Lucetta Jane Spurling said: Regarding understanding and agreement in western Telluria: some of you may be aware of the science fiction novel Stranger in a Strange Land which introduced the “Martian” concept of to grok, which means (literally) to drink, but also to take complete understanding into oneself such that it becomes part of oneself and one becomes more a part of the greater ocean of wisdom. This was an extremely controversial book in its day and still is to some extent (albeit with less fervour and for more feminist reasons). Of course the west would be against such an idea! The book also promoted a sort of menamity which, while it was somewhat bound up in schizomorphic eroticism, was also the subject of controversy. I hope this isn’t terribly off-topic, I just couldn’t resist sharing!
Yuriko Rill said: A long time ago, I did read Stranger in a Strange Land (before I ever came to Chelouranya). The concept of to grok is interesting; however, sadly, there are a lot of other problems with that book (and a lot of other works of Robert Heinlein), even though they were mostly written pre-Eclipse. It can be SO hard to navigate the media of West Telluria to know what is safe and what is not.
Sushuri said: I have not read Mr. Heinlein’s books so I really have no idea what is bad about them, but I would imagine that what we would find problematic would be very different from what West Telluri (especially feminists) find problematic – or at least for very different reasons.
Petite Sorcière said: I haven’t read Mr. Heinlein’s book either. I have known its title for as long as I can remember because it struck deep in me as a child that that is what I was: a stranger in a strange land. I knew what the phrase meant to me and so was not particularly interested in what it meant to an outlander.
Putting two and two together (and maybe making six) – when Rill-san says it is unusually poisonous for a pre-Eclipse book (suspecting that that is what she means by “problems”) and Miss Spurling says it was very controversial in its time but less so now – it makes me wonder if it was that its proto-eclipseness was upsetting to a pre-eclipse world while its poisons have now become part of the vast danse macabre of what is acceptable in the “new, (post-modern) normal”.
Interesting also that even before the Eclipse it was necessary to coin a word for “understand” that implies (perhaps) what understanding implies to the Japanese and the rest of us. That was opaque to the Telluri West long, long before the Eclipse and is part of the reason the Eclipse happened.
Lucetta Jane Spurling said: Despite its alluring title, I would certainly not recommend Stranger in a Strange Land as reading for any but the most scholarly Chelouranyi (is that the correct pluralization?) interested in western Tellurian thought. As Rill-san says, the books is fraught with problems—pretty much everyone, from the day it was written till now, can find a reason to find it absurd. That said, “grok” has entered the vernacular (it’s in the dictionary and appears on crossword puzzles), although I daresay very few people use it correctly. Unsurprisingly, the western understanding of understanding has diminished it.
From the feminine essentialist perspective, Mr. Heinlein’s other work notwithstanding, I believe Stranger was written as a treatise on how to course-correct a world he perceived as hurtling toward the Eclipse. It is very much set in the schizomorphic paradigm but attempts to, I think rather accidentally, reintroduce basic items of traditional culture under the spoonful-of-sugar guise of extreme rationalism. It might be interesting reading if only to see how one might reach out to a deracinated person through their own paradigm of evolutionism and progress, but that’s generally not something we concern ourselves with.
Rosamunda Elefarya said: Honored Miss Spurling, I am afraid I must disagree most strongly. I think you will find, as I have found, that the more scholarly a Chelouranyana becomes, the more profoundly uninterested she becomes in late West Tellurian thought. There is so much better thinking out there. Nor can I feel that grok is a good word for Chelouranyani to use – it may be in West Tellurian dictionaries, but comes too recently from a particular and poisonous source to have yet shaken the influence of that source sufficiently for our purposes.
It is true that Mr. Heinlein was able to spot certain elements of the Eclipse, which he called “The Crazy Years”, coming. However, his solutions, which he seems to have believed in most strongly, were as deracinated as the things he was trying to combat. You will find this quite frequently in most West Tellurian attempts to combat the Eclipse.
Sushuri said: I think what you describe, honored Elefarya-chei, is indeed a common theme in West Tellurian attempts to counter West Tellurian excesses. Obvious and simple examples are notions like “getting back to our emotions” to counter hyper-rationalism. The flaw here is that the whole rational/emotional spectrum is what is wrong in the first place – the idea that there is no Intelligence beyond material reason and no Love beyond mere earthly sentiment and passion. Flipping from one end to the other of a false and crippled spectrum achieves very little.
