Sequel toTar-Babies on the Plains of Abraham

Ville de Québec, April 20, 2001


‘Tar-Babies’ are the people on whom we overlay our own 'shadow', ... the people we resent because they will not submit to our ‘controlling’ will.  Tar-Babies emerge in our minds when we assume that our society is all mechanical action and no ‘coresonance’, ...when irritation induced in others by our self-opportunizing actions, actions which at the same time disopportunize them, we ascribe fully to 'irrational behaviour' on their part.  Meanwhile, our living space, the reference frame of the solar system in which we are immersed,  is a 'coresonant' living space and when we look out at Mars from the earth, Mar's behaviour includes the induced effect of our own (Earth's) behaviour, .. this is not 'rational' but it is experientially and relationally true.   Our living space is a ‘coresonant’ living space.  You can’t get to ‘co-resonance’ with machinery, … not even with global economic machinery.


I was a tar-baby today, as seen through the voyeur framing of the police and the media, as I choked on the tear-gas shot into the youthful collective in which I was immersed, a collective which had come to register our displeasure with the continuing construction of co-resonance-killing global economic machinery.


I was there to register views which I had no opportunity to register via the Federal election process since the ‘representatives’ elected by majority vote (by whatever ‘margin’) seem to have made no effort at all to ‘respect’ the voice and views of the 'included' minority in which I am an 'included' member.   I am all for ‘globalization’ in terms of opportunizing ‘people’ of all cultures without having it based on 'passport' or other 'membership credentials'.   Meanwhile the economic globalization whose constructions are killing the ‘coresonance’ of our living space are committing only to the ‘free flow of products’ rather than the free flow of opportunity, ... only to 'actions' out of the context of how those actions transform access to opportunity.   As Leonard Cohen's lyrics say, 'Everybody knows' the deal is rotten, ... everybody knows the ship is leaking, ... everybody knows that the Captain lies.'   And it is a simple lie which says that all we need to do is 'manage action' and 'opportunity will take care of itself', ... that there is no reciprocity between action and opportunity because space is empty and infinite and the solar system in which we are immersed is mechanical rather than coresonant.   Sure.


The construction program which the ‘Summit of the Americas’ is committing to, by putting trading ‘action’ into an unnatural primacy over the ‘opportunity’ to engage in  trade on the part of the constituency of our community, extends and intensifies the disopportunizing of our youth and is certainly not the ‘gift’ I want to give to my grandchildren.

The youth whom I was amongst on the Boulevard René Levesque had no misconceptions about the fact that the 'machinery’ of the global economy was suffocating the natural coresonance in their youthful reality.  They had no misconceptions about the fact that they were being invited to become ‘fodder’ for this ‘machinery’ with the possibility that if they proved to be ‘good enough fodder’, they could ‘earn’ the privileges and wealth which the global economy bequeaths to those making fodder of their  fellows.


Signs such as ‘democracy is where we are’ seemed to capture the reality of the event as the coresonance amongst the crowd clashed with the stern and faceless lines of masked police who launched their grenade attacks into the demonstrators disjointedly, apparently on orders coming from another time and space along the ‘wall of shame’, the general disjointed geometry of ‘globalization’ in the mechanical sense that it is being implemented.


A young man dressed as the ‘Bonhomme’, the snowman of the Québec ‘Carneval’ danced a few feet away from me, immediately in front of the lines of police while a half-dozen girls, faces painted as aboriginals, thumped rhythmically on their ‘tambours’.  A middle-aged man holding on his shoulder a plastic baby with outstuck tongue and grimacing face as if it had just tasted something ‘dégueulasse’, came into the small gap between the people and the police as the student-side cameras clicked and rolled and the pleasure showed in the good-natured smiles and laughter of everyone there except the police (who could tell what they were thinking as their faces were hidden behind their gasmasks.


All this transpired on the outside of ‘the Québec 'Wall of Shame’, to be sure, where it was supposed to be ok to manifest one’s views.


I felt very happy and privileged to have been able to be there and applaud the good humour, good morale and clear-headed philosophy of these youths, and as they filed back out of the ‘gap’ through the crowd right past me.  I was able to look them in the eyes as I delivered my appreciation, and it was returned with smiles of acknowledgement and a deeply resonant and intimate ‘connecting’.


