Archives for: May 2006, 20
"'People need the fellowship of whole, balanced individuals' or 'Community is an INGREDIENT in the Balance of the Individual'...I return to my cave, grateful to God for the Imbalance that alone is capable of saying anything." --- From my Journal, October, 1995
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A little book of Feng Shui advises making sure all mirror edges are beveled or framed, lest a rough edge be duplicated by "rough edges in one's life"! Oh dear. A life without rough edges? Why bother? Is this to be desired?
I think of Heroism: Is that a "balanced" Way? Where would France be today if Général DeGaulle had framed his mirrors instead of organizing the French Resistance, an accomplishment virtually demanding "rough edges"? Would his strong radio voice have encouraged Parisians under curfew, had his "chi flow" been more serene?
I think of poets; I try to imagine Shakespeare or Goethe or Whitman or Rilke seeking to place his (framed) mirror on its "Proper" wall, rather than sitting down to write, perhaps by candlelight, at all hours of day and night, forgetting even to eat or sleep.
And the thinkers: Pascal, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche -
The risk-takers: Marco Polo, Wiclif, Galileo -
The greatest artists (since we're talking Decorative Space): Leonardo, Rembrandt, Michelangelo: Tell me -- Did these NOT understand The Artful Placement of Objects?
If Beethoven had practiced Feng Shui, what would this have meant for Music? Oh, woe: If he, notorious for his slovenliness and sloppiness, had been mindful of his "clutter problem", what do you think he would have composed, if anything?
Ultimately, I suppose, the issue becomes: If Pharaoh had been Chinese instead of Egyptian, if Pythagoras had been Lao-Tse, yea, if Jesus had preached "Balance" instead of Repentance, what repercussions for the West?
In this sense, Feng Shui is but one of many chic Asian modalities superceding Western traditions "dissed" by deconstructors, a mark of the ascendency of Globalthink: Eastern legalisms qua crowbar for an academically-incubated PostChristianism. For many, you see, Christianity-as-written is just too liberal ("Patriarchy" rhetoric notwithstanding). Unlike Eastern religions, there are no home-décor guidelines; unlike Judaism, no culinary restrictions; unlike Islam, no mandated time of day for prayer. Christendom itself has, from the beginning, been rebelling against the liberty preached by Christ and Paul! It is, in fact, this Rebellion that is at the forefront of welcoming, concocting, and cynically marketing to the insecure and self-absorbed Westerner these warmed-over, stylized forms.
We humans are a verbal lot, but speech doesn't emanate from Balance, the latter being a sort of Stasis, ousting or de-necessitating both rational and creative expression. Creativity, too, is the result of friction, rather than of Balance: Indeed, you and I were formed of a copulative friction. Note, too, that Western tradition recounts of epochal Salvations, always arriving via accumulated Evil and Violence (not Balance): It was when Wickedness reached a fever pitch that God spoke through Noah's 100-year-long creative task of ark-building, sending Salvation through water that wiped out a whole generation (without dictating the vessel's décor or distracting the builder with matters of his chi). Israel, too, escaped Egypt via a saving flood that permitted its passage, while drowning the enslavers; likewise Christianity issued purged and pristine from the awesome Judean holocaust of 69-70 AD. Closer to our era, even Hegel posited the achievement of Balance ("Synthesis") NOT by inner search, but opposition ("Antithesis"). Could there be something to these models?
In the Real World of Tears, Injustice, Rebellion, Stresses, Struggles and Poverty, "Balance" is not necessarily an appropriate preoccupation. Many must fight -- or succumb to -- these realities daily. Some write about them; others are even called to "scream" (artistically) about them. None, however, who hope to stem them should feign or seek "Balancedness" in denial of them. A conflagration calls for a hose powerfully spraying massive amounts of Water, not Prana; when my house is burning down, knock yourself out bringing me a ladder, but please don't be thinking about your Inner Balance or my choice of landscape elements.
Perhaps self-immersion in Balance reflects a consumer-culture's delight in ever more exotic "bread and circuses". Another possibility is that of an exhausted democracy's "Blissful Ignorance", justifying our Nation's founders' suspicions that no more than two centuries would elapse before the general public would tire of self-governance's extraordinary responsibilities.
And is it really "Spiritual", let alone aesthetically beautiful, to adhere to a legal system of color or Object Placement in one's home or office, rather than to relax with one's own personal tastes? Does the world not offer enough varieties of "will-worship", i.e., self -checking and -congratulation, according to regulated systems? Before Feng Shui came to the U.S., many of us freely created beautiful interiors and enjoyed spontaneous artistic expression combined with meaningful lives, thank you.
There are countless "gurus" today (especially here in the San Francisco Bay Area) writing books about Balance, Order, and systems, borrowing from Asian teachings, applying this repetitive theme to food, medicine, mental health, spirituality, gardening, sports, travel, you name it. All are geared to the Self-obsessed and -enclosed middle class consumer (oblivious to the world's burning houses?), and all advocate an almost one-size-fits-all no-mindedness (in the name of Zen, perhaps) ripe for following increasingly ridiculous "guidelines"; one is "enlightened" insofar as one stalks the Balanced Chakras, Meridians, Religions, Living Rooms, Relationships, or Diet. To my mind, these books could interchangeably be written by Chopra, Myss, Dyer, Hay, Flinders, Moore, Gray, Remen, Lerner, Fox, et al, et al, so predictable and uniform is the worldview.
The Blood Type Diet, as I see it, is NOT a party to that cause, which accounts for its being so misunderstood: Many assume it's just another arbitrary, legalistic system; unfortunately, its own adherents are often guiltiest of so interpreting it. Whereas Feng Shui tells you to frame that mirror, Dr. D'Adamo says, "Enjoy a big, juicy steak, or a small slab of swordfish, or a whatever-sized scoop of turkey-salad, or..." He doesn't legislate your tastes, your portions, or your lifestyle, nor does he suggest that you punctiliously do so yourself. While Macrobiotics, for instance, requires that the Western follower buy into fundamentals of Taoism and Zen practice, no such religious rhetoric finds its way into Eat Right 4 Your Type. Bottom Line: There's nothing coercive about a Science that extols Individuality; and I perceive that its very liberality, like that of true Christianity, is suspect, even frightening, to many who don't really want to be original or occupied with issues broader than Self.
If you desire to have created, a few decades hence, a population of automatons marching in lockstep and oblivious to their own political status, teach the sheep now to count calories, fat-grams, and percentages of protein; better yet, enforce Radical Veganism, admonish against decorating with spike-leaved plants or renting an apartment with its bathroom(s) on a South wall...or hanging an unframed mirror, but DON'T encourage people to choose their own foodstuffs as utter individuals (even all Type O's don't have to eat alike!), or - WORSE - to speak or create or live spontaneously and courageously, as individuals, with all their rough edges.
Give me Paul ("I am crucified with Christ").
Give me Luther ("Here I stand").
Give me Beethoven ("Da-Da-Da-DOM").