Or to take an example used by Miss Trent in The Feminine Universe – Christian Fundamentalism is essentially based on the errors it set out to refute. It is not even simply a reaction against them, but accepts their terms of engagement uncritically. The answer to attacks on the historicity of Scripture was not to affirm their supra historical meaning but, in “defending” them, to reduce them to history.
These are merely incidental examples, but one will find them everywhere. Many West Tellurians have been aware that their culture is sick. Unfortunately the “medicine” always comes from a different leaf of the same poison plant that created the sickness in the first place.
Fortunately, it is not our problem.
Yuriko Rill said: Before I came to Chelouranya, when I did not know any better, when reading books, listening to music, watching kinnies, and the like, I would naturally try to pick up on what was good and true, even in deeply poisonous media. My flavvie is of the age where I was a little too young to remember pre-Eclipse Western media as media from my Tellurian childhood and I was a little too old to have been exposed to Japanese media, such as Sailor Moon. (Heee…I have only discovered the magic of good Anime since coming here!) I think even when I was the most lost in the Darkness of the Pit, I tried very hard to find goodness and Light where I could.
There ARE bits of good and Light out there in post-Eclipse West Tellurian media; however, these bits are mingled in with a lot of poison. When I was struggling with this and I talked with a good and wise friend about it, she explained to me that if there was arsenic in a bowl of rice, one threw out the entire bowl …even the otherwise nutritious bits would be covered in poison! Like many, when I first came, I had developed a bit of tolerance for the poisons of the Pit, so I thought I could retrieve the nutrition from otherwise poisonous media.
If there were truly nothing else to be found, one would have to live with the poisons and adapt as well as one could. Fortunately for us, this is not the case. There IS media that we can consume that is much more pure. I think that this takes us back to the original topic of this thread. One of the reasons that phrases like “to grok” came into popular usage is that there are many things that English is ill equipped to communicate. While we do not know all the ins and outs of why Japanese has become so important to our community, we do know that Japanese IS a language that can be used to express so many things that are difficult to impossible to express in English. It is much better to find words from a very traditional language than it is to use words from poisonous Western media, deshou.
The other reason/excuse that I had to continue to consume poisonous media was that I thought that I could not completely avoid the poisons of the Pit, so wouldn’t it be better to maintain a tolerance to them. That seemed to make logical sense, and it is true that losing my tolerance for Pit poisons has made some situations a little more awkward. One of the things that I was not aware of, though, was just how MUCH damage these poisons were doing to my soul, without my being aware of it. Now that I have learned to recognize what being poisoned *feels* like, I can see that I had been having symptoms of deep poisoning all of my life, in the nature of depression, mood swings, and difficulties with procrastination. Now that I try to keep myself as clean and pure as possible, I find that even though poisons are more immediately uncomfortable… I am much, much better able to recover from them! My overall system is healthier, if this makes sense!
Along these lines, I really do think that Japanese is a “cleaner” language overall than English. In my studies, I have been immersing myself in Japanese as much as I can, and I am noticing that the more immersed in Japanese I am the more pure I feel! It is really quite fascinating. Where I can, I have been changing my ordie and Elektra settings to Japanese, in part to help me learn, but also in part, because it does feel cleansing in a way that is difficult to explain on a rational level.
Lucetta Jane Spurling said: Forgive me, honoured Elefarya-chei, for I was not suggesting that “grok” be taken as a Chelouranyan word, merely pointing out that despite western Telluria’s attempts to right itself, as Sushuri-chei much more eloquently put it, they are fashioning a medicine from the same rootless, poisoned plant. Meanwhile, “wakaru” is still alive and well because it was never cut from its roots.
I have long vacillated on the idea of whether or not poisonous material is worth study, wavering because I understand that this idea may be a product of my own pit-poisoning. Definitely, the study of hazardous materials is not for everyone but the well-trained. It is just that I have seen our community harmed by our naivete before, and I wonder if we should not strive to know our enemy so that we can defend ourselves against it. Do soldiers not train to destroy demons?
Rosamunda Elefarya said: No, please forgive me for being a bit harsh in my speech. I was a little shocked to see the reference in this place and that made me a bit firmer than I otherwise would have been. I’m not angry so please put your mind at ease.
