November 30, 2020

Klasie: The Campaign for Real Humans

Montepulciano (2019)

The Campaign for Real Humans
By Klasie Kraalogies

Some time ago I promised Chaplain Mike a post or 2 on the “dichotomy between man and nature”, and the place of the garden in bridging that apparent gap, as well as expose the artificial mental and philosophical barriers we have constructed for ourselves. Then a few weeks ago there was a lively discussion around food and diet here, and it made me want to reach for my keyboard as I am quite passionate about the matter. And then lastly I read a New Yorker article on the artificiality of the “French Woman/girl” trope that has been constructed in the popular imagination.

The culmination of this, in the looming shadows of the end of this blog, has led me to pen this post as a “Goodbye and thanks for all the fish!” narrative.

We humans live in imaginary worlds. Worlds we construct to feel safe in. Worlds that keep the fears at bay. And given the cold cosmos we appear to inhabit, that is quite understandable. But ever so often, our imaginary worlds move inward and crush our souls, slowly rob us of our sanity, and leave us pale shadows of humanity. We see that in the Edenic promises of political mythologies, be they from whichever persuasion. We see that in religion-gone-off-rails, as I recently had to contend with when the spotlight of investigative journalism finally swung towards the cult I was raised in. We see that in multiple mental constructions, whether some wellness-myth or nationalistic narrative, or ethnic epoch.

The result of this is that we disconnect, for instance, from nature, and often go down one of two main alternatives, namely mindless destruction, or mythologizing. We deny the horrible affects of our industrial activity on the world, or we descend into a seemingly benign Tellytubby trance where we don’t grasp how the cosmos, including the biological sphere is interconnected, and how we don’t just depend on it, but we are agents of it as well. Our concept of garden becomes sterile green lawnscapes, or we chain nature off as some sort of holy ground out there, to be revered and not lived in.

We lose connection with ourselves, and desperately turn to the latest sellable thing and its agents masquerading as dietary experts telling us how to be the ultimate us. Eat this not that, this is superfood, that is toxic, all without an iota of proper evidence, nuance or indeed, imagination.

We pursue unreal ideals, whether huckleberry-harvesting simplicity with bows on, “chic” fauxness in designer gear, rugged gun-toting independence that is as hollow as an easter chocolate bunny, devotees of this or that religion that make up rules and bow to the latest “authentic” innovator, or promiser of ancient regurgitations, that are about 5 minutes old. We claim tradition that are as old as McDonalds fries, or absolute truths that are yanked from intellectual and cultural frameworks we have no inkling of.

So, what am I saying?

On the 16th of March 1971 in Kruger’s bar in Dunquin, Kerry, Ireland, the Campaign for Real Ale was founded, in protest to mass-produced beer that dominated the market. We can see the direct and indirect results today, where creativity and individual taste has blossomed. Of course, this can be seen as another construction, in that we claim that there was a “golden age” of ale in the distant past (or some do, I imagine). That is not the point.

I yearn for a metaphoric campaign for Real Humans.

This is not a call for the destruction of our own narrative worlds. It doesn’t call for the abolition of imagination. No. It calls for us to recognise ourselves for what we are, where we are, who we are, in what we are part of. Humanity cannot stand apart from nature – the idea that we can is entirely nonsensical. We are part and parcel of a cosmos that includes woolly lambs, viruses, galaxies far, far away and neutrinos whizzing through us all the time. We are birthed, we function according to the dictates of our DNA, we are influenced by the mental/cultural space we enter, we change it (maybe), we die. Nothing and no one exists in a vacuum, real or metaphorical. Our mental constructions can help us through this life, but we have to test, test, test them against reality. Fuzzy-minded idealism of any shade can turn into destruction at the drop of a hat.

Let us become real again. Not phantasms of our own making. Let us stop running from our interconnectedness to all of reality.

Comments

  1. Loved your post, KLASIE, this:

    “Humanity cannot stand apart from nature – the idea that we can is entirely nonsensical. We are part and parcel of a cosmos that includes woolly lambs, viruses, galaxies far, far away and neutrinos whizzing through us all the time. ”

    I think we look at the death and dying caused by those whose ‘alternate reality’ renders them as ‘unknowing’ purveyors of death while they promote their social events aka ‘super spreaders’ and celebrate their ‘freedom’ by not wearing a mask;
    and we want a return to an authentic humanity that is grounded and connected to reality, to nature, yes.

