Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Barack Obama---Son of Bigfoot!

Truth will out! After years of painstaking research, I, m g meile, have uncovered America's most AWFUL SECRET! Let facts be presented to a candid world: Barack Husein Obama is NOT the legally elected President of these glorious United States of America. For that living fiend, that monster of iniquity, that Barack Husein Obama, is not only a Muslim---and we all know how they are!---but that dreadful montebank, that crafty trickster, that traitorous Barack Husein Obama---no it's NOT an Irish name!---was NOT---oh, the humanity!---was NOT born in America.      But he wasn't born in Kenya, either.
      He was born in . . . Tasmania.

For millions of years a strange being roamed the lost continent of Sundaland. Slinking and solitary, it was never very numerous, or very noticeable. Shaped like a dog yet stalking its prey like a cat, a meat-eater yet not a carnivore, striped like a tiger yet the size of a dog, pouched like a kangaroo but with its pouch facing tailwards, this bizarre creature was still there when Sundaland sank beneath the waves, leaving behind what is now known as Australia. It was there when the human race first arrived 40,000 years ago, and became extinct in the 1800s. It survived into living memory in Tasmania, where, isolated from the world, it lurked in the island's forests until the coming of the White Fire.
     The Fire made short work of Tasmania's 30,000 or so humans: within 80 years of European contact the last full-blooded Aborigine was dead. It took longer to kill of the hunter, yet it happened quickly enough that there was no time for the Whites to find out what the Natives called it. To this day the creature that lived so long and so lightly has no common English name. Because it ate meat the Whites sometimes call it the "marsupial wolf"; because of its stripes some call it the "Tasmanian tiger." Here we will use its scientific title: Thylacinus cynocephalus, or in short, "thylacine."
      The last thylacine died of neglect in the Hobart Zoo on the seventh day of September in 1936. The grainy black-and-white photos show a rather uncomely beast, with a mouth like a viper's and a tail like a rat's; no one seems to know the animal's gender, or how in later years it came to be nick-named "Benjamin." With the passing of Benjamin the thylacine joined the dodo and the dinosaur, never to walk the earth again.
     Or did it?
     For to this day farmers on isolated farmsteads, ranchers watching over their sheep, travelers through Tasmania's still-thick jungles, and even dwellers on the edges of Tasmania's cities report seeing thylacines. And believing isn't just seeing: they've taken casts of paw-prints and gathered up suspected droppings, all in an effort to prove the creature they affectionately call "the tiger" yet lives. One website logs over 350 sightings  since Benjamin's death; others detail efforts to clone the beast.  And along with maps and logs and calculations there are---as always with such things---rants against public indifference and fiendish government conspiracies. Reading through these one is reminded of tweedy eccentrics dunking cameras in Loch Ness, or "cryptozoologists" trying to sound scientific in the pages of Yeti Researcher. But this blog is not the place to get into any of that.
       My interest here is the mind.
       For there is, I believe, a single mental process that underlies most if not all the sightings of thylacines reported over the past 75 years---as well as sightings of Bigfoot, Nessie, ivory-billed woodpeckers, Mothman, and the skunk-ape, not to mention UFOs and their LGMs. I think this same process motivates most of America's conservatives, especially those in the Tea Party and its wholly-owned subsidiary the GOP. And it is reason #1 for the existence of the birther movement. In fact, the similarities between cryptozoologists, birthers, and media hack(er)s like the late, lamentable Andrew Breitbart are so striking that many people might be tempted to find in them evidence of---dare I say it?---a vast, global . . . conspiracy!
     But I'm not one of them.
     I'd rather not devote a lifetime to debunking moon landings or building over-unity engines, or to hunting things that the overwhelming preponderance of the evidence says aren't there. I'd rather devote my life to meditation. And when you go to that school of hard knocks we call Buddha Bootcamp, the first thing you learn is to meditate on is your motivations.
     Motivations---not intentions. Everyone's intentions are honorable, and we all know what the road to hell is paved with. Intentions are what lie ahead of deeds; motives are what lie behind them. Finding your intentions is easy, finding your motivations less so: most of us are pushed through life far more powerfully, and more unconsciously, than we are pulled. In Buddha Bootcamp we're taught that motive is the mainspring of human behavior, the lynchpin of karma, the truth behind the appearances of our behavior. And so, instead of Howard Baker's famous questions---"What did the president know, and when did he know it?"---meditators ask: "what did the president want, and why did he want it?" Had voters asked those questions early enough, America might have been spared Watergate. Or Kent State.
     So what do the thylacine hunters want, and why do the want it? The "what" is easy: they want to see a real, live tiger, of course. Who wouldn't? What an amazing experience that would be! And how wonderfully hopeful! For where one, there might be more. . . and there might be Bigfoots, too, and plesiosaurs breeding away at the bottom of Loch Ness, and other highly intelligent hominins lurking about in some Mirkwood somewhere ("Elves, Mr. Frodo!"), and this hot, grey, overcrowded world might be just a bit more bearable. . . .
     But finding more marvel into the world is an intention, not a motive. What motivates the hunters to keep seeing thylacines, Nessie, or Sasquatch when it is virtually certain that none are there? I can't bring myself to believe, as professional "skeptics" might, that thousands of decent, well-intentioned people all over the planet are all either temporary schizophrenics, or victims of an evolutionary glitch in brain-wiring, or just plain liars. They can't be seeing anything, and yet they  are. So what are they seeing? It's a mystery. Or is it?
     No, it's not. They're all seeing something perfectly ordinary. Something anyone can find, anywhere, anytime: emotion.

