Pensive was the Master’s pupil, certainty an absent sentiment, and coursing through his mind instead, a fraught and blurry sentience.
And so it was in times of treasure, of glinting steel and royal leisure, that the measure of a man was weighed in ounces of grit and pounds of humility – or at least that how it went when all a man’s time was spent learning from an Ancient – so the pupil thought, so the world had shown.
Thrown from lofty towers, in corners dark and made to cower – at least for those that most call cowards – the seeping ink of changing times had come at last to write the lines in pages which soon would be found is the histories.
The hidden truths went deeper in, the baldfaced lies of weaker men, the lives of those who couldn’t see, the dragon boats upon the sea, and all the many factions had heard the call to actions dark and bloody.
The Master knew what he would do, he kept that knowledge to himself, the pupil of the Ancient’s health was teetering on shattered – not that it mattered – for tasks aplenty still remained to do his part to lift the stain of blighted spells and darkened mirrors reflecting the hearts of broken men through prisms cracked and prisons stacked with shit and filth and sadness.
The madness of the common man was only passed by those who’s lives they enriched, the pressure of the royal class – of noblemen inbred to lack the mind to see the value of heart – was crushing them into the ditches which they dug against their wishes as trenches for the coming war which never left in Evermore and peace was found for nevermore.
The Northmen sailed upon the rivers, the Easterners had filled their quivers, the Westerlings poisoned their livers, the Southerlanders freed their wyverns and Midiland was all ashiver – the war of ages was upon them, as was foretold upon the pond when the spirit of prophecy came to speak to the First King of the Old Age, but all had forgotten the tales or cast them off with disdain – as the traps of time were sprung and sprang upon the weakest first.
The Master had commanded him, the pupil who could not but spin in uncertainty, to do what now he just had done – though far from over, just begun – to slip the dagger Dragonbone into a new and bloody home; the heart of the Usurping King was pierced and split and ceased to sing.
The question of escape at hand, the blood upon the pupil’s hand, and nowhere found a helping hand, his destiny within his hand, he slunk into the catacombs through the hole beneath the grate within the secret room behind the bloody Opal Throne.
And with that single dagger-strike, the strike of stone to flames ignite, infernal war did then burn bright, the Kingdoms Five passions alight, the claims to govern wrong and right, were to be settled by the sword and the Word and the Ward and blur the line ‘tween the day and night.
As it ever always was, regardless of the seeming cause, nothing would ever be the same.
Jarlslag was a simple man. He was happy to do as he was told, as long as those telling him to do things understood his limitations and instructed him within them.
His happiness led him to a blissful space in which he could exist in a rewarding life full of task that depended on him to get done. This was all a mean really needed, that and a family to share the rewards of responsibility with.
Jarlslag had both, and he was one of the fortunate few to have no questions about the nature or character of those who gave him his instructions. His parents told him what to do, and he did those things to the best of his abilities.
When his father brought him into the training camps of the city guard, he went happily because he knew that he would have no end of tasks and instructions given to him, and he went about them to the best of his ability.
He had learned over the years that he was not the most talented of men, far from it in fact, but he had also learned that his consistency in giving his best effort set him apart from all but a select few.
Of those few an even smaller proportion were also among the most talented and intelligent the guard had to offer. Those were the men who now gave him his instructions. He then distributed pieces of those instructions to other men who then saw them done through the labors of other men.
Acting Commander of the City Guard Jarlslag had always been a title that rang sweetly in his ears, and if he’d had a pang of discomfort or a stray question disturb his mental equilibrium for a moment he’d always simply shoved it to the side and gotten the job done.
That’s why, as he approached the ambassador from the Shattered Kingdom with the aim of slipping his long-dagger between the ribs just under the ambassador’s left nipple, he thought nothing of it so much as he thought about getting the job done and giving his best effort.
Commander Jarlslag didn’t realize, as he followed through with the instructions he’d been given by General Korailen and the point of his dagger pierced the ambassador’s heart, that this action would be the spark which would ignite an inferno of war that would sweep across the continent in the same manner as a forest crown fire – sweeping across the forest canopy, killing nearly everything beneath it through suffocation and desiccation as the fire burns all the oxygen out of the understory and the hot winds scour though, drinking deeply the moisture of the forest as sacrificial blood for the fire gods- before reaching the sea and putting to test the power of the very depths.
