Montreal, August 23, 1999
As Emile was waiting for his story, the story of 'The People Who Fell Out of Their Story', to finish its birthing in his mind, he took advantage of the temperate afternoon and went walking. As he entered the park, .. by the Cartier monument, ... the natural balance and harmony of the summer's day began to warp and twist like a too-tall sailing vessel in a heavy swell. Right in front of him, a police wagon and a squad car were driving over the grass and piazza at the back of the monument, and came to a halt by an isolated group of four or five youths whose African drums and flutes stayed silent as three officers, two male and one female, moved in on them. The female officer began to interrogate 'Carlos', a gentle looking and soft speaking Hispanic, who responded politely to her questions. Curious, Emile walked over to a lean, shirtless young Quebecois who had apparently been participating in the music-making with Carlos, and now, having 'passed' his interrogation, stood smiling to himself at the oddness of the continuing goings on. Emile asked him what all the questioning was about. He responded that it was to do with 'la plante' (marijuana).
Emile was not exactly sure why, but he moved over right beside Carlos, who was still seated with his drum between his knees at the end of the bench, and along with Carlos, gazed into the insisting eyes of the police officer, .. immersing himself more deeply in the flow of things. One of her partners, bristling with irritation that Emile had invaded this implicitly 'controlled' space came over and asked him 'what his business was'. Emile replied that 'this was our culture which was 'happening' here and that he was very interested in it'. The officer told Emile that he was not allowed to interfere in police process and that he must leave. Emile told the officer that he was not interfering, .. that he was listening. The officer seemed satisfied and unsatisfied at the same time, with Emile's answer, and left him without pressing the issue further.
The female officer continued her questioning, asking 'Carlos' for his name. Carlos smiled gently but did not give his name, ... saying to the officer instead, 'what YOU are doing here is against the law'. She replied that she was questioning him because the police had received a complaint. Carlos asked, 'do you mean that anyone can make a complaint about anyone else and that you will come out and interrogate them?'. She evaded the question by saying that the law empowered her to come and investigate activities in public places whether or not a complaint had been lodged. In spite of her repeated requests, Carlos did not come forth with his name, ... instead, he continued to roll a cigarette paper between his thumb and index finger, ... not insolently, not angrily, just because, it seemed, that's what he would have been doing if the police were not there in front of him. What he was going to put into that paper was a pregnant question which was never answered, .. .being instead pre-empted by what ensued.
'You've had your chance, ... I'm going to have to arrest you', she said, and her partner, the one who had bristled at me, quickly moved in and brought Carlos to his feet, while Carlos struggled to set his African drum out of harm's way on the bench, ... prior to being 'helped' to put his arms behind his back so that the handcuffs could be snapped onto his wrists.
Carlos was duely hustled off and put into the back seat of the squad car and the female officer returned to pick something up, ... Carlos small carry bag which had been on the bench beside where he was sitting. 'It's insanity that you're perpetrating here', said Emile, ... apparently on automatic pilot, ...'This is what makes us all crazy, .. you know?' She answered without looking Emile in the eye, and he was surprised by her answer. 'I know.', ... she said, ... softly, but distinctly and almost aspirantly, as if the words had involuntarily climbed onto her exhaling breath.
Emile walked over to the rolled-up smoked-glass window which framed Carlos' stoicly cooperative silhouette, ... tapped on it and smiled in at Carlos, giving him the thumbs up sign, ... Carlos looked up at Emile, and Emile saw his round face light up in a big love-of-life smile as the two of them 'connected' in the wave of solidarity.
That was a couple of hours ago, and now Emile was back at his notebook computer, working on his story 'The People Who Fell Out of Their Story'. The episode had triggered some further thoughts, ... thoughts about the 'problem' of preserving an environment of 'liberty'. It did not go unnoticed for either Emile or Carlos, that etched into the moment less than fifty meters from where Carlos was accosted and arrested, was the inscription;
"Le Canada Doit Etre un Pays de Liberte et Toutes les Libertes Doivent Etre Protegees par la Loi." Cartier, 1867. ("Canada must be a country of liberty and all liberties must be protected by the law")
Many in our culture would say that such a noble statement was not intended in the sense of providing a haven for pot-smoking 'problem' youth, ... but that seems like a rather arbitrary and judgemental way of looking at it. Perhaps the more significant content of the inscription is that it put the preserving of the quality of the containing environment in a primacy over single issues of content, ... a whole-and-part harmony principle we seem to have lost sight of, with our intensifying focus on the promulgation and singular-minded enforcement of rules, ... perpetuating a 'sum of the parts' flatspace tradition, whichdoes not apply to 'complex systems', the general case in nature.
Emile reflected that on a single issue basis, ... 'what is right' was an issue of 'being' ('what is') and thus fell into the domain of rational inquiry, but that there could be no finite truth in logic, as Goedel's theorem had proven, though our culture seemed to resist assimilating this message. In fact, in a relativistic world which was continuously evolving, there was no solid ground of tangibility or 'facts in themselves', ... what provided the basis for meaning and harmonic balance in society was 'story', ... the story of who we are and where we've been and where we'd like to be. But our people seem to have fallen out of their story and are instead grasping at straws, ... increasingly defining the world in terms of 'problems', ... but what is a problem, if it is not a contravention of the 'should be'?, ... a referential ground which transcends the rational-scientific domain of 'what is'.
The internal voices in Emile's head continued on with their questioning. ...If we take all the problems we have defined in the world, that we are actively working on, ... and consider that they imply, by their flip side, the sought-after 'resolved' state, or, 'should be' state of things, ... we should be able to come up the effective 'religious tradition' of our society, since questions of 'should be' are recognized to transcend the 'what is' of rational inquiry and to necessarily draw from religious tradition or ecological insight.
