Wondrous Sunset - J.C. Penney Clothing Returns - A Discussion Of Whether Activism, Conformism, and Escapism Are Mutually Exclusive Categories - A Beautiful Girl Who Bored Me - A Preference To Be By Myself - Mere Devotion Annoys Me - Need Charisma And Sparkling Intelligence To Sustain My Interest
A tape transcription.
Social Criticism - December 10, 1995
1995.12.10. Sunday. (tape #50 continued)
I'm coming down from the ridge, the top of the ridge here. Saw a wonderful sunset. My brain, or at least my eyes, my optical nerves are a little sore because I was just so fascinated with that large disc as it was sinking into the ocean. I just had a clear shot of that orange mass. It was a fucking miracle, the thing was totally miraculous, I mean I am just in awe, I'm speechless at the sight of that sun. That sun is just a perennial and never ending fascination for any life form on this planet.
What to say? Well, today and yesterday I put in about four hours of pain and torture to return almost everything I bought at Liberty House and J.C. Penney, plus returned like four hundred dollars worth of stuff from Sears as well. Now I have a credit owed to me of about $150 from Liberty House, and I owe about $50 to J.C. Penney. I'm going to close those accounts once I get those statements and I pay up and get my credit. It's sick, the whole thing is sad, you know, this obsession with materialism. This bankruptcy is just such a drag, I mean, I haven't even done it, maybe I won't even claim bankruptcy. I mean, what a tremendous waste of time it will have been thinking about it so much for so long. But it feels good, too--I feel good to be rid of the stuff--I didn't need all these clothes. I returned, count it, twenty-two pairs of boxers today, and fourteen pairs of socks. I go through about three pairs of socks a year, at least socks for school, because I wear them till they are just rags. And twenty-two pairs of boxers--that would last me for a decade. But I returned them and I still have, I think, ten or fifteen pairs of boxers still. So I still have a ten-year supply. And all those shirts. I returned a two-hundred dollar sport coat to Liberty House. I didn't even like it. I don't like wearing that kind of stuff--Calvin Klein, regularly four hundred dollars--it's just not my style. Plus, I can't afford all those goddamn payments. I just don't need it. I don't need that stress. (Sigh) Around 10:30 am or so, when I left to do this--it took me about two, two and a half hours today--because I had, well, I had maybe eight hundred dollars of returns at Liberty House, maybe six hundred dollars of returns at J.C. Penney, and about two hundred at Sear's today. And what took so long was that they had to go through all these receipts--I had a tremendous number of receipts--and, as well, I had taken off all the price tags off all the boxers and all the socks for the J.C. Penney return. So that was a bummer for them, and I just thank them for taking it all back. The management was understandably dismayed by all of my returns, but it's my right to return things--(laughs)--oh man, what a trip, what a trip. There's not much more to say about it; I'll reflect on it later. I'm just happy to be done with all those returns right now. But I have more to do later. I'm trying to return everything now, actually. I have some things from J. Crew, maybe two or three years old, and I'm going to mail that off to be returned also. I want that fifty dollar credit. The reason is that I never wear them. And so I'm just on a clarification binge, clearing up all my possessions a bit. The thing is, the process is never ending, given that I binge on buying things, and then I binge on clearing things out. But I am going somewhere with all this. I mean, it is never ending, but it does seem to be progressive somehow. But I do have more returns to make. We'll see how all that goes. But I really got a lot done this weekend.
