“Resistance is Futile.”

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"Did she put on his knowledge with his power
Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?"


That is the end of William Yeats' poem "Lyda and 
the Swan." The poem explores the Greek myth that 
Zeus, king of the gods, took the form of a giant
swan in order to seduce or rape the beautiful 
princess Lyda. That myth is but one of the many
old stories about supernatural beings mating with
mortals, stories to which I alluded in my 
previous post. They are, among other things,
stories about feeling raped by life. 
The occultist, Yeats, however, sees
the myth as not only about Reality penetrating 
one but about that penetration as a source of 
omnipotence and omniscience. 

That is not a usual reaction. As I explained in 
my previous post, the prevalent response to 
connecting to what is not like us is to resist
that joining, sometimes violently. Unwillingness
to connect amicably leads ironically to a kind of 
connection after all: penetration by sword or
bullet substituting for penetrations of an x-
rated sort. 

One may lead to the other. Consider, Genghis
Khan's conquests. Allegedly, he planned to kill
non-Mongols and turn their cities to prairies 
where his horses could graze. He would thus
resist invasion of Mongolia by Chinese culture 
by destroying that culture. His conquests, 
however, brought such increased contact between 
Mongol and Chinese that the Mongols could not 
maintain their separation, except by staying 
drunk most of the time. Even then it was on 
Chinese wine with Chinese women in bed next to 
the Mongol warriors. 

In my previous post, I asked for feedback from 
readers and the first came from my wife, who
suggested that I write about war with the above
title: "Resistance is Futile." So I thought about
Yeats' poem, about the Trojan War that came as a
many-year-long, disastrous attempt to restore
the order that Leda's mating had shaken: the
bad marriage of Leda's immortal daughter Helen to
a possessive king, whom she was brave enough to 
leave because, unlike any other Greek woman of 
her time, she was immortal and recognized her own
divinity.

Protecting such status quos as that bad marriage, 
Greek mythology preaches the need to keep the gods
at a safe
distance. Greek civilization--a step forward in
advancing human reason--required a distancing
from tribal superstitions. The Greek ego was
pushing itself up from a less conscious state. 
The Homeric poet--whoever he or she may have 
been--thus blames the war on the gods, thereby
warning us to stay clear of close contact with 
the divine.

There is a grain of truth in that warning
since the unconscious personified
as devil, fairy, god, or alien is
shaped by interconnection with much more of the
universe than the conscious--a much more that
thereby effects us. Consequently, the conscious 
mind fights to push the rest out for fear
of losing control. 

So we make up stories to reassure us that 
resistance is not futile. The federation will 
win out against the Borg. But what in our world 
is the Borg threat--
the threat of becoming intermingled with the not 
us? 

It is the paraplegic able to walk with mechanical
legs or the deaf hearing with cochlear implants: 
healings, becoming whole, a more integrated 
participant in the environment.

When my wife and I were on vacation a few years
ago, we saw an otherwise traditional, 
Pennsylvania Dutch man with a hearing aide. 
Why not? We do not necessarily lose the past 
by embracing what comes.

Like Yeats himself, though, his poem is 
ambivalent. To Leda, Zeus' love, he is 
"indifferent," a word that raises the possibility
he acts selfishly and carelessly. 

On the one hand, Yeats is saying: Life is painful;
How can God (i.e., Zeus) be kind? However, 
"indifferent" also means not different--so Leda,
the poem's representative human, and God may have 
become one through more than their physical union. 
Thus Yeats asks if Leda has shared His 
omnipotence and omniscience. 

There is risk in any joining but also 
promise and in the long run--the run of centuries--
--resistance probably is not only futile, but 
silly. 

Even in the short run we can hurt ourselves
by trying to keep the "good old days." And those
probably never were as good as our idealized 
memories make them sound--though Yeats himself 
always remained caught between a paralyzing 
nostalgia (including his predilection for Greek 
myth)and the courage to welcome a dangerous
future.

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