.... Think about where we are putting our actual effort in problem resolution in business and politics, ... and think about what we would have if we resolved these problems we are working on. Does this put us back into a story which satisfies our aspirations? Is the sum total of all the effort we are committing in the world today to 'solve problems' tending towards putting us back into the story we want to be in? Or is it true, instead, that our selection of problems, has been shanghaied by the felt need to repair holes in our fences of control and regulation, ... to 'police' the international community, ... to stabilize the global economy, ... to win the war on drugs, ... to control crime and violence which has even invaded our high schools? And if these 'problems' were to be somehow all resolved, ... we would indeed have a beautifully effective system of fencing, ... but what would be inside of the fences? Of what quality would our 'story' be, ... in the wake of the 'coming good' of our massive problem-solving efforts?
There seems to be a problem here in our inordinate focus on the rational, the 'what is', the realm of 'things' and 'facts', ... the 'parts' rather than the containing whole and overall 'story'. It seems clear that there can be no innate sense or meaning in 'things' and 'facts' in themselves, ... the 'what is' of reality, ... except for the sense which is given to them by a containing story which weaves everything together. An innocent infant could happily look into a lion's mouth or be a witness to murder, rape and mayhem, goo- gooing in appreciation of the 'what is' experience of it all, as long as it wasn't too noisy and violent. The 'what is' does not carry any 'should be' information inside of it. The nuclear scientist can go all the way from designing weapons to destroying civilization without finding anything whatsoever in the domain of the scientific and rational, ... the domain of 'what is', ... to encourage him to do otherwise. As Einstein said, the 'should be' information needed to sustain a healthy civilization transcends the knowledge of 'what is'. We, the people who have fallen out of their story, embrace a 'should be' which is implicit in our selection of 'problems' to be resolved.
While we tend to think that rational inquiry incorporates its own 'should be' values, this is not so, ... it just feels that way because of the inseparability of problem definition (non-rational, as just pointed out) and the rational inquiry which follows problem definition. Scientists, and all rational inquirers, in the pure sense, are innocent voyeurs of the 'out there'. It is not rationality which stops them from experimenting with living humans, to see how they work, .. but non-rational 'should be' values. The latter seeming to come from man's 'immersed state' of experiencing, where he develops insights through his continuing relationships with his containing environment.
Emile reckoned that it could only be 'story' which provided the connection between the open, innocent perceiving of 'what is' of the voyeur, and the 'knowing' insight into the 'should be' 'meaning' of the 'what is' of the immersed-participant.
This theorizing was very helpful, but Emile wanted to come to grips with its relationship to his own story, ... not only the content-story he was now writing but also his own container-story which induced him to write this story, ... the desire to share what he knew about his own culture, ... 'The People Who Fell Out of Their Story', with others, .. particularly with young people who were in the early stages of developing their own stories. Emile glanced at the beginning of what he had written the day before;
"I am of the people, the white european culture, who fell out of their story, and I want to share with you who are struggling to get back into your story, ... my impressions of what happened to us, ... how we fell out of our story."
This story of a story had been stimulated by Emile seeing a notice for a Native Friendship sponsored youth gathering and Pow-wow on Ile Bonsecours, and an urge to share his thoughts had risen up within him, ... even if it was a symbolic sharing, written into a computer file which no-one else might ever see.
Since the episode in the park, Emile was feeling that there was a keystone thought hidden somewhere within that anecdote. The police represented a specialized regulatory agency, deliberately split out from the natural scheme of things so that they could focus on enforcement and control. They looked out on a glass half-bad, half-good, ... and in their 'purification' role, could only effect the balance by eliminating 'bad'. And since all things seem to have good and bad in them at the same time, ... the challenge would be to eliminate those things which contained more bad than good. But how was one to determine that, ... particularly if one went strictly by the rules and judged people summarily, out of the context of their life experience? The purification operation as executed in the park seemed to be flushing away a lot of love and music together with purported 'bad'.
Rules seemed dangerous when seen 'in their own right', ... they were generalized from stories, but it seemed too easy to forget the story which stood behind the rules, and to start operating mechanically, strictly on the basis of rules. And since it was the whole-and-part coevolution between the containing story and the contents-behaviors which kept the story evolving, putting rules in the middle of the loop gave an exposure to forgetting one's story and stunting its growth, .... an exposure to 'falling out of one's story'.
The evolution of an oxbow lake came into Emile's mind, where a mature river hits an impediment or 'problem' in its path and forms a bend or meander in trying to deal with it, ... and the flow seems to get so preoccupied with the problem that the bend develops into a loop that actually flows back against its original direction, as if it was distracted by the problem to the extent that it forgot its primary purpose of flowing to the sea, ... and when the loop makes it all the way around, closing in on its own beginning, the main stream separates and the doughnut shaped oxbow lake is left on its own, ... a fossilized problem-solver-and-solution whose paleo-record told of how it was possible to become so problem-obsessed that you ran around in circles until you 'fell out of your own story'. There was an important lesson in this geological reality, it seemed to Emile, ... that getting overly preoccupied with overcoming problems took you away from your real purpose, ... your real 'story'. The laws against drugs were to ensure a healthy environment for youth, so that youth could laugh and be free and make some music. Hey, ... wasn't that where we came in, ... in the scene in the park prior to the enforcement activity?
Emile could feel that he was being rather analytical in his story-telling, ... he, too, was in danger of losing sight of his original purpose and falling out of his own story. He felt the need to reduce the analytics and open up the story aperture, ... so that the story could speak more for itself. And the notion of 'a problem', which had become the implicit source of 'should be' content in our society, in the decline of a collective purpose, seemed to be the keystone theme he was searching for.
............There was a time when there was no word for what we now call 'a problem'. People recognized that there was conflict amongst men and also amongst the animals and plants and processes of nature, but they simple responded to it without labeling things as 'being good' or 'being bad' or being 'a problem'. Up until about 1000 B.C. our forefathers, the forefathers of white europeans, believed that man was part of the whole, ... that the individual was contained within the community and the community was contained within nature. The stories of nature and man were one, ... they were interwoven.
