No man’s land

Now the sneaking serpent walks
In mild humility,
And the just man rages in the wilds
Where lions roam
– William Blake

no_mans_landWe live in a no man’s land and a new kind of wilderness. No longer does anyone think they have a rightful claim to anything except the money they make.

Your ancestry, your heritage, your role in life, or the land you grew up on — supposedly this is all incidental and arbitrary.

There are no boundaries in a wilderness and boundaries are precisely what are being eroded today. You can be anything you want to be. The entire world is now your home. You can freely go anywhere and no one can stop you. Everyone must be tolerated as long as they do not want to flat-out kill you. Never mind that you would not even know that until after the knife is already in your throat.

Woody Guthrie sang: “this land is your land, this land is my land.” Woody Guthrie can rot in hell. This land is my land. If you want your land, then you claim your land for you. Your land can be your land, but it will not be given to you. You have to claim it. I claim my land and that is all.

Morality, or “doing the right thing,” should not be conceived of as a credit and debt statement. In the eyes of the law, of course, if you do wrong you are under a sort of “debt.” But once paid off, it is paid off for good and it is not a perpetual debt. This same dynamic is found in sin, penance and reconciliation. The key is that once you are off the hook, you are off the hook and you are back at a “zero balance.”

Especially important is the “reverse” situation taken from the point of view not of the perpetrator (or the law), but the victim. On this side of things, if you were wronged, does this now give you license to freely transgress the law and wrong others? For instance, if you were wronged in five little ways, can you now use these as “credit” and blow it all on one big transgression against the universe to balance things out? Of course not; all of this rightfully sounds like nonsense and merely perpetuates the back and forth karmic cycle of revenge. You do not heal your wound by wounding another.

In any given moral decision, a person begins at a zero balance over and over again. There is no such thing as credit or debt in terms of morality. It is an absolute. It is a boundary that must not be crossed or transgressed lest you find yourself in the wilderness.

This gets tricky when we expand the scope from the individual to a collective of people or take into account generations of people. But it still holds true. Does paying off or discrediting the future somehow change the past or alleviate past injustice? Of course not, but if you want to ensure a future massacre then keep on discrediting the past. Humans always seem to get ideas in their heads, and you know what happens when humans get ideas in their heads. If you keep on giving the future a “credit” based on the wrongs of the past, then it may very well be blown on one big transgression. In their minds, they believe they are balancing out the universe.

So, take what is given to you, but do not give what you do not owe.

This leads to the topic of self-esteem, self-respect and narcissism. Many are saying that the coming generations are wildly narcissistic. This is perhaps true, but it cannot be denied that there is both a vital and necessary, good self-esteem, and an unwarranted and narcissistic, bad self-esteem.

So, how and from where does this vital, good self-esteem arise? It does not arise from any sort of accumulation of credit or even from paying-off debt. This kind of thinking reveals a restless, inner dissatisfaction and not the vital satisfaction that does not need justification. It is this same restlessness that goes hand in hand with a desire for no boundaries.

Albert King sang: “I was born under a bad sign.” Too bad for him. I, Ted Swanson, was born under a good sign. Lucky me! I need no justification. You say I think highly of myself? You say I have delusions of grandeur? Indeed I do. My sign was written in the stars.

No one should laugh at astrology, for he who no longer seeks to seduce the stars is the sadder for it. In effect, many a person’s misfortune comes from their not having a place in the sky, within a field of signs that would agree with them – that is to say, in the last instance, from their not having been seduced by their birth and its constellation. They will bear this fate for life, and their very death will come at the wrong time. To fail to be seduced by one’s sign is far more serious than the failure to have one’s merits rewarded or one’s desires gratified. Symbolic discredit is always much more serious than a real defect or misfortune. – Jean Baudrillard

Listen, if I were you, I might want to punch me in the face right now, too. But because I’m me, I don’t want you to do that. One of Nietzsche’s final books had chapters entitled “Why I am so wise,” “Why I write such good books,” “Why I am a destiny,” and included such phrases as: “I am no man, I am dynamite.” The paradox he was trying to expose was the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing, or as William Blake might put it, the serpent cloaked in mild humility. Dale Carnegie was a worm.

