On the Edge

Posted on | February 5, 2012 | 5 Comments

On the Edge

There is a certain number of people always on the edge, and there are many edges. Many are on the edge of starvation, many are at the end of their ropes, which is another way of saying on the edge. There are geniuses poised at the edge of what is know, normally placed at the forefront, and brilliant engineers ready to implement what genius discovers. Some people are at the edge of reason, which may include some of the fore-mentioned, especially the ones with ropes.

There is another edge where dwell the artist and poets, prophets and messiahs, culture-makers of all kinds, singing and dancing, swearing passionately in a chaotic cacophony. This edge is often called “The Lunatic Fringe”, and the name is often apt.

Species evolve and adapt in many ways, physically, mentally and so on, but socially, spiritually and culturally as well. The species, as a whole, has little concern for the individual in this evolutionary process, its focus seems to lie on mass survival. To pursue this goal it tries out different ideas and strategies, expressed as individuals, genetically or socially, willing to allow the creation of non-viable monstrosities. We are not discussing the blue-eyed, green-eyed, brown-eyed hothouse varieties, benign and ultimately inconsequential. We are talking about the physical and metaphorical two-headed snakes.

Where these poor creatures end up is mostly, I think, in the lunatic fringe, generally ostracized, exiled to a leper colony of the socially unfit. They have trouble fitting into even the strange and often outrageously flexible definitions of social normality and conformity. Even so, there are probably many, unknowing, immersed in this mainstream who properly belong on the fringe and vice-versa. They are vouchsafed their places, whether in or out of society, by such things as careful disguise, degrees of success, size of bank accounts, or just not giving a damn.

Most of the fringe die off sooner or later, having made no perceptible difference in terms of species viability. Some may turn malignant, dragging many other healthier individuals with them into whatever messy demise they devise for themselves. A kind of Jonestown effect. Then there are those who turn out to be more useful, more viable, who carry their meta-genetics and cultural memes through various feedback mechanisms into the body of humanity as a whole

Sanity, as I understand it, for management purposes , seems to revolve around ideas of social functionality, conformity and mediocrity. All in all a very dull sort of place. Some may argue that, while it too ignores the individual, this insistence ensures species survival. Personally I think such an argument ignores memes such as war, starvation due to divisions of wealth and land ownership, potential annihilation due to eco-disaster or nuclear detonation. For example. I don’t know the potential outcomes for all the memes running around. Huge numbers of bacteria occupy our bodies, not just benign, but essential to life, as we have developed a symbiosis with them. Yet some are dangerous and malignant. So too do memes seem to interact with society.

But if we do annihilate ourselves, nature will not be too discomfited. Just chalk us off the slate and find some other species to uplift. No big deal.

My thesis is that, in the game of species survival, the action is out on the edges. It may be more dangerous, for the majority of people on the edge live desperate lives, and it is only a very tiny percentage of them that actually feed back productive memes. Chances are very slim that I would be one of those few. However, for every meme-maker, there are hundreds, thousands, or more meme propagators, those who embrace and disseminate them.

Those meme-makers who, through genius, intuition or who simply meet the pre-conditions for lucky accident (through passion, open-mindedness and a penchant for thinking just a little differently). I do not have to be a meme-maker to joyously embrace these qualities. It is all just so much more interesting. Having to live warily next to potentially infections madness seems a small price to pay for a journey that might eventually lead to some kind of illumination or enlightenment.

I do believe in enlightenment. That it is rare I have no doubt. Nor can I tell you exactly what it is, for I am not enlightened. My ego is alive and well and still thinks it is me. I do, after long and considered thought, put my faith in it. By choice. We all believe in a great many things, some of which are demonstratively false. I choose to believe in something that offers potential transcendence.

That is just me, my own chosen peculiarity. The edge exists on the shores of possibilities, of a great ocean of the unknown. Edgers fish in these waters, reeling in strange beasts that, as often as not, die on the beach, or are wiggle away, too slippery to grasp. Sometimes these creatures grow legs and stalk forward into the great mundaneaty, reality rippling at the edges, often taking generations to percolate their way into mass consciousness.

I am not organizing a membership drive, it does not work that way, anyway. Generally speaking society has limited patience or tolerance for the fringe, so the numbers must remain small enough to escape much notice, but there are probably a few spots open if you are interested. Or interesting.

