Why Are You Here?
An Exercise in Upaya—or “a man of [skillful] means by no means, king of the road”—i.e., the Way.
When I used to listen to Roger Miller singing King of the Road, I had no idea what he was talking about. In a way, that was the point.
Miller, who was already making a lot of money when he released this “train song” about a hobo who thinks of himself as a “king”, because he follows nobody else's rules but his own, intended the song to be understood ironically.
It was meant to be funny, after all. Few people aspire to be a hobo. And few people who listened to Miller's song in 1965, or since then, had any idea what it was like to rent an 8x12 4-bit room (that's 50¢) by pushing a broom for two hours. I figure the hobo would have never wasted his money on a room, when he didn't have cigarettes!
Well, you know, it's a pop song, not a documentary.
But, even so, it's fair to say that, in the West, and particularly in the USA, poverty is understood to be a condiment for a certain brand of morally-uplifting entertainment. If you're rich, or anyway, managing not to be poor right this moment, you feel good about yourself. If you're poor, one of the extra benefits for everybody else, is that you will likely feel bad about yourself, especially if you're inflicting poverty on your children.
At best, in other words, in the least barbaric expression of their hate for other human beings, rich people regret that things have to be so unfair. But that things do have to be that way, with the rich always luxuriating upon the razor-thin, winning, side of inequality, is never seriously, meaning effectively, questioned.
So, let's begin.
It does not matter who or what I am.
It only matters how much poison I can inject with one bite.
Come closer. Be still. Listen.
The living you're doing isn't amounting to much, is it?
After all, you're here, reading about venoms and bites.
You may not be dumb as a stone, but pretty soon the only part of you anybody will ever see again will be a stone, with your vitals: Born, Died. So What?
You may not be poor as dirt, but you are poor enough not to matter, and that is not such an easy thing to take as the years go by, is it?
People spend an enormous amount of their limited time on the Earth living according to other people's rules and expectations. And, at the end of things, they regret taking such an awfully long time to figure out how utterly foolish that is.
And that should give us a clue about what we're really talking about here, what really matters.
Intelligence isn't just a measure of whether or not you can get the right answer. It is a measure of how fast you can come up with it, in other words, whether or not you can come up with the right answer in time.
What time? Your time?
TAROT—Aren't Tarot cards just a bunch of silly crap, used by Gypsies, carnies, and other negative stereotypes to swindle poor ninnies such as yourself—OK, not YOU (no, you're too smart for that)—like that guy over there.
What possible use could Tarot cards be made for, other than to waste time, or worse, enable bad people to take advantage of good people?
Well, for one thing, certainly not the most interesting thing, but it is a thing anyway, Tarot cards can be used to play card games. In fact, long ago, in the 15th century, that is what Tarot cards were created to do. All the stories you'll read on numerous websites, telling you Tarot cards are the spawn of Satan, or worse, ancient Egyptians or outer-space aliens, are just wrong.
On the other hand, the fact-based story of Tarot reveals to us that at some point, a couple of hundred years ago, the old card game was transformed into a very different sort of game altogether. And that is when things really started getting interesting, and also problematic for the humorless people that think nothing wise and wonderful could ever come from a carnival ride.
POLITICS—I used to think that my study of Tarot cards, and especially its many cultures, was pondering silly-string theory, while my interest in politics was about something of a higher, more serious, order.
Let us just be succinct here. No...that wasn't true.
If, in 2012, I did not already have overwhelming evidence that I was absurdly exaggerating the positive potential of politics, while unfairly denigrating the many positive aspects of mumbo-jumbo, the unbelievably idiotic 2012 American political campaign (particularly as performed in the three-ring freak-show of the Republicans), confirmed something for me once again: the world is a crazy house of cards.
In that event, it is good to know the deck.
Still, no matter how stupid politics is, and don't think it can't get dumber, until we give up and (wisely) allow the machines to tell us what to do—oh come on, you can't wait to be made part of the Borg Continuum—politics is the one human activity that will fundamentally and finally serve to save us, or sink us.
For some time now, we've been sinking. Saying “good riddance” is one, not entirely unreasonable, response to this. The American experiment enforced a rotten social contract, enabling rich white men to dominate the USA and the world. On the other hand, the 18th-century dudes got some ideas right, like the free-speech bit of the First Amendment.
It is time to fundamentally change things again. We are fighting over how that is going to go.
DEVILS—Certainly we can fear the many devils of our lives. And we can be overwhelmed by our daily creation of so many new ones. Oh yes, you create your own devils. Indeed, as with God, so many of our devils are, if you think about it, just our endless lists of the fallen angels of our lives, the people who disappointed us, derailed us, debilitated us, and deranged us.
If it were not for these convenient devils, who for the most part never volunteered for the job of bearing all our ridiculous expectations, we would be afflicted with the most horrible prospect of all—confronting the possibility we have nobody (else) to blame for our dreadfully fucked-up existences but ourselves.
Of course, we know that in many cases this is not a fair assessment. Little babies blown up by idiots flying killer drones, or little kids gunned down by yet another American psychokiller, could hardly be said to have picked the stupid, terrible circumstances of their downfalls.
Occultists have raised the question, usually rejected as a heinous notion by the moral majority, that in fact human souls do choose their destinations, precisely because the prospect of specific, sometimes horrific, experiences, draws them to manifest in human beings bound for certain ports of doom.
That of course fails to address the provocations of the perpetrators of doom. Should we reevaluate our estimate and condemnation of their evil? After all, so much of what they do is done either in our name, or in the grand spirit and tradition of human barbarism. And there is always the possibility they are doing some kind of cosmic public service, meting out cleansing and liberating acts of inhumanity to the souls in need of education and exact forms of exit.
You have to believe in souls and gods and devils and morality of a fixed nature, to care about these particular pinheads of dancing angels.
But these questions are also doors and poisons, ways into and out of certain ways of reflecting upon and beyond what seem obvious truths to most people.
What does it mean to look beyond good and evil? Beyond our expectations and disappointments? Beyond the horizon of what we deserve or merit? Beyond the restrictions imposed by fear and foolishness? Where is that technicolor land of Oz that can only be reached by an agent of destruction—or a buoyant man of flimflam, whom we might also call a wizard?