This is part of a series of seminars on the future. And, last weekend, we were discussing the very nature of time. And I want to give a sort of summary of what we were talking about before going into this particular weekend’s discussion which is the future of communication. Last weekend. We discussed, the idea that history, the notion of human life as a kind of progressive system that is beginning from the old, the primitive, the worn out, the stupid, and going on progressive led to greater and greater attainments the wise the good. The successful and so on. That this is a very dangerous illusion. That in so far as we feel we are participating in and improving human life through the course of history, we are actually destroying ourselves. Because everything that so far, through technology and through the accumulation of human skill,we call the increase of our powers, is leading us to destruction. Not because technology in itself is a bad thing. But because the spirit in which it is used is a spirit of man against the universe, man against nature. And man has to realize, that he is an integral part of nature. That he is just as much a natural form as a seagull or a wave or a mountain. And if he doesn’t realize that he uses his technical powers to destroy his environment to foul his own nest.
And so when you look at a great modern city like Los Angeles. And you see the. Absolute ruination of what used to be a very lovely natural scene full of citrus trees and sunshine now turned into ways smoggy slum. So the Los Angeles-zation instead of civilization, of the world is the result of having a sense of our own existence. Which is contrary to the facts. And that is to say. We are all trained, by our parents, teachers. By our peer groups. To experience our own existence. As an ego. In a capsule of skin. Confronted by an external world which is not ourselves definitely not. And that this external world is something that really threatens us because we’ve been brought up to the idea that basically it’s a mechanism it’s a stupid unintelligent manifestation of energy. Right out in the father’s galaxies it’s nothing but fire and gas. Nearer to us it’s nothing but water and rock. And it’s full of buzzing insects and. Other organisms that are inferior to the human status. And therefore something that’s not to be trusted at all and we have been brought up with the idea that we come into this scene. As if we will complete strangers to it. We’re born by an accident of bad rubber goods or something like that. And we arrive in the US. And confront it like that see what’s outside there. And this is a hallucination. All this is a complete. Fantasy. Official people in psychiatry complain about the hallucinatory States induced by L.S.D. and so on and so forth but they are nothing they are nothing in their hallucinations compared with the hallucination of being a skin-encapsulated ego. One is not that. For example, it’s a very very very simple a human being exists by virtue of living in a world where there are plants. Where there is air. Where there is water where there is some and that temperature. And plants imply insects and grubs. They can’t live without them. And grabs imply birds. And birds imply fish. And so on and so on it all. It all fits together, so that you are patterns every every living organism is a pattern of something which is inseparable from the pattern of everything else that is going on. So that you could say you as a living human organism are something that the whole universe is doing at the point of space and time which you call here and now. You are not separate, you flow into all that surrounds you in exactly the same way that your head goes with your feet. See, they’re inseparable, when you were born, you weren’t put together like one constructs an automobile. Screwing on this bit and screwing on that bit and so on. You beautifully grew head and feet together, all of one piece. From your mother’s womb. And in exactly the same way, that your head and your feet are related together so you go with you I want to get this word into the English language, go with instead of cause and effect. Instead of that mechanical understanding of the world which was Descartes and Newton they thought of the world as billiards, you know, you you hit a ball and it goes [clicks]. And it’s that ball like that is in. And they thought of cause and effect you don’t need to use that concept at all. Go with just as a front goes with the back just as a top goes of the bottom doesn’t up goes with down. There in the operable. So in exactly that way you go with. Everything that you call the external world.
And therefore you have to treat the external world as if it were as much you as your own foot. Or your own head. It’s part of you. It is you. There’s no way of separating, therefore you have to be very kind and reverent and respectful to the mountains, to the forests and so on. To the water to the fish. You for example, live on fish just as birds live on worms, and if you kill any creature. In order to live, you have a duty towards it. That is to say, you must not exterminate the species on which you live. People have, for example, in the whaling industry they have practically exterminated whales. And it’s become a very serious situation, because you must farm, cultivate every species on which you feed. If all worms were to be eaten by the birds, the birds would have no further sustenance. From the worms point of view, if all the birds were the vanish, the worms would overpopulate themselves, and starve themselves. So the worms depend on the birds, just as much as the birds depend on the worms. So we all depend on the whole interaction, of the system of biology. It’s a mutual eating society. You may say that’s too bad, you know, that life has to involve this crunching and crushing and annihilation of other creatures, but that’s the way it is. And therefore, if that’s the way it is, the way to do to do it properly is number one; to farm, instead of merely destroy. Be assured that the species you feed on is maintained, that it goes on. Farm the whales, don’t just hunt them. That’s the first principle.
