United States Of Common Sense

Clever Monkeys

Monkey on my back
Monkey on my back
The term "Monkey on my back" commonly used for an addition. | Monkey On My Back, Clown, Toy, Addiction, Torment, Drug, Abuse,

Sell clever, purchase bewilderment.

"Sell your cleverness, purchase bewilderment." Rumi, Sufi mystic poet

The panoramic scene is somewhere on the African sveldt, the actors hairy ape-like humanoids.

A femur from a long-wasted carcass attracts one's attention, hmm, a possible tool for the breaking of things, even other bones.

Cut to Kubrick's visual snapshot of his and Arthur Clarke's envisioning of you and I, then, there, all born/borne by mother Africa. [In the late nineties of the century just closed Yale researchers, via mitochondrial DNA (doesn't degrade over time) that we all descended from seven fertile females].

That same visualization derives from the legendary filmic masterpiece, '2001: A Space Odyssey', fittingly placed in the extant century, one which may prove our last should this cleverness persist too much longer. Hemingway once remarked in an also timely sound byte: "Never confuse movement for action."


Today, right now, we move ever quickly, ever more efficiently, or so we believe--rarely do we take 'action'.

We drive deceptively modern vehicles, using 100 year old technology, largely; we speak at each other via oh-so-cleverer devices, yet our speech habits and content are decreasingly articulate, using the same words that Shakespeare did (he invented many of them) 400 years ago, yet decreasingly memorable if not intelligible. Example: You takeaway, download, unpack the point. Hardly the memorably sculpted '59 Cadillac's fins, the poetry of one who never saw college except from the outside.

There's a psychiatrist, a transplant from Shakespeare's land; he's been an American for 40 years or so, knows us pretty well as THE experiment of the Enlightenment as he calls US.

Dr. Peter Whybrow, advisor to universities, nations, corporations, et.al. is on a vital quest:

"Neuroscience can open the search for a better future. But technology alone will not save us. To achieve success we will need the strength and wisdom of our better nature as humane social beings." http://www.peterwhybrow.com/new-the-well-tuned-brain.html

What constitutes this 'better nature'? Lincoln memorably termed it 'the better angels of our nature', yet Nature, that meta-ecosystem of which we're a part (apart?) is all around us, and as Earth-ly as anything may get. And we are cleverly moving through 'her' careless of the actions demanded by that mothering nature, not unlike some self-blinded Oedipus's commiting that metaphorical man's unspeakable street-described..action. The brilliant lyricist Tom Lehrer's bit should sum things up:

'Yes he loved his mother like no other
His daughter was his sister
and his son was his brother
One thing on which you can depend is
He sure knew who a boy's best friend is
When he found what he had done
He tore his eyes out one by one
A tragic end to a loyal son who
Loved his mother...'

Enough said, perhaps, although another Doctor name of Freud seemed to think that our common fate's pretty much of a piece with this sort of blind 'affection'.

So, then, what about being 'humane' and 'social'?

If history's any guide, it's still puzzling to even Dr. Whybrow (perhaps his given name speaks to this very matter, his luminous brow's furrows asking the rhetorical 'why') that, as his countryman Eric Blair, a.k.a. Georgie Orwell, some of us animals inhabiting this Earth-ly farm are more equal than others, with four-legged 'dumb' ones being treated humanely by two-leggers--those same animals that regularly regard one another, well, in a way observers call inhuman.

Which brings us to the 'social' part; this is where things get pretty ugly, which is to say that words describing both theory and practice with that word inside them, so to speak, cause some downright inhumane accusations to fly, especially politically. Take 'social-ism', for instance, please (see: really old comedian named Greene's wife joke).

And, so, as we in the U.S. further pursue our clever polity's election (uni)cycle in search of a new President to lead US and the allegedly 'free' world we find ourselves, again, exploring the uses of our bony hands, and other physiological attributes often associated with bone(rs).


And the fact that this state of affairs is, well, bewildering makes one (or more) wonder if this choice the mystic poet offers is like Hobson's--take or leave what's offered.

What to do?

Maybe it's best to treat the private automobile--today's Hobson horse--as bygone sculpture, walk more, read Shakespeare's sonnets and other really amazing poetry aloud to each other and avoid eating things with..bones.

To paraphrase what Rumi meant: 'While Hemming and hawing, be way wilder in movement, act clever..less.'

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Updated Jan 2, 2019 12:27 PM EST | More details


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