A WRITER LOOKS AT A MAP
by David Eide .

I was looking at a map as I sometimes do; immerse myself in the map, become one with the map. I was looking at Europe and all it has gone through from antiquity on up to the explosion that occurred in the 14th Century through the 17th Century, the consolidation and epitome to this century, how it blew up this century and how the seeds of thought developed there came swirling over here and deposited very nicely in the US. Those ideas that were developed along the eastern seaboard have taken root.

Problems leap out when looking at a map. You hope that free, self-ruling people would he more intelligent about their habits. That will be the focus for the next century because I think we will want to create a culture that solves the problems we deal with today.

You always have the problem of people with a good amount of money against people with little or no money; you've always had that as a problem. That may become more and more a problem as the budget gets more constricted.

The more poor people reach the middle-class the better off the society is. And the main conduit for that is education. The important questions are these: (1) What has already been done to improve the education and opportunities of the poor and at what cost. (2) What worked and why.

I am basically optimistic about the US. I think we've gotten ourselves in very difficult circumstances. I think we don't see our shadow nature which is very hard to do since we have had an exalted view of ourselves. The potential was always there for some dark deed that human beings are capable of, esp. in an unprecedented society with sophisticated technology carrying a very fast pace of life among a great amount of money. And, for all that, there doesn't seem to be enough of anything. There doesnít seem to be enough of time, money, energy to do anything. And yet society seems like nothing ever produced before. In fact, the human being is beginning to mutate into some strange creature that is exhausted of any real hope and is simply emptied out, happily or no, and is finally wasted.

The creative spirit then goes the opposite direction and seeks solace and peace rather than lock and fuse with that speeded up world. Artists have to believe in the future and keep their eye on the future. The present is something that can be accounted for since the mind is capable of containing the vaunted speed of today. It is very easy to see everyone rushing around and the communications networks and so forth. It is necessary to do that to neuter and counter the sort of responses you get from people who are engrossed in that system. But it certainly does not inspire one to express the best nature of human life today. Perhaps once you get over some ideas and trepidations then you can see it as an attempt to use freedom to their best and why shouldnít they?

In one sense you do want to celebrate what a fantastic thing this world is and in another you say, well, this is sort of exhausting itself so I will simply wait for the next manifestation, the next horizon. That is the thing that becomes the focus without question. The mind speeding around, trying to keep up with its own machinery, is a superstitious and putrid sort of mind because it has no depth and is without the ability to connect with anything of value. That mind has always been despised throughout human history. How can you sacralize that?

When I look at the US, Canada, and Greenland to the west of that I say, yes, nature has had a dominant place in all of this and the things we have surrounded ourselves with. Perhaps we are on the verge of a creative explosion because all of the elements are here in the US and you will see that explosion in the next 30 years. When you have an explosion like that people either become afraid and cling to the past or who want to be taken away by the explosion and simply become sports of nature and they both go by the wayside as the real thing emerges. I think the reason for that explosion comes from several things. The amount of affluence that does, indeed, exist in this country, the fact that our borders are open to one and all; we welcome all. Currents come from Latin America, the northland, from Europe, from Asiaó those are currents. They don't come in and determine everything but are taken up by a people and used for their own development.

Since 1945 we have been under the pressure of the nuclear thing and that pressure is beginning to lessen somewhat. At the same time we are flung way, way out in space and that pulls us out of our little hidebound lives and has the same effect that the explorations in the 15th Century had. People here are a lot more sophisticated than I gave them credit for. A lot of people are restless which can be transformed into interesting things.

It can be very pleasing to live in the United States. People are well travelled. They have moved around a good deal. I don't know if that makes them interesting but it does make them more alert to important things.

You donít want to have a government full of exploiters rather than full of people eager to solve problems. It is necessary to look at the economic institutions and how they change and what the market is demanding to be produced; the new inventions and innovations. And it is necessary to know your region in relation to its people. And that you can go about collecting things as they impinge on your curiosity. Mass communication is such that what impinges comes quickly and in surprising directions. It is not like Europe where you had little countries packed in together and most of the communication was with plodding words. Now, the communication is fast. I would say that 95% of what is communicated is no good but it will be better in the future. The tendency is to sit back and fuel some subjectivity where you are simply projecting out onto some huge thing like the United States thinking that is the truth. You have to get an objective view of the country. Of its mountains, streams, cities and so forth. And the things being done in the cities. And the things that are emerging out of important projects. And sometimes you get that sense of gravity when things are pushing down on everything so that nothing is emerging of significance. So, you have to look closely at those things.

No matter what direction you are looking it's always the ability to create, to compress, to build, to think and to do it with the most propitious resources that challenges things. The overview is a good view, a map view, an important view because it does help straighten out a few things. It forces one to live on the surface, with two feet on the ground. The danger is to get such a large, powerful view and use it against people who donít have the resources to develop that point of view.

Looking at little Oakland, where I was a couple of days ago, on a map, a dot on the east side of the Bay Area. It looks innocuous from that point of view. It reminds me that the variety of experiences developed out of the senses is very significant, a raw material par excellence.

It always comes back to the categories that canít he escaped. The categories still remain the mysteries of creativity, God or God-not, plus the human struggle for identity, for power, the perception of a coherent society ( which does exist) and the nature of laws, of hatred and passion, the manifestation of the emotions, the prevailing thoughts of the present and the image of the future and what aspect of the past is being tapped into. These are the seedlings for development.

The writer cannot come up with everything himself. He has to work with the materials that have been developed.

It is necessary to acknowledge that there is more to this planet than pleasure and the technology that increases pleasure. There is much more. That more usually depends on a spiritual center of some sort. You cannot have a dry plain of thought and creativity and expect some miracle out of that. I donít give too much credibility to churchmen. They appear to be characters that need a job. I canít bash religion. It is not a threat. It becomes a threat when it tries to gain power the way that it has.

Thought must always he bold and creative and projecting out toward the future. It must grasp the way life is being lived today and grasp it with intelligence and not turn that grasping intelligence into a weapon of some sort. That is the sort of people you have to have today. There is every evidence that we could be weakened by our inability to grow as a people, And that growth has to be more than making our pleasure more sophisticated. It has to have more than that.

No one can talk for the whole society; that is the conclusion that I have come to after a few years of looking at it. Nonetheless, the American people have to be able to see the rest of the world, perceive different systems, peoples, and cultures. They have to be able to see the structure of relations that determine society and they have to develop their sensibilities. That is something you intuit at some point.

What a fine map that was!

1988


Back to Essay Page

Back to davideide.com


© 2014 David Eide. All rights reserved.