The Great Divide
The Great Divide
Recently I had my phone relieved of me by the collusion of my son and the toilet bowl, I’m convinced it was a conspiracy. We have all lost phones, myself included and the loss of that phone in most cases prioritises all resources to be allocated to its replacement. This time I put in a half assed effort to find a replacement then felt in my bones “ah well, i just won’t have a phone for a bit”.
After receiving a couple concerned emails as to my whereabouts on whatsapp i realised that my consistent presence online was something others relied on and when it wasn’t there, all manner of catastrophic conclusions were jumped to. “If she isn’t on her phone she must be dead”, read the subtext. And these are not paranoid people, I would respond in a similar way if a friend disappeared without warning from our shared social space.
This dependency on our phones to initiate and in many cases replace altogether real time proximity style socialising, is a phenomena we humans haven’t encountered before. Isolation has traditionally been a form of social punishment and not the preferred lifestyle for survival reasons.
To succeed at navigating this current system of social organisation, as modelled for us by our “leaders”, it becomes clear that an almost sociopathic disregard for life forms other than your own, is a real ace in your sleeve. And so we masses go about following in their footsteps; replacing people with profiles, strengthening our categorical, reasoning minds at the cost of atrophy to the brain centres responsible for empathy. Thereby living the logical conclusion to Rene Descartes anthropocentric bollocksical statement of “I think therefore i am”. One has to wonder though, what might he have said had he just rolled off a particularly ecstatic sexy time? Could he not have uttered “I give cunnilingus therefore I am”? Would we all be carrying pocket sized vibrators with us everywhere we went lest we miss an orgasm opportunity?
So what else was rattling around ol Rene’s mind? In his own words- “I perceived it to be possible to arrive at knowledge highly useful in life…and thus render ourselves the lords and possessors of nature”. Ahhhhh so basically trying to validate his snivvling little isolated existence by suppressing all of nature (prolly having been a while since his last ecstatic sexy time). That said, he made other statements that were quite revolutionary that didn’t make him famous and were definitely not lauded by the culture as cornerstones of civilised thought. That statement, at that time, in that particular flavour of human soup, resulted in a justification of suppression that went down really well with the colonising powers that were.
Francis Bacon, all hopped up on Cartesian philosophy made great strides in formalising scientific method. His “only earthly wish… to stretch the deplorably narrow limited of man’s dominion over the universe to their promised bounds… putting [nature] on the rack and extracting her secrets…storming her strongholds and castles. I am come in very truth leading you to Nature with all her children to bind her to your service and make her your slave… the mechanical inventions of recent years do not merely exert a gentle guidance over Nature’s courses, they have the power to conquer and subdue her, to shake her to her foundations.” Ladies, never... ever ...NEVER let Francis Bacon buy you a drink at bar, unless you want to wake up in a hotel room three days hence with all your organs unconsenting sexed out of you. Tha fuck?!!
It was his particular approach to scientific methodology that allowed scientists to pursue any hypothesis that caught their whimsy regardless of how twisted it may have sounded had it not been cloaked in the language of disconnection (screaming subjects were referred to in the literature as having emitted "high pitched vocalizations"). One such study set out to discover if one could create psychotic behaviours in primates by subjecting them to unending torture from birth. Seems like a given to me, mere layman that I am, though I guess the funding bodies were busy with killing off the globe's indigenous peoples populations so...perhaps it had it's military uses. The chosen method of torture? Severe isolation. And as numerous studies have since supported, such isolation results in irreversible mental illness in subjects, human and animal alike. Harry Harlow, (after killing and torturing countless rhesus monkeys to further prove that indeed, caregiving and companionship is crucial in social and cognitive development) stated that “sufficiently severe and enduring social isolation reduces these animals to a social-emotional level in which the primary social responsiveness is fear.”
This was driven home for me recently when, walking down a narrow passageway in a Torontonian condominium complex I was faced with a man heading towards me. There was no escape, the passageway too narrow and me without my mace…we were going to have to acknowledge each other’s existence. I greeted him and he looked at me like i was an insane person. He gave a physical jolt and scurried past me as fast as his little loafers would carry him. When kindness evokes a fear response..that is what Harlow means by fear as a blanket response to all social stimuli.
So as long as our survival can be supported through the convoluted interconnectedness of various industrial complexes, relieving us of the messy duty of making our own connections, we will be sustained. The troubling truth is that these very industrial complexes have proven unsustainable. So what is to become of us, with our social networks dependent on disposable electronic devices, when the network fails? Can we collectively summon the courage it would take to greet one another? Brave a smile held long enough to know if we are encountering friend or foe?
My son, the one that dropped my phone in the toilet, has a fear of dogs. Any dog that comes up to sniff him is greeted with the same fear. Some of the dogs are assholes (can we be real about this people? not all dogs are awesome, some are real fucking dicks) and some are the sweetest beings you could hope to meet. But according to him, they are all trying to bite him in this face because when he was 2 years old, one actually did bite him in the face. His fear response to trauma has disabled his ability to differentiate.
Our survival depends not on fossil fuels, not on alternative energy sources, not on unlimited food supply. It depends on us being able to form functioning collectives within which the work of survival is shared as is the pleasure of living beyond mere sustenance. If everyone is a potential threat and with no profile we can pull up Terminator style to determine if another being is hazardous or harmless, we cannot begin to build these vital bonds and there just isn’t enough surface area on planet earth for 7 billion islands…
A Recipe Ode to The Great Divide
-the perfect Brexit breakfast requires much grease and heat, for how else can one be expected to keep the cogs turning.
-fry up grease in a pan over some heat and place various food items inside.
-the aim is to line old arteries with as much plaque as possible so that the heart’s capacity for feeling is dulled to the point where its only remaining function is to pump grease through the machine.