Out of the Egg at Last

9 02 2011

paintings by Salvador Dali

 

Water

The expression "Whoever first discovered water it was almost certainly not fish" is a way of saying that our ambient culture is invisible to us until by chance, shock, magic, chemistry or rigorous exploration, we get beyond it and are able to examine it from without. It is seldom a rapid process. Moreover escape from the confines of our own culture usually has a sequential combination of causes with those  "aha!" positions along the way.

The progress of this journey which I call the emergence from the cultural egg is the perennial subject of artists, poets, dancers and writers, who depict the magical entrance into a hitherto unimagined understanding of the world, a totally unique vision of reality, and hence a new self-understanding. From this new viewpoint the Archetypes to which we conform are suddenly apparent with all their inherent weaknesses.

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The Cultural egg is a tessellated shell composed of myths, religions, moralities, community values, prevalent attitudes, songs, stories, children’s fables, legends, literary heritages, family histories etc., It is articulated in commonly agreed upon attitudes which are highly resistant to change…"You can’t change things on your own…that’s the way things are…it’s natural…everyone knows it.. you may be right but who is going to listen to you? It’s common decency…it’s genetic!…nature!.. you have to have respect for others…it’s your duty…if you had an ounce of guts." These are all examples of the kind of fragments which make up our eggs. They are all used to make implausible positions rational. So, in this sense, we are all fish living in an unexamined environment, our communal water. And though that water may be so contaminated that it is making us ill. it will not be examined because we can’t see it.

Thus, despite the fact males in our society are doing so badly, supplying, as David Shackleton pointed out in Everyman No 41, males supply 95% of the incarcerated, 82% of all suicides, 80% of the homeless 66% of murder victims, 75% of victims of criminal assault and live seven years less than women, societally we can’t see it. Even though the suicide rate for young men is skyrocketing while those for other sectors of society remain constant, even when adolescent males are falling behind in school and university we not only can’t see it but won’t see it–and this mere years since a totally fabricated statistic about girls losing self esteem in the school system, sent the entire continent into an earthquake of compensatory system change.

Why is it invisible? It is part of "The water". More astonishingly, even when these things are pointed out to men they refuse to do anything about them or even admit the slightest concern. Why? And why is "The Water " different for different genders? My researches into the men’s issues have generated a seemingly endless stream of questions. Why are we so unconcerned about the health and well being of males? Why have we called the seventy million young men murdered in their prime in wars over the last century and a half "heroes", when we all know in our hearts they were victims? And why have we continued to select our best young men, test them for quickness of limb, mind and eye, and then shoot them, leaving the rejects to propagate the race, when we know that a rancher who killed each generations best bulls would soon be bankrupt?

Why did that regiment of British soldiers in WW1….one thousand and one men…walk at a slow march into the German machine guns until all lay dead? And why did we call them heroes when they were obviously irrational since, faced as they were with the manifest evidence of their leaders insanity, they failed to protect themselves from certain death . Why have men failed to countenance Radical Feminism when it became obvious that it had strayed from the original high ideals of equality into hatred and Fascism? And a hundred other " whys". The answers, I believe lie in that part of the world which was , two thousand years later , to produce Jesus Christ, and deep in the history of western civilization,  which dead-ends around the second to third millennium B.C .

At that time, to judge from surviving artifacts and myths there is little doubt that Southern Neolithic Europe, Asia Minor,(Syria) and Lebanon had a remarkably homogenous system of religion based on the worship of the many titled Mother Goddess. The concept of fatherhood or men’s biological contribution to reproduction was little understood. Women were thought to be impregnated by the wind or by standing in running water. Men, who were not respected, adored feared and obeyed the matriarch, whose three stages of life corresponded to the three seasons of the Mediterranean–Maidenhood ( spring), Nymph (summer) and Crone ( winter).

