Science is a form of knowing as well as doing; it is a ritual which changes our perception of the world. The scientist herself is a shaman, a healer who journeys in a state of ecstasy to other worlds; the magical realism of our ancestors is no mere primitive naivete. Any scientist worth his salt would acknowledge that it is the journey, not the destination, which is the real reward — as soon as the proof is finished the mathematical wizard is off on another quest.
Moving through a variety of qualiascapes is dangerous. Both our protection and our risk lay in anonymity and dissimulation. Neither are inherently bad. Anonymity allows us to let go of habits and expectations, and to act out with controlled spontaneity in order to become something we are not. Anonymity gives us potential.
Dissimulation does the same for qualia. If we dare to dissimulate, we dare to express qualia which are beyond the comfort zone of those around us. We let unknown ideas out of Pandora’s qualiadelic box.
Speciation occurs through a process of reproductive isolation. As various crises force creatures to adapt — to move to new environments, to eat new food, etc. — they evolve apart. Sometimes their adaptations become so strange that they are no longer attracted to each other; they are still of the same species, but they don’t mate. Sometimes they become so estranged that they can’t mate — they have become separate species.
Cultures, too, seem innately to favor separating one people from another. Other cultures are different, and even incomprehensible; the history of civilization is a record of “chosen” peoples bad-mouthing their barbarian neighbors. Perhaps, though, we have turned a corner. The world is getting smaller all the time, and it is only individuals, or groups of individuals (for instance, white trash, or environmentalists) who consider other groups of individuals to be barbarians.
Indeed, many of our ideas move us toward isolation. We are experiencing, on a global level, qualiadelic speciation. As always, though, in times of crisis the successful species can adapt to a variety of settings (are not just one-trick ponies). Conscious ritualers can move through qualiascapes the way a poet moves through metaphors.
Traditions always resist change. This is probably because individuals in positions of power, for some reason, fear new qualia. Nonetheless, at the heart of every tradition is a tool by which any crisis, and especially a qualiadelic crisis, is averted. The tool is ritual.
Conscious ritualing creates a framework which lets us combine knowledge with play — controlled spontaneity — in order to safely explore the possibilities hidden in new qualia.
Mankind can’t wipe out conscious ritualing any more than totalitarian regimes can wipe out the solace of religion, or commanding churches can suppress the method of science. No culture or civilization can stop the evolution of qualia any more than a body can stop its own blood from flowing. Traditions, ultimately, must adapt or die, and they adapt because life inevitably moves toward new qualia.
Over the recent century, artists have learned to produce works marked by ambiguity and/or offensiveness, whose meanings are purposely left unclear. However, by creating art that puts people off, artists reveal some profound aspects of ritualing and the qualiadelic experience.
Often, because we don’t understand the work, the mystery and the wonder is transferred from the art to the artist. As if it is the artist who holds some magic key, some genius that the rest of us lack. The artist, like a modern shaman, seems to exist in some alternate reality than the rest of us.
The reason is simple: we are concerned with being true to ourselves, but the artist, rather than be true to self, is true to each work. It is the art — some mysterious qualiadelic pattern – to which the artist is true. The artist rituals with it, plays with it, until it is manifested in a work.
Today, the crowd is not people so much as ideas. We have no escape from the constant stream of symbols and technology which fills our senses and lives in our minds. The artist, in ritualing, quiets the din by constellating new qualia in meaningful ways. The rest of the noise is hushed — art turns the crowded low fidelity landscape into a private, high fidelity qualiascape.
Somehow, for any of us to join them, we too have to find privacy among the crowd. This is the experience that draws us into their rituals. We long for those moments when meaning arises. We only truly belong to a community when we discover that like-minded souls are ritualing with the same qualia as ourselves.
At one time we had no space of our own – no privacy — in our communities. In fact, there wasn’t a great deal of individualism – everybody had their roles and that is how they were known and how they knew themselves. But people had different temperaments, naturally, and in the rituals of daily life when one’s temperament flared up, people stepped back.
In this temperamental past people were skilled ritualers, and they knew how to act out in order to create privacy in public. This is a real skill. However, as the modern sense of self and individualism grew, our prowess at ritualing declined. We have lost the art of creating private space in the public sphere.
We live in a society that prides itself on being “true to our self” and on being consistent in our thoughts and actions – what a recipe for failure! Between the self and all the other qualiadelia taking up residence in the mind, the brain is home to lots of messages.
Indulging in eccentric qualia, thinking outside the box, is one way to quiet the crowd of thoughts. It creates a private space in the public sphere, especially if we ritual consciously and manifest our individuality in real, symbolic behaviors. Ritualing creates a space to play with novel ideas,and to symbolize without inhibition. It is a framework for expression. It is a moment for pretension, to re-work what we have worked.
Creating private space within the public sphere comes with consequences — it makes us impure, and even dangerous, in the eyes of the community. Worse, we may question our own selves. But it is worth the risk.
The moment we begin to transgress the order of things we run the risk of becoming either outcasts or idols. But from either position we can influence the rest of the qualiascape.
Obviously the rest of the population will move toward their idols and emulate them. Being a hero is an enviable position. But the life of the outcast is more complex. The outcast moves people away. The outcast gains space; personal space and public space. The outcast comes into sole possession of a piece of property — a landscape — just waiting to be filled with new qualia.
Not every outcast can do this. But the ones who can, the ones who are conscious ritualers, will have some valuable real estate. Others will be attracted to the new qualia, and, although they may not be sure of what it is, they will move toward it. Unlike the idol, whose talent, wealth, charisma are known, the outcast has mystery, a secret.