Metaconsciousness: Mythology for a Post-Civilized World
I.6 | Contents | I.8
I think now that the reason the pattern of the tribe had worked so well during the human epoch before the advent of civilization, and the reason the hacker "tribe" has performed so effectively in spite of civilization, has to do with what is meant by that grotesquely overused and misunderstood word, love.
The notions we have been given by civilization about "love," like everything civilization teaches, are perverse. We have been taught that it is "virtuous" to "love" others, but not ourselves; that there is something fundamentally "wrong" with us that we are powerless to correct, yet for which we bear an inescapable "guilt." We have been taught shame for our magnificent bodies, and for our bodily functions, urges, appetites, and pleasures. We have been taught that we are "cursed" by a "sub-human animal nature," against which we must struggle constantly in order to achieve and sustain the sublime standards of... what? Civilization??!!
Contents of this section:
People, Wake Up!
Our pre-civilized forebears were not burdened with these perversions. Perhaps they had their own, but not these. And our non-human peers have never had to deal with them – except insofar as they have had to deal with civilized humans. Perhaps now, after five thousand years of civilized tyranny, some of us are beginning to creep from beneath the oppressive shadow of what we have been taught about love.
These thoughts do not pretend to be definitive or final, yet I earnestly submit to your most penetrating introspection the idea that until you profoundly love yourself, you will never genuinely love another; and you will never achieve appropriate appreciation or reverence for Life, upon which your own life, and the life of your planet, finally depend.
You, reading these words, right here, right now, are the intentional metaconscious product and manifestation of "That Which Creates All That Is." To repudiate this with shame, fear, and loathing, as we have all been taught to do from our first breath, is a blasphemy of incalculable proportions, if the word "blasphemy" has any meaning at all. You are here, you exist. This you did not achieve by your own effort or intent, but by that of "That Which Creates All That Is," whatever "That," shrouded in impenetrable mystery, may ultimately be. There is no one and nothing in all the breadth and depth of "All That Is," of which the same may not truthfully be said. You stand as a peer beside "All That Is," simply by virtue of the irreducible fact that you, like "That," exist! What further "justification" do you need? Who dares stand before you and declares your existence less valuable or important than theirs? Only civilized people make such preposterous claims; and the only reason they have ever "gotten away" with such an outrageous lie is that they started drumming it into your infant consciousness before you had even drawn your first breath on this Earth. Perversion of perversions! Crime of crimes! There are no words to describe such obscenity!
Well, yes. Yet, forgive them, for they know not what they do; just as we, who have done likewise, to our own children, if we have any, and to all our civilized peers, have not known either, what we were doing. If we awaken, however, we need not keep on doing it!
The key is to awaken. Awaken to the realization that there are no valid "laws" which "require" any of us to violate Who We Are, or to participate in the destruction of the fabric of Life (including our own) on planet Earth. There is no one and nothing on Earth, or off it, which can "require" anyone who is not comatose to commit murder or suicide. In a tyranny in which "everything not prohibited is compulsory," nothing is prohibited, and nothing is compulsory. In a system in which "law" is whatever the pharaoh says it is, there is no "law." Yet the Law of Life remains inviolate, and even the pharaohs are powerless to change it.
History records that the Roman gladiators used to open the gladiatorial spectacles of those times by standing before the reigning Emperor, or the subsidiary satrap of the local district, and shouting, "Morituri te salutamus!" "We, who are about to die, salute thee!" They were dead men already, even as they spoke. What "honor" had they, in cooperating passively with the corrupt spectacle of civilized slaughter for the amusement of multitudes no more alive than they? Well, they were prisoners and slaves, and were doubtless coerced; just as countless multitudes of civilized people today are no less prisoners and slaves than were the Roman gladiators.
People, wake up! you who have eyes to see, ears to hear, and minds capable of thinking. There is nothing going on today that has not been in the pipeline for the past five thousand years – yet certainly today, one way or another, it will not be going on for very much longer. "Things that can't go on forever don't."1 Every mother's son who marches off to war at the bidding of a modern pharaoh is as much a corpse today as his brother is, who did the same thing five thousand years ago. Who has the almighty crust to ask anyone to do that? When will this blasphemous lie come to an end?
