October 8, 2016

"Live by the foma [Harmless untruths] that make you brave and kind and healthy and happy." --Bokonon (via Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle)
A few weeks ago I was talking about trying to apply more radical forms of empathy in some of the small, mostly anonymous interactions of my life - someone cutting me off in traffic, say - to somehow be happy for the other person, rather than focusing on my almost neglibly small, yet still annoying, "loss".

In the meanwhile I've tried to apply another, rather Eastern (or at least Western Hippy) metaphor to it; that somehow I and the other person are part of the same body, and so while the situation, or even their actions in the situation, my frustrate me, I can still get a sense of a common good being shared. I can get frustrated with my lower back when it twinges, or annoyed that my elbows will get all patchy if I don't attend to them daily, or wishing my vision was perfect, or that there wasn't a part of my subconscious out to fatten me up at every opportunity, but still there's a shared sense of togetherness that keeps my anger and irritation in check.

I recognize that this view doesn't hold up to some kinds of scrutiny; that one of the defining factors of a singular being or body is there's a specific someone/something driving the show and defining the overall purpose, and that's not really a stance I hold now. Actually, a workable, morally useful metaphor, not 100% grounded in physical reality, is part of the definition of most religion, I'd say. And by acting on this kind of outlook, we make ourselves vulnerable to people who take unfair advantage of our view (I mean, the whole history of evolution is, in part, the story of cooperators vs cheaters.)

For all its parts, good and bad, I find the bodily metaphor useful, and am gonna run with it.

(Heh, JP Honk used to have a "shared skirt" we'd being to events, where 5 or 6 people could wear the same garment... I see a parallel in that skirt and this philosophical lens, I think...)
Hm. So I'm looking forward to marching in the parade with JP Honk and then some stuff tonight and tomorrow with School of Honk, but I know in some ways I'm not taking full advantage of all the HONK! fest greatness. I mean I'll be having fun with the horn, but could it be said that I'm... Sousaphoning it in?

Ok, sorry for that one.