A 'Big Picture' Blog
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[Sa and Ken, from book two in the Nine Inch Bride series: A Stone of Conscience.]
“Some food for thought on your journey.”
“And ego. It may seem at first beyond your reach, but I think you will catch up with it.”
“Shoot,” I said.
“We do have to ride our miniscule difference,” she continued, “just as you say, but our human commons show the prize of individuality and its precious freedom the most dependent part of all we are. Within that mite of distinction, the span from least to most highly endowed is all of tick to tock. It is a fragile thing too, our prize. A gift of talent, fettered, is as useless as a fault, and survival anxiety is all it takes to fetter the gift. A culture of implicit fear will suffice to bracket human potential, and survival anxiety is the essence of Big culture, its fuel and product.”
She was working at my motivations, I figured, angling for commitment, as if she had intuited the questions and answers I’d been juggling earlier on the beach. It scarcely surprised me to hear her address what I had on my mind, even hours ago. She seemed to be adept at some kind of empathetic understanding.
“Among our little, threatened gifts, imagination is greater than reason, and more essential to the species, and yet imagination and reason are set against each other in the closed systems and recursive isms of the Big wide world. To define myself in your inelastic isms would take dozens of them, the exercise ending in gibberish.”
I followed her, but still could not guess where she was going, and the tenor of her words made me anxious for some clarity. She wasn’t one to meander without purpose, I knew.
“Our thought-objects and our words are abstractions from experience, and our thought-objects and words idealize in the process of abstracting. So we perceive allurements, desires and aspirations out of all reckoning with the reality of them, or we perceive evils as evil incarnate. Thinking men form their views from these idealized thought objects, and so we have extremes and absolutes, closed systems and isms, the consequence of idealization. As for an ism like individualism, the most I can legitimately say is that I am sur- or sub-individualist, some if not most of the time.” She smiled at her own equivocations.
I was learning to follow the leaps in her dance of expression, and I understood her to be sardonic.
“To speak of it is silliness,” she confirmed. “The ‘supremacy of the individual’ is the American phrase we hear, with its proud and dangerous ring. One could make a case for it. Indeed, could one not reduce even the holy men, Buddha or Mohammed or Christ no less, to such a notion as the supreme individual?” she asked, airing out her thoughts, her fingers to her chin.
“Is it not possible to understand our divine saviors in this light, as supreme in a mere micro-percentage of difference from the rest of us? Christ was supreme for being sent by God the Father, Mohammed for being Allah’s messenger, Buddha for attaining enlightenment and teaching its path. Were God an ego-individualist, like the pagan god Atlas, like the vain accidents of industrial fortune such as Bedaux or Wellingham, might he not as soon shrug the world as bear it on his shoulders?
“Yet no divine messenger shrugs; rather, all saviors sublimate and diminish the ego-individual in their practice and their teachings, even the pagan Prometheus. This is the paradox of talent, I think, even the most rare talent, revered as holy spirit.”
A big idea began to gel and I marveled how my unimaginable friend had led me there.
“The musician is subsumed in the music, the physicist in his natural laws, the inventor in his inspiration, all larger than the individual, all antecedent to the individual, all surviving beyond the individual. And all the power in their craft derives from commonalities of desire and need, and the larger antecedent of common survival. The supreme iota itself serves and is made possible by our lumpen selves and the consciousness shared by all.
“So it is with my iota of difference and with yours.” She let quiet ensue.
She’d managed to pull her rambling idea together at last, and remarkably, I thought I got it, albeit just. “The gifted are nothing much without the rest, without some common basis, they’re not even possible...”
“Well enough said,” she answered, brightening. “Justice and genius can be served in a political economy. With imagination and will, we shall prove this in our lifetimes. That is the thought I’d like you to take away on your journey.”
Now here's a person who was certainly not into the 'exceptionalism' of a race. Einstein explains a goal for humanity; striving for inner security.