Friday, January 23, 2009
Rough night last night
Rough night last night waking up with the miserable headaches, after having to go to bed early as I was so drugged up during yoga that I could barely drive home. They say that feelings will come out during yoga--well all I did was cry yesterday as I felt so bad that it was difficult to lift my arms. It is just so hard to acknowledge my loss of energy and vitality when I have always been such a physical person. A couple of novels by the sci-fi writer, Ursula K LeGuin, that I have just finished reading have helped me put things in perspective. One The Lathe of Heaven, was a novel about an "effective" dreamer. Whatever dream the protaganist dreamed became true--literally impacted reality instantantenously. So a "liberal stupid," idealistic psychiatrist starts to attempt to program and manipulate the man's dreams to create a better reality, except that they always backfire. The novel ends happily (from a moralistic perspective) with the dreamer able to disengage from effective dreaming (with a little bit of help from some aliens) and the psych in an insane asylum. So what did I get from that--some hope, I guess. I really empathized with the despair the hero felt when he realized what was happening with his manipulated dreams but there was no way, though he tried every angle, that he could free himself from the psych's control. But he persevered in goodness and humility until the psych's insanity imploded upon itself. Moral of the story--any one who tries to "control" reality or life is going to have it backfire. I believe that immoral control freaks (insanity might be the appropriate word) are trying to control my dreams while I sleep, and my waking life through these brain implants. Like the hero, there is no easy escape. But I can persevere in good intent, desire for and memory of, freedom, and humility until freedom comes. The second novel, Four Ways to Forgiveness, was about a time and reality when various "baby worlds" were encountering advanced alien worlds. It kind of reminded me of a sci-fi version of Things Fall Apart, the novel about the destruction and destabilization of a traditional (African) culture when it encounters an alien, technologically advanced culture (European imperialism), and how people struggle to adapt. In the novel several of the cultures had less than desirable social mores such as slavery and extreme sexism, and the various individuals move in and out of slavery and the limited "freedom" offered by the political systems of their home worlds, their adopted worlds, and the alien worlds. It reminded me again of how lucky and privileged I am to have been born an American citizen. I have known more freedom in the first 35 years of my life than most souls will ever know. I am sad now, because I realize that I am no longer free, that the brain implants are designed to enslave and control, and that is the future of all humanity (assuming--and I will do so--that we have a future). But, as the characters in the novel bear witness, it is possible to keep one's humanity even while living in the degradation of slavery. It will take an attitude adjustment. LeGuin is an affirmed Taoist. Not many people follow that particular religious philosophy. It is a very flexible, even passive outlook--a different emphasis from the Judeao-Christian orientation which exalts individual freedom and rights, and always wants to impact and determine social and cultural reality. I have to become a little more Taoist (or to use Christian languange, "Marian" or "identified with the crucified Christ") in order to survive slavery. Toward the end of the novel, LeGuin has one of her characters write a memoir of her early life as a slave, her move to freedom, and then the fall back to a politically delimited freedom. I have known freedom. I need to write it down so that the memory of what it is to be free can be kept alive.