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Cicada Killers and Christ
Lamentations should be reserved for great loss, and the best lamentations are those for a hero, where it is not the mourners feeling their own loss in the person gone, nor assuming that the life lacked meaning because it ended and thus wailing for the hero, but those where the cries go to the heavens for the loss of the world of such a perfect object, one of its creatures and the fulfilment of its design. Today I have a lamentation, and an enduring charge, for you and your soul.
The cicada killers are gone. I can still see solitary ones, sometimes, but they are small and furtive, hiding away from the gaze of humans. It's as if they know their time is over, and the open fields over which they once hunted in the suspension of air from diaphane wings that gives the greatest levity, darting quickly like a hummingbird and fixing on their target with lethal temerity. They're gone because people spray pesticides, killing prey and predator alike, and because people run them over in cars or suck them into air conditioners where they turn into highspeed paste. But those are only the secondary reasons; the primary reason they're gone is that the open fields to the west of here have been turned into more subdivisions and apartments, and therefore, there's not enough prey for good hunting. Maybe they still exist somewhere else, but I have my doubts, since all the land seems to go to feed our new populations.
Cicada killers are a metaphor for nature at large. They are like large wasps with barrel-shaped bodies, and they survive by stinging cicadas (large buzzing bugs) into submission, then laying eggs in them and stashing them in treetops. They're zombie creators, in other words, and remarkably successful when there's enough cicadas - and those aren't nearly as loud or plentiful as they should be this time of year - to make for good meals. You don't want to get stung by one. Their stings are like those of the little scorpions that used to be around here but have all but disappeared. It'll really hurt for a few days, then go away slowly, leaving a nasty bulge of traumatized tissue. For this reason, when cicada killers are around, you're careful not to get too near. If you have a bb gun, they're easy to hit, since they're the size of small birds, but don't miss - no amount of prayer can save you from a vengeful cicada killer.
This, to my mind, is a lot like nature at large. It doesn't cooperate on the level of language and other absolutes, so there are rarely warning signs. "Caution: Hidden Crevice Ahead" or "Beware of Sudden Predators." Not even a blinking light near the thickets where strange diseases lurk, or a detailed guidebook telling which streams will give you dysentery and which are safe to drink during your long hike, as you must drink from some of them or you'll die. Poison ivy warns you like a wasp warns you - its coloring and shape are threatening to those who know a bit of nature's internal language. That warning however is an artifact of its desire to create a deterrent; poison ivy doesn't want to be eaten, and wasps don't want to be touched, so it's in their best interest to communicate STAY AWAY if they can. Predators on the other hand don't want to scare, but to eat, so they're silent.
Seeing a cicada killer destroy a cicada is an exercise in mixed emotions. I like cicadas. They're cool creatures that give music to the summer with their songs rising and falling in treetop crescendoes. It would never occur to me, emotionally, to kill one. Nonetheless, there's something impressive about watching a cicada killer take one out, however, just like when watching a UFC or street fight there's something beautiful about an efficient, effective move. They're a microcosm of nature in this, predator and prey, in that from the constant struggle between the two, many good things emerge. First, the slowest of the cicadas are removed; the remaining cicadas, over time, are becoming healthier. Next, the cicada killer population is maintained, giving nature another weapon in its arsenal.
It's not cuddly. There is no consistent, absolute, singular emotion one can derive from the process itself; the only real emotion comes from considering the meaning of the process, which is that the world keeps turning and living and thus there's a space and time for consciousness, like that which I possess (that word is used deliberately; it didn't originate in me, and if I existed in a vacuum, my consciousness would not exist). For this reason, despite having mixed revulsion and delight in the process of predation, I can appreciate it in context for what it symbolizes, namely the continuation of life. This is the root of the philosophical term "idealism," which means believing more in the significance of things than in their physicality. Idealism comes in several forms, but the most comprehensive is called "cosmic idealism," in which one believes there is a design to the cosmos and we all play a part - by being what we are. (From this come systems of karma: do well, and do right, and you rise in the level of the design at which you interact, in this life or a reincarnation.)
