The Neurotic Dreams September In April

Erich Fromm

And so come the days and nights of my autumnal dreaming.
It is the best season. I was telling our new American friends at breakfast about the wonderful sights, sounds and smells mixing up the air of late September. Rotting apples, cool, tropospheric oxygen, the great Lake Ontario turning over, the rustle of leaves, the indifference of shorebirds—rarely do the people of my town shed even a tiny old prejudice for this exhilarating season.
The same human-made facades, factoids, and dedication to “going through the motions” never interrupts these wild natural changes which have motivated all life since the axis tipped our planet into time.
We are inertia. We have stepped out of the natural cycle and therefore abandoned our right to nature and lifetime. Two hundred years ago, verily each new morning came with its own season. Weather mattered. The days’ sunlight was all light for the fuel-less poor. Nature and superstition was medicine and cyclic with each new moon. Gratitude was universal, for life alone was celebration before the advent of antibiotics and the indoor toilet spoiled this species septic rotten.
So all places in the temperate latitudes, my town included, have a natural cycle that hasn’t changed much in ten thousand revolutions around the sun. How has evolution visibly affected the raccoon’s nature since the time of Zoroaster? Different shedding pattern perhaps? Increased saliva production? Either way, the unnecessary raccoon receives no consideration from the species that matters most to all the rest, by virtue of its once in an earth time extreme negative consequences. No imaginary gods have ever possessed our power to destroy. We have gone from top of the food chain, to top of the mountain and erupted our hot lava all over the mass of life. Not a regenerative cure either. No strong comeback in sight for the multitude of existing species. Not while we are left comforting ourselves year after year. The humans are anti-fecundate. Our lava is pure poison, creating lakes and rivers of quicksilver, lead, cadmium, wet boxes of macaroni and cheese…
So for the record of the future, before the mortal gods diarrheaed up the universe good and proper, I compare the following account of the physical and intellectual activity of the man of today (who thinks he is a god), with the man of two centuries past, (who possessed a healthy respect/fear of the supernatural). Both had profound effect upon their selves, families, and the real world at large. I will argue that an abrupt change in comfort level brought about by the defeat of the supernatural has sped up evolution in the species too fast and way too far.
When in a billion years some evolutionary descendants of the bird and butterfly become literate in the ancient human languages, they shall discover this account of the fall of man, more succinct in its specificity than the gore of nuclear war, ecological catastrophe, and total economic collapse. This is the doom at a micro-level, brought to you and yours by the planet’s original sin—blind indifference to human greed and issues of entitlement.
Let it be known to all and sundry that the sun rose above the rooftops this morning and I climbed out of our big bed to tell a tale about my disconnection to the natural world. Kinney drugs and easy listening music sent from above to shower the shampoos and vitamins with good feelings. Howls of the September wind gust against my west window. I will go for a walk about town today to exercise my heart. I wanted to walk west ten miles to the beautiful land we purchased on credit. Our border turkey got mauled by a wild animal last month. Maya discovered the mutilated pile as she ran over the hill to play with some of her favorite things. Wine is good for the heart they say, which is okay, because they must know that the Inca are the ancestral keepers of all Chilean grapes made in France. And just look how playful the shadows dance across the faces of the natural Inca savages, roasting cavies on a stick. Four glasses of water to deter the threat of cholera because those smart-ass Indian laze-abouts knew enough to keep the water supply higher than the cesspools.
Charles Dickens didn’t know. Friedrich Nietzsche doubted plenitudes of germs coexisting on the shitty thumb of his wipe hand. So let’s study and debate his deep thoughts. And tell sentimental tales by the firelight of all European shit-stinkers of old. Pizarro was astonished by his plate of potatoes and roast cavy on a stick. So he killed everybody. Our doctors of history study ancient killing sprees of sociopaths to secure a sound future of status and Tide detergent. The scent of mountain laurel sends a current of ecstasy through the good doctor’s veins. Delusions of grandeur? Perhaps. If he could still hold a dream of historical monsters while clad in llama leather, and roasting his dinner of skinned cavy on a stick.
The walk will begin at the 1940 cement path wanting for human feet, poured lovingly by talented screen-door dreamers of a more innocent time, when some crafty Japs and Huns of the earth were getting bored with all their stuff too. The beautiful, spreading white clouds of the September sky. Harvest time is here. I’ve pulled some red onions that I started from seed. Tobacco hangs dead and drying in my summer kitchen. I can’t wait to get chickens when we move out to our beautiful land. Them, and the Internet to keep in touch with fluctuations in the manic international barometer.
I go to the NOAA Hurricane site whenever I need to be reminded of how we long for clan creation, post-natural, or man-made disaster. I am very lustful at 45, and racking homemade country wines, I still don’t have the power to spank my kids with a stick, knowing very well that I’ve encouraged them to trust in creatures that look like them. Even the sociopaths, who are everywhere outside of some rural communities in Africa and South America.
The September morning for a man of my height, from this spot two hundred years ago, would begin in a mild adrenaline rush to secure a food source, since an animal or man snuck up in the night and stole his leather bag. The walk that would follow would somewhat mimic the morning time of the wolverine or beaver watching from a safe distance as the big thing on hind legs prowled across the meadow.
The sociopath among the commoners did not yet exist, for the birth of refrigerator magnets had yet to electrify a memory bin in the brain to collect the insane knowledge of laminate flooring and the logo colors of professional football teams.
In fact, fellow sociopath, let’s just take a break from the coffee-time prose and imagine the rest of this guy’s September day—the morning, afternoon, and evening before arriving at a most difficultly obtained comfort provided by a wife and children, who, once again, praise god, were not slaughtered in their sleep by other wild men practicing survival.
Grab another cup of Ethiopian coffee, or glass of Argentinean wine, set the book down, and muse about the rise and fall of the human empire. Our innocent man of the past will make it back to his family, with just a minor bruise and a scratch. No infection will develop, and he got word that the tribe is setting up winter quarters three days’ walk away.
Hallelujah! His family is free for the time being. They shall sleep easier in the coming months, with only minor adrenaline-induced dreams of food and drink procurement.
There.
Did you feel an enormous weight lifted from your chest? Did you gaze out the window at the September sunset and imagine the purity and strength of heart in the man who has never known Cheerios? What wonders would have occurred for our race if this survivor of the forest got a grasp of the germ theory and modern plumbing before the advent of anything manufactured by more than a few pairs of human hands! Perhaps some ecstatic, private life out of early twentieth century, northern Norway?
No. I go on a walk espousing the virtues of Nobel dynamite. It’s good for my heart. It’s even better for apathy, and a long life at any cost. The sounds of my September morning are replete with the machinations of the industrial dynamo. One can strain an ear to hear the joys and sorrows sung by non-thermostatically controlled men of two centuries ago. A quiet hum from some friendly ghost in the quivering leaves. A diesel motor running at the stoplight. Behind the wheel sits a creature who deserved the wrath of smallpox, cholera, and bubonic plague, but got a dose of sentimental entitlement instead. It thinks someone or something should care that it passed kidney stones last December.
Earth needs a vicious Cortez of the animal or vegetable kingdom to covet the shores of our species. Some force must bang us back to the beginning or the end, whichever behooves deciduous trees the most.
For it’s either the host of them coloring a September breeze, or an army of these diesel truck idiots burning them to the ground.

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