In the last couple of days, I mean, I have been exuding a lot of energy, or at least, I mean, I know last night, you know, and then at dinner with Ben and Toni, I'm just noticing how really charismatic, and intelligent, and witty, I am. And I think I'm going to go ahead and try to develop that, just develop this scathing wit, you know, that's just this brutal, incisive wit, because there's so much bullshit, and I'm having a hard time just being silent, you know, I mean just silently accepting people. You know, if there's a problem, you know, I used to not really address it head-on. But I'm just feeling more feisty, like I want to be more confrontational. It's interesting. I've got to be careful that it's, uh, you know, grounded in love as much as I can, you know, and it's not so much my dominating people. But last night, at Down to Earth, I ran into X, a black guy that turned me on to the wheatgrass--one of my big inspirations for wheatgrass--and, uh, he was low on energy, and I was just really razzing him up about where I'm coming from, you know, and what I'm up to with the hiking, and how I love the wheatgrass. Then I saw this guy named Mario. Both these guys, they're very intelligent, but they're stuck in the head. It's difficult to describe. But here, let me try. I really got tired of Mario very quickly. First of all, his energy is very, kind of lazy and lethargic. He was very much at ease. But I don't like his ease. He has a very slouched disposition. We get into some conversation and I tell him, basically, that, among other things, I am emotionally--what's the word for it--victimized by our society. And he responds by getting into this big thing about how my victimization is just a mental thing, that I need to decide what's going to bother me and what's not going to bother me, that I've got to take control, and then he had the gall to lecture me about how there are three types of people: activist, conformist, and escapist. Feeling so burdened by his stupidity, I had to leave right then. His world view was so simplistic and wrong! None of those categories have any relevance. They're analytically incoherent categories. Everyone is all three at the same time. Someone is always acting toward something, conforming to something, and escaping from something, at all times. Balance and orientation is what it is all about and, of course, your emotional disposition toward spirit in the context of trying to move society into a more full manifestation of spirit. I had a lengthy internal response to this, but he was so locked in his head and saw my dilemma so two-dimensionally, that it was not really worth my time. People like him, who think the world is so simplistic as that, who think the world operates that way, are neither intelligent enough nor creative enough for my liking. To think that I am an escapist or a conformist simply because I feel victimized--shit! it is not even worth my time to respond to it right now.
(pause) For instance, let's say I'm working for Greenpeace, and I'm going door to door as a canvasser soliciting donations for various environmental causes. In that capacity I would be a conformist in the sense that I'm submitting to Greenpeace's definition of what a canvasser is--how to go to homes and ask for money, how to share informational literature, how to be paid by the thirty percent of proceeds, and so forth. If you really want to get into it, I would be conforming by wearing clothes acceptable to my particular society, speaking a particular language and dialect, and adhering to a set of accepted behaviors that Greenpeace and the residents with whom I speak are familiar. Furthermore, you could say that being housed in this human form--two arms, two legs, two eyes, and so forth--is the ultimate form of conformity: there is no getting away from the fact that we are all stuck in the same human form. But if we embrace our bodies, despite their fundamental commonality, that is to say, boringness, we might find some spiritual release on the other side. To argue that my canvassing is a form of escapism, you would have to see the job in the context of my not taking on more entrenched, socially accepted roles, like teacher, doctor, salesperson, financier, or anything else more bureaucratically established. Or, maybe as a canvasser I would not be fulfilling the rigid expectations of my father, or not conforming to any number of other external expectations. In every act, Mario's three categories coexist. You cannot say that any one category predominates. It's like the spiritual analogy of the past, the present, and the future, all being held in the present moment, simultaneously, flawlessly. Life is a singularity; every point in the universe is the center; and so forth. Extending this analogy to Mario's categories, for instance, conformism can be seen as where you came from, a past that defines you; escapism is the direction you are heading, a future that illuminates your path; activism is where you are at the present moment, a place and time that perfectly brings together the past and the future.
All three categories, therefore, cooexist perfectly to define who you are. Let's say I am shopping at Down to Earth, buying organic produce, and you say, "Oh! He must be an activist." But that would only be one-third true, at least in terms of the narrow definitions in Mario's system. In reality I would be actively conforming to a form of escapism that I approve of. For instance, when I eat Health Valley cookies, I am conforming, among other things, to that particular company's concept of how to produce a cookie. But compared to the atrocious cookies put out by Keebler and Nabisco, my purchase of Health Valley products places me in a position of being an activist in promoting a healthier alternative. The term "escapism" has negative connotations, and we must temporarily become sarcastic to understand it in this context. An escapist seeks to run away from something that is inevitable. Given that less than 1 percent of food in the U.S. is produced organically, and given that nearly all of the power and money of the giant agricultural industry is invested in chemically sprayed, chemically fertilized, and chemically preserved food, one might say that it is inevitable that such an enormous enterprise takes over completely. So, to say that I am an escapist implies that you are submitting entirely to the conclusion that there is no alternative to the present system of things. The person who says that buying organic cookies is a form of escapism is a dreamless robot. We would all be better off if such a person were dead. It is far worse to actively promote evil than to be merely its unconscious victim. Spiritual progress always has as its source a dream planted in the present. With no dream, there can be no present, and with no present, there can be no life. One percent of agricultural production may seem like a thin dream to base a life on, but in it lies the seed of what will be a new system of things tomorrow.