When we look at the current situation in the West, this lesson becomes vital, because there's a tendency to balkanize and thus identify with a political outlook, or symbol, and not to see into the depth of the equation. A more eternal view would hold that each of us does as is natural given their position in the karmic level, and there are predatory views and parasitic views and then independent views, in which the motivation is to be independent of other motions so that internal evolution can occur. When one holds this view, it's no longer necessary to "fight" leftists or rightists, but to see them as part of an order that normally balances itself, but is now overloaded with confusion arising from the tendency to sort things into "self" and "not self," roughly corresponding to "good" and "evil" in the absolute idealistic view of Christianity and Judaism that is also the psychological underpinning of leftist and "conservatism," if we even take that seriously.
The highest cycle of karma is this kind of independence, which liberates itself from being dependent on enemies, on good and evil. In this view, one does what must be done, and pays no attention to the labels. As our society continues to have deep-seated problems and our elected officials of all stripes fail to address them, these labels will become less important. Currently, people derive an identity from them; if you're a liberal, you buy Macintosh computers, attend certain types of social functions and buy certain kinds of products, and there's a conservative equivalent as well. Most of this is social behavior and has zero effect on anything of import, but it makes people feel like they "belong" to a group and that they can justify their existence with the concept that they're doing the "right" thing. Greens hang out and talking about unplugging appliances at night, recycling cigarette butts and using dog poop in their gardens; anarchists discuss "safe" alternate media sources, and endless reams of theory that seem designed to "prove" their point. In the end, they and the conservatives happily pack off to jobs and keep working to support the system they despise.
The view I'd like to propose here is one in which we simply do what is necessary, and worry less about what original form of the belief is presented to us. There are smart Christians; they've dropped the pity and the anti-nature stance, and have accepted "God" and "good" as ideals toward which they work, leaving the rest to nature. There are smart liberals; their basic idea is to make life better for the average person, and they're less inclined to get sidetracked on civil rights issues. Also, there are smart Greens, who leave the "10,000 ways to recycle toilet paper" to others and focus on restructuring society to be less destructive (including limiting population). Even among Republicans, amazingly, there are a number of intelligent people who care about fixing the situation in which humanity finds itself. All of these people are allies of the truth, even if the position from which they come is something we're trained to reject and hate.
Of all the factors in this equation, the most important is that truth, which is derived from an understanding of people's psychology and how it translates into action. When we see class warfare and economic elitism alike as reactionary, defensive revenge, it doesn't matter from what source they come; similary, when we recognize pity as egoism in all of its forms, its brand doesn't matter. What matters is finding a smarter design, and enforcing the higher-karma ideas over the lower. Those who have psychological problems, or are of a fundamentally lower intelligence, will embrace any number of ineffective or destructive ideas, but there is only one path toward higher design - a better adaptation for humanity. This design will never change because humans do not fundamentally change, no matter whether you put them in caves or in front of computers, or dress them up in suits or bearskins. They are still the same animal, and within that animal group, there is great variance, with only a few capable of the kind of thought that is needed to lead.
I can see a better form of Christianity, for example, where we use nihilism like a scrub-brush and scrape away all the irrelevant crap clogging up the path toward seeing its actual truth, which is a restatement of the ancient Indo-European belief in divinity through fearlessness regarding mortality. Heaven is a state of mind. In this light, all the concepts of pity and guilt and unquestioning democratic love that have clustered around Christianity fade away. Similarly, if we look at the core belief of leftism, it is that society should be designed in a way that benefits its citizens, instead of being an open market where predators are left to tear apart those who fall into their clutches. Greenism is environmental preservation; all the garbage about human rights, civil rights and peaceful revolution make no sense. And when we bleach away the confusion around conservatism, it becomes simply this: those who have their act together should be able to live normal lives according to traditional values without being forced to excessive degrees to subsidize others. None of this is anything more than common sense, and when we pare these beliefs down this way, we can see that they're actually compatible.
