Just listen to me

How often we read amazing, unbelievable stories from people who push the credibility index and yet are otherwise intelligent, reasonable humans. I remember sitting in uncomfortable silence as the manager of our department told his staff that God told him to quit his job and move to Arizona. Everyone honestly tried to be respectful, but afterwards we couldn’t help but ask why God preferred Arizona. Maybe he confused his voice of conscious with a higher power and if you believe there is God in everything, well then he was spot on. Art and literature constantly remix the parable of the unfortunate soul whose strange stories no one wants to hear; The Greeks with Cassandra, Shakespeare his fool, France had Joan, and Jung the archetype,

“Almost all non-literate mythology has a trickster-hero of some kind. … And there’s a very special property in the trickster: he always breaks in, just as the unconscious does, to trip up the rational situation. He’s both a fool and someone who’s beyond the system. And the trickster represents all those possibilities of life that your mind hasn’t decided it wants to deal with. The mind structures a lifestyle, and the fool or trickster represents another whole range of possibilities. He doesn’t respect the values that you’ve set up for yourself, and smashes them. …The fool is the breakthrough of the absolute into the field of controlled social orders.” (Joseph Campbell, An Open Life, p.39)

It’s no wonder we become a little shy of dismissing someone with a message. Yesterday I saw the report in the LA Weekly (via Boing Boing of course) about the 10th anniversary of the Heavens Gate suicides, but it’s not the sensationalism of the event that makes the story for me. It’s the fact we’re all often baffled why anyone would feel or desire something we cannot (or vice versa)–whether it’s love or something similarly spiritual. And any mention at all of “outer” space rather than inner makes it seem like too much science fiction. But is it even that? Maybe it’s just the fact that there is a message to be passed along and different people use different metaphors. It’s true that everyone has a story, some are just better storytellers. (see also previous post, Belief is hard.)