As I’ve been meditating on animism
and the felt presence of direct experience
Entertaining the notion that
there are no INANIMATE objects
EVERYTHING IS ANIMATED
That’s when I started hearing rock and trees
speak to me.
All perceived boundaries are permeable
No such thing as an independent being
INTER-dependency rings more true
IMAGINATION, my friends!
More than that space in your head
where you make shit up
But a hidden faculty
THE Sixth Sense
(to hell with ghosts and Haley Joel Osment!)
Another tool with which to perceive the world
and perhaps even a doorway to other realms
and other modes of consciousness
is making me realize that I watch way too much goddamn television.
One day I just binged watched. Couldn’t stop myself. I didn’t want to be watching that much TV, but I needed a fix. Something to take my mind off of the energy pouring in through my crown and the impending feeling that my mind is about to leave this world for grander vistas, leaving my body behind for medical research.
Fuck all that noise. I’ma watch some Nikita instead.
I watched one episode. Then two. I wanted to stop, but I felt so drained and exhausted from having watched the first two, I didn’t have energy left to do anything but watch the 3rd and the 4th. Then the 5th.
I shut the TV off and tried to do something – work on my play, clean my room, learn a survival skill, draw something, ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING – but my mind felt like it had been vacuumed. I stumbled around in a daze, lay on the bed. Then turned on the TV for episodes 6, 7, and 8. But a curious thing happened. I noticed that when I was watching TV, I wasn’t relaxed at all. I was tense. Whenever I would try to relax and breathe, I could feel in my body an urge to turn away from the TV, to look at something else. I kept suppressing that urge, because what does my body know? What ELSE is there to look at? What’s more exciting than what I’m already looking at – secret agents killing bad guys!
That night I dreamt I was a member of the CIA, and one of my ex-flames was in my garage, trying to uncover a a cache of government secrets I’d hidden in the wall. I burst into the garage, pointed my pistol at her, screaming, “FREEZE!” She didn’t freeze though. She pulled out a machine gun. We exchanged fire.
When I woke up the next morning, I hunted down information on a book I’d heard of way back entitled “Four Arguments on Eliminating TV” by Jerry Mander.
From the Wikipedia entry on the book:
The four arguments are:
While television may seem useful, interesting, and worthwhile, at the same time it further boxes people into a physical and mental condition appropriate for the emergence of autocratic control.
It is inevitable that the present powers-that-be (or controllers) use and expand using television so that no other controllers are permitted.
Television affects individual human bodies and minds in a manner which fit the purposes of the people who control the medium.
Television has no democratic potential. The technology itself places absolute limits on what may pass through it. The medium, in effect, chooses its own content from a very narrow field of possibilities. The effect is to drastically confine all human understanding within a rigid channel.
Here’s a video (yes, irony is noted) about the physiological affects of television, and references in part my urge to look away and bolt:
As far as how this relates to animism, imagination, and the interdependent nature of human consciousness…
From Scott London’s interview with Jerry Mander (gerrymander?):
Mander: Well, just as other creatures co-evolve with their environment, we are co-evolving with our technologies. In nature, creatures evolve by adjusting and reacting to other creatures. It used to be that way with human beings as well. But now we are co-evolving mainly with machines. Our compromise with them is that we start to become like them — we have to become a little like them in order to use them.
London: What do you mean?
Mander: I mean that if you’re going to play a video game, for example, the point is to speed up your hand-eye coordination. The better you get at the video game, the faster your hand-eye connection. What you are doing with your hands and eyes is involving yourself in the computer program. So you are creating a cycle of actions and reactions with the computer technology. As your awareness and your nervous system become tuned to the computer, you are changed accordingly.
This is true of any technology. Look at television, for example. To watch television is to take in images that are artificially created for a specific purpose. By carrying these images, you begin to turn into them. That’s basic to education and to all experience: as you ingest your environment you begin to evolve with it. In the case of television, you are evolving on the basis of carefully selected and programmed images, so you are getting acted on in a very aggressive manner. Television turns you into its own images. It rearranges your mind.