Being on the ‘outside’ of the barrier didn’t mean that one was immune to the gas attacks. To have a rest sitting in the sun and to give my respiratory equipment a break (i.e. my bare skinned lungs, trachea and nostrils which was the totality of respiratory equipment that I and 90% of those around me had come with), I went and sat on a bench in the park of the Grand Théatre de Québec, where the sounds of the overhead helicopters and the continuous ‘krakking’ of teargas grenades being fired, were somewhat superseded by the music of violins, guitars and song-singing, including a group of girls nearby singing ‘we all live in a military state’ to the tune of ‘yellow submarine’.   A long line of riot police stood along rue ‘St. Amable’, outside of the wire enclosure and aligned along one side of the park of the Grand Théatre in full view from where I was sitting.   Without visible provocation (at this location), the line of police began launching teargas grenades which landed to my left, amid a group of people strolling across the park, and I, along with the vast majority, headed west towards a source of fresh air.


A block or so farther to the west along Blvd. René Lévesque, away from the 'wall', I stopped at a still open pizza place to buy a bottle of water.  As I moved back towards the barrier again, the crowd was enjoying ‘street theatre’ by a group of a half-dozen or so young people, dressed in a variety of costumes who sang and danced out stories which satirized the current state our world, alluding to the upside-down-think of  ‘war is peace’, ‘freedom is slavery’ and ‘ignorance is strength’ and communicating with the enveloping, good-natured crowd with a small portable PA system, and receiving hearty rounds of applause.


Shortly after the street theatre moved on to a new location, the ‘black bloc’ came by, smashing several windows in the CIBC building on the corner of René Lévesque and Turnbull, posting a notice on the first broken window that said ‘I. O. U. one window’ - ‘The Revolution’.   Many in the crowd ‘booed’ the black bloc but one had the sense that most thought that the violence the black bloc members were engaging in was a much smaller violence than the ‘stealth’ type of violence being inflicted by economic machinery on the resonances of our living space.   

At about five o’clock, I walked back down the hill to Chemin Sainte-Foy and took a number 7 bus to Du Vallon where I was staying with a friend of a friend, … another who, though working in a ‘media job’ (scene production) for a ‘major media corporation’ in Canada, saw the media’s obsession with ‘show’ and politically biased coverage as thwarting the role of media as a provider of a true look at ourselves.   As I watched this evening’s television, mixed in with the news of the protest I had just left was a discussion on the US attorney’s ‘management’ of the coverage of Timothy McVeigh’s execution, … another indication of ‘machinery at work’, … ‘machinery’ which is purported to be ‘benevolent machinery’, … to protect us from exposure to thoughts which we might not be able to ‘understand’ nearly as well as those in authority.


According to many of the media commentators, the youthful crowd at the Québec ‘Summit of the Americas’ protest, because they are not yet competent to ‘understand’ the workings of the global economy, are mistaken in their assertions that; “people should be more important than products” and “Justice may be blind, but she can smell money”.


At any rate, being ‘gassed’ in this ‘sequel’ to ‘Tar-Babies on the Plains of Abrahams’ was not necessary to convince me that the most natural and appropriate ‘protest against violence’ which I witnessed was the protest against the violence being done to our resonant living space by economic globalization.   Sure, it’s violence which is not so ‘visible’ as smashing a window in a Bank and the 'value' of what is destroyed; i.e. one's opportunity, is not so easily assigned a dollar value.  But I could easily feel the dark ‘stealth’ of this disopportunizing violence radiating out from the circle being protected by the voiceless aggression of the police who, at least for the moment, had become the ‘mechanistic slaves of economic globalization’.


The youth who came to register their views ‘got an education’ today, but not the kind that the Summit of the Americas was 'selling', … like the placards said; ‘l’education publique n’est pas à vendre’ but what was learned will most certainly be retained, and applied in our continuing social evolution.


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Nota Bene: A postscript re the 'geometry' which divides the views of those inside and outside the Québec 'Wall of Shame'.




last night i drove from québec back to montréal, ... or did i?


when I was in québec, québec included me, but when i left it, it no longer included me, thus it was not the same 'québec' as the québec i left.


when i got to montréal, montréal included me, but when i was heading for montréal it didn't include me and now that i'm here it does include me, thus it is not the same montréal as i was heading for.



The geometry of our experience says that 'movement' always has two aspects to it, ... the assertive movement of 'something' (e.g. people and products), and a reciprocal transformation of the containing space providing 'the opportunity for assertive movement'.   That is, my assertive movement requires space to assert into and someone could, for example, put a wall around Montréal and disopportunize me from my assertive movement into Montréal.


