c.a. davis

// filmmaker | editor | storyteller \\

Filtering by Category: nonfiction

Random Thoughts on Man's Domination of the World

[Please excuse the belated release of this random blog. It was originally written and submitted for another blog site, but having not heard back I figured I'd post this as it was originally sent and without any edits.]

Tao Lin - a writer whose satirical, depressed, and hilarious fictional stories I enjoy reading - has as of late been writing a column for VICE Magazine's online platform, specifically focusing on Terence McKenna and his life's work.

Until today, I hadn't had time - or, rather, hadn't set aside time - to read any of the pieces, but after reading the headline flung onto Twitter, "Why are Psychedelics Illegal?", I am glad to have ignored everything else going on at that precise moment. Not because I'm really into psychedelics (I'm not. Really.) but rather because the article dove into a completely unexpected pool of thought, pointing to the answer of that question in a brief yet thick course of anthropology and philosophy. (You can find the article here.)

What Lin essentially makes apparent through his surprising scholarship - and whether it is intended to be a joke or not makes little difference to me - is the reason that drugs which alter conscious awareness of "reality" are illegal is for the obvious fact that they alter your conscious awareness of "reality." Why? Because we now live what he and Riane Eisler call a "dominator society" in which the worship of that which can take away life has usurped the worship of that which gives life. And, in a society whose very foundations rely upon the equalization of humanity via enforcing that everybody literally thinks and acts the same way, substances that which can absolutely demolish one's concept of reality are deemed rather heretical and dangerous to the otherwise insidious fabric of their dominated society.

While I read this article, a rather obvious question popped into my mind: Why did we let this happen? Why did we allow ourselves to be enslaved by the technologies of death and destruction after millennia of peace and prosperity? Immediately, I made the connection to the Upanishads and their myth of genesis and eventual destruction of the universe in the form of Kalpas, the aeons of existence that deteriorate the quality of life over four periods of time. But that was too obvious and too literal of a transcription from a religious entity. The second connection I made, however, was more interesting, albeit along the same lines.

What is a cancer? Clinically speaking, cancer is the unstoppable, uncontrollable overgrowth of malignant cells in the body. What causes a cancer, biologically, is multidimensional and seemingly infinite in possible origins. However there is another idea of cancer that which we ignore and is sub-dimensional to our everyday lives. A cancer can also be the unstoppable overgrowth of an idea in the form of subconscious accumulation. In other words, what we inactively observe and take in eventually becomes a part of our active consciousness and actions. It grows outward, you see, from the inward lump sum of mental absorption throughout your life.

We can see this best in depression, anxiety, anger, and fear. Each mental apprehension to a more relaxed and peaceful cognitive experience can be rooted to the way in which one chooses to see the world. The cliche, "Is the glass half full or half empty?" brings light to the individual in how he or she perceives life, which is rooted in how they have grown to perceive life, which is rooted in how their parents grew to perceive life and so on. But, this does not mean that it is the parent's fault for inadvertently teaching them the world is nothing but empty selfish genes vying to kill all the other genes. What it does mean, however, is that the choice is yours to make, that there is no way in which the world is other than rain hitting the surface of a still lake.

 

Do you see? That image can be either peaceful, beautiful, or quite sad depending on the individual's perception of the scenery.

 

So, in a way, it both is and isn't our collective species' fault for succumbing to such a brutal and hard way of living. War is only necessary in a world in which war is necessary. The problem isn't convincing anybody that war is terrible. The problem is convincing one's self not to go to war. Ever.

There is a reason why non-violent protests are more effective than violent uprisings. Even the oppressor knows, subconsciously, that they needs people to oppress, otherwise there'd be nothing to do. Think of it, really, if everybody who was oppressed in the world were wiped out by their oppressors. Every last one. Well that's great for law and order, but who is there left to govern? Well then, naturally, the oppressors would pick fights amongst themselves until there were three groups left, then two, then one, and then they'd destroy themselves until the world's last human - violent, bloodthirsty, and undefeated - were left alone on a dead rock floating in space. Congratulations, you've fulfilled the prophecies!