He didn’t realize, but the spark was nevertheless struck and the tinder began to smoke…
I’m currently sitting on the canopied deck of a houseboat, anchored at four points to a sandy beach, floating upon the backed up waters of the Colorado River the make up the liquid portion of the reservoir known as Lake Powell.
The corners of this fucking boat, the edges and angles and…shit, everywhere I suppose, are covered with spiders of all sizes and shapes and habits.
We’ve got grey predatory spiders, with large orb-like abdomen’s and sleek and shiny legs, looking utterly predatory, and hopping around their webs with great alacrity. We’ve also got a brown spider with a tube-like shape continuum between head and abdomen, furry along body and leg, and mainly prowling the edges of the webs spun by the orb-spiders and others.
There are small skittering spiders, and large recluse-looking brown spiders that weave webs, and several more besides; this morning just as dawn broke, I noticed a small black spider dangling from a web descending and ascending a single rope of web, hanging just above my torso, which I had not seen the like of in the three days I’ve been here.
The ubiquity of the spiders has flavored my musings. Gods are often shaped from the clay of the environment within which the people who create them walk within, either that or from the qualities that are perceived to be lacking from the environment – qualities which are usually the embodiment of the hope of a better future to which the disappointments, and the poisonous effects such disappointments are so often want to wrought upon the mind of a people or person, are collectively neutralized (or buried) through the power of “for the greater good” – but either way, the environment shapes the Gods either through substance or void.
I’ve yet to even touch my telephone, or look at it with intention, since I got here. In fact, I didn’t even know where it was until one of the telephones was tossed overboard last night by one of the children, and everybody went to ensure their own devices were secure. It was, safely zipped away in the pocket of the very same bag which held this computer until I snagged it to write this musing, rambling offering.
This total disconnection from the online world, and from nearly everything in my life besides my family and the basic requirements of survival, has caused me to revisit my decision to enter the digital social world, in another instance in what must now number in the thousands, trying to understand this compelling desire to stay and offer up my own voice for the inspection of the masses.
Why would I, a man who eschewed such activities all throughout his twenties, care to jump into the fray and begin to sound my sounds into the cacophonous symphony of the online clownerary fracas?
Before I answer that…the spiders, yes, back to the spiders.
The WWW eh? Aye.
Some of the web-weaving spiders on this boat weave lovely geometric patterns, and then small flying insects fly into the web, jostling about for a time, until adjacent strands of web also attach to their bodies, twisting and knotting around them, until movement becomes nearly impossible across the entirety of their little insect bodies. Then the spiders, at their leisure – usually in the morning hours and across the evening after the set dips below the horizon dropping temperature to sub-dessicating levels – descend, and either eat the insects outright, or inject them with their digestive venom, enzymatically digesting the insects from the inside out, to return later for a refreshing liquid meal.
Some spiders lurk at the edges of webs spun by other spiders, reaching up on occasion to jostle the web once or twice, then once again, then twice more. When the curious owners of the web come to investigate the disturbance, perhaps hoping to secure another future liquid meal, the trickster spiders spring onto the unsuspecting web-weaver biting them and incapacitating them with what must be paralyzing venom, to then consume the weaver-spiders at the newly established order of leisure.
Other spiders, similar to a satellite bull-elk roaming the edge of the harem of the alpha-bull hoping for a quick fuck while the big boy is busy with a cow on the other end of the clearing, sit at the edges and margins of the web, jumping with a rappelling rope of web attached to their ass-ends onto flying insects that flew near, but not on, to the webs of the weavers.
Still others seem immune to the glue of other spider’s webs, scampering across them with ease to snag a bundled meal to carry along while removing themselves from the reach of the wealthy homeowner and their vengeance.
