Monday, October 24, 2011

Pomp and Circumstance

Early in your life, you were at great pains to take the world about you at face value.  Things were what they seemed or said to be.  You were, then, too young to think about ramifications of this vision.  This was the time of your chronological youth, your emotional youth, and such traces of intellect as may have been present.

For all its eventual drawbacks, this atmosphere was no-nonsense, sensible on the surface, and relatively free of conflicts that trespassed upon your imagination.  This was, after all, the time of authority, parental, teacher, and cultural, all of them clamoring for your attention, all wishing of you some abstract vision of you as “well behaved.”  What “they” said must, you reasoned, be so—for the simple reasons that they had experience and they had no visible reason to lie to you.

Fortunate for you, the imagination does not respond well to Edenic vistas or Manichean polarity.  While seeming to doze under the warming sun of authority, the imagination has an agenda quite its own; it is always planning to run away from home.  Of course, being your imagination, it plans to take you along, making of you Huck and Jim on the raft, afloat on the magisterial muddiness of one of the world’s great rivers.  Even today, your species has been unable to cope with much less tame that river.  Even today, the imagination to which it is analogous is an attractive nuisance, luring you into its eddies and swirls.

And what a trip it is to ply imagination.  The two of you, as tentative as new lovers at first, then with enhanced brio, begin to thumb your metaphoric noses at any “them” in your path, parent, teacher, and/or culture.

The true enemy, you soon discover, is not society, nor is it the rules of law which society enacts, nor indeed their troglodyte approaches to enforcing those laws.  The nature of humanity is to plod.  You plod along with sisters and brothers.  From time to time, an individual appears who seems to skate or dance or even swirl with evident grace, providing role models we of the species aspire.

 With the swagger of the accomplished nose thumber, you and your imagination have sorted through the available suspects; you level your accusations at the real culprit, Seriousness.  When you, as a particular individual, or we as a species, consider ourselves too seriously, we expose our potential for the absurd that is wired into our genome.

 Given your own potential for absurd behavior in which, more than once, you have taken careful aim at a supposed target then shot yourself in the foot, you settle instead on the mantra of William of Occam or, for that matter, any Buddhist monk or nun:  the simplest solution is the best solution.  Owning up to inherent absurdity is the saving grace.  Any attempts at denial or disguise in our absurdity cannot help but provide the quality available in large doses to all Homo sapiens:  pomposity.  There, in elegant simplicity, is the target. You seek to capture it as though with a security camera, close-up on the culprit, strip it bare of its fancy clothing, then send it packing as the humbug it is.

You have your work cut out for you.  There is much pomposity abroad.  As though in possession of some advanced degree from an online diploma mill, there are many who wave documents purporting to be deeds to parcels located on the moral high ground.  Much work awaits you.  But you must take care not to get in your own way.

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