Because he thought that all things were the constituents of a common container, he looked at things from the immersed view that a fish might have, as being on the inside of a rich and beautiful and often dangerous ecology where you accepted the things around you, both predators and prey, as being 'natural'. Even if you came into conflict with other constituents and they killed some of your members and you killed some of theirs, you did not judge them, nor determine to 'eliminate' them. Your goal in life was to sustain the harmony of your inner life, even as you sustained the harmonic balances outside of you, with your containing environment. Often there were difficulties with keeping things in balance in the external world of the shared container, but this did not mean that the conflict which ensued was 'caused' by 'evil things'. Evil was seen, instead, by our mythopoeic forefathers, as a mysterious current or 'dissonance' which upwelled from time to time, .. metamorphosing those things it 'possessed' or welled up inside of. Our ancestors explained these things in terms of the 'Gods' in nature which had transmutational powers for themselves and for those things they entered into.
The peoples of the eastern mediterranean, by about 500 B.C. were shifting their view of reality, from the stories of the Gods which began to be seen as an arbitrary and inconsistent way to understand things, ... to a more consistent way which would bring many things into sensible connection. One of the thinkers of this time who exemplified the move away from explaining things with stories of multiple Gods was Heraclitus who said; "Wisdom consists in understanding the way the world works."
While Heraclitus' remark is now regarded as the birth of the scientific view, Heraclitus' views still saw the world as a unity, ... a flowing, evolving, transmutating whole, in which man was a constituent, ... an immersed, participant. In other words, Heraclitus did not 'fall out of the story' of his forefathers, ... he did not detach man from his environmental container of nature-based story, ... he did not take man out of his 'immersed' vantage point and fisheye view of nature, but saw the container of nature in new terms, ... as a fiery logos which infused, flowed through and constituted all things in the world. That is, Heraclitus moved away from stories of multiple Gods to a story based on understanding nature in a systematic way, ... a nature which was characterized by an innate ordering principle, the 'Logos', which could never be fully known since the transformations never ceased. ["The wise is one thing, to be acquainted with true judgement, how all things are steered through all. One thing, the only truly wise, does not and does consent to be called by the name of Zeus." ... this sensitivity to the labelling of 'things' highlights Heraclitus belief in the simultaneous unity and plurality of the cosmos, .. a notion which he shared with his eastern contemporary Lao Tsu and with modern day quantum physics.]
But it was not Heraclitus and his container-content-coevolutionary view of nature who set the pattern for how the western scientific worldview would be approached, ... it was the interpreted works of Parmenides, Plato, Aristotle, Democritus, and they moved away from the 'natural container' view of reality to the abstract view that our reality is constituted by an ensemble of 'things' with properties and behaviors which interact 'causally' with one another. In this view, the picture of reality is built up from pieces, like a meccano set, and the notion of the world as a fluid whole in which man is an immersed constituent-participant disappears, ... the creative and participative properties of space and container are instead re-invested in 'things' and space is rendered void and empty, passive and infinite.
The structures built up from assumed parts became all important in this view, while the notion of a wholeness associated with a container co-evolving with its constituent contents vanishes. This view of 'science', which lacks relational self-reference (relativity) is far smaller than Heraclitus' view and it would be more appropriate to refer to it as 'rationality' (logic and cause) than as 'science'. Modern science concepts such as relativity transcend logic and cause and can only be accessed with our relational intelligence, ... as Einstein says, ...'by bringing an abundance of real and imaginary experiences into connection in the mind'. So, while twentieth century science has refuted its own 'rationalist' tradition of insistence on a reality based on independent parts, ... three millenia old habits do not die easily, ... and our culture continues to be enslaved by a 'material' or 'thing' orientation.
The western whiteman's world thus became a world based on rational 'being', the existence of 'things', and his 'rational' or 'small science' inquiry into this 'thing-world' revolved around issues of being, .... issues of 'what is?', ... what is a tree?, ... what is man? ... what is a community and how does it work? His whole focus became 'things', .. the 'what is', ... out of the context of the containing story which had created them and in which they were immersed. His understanding of a 'tree' was in terms of its cells and its rings and its bark and its sap and its boughs and its leaves, ... but not initially in the sense of how its leaves inhaled the air of the atmosphere and with the help of the sun breathed out refreshed air and how its root tendrils absorbed nutrients dissolved in the flowing ground water and transmutated these into living plant fibre. He did not see a tree as something which was part of an evolutionary story, ... which was pulled into being through a process of 'coevolution' with its parenting containers of atmosphere and lithosphere, ... an ongoing tension between earth and sky. He saw the tree instead as a standalone 'thing' in its own right, ...in a detached and disconnected light.
And it was the same for every 'thing' he sought to understand through his 'what is' mode of rational, small-science inquiry, ... even people, who he saw as independent 'objects', the workings of whose limbs, organs and cell structures he became very good at 'understanding' in this limited descriptive sense of 'being'. A sense which ignored the purposive or 'should be' aspects of the thing, ... aspects which could only be understood in terms of the 'thing's' coevolving relationship with its containing whole.
In fact, the 'should be' questions, ... questions of 'why' things were as they were, were progressively seen, in the first millenium A.D., to be the exclusive preserve of religion, and a western religious creation myth which said that everything was created by a God outside of, and 'above' nature. This was so for the three major religions of the western whiteman, ... Judaism, Christianity and Islam, which had all retained and incorporated in their doctrinal thinking, the 'thing-focus' of Parmenides, Aristotle and the Greek rationalist philosophers. The western creation myth encouraged scientific inquiry to stick with the rational 'what is' and leave the 'what should be' to the doctors of the church, putting such issues as the purposive 'pull' of the living container on its own contents 'out of bounds', ... denying the existence of the evolutionary force of a living nature. Even today, 'evolution' is accepted by the religions of the western whiteman only in an adjunct, superficial way, ...for example, without allowing it to interfere with the myth of Adam and Eve, ... a 'sole-sourcing' myth necessary to preserve the doctrine of an 'original sin' which applied to all human offspring, ... a 'problem' state which doctrine says has to be resolved in order for the individual to be cleansed and redeemed.