The second principle is, whenever you destroy a living body for your own maintenance, give it the honor of cooking it as beautifully as possible. A fish that has died for you and is not well cooked has died in vain I’m quoting Lin Yutang. So this is the situation in which we find ourselves life is a system in which organisms, by mutual eating, transform fish into people, grass into people, lettuce into people, cows into people. What about people? What are they transformed into? We are proud to proud and we try to resist our transformation into some other forms of life and therefore we have a wretched profession the morticians otherwise known as undertakers who try to embalm us and preserve us and put us in concrete barriers instead of letting us simply join the biological rhythm actually watch it. Happen when a person is dead is that they should be buried three feet underground with no casket, nothing, just naked in the earth. And that field should be allowed to lie fallow for some years. And then it would be beautifully fertilized by human bodies and crops would grow out of it.
They always say that the best wheat is grown on old battlefields. But you see, we resist that. And the morticians will put an ad in with some girl who’s lost her husband looking out of the window on a rainy day. They say,trust us, he’s not rotting really, you know, we’ve got that concrete thing we’ve got that extra special covering that super bombing and the corpse is still there. Baby don’t worry. You know, how mad can you get? How insane, how ridiculous. The root of this kind of disturbance, of feeling that you are separate inside your skin and not simply all one process with everything that’s going on around you.
The root of this is a failure, of communication. Now, if I want to talk about communication. One of the funny things that occurs to me straight off is that the subject of communication, is really the same subject as life. Life is communication. But let’s take the subject of advertising. Life is advertising, because the moment- What is advertising doing? Advertising is trying to promote somebody is game somebody is existence somebody is biological reality because he’s maintaining himself by selling something and he advertises it so as to sell it so one could say that all life is advertising. Everybody advertises himself and some way or other.
Or take another subject, strategy. Military strategy. All life can be seen as a form the strategy. Any major department of Human life that we classify we can call it business, we can call it strategy we can call it advertising we can call it communication but we can see all life as that. How then are we going to define communication as a particular human activity as distinct from other activities how what is the difference between communication and architecture? What is the difference between communication and playing on the stock market? What is the difference between communication and football? These are very very difficult things to define, because there is no difference. Football is a form of communication. Sex is a form of communication. There isn’t anything that we do that isn’t a form of communication, and therefore you may say why talk about communication because it’s everything anyhow. So, in order to define the field I’m going to talk about communication. More narrowly. Communication is language. Communication is, the world of symbols. It’s true, sexual intercourse is a form of communication, but I’m not going to include that sort of activity in what we’re going to discuss. What I’m going to talk about is the way in which human beings use noises like words and symbols like numbers, to represent the things which go on in the material and physical world. If you take a glass of water. And you drink it, and you taste that, you see, that is an event in the physical universe, but the word water is also in the physical universe, because it’s a sound. But that particular sound water is used in a way that is peculiar. It is used to represent that transparent liquid that you drink.
So alongside the physical universe of people and everything that’s going on, there is another universe that we have invented, of words and signs and numbers that represent. The physical world. And we are very very preoccupied with this symbolic world. And we very often confuse it with what it represents. This is especially true in the United States of America. This is a country and nation a culture which is devoted in a most peculiar way to symbols. Not so long ago, the Congress of the United States voted very serious penalties against anybody who burned or mutilated the American flag. That same group of people is responsible for burning and destroying the physical landscape and population of the United States of America. They will not properly resist the depravities of lumber companies who are destroying the redwood forests. The watersheds. The industries who foul our streams, deprive us of all water. Poison the air. That’s all fine, just so long as you don’t destroy the flag. The flag is the symbol, only the symbol, of the physical country. Of the day instead of protecting the physical country, protect the symbol. In the same way exactly, people confuse money with wealth. Money is paper, is bookkeeping, is a useful method. Of avoiding the inconveniences of barter. But money has become something to possess in it’s own right. To have more money than you can possibly need, you know, the joke about if somebody gives you a million dollars on the condition that you spend it all in one day what would you buy with it? And you are certain things that are excluded, like you mustn’t buy an enormous real estate thing you just have to spend it on things that you could use. And it’s a very difficult problem as to how you would spend a million dollars in a day. Think it out realistically. But when you get this obsession with money as a reality as if it was something that actually was desirable. You get an entirely hallucinated population of people who simply don’t know what’s good for them. And are as shall we say intoxicated, addicted to money as if they were all on heroin or opium. This is the confusion of the symbol with what it’s supposed to represent.