Incoherent Rambling #6
Testicles, Avatars, and Pain.

I think Tarzan must have injured his testicles when he was young. It's the only explanation that works. Think about it. Here we have this grown man who has no conception of Western cosmetics, and he has neither facial nor body hair. He may be a muscular adult, but he's clearly never gone through puberty.

Oh, you may cite his deep, booming masculine voice, but that's probably the result of having to yell all the time. His vocal cords are stretched out, he'll be mute before he turns 35. Besides, how do you think he learned to wear his loincloth? It's not out of modesty, I can assure you of that.

The clearest indication, though, is his total lack of sex drive. He's a savage man, devoid of cultural constraints. The first time he saw Jane, he should have gone ape, so to speak. He should have brought her up to his treetop hideaway and demonstrated his alpha dominance. Instead, he picks her flowers and teaches her to talk to the monkeys. Nutless. Completely and utterly nutless. A vine-swinging eunuch.

No nuts.

I suppose, though, that this was not a part of Edgar Rice Burroughs' original creative vision. He wanted a cleanshaven hero. In fact, we all wanted a cleanshaven hero. We want someone powerful yet well-groomed, strong yet polite. Edgar felt that a young man, separated from our horrible culture, would grow into an ideal specimen of Homo Sapiens. This was probably due to the fact that most of Africa was still unexplored by Europeans at this time. Virgin paradise was still seen as pristine and blameless, God's unstained creation. Of course, today, we know better.

A young man left in the wild will not swing on vines or learn to shave with a piece of flint. He will eat grubs and raw meat and die of malnutrition at the age of ten. Hakuna Matata.

In a way, both Burroughs and Disney made the same mistake regarding human nature. They assumed that man, left to himself, will become a great hero. As Adrian Plass put it, "I could be a really great Christian if other people didn't keep messing it up all the time." The sad reality is, however, for most people, that solitude breeds only insanity, and that the horrors we see in our society are the lesser of two evils. I blame testicles.

I only need one bumper sticker: "Spay the Stupid." I feel this simple message will solve all of modern society's problems.

You always hear people complaining about women having three kids, and using the welfare money to support a cocaine addiction, right? Well, this plan nips that statistic in the bud. Imagine the drop in sexual assault charges, the decline of AIDS, the boost to the economy that results in having to support fewer people.

Overpopulation is a serious problem. There are, quite simply, too many people, and our numbers are escalating. Supposedly, the population of the planet doubles every 50 years. It doesn't take a math whiz to see that that equals trouble. A little castration could go a long way.

It's weird how it seems to be the poorest people who have the most offspring. I'm convinced that the only reason there are still people in the Third World countries is because they have a ludicrous amount of children. For some reason, affluent people often choose not to have children, despite the fact that they are the best equipped to raise them.

I plan to adopt, if ever I develop the maturity or mental illness necessary to choose to support children. There are kids out there who need parents, and it is sheer genetic egotism to say that it would be better to create my own. Then again, one never knows what one's attitudes will be five or ten years down the road. At this point, I still cannot imagine what force of nature could induce me to undertake either enterprise.

Of course, that's what I said about liking girls, too.

I suppose I'm unique in being so resigned to the passage of time and ravages of the hormones. I take it for granted that I won't be the same person in a few years that I am now. I tried, as a kid, to remember to not become an adult. I didn't like the idea. I thought it would mean forgetting my troubles, and looking back on my formative years with nostalgia. I have a definite memory of not wanting to become nostalgic. I burned it into the back of my mind: "Being a kid sucked!".

I was wrong, of course. I didn't know how good I had it.

I grew up in a good home with a loving family. My Mom is a teacher (That's a good thing when it comes to raising young children. How she does at raising adults is yet to be determined.), and she sent me to a private school for nine years. I tell you, I don't know how I could have survived the public school system. No one should have to go through that.

It's tough, being an individual. That goes without saying.

When I was little, I loved language. I learned to speak relatively early and had a fascination for books (or so I'm told, I don't really remember). I still do love books, and I find I need a good novel every so often to kickstart my brain. I never have time to read anymore, though, so perhaps my reputation as a bookworm is no longer deserved. I spend a lot of time reading online comic strips, but they just aren't the same, they can't be the same. It's a different medium, a different kind of presentation, a different amount of information being presented at a different rate.

I really do love language, though. I love the idea of being able to think of something, then put it down in some sort of code, then having another person come along, read the code, and know exactly what I was thinking when I wrote it. It's like telepathy. Technically, it is telepathy, just with a step in between.

Pronunciation: t&-'le-p&-thE
Function: noun
Date: 1882
: communication from one mind to another by extrasensory means

Paper and ink lies outside my senses, doesn't it? Come to think of it, if psychic powers existed, wouldn't they count as a sense?

I can hit these keys, and transmit my thoughts out onto the Internet. If someone else intercepts them, we can share a kind of psychic bonding. The software in my skull goes over to their skull. Pure concepts, abstract, and having nothing to do with their medium, are broadcast from one personality to another.

Personality is a big thing, too. A big part of any sort of communication is knowing the person to whom you're talking. I can get information from a talking screen, but not communication, not connection. That's why I like avatars.