In the whiteman's religious view, man was seen to have 'a special role' on earth. He was seen by the doctrinarian St Augustine (De Civitate Dei, ca. 400 A.D.) and by the Church, as a member of a hierarchy of God's creations which ranged downward from God,... the angels, man, animals, plants and finally minerals. Man was not seen as being a 'part of the whole' of nature, and he was not seen as the child of his container of nature, but instead, as the child of an 'outside' process. Through religious myth, western man, in effect, 'fell out of his own evolutionary story' and was alienated from his natural home and story. He now stands outside of it, ... unable to get back into it, ... looking down and in at life as a voyeur, peering into it and seeing 'it' happen in front of him rather than happening 'to' him, .... not recognizing that both he and his objects of inquiry are immersed in a common, connecting 'story', and that what happens 'out there' happens simultaneously 'in here'.
This detached 'voyeur view' of reality, instigated by both western philosophy and religion, is the view which is still taught in the whiteman's schools today, in 1999, ... the view of the world as an ensemble of detached 'things' which determine the future state of the world by their logical, causal 'sum-of-the-parts' interplay. And in this 'interplay' of things with other things, there is no mention of the role of the natural container in which man is himself immersed as he tries to understand the behaviors of the world as an ensemble of things. He is taught that in the space outside of 'things', there is just emptiness and void, so that he need not consider the container which immerses both him and the objects of his 'what is' inquiry. He is taught that a full knowledge of 'things' and their behaviors is sufficient to disclose to him the 'full story'.
He is NOT taught what 'large science' inquiry, ... RELATIONAL scientific inquiry that has gone beyond RATIONAL inquiry, ... has revealed, ... that he and the things he is inquiring into are the coevolving contents of their common containing space, ... a space which has physical properties and which participates along with its constituents, in physical phenomena. Therefore he continues to see himself as living outside of the story he sees in front of him, ... looking in on it with an attitude of detachment and not 'connecting' with it, ... not being able to see himself as an immersed participant in the same containing waters as his objects of inquiry, ... not realizing that his actions based on his voyeur interpretations simultaneously influence what he is looking in on, ... that he and his objects of inquiry 'play' in a common story,... a story he has fallen out of.
I can feel the sadness of a people who are outside of their own story, looking back into it as voyeurs of their own life, and the torment of those children who discover, as they approach adulthood, that they too, shall be forced to 'drop out' of their own involved natural life 'story' and join the ranks of those who sustain and defend the artificial shell of detachment, becoming 'parasites of the visible', ... seeing the world as if through the porthole of a submarine whose mechanical tentacles mine the natural world while alienating its occupants from the pain and heartache of the mining operation.
I can feel the defensiveness of people who insist that we understand the 'sense' of 'things' without story, ... by examining things part by part 'in their own right', ... who insist that the behavior of 'things' is a fully determined property of 'things in themselves' and deny that behavior emerges from the resonant or dissonant confluence of the historical experience of the 'thing' with the other constituents of its containing environment, ... from the ongoing story of coevolution between 'content' and 'container'. The whiteman will say that the redman is 'tragically maladjusted' as if maladjustment was innate in the redman and had nothing to do with the state of the containing white dominated community. The whiteman will say that the violent man has a 'violence gene' in him that makes him violent and will search for this gene, rather than turning around and examining the role of the containing environment, and he will say 'aha' as he finds a strong correlation with the genetics of the black man, as if confirming an old 'thing-in-itself' suspicion, ignoring the black man's long enslavement within the white dominator society. The whiteman will say that the depressed or disturbed man has a 'bipolar' or 'schizophrenic' defect, as if the depression was innate in the man's genetic and biochemical makeup and had nothing to do with the state of his containing environment. In all of these cases, the whiteman will treat the 'defectiveness' he interprets as being innate in 'things', and he will defensively avoid considering the role of the containing environment in which the 'things' are immersed.
For the 'maladjusted' redman, the whiteman will have money and privileges to give, to encourage them to come out of their 'maladjustment' and embrace and be assimilated into the whiteman's ways. For the violent man, the whiteman will have stern 'justice' which seeks to demonstrate to others purported to have similar 'defects' that they must suppress the attacks against their containing environment. For the depressed or disturbed man, the whiteman will have drugs which will relieve the impact of the thought imbalances induced by the container and help the depressed man to ignore his symptoms, the natural resistance of his mind to 'container-behavior' patterns, and to accept the container as it is. For the whiteman, ... the goodness of the dominating social container he has created cannot be questioned or cast into doubt by the dissonance coming from 'defective people', ... the redman, the blackman and the depressed or schizophrenic whiteman.
The whiteman's view that 'behavior' is an innate property of 'things', and not a co-property of the container, goes back to the very foundations of his rational inquiry, ... wherein he conceived of the world in terms of an ensemble of detached and independent 'things' with their own innate properties and behaviors, ... a 'what is' world of 'being' whose 'becoming' arrives through the mechanical-causal actions of these detached things upon each other. To question this view in which the container plays no role at all brings out a defensiveness in the whiteman, for it is this view which removes the whiteman from his containing story, and allows him to believe that what he sees 'out there' in front of him, or on his TV screen, is detached from himself. And he takes this cyclic act of voyeur viewing, rationally interpreting things 'out there' in front of him, and acting upon his interpretation, ... this closed and controlled loop of homocentric viewing and interpreting, ... to be his 'life', ... rather than the full suite of his interactions with his container which most often 'blindside' him and refuse to 'negotiate' with him. Because he takes his life to be what he sees through his 'windshield' as he drives into it, ... a windshield view which doesn't show the Powaqqatsian transformation of the the landscape which contains him, nor his own aging, ... it follows that his full 'story', ... his 'real life', .. will be something which 'just happens to him' while he is busy rationally interpreting what he sees through his windshield.
