Epworth Church Sign - 5Points

Epworth Church Sign - 5Points

04 January 2012

Favorite Excerpts from Night of the Jaguar by Michael Gruber

On marijuana use: You dead people are very strange. You know chaikora, but you take it without chanting, and also you don't mix it with its brothers and sisters, so that it can speak to you properly. We say that assua is the brother and uassinai is the sister of chaikora. Together they are one of the small holy families that help you listen to the animal spirits. Now, without the rest of the holy family, we can't hear the animal spirits very well, but only the spirits in our own heads. What's the good of that?

On modern man: Because we Runiya are alive in this world. We are inside it, and the plants, and animals, stones and sky and stars, sun and moon, are our friends and relatives. That's what it means to be alive. A fish is alive and a bird, too. But you are outside the world, looking in on it as the ghosts do, and making mischief and destruction, like ghosts do. Therefore we say you are dead like they are. Also, when a person is alive, they carry their death behind them and this is one way we tell a live person from a ghost. But you carry your deaths inside you all the time, so you can have the power of death over all things. So we call you dead people.

More on modern man: So later when they returned from the dream world Moie had asked the priest what was so funny, and Father Tim said that the yana gives you the eye of God, and to God everything must be amusing, as we find the stumbles and tantrums of small children amusing. They think it is the end of the world, but we just pick them up and give them food and a hug, knowing that their momentary pain will soon pass. And this is when Moie discovered that Father Tim was able to keep himself separate from the god when he traveled to the dream world in the yana trance. This was a wonder to Moie, and the two men talked often after that about what Father Tim called ontology. Long, long ago, said Father Tim, everyone's thoughts were like water, connected to every thing and part of every thing. There was no difference between people's thoughts and the rest of the world and the fathers of the wai'ichuranan lived just the like the Runiya. Then one of these ancestors had a thought that was made not of water but of iron. And soon many of the wai'ichuranan had such thoughts, and with such thoughts they cut themselves away from the world and began to slice it up into tiny parts. Thus they gained their great powers over the world, and thus also they began to be dead.

On religion: Well, my mother used to say that when people stopped worshipping God they didn't stop worshipping entirely. She thought the urge to worship was hardwired into humankind, like the urge for procreation. So they worshipped lesser gods, mainly themselves, as being most convenient, but also things like money, fame and sex. Or youth. And these gods all fail, just like Pan did, being tied to corruptible and earthly things.

On consciousness: ...substance dualism, the idea that consciousness is its own thing and exists independently of the material brain, as Descartes believed. It satisfies all the problems of consciousness by explaining them away - the ghost in the machine, as they call it, or rather all problems except one, and that's the killer: how do you imagine any gearing or connection between the material and the immaterial? How does an immaterial mind cause a material event, say, the firing of neurons in the motor cortex that move your arms? Substance dualism implies conscious immaterial beings that are nevertheless capable of influencing matter.

On self: In general humans tend to be uncomfortable locked in the prison of the self. Our own identification with nations and sports teams is probably a relic of that, and on a higher level there's religion, of course. Traditional peoples often identify with animals, and from this we get imitative magic. The shaman allows the spirit of the totemic animal to occupy his psyche. He becomes the animal, and not in a merely symbolic way. To him and the people participating he is the bison, or whatever. They see a bison. ...It's a mistake to assume that they psyches of traditional people are the same as ours. You might just as well say that the particle physicist hallucinates his data in accordance with a ritual called science. ...Traditional people are mainly substance dualists, of course. The spirit is completely separate from the flesh, and the body it happens to occupy at the moment is not the only body it can occupy. Anthro[pology] tends to draw the line here because we don't understand how it's possible to do that, since we're all supposed to be good little material monists.