It is here, right back at the dawn of civilization that we see the first unmistakable outlines of the archetype of modern men– the disposable male. For the priestess of the virgin Upright Artemis, the three in one Goddess, each year took a new lover and the old one was ritually murdered. Sometimes he was torn apart by horses, sometimes burned, sometimes he was shot with a sting-ray spear, and sometimes he was torn apart by the Priestess’ nymphs–women who had intoxicated themselves by consuming laurel leaves. His flesh was eaten and his blood was sprinkled on the ground to fructify crops, plants and animals, trees and seeds.

Without this sacrifice, people were convinced that Demeter, the summer manifestation of the Goddess would not produce the crops and young animals on which the entire community depended. Thus it was not an act of random cruelty but, in their eyes, a pious religious insurance against what they believed would be certain starvation. The king, or more accurately the consort, for he had no power except when, wearing false breasts and dressed in the priestess’ robes he delegated for her, eventually extended his survival time to one hundred lunations. The seasons were marked by a lunar calendar and the Upright Artemis was also the moon goddess, the twenty eight day menstrual cycle rationalizing that relationship.

However, since the crops needed to be fructified annually, a boy, called an interrex or pharmacon, was tied to a stake, whipped until the pain caused an ejaculation and then killed as a tanist ( surrogate) in place of the king. The name given to the Priestess’ annual sacrifice was—The Hero!

It is impossible to overemphasize the importance and the nature of that relationship. For he was the most important man in the land, the consort of the Priestess herself, showing that the highest articulation of male aspiration was to die in order that the crops would be granted by the goddess. How could he refuse, anymore than millions of soldiers called upon to die to save their communities, could find a rationality sufficient to justify their refusal to fight and die? This was his cultural egg. Nor could his society, other men, fail to attempt to dignify this outrageous ritual murder, by adorning it with the trappings of dignity, of glory, of courage of selflessness. Just as we today dignify with the same characteristics the ritual murder of young men in war and industry; and with the same title. Hero–the name we gave to the 1001 young men who marched into the German gunners; the name we bestow on all male sacrifices.

The Hero died to save everyone else. And as the power of the virgin Artemis declined with the dominance of the patriarchal Hellenes, and the consequent cessation of sacrifice, there appeared in the same territory after a short historical time a man named Jesus Christ, who died, it is said, in ritual sacrifice, to save us all–the ultimate Superhero, and the Ultimately Disposable Male.

Thus in a straight line of progression the male archetype– that is the symbolic representation of the most elevated male a society can envision, moves from pre-Hellenic Greece and the Mediterranean to Christianity, through the Renaissance and the troubadours –who were allegd to have died of mournful unrequited love–to the knights in shining armor in the Court of King Arthur– men sworn to die in the protection and service of women, particularly beautiful ones, to cowboys like John Wayne defending ‘po’ lil squatter gals, especially purdy lil squadder gelz. …to male crew members of the Titanic gallantly standing back to confront death while women boarded boats.

The archetype enters into and is propagated through our music, our art, our movies. The Hero is Big John, Big Big John holding up the mine roof so his buddies can escape the fate he chooses. He is Bruce Willis in Armageddon –the Big Daddy voluntarily dying in place of the lover of his " little gel", his daughter. Remember the final soupy shot of the dead man’s grandson frolicking with mum as the violins play? A charming scene, touching , tear-jerking; and deadly. Remember The Deer Hunter– the vet putting his life on the line for money to send to his friends and lover in the Vietnamese Russian-roulette gambling casino? Remember "It’s a Beautiful World " with Guido the comic Jewish concentration camp prisoner who dies saving his son and wife, and once again, the woman with the son in the final shot, happy and alive and — the violins— always the violins? Remember K19, Kathryn Bigelow’s movie about the Russian nuclear U Boat with the leaking cooling pipe that threatens to cause global nuclear war, until one man stays in the murderous radiation chamber to weld the pipe— and dies; followed, of course by shots of surviving spouse and child—and violins. Hollywood produces a steady stream of variations on this theme.