In sum, the three terms are better dispensed with. They lack analytical coherence. They don't add value to our understanding of things. We should do what we do because it is spiritually right to do so, not because of where it falls in the escapist-conformist-activist continuum. The terms lead to a sense of self-righteousness if you think you are an activist, or self-hatred if you think you are a conformist or an escapist.
What else? I ran into a girl today; two girls and a guy were shopping at J.C. Penney at the same time that I was putting in a huge return for all those boxers. And I made some jokes--I was really quite outlandish during all my returns today. I decided that I really needed to put some energy into it to pull it all off: making friends with the cashiers who were helping me, joking with the managers who were called to approve the returns. I laughed about my emotional instability, and how I had bought all the clothes to fill an emotional need that I can no longer afford. Anyways, the girl laughed at what I was saying to the cashier, and I had not even spoken to her. I did not even know her, but she laughed nonetheless. She was quite good looking. She said that I was very funny, in response to my comment that I was a bulimic shopper. She was young, maybe twenty-one years old, with beautiful skin. She was wearing jean shorts with a short shirt that revealed her stomach. I noticed that she had a very nice body when after she laughed she stood almost next to me, apparently to hear if I had anything further funny to say. Her other friends were farther away, still looking at clothes, unaware of our interaction. It was interesting, how close she was to me, sort of feeling my energy out. I talked to her some, but I was more concerned in focusing on the clerk, making sure that I got the credit that was due me on each item returned. The return was absorbing, flipping through ten pages of receipts, trying to match up what lay on the counter with what was listed on the receipts. The problem, I think, was that I did not find her challenging; she had no quick, witty response to me, or any incisive questions about why in the hell I bought all this underwear. I mean, what in the heck would I be buying twenty-two pairs of underwear for?--my ridiculousness demanded comment! She shared nothing that displayed a command of life, a fluency in the energetic relationships between people. What I pictured in her was something like X [girlfriend from college]--someone devotional, who appreciated me for who I was, and who did not really match me intellectually or charismatically, but nevertheless wanted to bond with me.
(sigh) So I did not even attempt to ask her out, or even get her name, although it was clear that I could have done so, the girl being as entranced by me as she was. But at the bottom of all this was my utter boredom with her. Her love for me would bore me to death. In fact, there is nothing more boring to me than a woman's love. I don't want a woman's love. I want her hatred, her aspirations, her challenge. I want her to question the things that I say, to engage me, and to prove herself more insightful. Sometimes I catch myself, because a lot of what I say is bullshit; but I get away with it because hardly anyone else is sharp enough to see through my carelessness. My guess is that less than one percent of the population is both intellectually and spiritually inclined. My intellectual skills are being blunted by this mass ignorance around me. It depresses me that I don't have people around me to help me see things more clearly. That girl and I could make love, and do all sorts of things together. I could really get into being inside of her. But it would be a drain, a giant drain!
(pause) In all sorts of ways. I need someone who is my spiritual and intellectual equal--or close to it. (sigh) Otherwise, why bother? I enjoy my life by myself too much to waste myself in such a relationship. You know, when I go to the mall, there are so many beautiful girls there. Nice shapes, all kinds of desirable shapes, just beautiful. Physically, I would find a whole host of them good bed partners. I would not mind sharing my body with the whole lot, as far as the physical level is concerned. But what is missing, what I am looking for, is someone whose consciousness is profound, whose level of passion is really amazing, someone whose commitment to physical-external health is matched by their inner-emotional health. They would be involved in organic foods, fruits and vegetables, vegetarianism, and everything else. But basically I am looking for a suppleness of being, and a wit--a lightning wit, a spiritual brilliance; and this quality can be contained in a number of forms: black, white, Asian, Pacific Islander; it can be tall or short--but I don't really want it that short or that fat, but I'm flexible. If the person blows me away with who they are--someone who I can just sit next to and get high--what a riot!--what a fantastic thing! I'd marry her in a second. I wouldn't even need to touch her. I would just feed off her energy. It feels good to acknowledge that there are a lot of beautiful women on this planet; but having said that, we need to focus on upping their emotional intensity by a factor of ten. Then maybe I will find the girl I am looking for, that amazing spiritual girl. Unfortunately, I may very well just have to wait. If I am lucky enough to survive all this shit, and get down a story, a fucking unbelievable story about my life, and get down a book to go with it about how I view things, I will have a chance. Although I have more planned, those two will be for starters, and hopefully that will stir up some women's interest in me--women of a higher caliber than I am normally exposed to, women who can keep my interest. My books will be my attempt to beat the bushes of our culture and draw out the women that I am looking for.
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