Monday, October 15, 2007

Blogger's Day: Givers and Takers

Gertrude Stein's famous quip about her visit to San Diego may soon apply to our very planet. It is not hard to imagine that an astronomer from some distant origin may someday look up our earth and decide, "There's no there there".

This generation of humans is leaving what was once the natural planet and supplanting it with an entirely new eco-system. Try as our scientists may to convince us that every few hundred years this weather pattern or another has happened before, never before has man had a hand in the proceedings as we have our hands in these.

We are changing the planet beneath our feet and above our heads and we are the whirlwind of change. There is no going back or going forward. This is not the product of history or of deliberation - this is the inertia of man whose desires are no more sophisticated than a barbarian but whose science and sheer volume are on a runaway trajectory to forever seal our fate.

Our planet as a corporate entity is engaged in a cosmic hero's journey as we race across the cosmos and into the void. Until we respect each other we cannot respect the planet who enables our survival.

As a species we have outgrown the natural exponential cycles of birth and death. The need for new bodies is no longer immanently critical. Prayer will soon be defined by the meditations of indefinitely longer lifetimes and gestalt inspired motivations. We will move toward a new virtual childhood of discovery in which the wonders of of existence are knowable and revealed. The flowering of man may everlast. But it can only happen in the concert generosity to each other on a reciprocally nourishing planet.

In 1966, John Cage was interviewed by art critic David Sylvester.

Sylvester: I think you want people to give something. Isn't that it?

Cage: I assume - and I think by assuming it , I invite it - I assume generosity, on my part and on their part.

Sylvester: You quote this saying somewhere: "If something bores you after two minutes, listen for four, if it bores you after four minutes, listen for eight..."

Cage: Yes, and I consider that generosity can be expressed in at least two ways, that is to say, by giving or receiving.

Sylvester: Now, in point of fact it's at the heart of your whole doctrine, is it not, the idea of the spectator's participation in the work, of active participation, that he is not passive but he has to supply something, he has to interpret, he has to select?

Cage: But active at the point where he has disciplined himself, not at the point where he has not disciplined himself.
This idea applies to the environment as well as art. The experience of responsible life requires discipline - discipline enables responsible life.

In the doubts of Mother Teresa we must understand the sacrifice of discipline.
"What do I labor for? If there be no God, there can be no soul. If there be no soul then, Jesus, You also are not true."
The coming years will test us all in chilling ways. We are at the end of an age of cheap energy, of inexpensive food, of hiding behind Gods. We must cultivate our souls because we have no other choice. And that soul must revere this fragile earth.

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