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Cargo Cult

by Jan 31, 2016





I was at one of my favorite art museums, which is in San Francisco, and was named the Legion of Honor, when such words had meaning. I had just left and was walking along El Camino Del Mar one of the beautiful places in California, when I saw ahead of me a “Homeless,” person. And my enjoyment was shattered. I like being alone with beauty, and I don’t like “Homeless people.” This one was especially contemptable because as he stood up he seemed to be healthy and strong. Then he began to walk toward me with an athleticism that contrasted with his ragged clothes. 

As he came closer I automatically focused on him as an opponent.  If attacked I would take him out, if he asked for money, I would ignore him. But then he began to look familiar. And I saw it was Ronin, the best version of myself. 

He was obviously pleased at my surprise. He fell in next to me and started right in. “Substance v’s appearance, where are you on the spectrum?  What do the words even mean?” 

I had a flash of intuition, aided by Ronin’s Goodwill outfit. “Appearance is the costume for the role of the person who has no meaning, identity, or purpose, and has assumed that’s what give a person substance.” 

“Very good!” he was surprised at my answer. “So, even if he is wearing ragged clothes?” He was making fun of me. I didn’t mind and I didn’t answer. My mind was racing. So he continued, “You have a serious intellectual barrier to becoming your best version. When you recite the mnemonic, you claim you are ,’Grateful for the adventure,’ but it is no adventure for you, given your frame of mind.” 

“Explain,” I said. I was a little jerked off as I had been practicing  the “Creating Beauty,” part of the mnemonic, when he had interrupted me with his criticism. 

We walked a distance in silence. I could see the deep blue of the bay through the Monterrey Pines that had been sculpted and shaped by the winds. I could see Golden Gate Bridge to my right, while below me, just off the coast, large boulders created a masterpiece. 

“The difference, is in being an actor in a play, or watching one. When you are watching a movie, your emotions are stirred, you may be stricken with fear or anxiety, but if you suddenly realize you are in a theatre, surrounded by others, you regain control.” 

I thought on that as we walked down the trail. On the bay a sail boat had its sail furled and was motoring due to the lack of wind. I was almost getting it. 

We walked a distance in silence. 

“You say you are grateful for the adventure, but it is no adventure if you don’t understand what you are living through.  Does the homeless man imagine that he is on an adventure? Would the mnemonic help him?” 

“Definitely!” I could imagine myself training in the park, getting clean clothes from the Goodwill, and showering in some gym. 

“No it wouldn’t until he could imagine himself as different, and on an adventure.

You will be forever trapped in the conventional worldview, until you learn to escape from it. Everything I tell you, or you learn, will just be interpreted in terms of this primitive worldview. It is crucial that you escape it. You must form, and have your own reality.” 

“That’s what crazy people do.” 

“Yes and no. Crazy people think their mental aberrations are shared by all. You on the other hand will know that you are making a choice. You will look at people, and know they are primitive. It would be as if you were a scientist conducting an experiment, or an anthropologist studying primitives.” 

I opened my eyes wide as if afraid and looked about in mock alarm. “Don’t say that too loud around here. A mob will form around us screaming we are racist, ethnocentric, or whatever.” 

“And they would be right. It is all an example of worldview.” he said. “Yours.” 

“And exactly how do you define worldview?” 

“Worldview is like the water in a fish’s aquarium.” 

“How so?” I asked. 

“If you could ask a fish how the water was in his aquarium, what would he answer?” 

I was being set up for the big one, but I didn’t mind. “I don’t know.” 

“What is water? The fish would say. He couldn’t comprehend water anymore than you can comprehend your worldview.” 

I nodded in comprehension. “That’s good.” I said. “So how do I comprehend my worldview. Do you have a Matrix Red Pill for me?” 

“First let’s finish with your fish. How would you explain water to a fish?” 

We had stopped walking and were soaking up the beauty of the pines and the bay.  We could see Golden Gate Bridge. For a moment I thought of San Francisco’s people, and I thought of all the fish in the Bay, and an idea came from my intuition, my 1eye. 

“I would pull him out and let him flop around a bit, than drop him back in his aquarium and explain what had happened.” 

Ronin just smiled. 

“Are you going to pull me out of my worldview?” I asked. 

He smiled, and I realized this had been the point of our meeting. We had reached the end of our walk, had turned and were heading back. “Would a flying saucer do that for you?” he asked. 

I laughed out loud. “Do you have one?” 

“Would that be enough? Or would you just interpret the flying saucer in terms of your worldview?” 

I thought for a moment. “I’d have to, I wouldn’t have a choice. But there isn’t going to be any flying saucer, is there?” 

