CHAPTER NINE: IMAGINARY VALUES
5. CORPORATE CONSCIENCE
THE PERSON PROBLEM
Awakening to the manifold monstrosities committed by corporate enterprise, people frequently perceive the rain of assaults upon their sensibilities with bitterness or anger, reacting to recurrent rapacity as though rudely shoved toward the rim of despair, numbingly buffeted by reading about one ripoff after another, enormous conceits of greed and blatant crimes against Nature. One mindful lesson we may discover in all this is suggested by the idea of PERSPECTIVE, as a metaphor of the process depicted both by Dürer and Duchamp, and as studied by Polaiuolo and Panofsky. How else are we to retain our respect for the historical dignity of human institutions and the accomplishments of civilization? How else, while retaining our sense of humor, are we to achieve a realization of cosmic interaction between Wisdom and Compassion? For, as the cautionary instruction of Greek tragedy makes clear, vengeance and retribution are unpromising modes of response, ones that perpetuate a curse of continuity all their own. In the end, we may be much better advised to prepare ourselves for practicing forgiveness.
We may get lots of practice before somehow effecting a social and cultural reorientation toward the fundamental principles of life, with a sense of wholeness and well-being for all that lives. This is not news to the "nuts," nor to most decent, ordinary human beings; still, there is something to be said for its affirmation as a central theme that has--for millennia--provided definitions of basic sanity. It may help us to bolster courage and determination in addressing the problem heroically, head-on, taking a brave dive into the river of awareness as a baby-like innocence is being swept towards an imminent cataract.
The news media and standard press--pressured by vested interests and coerced by the clout of corporate advertisers--now serves as a virtual propaganda vehicle, stuffed deeply in the pockets of public relations experts with callous talents for putting their self-serving spin on what chance few revelations of corporate lapses come to light. The public's perception of a gargantuan global catastrophe is undercut systematically by the emblazoned sensational sequence of local mini-disasters. The issues of really large scope and scale, such as that of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (though tantamount to planetary suicide) are not very "sexy" so the stories languish, while the lone mass-murderer--though certainly sad enough as a reflection upon human beings gone astray--is featured on the front page and primetime from the first instance of perpetrated crime to the last gasp of execution.
The occasional sanctimonious editorial wheedle and whine about our ongoing ecological devastation--treated as a trendy topic, and offered as a sop to the insulted intelligence of newspaper and magazine readers, radio listeners and viewers of television--is seldom the subject of trenchant cause and effect analyses. In a pervasive paroxysm of paranoia, the pocketed press--a fatuous, "Grand Fallooning" Fourth Estate, fearful of litigation and conniving for influence--though it may indicate an agency or corporate entity bearing responsiblity for the Disaster of the Day--seldom gets down to brass tacks. Individual human beings are behind every corporate decision: company CEOs, board members, presidents, directors, major shareholders, and managerial personnel--sometimes right down to the workers in field or factory. A corporation-man who once ruled over the domain of professional baseball, Mr. Peter Ueberroth, became a banner waver for the contrived "California Council on Competitiveness"--similar to a national program headed by Vice President Dan Quayle--which, while faking concern for commercial competition, actually assaulted educational funding and subverted worker compensation programs to the advantage of insurers. This Council urged lowering taxes on corporate entities, proposed new limitations on product liability, with sanctions against "frivolous" lawsuits to discourage individuals from proceeding against any corpor-ation, and "repeal of the law which holds corporations criminally liable for their acts." A spearhead of the attack was directed toward environmental awareness, aiming to gut the California Environmental Quality Act by concentrating permit authority in the hands of the governor. Then Mr. Ueberroth was named to help rebuild riot-torn L.A.
[Robert B. Gunnison, "Economic Panel Urges Overhaul For California: Council on Competitiveness attacks state's `well-honed job-killing machine,'" San Francisco Chronicle, April 24, 1992.]
If destruction of the global ecosystem is at all a "business," then it is a bad business and must stop. If the nature of the job leads to leeching lead into groundwater, producing generations of sickly, sad and suffering children with their poor brains malformed and their bodies wracked with wretched pain, and poisoning the Earth itself, then these are jobs no one should be doing. After all, it's not as though the work that really needs to be done or all the work worth doing has been completed. We have big messes that need cleaning up, and worthy projects for repairing and rebuilding basic infrastructures both in the United States and in other nations. There is no surfeit of noble, challenging, rewarding, kind and compassionate jobs plainly good for business, good for people, and good in themselves.
