russell higgs

20 Aug 2007 1,273 views
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  • Ray
  • Thailand
  • 21 Aug 2007, 05:47
Lovely fashion statement in black lace, Russell, or are you trying to top yourself with style?
  • Ray
  • Thailand
  • 21 Aug 2007, 06:08
I came upon this, as I was rummaging about on the web recently:

"I pledge allegiance to the earth and to the flora, fauna, human and posthuman life that it supports. One planet, indivisible, with safe air, water & soil, economic justice, equal rights and peace for all."

Is this your pledge, Russell? If it is:
1. Is it current, or an historical statement consistent with an earlier phase in your life?
2. What do you mean by "posthuman life"? Is "posthuman" a synonym for "transhuman", or something else? Has it anything in common with "life after death", "resurrection", etc concepts of some organised religions?
3. Do you have guilt when your eat food derived from animals and/or plants?
4. How do you feel about stuff beyond the earth?

It is a very powerful pledge, and so I am interested in understanding it a little .
russell higgs: ....

re The New Pledge Of Allegiance etc

Generally there are 2 things that I take for granted, whenever I commit to putting distilled text concepts on the web in my name.


I see the text as poetry. It's something conceptually condensed and beautiful. It's similar to experiencing a beautiful photograph or a painting or sculpture etc etc


my motive for sharing text statements on the web is me saying "isn't this a fascinating idea."

I love ideas.

Thinking and imagining are among my favourite pleasures.

As to the idea of the New Pledge of Allegiance specifically, I see it as being a Constructive Workable Alternative to nationalism and patriotism. As a distilled textual idea I think the New Pledge does a good job of covering the important basics in life and I am especially fond of the term "Economic Justice."

re Posthumans

I have included Posthuman existence in the pledge because it is extremely likely that we are about to share this world with a broad variety of Artificial Intelligences and Artificial Life forms, aswell as technologically augmented humans and animals etc. Perhaps "Post-Organic" might be a better term.

Personally I'm as likely to be campaigning for Robot Rights and Respect in the future, just as much as I campaign for Human and Animal Rights and Respect.

As for your question regarding "guilt"........ guilt isn't something that I experience much in life. I view it as a negative emotion that needs to be consciously dealt with (same goes for jealousy). But as I say, I'm speaking from the luxury perspective of not really experiencing it.

As for eating plants and animals...... Death is not a bad thing in itself and I don't believe that Killing to Eat is a bad thing either. What can be a bad thing, in my view, is the manner in which something dies or is killed, along with many people's extreme distance from the whole process of killing and preparing meat. It seems like common sense to me that all Plants and Animals, along with the Soil, Water and Air, should be treated with respect. It is perfectly possible to respect something and kill it for food. Tragically the food industry only respects financial profit.

As another perspective on this topic...... Decades ago I consciously recognised that if a fly is simply annoying me then that is not justification for me to kill the fly.

The annoyance is mine, it's not the fly's fault. It's my mind that needs swatting (and changing), not the fly.

or as that kid in The Matrix says ......"It is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself."

what else did you ask?

How do I feel about stuff beyond the earth? The New Pledge of Allegiance is meant as a unifying code of honour and love. It is not meant to encourage interplanetary jingoism.

Plus I do have a bit of a thing for prosthetic faced humanoid aliens in TV sci-fi series. I'd happily have consenting sex with an alien. I'm not Speciesist.
  • Ray
  • Thailand
  • 22 Aug 2007, 04:33
Hi Russell.
Thank you for that explanation of your pledge of allegiance statement. It helped me to understand your meaning in some areas, and confused in others.

As I understand it now, when you said "I pledge allegiance...", the intent was to publish a beautiful piece of condensed prose.

So...I should be seeing it as a beautiful creation containing some lovely/confronting concepts, rather than as your public promise to behave in a certain way. I guess, in that spirit, it could be seen as a sort of "strawman" pledge of allegiance?

Does that also mean it would be more appropriate to describe your public behaviour as "artistry" rather than "activism"? As an example...should your public nudity thing be seen as an art installation?

Your conversation about killing to eat being ok, so long as the killee is treated with respect by the killer, is nice poetic prose.

It seems, though, that it is heavily biased to the position of the killer. For example...I might think I am being respectful of the chicken as I raise it, kill it, cook it, eat it; how can I know, though, if the chicken is feeling OK about the process...the chicken might be feeling frightened, brutalised, humiliated, or...maybe not feeling a darned thing, in which case I may well have unconsciously taken advantage of its ignorance of the whole process.

The same might apply to the carrot.

Or, the pilot whale.
russell higgs: ....

I don't understand why you want to pin me down to a single meaning.

It's Written Language that is restricted to neat single lines, but the realities that words attempt to represent are bursting out all over the place. Existence and thoughts have to be brutally chiseled down to fit into uniform words and sentences. Plus there are plenty of useful words out there that I simply don't have in my vocabulary. Not to mention that last night, when I replied, I wanted to get back to watching Matt Damon in The Bourne Ultimatum.

