“Wrong Planet” as an expression that sums up the experience of individuals of many descriptions is quite accurate in one way; it applies to what it feels like for “one of us” * when we are surrounded by, embedded in, trapped within, what one friend calls “Normdom”. I like this term because it relates to Kingdom – that geopolitical social reality that we are all familiar with; a territory staked out, bounded by walls and rules and a way of being in the world; an island of human creation that tends to see itself as complete. A model of correct, cosmic accuracy; a state of mind and belonging that must be defended at all costs. It is, by necessity enclosed: everything “out there” is a threat; nature and other humans alike.
*(the official social labels, whether applied by bullies or “experts” are simply inaccurate)
The mistake in Wrong Planet is that it’s “our planet” too; the adjective “wrong” is apt, but it modifies the wrong noun. It’s a word problem again; words are generalizations, not things; words project human ideas and desires that can be far reaching, influencing and controlling the beliefs and behavior of humans. Wrong Planet gives sovereignty of “earth” to an imaginary Kingdom of Normal Humans, leaving no place for “others” at all.
“Wrong Planet” abdicates any right for “us” to exist. In my own experience of existence, I’m obviously not on the wrong planet. I am inseparable from the same physical phenomenon and evolutionary processes that have unfolded as the array of “life” on earth – from viruses, bacteria and one-celled plants, which exist “now” to the incomprehensible complexity of “composite” life forms that exist “now”.
All my life I observed and intuited, sensed and felt, that indeed, something was terribly “wrong” – with me. The “world” did not greet me with loving approval; with open arms, support and understanding. My own mother complained constantly, claiming that I rejected her; an impossibility for a life-and-death dependent infant. That “like my father” I was incapable of love. Love – that horribly unfair word. Love was not a wonder to be discovered; love was a Kingdom bounded by a wall of ungenerous restrictions. It was not something that grew out of true intimacy, but which was “owned” by certain persons – parceled out, withheld, or given – but with chains of obligation that characterize a prison. It was like being a dog lured into a crate by “treats” – and the door slammed and locked behind.
Children “believe” what they see; other children were praised for mysterious reasons. It sounded like, “See – why can’t you be a good dog like Susie?” There was such finality to adult judgements. It was like being a sea creature lured by the image of a world above the waves; beautiful, sun-filled, and promising abundance, but the price of curiosity was death. Hooks and lines, spears and nets; words, words, words.
But I had my own words:
An imaginary landscape called BLUE / clips
There is a lake which stands inside me, with a muddy bottom that reaches to my knees. When I am quiet, the water is deep blue green and I can feel the striped fishes as they move between my ribs. Sunlight that filters through my eyes catches their golden tails that wave among the grasses; the long, long grasses held in the muddy bottom. It is hypnotic, this watery trance. Peaceful green waters overflow my head, become transparent and ordinary, like tap water. Is this eternity, a thought that is thought, never to be in-thought?
“I have been the blue road, my life a dream that played while I walked to this place, to the lake where life began. I have come to undo the ties and laces of someone else’s shoes. Big, ugly shoes they were and not my size. Muddy boot prints mark the water line, deep from the weight I bore.”
“The sun is everywhere the same sun; a sweet wind raises my hair as moving midnight water becomes the oxygen mist. Nothing yet flies nor walks: jelly phantoms form in the water then lose cohesion, waiting for the thought that has yet to think the order of cartilage and muscle.”
“Back in the blue on a Midwestern Sunday. This isn’t a blue place. It’s sharp, hard, green and black. Someone burns leaves today, and smoke drifts across the lawn where a great puff silhouettes the fir trees for a moment. Never will I become gray and quiet like these trees. I am the endless blue west whose extremes embrace me like a cousin.”
“The Blue” was of course, the unconscious intuitive domain of the brain; a way of perceiving the environment that was inborn, but censured as an “escape from reality” – reality being Normdom. This intuitive dimension was presented to me by teachers and “knowing” adults, who felt obligated to let me know, that being free and happy was a delusion; a form of cheating. Imprisonment is human destiny. Someone said this long ago, laid down the rules, and all humanity believed it. I simply didn’t. This was heresy. It still is.
I am not on the Wrong Planet; I am in the Wrong Culture. Is there any “right” culture? I doubt it. What I have learned is that my sensory system, type of processing and perception, are so fundamental to my personality and psychology, that I may as well be a different “cultural species” – call us Homo X. I observe that many “normal” people are in a similar predicament, but they are better able to adapt their thoughts and behavior “close enough” to be allowed to live in Normdom – not necessarily with optimal results for them, but “exile” is a great fear in our species; so much so that prison looks good.
I had been exiled from “approved humanity” from the beginning of my life; what threat could “exile” pose? It turned out to be Hell.
One salient characteristic of our Homo sapiens is a restless, seeking-after of new places to set up Kingdoms; to vow to found a new Kingdom that offers freedom of movement, expression, discovery and equality. We pick a place: the walls go up, the rules are set. Even if “better” than the old rules, time is the enemy. The hierarchy springs up out of necessity; magic words cement the deal.
And here is where I see the gulf between “people like me” and Normdom. The experience of time. Time is not a structure of past-present-future; this is a “chosen” tool for organizing human ambition by technical means, the ambition being a final, universal “Normdom”. A place of security; a defined space-time that can be preserved for “eternity” – what is wanted is a limit on “thought” that conquers fear. A Kingdom of “Stasis” – one last incarnation of control over chaos.
Why do I say this? Because Armageddon – total destruction – is the projected “end” of the universe. This is ridiculous. Our personal fear is so outrageous, that we believe that the end of “Normdom” must take all of reality with it. Normdom IS the universe for “normal people”. Clocks – the “measurement of time” by mechanics, electronics, atomic decay; schedules, gadgets, “connections”, instant data, truly mind-blowing technologies – cannot build a wall around the universe. We imagine that attributing evidence for “time, the linear thing” in eternal phenomenon is valid.
One consequence of this is the “magical” assumption that cause and effect is proximal; coincidence is a “good enough” explanation for relationships that are actually manifestations of “eternal principles and patterns” – mathematical equations.
Observe theoretical physics: We are frightened and concerned (even indignant!) that the universe has been found to be expanding, despite our wishes; that the rate of expansion is increasing. How will we ever build a wall around an ever-expanding universe? “Time” to build another “detector”; to invent new theories, to find refuge in “missing energy and matter” that if found, will reassure us that we haven’t lost control. One final Kingdom of Theories…
The last gasp of Normdom may be the “final solution”: artificial intelligence, robots and “technical immortality”.
Not gonna happen. For those of us who live out here on the “edges” it’s a different experience. Not Wrong Planet, Wrong Universe, Wrong Brain, Wrong Behavior, Wrong Reality but, arguably, Wrong Time. Many “Homo X” are comfortable living with animals; we live in their reality: moment to moment. That’s where the action is. That’s where danger and safety co-exist.
Some other posts about “time” – an evolving topic. .
Little Kingdoms everywhere…