In the good Doctor Caldicott's diagnosis of the pestilential affliction imposed upon our dear planet Earth by the exponential increase of population, she takes into account the implications of persons both real and imaginary. Her practical wisdom and reassuring tone of rationality doubtlessly derive (at least in part) from treating the symptoms of suffering displayed by ordinary human beings among whom were many children, and with whom--in the strength of their innocence--one can really communicate only by telling the truth.
A noteworthy example of the deceptively vast extent of transnational corporate influence, among the several she cites in her various publications, is the case of the Gulf Oil Company:
Gulf Oil owns some publishing companies in New York. They own some media companies. They own God knows what. They masquerade as Gulf Oil, but underneath that sign they own a huge amount of corporations, probably making food and all sorts of things. All of our food is produced by huge conglomerate corporations. The ...result of these cooperative takeovers is that in the end only one corporation will own the whole thing. That's the logical conclusion, and it's happening really fast. That's not free enterprise. That's not capitalism. That's economic feudalism. It isn't right.
[Caldicott, "Saving the Earth," p. 9.]
Or, consider another of Doctor Caldicott's shattering examples, that of General Electric, which emphasizes the determined intention of transnational corporations to control, not only policy, but both the content and the distribution of information itself.
We must also examine the corporations that now own the U.S. media and their connections with other businesses. For instance, General Electric, which owns Raytheon, manufacturer of the Patriot Missile, also owns the National Broadcasting Corporation. It is surely fair to ask, therefore, whether NBC could be impartial in its analysis and reporting of nuclear power stations, radiation accidents, demonstrations against nuclear weapons testing, the freeze, detente, or the Persian Gulf war. Impartiality appears impossible. [Indeed, malicious disinformation about the bogus effectiveness of the Patriot Missile during the Persian Gulf war--used deliberately to mislead Congress and the American public--came to light a year after the war, but in the media, the story was allowed swiftly to die.]
General Electric may serve as a prototype transnational corporation that has an enormous impact through the media. You might think that General Electric is true to its motto and "brings good things to life," like irons, stoves, washing machines, and refrigerators (all of which use electricity). But what is this corporation really doing behind its benign facade?
Its operations extend into fifty countries, in its search for markets, production facilities and raw materials. Ronald Reagan was its devoted salesman for some [eight] years, as the host of the "General Electric Theater" television programs from 1954 to 1962. GE built an electric house for the Reagans in the 1960s, complete with such new inventions as a garbage disposal unit and a dishwasher.
GE has been involved in nuclear weapons production since the end of the Second World War, as well as in the construction of nuclear power plants. In 1945, GE's president, Charles Wilson, opposed conversion of the military economy to civilian production and helped set in motion the machinery to ensure a permanent war economy...GE had, by 1991, become one of the largest nuclear weapons producers in the land, grossing $11 billion in nuclear warfare systems in the period 1984-86. It makes parts for the Trident and MX missiles and for the Stealth and B1 bombers. It is the developer and sole producer of the trigger for every nuclear weapon made in the United States; it manufactures Star Wars components, and it has a key role in the manufacture of all nuclear weapons...ranging from uranium mining [in itself, possibly the greatest long-term source of global radiation hazard], plutonium production, weapons testing and nuclear waste storage.
Since 1945 GE has helped shape government policy to increase sales and profits for its nuclear weapons and related divisions....GE executives also belong to key business groups and think tanks that exert enormous pressure on government policy....Not the least, GE executives belong to very influential Pentagon committees. For instance, one executive who held various positions in GE, in 1987 headed a presidential space commission that strongly recommended that NASA develop a space station [decried by many scientists as an unnecessary and impractical adjunct to space research and a squandering of financial resources], and in that same year GE was awarded an $800 million contract for work on it.
Like most corporations, GE has been involved in takeovers and purchases of other companies. For instance, it bought RCA for $6.4 billion in 1986, thereby also acquiring NBC.
[Caldicott, If You Love This Planet: A Plan to Heal the Earth, Norton, New York (1992), pp. 180 ff.]