So what is there to untangle in this morning's comment from you at the start of my day?

To begin with, my pledge can not be "a sort of Strawman pledge of allegiance". The Strawman tactic requires an opponent to introduce a flimsy diversion that they can then easily knock over, giving the illusion that they are superior in the discussion.


Did I say my ONLY intent was to publish a beautiful piece of condensed prose?

no I did not.

is it possible for activism to be artistry simultaneously?

yes it is.

As to the issue of killing and eating living things.......

Humans are currently the beings with the most dominant power on this planet. With Power comes Responsibility. But our global food industry opts to enslave many humans and treats animals WORSE than people were treated in Auschwitz.

Surely it is common sense that as individuals we should encourage and strive towards Compassion and Respect for all living things and for this planet. Attempting to move towards Constructive Living has got to be a better option than this current life where we all collude in so much excessive suffering and misery.
  • Ray
  • Thailand
  • 22 Aug 2007, 11:09
Ooops! i hope Jason Bourne got through his trials and tribulations ok.

It seems I inadvertently created a "red herring" with the word "strawman"....sorry. Could you replace it with the word "hypothetical" and give that idea a bit of a run? What I am keen to understand is if "pledge" is synonymous with "promise" here, or if it something more frivolous...perhaps more like the pledges that politicians make at opportune times but then down-grade later.

Not trying to pin you down to exact/single meaning, Russell. Just trying to have a conversation about something I think is quite important and your thoughts behind your poetic but possibly inexact prose. You are a far more experienced activist/artist than me, and so I think I can learn from you. Just ingnore me if you think it is not worth your time...heck, I know I am competing with Jason here!

"is it possible for activism to be artistry simultaneously?
yes it is."
Cool! Perhaps I could think of your behaviours as "performance activism"?

Umhh!...I don't think humans are currently the most dominant power on this planet. I think humans might be outgunned by:
* Genes [not only human genes]
* Some viruses
* Some bacteria
* Possibly ants
* Possibly couch [or other] grass
* placesaver for something I didn't think of.

I am all for a treaty of some kind with these dudes, and maybe a pledge of allegiance is a good way to signal it...of course we will have to come up with a better language than English if we are to get an unambiguous conversation going with 'em.

also, I have a feeling that when they understand the message they may well laugh and suggest we [humans] faff off. After all, humans are being "farmed" by many of these more dominant beings.

perhaps we can hope that by going transhuman or posthuman we can leapfrog these other beings...if I am still an entity when/if this happens then I will be keen to see if we then [piss] on them or seek collaboration with them.
russell higgs: When I mentioned I was watching a movie last night, it certainly was not my intention to imply that I don't have time for you Ray.

I mentioned watching the Matt Damon movie in an effort to introduce "context". A minor background component that undoubtedly shapes my response to your comment at the time. And because I felt it important to attempt to highlight that words (especially when communicated electronically) have a tendency to collude in the dominant illusion of things existing in simple isolation. Plus our easy misconception that the recipient of the words is immersed in a similar mood or context as the sender.

Similarly I am going to include here, that reading your previous comment and then composing a reply was the first thing I did after I got out of bed this morning...... at least the first thing after I fed the cats and the parrot and made myself a coffee.

I hadn't even brushed my teeth..... come to think of it I still haven't.

re the pledge......

It's a pledge. It's a promise. It's a focus, an aim. It's a great idea to spread, to think about and to try and live up to.

Personally I try not to collude in too much of the crap in this world. There is always more to learn about what goes on behind the scenes to make our lives run the way they do and there is a lifetime of redundant Habits and Entrainment to become conscious of and then get rid of. (We could do with reviving the concept of Consciousness Raising.)

As to who is the most dominant beings on this planet, I think humans cause the greatest disruption and poisoning of the well etc. Not to mention our ability to nuke the place to fuck.
  • Ray
  • 22 Aug 2007, 13:22
Anecdote about respect.

I presently have a Thai wife. She is from the north east of Thailand, is of Khmer ancestry, and was raised in a tiny subsistence rice-farming hamlet where her early life was barely touched by western influence but was heavily steeped in hundreds of years of habit and ritual:'t_we_do_it_in_the_road/

Some years back, when we first began to live together, I was surprised to observe her behaviour when she discarded the spoonful or so of steamed rice that was on her plate but too much for her to finish; prior to placing the rice in the trash, she wai'd [elaborate bow that Thais perform as a mark of great respect for older people, parents, the King, Buddha icons, et al] to it.

"What are you doing?", I asked.
"I am saying sorry to this rice for treating it badly and wasting it", she replied.

I have never wai'd rice, but I always place food carefully on my plate and then make sure I eat it all.

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