Friday, January 15, 2010

Enlightenment 102

A word of explanation about my previous blog; I was being facetious, though not entirely; writing partly in earnest and partly as absurdist on the margins. This seems to be the hand that guides me, not by design but natural inclination. Call me amphibious, in and out of (hot)water. I want it both ways.

I might have added other phrases such as, Go with the flow or, Think outside the box. How does one live for the moment and flow at the same time? And why not think inside the box and keep expanding the box. Can't I pee from inside the tent, out rather than from outside, in?

The pokes I was making were, to my ears, what have become clich├ęs. They were not intended to be derisive of received wisdom, only the ease with which those phrases are tossed around. Ironically we have to earn what we already own.

I would argue that we already have them. I keep thinking of the John Prine song, It Don’t Make No Sense That Common Sense Don’t Make No Sense No More.

What lies undiscovered within us is often shouted down by a society that has no vocabulary to support it. We unlearn our natural good sense just as we accommodate to institutional greed and self-interest. It’s almost as if we have to realign ourselves after being thrown off course by false idols.

As for those chasing orthodoxies of one kind or another seeking alternative practices, are they not writing their own prescription as a corrective? An alpha male senses his need for quietude. Nothing wrong with that. We all seek some sort of equilibrium. An individual whose psyche is fragmented requires the rules and rituals and rigidity that fundamentalism offers. Whatever gets you through the night.

While I’m at it, I’ll also throw in (and duck) that the very word, enlightenment, bothers me a bit. It connotes a state of being set apart from our daily life. I don’t believe we need to inhale incense, wear a toga or chant and mumble to find the best in ourselves. We need only to pay attention and invest ourselves wherever we happen to be and bring our senses and our mind to bear.

It just struck me that this word, enlightenment, meant something else to 18th century people. And it ties in with common sense. The Enlightenment was the movement away from the church characterized by rational thinking. Our founders were products of the Age of Enlightenment and the single book which ignited our revolution was Common Sense by Thomas Paine. Not a bad place to begin

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