So, let us suppose that we decide to get our news from one of the other television stations...say, ABC. But what does Helen Caldicott tell us about this channel, in the context of her chapter on "The American Media and the Fate of the Earth?"
...ABC is owned by Capital Cities, a huge company with interests in radio and publishing. In 1985, it bought ABC for $3.4 billion. But who owns Capital Cities? William Casey, deceased director of the CIA under Reagan, founded Capital Cities in 1954. When he was forced to put his stocks in a blind trust in 1983 because of his administrative appointment, he quietly kept control of his largest single stock, $7.5 million in Capital Cities.
The history and purchase of ABC is in itself very interesting. In November 1984, Casey, as CIA director, asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to revoke all of ABC's radio and TV licenses because one of their news reports suggested that the CIA had attempted to assassinate a U.S. citizen. In February 1985, the CIA asked the FCC to apply the fairness doctrine to ABC; in March, Capital Cities bought ABC. Not a good beginning, for the newly acquired ABC, in impartiality and fairness in reporting. It was now owned, in effect, by the head of the CIA. Other board members of Capital Cities sit on the boards of, or are connected with, IBM, General Foods, Johnson & Johnson, Texaco, Avon, Conrail, and many others. See the interconnecting links between transnational corporations and the media?
[Caldicott, If You Love This Planet, p. 182 f.]
THE PERSON PROBLEM
Obviously, in the corporate world as in the world of individual, real human beings, one may project judgements of "good guys and bad guys." Sometimes those who wear the white hats and those who wear the black may find their roles dramatically reversed, as in Alexander Nevsky, when director Sergei Eisenstein costumed the invading Teutonic Knights in white while portraying the heroic defenders of the Russian homeland in stark black against the ice and snow of Lake Chudskoye. Interestingly enough, Marcel Duchamp anticipated certain features associated with the modern corporation, from his attraction to the machine aesthetic and the processes of mass production to favoring a rather impersonal quality of style and his efforts to transcend the preciousness of a traditional artistic ego. Duchamp's collaborations, his invention of the alter-ego Rrose Sélavy, and even his sense of privacy and penchant for secret projects could be seen as reflecting characteristics of contemporary corporate behavior. The most explicit instance for such associations, however, was Duchamp's instrumentality in founding (with Katherine Drier and Man Ray, in 1920) the Societé Anonyme--the very name of which is a French form of designating the corporation. This was a visionary venture conceived as a pioneering Museum of Modern Art, which succeeded in sponsoring lectures, issuing publications, and producing over eighty public exhibitions while building up a large collection of international modern art--a track record truly worthy of corporate enterprise.
The "person problem" emerges as a quintessential aspect of the four main areas of human activity that we have chosen to represent by the four nuts and bolts of the sculpture. Furthermore, the problem with persons--real and imaginary, which is to say individual and corporate--can be reduced, fundamentally, to a question of number. It now appears that we have--or soon may have--too many people on this planet. Conversely, given that corporations are among us, if not by Divine Will then possibly as formalizations of higher mammalian instincts for cooperative behavior, and that they will not go away all by themselves, we may soon have--paradoxically--too few corporations.
The first conclusion is rapidly becoming obvious, and indeed unavoidable, in the eyes of many quite ordinary people--although it raises difficult, painful, impassioned partisanship when broached in debates about birth control, abortion, child welfare, medical care, disease, starvation, and the inevitable consequences of pollution.
The second conclusion, although perhaps more surprising, admittedly lacks the same force of logic, because it is based on economic assumptions about the benefits of open competition. In this view corporate enterprise, as with simpler forms of trading among individuals, must respect conventions, rules: it cannot be allowed to degenerate into war. Accordingly, one must play fair and in the spirit of the game; otherwise--as in sports when a team is penalized or players ejected--there must be sanctions (beyond bankruptcy proceedings) applied in an appropriate and timely manner, say, by revoking a corporate charter, and thus providing at least one qualification for "immortality."