How can you see an emotion? Here's how: take a walk down a busy street. While you do so, keep in the back of your mind how pleasant it would be to meet someone who is sexually attractive. Whoa, that was quick: there's a hottie already! Whoo-whoo!
     Now look at this lovely person again. This time in the face.
     Oh. Not quite as exciting at second glance, eh? They almost always aren't, are they? You certainly already knew this (if you've gone through puberty), yet still you fooled yourself into thinking that something was there when it wasn't. Were you hallucinating? Was your brain malfunctioning? Or are you just a compulsive liar?
     I think we can be kinder to ourselves and our species by coming up with a different explanation: your initial, barely-conscious glance allowed your unconscious to project your emotions onto the sensory object, so that the object seemed, for a brief moment, to embody the emotion floating about in the back of your mind---in this case, sexual desire. A second glance, however, requires a more focused, conscious decision, and it's not your conscious mind that projects. A second glance is more likely to reveal what's really there---and what's really there is more likely to be someone less desirable than s/he first seemed. The screen is seldom as interesting as the movie projected upon it.
     All adult human beings have had the experience of sexual projection; it's nothing to be ashamed of. But in Buddha Bootcamp we're taught to take control of our projections, and to make second-glancing a habit.
    Cryptozooan sightings are almost always unexpected and fleeting, like that first glance on the street. Planned expeditions inevitably come up a cropper: a rancher minding a fence-line is more likely to see something than a guy with a Thermine field processor and a $200 pair of binoculars. Yet isolation, poor lighting, or extreme weather are no more necessary to sighting Mothman or Mokele-Mbembe than such conditions are necessary to "see" sexual attractiveness where none exists. All that is needed is unconscious emotion, an object to project it onto, and a cultural tradition that allows the viewer to gave a label to the thing sighted. Despite similar environments, no one sights thylacines in British Columbia, and no one sights Bigfoot in Tasmania.
     But thylacine-spotters and loch-watchers probably aren't hankering to pitch woo at the objects of their search. So what does motivate them? What emotion lurks in the backs of their minds? Who is the tiger? Who, for that matter, is Barack Obama? A screen, yes---but for what movie? What unconscious emotion do Obama, and Nessie, and Bigfoot, and the yeti, and the thylacine all unwittingly reflect?

