October 27, 2010

Not two

Off and on over the years, I've tried to read the writings of the late French anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss. Don't ask me why. It's probably a self punishment thing or an effort to purify evil karma.

I never got very far. I think the only book of his I made it through was a little one about the Oedipus myth (Freud's take was way more fun to read).

However, I do think I agree with one of his main ideas, assuming I've got it right. He seemed to think that people are hard-wired to use binary classification systems like raw/cooked, civilized/savage, good/evil, us/them, etc. That kind of thing can be useful a lot of the time and probably worked best in the relatively simple environment in which early humans evolved. But it can also get us in big trouble.

One other useful idea from the Buddhist tradition is that of non-duality, which kind of grows out of the idea that all things are anatta or without self. Non-duality emphasizes the connectedness and relatedness of all things. As some Buddhists put it, we "inter-are."

Non-duality has shaped the way I look at working for social justice and made me a bit uncomfortable with some of the words you hear a lot in that context: organizing, education, leadership and service. Words like these seem to assume that humans can and should be divided into the organizers and the organized, those who educate and those who are educated, those who lead and those who are led, and those who serve and those who are served...which is kind of creepy to me.

I don't think things work too well that way most of the time. Non duality for me means that there should always be mutuality, fluidity, interaction and give and take.

ASTROTURF AND TEA. Here's another look at the Tea Party and its billionaire funders.

SPEAKING OF ELECTIONS, Holly Sklar points out here that Wall Street has already voted.

FEAR TACTICS. Deficit hawks are keeping fear alive.

CURIOUSER AND CURIOUSER. Rumors of a sale of Massey Energy continue to swirl on Wall Street. If it happens, a certain CEO would get a golden parachute, of course.

FAREWELL, SWEET PRINCE. An octopus that predicted the outcome of World Cup soccer games has died, apparently of natural causes. May he be reborn in the Pure Land of Amida Buddha.

SORRY, BEN FRANKLIN, but crows are tool using animals too. And they teach their young to do the same.



hollowdweller said...

By passion for the "pairs of opposites," By those twain snares of Like and Dislike, Prince! All creatures live bewildered, save some few Who, quit of sins, holy in act, informed, Freed from the "opposites," and fixed in faith, Cleave unto Me.

Bhagavad Gita

El Cabrero said...

I need to read that again. When I do, it will probably show up here.