I've realized recently that I'm the most content when existing within equal amounts of control and disorder. When I tend in one direction more than the other, it's clear that a sensitive equilibrium is disturbed. All work and no play make me a dull boy, essentially...all play and no work can do the same. Now, since writing about myself is boring (not to mention you reading it), I'll do my best to tie this theme into (yep, you guessed it) Society as a Whole, by the end of the entry. A lofty goal, but I'll do my best.
Last night, I finished reading The Botany of Desire, by Michael Pollan. In the book, the auther presents four case studies of plants (the apple, the tulip, marijuana, and the potato) that have been genetically (and thus evolutionarily) influenced by human hands. In these case studies, Pollan attempts (successfully, in my opinion) to argue that such agricultural mainstays are co-evolutionary partners, rather than submissive slaves, to human wants and desires. He urges that we look as ourselves not as masters, but as one would look at bees, carefully going about their daily routine of pollination for the benefit of both themselves and the flowers they patron. When observing the parallels between a honey bee drunken on an orchid's perfume, and a human under the influence of THC, this comparison is not difficult to grasp.
Throughout the book, Pollan routinely references two Greek gods, Dionysus and Apollo, as figureheads for the two apposing processes in co-evolution. As summarized in the book (while not wholly accurate of Greek myth, metaphorically effective) Dionysus is the god of wine, and thus of reckless abandon, submission to nature, disorder and impulsivity. His world is that of a forest seen through the eyes of psilocybin, thick with foliage, insects and wetness in the depth of summer. Apollo, conversely, is the god of order, Calvinism, regimented structure, controlled society, and predictability. His world is that of the office building, subdivided into perfect rectiliniar offices and cubicles, each human therein given a specific and understood task.
Depending on your perspective, the worlds of either god can appear, well, a little undesirable. Too much chaos, and things fall apart. Too much order, and suddenly you wind up in a tight bundle of fascist control. Find a balance between the two, and generally, things tend to harmonize nicely. I'll do my best to give personal examples of both.
Last summer, I was unemployed for two months. My life was completely without schedule. I'd sleep in until noon regularly, go to bed whenever the whim came, and improvised that "consciousness" stuff in between. Occasionally I'd make music. Sometimes, I'd go on a long walk, find a good spot, and just sit there until I got too eaten by mosquitoes or just plain bored. To pay my bills, I sold old toys on eBay. Sounds perfect, right? Well, not really. I was depressed, anxious, lethargic, and generally not engaged. Since I had no schedule, I was always worrying about what I'd do, and what my life's plan was. Since I had no job, I was always worrying about money. Despite going on many walks in the park during this time, in itself it certainly wasn't one.
Nearly a year later, I have a full time job. Schedule has become the norm. On weekdays, I wake up precisely at 9, go to bed almost precisely at 1, and the conscious stuff in between is ordered nearly down to the minute. I go to work Monday through Friday. I spend Monday, Tuesday and Thursday nights with my girlfriend. Wednesdays I make music. Fridays I go into Minneapolis to spend time with friends. Weekends are freebies, which is good. Because, when I find myself too ordered and too structured, the need to rebel against that structure causes frustration, anxiety, depression, and ultimately the same general imbalance I described while unemployed. I don't worry about money, but it's sometimes offset by the need to say "fuck it" and tear of my clothes, screaming and running naked through my office until I get outdoors and roll around in some good, filthy mud.
So, it's become clear that life is partially about finding the proper balance between the two Houses of Chaos and Calvinism. Every once in a while, I'll bring my laptop to work and just mess around, or call in and pretend I'm sick when I really, really don't want to work. Token amounts of disobedience. As long as I still do my job, I figure it can't harm the system. On weekends, it's generally been good to experience as much Dionysian disorder and freedom as possible, before returning to the Halls of Apollo the following Monday.
How does this relate to the Whole of Society (or WoS)? Well, politically, imbalance in one direction poisons that of the other. Venture too far into the garden of Dionysus, and you're met with anarchy. No one is in control. Materials and resources are poorly, unevenly distributed. People die needlessly, because the few, or elite, attempt to control maliciously and dysfunctionally. Now, wander too deeply into the metropolis of Apollo, and you're met with the same harmful consequences. A select few are rigorously in control of others. Materials and resources are once again poorly allocated, inevitably weighing in favor of the same elite. People die needlessly in sharp, poisonous outbursts of chaos, through genocide, war, famine, and others.
The balance in between is what the Framers of the US Constitution truly meant by "Freedom". It is the freedom to act as one desires, within a framework that enables you to live a life of relative safety, happiness and support. Whether this is at all analogous to the current "Freedom" brand waved underneath the flag of the Neocon is severely debatable. However, "Freedom", in the true sense, is something I believe should be the ultimate purpose of any organization, whether it be a political power or a desk planner.