Honestly Kid

by Daniel Damkoehler


2nd thoughts


InOurSpectacularSociety3In January of 2007 I began work on a much too large and too unde­fined writ­ing project. I called it ‘Peregrinations’ because I need­ed to begin with­out a set a path and with the inten­tion that the jour­ney to fig­ur­ing out what I was on about would be part of the sto­ry and the most impor­tant part of the expe­ri­ence per­son­al­ly.

I kept a  jour­nal list­ing all of my ref­er­ence works and all those I hoped to delve into along with notes and ran­dom thoughts I had along the way. The whole thing was pret­ty short lived by almost any esti­ma­tion, (I added to that jour­nal only until the Spring of 2007), espe­cial­ly giv­en the grand ambi­tions that moti­vat­ed me. Freelance projects and mon­ey needs inter­ced­ed and my time was quick­ly not my own. I’m hes­i­tant to say the project died. I see my cur­rent day job and most every­thing I read as part of the project.

You see, for all my will­ing­ness to wan­der, I was and still am in pur­suit of answers to one cen­tral line of ques­tion­ing: What makes true believ­ers — espe­cial­ly polit­i­cal believ­ers — believe? How do peo­ple like Che and Mao get from mak­ing ratio­nal argu­ments about pover­ty and land reform to wag­ing wars and rationing food based on polit­i­cal affil­i­a­tion? In the absence of coher­ent reli­gious and polit­i­cal arti­cles of faith how do true believ­ing lead­ers know how to act? What com­pels them? Just how are their mon­key brains wired dif­fer­ent­ly than my mon­key brain? Is it in the water? Is it nature or nur­ture or some oth­er thing?

Working for a ‘mis­sion-dri­ven’ orga­ni­za­tion whose mis­sion includes (depend­ing on who and when you ask) social jus­tice, con­flict trans­for­ma­tion, pro­mo­tion of peace, inter­cul­tur­al under­stand­ing, etc. I get to see and inter­act with a fair num­ber of true believ­ers first hand. I have com­pared the place to a reli­gious mis­sion school sans the meta­phys­i­cal pur­suits of reli­gion, though to claim that there is no reli­gion here would be to hold to a fair­ly nar­row def­i­n­i­tion of the idea. There are arti­cles of faith, a moral code, and even some dog­ma. I think a clever soul with more time than I have now might be able to parse out some meta­physics too. Suffice to say, I get through the rough and bor­ing days here by think­ing of it as pri­ma­ry research into the way true believ­ers work.

I am per­fect­ly aware that I am head­ed down well-trod­den ter­ri­to­ry, but as some­one once num­bered among the born-again Christians, the thor­ough­ly con­vinced agnostic/atheistic Anarchists, as well as some­one peren­ni­al­ly pro­ject­ed upon by the white male estab­lish­ment types, lib­er­al types, tree hug­gers, ani­mal lovers, and ‘real­is­tic mod­er­ates’ I feel the need to exam­ine this stuff from the inside out as much as from the out­side in.

As an aside here, some­day I’m going to write a long piece about what it’s like to be a well spo­ken, white guy with a fair­ly neat hair­cut and how every­one thinks they know who you are before you even open your mouth. But that’s not what my pere­gri­na­tions are about. They’re about fig­ur­ing out what we’re all on about as a species and just what I’m on about too.

I’ll be post­ing bits and pieces of the project here. Read ’em and weep, laugh, or smirk as you will.

One Response to “Peregrinations”

  1. real name jim utz » August 21st, 2009

    I would nev­er have char­ac­ter­ized your hair­cut as “fair­ly neat,” but I will give you “well spo­ken white guy” and con­cede that before you even opened your mouth I knew who you were–a fierce­ly intel­li­gent badass and a good can­di­date for friend­ship.

    In this “Aesthetics & Criticism” class I teach we cov­er the Italian Futurists and their loose, often-mis­un­der­stood con­nec­tions to fas­cism, and also the Nazi response to the Expressionists. We grap­ple with some of the same ques­tions you raise here.

    Hooray for yr blog (I’ll keep watch­ing) & hap­py birth­day (in advance, for once).

    ps did you know my dis­ser­ta­tion was about the SI & the­atre?
    pps lis­ten­ing to PIL, “album,” lately–reminds me of a post-rehearsal par­ty back in the 95616 days.
    pps sor­ry if this com­ment sounds like a man­crush but I’s drunk. It’s fri­day night. yeah, I’m on your web­site. No, I don’t have a life.