What about the Internet, though? Hasn’t the Internet successfully decentralized electronic media?
Mander: Well, that is another example of failing to take a systemic viewpoint. People may edit their copy, communicate with their friends, connect with other like-minded people, and so on. But the computer doesn’t change the fact that great centralized institutions — corporations, trade bureaucracies, militaries, governments and so on — are able to use those same computers with far greater connections and with far greater real power. So the Internet will not stop a forest from being cut down or global money speculation from affecting the fates of whole societies. These technologies have to be viewed in all their dimensions.
If computers enable you to do your work a little better, I don’t argue with that. But it’s an illusion for us to believe that our use of the computer will somehow change the centralized system of power. For those who would like to see equitable and sustainable systems develop, the use of the computer amounts to a net loss, not a net gain.
This part of the interview was the most heart-breaking for me:
Mander: I was invited by an organization called the Native Women’s Association of the Northwest Territories, an organization of Diné and Inuit women. The MacKenzie River Valley is where the Russian nuclear satellite came down some years ago. At the time, everybody was worried that it would fall on London or New York, but instead it fell on a so-called icy wasteland up in Canada. That’s the place where I was invited to go. It was 40 degrees below zero the day I arrived.
The MacKenzie River Valley has 22 communities of native people. They are spread over an enormous area. They still have a very successful traditional economy based on hunting and fishing and live in a communal manner in log houses.
I was invited up there because television had begun to arrive in the area. The Women’s Association was noticing startling changes in the communities where television had arrived. The men didn’t go out on the ice to fish as often. The animals weren’t being taken care of as well. The kids didn’t want to go out and play traditional games. The kids were starting to want things — like cars (even though there are no roads there). The neighbors weren’t hanging out together, working on the nets together, cooking together, eating together and so on. The community life was breaking down.
The most important thing, they told me, was the loss of story-telling (emphasis added). In the evenings, it used to be that the very old would gather with the very young in a corner of the house — several families together — and the old people would tell traditional stories and stories from their past. By hearing those stories, the young people could remember who they are, what’s good about their people, and how to live in that very harsh environment. The stories were a window to their roots. Also, the process of young and old hanging out together in that way was very important. There was a lot of love flowing back and forth and the kids were proud to be connected to their grandparents.
Apparently, all of this has been wiped out by television. Story-telling has come to an end. Now families sit together silently — all these generations together — and watch “Dallas,” a bunch of white people standing around a swimming pool drinking martinis and plotting against each other.
…Human beings are genetically programmed to pay attention to anything that is new. It goes back to our time when we lived in jungles and had to depend on the information coming in through our senses. It’s part of our survival technique: we pay attention to anything new that takes place in our environment. But in this case it’s not an animal hiding behind a bush, it’s a whole technology speaking into our heads. It’s very hard to change ourselves genetically to keep up with the technological changes.
As human beings, we are supposed to believe what we see. Our system is constructed for seeing-is-believing. If we see birds flying south, we depend for survival on the fact that the birds are in fact flying south. But we’ve moved out of the forest and into the city and now we depend strictly on what is delivered to us as information. When we see images on television, we don’t know how not to believe them. Television is very powerful and compelling.
The day after I binged, I resolved to watch no TV the next day. With the exception of some YouTube videos – I tried to not watch them as much as just listen to them – I was able to stay away from the Grand Tube. Definitely interesting to see how much anxiety I felt when I found myself too tired to do anymore work, started feeling an oncoming phase of self-reflection and meditation, and my urge was to just turn on the TV and allow myself to lulled by its hypnotic glare into a semi-catatonic state.
Instead I went outside, talked to the tree in the backyard, spoke to a rock (yep), prayed, meditated, played some Ravi Shankar while shaking my rattle, danced around my room. Talked to the spirits. Remembered the deep connection between consciousness and the breath.
Yeah. Reality is still the best programming around.
I must create a system or be enslav’d by another man’s. I will not reason or compare: my business is to create. – William Blake