The bird fights its way out of the egg. The egg is the world. Whoever will be born must destroy a world.
I remember one of Hermann Hesse’s fables of a political prisoner who for years would paint and re-paint the same scene in his isolated cell. With little or no light he’d paint this beautiful garden world over and over and over. A guard once asked him why he didn’t paint something else. He answered: “I will just as soon as it becomes real.” Then one night he finished another of his renditions, set his palette down, carefully washed his brushes, put on his old cravat and street clothes, folded up his brief belongings and walked off into his garden world. The guards found the painting the next day, and one of the guards remarked: “Oh, I see he changed the painting.” The other guard, puzzled: “What? The only thing different is the little man walking there toward that cozy little home with the fireplace.” They both laughed, puzzled at how the man could have escaped his prison cell, there being no sign of exit anywhere.
The obvious notion here is that our keepers are all literalists, while imagination will always allow us freedom even under the most dire circumstances. Many – Freud included, affirmed the notion that madness is a form of extreme revolt against our keepers here in this dungeon world of reality. At times of direst exploitation the only avenue of escape is the mind itself, the greatest freedom is to be able to not only survive but to create a ‘space of freedom’ in which the keepers have no part or rule. In our desperate times we need those who have the fortitude and will, imaginative need and mental concentration to open up these ‘spaces of freedom’ that allow the multitudes avenues of exit from the Keeper’s World.
The literalist stems from all those like Plato who dichotomized two-worlds: the world around us as illusion and illusory, and some real world outside time and space that is eternal and undying, etc.. Others would say to us that there is no need for such a dualism, that what we truly need is to see this world under other eyes. That freedom and imagination are the keys to this realm which is already an open and strange multidimensional creation. That it is the literalists who reduce us to a two-world vision that have truly enslaved our mind’s in false dichotomies, while the others among us have offered another path, one that exit’s the false dichotomies for a vision of this world seen with other eyes.
Think of the statement I used from Hesse on the bird. One could see this as a Platonic parable of the bird awakening to the other world beyond, yet one could also see that what is truly being cracked open, allowing the bird to escape is the prison of the Mind that keeps us locked in all the dualisms of false dichotomies: one that allows the bird not to destroy our literal world, but rather to destroy the false image of the our world that has been taught us by all those who seek to keep command and control over our lives. All those who have build prisons of the Mind, or as William Blake once termed it “mind manacles” that bind us to a false Symbolic Order. We are all bound in sense in our socio-cultural contexts not knowing that it is but one among a multitude of possibilities. We perceive the world through conceptual and figurative forms that lock us into a vision induced from our collective schooling from the time of our Parents to the more formidable education (educing ) at the hands of the State. When someone awakens to other possibilities the State terms that person mad, insane, crazy. (Of course not all insanity is this, some is actual trauma, disease, physical and mental aberration etc. ) Yet, those who break out of the imposed constraints of the official reality system are deemed ‘touched’. The Shaman’s of old were such beings, isolated from the Tribe, usually forced into sacred zones of taboo, etc.
We’ve lost touch with the ancient views of our ancestral dreamtime, etc. In our age of Enlightenment we’ve locked ourselves into a world ruled by Reason, and everything else into Irrationalism. This false dichotomizing of the world into Reason and Madness has produced much of the vocabularies we use to describe paranoia and our politics of affective rupture. We’ve seen this in the recent election cycle in which the so to speak Establishment represents in our parable the Prison Keeper’s of a false worldview, while the fringe that see escape, exit, revolt are seen in the extremes of Left or Right as madness itself. Our Mediatainment systems portray this in a cartoon world of simplification rather than truly uncovering the complex dynamism at play. So we get the false wars between the Left and Right on the political scale that keeps us hating, rather than breaking out of our Prison. It’s this that Rousseau was actually speaking of when he said ‘Man was born free; and everywhere is in chains (The Social Contract, 1762).’ The Symbolic Order of our current global network Reality Studio locks us into a vision of hate, war, bigotry, mindless fear and terror… and, we buy into the cartoon vision portrayed in the Media Central.
Time to step out of the Reality Studio. That is the meaning of Hesse’s parables. Time to destroy the false world that would bind us in a Surveillance Society of Paranoia… That would bind us to some literal apocalyptic bloodbath and future of technological slavery and defeat. What we need instead is that poverty of mind (Emerson), imaginative need (Blake) that allows us to expand beyond the safe and secure perimeters of our cages, that allows us to enter into invention, imagination, and the power of creativity once again. To break free of this dead world of political and social chaos, and create new spaces of freedom and imagination for ourselves and our children. New stories that are not just vein fantasy, repeatable and forgotten, but rather stories about our actual lives in the here and now struggling to attain a world worth living in.
(Hmmm… I can imagine a Children’s story on this… the mind churns!)