As Aristotle points out, you have a certain “mission” in life beyond mere physical surviva: you have a mission to flourish. Alongside analysis we need a strategy of mythology. We must know from where we came if we are to know where we are going. Learn your heritage. Celebrate your ancestors. Justification is not needed. Claim your land for you. Sing yourself and celebrate yourself.

You would think that the land where I am from, and the land that my parents and my grandparents are from, is very boring. You would never have heard of it. Yet the mythology is rich. There are many untold stories and lost tales. You probably have a more exciting heritage and mythology than you even know. My personal and local mythology is filled with thunderstorms, tornadoes, caves, farmers, wrestlers, ghosts, mysterious deaths, and inconceivable miracles!

Years ago, I was watching Animal Planet. A pack of lions was feasting on a carcass in the middle of the night. The host, an expert on such things, did the unthinkable. He ran right into the middle of that pack of lions as they tore at the carcass. The lions scattered! That is fearlessness. You scatter the lions by being lionhearted yourself. Do you have those kinds of guts? This is how you tame the wilderness. This is how you conquer a no man’s land.

“So, my friend, after the example of the Phoenicians, you charted your course by the stars?”
“No. It was among the stars themselves I journeyed.”

9 Comments

  1. Missy says:

    Don’t ever take a fence down until you know why it was put up. – R. Frost.

    I would add: just because you know why it was put up doesn’t entitle you to tear it down!

  2. This is my favorite Swanson piece so far.

  3. Eric says:

    You people are such a bore. There is so much fun awesomeness going on out there and all you do is complain. I rest my case:

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/music/2013/01/19/kids-inaugural-concert-obama-biden/1848619/

  4. NotTheDude says:

    Not all things belong to all men. You can share your heritage and let others enjoy your culture but they can’t have or be part of it if they are outsiders. It is most likely that they just want to warp or steal it anyway. Just look at how the truth about the genetic and linguistic history of the British Isles is coming out past legend and multicultural propaganda. Time for we peoples of the Isles to set things straight!

  5. NotTheDude says:

    My Father and I spoke the other day about how the Mayans built their temples without very advanced tools, and fitted the blocks together so perfectly. We both agreed that the truth of the matter wasn’t aliens or stealthy Greek knowlege having made it there. They had someone(s) who was a mathmatical genius who worked it all out. Folk don’t always seem to be able to accept that some cultures at some times, can do such great things in extraordinary situations and break the mould. So they try to change history.

    1. They had someone(s) who was a mathmatical genius who worked it all out.

      The Maya were not a single culture, but a cultural spectrum from ancient origins through neo-modern times. What we think of as “Mayan” today were most likely the lower-caste mixed remnants of their society which persist in a domesticated form. At their height, the Maya were highly advanced in mathematics, had a complex spiritual system, and advanced architecture and city planning. The Aztec and Inca were similar.

      Over time, decay took them. It happens when people cease being vigilant against liberalism. It is why the best societies are run by the old, for they have seen enough to become conservative.

  6. Elijah says:

    Sin is not a system of debt, but a state of man. It is a recognition of and explanation of man’s flaws and failure to reach an ideal state, the impermanence and decay that is inescapable. Repentance is about recognizing of our essentially fallen state (lack of nobility, inability to achieve a perfect moral character) and personal failings, but despite this to never let go of hope – to not fall to pessimism.

    Liberals deny sin as part of their revolt against hierarchy. Clearly those of the highest and most noble character would be best suited to lead, but liberals invert the traditional structure to give us a “rule from below.”

    1. Missy says:

      You are correct!

  7. 1349 says:

    I’ve had somewhat similar thoughts for the last couple of months, but they concerned my particular country and central/eastern Europe as a whole:
    that i live in a no man’s, unclaimed land – where nobody’s really in power, nobody has control, nobody wants to do anything (even to live), – and this land can quite easily be conquered by someone who has traces (i mean, just a small amount) of will.

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