It will come to an end either when there is no life-sustaining planet left, or when individuals reach the point of decision, each for his or her own private reasons, to "just say 'NO' to tyranny, state terrorism, and war." It will end when individuals resolve to walk away from civilization, or die trying, no matter the difficulty, obstacles, or resistance encountered along the way. It will end for you whenever you decide to end it – unless you're already dead first. Are you?
"O.K., smart-guy," some readers may be thinking, "so what do you propose we do about all this?"
My observation is that doing follows from consciousness and metaconsciousness – not the other way about. Or put another way, what we do is a manifestation of what we are, and if we wish to change what we do, it is essential that we change what we are. That is why this book is about an alternative mythology for a post-civilized world.
So what are we? Are we civilized? If so, it follows with ironclad inflexibility that we shall continue doing what we have always done, and getting what we have always gotten; and that we shall eventually be swept over the Cataract – end of story.
This is why I keep "bashing civilization." This is the major obstacle that hems us all in, and tethers us to our own self-destruction. We're civilized, and we keep looking for civilized solutions to the human predicament; and to our individual personal predicaments as well. We're like the fellow who lost the key to his house one night, and was met looking for it under a street lamp. When asked where he'd lost his key, he replied, "Over there in the bushes somewhere." Asked why he wasn't looking for it where he thought he'd lost it, he replied, "Because there's more light over here."
Dominator civilization doesn't hold any solutions for us. Until we understand this, we will continue searching for solutions to our problems where they cannot possibly be found; because, being civilized, no real solutions will ever occur to us. Therefore, it is not incumbent upon me to suggest doing this or that about the human predicament. It is incumbent upon you – if you so elect – to change who you are by changing your mythology; by whatever means seem to you likely to yield favorable results. Every human life is an experiment, and each life yields results that follow from the experimental choices made every moment. Even taking to heart what I write here – if you do – will be part of your experiment, not mine. I say civilization is broken, and cannot be repaired. What do you say? My saying so doesn't make it so, any more than your denying it makes it false. It is what it is, and each of us is in a position to make choices which will either help us, or hasten our self-destruction.
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My Approach to Dealing with "Civilization"
If it helps, I can tell you a little of what I have done over the years so far, to disentangle myself from civilization. This isn't what I think you should do; it is what I have done, in part, and it is very much a work in progress, and another living experiment with as yet uncertain, undisclosed "final results."2
When our children were very young, I had a satisfactory career on the East Coast of North America, and was not easily distinguishable from any number of Americans who were living pretty much as I was. I was fairly pleased with myself and my situation; we had a sound automobile, a suburban home, and a mortgage; and I'd say now that our awareness of our situation in the context of global and historical human events was typically shallow and uninformed.
Nevertheless, somehow we became gradually aware that perhaps the conventional path of sending our children to school may not be the most healthy option for them – and so, when they began reaching school age, we simply didn't send them to school. We read to them every evening, we visited the local library often, and our children almost effortlessly learned to read – after which they pretty much managed their own educations.
The results of this experiment in living and child raising turned out quite favorably, and we found over the intervening years that our children hadn't missed anything essential by not attending school; and they did manage to sidestep a great deal of very damaging influences that we, their parents, had had to deal with otherwise in our own lives. When our oldest son got to the age usually associated with high school graduation, and desired further education, he took and did exceptionally well on the high school equivalence exam. He also taught himself a marketable spectrum of Web-related and programming skills, and started his career with a high-paying and very satisfactory occupation. He acquired an expensive automobile, a suburban home, and a mortgage – and, like his parents before him, eventually had second thoughts about the value of it all, and chucked it – electing instead to align his life along an entirely different axis. His life too is a living experiment, and a work in progress. Stay tuned, if you like, for future updates.2
Or better yet, launch your own living experiment, and keep me posted as to the outcomes of your experiments. A network of individuals casting about and sharing information in this way might generate a metaconscious field that may enable a great many people, eventually, to pull our bacon out of the fire.