Look at the metaphor of Dali’s magnificent crucifixion painting. The male ( Christ), naked , vulnerable, agonized ( look at the hands) and dying, and here, in the foreground, sumptuously dressed in magnificent robes, passive and contemplative, a woman( Mary ) STANDS ON A PEDESTAL. Mary who, if she had an ounce of jam should have been tearing him down from the cross, healing him; if she too were not portrayed in her own cultural egg, just as he was. A cultural egg where such absurdity can be seen as rational. and acceptable; while violins play.

Look at the newspaper clipping in March 2003, four thousand years plus after the period of the Upright Artemis, where the Pope– the highest functionary of one of the most powerful religious organizations in the world, whose churches all feature, in the most prominent position, the effigy of a virgin–Mary( Artemis) –is seen embracing the crucifix at St. Peters Basilica; The effigy of the man who died to save us all. Our Hero. Jesus Christ.

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But the violins don’t play for the men in mine disasters. They aren’t even dignified by gender in media reportage–just "miners". They don’t play for the 87% industrial deaths which are male in our society. That’s their job. Their duty. They don’t play for the men worn out and dying seven years before their womenfolk. They don’t play for the alcoholics on their slow march to premature death as they try to drink away the stress, absurdity, loneliness, anxiety and pressure of trying to meet society’s demands, that they support two, three, four, five other human beings. They don’t play for the eighty five percent male homeless who have given up and have sunk. Can you imagine our society tolerating a female eighty five percent homeless rate? It is only because they are male that we have such a homeless rate. The violins don’t play for the men in the construction camps, the drilling rigs, the hardrock mines where men do work which , it seems, only those who have been indoctrinated by violins can endure.

And doesn’t all this suffering add up to a communal reservoir of grief which, little by little, with small portions in every life, drags us down from our potential as an exotic, happy, loving and above all an equal society. For each of those victims is someone’s son, someone’s lover and is deeply missed when he dies.

But having understood the modern male archetype a lot of things fall into place. We can understand why, of the 12,941 homeless in Mexico city, which is Christian, 80% are male. We can understand that just as young men imitate sports Heroes, so they imitate social and religious Heroes. Only one man in each village or society was called upon to die each year, but as the archetypal Hero he embodied the attitudes and behavior that all men who wished to be admired must imitate. They must exhibit a defiance of death ..a recklessness and a headstrong courage. They must demonstrate a willingness to die protecting women.

It is the immediate and strongest message for young males growing up and searching for those qualities which will qualify them to be called men. Thus they will go rock climbing, mountaineering, car racing. What more classic example of the archetype could there be than the toreador in his suit of lights standing in a dusty ring mano a mano with an eighteen hundred pound bull which has been bred for its ferocity and aggression. If this suicidal battle to the death is successful and he is rewarded the symbolic ears and tail of the beast by his peers, he will take them and present them to the pretty young woman sitting in the shade at the ringside watching. He has proved his preparedness to die for her. This token of affection must be the most perverse courtship drama in the entire animal kingdom . And the entire world of humans applauds.

On the mundane level men will do the dangerous jobs society requires, closing their eyes to the fact that although equal gender representation has become the rule of the workplace. society has closed it’s eyes to the fact that females have, by and large, been “excused ‘ the killing professions. Men will abuse their bodies and neglect their own comfort. The vision of the Hero is one which disposes men to alcoholism, injury, suicide, suffering and a host of other social degradation’s. They will volunteer for combat. They will batter each other in sports.

And many of those young women who are moving into the unfamiliar world of traditional male activities will be constrained to emulate them. Seen beneath the shadow of the Upright Artemis the self-destructive behavior of males becomes comprehensible: as does their refusal to defend themselves against feminism’s rancid political abuses. And their simmering anger at the inhumanity of their roles which occasionally boils over into violence. They are like the bulls in a bull fight. The enemy is always insubstantial. It is their own invisible Archetype. Their Eggshell.