I find I can remember people that I meet online better if they have a definite avatar. So long as there is some little picture associated with their name-- not a photograph, but some unique caricature-- I can connect better. I have a face in my mind from which the words proceed. When in a real-time chat of some sort, I can reach out and poke them, and we share a mind-image of the event. It goes deeper than communication, in some cases. I can project into an imaginary place, and there's someone else there.

Miss Mab is (c) Amber Panyko.  I am impervious to Italian gunfire.

Projection is the key. So long as you're still looking at cyphers on a glowing rectangle, you can't truly connect. You have to use your imagination, yes, but not necessarily in a creative sense. You have to use your imagination in a co-operative, collective sense.

Interestingly enough, the word "avatar" comes from the Sanskritt word for the earthly incarnation of a god.

My avatar, in case you're wondering, is usually an anthropomorphic gecko. I don't consider myself a "furry", though. I'm not obsessive about it. I don't wear latex reptile suits around the house. I'm not under any illusions of having been a herp in a former life. I don't tell people that it's not easy being green. It's just that the mind-picture of a googly-eyed, semi-quadrupedal, cold-blooded, three-fingered wallcrawler is far closer to a visual equivalent of my personality than any photograph could ever be. I don't want my online friends to have to see the face that mere genetics has given me. I want them to see the face my mind wears.

I think most people have a totem animal like that, or, at least, a totem image. Often they simply think of it as a mere preference, and it takes the infinite possibilities of the online world to bring out what it actually means to them.

I chose my avatar for a variety of reasons, most of which I only consciously figured out after the fact.

Firstly, of course, is the reptillianness. I have met only a handful of people with reptillian avatars (dragons don't count), and we all tend to have a few characteristics in common. (Every species tends to have things in common between its members. It's a psychological law.) Lizards tend to be male, tend to have middle-to-low self esteem, tend to be sarcastic, and tend to be lazy, especially in areas of societal convention. The lizard attitude towards wardrobe, for example, usually goes something like "It covers the parts that need to be covered, and it doesn't smell. What more do you want?"

Secondly is my preference of dull colours. I have no spots, no fluffy bits, and nothing on me glows. That's just an esthetic preference, I think, that has been with me for my entire life. I prefer a minimalist decor. I mean, just look at this website, right?

Thirdly is the colour scheme itself. Grey and green. I like stone greys, forest greens and sky blues. Those are the colours of my world. They're calming, they're natural, and they're easy. They're the kind of colours that make me feel at peace.

Let's not forget the aspect of the sticky tongue, the one thing that Jar Jar and I have in common. I like long tongues. I think it would be so cool to have someone toss me an olive, and to be able to snag it without moving my head. I don't really have a problem with insects, either. We humans should have more invertebrates in our diets.

Last of all (and, possibly, most important) is the aspect of wallcrawling. Obviously, that goes back to Spiderman. Spiderman is definitely one of my favourite heroes (right up there with Nightcrawler-- the three fingers), both in attitude and in abilities. I love the way he moves. It just feels right. Spiderman is very much a response to Superman, a challenge to the idea that the hero has to be perfect. Peter Parker is not invincible. He was specifically created to be hated by those he protects, and to never get the girl. Sure, we all want to feel like Superman from time to time. Often, though, we want our heroes to suffer and rise above it, like we do. There is no love for a hero who can never be in danger. That's why Kryptonite had to be invented.

It might surprise people to learn that, in popular medieval theology, God was seen as incapable of suffering. Torture was often used in those days, and it was common knowlegde that anyone who suffered could be broken, and anyone who could be broken was clearly not all-powerful. After all, if God was all-powerful, why would he want to suffer?

Suffering is, I think, central to any serious Judeo-Christian view of the universe. God made life because he loves us. God is Love. Obviously, when a child suffers, a loving parent suffers in their heart with them. A loving parent would rather have both of their legs broken, rather than have one of their child's legs broken.

Once, when I was still in Bible College, I developed a Theological Grand Unification Theory I called "Murphyism". It went a little something like this:

The first and most important law of existence, from which the entire universe is derived, is that there must be the maximum conceivable amount of pain in the world.

Various theories have attempted to prove that God must necessarily exist, so we'll take as a given that they are correct, and that there must be an omnipotent being in order for the rest of the world to be created. Right away, we hit a snag. Obviously, any being is not going to suffer if they can help it, and an omnipotent being can help it. Thus, all of God's personality attributes are alligned in such a way that, given omnipotence, he will, as much as possible, have to do things and feel things that he does not want to do and feel.

A tall order indeed.

We accomplish it by having one of his primary characteristics be omnibenevolence. He does not want others to suffer. Fine then, he creates a perfect world, and all is well, correct?

Yes, except for his secondary and tertiary characteristics, which are basically all the attributes of what we know as love (except for omnibenevolence). The object of one's love must be, for example, a free agent. That's a problem. Also, love requires some measure of fairness, a give and take. That's another problem.

Basically, then, according to Murphyism, all the secondary and tertiary characteristics of love are such that, combined with omnipotence and omnibenevolence (which are required for the universe to exist in the first place), they coerce God into having his creations (and thus, himself) suffer as much as possible. The God our universe began with is the most painful one possible. All life is derived from there.

Not pretty, of course; and, fortunately, probably not true; but there you are.

So, in summary...

God, if He truly is Love, suffers.
I am a gecko.
and Edgar Rice Burroughs can bite me.