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.