Meanwhile, my family got the feeling that, although we were quite comfortable in our home, I enjoyed my work, and we had nothing distressing in our lives to complain about, still it seemed increasingly evident that, as I put it to myself, "this way of life just doesn't work very well, does it?" I saw, for example, how every few days we had a can or two of trash to put out for the trash collector to pick up and truck away, along with the trash discarded by every other household in our neighborhood; and presumably in every neighborhood up and down the I-95 Corridor, from Montreal to Miami, and west to the Pacific, and beyond. Our way of life, simply by living from one day to the next in a perfectly conventional way, was converting the things we needed (or thought we needed), day to day, and month to month, into mountains of rubbish that couldn't possibly do anyone any good, and doubtless must be doing a great deal of damage to the Earth that sustains us all.
It didn't happen overnight, but we eventually reached a decision to sell our home, quit my job, and commence homesteading in a little log cabin we bought in the middle of a remote woodlot on the opposite side of the continent. It was a step entirely into the unknown, for I had no idea how we were going to earn our livelihood on a remote homestead far away from a city, without telephone, computers, or electricity; or indoor plumbing. We just did it.
Those were fondly remembered years, although not always easy or idyllic. Our cabin was about the size of the living room in our old home. The logs were chinked with moss, and it had a wood-burning kitchen range in one corner, and a shower consisting of a five-gallon bucket with a spigot in the bottom of it, with a perforated garden-watering attachment. We'd boil a kettle of water on the stove, mount a ladder to pour it into the bucket, add cold water to get the temperature right, then take a quick shower in a space pretty much open to the outside air. One could get a quite decent shower out of five gallons of hot water. That was just about enough to wet down, lather up, and rinse off, squeaky-clean and steaming in the winter air. It worked well enough, although it didn't exactly encourage bathing every day of the week.
I could tell many stories about our experiences in the Back of Beyond, as I used to call it. One thing I was conscious of from the very start: I understood we had deliberately put ourselves into a situation in which we would be having experiences not at all in common with so-called "normal people." And I understood that over the years this would probably have a cumulative effect upon us, and that we may end up appearing more than somewhat "strange" to the kind of people we had left behind in Suburbia. Well, that was part of the program. We wanted to change, even though we didn't know, then, in what particular ways we wanted to change. So... we changed.
In fact, I've noticed over the years that the most difficult question I've ever had to grapple with – and it keeps coming up, persistently – is simply this: What do you want? At that point in my life, the closest I could come to a coherent answer was, Not this! – which wasn't very coherent. Yet it was sufficient at the time to motivate a deliberate abandonment of the conventional lifestyle, and to seek alternatives in the complete unknown.
Five years with a wife and three children in a one-room cabin the size of a suburban living room added its mite to evolving answers to such questions. We eventually decided we could do with at least a few of the more basic living amenities. Like indoor plumbing, for instance. We also decided that we wanted to continue the general direction of our evolution away from, not toward the ways of the city we had left behind.
We sold our cabin in the woods, and purchased an old homestead even farther out and more remote than we had been before. We had indoor plumbing now, and electricity, and eventually, a computer and access to the Internet. It was there our oldest son and I learned HTML and the basics of Web design, and I began exploring the thoughts in earnest, and publishing them on the Net, that eventually led to the work before you.
Some years later, our family disbanded and scattered widely over the face of the Earth – and then surprisingly, gradually, re-combined, in a way, in an entirely different setting. Our children are grown, and we're not living as a family anymore; yet we have all gravitated, by various courses, and for various reasons, to the same region; and we're all good friends, and see each other at least from time to time.
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What I Want
Speaking just for myself, my quest for an alternative to the "civilized" way of life continues with growing intensity and purpose. I carry in my mind a vision of what I want that is now somewhat more coherent than simply, Not this! or, Not civilization. What I want is quite simply a life, and a world, in which it is commonly understood among humans that preemptive force means war, and war is always destructive of everything it touches, including but not limited to those who wage it. That is all. I believe I can get what I want simply by being myself the embodiment of this understanding. I believe this very simple understanding is quietly and invisibly percolating through the metaconsciousness of the world, and that it is manifesting here and there in particular instances in the same way that new buds, leaves, and blossoms manifest in early spring, after a long, hard winter. It doesn't need to be "promoted," and there is no way it can possibly be opposed; for it comes in its own time, as spontaneously, and as naturally, as the change of seasons.