    One of my own favorite authors said it this way:
    ““We were bred of earth before we were bred of our mothers. Once born, we can live without mother or father, or any other kin, or any friend, or any human love. We cannot live without the earth or apart from it, and something is shrivelled in a man’s heart when he turns away from it and concerns himself only with the affairs of men.”
    (Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Cross Creek)

  2. Pellicano Solitudinis says

    Klasie, may we please have links to the relevant iMonk post and that other article?

  3. Humanity cannot stand apart from nature – the idea that we can is entirely nonsensical.

    Buddhism would in addition say that the self itself cannot stand apart from everything that exists. This Buddhist doctrine is called dependent origination. Vietnamese Zen Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hahn put it this way: “…self is made only of non-self elements.”

  4. “religion-gone-of-rails”

    I know you meant “off”, not “of.”

  5. senecagriggs says

    Frankly, the post rang no bells for me. I’m sure it did for others however.

    • Klasie Kraalogies says

      Ha! And quite correct. While I am very much on the stout end of that conversation (pun intended..), the point is well made: Sometimes the desire for authenticity creates something that is so far from authenticity that is in a worse place than where one started. To be real doesn’t necessarily imply complexity or sophistication. Actually, while being real sometimes requires complexity, sophistication is very much unreal, always.

  6. When scientific evolution was announced, some feared it would encourage mere animality. It did worse. It encouraged mere spirituality. It taught people to think that as long as they were passing from the animal they were going on to angelic. But you can go from the ape and go to the devil. Progressive as it naturally gets, eh?

    • Klasie Kraalogies says

      That is an interesting construction of it. For some it did, sure. But the gnostics were always with us. It is an age old affliction.

    • Very insightful.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Is this another angle of the Christian afterlife’s transition from Resurrection of the Body/New Cosmos to Disembodied “Souls” (NOT people) floating around Fluffy Cloud Heaven like shades in Hades?

  7. “We humans live in imaginary worlds. Worlds we construct to feel safe in. Worlds that keep the fears at bay. And given the cold cosmos we appear to inhabit, that is quite understandable. But ever so often, our imaginary worlds move inward and crush our souls, slowly rob us of our sanity, and leave us pale shadows of humanity.”

    As a lifelong D&D player, this resonates. I think that gamers, if they are at all self-aware, realize that this is what we are doing, and know that it is an imaginary construct that does not overlap (much) with reality. The danger lies more in those who cannot differentiate between their imaginary world and reality – and lash out when the two do not mesh together.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      The danger lies more in those who cannot differentiate between their imaginary world and reality – and lash out when the two do not mesh together.

      Like we’re seeing after the election?

      Back when Twilight and My Little Pony fandoms were simultaneously active, I often commented about how “real background” fantasy like the former was more likely to detach you completely from reality than the latter.

      For instance, gamer and fantasy geek that I am, I KNOW no talking purple unicorn is going to show up on my doorstep for real. Said unicorn is separated from reality by her separate Magical Land. I could wish she and her land were real, but I know they’re not.

      However, Forks WA is a real place (as the inhabitants had reason to regret during the Invasion of the TwiTards). Forks High School is a real place. Said Sparkly Vampire Adonis (or Studly Indigenous Werewolves) are NOT separated from reality like the talking purple unicorn; their background exists within reality. Bored Houseives could enter it to the point that they could think that Sparkepire Adonis could be waiting for real to sweep them away from their boring real life. (The original pre-Twilight example was Harlequin Romance Studs compared to D&D heroes, but it’s the same dynamic.)

      Similar image with the 100% Virtual Reality of Cyberpunk vs the Augmented Reality of Pokemon Go. You can unjack from 100% VIrtual, but not from the RL background that the Pokemons overlay.

  8. Michael Bell says

    Some random thoughts t for you Klasie:

    You post under a pseudonym. Why? Because the world does not allow for real humans.