What you do not see in the spider world is charity. Spider’s ain’t intentionally helping their neighbors. Nevertheless, there are benefits rendered all around. The rappelling spiders miss, and the flying insects sometimes flee to their demise in the webs adjacent to the leapers. The thieving spiders don’t always escape, and often make a meatier meal than a mosquito. The spider-hunting spiders make room for a new generation of weavers to mature, keeping those responsible for the little ecosystems at healthy populations and ages.
All of this action takes place on a manmade construct which is aimed and increasing the ease and enjoyment of the survival process in a harsh place with remarkable traits which, if used thoughtfully and with proper precautions, can deliver a massive increase in happiness, enjoyment and opportunities for connection with the people you’re surrounded by.
There’re a few human roles that aren’t present in the spider world.
There is no self-delusional spider. No spider spins a web to fool itself into thinking it’s something that it is not, only its prey or enemies get the deceptive treatment. Modern deceit is a luxury, for politics and global power struggles are luxuries of abundance.
The spider that weaves a web and then gets caught in a trap of its own devising is a spider that does not survive. Creatures that demonstrate solitary behavior have a much harsher survival reality than do those displaying group and especially community behavior… at least insofar as the group or community.
An ant hill will defeat one or even several spiders in a direct confrontation every time, even at the cost of many members of the colony – each of which would be happy to donate their life in the defense of the greater good – but their own lives are not full, for these communities are super-organisms which think and act in unison and display behaviors – greater in scale, diversity and complexity – than any individual or small group of ants could perform without the signaling-pheromones creating an overmind very similar across a variety of individuals as our own mammalian brains create – with the help of neurochemicals, axons, and neurons – inside the cranial cavity.
Even so, a spider will rarely confront an entire ant hill by itself, but will rely upon its superior power, intelligence and experience as an individual hunter to confuse, ensnare, entrap, surprise, lure – or any other number of predatory behaviors – a single or small group of ants into conditions favorable to their (the spiders) digestive satisfaction.
One of the beautiful bounties of humanity is the ability to negate some of the harshest of the selection tools which nature pares down populations with in a process of sharpening the edge of the remaining members of the category.
Of course, there is no escaping the fact that when we remove factors which promote the direct viability of the species, we then ipso facto promote traits and behaviors which do not promote direct viability of the species. It then follows that some of these traits will have a directly adverse effect on the viability of the species.
For example, if a certain spider or species of spider were a web-weaving spider, and did not make effective webs, then that individual or species would be faced with two basic decisions; in survival settings, a behavior that isn’t effective is either altered or the host of the behavior suffers from both short term inconvenience and long-term decreases in viability.
If you can’t eat, you can’t live. If you can’t fuck, you can’t breed.
But uniquely high – insofar as I can tell, uniquely high across the spectrum of all species and throughout the course of all the evolutionary unfolding unto this very moment – generalized and self-aware intelligence is a survival tool of such vast disproportionality and power that we humans, the possessors of just such an intelligence, have been able to create breeding viability approaching 100%, and which will likely be within decimals of that figure within the next decade, have created a very interesting and essentially unmatched level of survival complexity to the game of evolution.
On the one hand, you’ve got the original genetics which have come about from – in what are the current best estimates, estimates which seem to move unidirectionally backwards, that those who study such things can afford us – multiple hundreds of thousands of years for the species itself, but almost all of the behaviors that humans display in the developmental process and indeed, though with lower levels of complexity, in adulthood are represented elsewhere in the animal kingdom, both now and historically, and many of them are represented almost everywhere in the animal kingdom across all known iterations.
But on the other hand, you’ve got a traditionally small but still quite significant feature – though now this particular facet of the ever shifting gemstone of evolutionary-intelligence has presented as quite large and significant indeed – of novel genetic sanctuary.
In a coruscating and turbulent river of self-perpetuation and defiant action – all actions taken with purpose are defiant in the face of entropic decline – in something perhaps akin to floating detritus or maybe more like a spiral pool in a momentary crook of the riverbank, dampening zones have been created to allow for the invention of an uncommon, and maybe even new, manner of living.