The whiteman has continued on his voyeur path, of remaining on the outside of his story, because of his remarkable 'success', or 'rise to power', on the fronts of technology and domination, ... technology and domination which has made his life more 'comfortable' and more 'predictable'. But what value is 'comfort' if it depends upon putting a technological shell of detachment between him and his natural container, ... a container with whom he bootstrapped his own 'being' and development over eons in a coevolutionary grappling match, just as the tree was pulled into being and becoming by the tension between earth and sky, ... a technological shell of detachment within which he is becoming increasingly out of touch with his natural container and more fearfully dependent upon the indefinite sustaining of the shell, ... a shell which disengages and prevents him from coevolving with his natural container, ... a technological shell of patchworks upon patchworks which itself becomes less and less understandable by him, ... as the approaching Y2K problem warns. What value is predictability within one's fabricated shell if it is garnered at the expense of the rise of unpredictability in man's future direct encounters with his diverging natural container?
The whiteman has reached a point where he is denying that his true story is much more than his voyeur inquiry based understanding and exploitation of the world. The whiteman is coming to believe that his technocentric and homocentric game is the 'whole story' and forget his continuing place in his ancestral lineage and evolution, stories that draw their meaning from the container of nature, rather than just from man.
Instead of accepting that 'he did not weave the web of life, but is merely a strand on it', ... instead of accepting that when he spits upon the earth he spits upon himself, ... he seems to persist in his belief in detachment from nature. And when the leaves in front of him begin to yellow and curl from his technology-sourced noxious farting, ... a noxious farting which is exhausting behind him, into his real-but-denied containing story, out of his voyeur field of view and inquiry, he, now increasingly cancerous, infected and poisoned by his own foul emissions, surviving because of his technology rather than because of coevolved natural strength, arrives at the ultimate affirming of his story-alienation and rejection of his 'strand-in-the-web-of-life' status, by concluding, not that the time has come to seek a harmonious re-embracing of his containing story, but that it is time to move on to dominate and exploit new ground, ... perhaps new worlds.
It has been important for me, as a whiteman like many in our culture, who has not embraced the western religious doctrine of man being 'created' 'above nature', ... but who has an affinity for scientific reasoning, ... to understand how our people can continue to regard themselves as being decoupled from the contamination and dysfunction they continue to infuse into their container and which they watch taking effect 'out there' in front of them as if it had nothing to do with them, ... to understand how we continue to regard ourselves as being distinct and detached from our containing environment, ... and feel we can continue to spit upon the earth, our container, without spitting upon ourselves.
Understanding the ways of the whiteman is one thing, in the case where we view man's detachment from nature as emanating from religion and faith, ... where man believes he is God's special agent on earth, ... an earth which has been created by God as a place for man to live and for his pleasure. But it is quite another where we view man as evolving his worldview on the basis of his scientific inquiry, ... on the 'large science' basis of 'understanding how the world works', which the western philosopher Heraclitus suggested was the path of wisdom.
The answer to how the whiteman ways resist the press of his own 'large science' inquiry and remain in 'detachment from nature' mode is elusive at first, but once unearthed, can be seen in very simple terms. Nevertheless, such understanding is quickly and easily forgotten because it is hidden by our language, and language quickly flows back over the top of it and conceals it once again. It is important to remember one's own life-experience stories which cut through this mischievousness of language which conceals what is really going on. This mischievousness can be found in the inauspicious, linguistic mixing of questions of 'what is' with questions of 'what should be, as follows;
Albert Einstein maintained that scientific (rational) inquiry is the domain of 'what is' and that we should look to religious traditions for inquiry into 'what should be', ... for the deeper sense and purpose of the world we live in. Many other western scientific minds, ... Bohr, Schroedinger, Born, not to mention Kepler, and Heraclitus (who first advocated the shift from religious myth to scientific inquiry, in the largest sense of the word 'scientific'), believed that there were innate 'ordering principles' or purpose within nature itself. In other words, the latter believed that we could glean the answers to 'what should be' questions from our understanding of our container, nature. This was not necessarily in contradiction to Einstein's belief, since Einstein saw 'religious tradition' as an evolving tradition, and one that was continually picking up on and incorporating the findings of science in an inspired rather than foolhardy way. The highest stage of religious tradition, he saw as 'cosmic religious feeling' (pantheism?) which transceded any "anthropomorphic conception of God". But what was different was that the latter group of Bohr et al saw the interposing of 'priests' or experts on 'should be' questions, between man and his 'large science' views, as an impediment to 'understanding how the world works'.
Einstein's view was the traditional view, however, ... a view which had already influenced the development of language and shaped it so that it bundled together 'what is' and 'what should be' inquiry, through the 'problem definition' process in particular, so that the language of rational inquiry was no longer purely 'what is' inquiry but a culturally-laden melding of 'what is' and 'what should be'.