But… Well there you are. The last human alive. What then? You see, there is only one outcome of such a way of living, and that is suicide. An existence in which we cannot question the obvious facts of life is one in which we are inactively, subconsciously, and slowly committing mass suicide. Well, rather, a suicide by proxy. You see, without questioning the very things we take for granted, we become subjugated to a kind of programming, an acceptance of what we collectively agree is the Reality regardless of what the consequences are. In a way, we become prone or even adverse to change, and our ways of life and philosophy solidify into unmoving, stubborn patterns of nonexistence in that we are asleep and ignorant of the way the world is. And the way the world is is constantly changing. But if we resist change, then we become stagnant like stone. We become dead in our lack of growth and our vicious fighting of opposing ideas or cultures.

The affects of such a constrictive way of life are for the most part unfelt, and the effects take a long time to catch up. After all, in such a world bent on the competition and domination of theories one has to fight to show that their theory the right theory, either through brute force or through guile. One day, though, that lonely human will finally realize that we had it all wrong. The Minoans of Crete had it better worshiping the non-specific Goddess in their clay homes shared by the commonwealth of a peaceful, so-called undeveloped civilization. Sure, there were no big screens, no self-driving vehicles, nor any highly engaging film or electronic music. But there could have been. And it could have been done through giving rather than taking.

Well, the point I reached after reading Lin's article wasn't doom and gloom. Just like a cancer, things have a way of equaling out over time. Whether or not that means death for humanity does not matter. I can say that not because I am pessimistic but rather because I am optimistic - life has a knack for turning into death at some point, but then death has the sense of growing alive again. After all, what's the point of either without having their respective beginning and ends? It is in this vein that we can find our heart of gold, so to speak.

Yes it may be true that, just like disease, our way of living is harmful and destructive, but it is out of disease that which stronger more vibrant life may come forth. So if, one day, we can't take it anymore and we blow ourselves up or we all get too stressed and develop a mass scale of biological cancer or whatever and we die in a matter of two generations, something else will take our place and have the same thoughts we have (or, I guess, had) about the universe - that we are here simply to observe our larger form of self by looking at the stars and engaging in this game of life and death.

But what is ironic about the whole thing is that by simply acknowledging the above as true, and by allowing opinions and arguments to dissolve into the relativity of existence, we can once again exist harmoniously with the universe as we clearly have done in the past.

 

That of Fire, that of Faith



"I have a question."

The Old Man's raspy chords sounded like an unclean, unkempt set of fibers wound to an equally uncouth cello. Jasp watched his grandfather sway back and forth in his old rocker. It creaked slightly as if complaining of its own aches and pains. As he swayed, the Old Man let out a blanket of smoke from his decayed mouth.

"Can we open the windows? It's not that hot out," pleaded Jasp.

"It is so that hot out. I'm fine, thank you."

"I wasn't asking for you."

"Would you like to open the windows, then?"

Jasp slid from the couch and onto his feet. The first window to be opened, he had already plotted, was the one directly behind the Old Man. Jasp moved cautiously, purposefully, while holding his breath.

"I still have a question," said the Old Man.

"Just a moment." The wood shrieked against the rusted metal as Jasp slid the old pane upward. He breathed in the fresh air. "Yes?"

"It's a serious question." The Old Man stared straight ahead, lost in the vapors there were being thrown by the wind across the room. Jasp waited patiently. Then he continued liberating the living room of the thick smog the Old Man was producing.

"What's the question?"

The Old Man blinked and smacked his lips. He stood up and turned around. Jasp finished with another screaming window pane and noticed the Old Man waiting. They stood there, eye to eye. Jasp felt the Old Man's intensity searing through his own being. "What's the--"

The Old Man walked away and out of the room. Jasp stayed put. Sweat beaded down his forehead. One drop slid its way into the corner of his right eye, which stung it sharply. Jasp did not move an inch, not even to blink.

- - -

The sun slank down the horizon that night with such malaise, such half-heartedness. The Old Man was outside, watching the orange sky grow darker and darker still.

Jasp looked out the kitchen window, studying the Old Man's peculiar behavior. He sat next to a small twig fire. As he sipped from a bottle, he kept the fire fed just enough to sustain an orange glow even long after the sun had dipped their end of the Earth into ethereal blackness. Finally, Jasp decided to join him.

