The mindset of the populations of Siberian origin (part 4)
Part of the series Perceiving complexity
The awareness of the raw reality among the populations of Siberian origin did not reach the level of an upfront understanding, in the manner of the allegory of the raw reality Earth and the “meaningful world” of mental structures on the Moon from the general parts of this series. The Earth-Moon model is partially inspired from the conundrum of the Siberian populations, but in order to envisage it I benefited immensely from the the study of other cultural areas in the world and also from the the overall cultural advantages of the modern world. Such an awareness of this model would suppose a serious paradigm shift, which was not the case. It was rather a perception shift, albeit a decisive and serious one. In general, the Siberian populations kept the “Moon-centric” point of view of a world full of meaning through the use of the language. There was no conceptualized unification between the “meaningful world” and the raw reality like in the manner of this allegory.
One of the ways this awareness manifests is the severe hampering of the classical masculine use of the “other side of the Moon”. In the classical use of the Moon-centric point of view, the informal use of the “other side of the Moon” plays a huge role, which smooths out many inconveniences resulting from the poor quality relation with the raw reality through simplistic patterns (in the same time being also the bane of the humanity, a source of stagnation, hypocrisy, nastiness etc.). The kind of awareness of the raw reality at the Siberians hampers significantly the classical masculine use of the “other side of the Moon”. The tendency to use it is there, but, when the practical use occurs, many times it appears too obvious that cheating the system makes you go against deep aspects of your own personality. It is as if, as a man, you want to go to the other side of the Moon to ignore the raw reality, as the classical men do, but then you realize that you go against a deep side of yourself that is totally against ignoring the raw reality, it would use the other side only to ignore the side of the Moon facing the Earth.
The poem Su Anası (“The Mother from the Waters”) of the Volga Tatar poet Ğabdulla Tuqay would be a good exemplification of this conundrum that I find visible in the populations of Siberian origin. It is about a boy who goes to a lake to swim. There he sees the Mother from the Waters (a mythological being in the Tatar folklore), who is combing her hair with a golden comb. The boy steals the comb and runs towards the village with the Mother from the Waters chasing him from behind. When he reaches home, he incites the dogs against her and she retreats. He tells his mother that he found this golden comb, he hides the fact that he stole it. But then during the night, the Mother from the Waters appears at this window, asking her comb back. The boy is paralyzed with fear, his mother is not, she gives the comb back to the other mother, who then returns to her world. The mother gives then a serious scolding to the boy, you should never steal and lie again, you saw what happened.
Two video examples, one in which he is just a normal kid with a normal looking mother, one in which the boy is portrayed as nasty and his mother has an angelic aspect (the authors of this animation represented the poem in simplistic terms of nasty/angelic, but this mental blockage can also happen to a normal boy who sometimes is erring). Another video in which the boy is a bit older than in the previous examples, at the age when he begins to be more confident in his presence in the world, but he is still facing the consequences in his own way.
This blocking rebellion of the Mother from the Waters is how it feels like for a man from such a cultural environment when the two manners to go to “the other side of the Moon” clash. The classical masculine tendency to go there to ignore the raw reality is met by a blocking resistance from the feminine point of view embedded in the culture. You must not ignore the raw reality, this is the basis of the feminine way of thinking. And, regarding the other option to ignore the side of the Moon facing the Earth, as a man, you want to be in control of the situation, you have vested interests in the mental structure on the side of the Moon facing the Earth, you feel vexed to go to the other side to ignore it.
The 2002 Japanese film Drive is another example that comes to my mind with themes around these issues. See for example the dream scene in which the man is initially thinking in classical masculine terms, but then he has to reckon with the fact that he was relying on the female psychology. This has relevance and depth and he can’t get away from it.
This feeling is not uniform in all practical cases where there is tendency to use the other side of the Moon, it depends on a variety of factors. It depends on the manner each ethnic group treats this issue. There is a huge variety of modus vivendi with this issue, many cultures opt for some enforcement of honesty in society, but the nuances of how and to what extent they do it vary.