This is where that balancing mechanism comes back with force, however, because there will be a recalibrating of the survival metrics at some point
Inside these meadows in the forest of evolution, new species of behaviors and genetic clusters have flowered and fruited, perhaps true species divergence, perhaps true vital-mechanism divergence – carbon-based and mostly oxy-hemo recyclers may not be the only ways in which LIFE can function – but I cannot help but think, and time has yet to fail in bearing this out, that most of these new species, behavioral or otherwise, will not survive the first great wildfire of societal collapse, much less the near-world-ending natural disasters always just around the corner on a geological street map.
One of the alarm bells that goes off in my head when I think about these things is just such a disastrous scenario. The genes and behaviors that have kept humanity alive for countless thousands of generations have partially, in the case of the genetics, or mostly, in the case of the behaviors, gone by the wayside. How would humans fare in a world which had all of our modern conveniences and contrivances disabled, destroyed and/or deleted?
The obvious answer is, of course, that most people would die within the first couple months. The less-obvious answer – one which remains unknown – will be in response to the question of whether or not the remaining population will have enough of the genetic and behavioral tendencies in place to survive after that.
As I was floating upon the artificial-infinity-soup that the waters of Lake Powell embody, I had a thought occur to me:
Imagine being out here, in this environment where all that is required is survival and enjoyment in tune with your natural rhythms, and thinking to yourself, I need to change my body parts…
It was unfathomable to me that such a conversation should even be taking place, especially on the national scale. Like, uh, folks…who gives a fuck? There are no more than 1 in 1000 and probably more like 1 in 10000 who legitimately struggle with some sort of untreatable psychological divergence which causes them to believe that they’re permanently stuck inside the body of the wrong gender.
Same for non-dimorphic genitalia at birth.
The people who live the lives behind these numbers should be treated with the same amount of respect, and perhaps a touch more kindness, as everybody else, but the idea that an issue affecting less than 1% of the population should be taking the top spot in the news at least once per week should really begin to spark your sense of narrative manipulation.
Then you might want to ask yourself why it is being shaped that way, and what the effects of the shaping are bringing about.
That’s just about all I have to say about that, for now, you can do your own thinking.
The last thing I will say on these non-immediate-survival related genetic and behavioral – yes, Roman, I know, their Venn diagram looks pretty close to a circle – divergences is this:
All the threads are necessary to complete the perfectly proportioned geometry of an untarnished web. I don’t have any hate within me for people choosing to take the clay of their own life into their hands and shaping it how they please, I just don’t appreciate when powerful tools are used to suggest, push and coerce other people into behaviors and opinions that are not conducive to the survival of their happiness nor the viability of the species.
After all, just as missing threads will bugger the beauty of the web, so will intentionally botching the weaving.
There is another type of human who acts upon and around the WWW and is not present in the spider world – these are they that might just be the most important kind – and they are the ones who climb or leap upon the web and begin to shake it.
The shaking has its own rhythm, and encased within that rhythm is a message, and that message is meant to be shared with others.
Some of these web-shakers have simple messages:
“There are spiders who will poison you, dissolve you from the insides, and consume you! Watch what happens when I shake it like THIS…”
– Suddenly a spider appears to deny the existence of spiders while plotting to eat the messenger –
“If you eat right, exercise and fulfill your responsibilities then you’ll live a much more rewarding and satisfying life.”
– Suddenly a spider appears to deny the existence of cause-and-effect health outcomes while plotting to poison the messenger –
“If you can master the way that you act in the world, and the way to react when the world acts on you, then you’ll be more successful, wealthier and more capable of building a meaningful life.”
– Suddenly a spider appears to deny the existence of free will and mental mastery while plotting to ensnare the messenger –
Some of them have more complex and nuanced messages:
“There are not Republican spiders or Democrat spiders, just Snake Spiders, and Snake Spiders will always crawl and slither, poison and snare, bind and constrict, prey on the weak and ignorant, consume and digest everything they can get their scales and mandibles around.”
