Travels of an outsider Red Cap on the road less travelled.
“I stick my finger into existence – it smells of nothing. Where am I? Who am I? How did I come to be here? What is this thing called the world? What does the world mean? Who is it that has lured me into the thing, and now leaves me here?
“… How did I come into the world? Why was I not consulted, why was I not made acquainted with its manners and customs, but was thrust into the ranks as though I’d been bought from a kidnapper, a dealer in souls? How did I obtain an interest in it? And is it not a voluntary concern? And if I am compelled to take part in it, where is the director? I would like to see him.”
Kierkegaard: Repetition: A novel.
And so begins our new journey, me and my moron on a journey not to another continent or country, but a journey into the self, into the meaning of being. We are boldly going to stick our fingers into existence, and smell it.
She is ninety years old. We visit her frequently. During one of our previous visits she told us that her husband was coming to pick her up to take her home. People were busy putting a floor into one of the rooms at her house. The concrete was still wet, they will not be allowed into the room.
Then she said; but my husband is dead. Why didn’t you tell me that he died? she asked confused.
And indeed, he died a long time ago, but she forgot.
I stick my finger into existence – it stinks, said my moron. I want to see the director. And so we enter the world of the outsider. The man asking pertinent questions, judging, accusing, demanding answers to life, the universe and everything.
On our next visit she told us that elephants were roaming the hospital ward she was in. She loved it. She was not afraid of them. She also told us that her youngest brother and her two sisters were still alive and well. When we told her that they have died a long time ago, she would not believe us. She smiled knowingly and told us that her husband visited her the day before. He was going to take her to the shop to buy her some new shoes.
The horror, the horror, my moron mutters, echoing Mr Kurtz in Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’. I suspected that he urgently wanted to see the Director again. In his little world (Collin Wilson calls it the world of the spoilt child), everything must be perfect. My will be done, is the standard mantra in that world. We have rights and we demand it be fulfilled. In this perfect world there must be no pain, no illness, no death, no dementia or Alzheimer’s. Poverty is unjust, hunger an abomination, and any form of suffering a sign, as Sartre said, that God is dead.
The poor sod. Like Wilson said: ‘The human mind has not yet discovered the secret of flight.’ In fact the poor man is plodding along like a Dodo and still millennia away from Aldous Huxley’s; ‘A little of the knowledge belonging to Mind at Large oozes past the reducing valve of brain and ego into consciousness. It is a knowledge of the intrinsic significance of every existent.’ (Aldous Huxley: ‘The doors of perception’.)
This is where they falter. They find it impossible to understand the INTRINSIC significance of anything. All they notice and regard as real is the surface, the object as a thing, but not as a Ding an Sich, or ‘manifested Suchness’ as Huxley calls it. They are content with ‘the ersatz of Suchnes, with symbols rather than what they signify’, and thus they judge it as wrong, as undesirable, even atrocious.
But I like things, my moron says. They are the only things that are real, that I can see and touch and taste. And I like to travel, to see places and to take pictures. What is wrong with that? Let’s pack our bags and go, let’s travel again, I love it, he whines like a spoiled child.
And they travel far and wide, on the surface, they do not want to go deeper and discover new worlds and new dimensions inside themselves. Travel is easy; to discover and improve the self is hard work. (everybody wants enlightenment, nobody wants to change?)
Jonathan, that famed seagull of Richard Bach once said: “It’s strange. The gulls who scorn perfection (perfection of the self*) for the sake of travel go nowhere, slowly. Those who put aside travel for the sake of perfection go anywhere, instantly.” (* my insert/interpretation)
“Man is ‘stuck in the present; he loses the feeling of wider implications;’ Says Wilson.
“Put the car away; when life fails
What is the good of going to Wales”?
But they put on their hats and go to Whales. They travel the world and take photographs, then they go home and tell the people back home; we were there, look at the pictures. We were in Italy, the Italians are nice people, men even pinch your bottom to show their appreciation of what they see! We were in Australia. Australia is a nice place and the people are nice, even though their forefathers were a lot of criminals.