It also depends on the depth of perception around the topic, i.e. the extent of the experience accumulated in previous generations around the respective topic for which the person has the impulse to go to the other side of the Moon. If there is depth of perception, then there is awareness, and going to the other side feels like destroying your sense of self. If there is not, they ignore the raw reality without realizing it. In other words, don’t expect them to be righteous and honest on topics they have a superficial understanding of. With what they understand they may consider themselves fine on a specific topic, but you may notice there glaring problems.
Another factor is the extent one has personal redeeming justifications in acting slyly in a context where there is not much raw reality involved, where it is more about divergent views in how to use the mental structures in the “meaningful world”, like when feeling wronged in a context, when feeling that someone does not apply well the premises of the local social structure etc. In this case, the slyness is still seriously hampered by avoiding to get too crafty when it begins to creep into raw reality territory.
Before the arrival of the Europeans, the Amerindians developed societies where everybody was in this frame of mind. For many thousands of years they were crafty with each others in certain limits, they were going to the other side of the Moon to ignore the raw reality in certain limits, nobody was thinking to go beyond those limits. This proved to be a crippling disadvantage when the Europeans arrived, enabling the ridiculous feats of the latter. The Amerindians were confident they were normally crafty and in control of the situation and thus they stood no chance.
After the conquest, in Spanish America, the term ladino (“Latin”, i.e. Hispanic or Hispanicized person) acquired the additional meaning of a cunning, shrewd person who does not care about “the overall situation”. In North America, the expression “Indian giver” shows how the newcomers misunderstood the Amerindian unquestioned reliance on the “overall situation”. It is used to describe people who appear to gift something by European standards, but later they want it back or they expect something in return. From the Amerindian point of view, this “gifting” is supposed to initiate a give and take relation between egos with different agendas, who nevertheless are pursuing their own interests by taking in consideration the “overall situation”, they are not crafty in the “Mother from the Waters” territory. This works when everybody feels compelled in their minds to take in consideration the overall situation. Giving something to somebody from this point of view can even destabilize the other party like in the strategy of losing pieces to the opponent in backgammon (when the other party has poor defenses in the home board).
In Asia there was slow contact for thousands of years with self-confident cultures lacking this level of awareness of the raw reality. I notice that those Asian cultures of Siberian origin which became more complex developed an other-oriented ethos of relying mentally on the confidence in the reality of the “meaningful world” that is present in other cultures. The basic attitude is captured in this joke:
A French, an American and a Finn go to see an elephant. The French is thinking what kind of food could they possibly make from the elephant meat. The American is thinking how the elephant could make them earn a fortune. The Finn is wondering what the elephant is thinking of Finns.
The assumption of the “meaningful world” has similar limits as for the Amerindians, only that the non-American Siberians do it differently. They assume responsibilities for the overall application in real life of the “meaningful world”, but they are careful about not ending up in contexts where it is hard for them to ignore the raw reality when they assume responsibilities about the confidence part that enables it. This masculine self-confidence in being in control of the situation is what keeps alive the overall meaning in the “meaningful world”. This self-confidence that the meaning and the responsibilities around it rest on your shoulders is also what spurs the impulse to go to the other side of the Moon to manipulate the structures of the “meaningful world” to your advantage when things get complicated on the side of the Moon facing the raw reality.
Probably in time the non-American Siberians learned to avoid doing that, as they were noticing they were at a serious disadvantage compared to other men in such contexts. They were crafty in certain limits because they were not ignoring the raw reality. They still ignore the raw reality on many occasions, but it is in contexts in which they are not aware that the way the “meaningful world” is used is tramping on the raw reality and thus they do not sense the raw reality there. This awareness of the raw reality is present mostly in the more ideological and theoretical parts of the “meaningful world”.
It seems that the non-American Siberians learned to avoid being crafty in contexts where they could not be efficiently crafty. In this way they do not develop that self-confident part of the ego that can be easily manipulated by people who don’t have the “Mother from the Waters” in their subconscious. One who is self-confident like a classical man, yet with “Mother from the Waters” limitations ends up like the Amerindians when in contact with men who do not have such limitations.