The Old Man gazed into the fire, fixated. He blinked when he heard the porch door creak as it swung open.

"You still didn't ask me that question," said Jasp.

"Still as serious as before."

Jasp came to a muted halt as he reached the Old Man's fire. "Then I think you'd ought to ask, don't you?"

"It ain't easy to ask it."

"That's okay."

The two were mute as they gazed over the small, dying fire. The Old Man took another swig. The contents inside, Jasp noticed, were near finished. The slosh was high-pitched and unheavy. He was very much concerned about this.

"Do you have dreams, Jasper?"

"Well, yes," Jasp replied.

"Bad dreams?" The Old Man aimed his eyes at Jasp's. "Horrible ones?"

"Suppose so. Every once and again."

"I'd like to make mine go away." The Old Man turned toward the orange flickering again. "I'd like to... Dig them out and burry them."

"Don't know if that's the way to do it."

"Wasn't asking you."

"Have you had enough?" Jasp lightly motioned toward the bottle. The Old Man scoffed, "I'm your grandpappy, not your son. Anyway. I wanted to ask if you'd still think of me the same way if I did."

"Did what?"

"Dig them out and burry them again."

"Depends," Jasp stated unwaveringly.

"On?"

"Why you'd do it."

"Doesn't matter why. Just that I need to."

- - -

He was above the clouds, soaring. What an amazing sight it was below, how the greenery collided with metropolitan growth. The sensation of flying never left his stomach, which bounced this way and that inside of his metal war capsule. But, it was time now. He knew it. He felt it. He heard the chamber doors open, felt them shift the airflow around the B-29. It was hot, too hot. He rubbed his forehead from the moisture that leaked from his helmet. It was warm, sticky, and crimson.

He turned to the pilot. He was gone. He screamed back to the crew. Nothing came out. Just the piercing sound of a whistling bomb, descending upon its victims. He cried as the blood trickled down his face, down his cheeks. He cursed. He ripped away at his flight suit. And then it was there. That brightness, that loudness. It blinded him. It stole his soul away.

- - -

The Old Man stood in front of the plane. It's nice outside, he thought. He gazed at the worn metal, the worn script on its nose. Maybe another walk today, at sunset, he thought. He sighed and looked at his feet as a father and son walked in front of the plane.

"You see that, son?" said the young father. "You know what that is?"

The little boy was not even ten, but replied nonetheless, "That's how we won the war?"

"That's right," cooed the father, "We won, but at a great cost."

"After," interrupted the Old Man, "After we had firebombed upwards of seventy-percent of their major cities." The father turned, slightly disturbed, and nodded. "And after a relentless year of toiling with their boys on the Pacific Islands. God damn, insanity."

"Hey, sir, I'm just trying to teach my--"

"Fucking blew themselves up rather than become our war prisoners. Understandable, really."

"That's enough!"

"Then, after all of that shit, then we drop two, fucking two of those... Monsters."

The father rose to his feet and shoved the Old Man. "You've got some nerve, pal." The Old Man continued, "Do you know what it feels like to get boiled alive? To have your skin seared off from light alone? Do you?"

The father paused. He felt the Old Man's soul reaching for his. He felt the intrusion of anger, despair, and grief enter his very being. After faltering at a reply, the father grabbed his son's hand and said, "Come on, son." They walked off hurriedly, leaving the Old Man to himself once again.

The Old Man stood, quiet and subdued. He stared at the plane. He felt the heat of the sun as it shone through the large glass windows and onto his black jacket. "No. I don't," he answered himself, "I can only imagine it. I can only imagine..."

- - -

Jasp drove his old truck back home from work two weeks later. It was already dark out. He had spent the entirety of the daylight driving nails into lumber, constructing a new house not three neighborhoods away. It was a hot day at that, in mid-summer. The AC was busted and so only blew out hot air. Jasp writhed in the sauna, unable to escape it. It felt hotter, he thought. It's getting hotter.

He saw it then, the black smog hovering over yonder. Before he even saw the orange glow, he knew exactly what it was. He knew the Old Man was gone. He just wished he knew why.