– Suddenly a spider appears to deny the existence of conspiracy and cabal while plotting to entrap and liquidate the messenger –
“There are certainly more ways of seeing the world than through a purely scientific view, especially given the flawed weavers of the scientific method and the fundamentally limited understanding of the rules binding the infinite web together, but there are also spiders who offer a cloyingly sweet scent of simplistic understanding to lure in unwitting gnats into an esoteric weaving that merely serves to aggrandize the spider and slowly siphon off the vital essence of the ensnared gnats, even as they continue to buzz in obeisance inside their death hammocks.”
– Suddenly a spider appears to deny the existence of complexity and depth while plotting to spin a comfortable and ignorant death for the messenger –
“There are fundamental building blocks of reality, of every facet of reality, including human existence. Some of them are physical laws, others are biological and environmental and still others are cultural and psychological, but – even with the diversity of possibilities and combinations contained within the nearly infinite potential iterations of these foundational rules – if any of the fundamentals are missing, then the species will wither and fade from existence.”
– Suddenly a spider appears to deny the existence of reality or truth other than those of power and perspective while plotting to convert, reshape, and repurpose the messenger –
Yet all of them share a couple common messages:
“This is a web, and webs are connected, and you can use those connections to create a better and more harmonious web – which will both improve the strength of the web while increasing the beauty of the woven tapestry – and weave your legacy into the permanent fabric of existence.”
“Here’s some useful shit I’ve learned to help you do it.”
You can choose to listen to the web-shakers or not – I am such an one, and you’re reading this, so there’s that – but there are spiders out there, and they are interested in consuming you for their own gain <shake> they will lie and cheat and steal <shake> they will sell you false hope at the cost of true potential <shake> they will poison you in any way they can <shake> and they will seek to obstruct your progress at every opportunity <shake>.
If you become mentally sharp, physically strong, morally committed, spiritually fulfilled and benevolently oriented then they will have a much harder time tearing you down, luring you in, and eating your dissolved essence.
Walltorn Indralsmith was thinking, and also thinking about the significance of what he was thinking about and also the significance of the fact that he was thinking about the significance of what he was thinking about, but he was also consciously stopping himself from letting the web cast out any further than that.
“If the nodes radiate…why the nodes? Yes, temporality spirals unevenly…hah! Radiate, irradiate…mmm…mmm…hah! Who draws the lines? Who indeed? But…it’s known…oh yes…it’s known…who knew when? But…oh…so why can’t they see it, I’ve shown, but…mmm…but, the nodes…if blood spills, does it spill in a circle? Mmm…mmm…hah! But who knows? I know…yes…I know…but, Sottfor Trew? The seeds…oh yes…the seeds, sown? Hah! Sown! Sewn…mmm…mmm…hah!”
The Royal Geometrist was a title many were confused by – why still royal when the throne had remained unoccupied by way of destruction? – because they did not realize the importance of the shape of things, the planes and the folds, the plains and the edges, the plain and the exceptional – why would they? – but Walltorn understood.
Exceptionally long life – only exceptional because very few, yes, very few indeed – was a nothing short of a curse in most ways, but the ways in which it was a gift outweighed everything else – the Indralsmith blood was tied to tying for tides upon tides and tines and spines – for who would put the pieces together of the pieces put together? Who?
“Little did they know…they knew…when they chose me…faith isn’t knowledge until the next generation…that I’d do what they wanted, and more…oh yes, oh yes…but I see beyond their sight for my sight was theirs to begin with, and now I’m beyond the beginning…I didn’t know then what I know now, about the time, oh yes, the time of the time…as a bolt begins outside of the body at all, much less the heart, but when it pierces the chest …an imprecise term…and the heart, it continues through the cavity.”
The wagons were a funny detail.
“Mmm…mmm…hahahaha! The WAGONS! Mmm…I didn’t see the wagons…mmm…I’m not funny though, no no no…mmm…why? Too busy being…who was the first to know? Mmm…outside the…mmm…origins are tricky…origins…which…when…mmm…is when even…mmm…hah! Funny, clever…mmm…who’s the clever one?”
Walltorn Indralsmith turned his head when the tethers oscillated, Sottfor Trew had arrived, and the seeds had been planted, he would now see enough to see more, and the Royal Geometrist would be his eyes until his eyes were ready. He disabled the protective measures as Sottfor approached the chamber.