These are the basic premises about perceiving or not the raw reality among Siberian men. Further on, there are differences in the depth of perceptions, depending on the different cultural peculiarities among the many ethnic groups and the personal life paths. And also it has to be said that this is the basic wisdom that is just available in the society. It is available, but not necessarily each man gets the idea and in practice some of them have bits of “old school masculinity” self-confidence and they end up manipulated.
Probably the slow contacts with men without limitations did not produce catastrophic consequences as in the case of the Amerindians. In time, probably it made the Siberians to avoid the self-confidence part that enables the “meaningful world”, as that is a trap for being duped by the self-confident others. Instead, they began relying on the others’ self-confidence as the fuel for the “meaningful world”. In the terms of the previous joke, if you think directly what to do with the elephant in the “meaningful world” in your mind, how to organize your actions regarding this elephant from the point of view of your “meaningful world”, you may not be on the same level of craftiness as the elephant to ignore the raw reality and to manipulate the structures of the “meaningful world” to your advantage.
If you give up such classical masculine attempts and you pay attention to the elephant as a piece of raw reality which actually has an existence utterly disconnected from your “meaningful world”, then you can organize things in your “meaningful world” in a way that you can stand a chance. You replace craftiness that avoids the raw reality with practical information. Probably the women worldwide recognize as familiar this way of action. Most likely the idea is owed to the feminine ethos, but, as it was also assumed and used from a masculine point of view, it developed with new characteristics through a continuous movement back and forth of nuances and expectations between men and women.
There are two streaks with this mindset that I am aware of, I wrote a bit about them in the previous parts. One is the suminagashi streak, in which the point of view from the raw reality is kept at its normal fluidity and the “meaningful world” part in your mind is utterly aware of it. The other one is the ebru streak, in which the the point of view from the raw reality has an increased viscosity, permitting a certain level of “meaningful world” type of thinking inside it. Both have in common the fact that the “meaningful world” is not further developed by going to the other side of the Moon to ignore the raw reality. The people either develop it in ways that do not ignore the raw reality or they borrow developments that ignore the raw reality created by other cultures which can afford to ignore it.
The suminagashi streak is visible at the Finno-Ugric populations and also at the Japanese. I don’t know if there is a connection between these two occurrences. The Japanese one may as well be of non-Siberian origin, as they had in their ethnogenesis process cultural contributions from East and South-East Asia, where there are religious practices based on direct experiences of shamanistic type. Nevertheless, these psychological aspects at the Japanese and Finno-Ugric populations have many aspects in common due to the same premises.
In this streak, the awareness of the raw reality is like in the suminagashi technique of painting on a liquid surface. Once you drop some paint on the surface, it has a life of its own to some extent and it produces unexpected results, it is an unrepeatable visual experience. You can direct to some extent the end result, but there is always an element of surprise in the way it takes shape. This is like the masculine thinking process when you are aware of the raw reality and you accept its input in the process. You think inside of the “meaningful world”, but your mind constantly perceives fresh unexpected angles of the raw reality. Probably the men had this increased acceptance when it began to sink in that they have some mental blockages in being crafty. Upon further inner exploration the raw reality point of view that was the source of blockage became increasingly familiar and part of the thinking process.
Further on, it appears increasingly obvious that you need to see how to relate your sense of organization as a man with such perceptions. You have an opening about how to think psychologically the fluid diachronic raw reality perceptions. But how to work with the organizational gist of the diachronicity as it seeped from women and also relate it to a sense of organization facing the unknown of real life?
The original feminine organizational gist of the diachronicity was developed from a “cinema seat” perspective, as in Habeit Ya Leil of the Lebanese singer Nawal El Zoghbi, not really dealing with overall organization in itself. The further Siberian feminine developments are about facing the unknown of real life, thus they are easier to understand by men, but they are just as responses to some difficult pressure, not about how to proceed yourself further into the unknown.
Beyond the classical human take on the concept of organization, you experience a dissociation between the synchronic point of view of the rather static mental structures and the diachronic point of view that pays attention to the fluid flow of real life. In this piece of Japanese Noh theater you can see how it feels like when you are on the cusp of losing the rational control of the situation, when your rational side feels how the diachronic point of view gets a life of its own. Or the ninibaori type of Japanese comedy, with two people, one hidden in the back of the other with only the hands visible and the other one in the front with only the head visible, wearing a single coat and pretending to be only one person. An example of this kind of comedy, the source of humor being the lack of coordination between the hands and the head.
