Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Blood on The Blinds

"Each heart hides its pain away. Some you can see it in their eyes, and others in their smile." (from Lewenswaarheid ~ Livingtruths. Grap blad vir almal ~ Joke page for all) 

We peep into our world without. We cannot possibly see it all. Some things we choose to screen from others; they choose to screen some things from us. Curious, we open our blinds to let in the sun, to see the light. Caring, we close our blinds to shade our more delicate colours from fading. Protection is innate. Blinds serve a purpose. We rig them up, or allow another, or get someone else to do it, all the while intending that degrees of privacy, of comfort, of commonality be obtained. It is a perpetuation of our acculturation. We do but remain cave dwellers. Evolution brought us down from the trees and into the firelight, yes, yet evolution still (especially with our some-what surpassing aeons of circadian rhythms,) …evolution still keeps us comfortable when ensconced by a roof overhead, with solid walls around us, and a particular privacy while we sleep.

So, we put up blinds. (Yet the JoHari window panes would have us aware of the quadrants of our lives.) We see ourselves somewhat clearly. Others see in us the things we do not even see in ourselves. We see in each other the personality we both know. And then there is that fourth pane; the unknown in either you or me, however many blinds we may release from their catch.

But some blinds are made of metal, others of plastic, or wood, and some, flimsy and perhaps least permanent, are made of paper. Yet small paper cuts from putting up paper blinds can leave blood traces, forever, down the lines.

History proves it. King William (1066 and all that) with Queen Matilda begat a Henry who also begat a Henry who, with Eleanor, begat eight children. One of them was that famous crusader! (Ha! In ‘Finian’s Rainbow’ there’s a catchy song about ‘begatting’. (Yes, I once played Og, the leprechaun.) Indeed, all down the line we leave our blood traces. Even Og becomes a human!

“Did it hurt much?” one might ask of the beleaguered. But no, at the evidence of bandaged paper cuts, revealed at a dinner conversation, I first asked my friend if he’d "left blood smears on the blinds?" After all, the permanent is what can really signify. All down the lines of our family constellations, since the very long-ago history of Adam and Eve, we’ve been affected, imprinted, imbued with, and acculturated by the versions of our past. Whether being a reincarnation, or not, our very DNA continues the physical mold by which we are procreated. And whether self-made or not, there is a Biblical sense of the “sins of fathers” being perpetuated down the lines. But when do we water them down so much as to leave “no traces no-more”? (“True love leaves no traces,” goes the Leonard Cohen song.) So, is there a moment, if not a given lifetime, in which one may indeed spill over and become so large-a-lake as to leave but the original vessel of one’s birth-passage just that, a mere corridor by which one found one’s own door? Yet not even adopted babies escape their natures. Nurturing may indeed layer the psyche with new enlightenments, but deeply at root go the bloodlines, all the way back, and at some provocation, history proves, some trace of the past, like a seam or a crack or a scar or a vein, surfaces to show that in our reaction (as opposed to a response) we are composites of the past, atavistically, a-spiralling toward what?

There lies the question! What’s it all about? If not about contributing-toward-the-health-of-the-Whole, then what? (And never mind whose “Whole”!) Problem is, there’re so very many of us at variance with just what that “health” part means! The economy? The populace? The family? The self? The nation? The world? What about the universe? How (the hell) do I contribute to that?

My friend jested, hurt: “What about me?” he asked, showing bandages. “Never mind the blinds!”

Ha! Indeed. Each thing that we do, each moment that we have, each intention, followed by an action, impacts an ‘other’; it resonates.

Yes, one best be careful with one’s blood, (especially ‘bad’ blood) one trusts, all down those lines.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Curiousity Kills The Cat

Phrases can be so damaging. We can emasculate boys. We can forever chastise girls. Shame is insidious and slides its shadow throughout the entirety of our lives, such that we are more easily undermined than we may give our insecurity its childhood credence; after all, “Just who do you think are?”

Children experiment and evolve toward maturation under the yoke of their culture. Boys are brought up with expectations. Girls are brought up with restrictions. (Somehow, it all “levels out.”) And although the general population perceives their standards to be proper and right and sanctioned, there are (evidently) comparatively few populaces that allow for overt individualization, that easily accept transgressions. At least, that is, as history would have it, until lately.

Nowadays, with television and the internet, with the ongoing liberation of autocracies and the (devilishly) deliberate dissolution of religions, there is an unprecedented crawling of cultural conceptions toward more and more integration. It is as if we are intermeshing. It is as if we are losing our (cherished) identity. It is as if the intermarriage between types and castes and cultures is making of our world a blend of all the Petrie dishes in which one hitherto was contained, even comfortably so! After all, a curfew, a curtailment, a leash, a set of expectations and rules and regulations (and appropriate proprieties) can render even the most curious of us with a sense of ‘safety’. We can always retreat to our domain. We know where our fence is. We know what our constraints are. And we can live with that.

But of late we are inundated with the call to commune with other cultures. Despite the difficult and debilitating differences of language, of cultural practice, of expected standards of living, of habit, and proclivity, and patterns of conduct, we are bound to progress toward intermingling. We are called out of our cages. We are made to cross fences. We are expected to accept and to shake hands and to be compassionate. We are dragged by Time itself toward a future in which the very sustenance of our (cherished) particularities becomes clearly problematic. Yes, ‘Clubs’ can be too restrictive. ‘Males only’ is a thing of the past. So is ‘Whites only’. And nowadays we will no longer support a business with a sign that reads, ‘No Jews.’ We are becoming integrative.

Yet we still control our children with phrases that can cauterize curiosity. If intelligence may be defined as the ability to keep curious, then why do we level someone with a sarcastic phrase like, “curiosity killed the cat”? Or persist with the, “tall-poppy syndrome”? Or, “Your head is too big for your boots!”? Then too, there is, “Don’t stand there, counting teeth, (go play with the other children.)” Thing is, the Bell Curve will naturally shove one into the preponderance of the populace, (individual instincts aside). We each have personality and character traits (in what we do, and how we do it,) that define our individuality, but collectively we tend to adhere to the theory that, “birds of a feather flock together.” Thing is, little children are raised to follow the status quo; if not by individual families, then certainly in the school system. And as the school culture changes, albeit ever so slowly, then so too do society’s cultural norms. Once, “I don’t give a damn,” became de-rigueur (following ‘Gone With The Wind’,) we promulgated an industry that promoted the acceptance of the hitherto ‘forbidden’. The slippery slope of casual indifference to the effect of one’s word choice upon sensitized others (around oneself,) has the upside of also not caring about the choice of one’s (inappropriate) apparel; of whether or not one wears a cap in a restaurant; of whether or not one smokes in the.... oh! We’ve made a law against that!

Shaming another does much, in later life, to make perhaps too hesitant one’s intuition, one’s curiosity, one’s belief in oneself, one’s ability (or one’s freedom) to make choices for oneself in the maze of trials that life entails. We learn to play it safe. We abide by the rules. We learn to fear the reach of the law, the condemnation of the crowd, the curtailment of our instincts. Our intelligence itself becomes suspect. Who do we think we are? So, we crouch into the bulge of the bell curve, adopt definitions of ourselves given to us by parents and peers and significant others, and presume we are too forward when we feel, somewhere down deep inside, that where we are ‘at,’ just simply isn’t enough. What’s around the bend? What’s over the horizon?  How dare you think that! Who do you think you are? Or... has the cat now got your tongue?