The blood had already been drawn, the blood to counter the blood, but the ties were strong and the tapestry wide, and tall, and only black and red, no white, no blue, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no…STOP!
“Too far, too far, lines from circles…mmm…eyes are not lines, they are circles, see? Hah! Oh yes, see…mmm…Ties and ties and ties and ties and STOP! Mmm…mmm…he’s close…he has been before…the wagons…the why? The Why. Who’s the teacher? Mmm…mmm…hah! Teachers teach what they’re taught to teach about what they’re taught…mmm…mmm…the rat has stopped? Yes, as I thought…mmm…think…thinking…hah! They’ll think they have what they have, but what they have…mmm…enough, he’s too close, and they all have to die…dye…mmm…dye the tapestry…mmm…hah! But, who the audience, yes? Oh yes, oh yes…mmm…who the audience…hahahahahaha!”
Sottfor Trew had heard much of some, and he would have questions in addition to his questions, and the time was timed out, so the questions would come before the questions now.
“The laughter disturbs me, Geometrist, as it ever has, but I know I heard what you meant me to hear, so I ask of you now, who taught the teachers?”
Sottfor Trew, Seeker Archon of the Shattered Kingom, sought answers.
Nobody was entirely certain – or if they were, they were certain in their silence on the matter – when or where the first poisoned-wine wagon event took place.
The poisoned branches in the blighted old-growth bureaucracy of Governance City had dropped neither fruit nor nut of substance – nothing new in any of that, of course – but the normally fruitful fungal undergrowth, that thrived digesting the steady supply of corpses and secrets that were the natural byproducts of the benighted forest, had little more to consume.
What was certain, however, was that the phenomenon was no longer something which was whispered of in the studies of polite and powerful gentlemen while shouted about in the commons by unkempt men with piercing blue eyes and little more than a bottle of wine and the rags on their backs to their names.
No, the poisoned-wine wagons had continued to appear with an alarming increase in frequency throughout the Shattered Kingdom. Even I, sanctioned by the chief of each and every splinter to conduct investigations on any subject using any and all of the substantial skills at my disposal, in my position as the Seeker Archon had found little in the way of threads to pull in my quest to unravel the mystery.
Little, but not nothing.
The broken image I summoned from the mind of the dying scholar had revealed pieces of a geometric pattern overlaid upon a map of the Shattered Kingdom. Before he died, and the image faded, I was able to burn most of the image into the surface of a sheet-crystal.
When I compared the pattern to the map of the kingdom on my desk – with each known occurrence of the poisoned-wine events marked out with small goblet shaped figurines moulded from the unreasonably heavy metal mined from the mountains of the Wildersplinter – the convergence points on the patterned map corresponded exactly with several of the known events which had already occurred.
In the time since first making this discovery, 3 of the 7 following events had corresponded with a location on the pattern. Watchers had been assigned to each of the remaining convergence points, and my hope was that there would be opportunity to put the wagon drivers to the question, and perhaps then I would be able to trace these events to their source.
In addition to the steps taken to place eyes and ears throughout the Shattered Kingdom and especially in and around the convergence points, I had enlisted the help of a very peculiar – quite likely mad, certainly often unintelligible, but utterly singular in his genius – man in the shape of the Royal Geometrist, Walltorn Indralsmith.
A mechanical rodent had, only moments before, delivered a small box at my feet before scurrying away in a flurry of jingling metallic absurdity. I stooped to retrieve the box, mildly amused yet again at the unfathomable tasks the Geometrist put his alien intelligence to work upon, and after returning to an upright posture, I inspected it.
His army of mechanical servants never delivered a simple box, it was always some sort of mechanism that revealed the contents of the containers which delivered his strange correspondences. After a puzzled moment, I noticed a slight depression in the surface of what was either the top or the bottom of the box.
In the depression, when I looked at it from a steep angle, could be seen an iridescent image in the shape of an oilseed. I reached into my meal pack, and removed the stoppered vial of oil within. I placed a small amount of oil on my finger and touched it to the depression.
