“These ideas can be made more concrete with a parable, which I borrow from John Fowles’s wonderful novel, The Magus.
Conchis, the principle character in the novel, ﬁnds himself Mayor of his home
town in Greece when the Nazi occupation begins. One day, three Communist
partisans who recently killed some German soldiers are caught. The Nazi commandant gives Conchis, as Mayor, a choice — either Conchis will execute the three partisans himself to set an example of loyalty to the new regime, or the Nazis will execute every male in the town.
Should Conchis act as a collaborator with the Nazis and take on himself the
direct guilt of killing three men? Or should he refuse and, by default, be responsible for the killing of over 300 men?
I often use this moral riddle to determine the degree to which people are hypnotized by Ideology. The totally hypnotized, of course, have an answer at once; they know beyond doubt what is correct, because they have memorized the Rule Book. It doesn’t matter whose Rule Book they rely on — Ayn Rand’s or Joan Baez’s or the Pope’s or Lenin’s or Elephant Doody Comix — the hypnosis is indicated by lack of pause for thought, feeling and evaluation. The response is immediate because it is because mechanical. Those who are not totally hypnotized—those who have some awareness of concrete events of sensory space-time, outside their heads— ﬁnd the problem terrible and terrifying and admit they don’t know any ‘correct’ answer.
I don’t know the ‘correct’ answer either, and I doubt that there is one. The
universe may not contain ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ answers to everything just because Ideologists want to have ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ answers in all cases, anymore than it provides hot and cold running water before humans start tinkering with it. I feel sure that, for those awakened from hypnosis, every hour of every day presents choices that are just as puzzling (although fortunately not as monstrous) as this parable. That is why it appears a terrible burden to be aware of who you are, where you are, and what is going on around you, and why most people would prefer to retreat into Ideology, abstraction, myth and self-hypnosis.
To come out of our heads, then, also means to come to our senses, literally—to live with awareness of the bottle of beer on the table and the bleeding body in the street. Without polemic intent, I think this involves waking from hypnosis in a very literal sense. Only one individual can do it at a time, and nobody else can do it for you. You have to do it all alone.”
― Robert Anton Wilson
keep me awake debating
No easy answers
How well can you debate yourself? I don’t mean to the point of inaction tho often I find myself doing this but enough to know that when you make a difficult decision that the alternative has things going for it as well? The questions can present themselves in as simple a way as a person with a sign saying they are homeless and can you help them? Do you walk on by because you have just given change to three other homeless people and now have none? Do you buy them a meal? Are they truly homeless or looking to feed one habit or another? Will giving money foster dependence? In the long run, will a dollar or two change that person’s life? Well it could potentially but in probability? All these questions come up for me each time and I try to choose consciously if not correctly?
The above is an easy question to see the sides of. In reality we probably hit many potential questions just as open each day. Is an awakened life truly one where we know the questions if not the answers? Asking them definitely makes for a mindful existence.
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