Running From an Angry Elephant Mother

Written by Courtney Seffense, WLLC 2015-2016

 

Humanity riddles itself and its culture with false dichotomies, the most basic of which is the positive-negative pair. We had to. Homo sapiens and its ancestors would not have survived if it sat on a stone too close to a calf while philosophizing about the neutrality of the universe as an elephant ran it down. No, that hominin would think “This is bad,” and then “correct” the situation by running for dear life and climbing a tree, restoring itself to a relatively “good” situation in which it is not being pulverized into mush by an angry elephant mother. Although in our currently incredibly unnatural lifestyle this gets pathologically twisted into all sorts of unhealthy variations, the basic meaning attached to “positive” or “good” is absolutely anything that contributes to staying alive and your children staying alive. “Negative” or “bad” is anything that hinders, harms, reduces, or diminishes those chances of survival.

There is nothing inherently beneficial to the condition of the universe about that hominin getting away from that elephant. There is also nothing inherently beneficent nor maleficent to the condition of the universe if that hominin is crushed under her protective foot. It’s bad for the hominin, sure, and it would seem good to the elephant that a potential threat to her calf has been eliminated, but both of these values of good and bad are applied on an individual, specific level. The hominin dies, so it’s bad for him or her, and the calf is saved in its mother’s eyes, so it’s good for her, but on any sort of metaphysical, spacetime, above-the-interplay-of-our-biological-ecosphere-here-on-Planet-Earth, universal, cosmic level, there is only neutrality. What happens happens, and is only a careless interplay of the physical and biological forces of nature with no actual, absolute morality attached to it.

I read chapters two and three of The Dark Side of Light Chasers, and I found Ford’s language and explanation style somewhat puzzling. She uses highly dichotomous language throughout (“I worked to show off my good qualities and tried hard to hide my bad ones,” just as an example) – in fact her whole theory is based on the dichotomy of the acceptable and unacceptable, the positive and the negative, the light and the shadow – yet her conclusion is that there is positivity in negative aspects (implying also that there is negativity in positive aspects), which basically equates back to a neutrality, utterly discounting her own language of dichotomous terms, a contradiction that Ford doesn’t seem to notice. I’m not quite sure what to make of that.

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