This Means War!
Rufus T. Firefly scuttling center stage to make his pronouncement…. There's always a hidden glee behind the crowd's reaction. "Before, I had to hold it together. Now? I can let go. A free pass. No resort is too extreme. We're at war." The next stage is the rush to, "Get in the fight!" After all, "It'll be over by Christmas." It's just that close. This edge of precipice. Clausewitz was right. "War IS diplomacy carried out by other means." War and business-as-usual are points on a continuum. And not particularly far apart. "How can that be? War is war and Peace is Peace!" It may seem like peace to us, where we are, in a place where the violence is well-hidden. But these privileges traveling down the pipeline are the result of widespread violence on an industrial scale. War is war, but so is what we call peace today. The Neo-libs have that much right. This is endless war, endless terror. But it's not a bug. It's a feature. And sometimes it breaks through the curtain and cannot be denied. What do we do? Find a way to deny it. Not in so many words. We do not say "This isn't happening." We say, "This is War!" This is an act of Will. In the face of reality impinging on our comforts we resort to insisting that reality is unacceptable and, "The gloves are off! No more Mr. Nice-guy!" We take charge. Taking charge, assuming control…. What is it possible to do in this attitude? Not much. Other than destroy what we refuse to participate in creating as we take justification in destroying everything because the whole thing hits us wrong. Justification. It's right there, the power behind the declaration. "This external action forces me to react violently. It's not my doing! This is War!" Justification smells. There are a few laws based on suppressing evil. Then there are so many others based on hiding us from our complicity in evil. The first type is a cloak to cover for the much larger second category. The whole notion of justification is the thread from which this cloak is woven. It smells. Disobedience in a time of war is treason, "Get in line to justify our complicity in this outbreak of violence or be destroyed yourself." Not in the heroic way held up as our model. Die ignominiously. Carry our shame as scapegoat. Another shadow biting us in the ass, to paraphrase Jung. What's behind this suicide pact? The one we rush to as we declare war. The one we acquiesce to as cogs in business-as-usual. The fragility of Ego. This may seem an easy target. A rush to conceptualize and explain things away. It's too bad. You see, this is precisely what academic analysis does. But is it possible to approach inquiry in a different way? Can we use analysis at all without falling into the sterility of the explaining game? Means-to-an-end. Let's look at how this applies. In academia, as in the rest of business-as-usual, the end is clear; if well hidden from the general public behind all the robes and mumbo jumbo. The end is to partake in the perks of business-as-usual. The rest is means. The end matters. The rest is a game. How can supposedly sane adults rush off into the intoxication of Just War? Could it be the toxic residue of so much time seeing the substance of life as merely the means to some external end? This belief that any other consideration than satisfying our Will's unexamined desires is just playing a game? There is so much fragility exposed as we strive to maintain these illusions…. Let's say, that when we give ourselves over to the desires of a phantasm we cannot help but feel exposed and weak. This fatigue is what drives our glee at these moments of turning from a grinding yet somewhat obscure battle of wills towards an acceptance that we are justified in letting go of all restraint and having at it. Open hostilities are the only way we can see out of this mother-of-all-double-binds. Trapped in a futile defense of something that does not exist, doing things that slowly destroy us as we destroy all that supports life, we get to a point where we snap and all we want is for everything to stop. "Human Nature, tsk, tsk, tsk…" No. It's not. Any declaration of shared shame is a sham. Cui Bono? There is only one beneficiary. The only benefit is to prop-up a delusion. In this way we've been sneaking up on the question of, How? How can we make assessments? In the face of the bankruptcy of so many alleged truth-givers; how can we manage to navigate on our own? Heuristics provide a way forward; but we still need to find a way to place ourselves in relation to… well, to everything. What keeps coming up may be the mother-of-all-heuristics…. But first…. We fail to attend. We just do. It's not surprising. The whole enterprise, business-as-usual, is built on our inattention. A gradient has been forced into being. There are those willing and able to suppress any instinct for living and focus their attention on gaining and exploiting advantage against everyone and everything. The rest are jolted and shaken and rushed into habits of existing that keep them unable to resist. Everyone with the means to read these words, along with their writer, is in both of these groups. Both of these positions rest on inattention. If we attended it would be impossible to focus on any one thing to the point of being destructive, being evil. If we attended we would not be available as fodder for this enterprise. All of our precarity is predicated on our incapacity to attend. Attending will not solve our problems. It sorts out our predicament. It removes us from participation in madness. What does it mean to be coherent? Could it be that coherence is attention? Is there another triad forming? Attention/Compassion/Coherence?
"We cannot listen to the music while we are thinking, 'I am listening to the music.'"
So it is with attending.
In attending means-and-ends dissolves as a pattern of action.
In attending we face compassion and so long as we attend we fulfill compassion's challenge.
In attending we are not seeking coherence. Seeking is not finding. Becoming is not being. These are avoidance measures not a path.
In attending we face coherence.