    I find that in posting under my own name I cannot be 100% forthcoming. I have to take the feelings of others into account. I am not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing.

    Which is better, to be able to unburden your soul anonymously, or to guard what you write for fear of offence?

    I am not sure what the right answer is here, or even if there is one. Your thoughts?

    • My response to your thoughts here, Mike Bell…

      We all wear masks. Whether it’s behind a pseudonym or not being 100% forthcoming, we all wear masks.

      It’s also why we are — 100% of us — hypocrites.

      • Michael Bell says

        Interesting, Rick. I hadn’t thought of that. So, to paraphrase, posting as a pseudonym or guarding what you say are two sides of the same coin.

        • Yeah, I guess that’s one way to look at it. I was just getting at the crux of your comment by saying that we all wear masks in some form or another.

    • Klasie Kraalogies says

      I post under a pseudonym for 2 reasons – professional, and because of family trauma. Posting under my real name could jeopardize the well being of myself and people around me. It is difficult for people who did not grow up in fundamentalism and who has family that is till stuck in it to understand the need to “curate” your life because the risk of family blow-outs, conflicts, broken ties and being disowned is real, every day.

      • Michael Bell says

        I have noted that every comment so far (except mine) has been made under a pseudonym so far today. As for me, I have walked too far down the out in the open trail to go back now.

        I have had one employer (that I know of and got the job) read my Internet Monk writings before hiring me.

        • I’ve used the “Rick Ro.” moniker for a decade at least, when there was another Rick at my church. I was Rick Ro. and he was Rick Rick. (both shortened from our last names)

          Funny how those things stick.

        • Pellicano Solitudinis says

          If some people I know were aware that I read and comment here, it would make my life difficult in ways I don’t think I should have to deal with.

        • thatotherjean says

          I became “thatotherjean” on Internet Monk–and subsequently pretty much everywhere on the Internet–because there was a very fundamentalist poster named Jean already here. Confusion was unlikely, but I wanted to avoid the possibility. She eventually dropped out, but I’ve stayed.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            I originally (like 15 years ago) posted here under my own name, but I have a somewhat-common name that was shared by a couple other commenters I really didn’t want to be mistaken for. So I took a pseudonym from a piece of fantasy art that meant a lot to me.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        It is difficult for people who did not grow up in fundamentalism and who has family that is till stuck in it to understand the need to “curate” your life because the risk of family blow-outs, conflicts, broken ties and being disowned is real, every day.

        As people are finding out in the political Fundamentalism of today.

  9. one way to get re-connected to the Earth:

    get a plot at your local community garden, get to know the people there, learn to grow some of your food

    small steps to a better life – patience is needed, and time, and sun, and rain

    P.S. you might have to wait until late spring to do this, but get your seed catalogs now and call the town about the community garden and plan . . . ‘Why bother?’ well, once you’ve experienced growing your food, you’ll get the ‘why’

    • Klasie Kraalogies says

      My natural reaction after we got an early November snow storm (and being from Saskatchewan, it means that snow is going to stick around till March) was to start looking at seed catalogues.

  10. thatotherjean says

    I was reminded of Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot. You probably remember the picture, taken by Voyager 1 in 1992, from a distance of 4 billion miles from Earth–an arc of stars like grains of sand, with an arrow pointing to a tiny bluish dot, captioned “You Are Here.” This is what Sagan had to say:

    “Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it, everyone you know, everyone you love, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there–on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”
    Carl Sagan 1934-1996

    Earth, so far, is all we have. We are connected to it; we have to be.

  11. senecagriggs says

    My wife had a community garden for a couple of months. Just didn’t work out. ME? I just go to the vegetable section of my grocery store. I’ll never survive the Apocalypse

  12. Klasie, much of what you write echoes St Maximos the Confessor in my ears… He and some other of the Greek Fathers saw the interconnectedness as an important ramification of Christ as the Creator.

    One thing I was definitely looking for as a Protestant was a way of being Christian that takes into account the fullness of our humanity, and our interconnectedness with every human and every other living thing. I personally needed this as part of a whole theology, not just a bit I could paste in at the edge of something else.

    Dana
    not a pseudonym