Sunday, October 24, 2004

a thought about our biological nature


Before I talk about the essence of the thought, let me mention the state
I was in when I had it. This particular state-of-being sometimes occurs
when i'm reminded of my biology. Eating, "eliminating", sexuality,
injury, illness - sometimes these things can suddenly make me see myself
as a weird little biological being. a human animal. This way of seeing
myself feels very "outside of my skin", but it's also so much about my
skin. it's a lovely feeling, a lovely state-of-being, in a way.

When i see myself like this, "thought" can seem so strange. I mean, so
much of my life is lived in my head! Here I am, just today, canvassing
against George W - marshaling theories, counter-arguments, and rhetoric
tailored-made to particular projected psychologies. How important was it
that it was a beautiful fall day? did I appreciate that really? instead
i worry about my financial situation, american culture, and skill sets,
This "me-experience" that I live from moment to moment - how could it
possibly be contained in a membrane like the epidermis? It's TOTALLY WILD

In this mind frame, "thought" seems so completely irrelevant to my
human-ness. Why do mental machinations dominate my attention?

STOP AND SMELL THE FLOWERS

That's what this perspective tells me. Don't take all that brain
bullshit too seriously.
(topic for another time - relative proportions of my happiness: caused
by thought? physicality? kooky vibe?)

Okay, I've got this kinda "different" perspective going on this evening,
and there's a thought that occurs to me (not for the first time). I
wonder why so much of our culture is so ashamed of our biology. I mean,
boogers, farts, sex, masturbation, drooling, menstruation, dry skin,
dandruff, dookie, large pores, wrinkles, baldness, earwax, toenails...
Even when you eat. Eating has to be normal, but having some spinach
stuck in your tooth, or ketchup in your beard... oh! it's embarrassing.
I think most of us know that it's pretty dumb to be this embarrassed,
but i, for one, still am. and I wonder about it.

How universal is this shame, culturally? I just asked Jessica about it,
and she linked in genital mutilation and cultures of sterility ("in our
body and in our environment," as she put it) (I'm looking forward to
Jess's anthropological studies, i've asked her to keep an eye out for
shame about biology.)

anyhow. i must admit, i have a hypothesis. so take
humanity - it's on the verge of something. there's a sense that the
human race could be a grand and good thing. wow. were were monkeys! but
now we have the internet, radiohead, and the bomb. now we are so much
more than the monkey, right?

we don't think of ourselves as mere biological beings. we have
identities, spirituality, the experience of a soul. but then we ARE
animals. we may be HUMAN animals, but we're still biological. we prefer
to say "human BEING", not "dog being" or "orangutan being". We want to
be more than our biology, but we're not there yet. It's as if we haven't
yet convinced ourselves of our own spiritual nature. This otherworldly
identity is just at the tip of our fingertips. we experience it, but we
can't explain it. it's not real like a table, and that's confusing.

I feel like my occasional revulsion (boogers are so gross!) at biology
could be caused by this confused hopefulness about humanity. Sure, that
hopefulness is expressing itself in a silly and juvenile way, but I
think it's just the kinda way that a primordial biology might react when
on the verge of making a spiritual breakthrough. I'm thinking about
adolescence.

There's a point when you just want to be an adult so bad, that you just
hate all the stuff that reminds you that you're still a kid. it's dumb,
really, a reactionary denial, but understandable. I can sympathize with
it. So, Aaron, remember that the next time the religious right says
something dumb about abstinence, or masturbation as a sin. They're
following a real spiritual impetus, but have just ended up at a juvenile
and dumb denial. shouldn't we also love the God in our biology? oh well.
c'est la vie!



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