2 Jun


Perception is a weird thing. It’s natural, so the neuroscientists tell us, to divide the world into value-laden binaries: good/bad; good/Evil/black and white. That black and white make shades of grey is some disconsolation. Grey is the colour of an impending storm. Grey is winter and old age. Shades of grey can be complicated and hard to understand. A sharp line twixt darkness and light is preferred.

Black/white. Time was the Moors raided the coasts of Ireland and Scotland (places where the poor lived next to the sea). During the Middle Ages, I’ve read somewhere, they took millions of slaves. Later as Islam receded militarily and scientifically, as Europe rose, the slave trade’s direction reversed itself. This tide between Islam and Christendom, between Africa and Europe (not the same thing) has been coming in and going out for hundreds of years. It’s on a geo-tectonic scale, if you permit the metaphor, human individuals on this scale are like the blades of grass. They pay no attention. It’s too big for them.

Centuries of the human race fucking each other in the arse without permission: rape, murder! Face it.

The colour wing-ding’s a curious thing ladies and gentlemen. In ancient Egypt the aristocrats were light skinned and this gave them prestige. Or rather because of their prestige they were a lighter shade of brown and this became a mark of status. It was an indicator of wealth that one was not tanned by the sun. Also, and with the aid of the cosmetics available to cashed-up Egyptians, your ‘youth’ lasted longer.

The semantic alignment of ‘black’ (dark) and ‘white’ (light) with the spectrum of human complexion is the modern era’s most nefarious invention. It is an unintended consequence of Christianity. Followers of Jesus Christ are not permitted to enslave others. To eliminate slavery was of course very difficult, the economy of Agrarian Civilization depended on it. But, by the second century of the second millennium it had been accomplished.

And then the Spanish court acquired territory in central America.

The story is complex and I’m not intimately familiar with it. But in essence the Catholic Church decided that Africans didn’t have souls, hence it was okay to enslave them. Europeans couldn’t handle the Sun in what is now Cuba. The local inhabitants were dropping dead of the fierce Eurasian diseases which would soon decimate the American continents. And some Portugese captain received a gift of slaves from an African king. Well, when there’s money in it, let’s just bend the rules… um ah.

The love of money is the root of all Evil, and the closer to the bottom line you live, the more liable to sin. Europe was a shithole. Europeans were hungry. But they were also Christians. The Catholics decided yes. But Protestants and Jews (mostly) agreed.

Much has been made of the stark doublethink involved in these half-civilized brutes at once regarding African humans as animals whilst baptizing them by force. Carrying on sexual relationships with them and selling the children: the l’il bucks and bitches. Surveyed like a horse or a hunting dog assigned a role in the machinery of imperial agriculture. A resource for exploitation all the while being subjected to a cultural oppression that centres on adherence to the faith of Jesus Christ?

Women too. Any male slave confronted with a wily enough woman, especially a very attractive, sexually frustrated one, will not be able to refuse. Even tho’ the consequences might be fatal. Crying rape on a lover can be a useful tactic if he’s become inconvenient or you’ve been sprung. The accusation will not be disputed and ruthlessly proceeds to execution, sometimes in the midst of a drunken picnic. White people in the South used to have a grand old time at a lynching – yessir!

And we modern people, those of us on the planet who have entered the 21st century – intellectually and emotionally – we who find theories that hold one race superior and others inferior literally laughable, we…

Because of those morons the Nazis, the heirs to Empire can not speak of it in the very literary circles that require the enunciation. The divided mind, the divided self, the schizophrenia infecting the culture all surfeit of a complete lack of basic courtesy. Each side thinks itself relatively guiltless – they started it. Who started it. When did it start? This hacking each at other on the basis of some difference which does one no harm. When? Oh…. way back when.

That’s not the question, the question is have we stopped?



  1. John H. June 2, 2011 at 6:27 pm #

    …That’s not the question, the question is have we stopped?…

    Not a hope. There are a precious few who have worked their way past these seemingly innate cognitive tendencies that drive so much trouble in the world. It was Jung who made a big deal out of the binary thingee and he does seem to have a point. To transcend one’s tribe, to move away, is a type of dying, a loss of self, a loss of the old ways of dealing with the world and moving on. Perhaps that is what St. Paul meant when he wrote somewhere in Corinthians … when I was a child I thought like a child now I have put childish thoughts behind me … (close to that).

    To resign from the human race is not so much about despair for humanity but rather the recognition that being able to stand back requires that a certain type of dying. To find new ways of thinking is extremely difficult, this perhaps explain why so many creative people go through so many emotional trials. Is being a sick puppy part of being creative or is it a byproduct of being creative?

    What is so modern and intellectual about standing behind conceptual barricades hurling insults at the purported enemy? Amidst the battle we lose sight of the real problems facing us, the need to move away from old ways of thinking about the world, to dispense with the facile binary oppositions and see the world afresh. Is that possible? Yes, I think it is, but I do not know for how many people that is possible.

    Recently I read about about the Mayan 2012 prophecies. Many think these prophecies portend doom. That is not the message. The message is unclear but one thing that came out of that text, reviewed on my blog, is that the prophecies were not pointing to some revolutionary upheaval but rather a turning away…

    This longing for the home, however, cannot be satisfied without a long, hard, trying experience. For the thing once divided in two cannot be restored to its former unity until some struggle is gone through. And the restoration is more than a mere going back, the original content is enriched by the division, struggle, and resettlement.

    D.T. Suzuki, Essays in Zen Buddhism, First Series
    page 131

    Instead of turnings its illuminating rays within itself – that is, towards the will from which it has its principle of existence – consciousness is kept busy with the objective world of realities and ideas; and when it tries to look into itself, there is a world of absolute unity where the object of which it wishes to know is the subject itself. The sword cannot cut itself.

    There must be a certain turning away in one’s ordinary course of life, there must be a certain opening up of a new vista in one’s spiritual outlook if one wants to be the true follower of the Buddha. His aversion to asceticism and nihilism as well as hedonism becomes intelligible when seen in this light.

    D.T. Suzuki, Essays in Zen Buddhism, First Series
    page 159

    “On the Turning Away” Pink Floyd.

    On the turning away
    From the pale and downtrodden
    And the words they say
    Which we won’t understand
    “Don’t accept that what’s happening
    Is just a case of others’ suffering
    Or you’ll find that you’re joining in
    The turning away”

    No more turning away
    From the weak and the weary
    No more turning away
    From the coldness inside
    Just a world that we all must share
    It’s not enough just to stand and stare
    Is it only a dream that there’ll be
    No more turning away?

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