We have elected to emphasize as "quintessential" here, certain monumental, symbolic features of the person problem. As with counting by-the-numbers in our analysis of With Hidden Noise, the question of measure and number also epitomizes several other subsidiary issues. When asked (in Spring, 1992) what she thought was the single most pressing environmental issue, Helen Caldicott characteristically resisted providing a simplistic answer. Nevertheless, she came around to the implicit but inescapable conclusion that every aspect of our deleterious impact upon the ecosphere can be related in a causal way to the sheer, increasing multiplicity of human beings, teeming like vicious, increasingly psychotic rats in an ever more crowded cage, devouring one another and suicidally contaminating the material circumstances defining the very habitat necessary for (our own) survival:
[Yet,] there are no single issues that are most pressing. They all come together in a bunch, and they are: overpopulation of one species, homo sapiens, which is us; species extinction of thirty million other species; deforestation; ozone depletion; greenhouse warming; chemical pollution; and radioactive pollution. That's just some of the issues--the main ones--and they're all as serious as each other. And if we don't do anything about any one of them, we're in trouble.
[Helen Caldicott, M.D., "Saving the Planet: Rethinking Our Bond With Nature," interviewed by Richard Wolinsky, editor, Folio, Listener Sponsored Pacifica Radio, Program Guide for KPFA & KFCF (April 1992).]
Never before in history has the impact of our mere numbers been so implacable, despite the beligerent denial of evidence from those locked into a Pollyanna philosophy of wish-fulfillment that would make magical incantations of words like GROWTH, PROGRESS and DEVELOPMENT.
We've never been in a situation like this where we're increasing exponentially, where there are so many of us. The old religions that talked about abortion and birth control are totally obsolete. In a certain sense, religion is obsolete when it deals with reproduction in human beings. In fact, the Catholic Church even a hundred years ago had no policy on abortion. It wasn't even an issue. And then, suddenly, they decided it would be an issue....
[Caldicott, "Saving the Planet," p. 1.]
Delivering her incisive mind on the same topic, although in a different publication, Dr. Caldicott saw the parallel between the anti-choice position of the Reagan administration and the obssessive concern on the part of the Roman Catholic Church with subjugating, controlling and denying full human capacity to female homo sapiens. But when this address was first given, she could not have known the details--since published in a Time magazine cover story--of the (Un-) "Holy Alliance" linking Reagan's anti-abortion, right-wing political program to conspiracy with the Pope in support of Poland's Solidarity movement. Even this bit of sensationalism was weakened, however, by the Time-Warner corporate censors who could not see their way clear to articulate the certainly impeachable nature of this act, insofar as it constituted a deliberate deception and circumvention of Congress in the secret conduct of United States foreign policy by conspiring with the foreign head of a religious denomination--expressly the sort of thing America's Founders feared, and the very reason for mandating in the Constitution a balance of powers requiring the President to secure advice and consent in the conduct of international affairs.
Let's get in on the major issues. Let's talk about overpopulation and the Catholic Church....so now there are 5 billion people on the planet. We're increasing exponentially, doubling, so in the next century there are going to be 14 billion people on this planet that can't sustain the number of people we have already. So what did Reagan do?
In the Reagan White House they said to any country which is practicing birth control and abortion, "We'll cut off money for birth control [and abortion, and all family planning]. Then we had the...Catholic Church [which] is run by old white men, who have never had sex and if they had they shouldn't have, telling women what to do with their bodies. They don't even know about relationships with women and how hard it is to have a heterosexual ongoing relationship....Anyway, they're running around telling people they can't practice birth control, contraception or abortion. How dare they say that! On a planet that's dying from a plague of human beings! We're a plague, an absolute plague! We're incredibly egocentric. We think we're God's gift to the world. It says in the Bible man was given dominion over the planet. But who wrote the Bible? We are in the process of making extinct one hundred species per day....
What are we doing? We developed this tiny little thing we are in a very short space of evolutionary time. We developed this, the opposing thumb, so we could hold instruments and weapons. And we could master our environment, and we developed this, this huge neocortex which made us so darn intelligent and we can communicate with each other, and we totally control and sublimate and subdue this [the heart]....We are subduing the planet and destroying it. We don't think about that. We're reproducing....That's what the human race is like, an absolute plague, and we're so egocentric. Who are we? Is my life more valuable than the life of an elephant? What I do during my life is much more damaging to the ecosphere than any elephant ever did. That goes for all other species on earth except us. We are ethnocentric, egocentric human beings. We think the world belongs to us. We think our life is very precious....I suppose it is....But really, if you think of it...it's more important for all the other species to survive than us.