The box began to grow very hot, very quickly, and I dropped it to the ground, cursing as I did. The box grew red hot as it suddenly and universally glowed into life as one box shaped ember.
The embers then died, fading into white ashes which blew away in the light breeze present in the evening air along the thoroughfare which I then – as I often did – took my nightly stroll.
I stooped yet again, cursing once more at the imposition of it all, to inspect what remained. Two exquisitely formed miniatures, perhaps half the size of my thumb, were laying upon the cobbles.
The one on the left was an eerily realistic rendition of a disembodied eye, with the stringy flesh attached behind the orb present as well. The one on the right was a very disturbing – unflattering in the way accurate imitations so often are – full-body miniature of me, accurate and detailed down to the level of wrinkled skin and wearing the very same habit which I then wore.
I was, frankly, a bit surprised to see that this tweet drew so much interest, but upon a moment’s thought, my surprise was mitigated. There is much ado about whether differences in gender ought best to be focused upon, whether or not they’re relevant and even if they exist at all. Thus, this tweet which draws such a distinction has a timely relevance that explains a portion of the engagement.
Another contributing factor, as several of me pals were wise enough to point out, is the desire within most of us to achieve a state of harmony in our lives. Harmony is sometimes confused for equilibrium, so let me draw a distinction:
Harmony is the complimentary amplification of energetic output achieved through integration of the aspected benefits and capacities available from one half of a spectrum with the other by dividing actions based upon the inherent efficiencies embedded within them.
Equilibrium is the negation of energetic output achieved through neutralizing the impact of these aspected features which occurs when the opposing ends of the spectrum are not oriented towards a creative or constructive task.
In simpler terms, harmony is growth and equilibrium is death.
Now that we’ve fleshed it out a bit, let’s go a little deeper into the basis for the observation and why I placed it within a gendered frame.
The simple reason is BIOLOGY.
Men are biologically wired to understand and operate in the world through a combination of visceral instinct and logical cognitive absolutes. It makes sense if viewed through an evolutionary lens, because human males from antiquity to the present day have been the primary participants in physical confrontations including combat and hunting.
Anyone who’s ever been involved in a violent confrontation understands that uncertainty and nuance lead to severe consequences up to and including death. Thus, men in antiquity who lacked the ability to trust their visceral reactions and to act definitively upon them, or who’s visceral reactions were often incorrect, were removed from the gene pool.
Also relevant is the fact that before animal husbandry, protein requirements were met by hunting for meat, usually accomplished by male hunting parties. The necessities of silence and physical communication combined with the limited opportunities to harvest an animal meant that males developed a tendency to communicate with other males through a common instinctual and laconic physical language.
Little nuance or emotional sensitivity is required to bash a skull or spear an animal.
In addition, the competitive realm of mate-selection has mostly been the prerogative of females throughout human history, and this selection process is hypergamous by nature. Thus, the traditionally male roles of physical capacity, decision making and the ability to engage in violence which were necessary to the continuation of the species have been bolstered by the effects of selective breeding.
Women have been shaped by a very different set of conditions.
For example, when the male hunting parties departed from the villages or base-camps, the women stayed behind. This was no slothful or pampered tendency, but rather a fulfillment of another set of responsibilities necessary for the survival and thriving of the community.
Meat spoils quickly in unrefrigerated conditions, and must be preserved by various methods including dehydration and fermentation among others. In addition, byproducts of meat harvesting which are now viewed mostly as waste were utilized in a great many ways. Hides were cured to create invaluable leather, sinew was used as thread and rope, viscera were either consumed or used to create useful implements, and so forth.
Women created most of these useful tools and byproducts during the day as the healthy males were ranging for game. In addition, foraging for vegetation to be used for supplemental food and also for medicine was another traditionally female dominated activity.
Perhaps most importantly, women were the primary caregivers for the children, the elderly and the sick or wounded of their communities.
These set of conditions and activities requires significantly different set of skills and social capacities than the traditionally male roles discussed earlier. With the threat of physical violence heavily diminished, and the need for silence all but erased, there existed the opportunity for discussion and nuance.
