So what, really, is my job, my task here on earth during this time of tremendous crisis and opportunity? Especially, what is my job, given my advanced age, 76, as one who has experienced the entire ’60s hippie movement and beyond?
It seems to me that my job is to share my experience, to make sense of it, and to help others, those who have not been so fortunate as to have lived this long as a conscious being (since my early 20s), begin to sense the widening circles and cycles of meaning that envelope our evolving civilization.
And sometimes, this effort to share my experience extends to members of my own family, who have not been so fortunate, and who still wonder who in hell I am!
So now, with one of my sisters. We were in a rare email conversation, and I mentioned something about Hillary Clinton being implicated in the rampant pedophilia that has been surfacing with the Epstein case. And . . . . got an immediate reaction: NO! NOT HRC!
Okay, back to square one. I should have known she had not been red pilled at all.
She followed this remark by sending me a link to an essay on conspiracies by Jill Lepore, published in the Times Literary Supplement, a very high-class publication. Okay, I’ll read it! And so I did, and yes, I found it it very interesting.
Of course, I knew that my dear sister was, in her subtle literary manner, calling me out as a “conspiracy theorist.” But I didn’t take the bait. Instead, I sent her a link, to a piece that I found wonderfully liberating for anyone who is worried about going too far out. For, I think Caitlin Johnson is right; the ultimate conspiracy is inside us.
In other words, all our “conspiracies,” indeed all our more or less complex and layered conceptual constructs, formed to “make sense of” what is really happening, whether external or internal, dissolve into mystery, once we recognize that language itself is both the source code of immense creativity and also functions to separate us (our minds) from our own bodies, from each other, and from the natural world. And even, says Caitlin, if you follow the process of meditating on “being” long enough, to dissolve our sense of self entirely!
Those who have been on this planet for many decades may also remember Marilyn Ferguson’s The Aquarian Conspiracy, which burst upon “the scene” in 1981, and, unlike in the past, gave the word “conspiracy,” for us hippy new age types anyway, a new, and very positive meaning.
From the author’s introduction to that book:
Months later, while outlining a not-yet-titled book about the emerging social alternatives, I thought again about the peculiar form of this movement: its atypical leadership, the patient in- tensity of its adherents, their unlikely successes. It suddenly struck me that in their sharing of strategies, their linkage, and their recognition of each other by subtle signals, the partici- pants were not merely cooperating with one another. They were in collusion. “It” — this movement — was a conspiracy! At first I was reluctant to use the term. I didn’t want to sensationalize what was happening, and the word conspiracy usually has negative associations. Then I came across a book of spiritual exercises in which the Greek novelist, Nikos Kazant- zakis, said he wished to signal his comrades, “like con- spirators,” that they might unite for the sake of the earth. The next day the Los Angeles Times carried an account of Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s speech to the United Nations Habitat Conference in Vancouver; Trudeau quoted from a pas- sage in which the French scientist-priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin urged a “conspiracy of love.” Conspire, in its literal sense, means “to breathe together.” It is an intimate joining. To make clear the benevolent nature of this joining, I chose the word Aquarian . Although I am unac- quainted with astrological lore, I was drawn to the symbolic power of the pervasive dream in our popular culture: that after a dark, violent age, the Piscean, we are entering a millennium of love and light — in the words of the popular song, “The Age of Aquarius,” the time of “the mind’s true liberation.” Whether or not it was written in the stars, a different age seems to be upon us; and Aquarius, the waterbearer in the ancient zodiac, symbolizing flow and the quenching of an ancient thirst, is an appropriate symbol.
Conspire: to breathe together. YES! In other words, let go of either positive or negative connotations, and just remember the emotionally neutral origins of the word: con (with) spire (breathe).
Okay, so what does all this have to do with my sister?
Well, when I sent her that Caitlin Johnson link, she responded:
“I’m too much of a Thomist to read her. I think.”
Huh? Well now, I’m supposed to be a “philosopher,” and I certainly should know what Thomism is all about. Instantly, I did know that she was referring to the much revered medieval Catholic theologian Thomas Aquinas, but that’s about it. So, what does Thomas Aquinas say that makes my sister think she couldn’t read Caitlin Johnson’s piece?
After pursuing a few youtube videos, I hit upon it. Aha! I know! At least I think I know. My sister wants to make a clear distinction between reality and appearances, and of course, wants to put her money on reality.
Not sure how “conspiracy” fits into this, but maybe it’s just the idea that, despite reality (whatever that is), many people join together (conspire) to treat a certain linked set of appearances as if they are real?
Well, I said to her, I let go of the idea that we can be sure of separating reality from appearances a long time ago, even though of course we always try, hard, to do exactly that. That’s what language is for!
I mentioned to her the story about the defense of my Ph.D. dissertation, way back in 1972. When I claimed that “the line between fact and fiction is very fine” one of the professors challenged: “Give us an example.” And wouldn’t you know, just the day before my five year old son Colin had asked me, “Mom, which is more real, my dreams or yesterday?”
So I mentioned Colin’s question to them, and well, you won’t be surprised when I say that this was their final question. After only 20 minutes, the normally two hour exam was done.
Luckily, I did manage to get out of Boston University with my Ph.D. I’ve used it ever since, to let people know that though I may be a contrarian thinker, I’m not stupid.
My Thomistic sister tells me that she will get back to me, after a few days. Should be fun!