So why do I write? Why do I spend such passion exposing the flaws of civilization, if all this is evolving "automatically" anyway? I do it because not long ago, someone – several someones – (Daniel Quinn, Riane Eisler, to name a couple) did the same for me, and suddenly something that had been perplexing me all my life fell into place and became clearer to me. I do it because, as long as the human predicament persists, I find it the most fascinating, challenging, and satisfying issue to grapple with; while the whole civilized world seems to be going collectively insane, yet the world is alive with promise of far better things for those who can see, and are able to step out of the path of onrushing human events. I do it for the same reason that anyone, finding him or herself trapped in a burning building, naturally does whatever they can to get themselves and as many others as possible out of it before we all roast.
It may happen that an unseasonal forest fire burns and consumes the spring growth of a forest, and those unfortunate trees and plants in its path greet the advancing season with bare and blackened twigs, instead of with blossoms and fresh green leaves. The season advances nevertheless, and the parts of the forest, or other forests, and the creatures they shelter, not standing in the path of the conflagration, experience spring with little diminished joy and exuberance than in former seasons not blighted by fire. And in time, even the blackened forest heals and puts forth new growth, obliterating the scars of an unfortunate event long past.
So it may be in our time, that the self-destruction of civilization on Earth may wreak havoc in the lives of many unfortunate humans and non-humans standing in its path. Yet the season of change is upon us, and nothing shall stay its progress. That is why I passionately plead to all who will give me their attention, Get out of the way! Civilization is collapsing! Stand from under! Fortunately we, unlike a forest, are not rooted to the ground (although we're still rooted to the planet), and we may be able to get out of the way, if we decide to do so. It isn't easy, and the efforts I have made so far to get out of the way myself are by no means complete. Yet I'm still standing, and still working my way toward a genuinely sustainable way of life in harmony with the web of Life on Earth; and it is a compulsion for me to see and make sense of as much as I can, and to share with others what little I am able to see and understand. Which is to say, I am compelled to share my myth.
Another element of what I want consists of a tribe, a group of individuals of cooperative temperament, who agree with me in theory and practice that preemptive force means war, and war is always destructive of everything it touches. I believe that with this basic foundation in common, a group of individuals of otherwise limitless diversity can combine their efforts in a way of life that works to the mutual advantage of all its members; and that such a group can live sustainably, and in harmony with the web of Life on Earth – even as "civilization" burns itself out around us.
In sum, what I want is not to "go to heaven," where everything is "perfect," or to escape into some sublime state of detached nirvana. I like having a body, and living on Earth, with dirt under my feet and fingernails, and wind in my hair, and having the ability – and the responsibility – of making decisions, and seeing their resultant permutations play out in the real world. I like that, and I think it is an exquisitely designed loom upon which the tapestry of Life is forever being woven. What I want is exactly this sublime arrangement – with the minor variation from contemporary circumstances on Earth – that the general consensus among humans is that preemptive force means war, and war is always destructive of everything it touches; and is therefore something that isn't done in human society. That is all. That is what I want; and as already mentioned, I believe I can get what I want by being what I want. It's a work in progress.
Mind you, I make no claim that I am right. I, like everyone I see, am creating a myth. Mine seems to me a useful myth; and so, I share it with you. If you find it useful as well, then you are welcome to it. If not, go and find or make a myth more to your satisfaction.
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1. Herbert Stein, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers during the Nixon administration; quoted by Heinberg, 2004, p. 139.
2. For those who may be interested, this account has been elaborated further in the Mainly Autobiographical section of my Open Letter to Vin Suprynowicz dated 9 May 2007.
Metaconsciousness: Mythology for a Post-Civilized World
I.6 | Contents | I.8