Having a clear understanding of the notion of a 'problem' is key to the issue of 'story'. A 'problem', as it is applied to the behavior of systems, is common in scientific inquiry, yet it carries the 'should be' connotation that 'something is wrong'. We can speak in the 'should be' terms of something 'being wrong' when we deal with machinery and systems which we invented, but we did not invent the web of life and we cannot claim to be in rational 'what is' mode when we speak of 'problems' in the context of the behavior of social and natural systems. The word 'problem' is a 'what should be' - loaded word. Rational scientific mode only allows us to describe and explain 'what is', ... not to apply subjective value judgements to systems behaviors. But we implicitly apply subjective value judgements whenever we use the term 'problem' in the sense of 'defect', ... and this use of language takes us outside of the domain of 'what is' and into the domain of 'should be'. For if we diagnose a 'problem' it follows that we shall move on towards the elimination of the problem, visualized in terms of the excising a 'defective part'. Yet, it is clear we are coming from 'should be' intent and in dealing with evolving systems, 'excision' is not an option and must think in terms of influencing interweaving flows. It is also clear that we cannot accept without question the 'should be' intent which is implicit is problem definition, ... in the word 'problem', ... since words are the stuff that stories are made of, and vice versa.
There is no innate sense in 'things' or in words in themselves. It was ourselves who defined and labelled things and words, and we drew from the flow of our story as we did so, .. our containing story which gives sense to thing-labelling and word-defining. Words can act like Trojan horses which slip by our receiving senses to do unexpected things to our unprotected consciousness. As Wittgenstein said, "A picture held us captive. And we could not get outside it, for it lay in our language and language seemed to repeat it to us inexorably."
Words can carry in much more than we think they do, ... like the word-label 'problem', which attaches non-rational, 'should be' value to whatever it is referring to. Sometimes words inappropriately trivialize something, ... like the word 'tree'. The sense of 'tree' is not innate in the dictionary meaning of the word 'tree' or in the 'thing' notion of a tree, which is limited to 'what is' aspects of a tree, ... the 'should be' as opposed to the 'what is' sense of 'tree' can be derived from nowhere else but from our story which connects us with the tree through our common, containing space-time evolutionary dynamic. In the whiteman's story, the tree meant little to most of us, apart from our poets, ... and we cut them down to make room for our agricultural technologies and our industries, and our community dwellings and thoroughfares. Only recently have we begun to regard the tree as an essential constituent of our containing ecology, contributing to the quality of the air we breathe and to the whole earth-ecology balance,... but this recognition has still not come of age in our culture, ... the culture which now dominates the world and controls its global exploitation, ... to deter the continuing unbalanced destruction of trees.
In the domain of language, ... apparently, ... cutting down trees was not a 'problem' but it is now becoming a 'problem'. But from the point of view of rational science and 'what is', ... we still cannot say that cutting down trees is 'a problem', ... we can only describe the systemic (ecological) effects of cutting down trees without putting 'should be' judgement on it. Rational science itself does not tell us what 'should be' and therefore it does not tell us what is a 'problem' and what is not, in the domain of natural systems. This non-judgementalness on the part of rational science is the reason why there is nothing in science itself to prevent us from destroying our environmental container and ourselves. The purely rational mind looks only 'out there' at 'what is' in front of it, and cannot stand on its own shoulders and establish its own value in doing so, ... such value-setting is the domain of 'should be' and must come from the containing story, be it religious tradition of the west or the learning tradition of the aboriginal. So there is a 'problem' here with the word 'problem', ... note how this word 'problem' carries with it this judgemental notion of 'wrongness', ... and that is that unstated 'should be' assumptions are bundled into the word 'problem' which taint what is being referred to.
The Trojan horse effect of 'problem' oriented labelling and the diagnostic words which associate with it, is easy to recognize when we talk about it, but not easy to hold onto in our awareness, since we quickly assimilate the effect of such words, and we automatically draw on this assimilated understanding in our conversations. We are 'held captive by language' as Wittgenstein says. After we expose these submerged reefs which regularly shipwreck us, ... right here and now in this essay, ... the waters of our consciousness will quickly flow back in and cover them over, and while the impression of having understood the situation will linger on, ... the navigation charts will not be updated. Only with repeated exercise will this understanding be revived in readiness for real time application, and that is why it is necessary for us to have and retain our own experiential stories which anecdotally expose the Trojan horses of language, ... Trojan horses which conceal the passing off of the 'should be' as 'what is' ('he is a problem') and the retention of 'what is' stripped of its 'should be' ('this tree is 200 feet tall and 8 feet wide).
The flavor of 'wrongness' associated with the notion of a 'problem' raises the question of how we characterize 'good' and bad' in our conceptual models and our language. The whiteman's pre- Greek rationalist ancestors spoke of good and evil in terms of vaporous forces which were induced by the containing environment, and which infused, enfolded and influenced 'things'. This was very different from their later view that 'things' themselves could be innately 'good' or 'evil' in their own right, ... a radical change in outlook well illustrated by William Blake in his 'Marriage of Heaven and Hell' and related works. In the older view, everything possessed the potential for good and evil but the balance could be disturbed by inductive forces coming from the (Gods of the) containing environment, just as the containing 'atmosphere' could induce destructive waves in the sea. This older view was held in the days before the notions of 'things', 'logic' and 'cause' became formalized and interdependent aspects of rational inquiry. So the older view of 'good' and 'evil' as the shared property of a thing and its environment, ... gave way to the view that there were only 'things' and void which meant that 'good' and 'evil' had 'nowhere else to go' but to be innate properties of things (euclidian space is not compatible with the notion of a participating 'space'. This requires self-referentiality as in non-euclidian curved space.).
This split or 'binary' way of looking at the world sets up the notion of a 'tangible wrongness', ... i.e. 'a problem', ... which is seen to be excisable, eliminatable or neutralizable. At the same time, it pre-empts the notion of participatory space in which induction effects from the environmental container may be responsible for the phenomena in question. Yet we know from modern physics that space has physical properties and participates in physical phenomena. But space is unbounded and therefore not a 'thing' so we cannot eliminate an unbounded source of undesired behavior by a logical, causal approach. We must instead, 'fight inductive pull with inductive pull' by letting it beat upon itself, ... by raising the jib of 'purpose', ... self-referential talk of unbounded influence used against itself which makes a reductionist viewpoint queasy and weak in the knees and, a mere few hundred years ago in the whiteman's culture, would have brought out the stakes and kindling.
