"Begin at the beginning,and go on till you come to the end: then stop." (Lewis Carroll, 1832-1896)

Alice came to a fork in the road. "Which road do I take?" she asked."Where do you want to go?" responded the Cheshire cat."I don't know," Alice answered."Then," said the cat, "it doesn't matter."

"So long as I get somewhere," Alice added as an explanation. "Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."

"All right," said the Cat; and this time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone. "Well! I've often seen a cat without a grin," thought Alice; "but a grin without a cat! It's the most curious thing I ever saw in my life!"

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Location: Australia

I am diagonally parked in a parallel universe. Like Arthur Dent from "Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy", if you do not have a Babel Fish in your ear this blog will be completely unintelligible to you and will read something like this: "boggle, google, snoggle, slurp, slurp, dingleberry to the power of 10". Fortunately, those who have had the Babel Fish inserted in their ear, will understood this blog perfectly. If you are familiar with this technology, you will know that the Babel Fish lives on brainwave radiation. It excretes energy in the form of exactly the correct brainwaves needed by its host to understand what was just said; or in this case, what was read. The Babel Fish, thanks to scientific research, reverses the problem defined by its namesake in the Tower of Babel, where a deity was supposedly inspired to confuse the human race by making them unable to understand each other.


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Saturday, December 16, 2006

To Rock Or Not To Rock: That Is The Question...

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The Case Of The Mysterious Rocking Chair From: A Conversation @ Philaletheia
My mother and I were sitting in the lounge of her house a number of years ago just chatting and watching TV when we heard a sound emmanating from the front verandah. Needless to say, this was quite late at night, most of the people in our street has gone to bed, not many lights were on, only a dim street light shone opposite us.
My mother, a delightful person that she was, was also highly imaginative and superstitious. I saw her eyes widen as we both listened to the sound, a steady “creak creak” on the 100 year old floorboards on the verandah. I watched and listened as I saw the physical reaction in my mother’s face and her body language. The primitive response to the unknown was about to receive full expression.
Needless to say, I felt and reacted to what I saw as her reactions as well. It was as if her anxiety was emotionally telegraphed to my synapses as well. Rather than be part of an irrational stampede to the upstairs bedroom where we might have locked the doors and waited in fear and forboding for whatever had made the mysterious noise, I decided to investigate for the sake of sanity and reason.
My mother, also quelled her desire for flight when she saw that I was prepared to confront whatever it was that was making this mysterious noise. I need to add at this time that my mother’s brother had died a few months ago, and so I had a pretty good idea where her brain was flying off to when it came to explaining the noise.
I opened the large timber door, with my mother peering over my right shoulder getting ready to scarper if anything threatening or frightening presented itself. We peered out into the murky darkness of the front verandah, listening intently as we tried to ascerain the specific location of the sound. And then we saw it. The large, old, rocking chair at the end of the verandah, bathed in soft moonlight, rocking steadily backwards and forwards.
By this stage of the proceedings, I am almost sure that my mother was “seeing” her recently deceased brother rocking backwards and forwards on that chair. Something he had done in the past. The sense of panic had escalated in both of us as we had determined the source of the sound, but not the cause of it. ( I think my mother had already settled on a cause by this time.)My mother was quite willing to accept that the cause was a spiritual one, I was less than convinced. (This all happened in a short time frame, just a matter of seconds.)
I flicked on the outside light. The rocking chair was still rocking, but it was slowing down now. Had our presence disturbed whatever was sitting in the chair and it had now left? No. On closer inspection there was my cat of 12 years sitting about 4 feet from the rocking chair staring at us in the bright light and surely wondering why we had these startled looks upon our faces.
The cat had slept on that rocking chair often and as it jumped off it in the darkness, the rocking chair did what rocking chairs do - they rock. Due to the recent circumstances of my uncle’s death, the darkness, the time of the evening (around midnight, if I remember correctly) and the human natural desire to attribute an explanation and a meaning for the unknown; our primitive instincts had kicked in.
Less rational heads would today be telling the story of how they had a visitation from a deceased member of their family and how they had NO rational explanation for why that chair was rocking in the moonlight. Primitive tribes may have made an altar to the chair and prayed for protection, good luck or fortune. People like my mother, saw it as a spiritual visitation from a dead relative. People like myself, look for a rational explanation first.
So what is it in us that allows us to make a variety of decisions based upon the same information? And why is it that we have a tendency to make hasty decisions based only tiny pieces of information?
Human beings are not so removed from their biological past. It is only in recent times, perhaps a few thousand years where the tables have changed and we are no longer being predated upon by a variety of dangerous animals. We are now the ultimate predators. We farm our prey and we farm them on a scale and diverse scale that could not be imagined by any other predator on this planet.
Instinctually, however, we are still wired for physical survival. Better to assume that some mysterious noise or shape is dangerous, suspicious, or a possible threat, than to stay and have possible harm inflicted upon the physical self. Obviously, humans, like other animals, don't want to be killed for some other animal's lunch. The gazelle which assumes that the small noise in the long grass is a threat, has a better chance of survival than the one who doesn't.
So why are these instinctual responses of fight or flight still so prevalent and obvious within the psyche of modern man? We have no real predators anymore, except for perhaps other humans who may wish to harm us, so why has this response remained so strong?
Firstly, this response may not been ameliorated by a large period of time. Secondly, it may not have been ameliorated by reason. In other words, our brains haven't caught up with the fact that the shape mysteriously lurking beside the tree is really the shadow of the house nextdoor, or that the eerie sound in the palm tree is a flying fox scavanging for fruit. We have continued to use the flight or fight response when trying to ascertain an explanation of the unknown, regardless of the truth of our assumptions.
When split second decisions are required, the response which is instinctually considered as preferable for survival is employed. That the assessment of the situation is wrong, was not seen as a necessary component for physical survival.
When confronted with a mysterious sound, event, shape, movement, the brain makes a split second decision along these lines. Friend or foe. It has been advantageous in our past to consider "foe" first. We are emotionally and psychologically culturally attached to some of these foes which we have created as explanations for the unknown. The desire to attribute a supernatural cause for a natural event is embedded deep within our psyche. Being intelligent animals with large brains, we have coalesced mysterious sights, sounds and actions into monsters of our own creation. Vampires, werewolves, succubi, demons, ghosts, devils, spirits etc all have at their root cause, the human need to explain what is considered an extraordinary or highly mysterious set of circumstances. The ability to feel fear has been a driving force towards survival and that we may have imaginatively created and perpetuated many of our fears, does not enter the realm of many people's consciousness.
It is why, under controlled conditions such as a movie, a ride at the theme park etc, we receive pleasure from a frightening situation. We literally confront these primitive fears and experience the rush of fright under controlled circumstances.
We remain the victims of our primitive fear response, though the need for this response has diminished. Many of us, are unwilling or unable to let go of that superstitious response to the unknown.
"While we continue to superstitiously create our castles in the air, we continue to add another brick to our earthly prisons." - me