[Caldicott, "Saving the Planet," pp. 4 ff. See, Carl Bernstein, "The Holy Alliance," Time, Volume 139, No. 8 (February 24, 1992), pp. 28 ff., and "The U.S. and the Vatican on Birth Control," p. 35.]
The key to A bruit secret is secrecy, but what does secrecy really mean? Intertwined issues of secrecy and accountability (or, the avoidance thereof) have seriously imperiled the constitutional conduct of government and undermined the principle of the rule of law in the United States. In relation to corporations, the same issues have abetted and contrived to conceal a wholesale assault on the biosphere in the name of maximizing profits. One might suspect these events are related; but then, corporations are into virtually everything. Several running feet of bookshelf space can be found in libraries and in the bigger bookstores on the activities of corporations, on how this many, or that many, may actually rule the world. The number of really big contenders seems to be around two dozen--far fewer if we consider only the handful of transnational corporations that control the markets for grain, the basic food stuff, and with that (bruiting the secret), thepower to draw an uncompromising bottom line for persons, the ultimate determination: whoever eats will live, and whoever does not will die.
In order to take stock of global circumstances and to see what--if anything--we might do about our present situation, let us scry the cosmogram of With Hidden Noise, as if our ball of twine were made of a magical crystal into which we might gaze to see revealed the secrets of time now and then, and a glimpse of what the future may presage. The risks are obvious, but they are less strictly methodological than conventionally social: "well-behaved" critics or art historians bite the bit by NOT spelling out perfectly obvious implications of their intellectual endeavors. The easiest method by which to render this imagining more concrete is to perform acts of revolution. In this, we may derive inspiration from having read Marcel Duchamp's injunction, inscribed by him on the piece of sculpture. As we have seen, such a process requires up-ending the sculpture as it has been displayed over the years by the Philadelphia Museum of Art. We may then read the injunctive sentence from its beginning, starting with the capital "R" of "Remplacer...." We may contemplate this LITERAL "revolution" of the piece of sculpture, With Hidden Noise, as a model for symbolic acts on a larger scale, only this time--having already performed the substitution cypher game--we now aspire to a different, grander sport...but let us play it out somewhat rigorously, with precision analogue steps. We may first concentrate on developing alternative interpretations for the four bolts--the elements holding together both the sculpture and the operative view of the current global power structure. If we allow the heads of the bolts to represent the leading roles and exemplary persons for each of four major provinces of human social and cultural activity which the "revolution" is destined to affect profoundly, then they will (by virtue of the revolution) be placed on the plane of the socle, the base or stand upon which the sculpture sits, as emblematic of the past, on which the logic of the current power structure rests.
Upended, the legs point toward the future, theoretically extending in space and time to infinity--although, in Duchamp's sculpture rather arbitrarily cut off at five inches to suggest a cubic volume. The plaque of the future is held against our present by NUTS, which by their "loose" nature can be backed-off, or "unscrewed," dynamically relieving compression, and metaphorically liberating constraint and oppression. In order to allow an even greater degree of freedom, so as to actually remove the plaques from closing over the ends of the toroidal ball of twine, at least three of the nuts have to be backed-off their bolts completely, unscrewed all the way. Of course, one could peek without even loosening the nuts on the bolts, but that is not the point. Marcel Duchamp, himself, apparently had no interest to impose any such rules: HE didn't say no one could peek. As far as that goes, HE didn't say we couldn't submit the piece to X-ray analysis, either, if the end were really more important than the getting-there.
With three of the nuts removed, the piece of sculpture could be lifted up like a chalice, and the free bolt ends would then allow each of the three bolts, as a consequence of thier own gravity, to drop through both plaques. Then the fourth (last) nut need only be relieved slightly to permit either or both of the plaques to be rotated in their respective planes (any three get you four), thus liberating the ball of twine and exposing the secretly- inserted object that makes the hidden noise. The idea here is that some kind of revolution in the real world might be accomplished through the agency of the "nuts," or so-called crazies: those attatched to the loose ends of power who, increasingly toward the year 2000, teach that if ever the world is going to enjoy relief from getting really royally screwed, we must, in the memorious, mudflapped words of Yosemite Sam, "Back Off!"
