‘Every single one of us’

Apologies for the hiatus.  It was both unintended and longer-lasting than I’d have liked.  I’ve had a number of things of a personal/familial nature going on at the mo’ which have taken priority, but I felt the need to take a little time to get some thoughts out there into my favourite part of the ether- my little corner of the WordPress.

This morning I was once again inspired by the thoughts of Beth Byrnes, and the issues that she discussed in her erudite and thoughtful post almost led me to write something as a follow-up to some of the things I had to say in the comments section.

But I had already started working  on something- the latest in my ongoing examination of the ill-advised tendency we have to define evil as something external and non-human (or sourced in humans that are somehow labelled as other than we are)- and was loathe to divide my attention.

Then I realized that we are really talking about the same thing anyway.

The vilification of that-which-is-not-me.  Those we consciously decide to label and demonize.

I’ve been thinking about this guy a lot lately.

Boo!

To be honest, he’s never really far from my thoughts (seriously- check out the categories and tags over there to the right >>>>> he’s all over the place), but lately he seems to be popping up every which way I turn.

This has been a most interesting week.  I was Freshly Pressed (!)- that little thing I wrote about chaos/order– and as a result a whole lot of new folks have come by to visit.  Thank you new folks!  Welcome!  I passed 10000 views- which, while I didn’t set goals regarding viewership when I started sharing things on WordPress a little under a year ago, is pretty freakin’ cool.

I also hit 666 followers shortly after the Fresh Pressing occurred.  Even more lovely people- and a number of bots, I’m sure- have joined the ranks since then, but I was really inordinately excited to see who follower 666 might have been.  Unfortunately I missed the notification, so remain unable to identify colemining’s own personal antichrist.

Pure silliness.

That number is just so resonant with me- given all the apocalyptic literature I’ve spent much of my life hanging around- I can’t help but claim a pretty strong fascination with that number of that there ‘beast.’

When I first moved back to Toronto and commuted to Ottawa once a week to teach classes (crazy as that was), every time I passed the 666 kilometre marker (in either direction), I identified it out loud (‘the mile marker of the antichrist’- even though it properly measures kilometres not miles).  It was a way of marking the time and telling myself that I was almost at my destination or on my way back home, depending on which direction I was travelling.

I like the mythology surrounding the devil.  I like the apocalyptic literature that inspired the concept of the antichrist.  I also like the myths of all the other worldviews/religions/cultures that attempt to reconcile good gods and the presence of evil in the material world.  These are some of the richest and most interesting stories we’ve managed to come up with from the deepest mines of our creativity.  The motifs and the characters recur throughout our histories- literary and otherwise- because they are so interesting and complex.

I can honestly say that I love the devil/satan/Lucifer.  As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t believe in the/a devil, but his various iterations are among the most colourful, enduring and often-endearing literary characters out there.

Where would Western culture be without him?

Seriously.  Think about it.

No Divine ComedyParadise LostFaust/Doctor FaustusThe Exorcist would never have (repeatedly) scared the CRAP out of me.  That opening line- Please allow me to introduce myself… I can’t imagine a world in which I’d never sung along to the brilliance of that song.  The list goes on…

He is us.  In all his (and sometimes, her) manifestations.  This is the thing.  THE thing.  All the versions of the devil that we have are representative of potential inside of us.  Us.  HumansNot some supernatural excuse for evil as a means of reconciling another supernatural being who is supposed to be GOOD.  And omniscient.  And omnipotent.

I find your theodicies unconvincing.

To say the least.

So I’m going to start a periodic conversation about our pal- call him (the) Satan, Lucifer, Mephistopheles, call him what you will (just don’t call him late for dinner).  I’m so very sick of this vilification of the other as we continue to externalize evil and abrogate our own- collective or individual- responsibility for the wrongs that are done and perpetuated against one another.  So very sick of it.

And since I am a cheerleader (Head cheerleader, it sometimes seems) for the need to examine the origins of our recurring motifs, the reasons why we think the way we do, and how we come up with the metaphors we come up with to shift the blame away from ourselves rather than face the internal propensity toward darkness we must continually and actively choose to turn from as we seek to live together peacefully on this ol’ globe of ours, there’ll be a whole lot of hanging with the devil ’round these parts in the next while.