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John Williamson - "Home Among The Gum Trees"



Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

Hey, I saw your post at the truthtree - that's a pretty cool story.
I got 1 o' me own.
I lived in this mother-in-law apartment, all by me lonesome.
So I'm laying in bed, & I could hear these whispering voices, just barely on the fringes of hearing. Just like in those horror movies.
So I thought to myself, "Am I going nuts?"
So I begin to search around (in the dark) for the sources of the 'voices'.
Turned out it was this old Aiwa stereo/radio system I'd bought about a year before. It was off, but it was still picking up signals. I unplugged it: no more voices. Plug it in, the whispers would commence again.

16/12/06 6:10 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

Queue spooky music from the "Twilight Zone." ;)

16/12/06 7:51 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if a catastrophic event turns humanity back to barbarism, i suppose we skeptics will be the first ones eaten :P

16/12/06 8:18 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE tribbles:

Skeptics will at least know that the sound in the bushes is not of supernatural origin. Which means they can use reason to outwit whoever is making that sound in the bushes. ;)

16/12/06 8:50 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our collective unconscious (Jung wasn't it?) is alive and kicking. All of us inherit a primitive capacity in many areas, some more than others.

We will destroy ourselves before this capacity ceases!

16/12/06 9:45 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

whew. i feel safer now.

17/12/06 1:07 am  
Blogger pissed off patricia said...

My simple little brain goes for the simplest cause when there is something out of the ordinary. Something like the rocker rocking brought to my mind that perhaps some animal had passed on or near the rocker. The idea of a ghost or some such never was considered as I read your story. I think for some it's just easier to make up a cause or reason that is to their liking rather than to fathom it out by rational thinking.

See? I told you I had a simple little brain :)

17/12/06 6:12 am  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

Queue spooky music from the "Twilight Zone." ;)
Drat, I can do a KILLER Rod Serling, but it doesn't travel well via blogging.
"Witness if you will...."
if a catastrophic event turns humanity back to barbarism, i suppose we skeptics will be the first ones eaten
What a comforting thought that is...;)

17/12/06 8:45 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE patricia:

I think I was a superstitious young adult as I had a moderately superstitious mother.

Superstitious mother /parents + superstitious culture = superstitious child.

17/12/06 9:52 am  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

I did a piece not long ago, about allegory & evolution here - I think that fits this as well.
We seek hidden meanings in the mundanity of the world. I say it's an evolutionary process.

18/12/06 8:27 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

Thanks KA

Yes, I think we think similarly about this.

18/12/06 4:57 pm  

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