Therefore, describing motion in terms of 'assertive movement' is only a limited view of 'motion', and the bigger view starts with the 'opportunity for assertion'  innate in the geometry of the space within which the assertive movement takes place.  That our mind may 'take for granted', when we are considering 'motion' in terms of 'assertive movement', that Montréal gives us a space to assert ourselves into, does not diminish the fact that the opportunity Montréal presents to us as a freely penetrable containing space or 'terrain' is a basic prerequisite to our assertive movement into Montréal.


So, there is something 'missing' if we talk only in terms of the 'assertive movement' of people and products, and as is apparent from our experience, and it is the reciprocal transformation of opportunity-for-assertive-movement.  If a place gets too crowded because of too many assertive movements into it, or someone puts a guarded border around it, it is no longer open to assertive movement.


Before moving on to reconcile the notion of a 'free trade zone' with this geometry, a general observations on the geometry of motion can be made;


1.  Our experience tells us that we cannot separate the assertive motion of material objects from the transformation of their containing space.   This is 'relativity' in the form of a general geometrical principle; i.e. that we cannot say 'what moves' since the identity of the 'what' is dependent on its containing space.   For this reason it is a gross approximation to split motion into 'things which move', 'empty space' and 'time' and we can only speak of the motion of our experience in terms of the 'transformation of space-time'.


This 'relativity' principle alerts us to the fact that 'le terrain est tout' (the terrain or 'containing space' is everything) in determining the 'healthy' or 'unhealthy' evolution of a system, rather than the effects of  'causal agents'.   That we 'cause' the future state of our immersing system space through our assertive movements is an anthropocentric delusion; i.e. we 'interfere' with our containing system and what comes of it is codetermined (in a container-constituent-codynamical sense) by our 'interferential' intervention rather than by 'cause and effect'.  


Marshall McLuhan makes this same point as follows; "In terms of the ways in which the machine altered our relations to one another and to ourselves, it mattered not in the least whether it turned out cornflakes or Cadillacs."

 Wittgenstein pointed out that we cannot even talk about what is really going on because of the 'limitations of language'; i.e. that our language, the medium of philosophical and scientific discussion intended to deliver 'understanding',  is innately constrained to 'single issue at a time'; i.e. it can only speak about the person who drives from Québec to Montréal at a given moment and it doesn't have the capacity to indicate that Québec and Montréal are simultaneously, reciprocally transforming with the movement of the person.   Unlike some of the aboriginal and pictographic languages, our language is constructed from purely abstract symbols (alphabetic symbols) whose constructs convey meaning 'in their own right' rather than by being referenced to their containing space.

So as McLuhan points out in his 'cornflakes and cadillacs' terms, something else is going on as the product is produced and traded from the new McDonald's in town, and it includes effects such as the fact that fewer people are going to Dave and Margie's coffee shop where the pace is traditionally far slower and people tend to sit around and chat amongst themselves and with Dave and Margie and find out what is going on in the community; i.e. the opportunity to operate a 'mom & pop' coffee shop is simultaneously, reciprocally in the decline and the opportunity to meet and chat with one's fellows is simultaneously, reciprocally in decline.  These are the 'induced effects' of assertive action.

When we talk about 'global free trade' (assertive movement of products), something else will be going on at the same time, in terms of 'opportunity to assert', something which it is innately impossible to talk about 'at the same time' as we talk about the cause and effect of assertive trading in an extended free-trade zone, just as it was not possible to talk about how 'the machine' altered our relations to one another as we discussed the assertive actions of the machinery.

But language bewitches us and holds us captive, as Wittgenstein said, and in the televised debates in Québec yesterday (Sunday, April 22nd), the professors of law and the ministers of trade insisted in speaking in the solitary terms of 'assertive action', seeming to believe that the assertive actions of business were the sole, determinant of a 'healthy community'.

Meanwhile, the views of the representatives of the 'Parlement de la Rue' and the youth groups were based not on 'assertive movements' of products, but on the relationship of the common citizen with his containing space; i.e. with his 'opportunity-to-assert', to access opportunity all of which ultimately emanates from the commons of the biosphere.  They knew full well, and the statistics supported them, that the 'opportunity-to-assert' on the part of the common citizen was simultaneously, reciprocally declining in the shadow of Canada's rising success in transnational trade (the assertive movement of products).

