Wednesday, July 10, 2013
The following was written in the year before my awakening. Like a previous entry, it illustrates the kind of thinking that I was engaged in, before my mind "jumped" to a new level composed primarily of feeling rather than contemplation. But as I commented earlier, this mental preparation was important in laying the groundwork for what followed.
It is as important to trace what goes underground as well as what rises to the
surface; to recognize the value of silences as to celebrate that which is loudly and repetitiously spoken; to restore, recapture, and recreate what has been lost or forgotten as well as to exalt in endless rituals of monotony the ascendency of the too familiar.
If we were to offer an abbreviated definition of the development of human consciousness, it might be this: the continuing struggle of humankind to step outside the circle of the limited, subjective perception, to capture a less biased, less confined, and thus more accurate awareness of self and its surround.
The “primitive” (and perhaps the mystic) contemplates and is the tree, but the rationalist serves as a constant self-monitor (“ I am an observer observing an object designated as tree.”)
Yet, in that process of splitting off, of gaining accuracy at the expense of a subjective delight in unity, something was sacrificed. Forgotten was the ancient counsel, “God made man in his own image, male and female created he them” The image of god was perceived as reflected in the male alone, and female (claimed to be incorporated into and subsumed under generic Man) was in fact expelled and excluded from the original concept, female existing thereafter as a pale image or reflection of male, his shadow self, his womb-source, his domestic caretaker, his bawd.
What we call for is no less that the restoration of the feminine component to human consciousness--whatever its attributes (a capacity for experiencing the oneness between subject and object, the inclusion of affect into observation, an insistence on meaning in human experience grounded in basic human relations as they unfold in acts of charity and love.)
If female is nature, if female is self (as opposed to other), if female is feeling--let these be the keys to open to new worlds of awareness, the guide to as yet unacknowledged paths of salvation.
Salvation--whence can it come? Not from a technology which threatens obliteration either as instantaneous annihilation or as a slower desiccation of our powers through poisonous waste and seepage. Not from a worn-out theology holding aloft a shriveled corpse for adoration. But from the source which has always been recognized as the ultimate--the inner being, the hidden spirit, the true self. Not “Inner Man,” however; “Inner Man” has produced an outer monster--technical, non-accountable, death-dealing.
What must be awakened--indeed is already rousing, stretching her limbs--is the sense of the human as grounded in ultimate categories--of feeling, of love, of worth, and relatedness to what is outside even whenever precise definitions and delineations are not possible.
The women’s movement, like all great spiritual systems, has both an exoteric and an esoteric content. In its exoteric form, the movement expresses itself in easily graspable slogans: “Equal pay for equal work”; “Equality of the sexes”; “Equal rights for all.”
These familiar phrases become convenient foci around which controversies gather--where at times clusters of disputants argue endlessly about real or supposed effects of the proposed changes on their lives and on the shape of society.
However, behind the public arguments and the openly displayed polemic is another level of concern, one with which many of the antagonists are themselves unfamiliar. It has to do with our perception of the entire range of observed phenomena we label “reality,” as well as our definition of ourselves as observers. It is the basis of our capacity to intersect external events and to interpret their flow as coherent form. This is the esoteric level, the return to the feminine in the deeper sense. It seeks to do no less than transform our total awareness of self, meaning, and purpose--to plunge to the heart of reality and return with the sacred token or gift which will bring us to redemption.
What are the efforts of the new vision?
l. To provide an alternative to the notion that “reality” can be known only through external observation, and that the universe itself is a “closed system.”
2. To offer a history of the oppressed rather than a narrative of the oppressor.
3. To go into history to reveal how awareness has been stopped, killed, snuffed out, blighted. To show how, as a consequence, the oppressed frequently become co-conspirators with the oppressor.
4. To trace the underground stream of human experience.
This may be the humanities’ last chance.
As business fails--as technology fails and institutional religion fails--as the sense of apocalypse intensifies--people will be searching, crying out the old questions--Who are we? Why are we here? Does our life have meaning?
Already, some collectives are delivering their purported messages of salvation--witness the rise of cults and sects, the “born agains”--born-again as Christians or bizarre occultists. The humanities--the inclusive study of what it means, or has meant, or is likely to mean to be human--are being presented with what may be a last chance. Only if we are prepared to revise our definitions, to broaden and expand our views, to include all groups which in the past have been outcast or rejected--by sex, by color, by lifestyle, by condition--will we have a message worth heeding. If Minority Studies has suffered a decline, is this the fault of minority scholars or of reactionary faculty in humanities who refuse to revise curricula? If Woman’s Studies develops outside the conventional offerings, then how and when will it be integrated?
We cannot answer these many questions fully. But one thing we can and must do--keep the dialogue open.