The destruction of the Tasmanian Aborigines is the most complete example of genocide known to history: a culture 35,000 years old, wiped off the earth almost without a trace. What ice ages, marsupial lions, and lizards twice the size of Komodo dragons could not accomplish British settlers did with guns, disease, whiskey, and social darwinism. Tasmania's modern Whites are well aware of the suffering on which their civilization is built, and like (some) White Americans, they are no longer willing to make excuses for that suffering. Even so, I suspect a certain measure of guilt remains. It's not as if the current masters of Tasmania can un-kindle the Fire, anymore than White Americans can take back those smallpox blankets. Having never known a Tasmanian I'm speculating here, but judging from the people I know best it seems logical to me that a wee bit of guilt would be as much a part of modern Tasmanian culture as it is of modern American culture. And I suspect that White Tasmanians have as many ways of dealing with that guilt as White Americans have.
     Any strong emotion challenges the ego and its defenses. Emotion can be so overpowering that it can leave the mind awash in pain. Remember that unrequited love from high school? Even now it hurts a little. And the worst thing about it was the ping-ponging back and forth among (a) pretending it was only puppy love; (b) insisting it was true love; (c) trying to divert your attention into your studies, or sports, or finding God, or anything else that would let you get away from that horrible, obsessive passion. Anything, that is, but simply acknowledging it and letting it subside by itself---which, with time, it always does. Most of us are no longer in love with our high-school sweethearts--sometimes, even if we married them.
     And if you've ever tried to make a habit of Watching the Mind until those thoughts self-liberate you'll know why we call it Buddha Bootcamp. I know guys who grew up in Tibetan monasteries who struggle with emotion. I know journalists, lawyers, doctors, professors who struggle with it. I know I sure as hell do. But I don't think the Tea Partiers do. They seem remarkably comfortable with emotion. As long as the emotion is hate. Guilt, on the other hand. . . .
     Watching the antics of America's conservatives we can observe the whole range of shell-games that people play to avoid owning up to guilt. And conservatives in modern America have plenty to feel guilty about: racism (of which Obama is a daily reminder), sexism, classism, anti-environmentalism. . . .
     And then there's Lord Georgeamort, the guy who approved of torture, the president who really DID cheat his way into the Oval Office. (Hanging chads---remember?) And if Republicans don't feel guilty about W, why do they never mention his name?
     In fact, you can read almost all conservative attacks on Obama as disguised admissions of guilt. Just about everything they accuse Obama of doing or wanting is something they themselves have done or wanted. Turn the accusations back on the accusers and the process of projection becomes obvious:
     "Obama hates White people" = conservatives hate non-Whites.
     "Obama is a socialist" = conservatives want socialism, but only for the rich.
     "Obama wants to take our guns" = conservatives need their guns to start a civil war.
     "Obama is running up the federal deficit" = conservatives would rather protect their rich buddies than raise taxes to pay for their own useless wars.
     "Obama is for big gummint" = it's the GOP one-party gummint that approved the Patriot Act, created the Homeland Security bureaucracy, and approved of extraordinary rendition . . . and, oh yes, torture.
     "Obama is anti-family" = the divorce rate in Red states is 26%; in Blue states it is 22%.
     "Obama is a pro-abortion baby-killer" = under W the US infant mortality rate rose for the first time in 40 years.
     "Obama is the next Adolf Hitler" = I rest my case.

The big issue in modern politics isn't about policy, or the deficit, or who "wins" a primary. The big issue is motivation: specifically, what motivates conservatives to advocate policies that are impractical, unworkable, and just plain cruel. I've concentrated on conservative attacks on Obama here because hatred for America's 44th president is the unifying principle of the conservative movement---they hate him even worse than they hate women. Son of Bigfoot? Try "Son of Perdition," "Son of Satan," or even "Son of Malcolm X"---he's been called all these and then some. Take away that hate and like Roger Chillingsworth in The Scarlet Letter conservatives and their movement would wither like uprooted weeds. Such reckless hate cries out for explanation.
     The explanation I'm offering here is that Obama really is, on the unconscious level, the Son of Bigfoot: not Bigfoot as we'd all like to see him/her, but the more important "Bigfoot" lurking within our minds. The Native people I know all insist that Sasquatch is a "spiritual" being who should not be molested, and whose existence will never be scientifically proven. I think what they call "spiritual" is what White folk would call "unconscious"; whatever we call it, I think the Natives are on to something. Spirits cannot be captured or explained, but they often come to us with messages for our good.
     And one of the people they're bringing that message to is me. For it's not Rush Limbaugh's heart I'm trying to find here but my own. It's so easy to be bitterly angry at the conservative louts who are destroying my planet, raping my democracy, and injuring my children. It's especially easy to be angry when you live in a culture that sees anger as nothing to be ashamed of. So when I hear yet another backwoods boob babbling birther baloney, or some clean-shaven tub-thumper pretending to quote Leviticus though ignorant of Hebrew, I remind myself of something I heard a Tibetan lama say: If there is one problem your hate will solve, then hate is a good thing. Despite years of search I have yet to find that problem. The Tea Partiers haven't found it either. All any of us have found is  tinder for the next Fire.
     And so the motivation behind this blog: to argue myself out of hating the haters. Unlike them I've had the wonderful good fortune of a stint in Buddha Bootcamp, where I've been taught that hate is NOT "normal," or an "instinct," or hormones, or evolution, or something regrettable but inevitable, I've been taught that it is a Fire burning down the house of life---and that when your house is on fire, you don't need to know the name of the arsonist or the temperature of the flames. You need to know how to get out. Yes, conservatives are deluded. But so anyone can be, when hate is the master. And so I watch the hate within myself, lest I too start seeing things that aren't there.
     And I don't mean thylacines.

No comments:

Post a Comment