By being locked into split rational inquiry, ... by being denied access to the notions of self-referential induction or container-content- coevolution, ... our cultural tradition forces us to social dissonance in terms of tangible and remediable 'problems', ... in other words, we see the 'tragic maladjustment' of the aboriginal as a tangible, remediable 'problem' rather than as a container-induced state of imbalance, ... and we see the 'violence' of angry youth as a tangible, remediable 'problem' rather than as container-induced state of imbalance, ... and we see the 'depression' of young adults and the 'attention deficit syndrome' of children as tangible, remediable 'problems' rather than as a container-induced states of imbalance.
The exclusive embrace of the problem-and-remediation-oriented view, and the discarding of the notion of the inductive role of the containing environment, drops us out of the 'should be' of our purposive story, lowering 'the jib of purpose' needed to navigate the inductive fields and interwoven currents of evolutionary flow, and making us instead, the pawns of the implicit 'should be' of our problem-defining. We let the distorting influences of the container off 'scott-free' and leave the contents, tainted with the label of 'problem', holding the bag.
In sum, in his continuing historical evolution, ... in his 'story', ... the whiteman can be seen to have fallen out of his story, ... no longer able to see himself within his coevolving dynamic with his container, ... and seeing his life instead, in the narrow voyeur terms of a continuing 'problem-solving' battle with issues he sees before him.
Gone from his mind and heart is the continuing story of coevolutionary grappling between man and his container as lived by his ancestors and passed from generation to generation. Gone is the proud history of his lineage in nature which gave him meaningful identity transcending homocentricity, .... traded away for homocentric esteem for rational knowledge and the power garnered from 'problem-solving' prowess, ... a prowess which fails to cloy the appetite of problem-solving but instead makes hungry where most it satisfies. Gone is the vision of where he lives in time and space, obscured by the synthetic shell of technology from whose tempered steel and glass portholes he glimpses the world, ... giving him the sense of independent overseer, and depriving him of the 'feel' of the web of nature enshrouding both him and the world in his viewport.
.... Emile paused, ... reflecting on this continuing tour through the catacombs of western dysfunction which continued to run on and out before him in his mind, ... like a yellow brick road in the land of Oz. There were many things he wanted to say, such as how 'story' was the only thing which could bring meaning to statements such as;
"Milosevic killed many innocent Albanian-Kosovars. He is an evil man."
"Truman killed many innocent Japanese. He is a good man."
and Emile felt a desire to share how the notion of 'problem' led directly to the 'liar's paradox', which exposed the limits of logic, ... to propositions which were true and false at the same time, ... a yin/yang geometry which western rational inquiry did not allow, ... paradoxes such as
"...Scientific inquiry is not scientific"
... since scientific inquiry included problem defining and since problem defining is based on non-rational 'what should be' content)
In the end, Emile opted for closing 'The People Who Fell From Their Story' by reflecting on the nature of 'right' OR 'wrong', 'good' OR 'bad', ... since the primacy of exclusion over inclusion was the 'Trojan horse' which drained the participative substance out western man's notion of his environmental container, letting him fall out of his story.
The 'beyond-question' elevating of man above nature by western religion had clearly removed man from his notion of being 'immersed' in the container of nature. But even before that, the opting for the rationalist legacy of Parmenides and Aristotle and the associated implication of Euclidian space had removed the participative 'substance' characterizing the environmental container and replaced it with void and emptiness. The 'container' notion could not really exist in a world of things wherein man sat above the ensemble of animals, plants and minerals in nature.
The overthrow of Heraclitus' simultaneous and inclusionary unity and plurality of the cosmos, ... the yin/yang viewing of reality of the ancient west, and of all mythopoeic peoples prior to the rise of the western culture, .... exiled 'story' from its historical primacy. It removed 'story' from the primacy because 'story' constitutes the INCLUSIONARY or RELATIVISTIC reasoning which makes sense out of an ever-changing 'simultaneous unity and plurality', ... a container which is its contents. One makes sense of 'the container which is its contents' in a relativistic way, by bringing a multitude of real and imaginary experiences into connection in the mind' and allowing the self-consistencies in one's experiential 'story' to constitute the 'proof' in the form of implicit understanding.
'Story', the living experience and relational intelligence basis for understanding our reality, was no longer essential when the 'inclusionary' aspect of our reality was culturally disposed of, ... in fact, 'story' was rendered homeless in the field of reasoning, as rational explanation based on 'exclusion' became the cultural mainstay, .. a reasoning approach which arises from the special case where 'inclusion', ... the coevolutionary inductance between the containing environment and the object-of-inquiry, ... goes to zero. (e.g. where the co-evolutionary inductance between the scientific community and science, ... goes to zero).
Where story provided a rallying point for purposive 'should be' cooperation, ... problem-solving took over. And problem-solving was approached by control and elimination, ... by the glass half-bad, half-good perspectival approach, ... the purification of an ensemble of things seen as EITHER good OR bad.
The purification approach has annoyed those who themselves have been classified as 'problems' by it, ... as being 'bad' in other words, since it is clear that such judgements emanate from an implied 'should be' which is never stated. Those in power, in business, science and government, tend to define 'problems' in the context of their own interests, and those they represent, and do not have to state their 'should be' assumptions because of their power, and may not even be fully conscious of the 'should be' assumptions in their problem-defining, in any case.
At this point in our history, we are seeing that the 'Trojan horses' of the 'should be' are on the rampage, and are leading to the spiralling growth of problems, ... and to the spiralling growth of rules and control structures. This, in turn, means that our 'what should be' is being increasingly defined on the flip side of problem definition, and less and less defined on the basis of purposive 'story'.