Also not to be forgotten, the development of children, support of the elderly and care for the injured or ill requires an emotional sensitivity and nurturing capacity not necessary in hunting or warring roles. The ability to understand emotional signaling and the shades of meaning in conversation requires a nuanced approach and a capacity to intuit the needs of those in one’s care.
This is very different than the kinetic instincts required for violence and hunting, thus the emotional and cognitive development required to be an effective nurturer travels in different directions.
On top of the nurturing responsibilities, the social aspects of traditionally female roles bear examination. Most of these female dominated activities were accomplished as group activities. When picking berries or harvesting herbs, it’s very easy and usually enjoyable to carry on a conversation.
Ask yourself what a community of women might discuss in a world without the written word, access to endless troves of entertainment, and limited contact outside your small community.
They would very likely spend a great deal of time discussing the community itself. In other words, gossip. While often viewed as a malicious practice today, the practice of gossip was essential for survival in the past. If a man was violent towards the women or children, it would need to be discussed and measures taken to ensure the safety of those most vulnerable.
If there were misunderstandings between members of the community, conversation and discussion over the matter would help to bring about a greater sense of understanding and provide opportunities for conflict resolution before violence became necessary.
If psychological issues arose in a member of the community, the wealth of experience in dealing with them would mostly be held in the congregation of women.
And, let us not forget the mate-selection aspect. Those women with the greatest ability to understand the needs and tendencies of the men who had the greatest capacity to provide and protect would be the likeliest to partner with them. Thus a woman who could intuit the emotional needs and provide them effectively would be the most likely to pass her genetics on to the next generation.
When we combine these two rivers of evolutionary biology and cultural reinforcement, what we get is a very compelling underpinning to the gendered framing of instinct versus intuition.
It follows then that, if these abilities were useful in their respective realms, and that those who held these abilities were the most likely to find a mate that the ability to harmonize with that mate would create the conditions under which the most offspring would arise.
If a man’s violence was extended to a partner or members of his community, for example, then a trait very useful in battle would be counter to breeding success. A partner may die, or seek partnership elsewhere, the community might also sever ties with the offending party through shunning or banishment, and they might also exact punitive measures as severe as execution.
If a woman used her intuitive abilities to manipulate members of the community into acting against their own best interests or the interests of the group, she would be found out and subjected to any number of emotional consequences including shunning, passive-aggressive tactics, social sabotage etc…
Thus, if a strong man capable of violence in battle and skilled in hunting was also able to be caring and complimentary with his parter and within the community, and a woman had great capacity to understand the needs and desires of her partner and the broader community, then their partnership would stand the best chance at long-term survival and thus the highest opportunity for multiple offspring.
In addition, because of the usefulness to, and agreeableness within, the tribe, their offspring would have a broader and deeper level of support within the community than the progeny of those less useful or agreeable.
It should be noted, even after this lengthy explanation of some of the contributing factors to the framework within which the original observation was placed, that these masculine and feminine traits are not solely to be found in men and women respectively, nor are they mutually exclusive.
These traits, like all behavioral traits, exist on a spectrum in each person and are the result of genetics and environmental factors. But, though the truth of nuance cannot be denied, the extremes of these traits are always embodied by the members of the gender to which they are aspected. The most violent and aggressive people are always males, and the most neurotic and social people are always females.
This is what frames the spectrum of these traits and, indeed, what gives them relevancy and meaning. Extremes provide the two points between which the nuance can exist. If there were no counterpoints, there would be no spectrum.
To wrap this up, and return to the original idea, the ability to understand the differences in innate tools of subconscious processing between men and women, and the balance of each of them within yourself and your partner, provides a foundation from which can be build a powerful synergy and a basis for trust.
If you can understand the needs of your family and community present in the aspects of intuition and instinct for which you are wired, and can appreciate and rely upon your partner’s complimentary abilities to bolster the areas in which your capacity is limited, then you can create harmony in your home which will extend into every aspect of your life.
It is my desire that you should begin to seek a deeper understanding of this complex puzzle, and that through this understanding you will gain the ability to live a more fulfilling, loving and productive life.