Bitching Brew

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Does society need structure? I don't believe a society exists without some form of structure, formal or otherwise. I suspect that "authority" lurks behind "structure", in the answer as much as in the question.

Does the human need structure? Less abstractly, do I need structure? The last four months have been largely devoid of it. I can divide that chunk of my life neatly in half.

The first two months lacked a formal structure or authority, but they did constitute an adventure, a quest almost. For what? Don't be silly; a quest doesn't need a charter or mission statement. Think more along the lines of a personal quest, similar to those practiced by many First Nations. Mine, however, was shaped by strangers rather than animals, and guided by rarely-seen relatives instead of ancestral spirits. A quest has a rough but mutable plan of action. The guiding motives are personal and arise spontaneously during the absence from the community - from the structure. Immersion and separation are my two poles of understanding.

Structure is a monarch, and the four great pillars of structure are home, family, occupation and lover. I lacked all four of those for two months on the road. (Far-flung family members have a special position.) The freedom and disorder were exhilarating and relaxing, each in their own good time. Disordered strands eventually clump into order, so the liberty could not last forever; it has its own half-life.

Once back in Ireland, I clung (without noticing) to the pillars of family and home. Single and unemployed, my life remained disordered, but it began to assume temporary patterns. Starved of the internal authority of the quest, I began to flounder in the void.

The interregnum initially brought liberation, and a marvellous self-reliance. Authority, ambitions and acts were spontaneously generated. I resolved competing demands quickly, using a flash-mix of instinct and logic. Internal harmony is a beautiful thing, and it becomes near-mystical when your surroundings (natural and human) seem to resonate. Eventually though, the happy dream faded as external forces impeded. Harmony was lost once resources drained, and the structures of society are fain forgiving of the materially bankrupt.

The second half of the interregnum has been marked by a struggle for order - a struggle for re-admittance? The order found is not a permanent constitution; nevertheless, this makeshift arrangement will be adhered to for quite the foreseeable future. Finances will be re-built, and experience accumulated within the structure this time. A longer period of immersion - before the next separation. My new job begins next Monday; a new home shall follow within weeks. I'm graduating from university soon, a mere twenty months after my final exams. (Even the year below beat me to the parchments.) Oh, and I've finally memorised my new phone number - surely a sign that I've accepted my place for now?

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  • Existence is a gift of constant flux. I'm glad you're rolling with it, Henry.

    By Blogger dpineapple, at Fri Jan 25, 02:23:00 a.m.  

  • Gotta get comfortable in the Orinoco flow. If it all seems to be downhill, keep in mind the curvature of the Earth. The ocean lies far ahead; until then, lap the stream of life, dance over the waterfalls, and hurdle the boulders that circumstance has obligingly provided.

    I hope your flux is on an upward arc.

    By Blogger Martin, at Sun Jan 27, 08:30:00 p.m.  

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