Setsuna Chandrick said: Being a Kadorian (and therefore having served a mandatory term in the military) I do recall a thing or two about soldiers training to destroy demons. They train in the safety of the South, firmly grounded in the Truth and carefully watched. Their time at the Northern border is as strictly limited as a Tellurian scientist’s time in Antarctica, and their strength comes from the Light they carry. The longer they stay North, the weaker they get and the more prone to mistakes. How is this relevant? Well, I do wonder if perhaps it is the same here: we severely limit our contact with that which we know is poisonous to us and thus conserve our strength for the fight. To deliberately study poisonous material seems a bit like going to a demon-run training camp. Know thy enemy… but not on a come-calling level, eh?
Lucetta Jane Spurling said: Of course I forgive you, honored Elefarya-chei. Please forgive me for being a bit too familiar with the enemy. It has no place here.
Carmilla said: Miss Yuriko Rill, reading your statement about the poisons of the Pit, I saw so much of my own experiences reflected in your words. I do think that what we surround ourselves with contributes to our overall spiritual well-being. As I slowly weed out the Pit influences on my life, I find that I am less and less attracted toward those poisons, as I have developed an awareness to the dangers and true nature of them.
I posted information about the poisons of post-modern media on the mind and soul. I received positive feedback for the most part, however a certain foul-mouthed cad decided to make it his mission to prove that post-modern media was not at all dangerous. He claimed that bad messages in the media does not make people do bad things and that people are blaming the media rather than taking responsibility for their bad behaviour. He also stated that people who do not wish to be around disturbing post-modern “arts” (I wonder if these grotesque deformations of true art even deserve the name) lack a strong will, and was citing his own liking of disturbing music and gruesome movies without committing the actions himself as “evidence” of his view point. This is a bit of my reply:
My religion (Filianism) teaches that we have the power to choose between things that bring us closer to God or bring us further away from God. This is the power of will I am talking about, the choice to not only choose to not do the bad things, but to surround myself with good, pure, wholesome things to replace the bad things with. It’s like with alcohol/drug addiction, if you have never been addicted to those things being around it won’t make you crave it for yourself, but if you had a problem in the past you definitely don’t want to be exposed to that or around people who encourage you to abuse drugs/alcohol. You don’t just fix a problem and it’s gone and you never think about it again, you have to make a conscious, solemn promise to not ever repeat the action again. It takes willpower to stop lying to yourself that you don’t have a problem and it takes willpower to stop surrounding yourself with negative influences, even if that means losing some friends and replacing old recreational activities with better ones. While it may not be for you, what I expose myself to IS a moral choice, because I want to surround myself with things that reflect the beauty of God, not the ugliness of khear and sin. There is an option and there is a choice, and if I can help even one person who may benefit from doing what I have done to help myself, then that’s what matters. And that’s why I’m talking about it on here. I mean I get what you’re saying, you’re making a point about taking responsibility for one’s own actions instead of blaming the media or whatever, and that’s fine. But actions like listening or not listening to that type of music is also a choice of willpower, especially when it’s not a popular choice and most people won’t understand why you shun that kind of music.
Sushuri said: Honored Miss Carmilla, your thoughts are very valuable. The response of your critic is interesting and rather demonstrates to my mind the inability of many Tellurians to understand questions that do not relate to the agora. The idea that playing bad games will make one do violent acts really has nothing to do with what you were saying but is taken from an entirely different Tellurian discussion regarding whether violent games have a bad effect on the Tellurian agora. Personally I imagine they do, but that isn’t really our point or yours.
A dear friend spoke recently of someone close to her who still watches bad kinemas. She told me that this friend’s manner and behavior was markedly different (and less pleasant) after exposure to poisonous media, and different again after exposure to healthy media. And this, of course, is what Filianism teaches – that our “souls” (to use that rather loose term) are plastic to the thoughts and images we expose them to, and are indeed changed by them.
That my friend’s friend would go out and commit axe-murders after prolonged exposure to bad games or media, I do not for a moment suppose. That, on a much subtler, but ultimately no less important level, she is being changed by those media is visibly apparent. No amount of “knowing the theory” stops us from being changed by exposure, any more than knowing the chemical components of a physical poison will stop it from harming us if we ingest it.