Weird & Güd - Magical Mountains und Du
Weird & Güd is the joining of my 2 best useless qualities — hypercriticism & rabbit-hole-style research — into something useful: recommendations and fascinations neatly packaged together for you every week. No hermeticism required.
Mount Ararat was the place to be if you were anything at all before 2000 BCE.
Noah's ark on the Mount Ararat (1570).
Magic Mountain — it’s not just an amusement park. Magic mountains have been around for as long as there were humans sapien enough to think about them. Whether it’s the Greeks imaging a godly gated community on Mount Olympus or the Incas sacrificing their own to the mountains they also deemed portals of the gods, cultures from all over the world throughout all different times have all come to the same conclusion — mountains are weird.
There are at least 38 mountains of varying scaredness, from the ultra-sacred Mount Ararat where Noah’s Ark landed to the modestly sacred Mount Cruach Phádraig (Croagh Patrick in English) where Saint Patrick hung out for 44 days doing saintly things. People still climb this mountain barefoot or perform “rounding rituals” where they circle around the mountain praying, sometimes carrying a heavy rock — both are forms of penance, which is just another word for a Medieval person’s idea of a good ol’ time.
Ich-Du (I-Thou) and Ich-Es (I-It) — Martin Buber argued that we exist in the world in only 2 ways, both defined by experience. In the I-It category are things we observe and engage with as existing outside of us and being manipulable. When we see a cow and think of the milk it produces, when we react to a rude stranger cutting us off in traffic, when we see our partner in terms of specific qualities — they are generous, they are aloof — these are all means of relating to the world from a detached position. The I-It world is one of separateness and it’s where we mostly live our lives, though this isn’t necessarily a negative when we are experiencing true objects like our car.
The I-Thou relationship replaces that detachedness with unity. Where we once reacted or objectified, we now open dialogue. The cow is no longer some-thing to be utilized but an-other to be recognized; the rude stranger becomes not an outside experience we react to but another us we willfully choose to see for the whole of their being; similarly, our partner is not a mixture of many qualities but a unified being we share a portion of reality with. These rare moments of deep, mutual connection are so otherworldly in their power that Buber says we only need them sparingly to quell our chronic existential dread (making I-Thou a close competitor of Prozac).
Yes, that’s some heady philosophical stuff, but Buber is essentially saying “we are the world,” and as with most philosophies that accentuate same-ness over separateness, you’ll find you can muster more patience and compassion when the world is not a thing that uses and is used but instead is a reflection of ourselves to be conversed with. Here is a bleakly designed website with a short & güd summary of Buber’s I-Thou philosophy.
Whatcha doin? Oh nothing, just thinkin about thou.
I hope this makes your week a little weirder and a little güder. Now go forth, be weird, and above all, be güd.
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