Monday, September 12, 2016

The Snare of Distance and the Sunglasses of the Seer/ Part One


 Hi All,

After taking several years off to focus intensively on writing, I am just beginning to send work out again and will be posting a few things on this blog. Here is the beginning of "The Snare of Distance and the Sunglasses of the Seer/ Part One," which has just appeared in a terrific new cutting-edge journal called Metapsychosis. Part two should be coming out sometime later in the week.

In a comment on my essay “The Vanguard of a Perpetual Revolution,” Okantomi wrote, “I often feel like I can see what is happening in the world, as well as what is just about to happen, and what will almost certainly happen later on, and it’s like no one else sees what I am seeing. It’s eerie, shocking, and finally depressing.” People do have visions of the future, both individually and collectively. Quite often, these visions are troubling, but few bother to follow the implications of their vision to the end, let alone change their lives. One way or another, though, our visions have ways of making themselves felt, even if we do not register what it is we are seeing. The world is a kind of eyeball. There is no such thing as a “safe space.”

Such visions do not necessarily depend upon telepathy; they can be equally present in the automated workings of the culture, in the demographic analyses that drive the decisions of corporate boards. Hollywood blockbusters, for example—such as Star Wars, The Fountain, The Terminator, Blade Runner, Total Recall, Planet of the Apes, Avatar (and all of their various spinoffs)—strike me as a potent vehicles for contemporary mythmaking, whatever their variations in quality, whatever the motives or self-awareness of their directors. There are cues. There are occult knots. Our responses are overdetermined. Our hands freeze in mid-air as they reach for their absent weapons. Our lips form the first vowels of a chant that will atomize a whole city. As we stare into the distance, the ancient world resurfaces as a technological dream on the horizon. We remember the collapse of complex systems, the hierarchical clash between the rulers and the ruled, but we mix and match the specifics of the story. Our best efforts to solidify the Rorschach blot of the future only point us towards the enigma of our origins. To discover what we know, we must sometimes pause to observe what we create. Seized from afar, as by the magnetism of an almost nonexistent teacher, we are pulled by a current all too eager to instruct us. An unresolved agenda speaks to us from the screen. The screen also acts like an iron curtain, through which the bodies of the living may not pass.

Or, in a different mode, people give form to the future through their fears, by what they do not do as much as what they do, by their belle indifference when presented with a series of ultimatums. Our psyches are jagged. Whole periods have gone missing. As crises converge, our refusal to act is a testament to the scale of the coming upheaval. We finger the rigid outlines of our scars, as if they belonged to someone else. We shape the future by our under-the-skin sense of all of those things we know but go out of our way not to think about: that reserves of oil will almost certainly run out in our lifetimes, that the U.S. doesn’t manufacture much of anything anymore, and that there is not enough locally grown food to sustain most cities in a real emergency. There are many things that it seems better not to know. The future is one of the better places in which to store such unasked for knowledge.

It is always possible that the march of progress will indefinitely continue, that “someone will think of something,” that our way of life will require only a few small modifications, that windmills and solar cells will save us. As ancient souls, we know this is absurd. The problem is, of course, to separate and categorize these alternate versions of the future—in simplistic terms, to discriminate between the more false than true and the more true than false. We can see the details but somehow miss the pattern; we can see the pattern but somehow miss the details. To see clearly we must see from more than one location, from all of the 360 degrees of a circle, and then out beyond the 28 U-Turns of a labyrinth, there to access the ten-dimensional records of a sphere.

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