Ask Dr. Druid . Day 35
M.E.O.W. .. the Moral Equivalent Of War
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I daresay we’ve illuminated enough more of our enchanting consciousness now to assay a foray druidesquely into a wider context, beyond the strictly personal. This may be a shock. After the unassailable trust we’ve been revealing & forging between you and the whole wide AllElse worlds, to, with that opened mind, leap d’artagnan-like into understanding our druid duty toward W.A.R. is a shock. Pero c’est la vie verdad. But that is actual life and its juggling. Why you’re learning to be an expert clown. Why we take so much Vitamin I.
What we have to figure out each of us is Meow MEOW, meow – meow is the mnemonic device for the Moral Equivalent Of War. An antidote to what A.Einstein in 1932 calls “the war menace”; “the dark places of human will and feeling”; to taking the “latent” hatred and destructive passion and raising it to “the power of a collective psychosis.” S.Freud replies to A.Einstein that we cannot suppress “man’s aggressive tendencies . . . — what we may try is to divert [‘the war impulse’] into a channel other than that of warfare.” (My emphases.)
In 1906 William James called this kind of transmogrification “the moral equivalent of war.” “War is the strong life,” how men can exercise their “hardihood.”
I can understand this dyspepsia against what James calls the “mawkish and dishwatery,” a desire for life’s more “bitter” and salty flavors.
What can we druids bring to the war on war? A quotidian discipline so exacting and eclectic and exciting that its very delicacy, its deftness becomes robust.
As a droll but instructive example of the interface between the empath’s private necessity (Mutilated children are never collateral damage) and the batterings and buffetings of a frequently psychotic society, I had made up for me a teeshirt that says militant pacifist. Why? Because so many dear folk in the peace movement are so annoyingly ‘mawkish & dishwatery.’ I’d, say, swear like a sailor when describing our lunatic leaders. (If you make $50,000 a year, it’s gone in four seconds in the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Iraq debacle. That’s nuts.) One of the treacly souls with whom I was sharing a lucid and pungent rant would give me the kicked-spaniel look and say, “Why can’t you be nicer?” “Because I care zero about nice. What I care about is not-mutilated. Not-mutilated. In mind, heart, or body.”
Meow/moral equivalent of war is a mnemonic device, a memory trick, a memory meme. Because juxtaposing meow & moral equivalent of war is absurd, it reminds our mentality to hone the tools and weapons of fierce mind rather than the weapons of mutilation.
Don’t mistake me. Ungrounded ‘intelligence’ and cleverness are no per se protection against the war psychosis whatever. “War hath no fury like a noncombatant.”
Marianne Moore speaks of poetry as being “imaginary gardens with real toads in them.” Every fierce poetry-act of electric perception you construct, inhabit, perform, engage in is the meow, the moral equivalent of war. The equivalent of war which is, instead, moral. When you seize seeing, you tyger your life. You do the alchemy, you replace the reigning madly contagious psychosis with electric sanity.
You have to be able to be alone with your fullness with AllElse or they(family, churches, nations, pals) will be able to bribe or bludgeon you with temptations, demands, commands whereby you submit or succumb to the psychosis(warism, racism, sexism, theism etc.)to keep approval, to keep belonging. (No, no, I’m not suggesting some strange isolation. Just a startled awareness of what we will sacrifice in order to belong. We will allow mutilated children to be called collateral damage and gaze, if regretfully, the Other Way.)
Understanding that your hero’s journey is the daily meow, the exact and devoted and constant curiosity consistent with the marvel & magic of being alive. The war on war, the m.e.o.w, the moral equivalent of war, can not be won with their mutilating weapons, but in another quantum. Neither the right brain nor the left brain, but the rhapsodic center, the zone where Vulcan & Venus join fierce & tender forces of shocking, startled appreciation. Honor paid not in some fantastically sentimentally recalled war-struck past where you trapped juice, mystery, and mischief, but remembrance of things present, honed, honeyed, by all the earlier insights and outsights, angles. Jabbing skillfully at your day with a brush full of shocking color, wheat, sky, crows, like Van Gogh painting the ordinary scene as if it were illuminated suddenly and unbearably with lightning. Seize seeing.
When daily life is shocking, terrifying, absurd, delicious, our poetry-eyes ablaze, war will seem as wasteful, coarse, revolting as it, in gruesome fact, is.
Meow is a handy meme, a portable talisman to remind us that each act of attention, each breath, each heartbeat is an act of tyger peace, of fierce peace. Violent perception for peace. The joak’s on the boring warring. Sooner than you think too.
Some scoffing is allowed. War? Piffle. Dreary. Dull. Loud. Leaden. Mainly vastly stupid. Impaling his entrails on your bayonet. Again? Really? Ho hum. War loses because it isn’t as savage as a violet.
You are a Prometheus of perception. When you burn your hand on your cat’s fur, you know you’re beginning to wake up. Meow.
. shock .. The war on war will be a shock if you’ve pried open your consciousness to put the pearls inside. If you do the exercises and keep a log, your openness will make you more vulnerable. Empathy actually increases the neural pathways. You get used to it.
.d’artagnan .. (dar tan yaw[n]) d’Artagnan was the captain of the Three Musketeers, a swashbuckling hero;
. pero is 'but' and verdad is 'truly' in Spanish;
. mnemonic device .. roygbiv for the colors of the spectrum & rainbow is a classic mnemonic device. Roy. G. Biv – red orange yellow green blue indigo violet;
. dyspepsia .. deranged, impaired digestion, grumpy guts, heartburn, nausea;
. mawkish means sickly sentimental; from 1702; mawk = maggot;
. I got the Einstein, Freud, James & Montague quoted tidbits from Laptham's Quarterly Vo1 1.
. quotidian (quoh-tidian)is the amusingly $20 word for ‘everyday’ or ‘daily’;
. militant pacifist .. a pacifist is not a passive-ist, but like the mighty western ocean on an halcyon day, a pacific-ist. To me, it’s about using resources for ingenious & determined construction.
. treacly .. (tree-clee) treacle (tree-cull) implies excessive sweetness; think of too much molasses;
. “War hath no fury like a non-combatant.” .. C.E.Montague 1922;
. Van Gogh ripped his ear off because it was so clear to him, the complete glory of wheat. Now, self-mutilation ain’t wise but it speaks to the passion inherent.
. savage violet .. a dandelion puff is rough stuff;
. Vulcan & Venus .. Vulcan is the Roman god of fire, a lame blacksmith, therefore forger, crafter; husband of the goddess of Love, Venus;
. Prometheus . Prometheus stole fire from the gods and gave it to humankind.
Ask Dr. Druid, 66 Days from Lead to Gold, Secrets of Alchemy You Can Use, a druid shaman’s playbook .. Intro; Prologue; Day 1; Days 2 & 3; Day 4; Day 5; Day 6; Day 7; Day 8; Day 9; Day 10; Day 11; Day 12; Day 13; Day 14; day 15 Review 2; Day 16; Day 17; Day 18; Day 19; Day 20; Day 21; Day 22; Day 23; Day 24; Day 25; Day 26; Day 27; Day 28; Day 29; Day 30; Day 31; Day 32; Day 33; Day 34; Day 35;
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