Science continues on, ... supported by its aura of respect coming from its 'rationality', solving its self-defined problems such as the 'need' to be able to manipulate the genetic makeup of plants and animals. Governments continue to operate behind the facades of rationality, ... defining their own problems, ... without having to defend the 'should be' implications implicitly embodied in those problem definitions.
And so it goes.
But this is all a story. And one must conclude that there is no 'right' or 'wrong', ... since these are mere abstractions, words of our own invention. As these imposters melt and vaporize under the strong gaze of our relational reasoning, ... the containing space space which remains and surrounds their 'vanishing point', ... the stage and audience, so to speak, is 'story'.
We can change our story any time we want to, ... we can accept inclusion and reject the primacy of exclusion. We can reject the notion of a problem, and/or insist on discussing the 'what should be' implications of the problem definition.
That's what Carlos did in the park. He said that the intervention of the police didn't mesh with our story, and I agree. Carlos and his music-making friends are not a 'problem'. That is not to say that we should let drugs rule or that we should give foxes free entry into the chicken shed. It simply says that we should put story and purpose back into the primacy.
Emile thought's drifted back to game of pool and how it seemed to give lessons on conflict resolution applicable to real life. The game was basically about two enfolded families of balls, one could call the low balls 'good' balls, and the high balls 'bad' balls. This enfolded configuration constituted a "SIMULTANEOUS unity and plurality' as Heraclitus had evisaged for the cosmos, in that the whole 'container' was the full set of enfolded contents, and each ball was at the same time a constituent AND the whole (a part of the whole, as a water molecule is to a river, in that the 'order' which prevailed in the whole was essentially dependent on the existence of each individual ball). This condition of simultaneity and inclusion was in accord with quantum physics.
Emile noted, as well, that the game of pool also complied with 'relativity', .. the 'order' in the ball configuration was relative to itself, and not to any external reference, and that because of the 'reflecting' of balls off the banks, ... the 'space-time' of the pool table was effective 'curved' and finite but unbounded, also in agreement with relativity.
The purpose of the game seemed to emulate our reality as well; i.e. the natural, intuitive need to increase the order in our 'containing' surroundings, and here's where some familiar options began to open up. Seen from the immersed perspective of a ball with consciousness, ... and the good pool player goes into an 'immersed' mode where he effectively 'lends' his consciousness to the ball when he plays, ... in order to 'increase order', the ball can (a) eliminate nearby balls of the opposite 'polarity' (war), (b) dis-enfold the balls so that the balls of opposite polarity are segregated (ethnic cleansing), or (c) condition the configuration so as to improve the latent opportunity for elimination of the opposing polarity.
Each of these approaches had it drawbacks, from the perspective of increasing the order. The eliminating action in the war (a) approach often resulted in a setback to (b), dis-enfolding the balls, since the balls were inadvertently induced into strange new alliances or 'enfoldments' by the singular focus on elimination, thus, the segregation which had been 'growing' in the overall configuration as constituents flocculated into equilibrium cells or 'cells of common polarity', was disturbed. The drawback of the dis-enfolding action was that it made the space disjoint so that one couldn't get across it without disturbing the order that had already been induced (one got 'snookered') and this led back to a course of war and elimination to open up some new channels. The drawback of the third approach, (c), of continually conditioning the configuration to improve the options for elimination was that you had to suspend the enfoldment issue (b), in the process of making clean, unobstructed paths for getting to and embracing those of the opposite polarity in an eliminatory death-kiss. Suspending the enfoldment issue was like suspending the notion of the 'problem'. And if one suspended the notion of the enfoldment 'problem' to get a clear bead on members of the opposite polarity, ... one had to endure the tension of this game of musical chairs, to develop and sustain an 'intimacy with the 'enemy'', ... a 'thin line between 'love and hate' effect, as they say,... and allow, as an interim expedient, the evolutionary engendering of even deeper levels of enfoldment or 'quantum entanglement'.
Emile thought of how well Montreal was set up, with its deep enfoldment of ethnic individuals, to be able to easily get to, and eliminate those of another polarity if the music should ever stop. The tension of this thought, in Emile's mind, seemed to oscillate mysteriously and seductively from dark to light in a kind of yin/yang balancing. Of course, if the ethnic families got bored doing musical chairs and got married and had children, ... this new deepening of enfoldment would neutralize the polar opposition and one would have to wait for a new polarity basis to emerge.
That same ambiguous and inconclusive oscillatory tension seemed to characterize Emile's 'progress' or lack thereof in working on the issues of 'community as complex system', .... his 'space' seemed to deepen even as he stayed in the same place, ... but since he was a simultaneous constituent of his containing unity, ... perhaps there was an 'inductive' effect of his oscillatory 'stalking' of the enemy, ... the inverted primacy of the rational over the relational, ... within his containing environment, ... the overall configuration?
Emile, activated by this triggering insight, went to poll his email inbox to see if there was any synchronicitous 'new data' which could give him a quantum jog out of his impasse and help him to close this story, ... if not by 'deciding' it, at least by letting it be reborn into a new, and freshly enlarged story.
Emile found a single message waiting for him, addressed to his alter ego;
Date: Mon, 23 Aug 1999 10:59:12 -0700
From: Taiaiake Alfred <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: RE: politicians
To: ted lumley <email@example.com>
Arguing with politicians in this business rarely gets to the depth you
make reference to. Unfortunately these days politicians have conceeded
rationality and are defending interests: it's a wild west frontier of
PS: Good story fo Bonsecours.
Emile was heartened by the message, ... and again on impulse, went to the dictionary to refresh his memory on the meaning of 'secours'. ... "Aide, assistance dans le besoin, le danger". Of course, ... 'au secours' was a cry for help. One day, some amongst those at the Bonsecours youth rally would become part of the system of political leadership.
In his mind, Emile was already racking up the balls, eager to start the next game in the match, ... to be reborn into his newly enlarged story.
* * *
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