A Recipe, Because Cooking is Important by Chris Hughes/Grok/Princess Tristissima/Wizard Lizard!
Have you ever heard the word “theodicy”? Not “the idiocy”, but it does refer to something close to idiocy: it’s the field of theological study and reasoning concerned with the question, “Why does evil exist? Why do bad things happen to good people?” It literally means something like “‘Cause God said so” in Greek and Latin.
Here’s the recipe I like to cook when I make the idiocy -- er, theodicy:
1,000,000 - 10,000,000 humans
1 cup of anarcho-primitivist critique
½ cup of ecofeminism
5 ounces of radical faery flavored queer theory
1 tablespoon of Feri three souls
1 teaspoon of ecopsychology
dash of - Pedagogy of the opressed
Soak humanity in 188,000 years of history at room temperature (most use the hunter-gatherer flavor, but almost any will do in a pinch) until it separates into stiff clusters (called cities) and a thin liquid (called the world).
Once we created cities, we created a psychological division. Now we had “the place where humans lived” and “the wilderness”. Interesting sidenote: before the Great Vowel Shift between 1350 and 1700, “wild” was pronounced “willed”. The two share a common root, even! Think about that a moment: to be wild means, very literally to have a Will. There’s a future blogpost about that, I’m sure.
Cook the clusters in the liquid over high heat for 12,000 years. You will note that small portions of the clusters will fly off with some force into the liquid around them, where they will grow 700fold to 7000fold.
Now that we have these two things, so what? Well, if humanity is in the world but not of it, then that creates what Harry Hay would call a subject-object relationship rather than a subject-SUBJECT relationship. If you have no idea what that means, you’re not alone.
Consider the sentence, “Cities killed humanity’s godness.” “Cities” is the subject of the sentence, and “godness” is the object. “Cities” is the doer and “godness” is the done-to. When humans -- as a species or as an individual -- refuse to see themselves as an integral part of a greater world, they refuse to see the SUBJECT in the world, seeing it only as an object. If the very root of our psyche is built upon this foundation, we can literally conceive of no other way than oppression. Paulo Freire, the Brazilian educational theorist, called this “submersion”. Only in Portuguese, ‘cause Brazil. Nonetheless, submersion is that state in which the situation of oppression has so imprinted itself upon both oppressor and oppressed that it creates the local noosphere, in much the same way that global warming or paved streets and skyscrapers do so for the ecosystem. For example, submersion it is which causes the oppressed to take becoming the oppressor as the model for liberation.
Harry Hay would claim that the opposite-gender relationships so standard in our culture are themselves ultimately based upon subject-object understandings of the world. It’s even built into our language! Think about all the words for sex you can. Every single one privileges the penetrative act, doesn’t it? English has no active-voice way of expressing the bottoming or holding sexual act, other than the two neologisms I just used (one I had to invent!) Our very understanding of sex is something that the penetrator (by which we most likely mean a person with a penis, an assumption which further leads us to assume a male gender identity) to the penetrated (probably the one with a vagina or asshole, probably female or effeminate).
Many civilized cultures (cultures that live in cities) describe the soul as having many parts. Most famously, the ancient Egyptians believed in five to seven soul-parts, depending on how you count. Victor Anderson taught, instead, that we have three: talking self who speaks in language, fetch who speaks in image (I don’t mean pictures), and deep self who is the part of you that’s everything. We are the walking wounded, working to reject our godselves the way a body might reject a piercing or an organ transplant. The godself is not a transplant. Compassion itself can be infected with this subject-object consciousness, becoming something else entirely.
At the risk of beating a dead horse, it’s the difference between a dance and a fight. In a fight, the goal is simply to hit the other person, and eir behavior is only important insofar as it changes what you need to do to achieve that goal. A dance, on the other hand, is a mutual co-arising, an instance where both people involved act and react, incorporating each other’s desires into a glorious work of art and fun. This is a oneness Vulcans would call IDIC, “Infinite Diversity, Infinite Combinations”.
This is the place then, a wall and not a crossroads between humans and the world in which they live, where we build all our oppressions. This is where our oppression of the environment has built its market stall. This is where sexism has built its jails, and where homo/trans*phobia stores its erasers. As far as I can tell, this is the root -- nay, let’s not be gentle: the rhizome -- of the tree of what some may call evil in our society. There is a wisdom in my metaphors here, in this paragraph.
Serve at an ever-more-quickly increasing room temperature. Makes 450,965 servings.
Why have I gone on like this? Well, to be honest, I enjoy lecturing people -- academia trained me early to find it fun. But it’s also the reason I’m even involved with Planting Justice. We are healing this fundamental wound, quite literally building the Garden of Eden here in Oakland.
See, we’re queering the city, blending and blurring that line between “the place where humans live” and “the place where nature is”. We are returning people to what a Buddhist might call right relationship with other living, growing things on a cyclical and systemic level. Remember, cells, that you are cells in the body of e who is all things. This is tikkun olam, the healing of the world the rabbis discuss. This is life and no different, for the world is perfect and that is why we work so hard to improve it.
This is the marriage of the Sumerian deities Inanna and Dumuzi. Inanna is the city, Dumuzi the shepherd and wilderness. Their marriage is our work. Back in those days, those early days, the grain storehouse was the first building of the city, was the seed around which the temple grew. I call this blog a “food justice spirituality blog”, because food justice is, to me, the origin of any liberation theology. I, at least, plan to offer Inanna and Dumuzi a gift of beer and honeyed cream sometime soon, on Planting Justice’s behalf. Beer, you see, was Inanna’s wedding gift to Dumuzi for it meant agriculture and stills and cities. Dumuzi, in return, gifted her with honeyed cream, harvested from the animals that lived outside the city.
Someone once told me that all they wanted was to do something good for the world. Even this was a subject-object relationship, so I told her: “OK. Breathe in . . . . Breathe out. Congratulations, you just helped that tree over there live.
Some Useful Reading on These Topics:
Cosmogenesis, by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
The Faerie Finishing School ReadHer, compiled by Lapis Luxxury and others
Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth: Her Stories and Hymns from Sumer, by Diane Wolkstein and Samuel Noah Kramer
Language and Woman’s Place, by Robin Lakoff
Pedagogy of the Oppressed, by Paulo Freire
The Spiral Dance, by Starhawk
Woman and Nature: the Roaring Inside Her, by Susan Griffin