Further on some men pay attention and have more in-depth realizations about these aspects, like in the chain reaction scene from the 2002 Japanese film Drive of Sabu. Some men are fretting about the social consequences of the public knowledge about some of their deeds, only to witness how a butterfly effect of one’s mistake to overturn a glass of wine is stopping the process. The first reaction may be to have some relief, but, when you realize as a man how ridiculous is the classical masculine projection of control of the situation in comparison to the huge potential of butterfly effects, it sinks in that you need some serious reconsideration of how to consider the concept of organization.
Another example of more in-depth masculine perceptions around these topics would be the Hungarian story The Little Cockerel and the Hedge. That succession of seemingly unrelated yet consequential events is the way the classical women perceive the larger complexity of the world, due to their historical subordinate status. The classical men tend to have a linear thinking within their bubble of knowledge. This kind of thinking does not follow so easily the butterfly effects, even less to make sense of them and have some sense of organization about them. The increasing accumulation of those apparently disparate occurrences is the desperation of the linear thinking to keep some coherence amid such perceptions.
And, in comparison to the previous example of a butterfly effect chain reaction, the story does not even follow a specific causality. It is about some awareness around such mind-boggling diachronic perceptions beyond the rather troglodyte organization of the classical human thinking processes, but it is more about the struggle to keep a linear coherence in such a linear thinking process.
The one who benefits from this classical feminine psychological coherence of butterfly effects is a soldier who creates meaning out of all those out-of-the-box non-linear perceptions. This is what usually happens in such situations in the traditional human social life. The meaning he creates is arbitrary (“only when the Moon turns green”), since the classical human knowledge in itself has a strong self-serving element of arbitrariness in it, it is knowledge as control of the situation. Those non-linear perceptions were out of the bubble and such men who can create meaning as control of the situation benefit from using the unexpected perspectives in reorganizing the existing structure and/or from simply restoring/keeping a sense of order.
Many Hungarian and Japanese men may just end up enjoying to immerse in the suminagashi point of view in environments where they already feel in control of the situation, an environment where there is no pressure to take real life decisions on topics you don’t have deep knowledge of (if you have that deep knowledge then you can make decisions without avoiding the raw reality).
When there is no such pressure, life looks good. The men realize how valuable is the suminagashi freshness, many plunge in a hedonism of sex and food (Rumba hedonista of Arany Zoltán can be a good example), they feel inspired and good about themselves (an example of “oh, it feels so good to be a man”, Szatmári verbunkos, csárdás és ugrós). The question is how mature they are to deal with all this richness of perceptions and with the women who are inspiring this richness. The 1971 film Szindbád can be a good example of a man who is struggling with this issue. The film has such vivid and fulfilling emotional perceptions, but the story is rather sad, the man did not reach deep emotional fulfillment with the various women he had adventures with. He is married with an older, more mature woman who concludes for herself that she is rather like a mother to him. The non-linear structure of the film is remarkable, it is that inner stream of thoughts that arrange themselves according to the deep fluid part of the mind as in the previously mentioned music video İstanbul Ağlıyor of Gülay.
When the man, for various reasons, does not feel in control of the situation and he does not have more in-depth perceptions around this diachronicity, he does not feel so good anymore about the fluid stream of raw reality perceptions. He can find refuge in a macho attitude, as an example see this live interpretation of Indulj el egy úton (translation) by Ágnes and Kowalsky. The man is struggling to feel in control of the situation, he compensates with a machist attitude, the woman feels the pressure from the man’s fragility, she has to be careful about how she expresses the raw reality point of view to not make him even more fragile, she creates emotional contexts that the man can size upon and get more confidence about his prowess so that he can get the impression that he dominates her.
I have more to say about the Hungarians and the Japanese, I will continue later, after I write about the ebru streak, as these two populations have this streak too in a secondary position.