Played out on the stage of the World Theater, let us imagine what such a revolutionary scenario might entail. As in a game of cards--recalling associations with both bridge and Tarot decks--we may project the bolts as four main human institutions, with examples of related occupations and references to corresponding traditional gods and heroes, with the NUTS as potentially revolutionary components:
PHYSICAL (Clubs, or Wands)
MENTAL (Diamonds, or Pentacles)
EMOTIONAL (Hearts, or Cups)
SPIRITUAL (Spades, or Swords)
The four bolts and their associated human roles also suggest a fifth, a quintessential factor. This can be seen readily in any list of the problems that confront the world: it is the real-person threat of the population explosion and the imaginary person threats from corporate enterprise. Thus, we may visualize this expansion of the model as illustrating two potential forms of the quintessence, one real and one imaginary. A corresponding summary of features might be:
QUINTESSENCE ("Trumps," or stages of archetypal consciousness)
The Form in which we presently imagine ourselves to exist is "living in the material world" (as Madonna sings), that is, among the commonwealth of living beings on this, the planet Earth. Also, we see ourselves in the telescoped identities of self, family, clan, tribe, state, nation, species, and as subjects of the kingdom animalia. If we do (as in common practice) take such a Form to be REAL, then we have a distinct foil by which to perceive and thus to understand the hypothetical projection of the fictitious, IMAGINARY person of the corporation in its counter-mode of being. Since our contemporary global cultural order is now essentially one, the above indicated HEADS, through both overt and covert means (and especially through the secret instrumentalities of the corporation) claim control over the eventual fate of the entire planet, perpetrating acts of exploitation and destruction. In the revolution as here envisioned, the cultural order is stood on its head (or, rather, on its four heads) upon which the karmic weight of the world is allowed to rest, thus forestalling perchance some consequences of man's more rampant and outrageous acts.
Apart from the wrath of a vengeful cosmos as a punishing reproof for humanity's lamentable collective insults to our own Mother Nature, the medieval scourge of deadly sins may yet return to chastise bodies corporate in our modern world. Individual pecadilloes and transgressions--now with karma magnified and reduplicated as in a hall of fun-house mirrors--force us to see ourselves again anew, in a vastly broadened scope and on a scale grossly ballooned, acting in a Middle-Ages morality play, behind the multiple personae of corporate masks, through the furtive business of companies come into being wholly by powers of invention through acts of unnatural law. For those who remain awake among the disempowered and disdained, non-incorporated order of real, INDIVIDUAL human beings, the disingenuous scurrying about for profits, political power and the promise of dynastic perpetuity, terrifyingly token a set of impending threats to the harmonic continuation of life (as we presently know it) and the achievement of cosmic fruitfulness on this, our precious planet home.
In the program of the Western World's theatrical tradition, before the text of the play itself begins, we are accustomed to find a Dramatis Personae, or Cast of Characters. When considering vast plots and global stages, it is useful to recall the hawker's cry, "You can't tell the players without a program." It also helps to retain perspective by remembering to reckon the human factor at the center of the day's issues which are, after all, only projections about ways in which one may (or may not) see the world. In this context we may recall our extension of the dictum originally formulated by the Dutch "Team Ten" architect, Aldo van Eyck:
The history of early theater also informs us that comedy--and not tragedy--was first performed at the sacred festival during the "Sleep of Winter" at Delphi, when the mortal avatars of Arion strummed the lyre and sang the dithyramb, counted by the Greeks as the first music. We might also derive some insights from reflecting on the early history of athletic competition. The classic Olympic sports--in their modern forms following the revival of the Olympic Games in 1896--were all originally played as part of the preparation and training for war. This is easy to see with boxing or wrestling, fencing or tossing the javelin, archery or equestrian competition, and rowing or swimming. The marathon, of course, was the footrace that won a war.
The Greeks built both warships and trading vessels that, although hoisting some sails, were rowed by human beings, often slaves...while today, sailing smaller craft is an Olympic sport. As pointed out during the ESPN telecast of the 1992 America's Cup defender's trials by Mr. John Bertrand (himself an excellent skipper), then serving as tactician and strategist (a "look-ahead" and "back-up") aboard Dennis Conner's Stars and Stripes (although that boat was eliminated):
The best sailors are always those who sail dinghys, because they are most sensitive to, and most in tune with the wind. It's too bad the sun goes down at six, because you'd like to keep sailing....
