough that we can see the destruction, as well as palpate our own cancers. What will it really take for us to realize we are of this earth? Our hubris is that only humans matter, and it probably blinds us to a world that wouldn’t require us to self medicate with SSRIs (or whatever is handy).
I find it incredible that so many indigenous cultures used plants that brought about altered states of consciousness in an attempt to know their place in the world. That is now gone for most, and all too often, those cultures have replaced this aching void with items like alcohol. A distinct problem for many in the hierarchical world we live in, but a huge issue for native populations. I see a parallel in certain European descendants here in the states- something of a Celtic curse, as this population often has similar issues. Celtic culture tried to fight off Roman incursions, much like the Indians of North America tried unsuccessfully to thwart the dominion and sale of land they knew shouldn’t be “bought”. Both eventually failed and all reside in a sad state at times, trying to salve with a very ineffective liquid. Being of mainly Celtic extraction and a tiny touch of American Indian, I know from whence I speak. Truly too much of a coward to drink to oblivion (my day job sees many with items such as esophageal varices and elevated total bilirubins-don’t want that….alas, too vain)- But I know that pull, and wish for numbness from pain. We all do, in some fashion. So much has gone wrong, and I think we want to hear those voices again, to know we are part of an organic web with beauty and transcendence. Those of us who wish to hear the most fervently are in the most pain.
We can clumsily palpate the air in front of us, but that substance ebbs as our grasp becomes a looming fist.The connection to our home, our agonizingly beautiful earth pulls us inside out as we fail to succumb to her charm and love. We know the looting and destruction is wrong in the most visceral sense, yet we plod on. Cages, cages everywhere. Please let us out.
Fisheries depleted, soils degraded, monoculture strangeness. This is not how it should be.
In “Breaking Open the Head” author Daniel Pinchbeck remarks that the Tarahumara told French playwright, Antonin Artaud a tragic truth. In fact what they said makes me think of the lyrics from Blitzen Trapper “it’s a truth so pure, it can kill you dead.” Here’s that truth:
They said “the whites had been abandoned by the spirits.”
Pinchbeck opines “perhaps we are only abandoned because we push the spirits away.”
I humbly assert that it is time to stop pushing the spirits away.
Kathleen Peine is a writer who resides in the US Midwest. She can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org