“Don’t count on that. You may recall that Archimedes said he could move the world if we gave him a fulcrum and a long enough lever. What you need is an similar experience metaphorically as powerful, and that you can get from the Cargo Cult and their flying saucer experience.” 

“I’d rather have my own flying saucer experience,” I said. Up the trail from us two men in their twenties with their girl friends were coming down the trail. “Maybe I could be abducted.” 

Ronin smiled and shook his head. “You have been watching too many movies. You are expecting a man with the head of a shiatzu, or a woman from the cover of Vogue with a super weapon on her hip, like a space cowboy, and large thrusting cone shaped breasts. This could only happen if the aliens have misinterpreted the movies you watch and are trying to accommodate us.” 

I laughed at the thought and the four, who were almost abreast of us, stopped their conversation and smiled. “Flying saucers,” I told them. 

They smiled and kept on. 

Ronin said, “If the aliens have no concept of fiction, and have been watching Star Trek, Star Wars, and The Living Dead, they will think it’s real and be scared off. That would be aliens projecting their worldview.” 

“You don’t believe in flying saucers?” I said. 

He smiled and shook his head again implying I was not getting it. “During World War II it was necessary to build landing strips on some isolated islands that had never had contact with our culture before. In their worldview there were only two places in the universe. Their island, and wherever their dead ancestors were.” 

We walked in silence while he waited for my comment, then it burst upon me. “They thought the planes were from their ancestors?” 

“Bingo! And all that wonderful ‘cargo,’ was meant for them, but the tricky white man was getting it because he built those wonderful runways and conning towers. You can see all this in a YouTube video. Look up Cargo Cult.” 

“Why Cargo Cult?” 

“Because they came up with a spiritual solution to a mechanical problem. They build imitation runways in the mountains and at the end make mock airplanes from bamboo and fronds, like duck decoys. Then they build an imitation conning tower wherein they have a man talking into a piece of wood, like a microphone, and summoning the planes with their cargo to land.”

I tried to figure how that was supposed to affect me. I could see how he was creating a means of grasping worldview. But so what. 

As if reading my mind he said, “The adventure is when a cargo cult man sneaks aboard a plane. He would have to abandon the worldview of his cult, his tribe, and go for it.” 

I thought on that. “Okay. First chance I get I will sneak aboard a flying saucer. But in the meantime- 

“Be aware of Cargo Cult professionals. In all their forms and manifestations”. 

 I was quiet as we came to the top of the trail. We were not far from the Holocaust Memorial. To my right was the parking lot behind the Legion of Honor where an unusual number of cars were parked. I had a feeling things were going to go down bad, but I wanted to know about Cargo Cult Scientists. 

Ronin said, “Your professors and politicians are like Cargo Cult members wearing suits and using cell phones. Most of what they profess is garbage, extensions and projections from a primitive mind set. A more advanced worldview we can call Enlightenment after the great intellectual tectonic shift of the 17th century.  Just to be different we will calls ours, Enlightenment2.” 

I was about to tell him that I wasn’t getting it. But he went on. “These supposedly high functioning people are doing everything right. But they produce nothing memorable. Any more than the primitive, speaking into his stick, can summon a plane full of cargo to  his jungle landing strip.” 

“Substance and appearance,” I said. 

We came out a short distance from the Holocaust Memorial and I saw it was surrounded by Black Lives Matter fans screaming and waving their BLM signs. 

“It’s going to get ugly,” I said. 

“Just watch, but don’t listen to their words. Grasp the water in their aquarium.” 

I tried to watch as if it were a protest in another country, in a language I didn’t know.  I ignored their words, and just listened to the emotion.  My thoughts were exploding within my mind. What are they trying to get?  Cargo? What was the Cargo Cult really trying to get?  All that work to build and maintain the decoy landing strips. All the yelling and screaming about me was like waiting for that plane that would never come. 

I turned and Ronin was gone, but his lesson remained. I saw the spires of San Francisco in the distance and comprehended it was composed of those ranting and raving for a cargo plane to land.  And they wait would wait till they realized it was never going to happen. Then they would have no more identity than the cargo cult air traffic controller, and no more purpose. 

For the most part the filthy homeless had more realistic goals, beg enough for food and drink. 

Indeed it was a strange world, and that made living in it quite an adventure. Thinking of the BLM mob about me, and the strivers of San Francisco as Cargo Cult people was causing a transformation within myself. I was becoming a homeless person, in that I would never expect ‘Cargo’ again. Now I was a stranger in a strange land.



Cargo Cult