Sunday, August 12, 2012

Horatio Algernon

Ok, I'm going to try for a meme pun: "Yes, it was just another Horatio Algernon story, a sad tale of rags to riches to rags again." There, I said it, maybe now it will spread and leave me alone! :)

references: Horatio Alger is the American myth of rags to riches, that if one can make it by hard work then everyone should and can. Flowers for Algernon is the award-winning story of a retarded janitor named Charlie who is given an experimental operation to make him a genius; this was first tested on a mouse named Algernon. It works, and Charlie becomes superhuman, and miserable to finally understand all the unnecessary injustice in the world, starting from the teasing he used to get for being retarded which he once mistook for popularity. Then the process reverses, and Charlie is doubly miserable to become retarded again with only a confused memory that he was once more than he is now.

Publisher's didn't want the story at first, they all told the author to change it for a Horatio Alger ending where Charlie stays a genius, solves the world's problems, makes friends with everyone, marries the girl of his dreams and lives happily ever after - but the author refused, and now the book is a modern classic. I see it as a tragic parable of human spiritual progress. When you wake up to your soul you gain a genius that realizes the world didn't have to be this way, but you cannot change it alone, though you may well fantasize for a while. You must learn to mourn so deeply and profoundly that you finally find a way to rejoin the normal world with an abnormal half-remembered higher perspective and vision, fated to spend the rest of your life trying to make a difference against all the odds of an unenlightened system. The spiritual awakening is a one-way door: you can never forget, and yet still you must go back to the way you were. This is a serious thing that changes your life forever, kind of like taking the red pill or the blue pill as seen in the Matrix movie. That is why the spiritual experience cannot be pushed on people before they are ready, they will refuse and misunderstand your best of intentions from deeper defenses than they can comprehend.

To combine the Algernon parable with the American success myth of Horatio Alger, well, call me or my muse perverse, but maybe that's what America is really about, as we lead the New Age not to mention the economic cycles of boom and bust. We Americans thought (many still do) that we were going to raise the world's standard of living in our superior never-ending technologically driven prosperity, but instead by our ideals we have raised a tragic awareness of paradise lost that is bittersweet. I fundamentally believe and experience that the diversity and tolerance of this country - imperfect yes, but much greater and deeper than most other places on Earth - creates conditions for enlightment that are our true greatest asset. People come here to be free, to realize the American dream, and the soul is reborn in ways that no one could have foreseen.

God bless America, God bless the whole Earth, and God help an awakening humanity.

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