I’ll be extending him ‘a little sympathy’.  Tastefully, of course.

Hope you’ll join me.  Let’s discuss.

‘Here come the world
With the look in its eye
Future uncertain but certainly slight
Look at the faces
Listen to the bells
It’s hard to believe we need a place called hell…

Every single one of us.’

M!

Wow.

Earlier this week this little blog o’mine hit 1000 views!  And over 200 followers!

Since I actively started sharing my thoughts ’round these parts back in March, I have tried to navigate around the blogosphere in general and my fellow-Wordpressers in particular whenever I have the chance.  One of the great things about blogging as a form of communication is that communities really do develop around common themes, interests and worldviews.

We are able to expand our networks and friends/family groups at an astonishing rate.

To those of you who have taken some time (which I know is precious and often pressed-for) to hang out with me here and have a look at my musings and responses to the world at large, I thank you.

Bigtime.

It is both humbling and exciting to feel that my words and stories might be somehow resonating with something inside of others out there in the interworlds and wider worlds as a whole.  It helps to fill the gap I’ve been feeling having been out of the classroom for a few years now.

Last night I had the opportunity to hang out with a friend who came into my life decades ago (I’m not going to tell you how many) but that I hadn’t seen in years and years and years.  As he said (right after a comment about ‘suddenly feeling like he was back in the 80s’), most recently, we have had an extremely long ‘penpal’ relationship- undertaken primarily through the facebook and through readings of and comments on our blogs.  We had a great catch-up session and the decades fell away in just a couple of hours.  We certainly won’t wait nearly as long to have another face-to-face meet-up, but the online dialogue- about music and life in general- will continue until we manage to arrange one.

The idea of community and the dynamics of these diverse societies have changed utterly in the past few years.  We can now easily be connected with people all over the globe; whether we’re playing scrabble with friends in other countries, getting to know someone with similar interests through the writings they take the time to post, or renewing friendships with people in different (or the same) cities.

A well-written but seemingly random post can help to change a bad day into a great one, as a different perspective is offered on something of great import at a given time, or simply because the author is feeling exactly the same thing at the same time that I am.

All this new media- even with the drawbacks and dreck that can legitimately be associated with some of it- is our contemporary storytelling circle.

I have sat in a town square, on the many-cushioned floor of a library, under the dome of a planetarium, in a smoky coffee house, on the foredeck of a sailboat (to name but a very few locales) and had the pleasure of listening to accomplished storytellers share their tales of wonder or woe.  While we do lose something in not experiencing the stories orally, the joy of reading a finely-crafted slice of life (or jokey tale or poignant memoir) reminds us of how connected we are.

The other day I wrote about being frustrated with the lack of reading- especially critical reading- skills that I seem to encounter on a daily basis, but I am extremely grateful to be part of a community that demonstrates- regularly and consistently- that there are a whole lot of people out there who are engaged in the on-going quest to discover and share the stories of humanity.

Our myths matter.

And so do our rituals.

One of the many commonalities we share across geographical, historical, racial, cultural, social and religious divides is the need to mark significant milestones.  Anthropologists call these events ‘rites of passage.’  They mark our transitions from one stage to another and help to demonstrate and explain the cultural construction of social hierarchies, values and beliefs.

I’ve been feeling somewhat liminal of late, so I think I will see this particular benchmark as the push over the threshold that I’ve been looking for to help me fully leave behind one stage of my life and progress to the next.

I think I can justify a wee celebration of my thousand views.

Nothing showy or over-the-top.

Perhaps a little Friday dance party?

All around the world wherever you are

Dance in the street, anything you like

Do it in your car in the middle of the night*

Have a great weekend!

* M, Robin Scott’s synthpop project, was something of a threshold band- moving from the disco era of the late 70s into the New Wave of the early 80s.  Not just a great tune- but apropos for both the name of the band and its position at the passage between two eras of music.  Everything connects.