It was not until Louis Pasteur was on his deathbed that he 'flipped' to 'the microbe is nothing, (i.e. the assertive movement of the causal agent is nothing), the terrain is everything (i.e. the opportunity to assert is everything), and this may indicate the timing for a change of view from the many members of the established power structure.  Pasteur recognized that Claude Bernard and Antoine Béchamp had been right, that 'health' was characterized by a coresonance between the 'assertive action' of the bacteria (over 400 strains in the digestive system alone) and their 'opportunity to assert' and that the rise to dominance of a particular bacterium was not 'the cause of illness' but the 'result' of the 'bacterial community' falling out of coresonant balance. (the modern science of 'pro-biotics' is belatedly picking up on Pasteur's late change of view).

Actions such as 'trade' simultaneously, reciprocally induce transformation of opportunity-to-act, just as the 'shots we make' in the game of pool simultaneously, reciprocally induce transformation in our 'opportunity-to-shoot'.  This geometry of natural community-constituent systems (the geometry of simultaneous space-time transformation) is too big to be described in the rational terms of  language, though our minds are bewitched by the impression that we can indeed 'pin it down' in terms of 'cause and effect' in our language-based model-making, and this was the source of the conflict in the Québec debate between those fighting for 'opportunity to assert' who spoke simply in terms of 'refocusing' on the opportunity of the common citizen (and doing whatever is necessary to rebalance his access to opportunity), and those fighting for the rights to further amplify their 'assertive action'.

The officials of government involved in the debate maintained that they had been elected to steward the 'decision-making' on 'assertive actions' for the people; i.e. they saw 'representative democracy' in the terms of electing representatives to consult with 'the experts' and make decisions 'for the people' in the domain of assertive actions.   What was implicit in the statements of the government 'representatives' was that they believed that there was a causal relationship between high level assertive actions and the 'health' of the system-of-community; i.e. they implicitly believed, as Pasteur had initially, that the health of the system was 'causally determined', while the participants in the 'Parlement de la Rue' implicitly believed, as Pasteur finally did, that the health of the system was 'coresonantly' determined when assertive actions were in a dynamical balance with the simultaneously, reciprocally transformed geometry of opportunity-to-assert (as in exceptional teams).

The role of a democratically elected government, in the view of the 'Parlement de la Rue', is, first and foremost, to protect and sustain the 'opportunity-to-assert' of the common citizen, an undertaking that cannot be equated to the causal management of the 'assertive movement' of products in a free-trade zone.

Visualizing an instrument of assertive action such as the 'corporation' as the 'provider of jobs and wealth' is an 'upside-down' view of the world.   The space in which we live is the source of all wealth (opportunity-to-assert) and its sustained health and evolution has been characterized by 'container-constituent-coresonance' where the assertive actions of the constituents are in a coresonant balance with the cultivation of opportunity-to-act.   The skilled pool player is consciously aware of this coresonant geometry while the novice is inclined to believe that it is the 'shot-making' in its own right which causally determines the evolution of the play.  This is a case of, as Emerson observed, 'the tools having run away with the workman'.

In summary, the health of our community is not assured by the quality of our assertive actions (e.g. economic trade and transactions) since all actions simultaneously, reciprocally transform our opportunity-to-act.  Since the opportunity of the common citizen cannot be causally assured by assertive action programs such as corporate enterprise and trade (these must be tools in the service of cultivating his opportunity), government and management must make the cultivation of balanced opportunity a primary focus.   There is a coresonant geometry for doing this which characterizes both nature, our youthful reality, exceptional teams, etc. which puts the 'assertive action tools' (corporations, government)  into the service of cultivating opportunity-to-assert.    This geometry is just as Pasteur implied on his deathbed, ... to paraphrase, ... a geometry wherein the 'assertive action of the causal agent' is nothing, the opportunity-to-act emanating from the terrain is everything'.   The geometry of McLuhan's 'cornflakes or cadillacs' observation is fully consistent with Pasteur's, ... to paraphrase, ... ""In terms of the ways in which the machine altered our 'opportunity-to-act' in relation to one another and to ourselves, it mattered not in the least whether the causal output of its assertive actions came in the form of cornflakes or Cadillacs.".

On the local scene in those situations where government and management work well, the elected representatives are not the stewards of high level assertive action decision-making who act on the advice of so-called 'experts' whose theoretical knowledge supposedly gives them a better 'understanding of the way the world works' than the common citizen, but are instead 'community coaches' who listen to the people rather than experts and let the experts funnel in their theories through the people. What is common to mainstream science and the majority of 'experts' is the assumption that as they drive from Québec to Montréal, only their movement is important since the space they are moving within is, by standard scientific assumption empty, infinite and non-participating.   This is the geometry which underpins the theory they are typically applying to questions such as free-trade.

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