The Campaign for Real Humans
By Klasie Kraalogies
Some time ago I promised Chaplain Mike a post or 2 on the “dichotomy between man and nature”, and the place of the garden in bridging that apparent gap, as well as expose the artificial mental and philosophical barriers we have constructed for ourselves. Then a few weeks ago there was a lively discussion around food and diet here, and it made me want to reach for my keyboard as I am quite passionate about the matter. And then lastly I read a New Yorker article on the artificiality of the “French Woman/girl” trope that has been constructed in the popular imagination.
The culmination of this, in the looming shadows of the end of this blog, has led me to pen this post as a “Goodbye and thanks for all the fish!” narrative.
We humans live in imaginary worlds. Worlds we construct to feel safe in. Worlds that keep the fears at bay. And given the cold cosmos we appear to inhabit, that is quite understandable. But ever so often, our imaginary worlds move inward and crush our souls, slowly rob us of our sanity, and leave us pale shadows of humanity. We see that in the Edenic promises of political mythologies, be they from whichever persuasion. We see that in religion-gone-off-rails, as I recently had to contend with when the spotlight of investigative journalism finally swung towards the cult I was raised in. We see that in multiple mental constructions, whether some wellness-myth or nationalistic narrative, or ethnic epoch.
The result of this is that we disconnect, for instance, from nature, and often go down one of two main alternatives, namely mindless destruction, or mythologizing. We deny the horrible affects of our industrial activity on the world, or we descend into a seemingly benign Tellytubby trance where we don’t grasp how the cosmos, including the biological sphere is interconnected, and how we don’t just depend on it, but we are agents of it as well. Our concept of garden becomes sterile green lawnscapes, or we chain nature off as some sort of holy ground out there, to be revered and not lived in.
We lose connection with ourselves, and desperately turn to the latest sellable thing and its agents masquerading as dietary experts telling us how to be the ultimate us. Eat this not that, this is superfood, that is toxic, all without an iota of proper evidence, nuance or indeed, imagination.
We pursue unreal ideals, whether huckleberry-harvesting simplicity with bows on, “chic” fauxness in designer gear, rugged gun-toting independence that is as hollow as an easter chocolate bunny, devotees of this or that religion that make up rules and bow to the latest “authentic” innovator, or promiser of ancient regurgitations, that are about 5 minutes old. We claim tradition that are as old as McDonalds fries, or absolute truths that are yanked from intellectual and cultural frameworks we have no inkling of.
So, what am I saying?
On the 16th of March 1971 in Kruger’s bar in Dunquin, Kerry, Ireland, the Campaign for Real Ale was founded, in protest to mass-produced beer that dominated the market. We can see the direct and indirect results today, where creativity and individual taste has blossomed. Of course, this can be seen as another construction, in that we claim that there was a “golden age” of ale in the distant past (or some do, I imagine). That is not the point.
I yearn for a metaphoric campaign for Real Humans.
This is not a call for the destruction of our own narrative worlds. It doesn’t call for the abolition of imagination. No. It calls for us to recognise ourselves for what we are, where we are, who we are, in what we are part of. Humanity cannot stand apart from nature – the idea that we can is entirely nonsensical. We are part and parcel of a cosmos that includes woolly lambs, viruses, galaxies far, far away and neutrinos whizzing through us all the time. We are birthed, we function according to the dictates of our DNA, we are influenced by the mental/cultural space we enter, we change it (maybe), we die. Nothing and no one exists in a vacuum, real or metaphorical. Our mental constructions can help us through this life, but we have to test, test, test them against reality. Fuzzy-minded idealism of any shade can turn into destruction at the drop of a hat.
Let us become real again. Not phantasms of our own making. Let us stop running from our interconnectedness to all of reality.