Jane and Kimberly wonder about the cracks occurring in our culturally shaped realities of being a woman and what new meaning lies ahead.
As we continue to take on our pursuit of looking for the new female sensibility now emerging from the old, I found myself returning to a book I’d read in the 70’s. In fact, I still have my 1973 copy of The Crack in the Cosmic Egg! And so I’m literally looking back to the old to find the new. How cool is that?!! This book leaped out to me back then because I was fascinated by how children saw things. One little boy, who I’d seen many times as a client walked into my office just after I’d installed new wall to wall linoleum and, without missing a beat, asked me “What’s down there?” No ‘nice floor’ comment from this four-year-old. If I had taken up the old floor and put down a new one, he wanted to know what was down there. What kind of thinking is going on there?
Joseph Chilton Pearce gives us insight into the secret of thinking like a four-year-old, like that boy who skipped right past the wondrous practical accomplishment of installing a full floor of linoleum between one visit to another miracle far larger. As JCP explains it, the cosmic egg is that floor, a powerful reality-shaping cosmos that dictates for most what is to be seen…new linoleum. The crack lies in the child’s uncanny question. He escaped through a crack of possibility that eludes others. His view leaped to the odd conclusion that I must have gotten a view of something usually obstructed by floors and he wanted to know what it was, what was down there! I’d like us to delve into Pearce’s book a bit. First, I guess, how do you understand JCP’s concept of the Crack? Makes sense of it? Does it make sense to you that we’re mostly caught in a societal cultural bubble like in the movie, The Truman Show?
It does. Our societal cultural bubble is manifested by our own imaginations. We have collectively created this reality we all live in. Yet, we often forget that it’s a world of our making and too easily fall into a stance of walking the status quo. We believe things because others have believed them before us. We live the way we do because we’ve grown up thinking this is just how the world operates. We take action and speak words and initiate experience based on our stored memories and inbred prior blueprints. We very rarely step firmly in the “now” to merely say, “What’s next?” or “What’s there?” without a preconceived mental structure of the answer already embedded within our thinking. I like the child’s way of knowing nothing and navigating through present impressions. A child’s way of wondering about reality is based on not knowing what they don’t know yet. How many of us feel confident enough to step into that same space after our many years of living and learning? Not many.
I like your phrase, ‘walking the status quo’. I guess that’s our first task in life, just figuring out how to navigate the reality we’re born into. But JCP is, I think, saying the child is paying more attention to the discrepancy between the culture shaped reality and another one that doesn’t fit so well because he’s the embodiment of a new, not yet shaped reality. His worlds are bumping up against one another all the time.
JCP asks a provocative question in the first pages of his book. “Why would we harbor hostility toward rifts in logical thinking? Firewalking is the usual example.” That stopped me for a minute. Why would we reject or resist challenges to our status quo thinking? He’s asking a smart question but I think it mostly makes you and me smile because we are always so drawn to the exception to logic. If we get into what he’s asking, we have to ask ourselves a deeper question — why wouldn’t we welcome living within an arbitrary position of reality? Perhaps, I’d venture to say, living within a constantly changing state of discovery means the scary phenomenon of falling apart is also always with us.
I am, as we speak, going through something like this with a relentless back pain that has no good medical – read logical – solution. I am, the best way I know how, trying to align myself with JCP’s Crack of possibility that lies outside cultural reality and – as JCP suggests can be done – turn things in my favor. It’s as if, for JCP, being open to the existence of the Crack is a position in reality that has energy and could work for me. If I try to put this into words, it goes something like this. I can accept the chaos of not knowing even as I am proceeding toward knowing. Like a kid, living in two realities because I can’t accept the one everyone else is living in and I haven’t yet learned how to firewalk. What a mess! I’m sure you can relate to this. Go ahead.
My best example in this kind of living comes from my experiences at Burning Man. Talk about a crack! This city is raised by over 50,000 individuals for one week in the middle of the Black Rock desert. Every person is tasked with bringing everything they need to survive and taking every bit of trash they make out at the end of the week. There are no clocks, to-do lists, agendas, or connections to the outside world. There are no street signs or rules or systems. Yet, I can get on a bike and go out on the playa with thousands of others on bikes going every which way and there are no accidents, just a mass of controlled chaos that results in perfect harmony. Without an agenda, you are forced to deal with interactions in the present and this is when the magic comes in. There is no mental structure to assuage you, which, yes, can be scary, yet this is when the magic happens. The synchronicity. One night I was walking late with a friend who was barefoot. All he wanted was to wash his feet. Suddenly, out of the black night came a man dressed as Jesus with a bucket full of water and rags and he washed my friend’s feet. How the heck do we explain this? We can’t. It lives in the crack, totally divorced from logic. Yet, I do know, that it happened in this space of miraculous potential without logical expectations.