And we can see why contemporary society , locked inside its own cultural egg is indifferent to the plight of males. As we were 4000 years ago in the time of the upright Artemis, we are still a gynocracy– a society where males may wield most executive power but the benefits flow primarily to females. And, whether rapidly as in war, or slowly as in industry, males are acculturated to die. It might now be genetic. Which doesn’t necessarily make it desirable. The dumbing down of the species requires a firmer rationalization than loyalty to pre-historic cult ideologies. Time to change!

So, surely, the long range vision of us men in the men’s movement isn’t to bicker with Radical Feminists , those badly hurt humans, for control of the toys of our grown up playpen— power, money, position, prestige, but to discover our limiting Archetypes and change them; to unite with all willing men and women to expose and challenge the exploitative nature of the system and the anti-male feminist-driven legislation, which all of us, men and women have made, and change them, driven by the clear understanding that the idea of an attainable individual happiness is primitive and atavistic, since total happiness can only be a condition where everyone is happy .

The vision is to show us that though we live in a high-tech age of computer technology we carry the archetypes of Pre-Hellenistic Greece, and, in order for the magnificent harvest of technology to bloom, the king no longer needs to die. The crops will bloom without his blood. The universe is benevolent and sends no bills. The belief in the necessity of sacrifice can finally be laid to rest, and its death celebrated by the honoring of our male children, their health, their safety, emotions, success, and comfort equally with our female ones. It can be celebrated by the lifting from women of the insupportable debt of men’s sacrifice, and the lifting from men of the agony of their own death and suffering so that all of us, men and women, can understand the terrible ghosts swimming in our own cultural water and like newly evolving beings emerge from it to the dry land of a new paradise, hand in hand. Out of the egg at last.

Copyright Laurie Payne

Feb 3rd 2011. reproduction upon request.

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7 responses

14 02 2011
Dorian Payne

An interesting piece. Keep up the dialogue. I have tried to reach you via e-mail but have had no luck. Could you please send me an e-mail with your current e-mail address attached. Thanks,
Dorian

19 02 2011
Cherry Payne

Hi Laurie, I believe I am your first cousin. Would be great to hear from you – I am doing some research into our family tree.

Kind regards,
Cherry Payne

20 02 2011
lauriepayne

Hi Cherry, My dad did an exhaustive family tree but I am in Asia now with no access to it. Where do you live and where did your parents come from ?Laurie n

18 03 2011
Eleanor Payne Cooper Wright

Hi Laurie,
I am another lost cousin waiting to be found. My mother was Isabella Payne Cooper and a cousin to your father Sydney. I believe you stopped to see her on your way to Canada many years ago . I was off in Wisconsin in nursing school.
I now live several hours south of you in Anacortes, Wa. I lived here for the last 20 years. Mother moved here also and passed away in 2003 at the age of 96. I found Cherry on Ancesty and was helping her look for you. I still have letter from your father. Would be great to hear from you.

Ellie

21 03 2011
lauriepayne

Hello Ellie, Yes I remember calling in at Isobel’s home near L.A. while I was attending Stanford. Well I now live in the mountains of B.C. I am 78 nearly 79 and pretty fit and in decent shape. I have four kids– three boys and a girl. Right now I am in Asia. I winter in Asia now as the winters are too grey and cold but I will be returning on April 7th. Good to recconaitre. Keep in touch.Laurie By the way I emailed cherry yesterday at cherald@hotmail.co.uk but it bounced so if you are in touch with her tell her.Hugs and peace.Laurie

23 03 2011
Eleanor Payne Cooper Wright

Hi Laurie,
That is Cherry’s email, but will let her know you tried to e mail her. Good to hear back from you. Keep in touch.
Ellie

25 03 2011
lauriepayne

Hello Ellie, thank you. As you will soon discover I am a child wandering in the world of cyber looking for permanence so just to keep things a little clearer would you be so kind as to send family matters to me at my email Lauriepayne4@gmail.com.Thanks

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