Thursday, January 21, 2010

Touring the tourist

So what is going on with these Presidential, or royal, tours of
disaster scenes? It is not a fresh idea to compare a person to a
country: you have the brain,---the governing class, running things,
you have the heart/ belly, middle class, the emotions,giving the
whole a reason to live, and you have the feet, the workers, who
actually get anything done. Nothing new in this picture really. What
got me started on a query was the universalness of a certain behavior
on the part of the king/ president, and that is---they tour the
disaster area. Their tours are always on the news. If they don't
make this visit, they are chided as 'out of touch.' Yet what is going
on here, the president does not have ministers he trusts to report
back with accurate details on what is happening? He can't look at news
photos? What--he doesn't have CNN? Why is it mandatory that the leader
go in person to the disaster area?

Because he likes to, that's why. It is fun to tour disaster areas as
long as you are up in a helicopter, and know that when you land on the
tarmac, there will be an audience to wave to, there will be reporters
eager to capture your words, there will be a clean warm dry distance
from what you have seen. Of course it's fun. Road Trip!!!! You get
to see what holds the potential for something new, something
unexpected, something different from your everyday routines--in the
toppled buildings beneath you--, without ever being in danger of
learning anything. The opportunities for the refreshments of the new--
where there is no chance to be drawn into any self examination -- are
not so common. The royal tour of the disaster area is popular because
the fun has such a low price. You are literally looking outward, and
there is a relief, though an unrecognized relief, in being able to do
what is necessary for your continuance in power AND get the reward of
having fun.

As with the president, so with the mechanical mind---the, ahem,
governing body. The mind insists on only looking outward, at a
certain point in its growth. This is for reasons of self-preservation,
a governing motive with those in power, and with that cerebral
distinctiveness of our species, the sapiens part. Just like Stalin,
self preservation comes first, and if self preservation is the only
thing, well, so bit. The mature mind really cannot admit it doesn't
know stuff. The metaphor falls apart of course when you consider the
effectiveness of a dictator compared with the effectiveness of binary
mechanical thought. But that is not really the point in this little

The mind looks out, and refuses to look inward: there is no
questioning, no increase in knowledge which comes from being open to
novelty, to say nothing of the quest of a few for real answers in the
"blooming confusion" to quote William James, which defines the
intellectual life. You can see this writ large in 20th century
philosophy which threw out metaphysics, for positivism. Just tossed
it out. Now when Jan Cox, one of the few real thinkers of the last
century, said, "if you can't touch it, it's not real, " that is
metaphysics, but he could say that because he had plumbed the shallows
of ordinary intellectual endeavors. He laughed at the thought that
modern science disregarded the inner life. In your head, he would
point, is your laboratory for, in his words, "doing this thing."

But 20th century philosophy is just one example of the intellect
looking outward, and only, outward.I hope though that it gives some
sense to my thoughts about touring the tourist--appreciating the
nature of the mechanical mind as we strive to see in ourselves, a good
example of that tourist, and press our quest to determine what else
may be inside, besides, the binary mind.