This gives us some idea of just how far friendly competition has come from the practice of the ancient mariner's craft on the LONGSEA, since the sea doesn't just quit for the day at six p.m. Furthermore, there is superimposed atop the rules of the road and the intricate network of laws peculiar to maritime activity (race or no), a further legalistic maze respecting the design and outfitting of boats, and specifics defining each race sailed. Many races are won or lost by the decision of a committee; yet, some of the fundamental skills, such as Conner's "mastery of space and distance," are still essential factors in sporting competition. As similar combinations of knowledge and talent provide the critical edge in military confrontation, so today's captains and coaches reincarnate the roles of admirals or generals, just as the professional athletes are warrior heroes in the field.
Naturally, there is one basic feature that differentiates these activities: namely, the proverbial white chalk line, the edge of the field or court, the out-of-bounds marker. Sport transpires in an imaginary realm, and is played--must be played--by the rules defining space and (almost always) time. Although some games may be called for various reasons, baseball could go on interminably--which may be why real fans do not call it a sport, but "America's favorite pasttime." The exquisite regard for statistics and the niceties of rule interpretations inevitably lend a special quality to sports reporting by the media. Fairness and objectivity are extremely important for "sports nuts," who also typically hold great respect for the finer points of subjective perception as in sensing "momentum," or correctly "calling the play." Sports salaries reflect the visiblity and popularity of the PRO, an index of which was boxer Muhammad Ali's reputation for several years as one of the world's best-known and most influential figures.
There appears to be great promise for a global program of sound physical education for all the world's children, inspired by--yet by far transcending--the Olympic Games. Prizes and the very element of competition must not be allowed to erode the generic spirit of the game, by which children can develop a deep recognition of (and respect for) basic fair play and good sportsmanship, that may well be among America's loftiest and most abiding contributions to civilization.
An intellectual analog to the power of sports PROS--as exemplary nuts in the physical domain--is information itself: regarded as know-how, knowledge, wisdom, capacity for strategic planning, and so forth. Among Celtic peoples, this was counted as real power and accorded corresponding respect; the bards and ollaves would observe physical, military confrontations while themselves remaining apart and traditionally inviolate. As true poets, they held the keys to the wholistic integration of knowledge...keys that were much more than simplistic rhymes or sentimental allusions passing among the masses as poetry today. Among the pros, the tremendous importance of continuity and the vital function of oral transmission appears to have been missed by the NFL champion San Francisco Forty-Niners. After having won a couple of Superbowls, they released Ronnie Lott, apparently without realizing that he was more than a stellar defensive back: he communicated--with tremendous authentiticity--just what it meant to beat the LA Rams, and the psychic importance of other match-ups based on the lingering karma of past season encounters which went far beyond personal experience to accumulate as abiding lore for the whole team. The locker room turned to Lott who, with his presence, was the only person able to deal with "madmen" like Charles Haley, and who was the remaining link in a great esoteric tradition. That order of information--that knowledge, experience and understanding--is unavailable for purchase at any price by the front office, or by the corporate shareholders owning any team. That kind of psychic lineage is the key to sports dynasties--and the only way younger players can get it is from certain, special old PROS.
[In the tradition of incisive and articulate sports reporting, some of these issues were bruited, following Lott's release, in a series of articles by Lowell Cohn, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, and in discussions with Mr. Herbert Solomon and Michael Kossen, Esquire.]
An accumulated esoteric wisdom of teaching may be squandered in a similar way when academic institutions seek to phase out higher-salaried professors with early retirement incentives, for there is often some quotient of sensibility quite valuable, though less manifest than hard cash, which cannot be replaced automatically by hiring lower-salaried younger instructors. Guarantees of a genuine scholarly tradition with inspired, wholistic understanding must go beyond the expediencies of "politically correct" multi-culturalism. Alongside our growing essential respect for ethnic variety and linguistic richness, we may soon see a time when (say around the year 2000) when the unity of a global culture will be apparent to all. However each of us may come to it, this means we must acknowledge our oneness with respect to certain fundamental issues of population, basic health, nutrition, shelter and education, problems of pollution, radiation, climate, and the preservation of soil, plants and wildlife. Already-- as a counter to the exploitation and despoiling of Earth "resources," in the insatiable quest of short-term monetary profits or to slake the outrageous greed of usurers--there is beginning to coalesce a GREEN consciousness associated with ecological awareness, protection of native habitat, respect for species and environmental diversity, with emphasis upon the long-term values of renewable energy systems.