JCP suggests we can bypass logic by entering into states that bypass ordinary cause-effect relationships. You and I have talked a little about this. He suggests trance states. But I’ve found my ‘thinking like a kid’ often offers the same slippage past logic. I once had a terrible time passing a statistics exam because I was more focused on the exception that the predicted outcome!! I still have that way of thinking handy in my toolbox. I recently asked myself, ‘what’s missing in the way doctors are approaching my back pain’. I kept trying to image the nerve trying to get through the narrowed channel of my spine and it came to me that I had to figure out how to widen the canal. That’s what I’m up to now. How to turn events more to my favor! JCP says, and I quote, “thinking is a shaping force in reality”. You know I love that. How about you, How are you shaping your reality?
Well, for one, I am really intent about staying present and treating every interaction I have as a fresh, new experience without relying on experience or the past. Yet, as JCP explains in his book, it’s very difficult to find these cracks when you are doing anything that has prior history in your neural networks. So, I’ve devised a system to shape my reality based more upon my imagination. Who do I wish to be the most? What actions and words can I take that are in alignment with who I want to be without regard to who I ever was in the past? I also really believe that what you pay attention to happens so when it comes to wanting something new, or wanting to jostle myself out of the norm, I try to be very discerning toward only doing and saying things toward that direction. I had a vision once of a script I wanted to write where you see a man wake up in a tent in the forest and then you follow him throughout the day to see where he is led based only on the flow of minute to minute activities he encounters until, at the end of the day, you follow him back to bed in the tent in the woods. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could all just live this way, compelled by the moment rather than the agenda. I bet a lot of cracks would reveal themselves then.
How about this quote. “Each person is a line capable of breaking through the circle of reason.” For better or worse. That, of course, is the scary part. It used to be we were scared of the dark. Now we’re scared of letting a tight circle of our own making close down around us, looking great but suffocating us with an imposed order of ordinariness. JCP reminds us to remind ourselves of the unknown subterranean depths of the human mind. It’s an awesome thought and comforting, really. It’s easy to lose a sense of that when you’re dealing with pain. JCP…and that kid from so many years ago…go down to the underpinnings…they’re there. Believe it. Of course, when we personally experience the Crack, it makes it easier.
As you suggested, many of these cracks are notably found during mind-altering experiences where we seem to bypass our ego’s determination that what we can see and feel is all that that exists. When this occurs, we are more open to unknown possibilities.
So, and I’m paraphrasing JCP here, if we think of life as moving randomly from one possibility to another, it may synthesize into something larger, more perfect than where we started. This opens my mind to the women’s movement, a movement of empowerment for women that may not, in fact, be moving toward a simple flip of power from men to women but toward a whole new arrangement. Why, I ask myself, would I want the same power structure just with me on top. But JCP goes somewhere else. He goes to an autistic version of reality in which all things are possible, all postulates true; “fire need not burn, affliction cripple, or disease kill.” For me, this turns our culturally shaped reality on its head. It gives up the rewards of ordinary reality adjustment to move toward an autonomous, inner synthesis. You might like to take this thinking forward since you live with someone who knows the wholeness that lies beyond mundane reality first hand?
Yes, my boyfriend has Asperger’s Syndrome and has spent his entire life trying to walk out of the crack and join our “normal” societal constructs. Because he doesn’t attach emotion or expectation to the course of his life, he is able to take things objectively as they come and deal with everything as if it is its own situation. He simply doesn’t understand generalization or stereotype because, in his world, every second is a new situation in life to encounter and deal with accordingly, but without the emotional baggage or timbre of memory normally associated in our so-called “normal” non-autistic version of awareness.
This puts a lot on the table to think about. The idea that our reality is truly being formed from a deep, open-ended world of possibility that we only catch glimpses of from time to time is an idea I first got from Jung. Synchronicity is a pretty reliable event when we pay attention, an invitation to remind ourselves of the ‘other’ larger reality. There’s no way we don’t marvel when we’ve just been told of a new author we might like and a friend shows up the next day with book in hand or when we’ve come to an intersection in the middle of nowhere, a truck flies by and an old woman pulling a cart comes out of nowhere and starts crossing the road. I mean really, what’s happening? I’m sure you have some good examples yourself. The trick is to remember to remember the other world and ask a question like the little boy I talked about in the beginning, “What’s down there?” To keep looking for new constructs means to be curious about new, more desirable forms, ones we can wholeheartedly believe in. I don’t know what I’m talking about but I like talking about it. I like looking for a deeper reality that I feel naturally in tune with. For sure, I recommend reading JCP’s book and asking questions. The familiar image of Columbo comes to mind; “…just one more thing?” He senses there’s more and we love him for it.
I am a huge Columbo fan for this very same reason. I am going to try and walk this line between the known and the unknown in my life more often. This book has made me remember my dreams, it has made me want to rely more on the signs and symbols from my subconscious and to try and incorporate them more into my daily life as I encounter them. Without even knowing what they are trying to tell me, I get excited when I think about the possibilities that will occur when I follow them for no other reason than to step on that magical yellow brick road and see where it will take me.
“Just one more thing.” I found this quote that reminded me of how important imagining is to the emergence of new realities compatible with a woman’s own sense of herself.
“…there are ways of thinking that we don’t know about. Nothing could be more important or precious than that knowledge, however unborn. The sense of urgency, the spiritual restlessness it engenders, cannot be appeased.” – Susan Sontag, Styles of Radical Will