In my view, we've gotten so far off the track from reality that at this point, humanity hampers itself as a matter of reactionary defensiveness and identity politics, which are what happens when one takes the symbol of the belief over the actual beliefs. Laws are essentially predators that restrict justice; if there's some idiot out there doing something stupid, and I'd otherwise run him through with a sword, now I'm restrained from doing that. However, to those who have no brains to plan ahead, the laws aren't even a factor, so he'll still attack me and my widow will receive apologies from the State. That's insanity. We have tried to program a design for ourselves that relies on threats and encouragements, and the end result is a giant neurotic mess that like an octopus in cesspool can never get ahold of anything solid enough to escape.
Dickheads - stupid people - take away your rights because they'll abuse whatever is given them. If we say tomorrow that people can smoke all the marijuana they want, smart people will generally have few problems. Idiots on the other hand will promptly smoke up a ton of weed, fail at life, and become a drag on the system. The problem isn't the marijuana; it's idiots. The same applies to technology, guns, sex, etc. Not all people are equal, and some are defective; while all of us have some problems somewhere, most of these are manageable, but for some, their problems outweigh their balance and positive direction, and thus they become destructive. If we simply enacted planetary eugenics tomorrow, we would rise to a higher design even within our current political systems, because smarter people will interpret them in a higher karmic order than dumb people can. Take an idiot and give him Christianity, and you get destructive guilt, but in the hands of someone smarter, the same religion could be enlightening.
By idiots I don't strictly mean droolers, those poor folk of under 100 IQ points who are doomed to living in a fog from which there is no escape. I mean people without long term vision, which I call moral character, and generally comes matched to a certain degree of beauty and strength and intelligence. Thanks to caste mixing, there are plenty of people with high functional intelligence and no moral intelligence; these become salesman of the sleazy variety, porn producers, Hollywood movie moguls, and the like. They are lower karmic orders in positions that should be reserved for people of a higher karmic (moral character) inclination. Much as an 85 IQ pointer will wreak destruction from such a position, someone with an IQ of 140 and a moral IQ of 85 will be destructive, but they will be more competent about being destructive. It is these sorts of people that have aided greatly in balkanizing our belief systems.
At this point in my life, I have such a high degree of confidence in my belief that I don't debate it. I talk about it, with an intent to amuse and explain, not "inform" or "educate" or some other pompous nonsense. If people want to know where I am with beliefs, I'll tell them, and let them go home to sort it out. If they're smart, those seeds will take root on their own, and they may incorporate part of what I've told them into their beliefs in a form that originates in them. You cannot "educate" people. You can show them things, and if they can find meaning in them, they'll adapt them. It's like eating: you take in food, break it down, and it becomes part of you where you can use it. The rest goes into the carrot patch, and might feed something else.
I see anyone who is willing to follow truth, meaning a design of a higher karmic order, regardless of their political stance. I may troll them, or lure them into seeing the paradox of their own stated values, or alternately discuss these ideas with them, but either way, I'll leave them with something to think about. If they're of a higher karmic order, they'll understand, and their belief system will slowly convert itself to one compatible with the one truth in existence: reality. Adaptation to reality is the basis of the karmic order. Zionists, Black Panthers, Greenpeace, Republicans, Nazis are all welcome in my worldview, if they're willing to take that step. We all live on the same world, and serve the same ultimate interest, which is the continuation of life as a whole. That is served best, of course, by an intelligent design of a higher karmic order.
In this is the final transcendence of "good" and "evil." To me, Christianity is not "evil," but it's not "good" either; there is only one truth, and where it can be found in Christianity, I will speak it. Any belief can be interpreted according to this truth and made sensible, although the same belief can be utterly ruined by fools who interpret it poorly. Like the cicada killer, belief is a matter of function, and it's hard to have one absolute view of it such as "Satanism is evil," because that is a symbolic and not realistic view. If Satanists and Christians alike think hard on a higher karmic order, they will find the truth is shared between their religions, much as Nazis and Zionists and Greenpeacers would. Function is the basis of idealism, and arranging our human function into a better design is a way of moving up the evolutionary ladder, and is a form of evolution in itself - and for any organism, this is the highest goal in survival.
June 24, 2005