The HEADS (presidents, prime ministers, royalty and other figure-heads) base their functional control on territory, or earthly real estate, which usually distinguishes them from STARS. The primitive notion that an individual can or must "own" property, believed by some to confer the unconstrained license to do with it whatever one wishes, has always been qualified by concerns of the commonwealth. The logic of wholistic systems clearly encourages us in fostering programs of stewardship: wildlife and agricultural preserves, parks and gardens. As the information domain replaces mere geography, the media STARS in the year 2000 may come to wield as much real power and influence as the queens and kings of yore. Along with the PROS and the GREENS, they may be counted upon to assist in the appropriate distribution of data essential for awakening and guiding the consciousness of the world.
Such a program of global education could create a practical basis for real enlightenment. Admittedly, there may not be much cause for optimistic enthusiasm if this issue were left up to the Ph.D.s or Doctors of Philosophy who clench control of the nation's system of both lower and higher learning with the pincers of their professional minds, deeply conditioned by dialectics and adversarial insolence. There are things to be said for the rigorous training required of Ph.D. candidates, just as we might appreciate certain positive effects cited by the ancient Chinese bureaucracy from requiring rote memorization by all advanced students of the entire contents of the Classics. Anyone who has entered a Ph.D. program in the United States--let alone completed it--probably has a fair notion of the inefficiencies, the tedious cant and systemic idiocies, refined to an order of solemnly ritualized neurosis, with badgering assaults on the very idea of a happy, well-balanced, whole and healthy human being. All of the great teachers and many of the most famous professors know, at least intuitively, what is missing and they offer it implicitly to the most receptive of their students: that which-- for want of a better phrase by which to characterize it--we refer to as the "secret" (oral) teachings of the esoteric tradition.
It's not that the training of physicians prepares them any better to be whole human beings practicing in a profession with compassion and wisdom, although perhaps there is something about directing one's attention to the physical body--to the honorable lesser vehicle--that helps to root the training of "ordinary" doctors in basic sanity. The structure of the curriculum or typical medical schools, and the conventional cruelties of the deliberately over-taxing internship process militate against developing the subtler talents and insights of being with and treating individual people...real persons. Even though such skills are widely recognized and highly valued within the health care professions, they are hard to objectify, difficult to test for, and nearly impossible to quantify from the point of view of Western medical science, and so here--as in academia--they remain slighted.
The true DOCTORS of our times will be those who guide the spirit of the world toward harmony and wholeness, that is, basic sanity. For, spiritual perceptions in the past millennium increasingly have sought expression through science, medicine and, as always, the arts--as well as in the perdurable forms of religion. Even though many conventional ecclesiastics and psychiatrists have counseled and comforted the distraught in order to get them back on the job and to keep the wheels of the mundane world awhirr, the good hearts among future professionals will be the DOCS treating the whole body of the Earth's population, uniting whatever parts of the theory that works with the practice put to the living proof of revolution. Accordingly, the most illuminating and useful models for this process may be sought among the wholistic healers of the present and the past, the "esoteric" practitioners: so-called because the lineage by which they received their knowledge (and, as well, that by which it must be passed along) depends upon direct communication, by oral confirmation from an INDIVIDUAL, LIVE human being (we regret, no faxes, telephone calls or mail orders).
From all this, one can see immediately that the best prospective revolutionaries may be found among the Earth's primary producers and essential creative spirits. The truly MAGIC people are individuals... anyone who loves their work, who loves life, knows what this is all about. Mothers: women who have borne children are naturally inclined to share the attributes of creativity, with heightened proclivities to develop the nurturing skills and caring mentality so critical for enlightened stewardship. Artists: inventors, craftsmen, and creative souls of all sorts. Gardeners: our essential communicators with the kingdom of plants. Children: everyone has lived with those awakened sensibilities which the world's children remind us to honor. These are the LIVE ONES into whose hands, effectively, we are consigning all future life on the planet. As the greatest of teachers while at play, children are working inevitably for the benefit and enlightenment of all being, since they naturally swim in the flow of the Tao, bask in the radiance of baraka, and reflect the Light of the dharma. Communication between different species may also provide insights into this precious but inexhaustible font of energy; and, as Saint Francis of Assissi well knew, so can smelling flowers, or gazing at stars.