But they hardly spoke to one Italian or Australian. They know nothing about the people as people, as individuals. They never sat down with one of them to drink a cup of coffee or a mug of beer and have a chat. But they ‘know’ them, they were there, they have pictures to prove it.
And so it is with his inner world. They have little pictures of who they are, physical and mental/intellectual selfies that says; I am beautiful, I am cute, I am intelligent, strong, brilliant, a Christian/Buddhist/Muslim/Darwinist/Atheist. I am rich, or I am poor. They define themselves by what they have, whether it be a big house or a big car, or no car at all, or big boobs or small ones. All egotistically superficial precicely … Heidegger’s: “Being that degrades itself in the mediocrity of everyday life”. Man is nothing more than an accidental, thinking animal, passively subject to brutal natural/godly/or purely biological evolutionary forces, so they travel to pass the time, and then they die, or get Alzheimer’s and have their memories deleted like a computer’s hard disc.
They never sit down with themselves for a deep, soulful conversation, exploring their deeper potential and the meaning of life. He never gets to the question: Who am I. If he is religious at all, it is for the sole purpose of getting into Heaven quick and easy. But Modern Man (even the religious ones) relies on science to supply quick-fix answers to all his questions regarding life, because to him the universe is a vast machine, and he a mere cock in the mechanism called life, a totally meaningless life at that, his intellect tells him. He does not know that logic and intellect are not enough to “endow a human mind with the power of flight” (Wilson: Beyond the outsider) thus my moron’s desperate cry: ‘I want to see the Director’. There are mad people out there and it is not right, it must be fixed.
But what more can you expect from a moron who only recently, on hearing about the death of an acquaintance, promptly sent a message of sincere sympathy and condolence to the person who died, not to the widow or the family, no, to the dead person … AND he wished him well for the difficult times ahead!
When asked about this strange behaviour, he defended himself by saying that there were hundreds of people sympathising with the bereaved family, but nobody ever thinks about the poor guy all of a sudden finding himself alone in a strange place. The Tibetan Buddhists, he said, at least have the decency to pay a monk to talk to the dead person to guide him or her into the next world: “Oh nobly born, thou art now entering the Bardo of Dermata, do not be afraid ….” He said in a very dramatic voice.
And here was I, the famed Red Cap, thinking that the poor sod did not have a soul. There is hope, a faint hope that I might still be able to teach the dick headed fool to fly yet. In Huxley’s words; to make him into a person with a transfigured and transfiguring mind that is able to see the All in every this.
Once this is achieved, I might be able to convince him, for starters, as Wilson explained so accurately ‘that man is in a fundamental sense a dual being, a cogito that functions on immediacy-perception and inference, and a deeper self that functions on a meaning-perception and a purposive evolutionary consciousness.’ After that of course we must teach him the concept of unity, the All in every this.
And then we can fly, we can travel anywhere instantly.
But oh Lord, the next time we visited the frail old lady and she complained about dogs running wild in her little room and children hiding under her bed while some were having sex behind the door, the lonely and only brain cell in his top story went wild. There are no children, neither any dog in the room, he said vehemently and crawled under the bed, thrashing around and kicking up a racket to prove his point. It was rather amusing, he moved like a seal (not the dangerous ones with big guns and army boots, but real ones when they move on dry land).
One must use one’s brains, he said panting after his little excursion into the darkness under the bed (but more accurately; the darkness of his little mind). There are no ghosts, human or animal anywhere. They do not exist, it is a figment of your befuddled imagination, he almost shouted at the old lady. For him it was a question of fixing her mind and then she will be okay again. She must just concentrate and everything will be fine, she will be the same old lady that he is so fond of.
I despair, I lament. For now I will leave the poor fool in the comforting darkness of his selfhood to revel in the joyous madness of his untamed ego.
We pack our bags; we are ready to travel again. This time we are flying down to the Fairest Cape. My hollow man and fellow world traveller is overjoyed. He is going to take lots of pictures, he says, and I will be there coaching him, guiding him to higher mountains and clearer skies. He must be introduced into the Mysterium Tremendum.