Remember, you may be closer to the edge than you think.

Please comment. I don’t want to live in a vacuum, it is hard to breath.




5 Responses to “On the Edge”

  1. Lee & Steven Hager
    February 7th, 2012 @ 6:58 pm

    Dear Bauke,

    You may have already read the book “Trickster Makes This
    World: mischief, myth, and art ” by Lewis Hyde. If not, it would probably be
    right up your alley. Hyde makes the argument that artists are the ‘trickster’
    shamans that shake up the world and keep moving it forward just as rabbit,
    coyote, raven and Loki did in past mythology. 
    But is this the fringe, or is it closer to who and what we all really
    are? (However, we certainly agree that few are willing to venture to the edge
    of the cliff, and fewer still are willing to jump.)

    We would argue that enlightenment is not as rare as you
    propose (in fact we’re working on another book about that subject now) but our
    society would rather that we see awakening as something perilous and extremely
    difficult. After all, it is the awakened that cannot be controlled.  Keep up the excellent work, your blogs are a
    joy to read, authentic ‘can openers’ for the mind.

  2. Anonymous
    February 8th, 2012 @ 12:10 pm

    I’ve not read the book, but it goes on my list, though the list is long, and financing short. The premise is, in part, the same as mine in this post.

    As for whether this fringe is truly the edge, I don’t know. Any edge is two edges and the distinctions blur between them, and not all are easily recognizable. We think we are islands, and all others stand in the distance, but it is the same sea, and who knows what the similarities and differences signify. Consciousness is the sea, and it would seem that the islands are only illusion, that we be separate at all. Perhaps it is the edge of that awareness that is the beach we all stand on.

    As to the rarity of enlightenment, it is precisely that view, of peril and difficulty that makes it seem so unreachable, yet I agree. Not all that awaken become a Jesus or a Buddha, I believe. There may be many that simply move sideways into a more inclusive reality, having achieved an illumination so simple, it is simply overlooked. (“Wasn’t there a hermit living in that cave? Wonder what ever happened to that guy?”)

    Thank you for your kind remarks, but thank you more for expanding ideas, and questioning them.


  3. paintswithwords
    February 7th, 2012 @ 9:29 pm

    Interesting read, profound. In all honesty, not sure I totally grasped your pondering. I agree that those on the edge provide a less than boring, stagnant element to a society. But can we say there is a ‘false’. The universe and spiritual consciousness encompasses a spectrum of possibilities that is far behold our miniscule comprehension. An approach from another direction , another theory, so to speak, is merely that, another vantage, not a falsehood.

    “The edge exists on the shores of possibilities, of a great ocean of the unknown.” I like this phrase and totally agree. Truth is not an absolute but an ever flowing, transmuting, indefinable, inward illumination that is individual and always on the edge for those seeking self-awareness in relation to the universe and their individual role in society.

  4. Anonymous
    February 8th, 2012 @ 9:00 am

    We can always say there is a false, for ever we view reality from a specific context. Truth is always mutable from an individual perspective.

    As to whether absolute truths or falsities exist, I would not deny it, but put this, too, in that realm beyond comprehension. Our awareness is tiny, at best. I would not absolutely say there are no absolutes. Perhaps God is an absolute, whatever form that spectacular super-consciousness takes.

    I am being overly argumentative. The “truth” is that I don’t know what the “truth” is, and I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time lately pondering the matter. Thus, that beautiful last statement of yours makes me queasy only on that first word, “Truth”, due only to my own doubts and thinkings. But for that word I believe that you have summed up my thesis in a line.

    Thank you so much for your post.

  5. joanie
    March 30th, 2012 @ 4:52 am

    I am drawn to your ideas & contemplations ~ especially ur theory on coexisting edges. This had been one of my ways to see nature & our world. Edges exist everywhere & many times in plain sight but invisible to us most often.
    Seeing the interplay between light and dark, water and earth, or good Nd bad, positives & negatives ALL co-exist and at the same time ~ different in their edges than in whole.
    Love your poetry & enjoy reading & sharing your work.
    Thank you for openness and willingness to share with others creating multiple edges to at on!

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