The Price of Free
July 12, 2009 § 3 Comments
A “Naked Lunch,” said William S. Burroughs is that “frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of every fork.” Since I saw Robert Kenner’s Food, Inc. last weekend (at the excellent Jacob Burns Film Center last weekend), I’ve been reflecting on the way even well-intentioned people can look away from hard realities. I always loved beginning each meal the way I learned to in various Buddhist retreats–by thanking the animals, plants, and people who sacrificed themselves for each meal. I always loved Martin Luther King Jr.’s evocation of the way the whole globe participates in our morning (coffee from Brazil, etc.) But Kenner opened my eyes to the way much of our food supply has come to be controlled by a handful of huge corporations who prize profit above any scrap of concern for the health and wellbeing of animals, plants, farmers, workers, consumers, or the planet as a whole. I’ve come to see that it’s not enough to thank a fantasy Farmer Brown. I’ve gone back to Gurdjieff’s advice to people new to his Work, that one should look into things so to speak (clearly, I am paraphrasing), to have a questing, searching attitude about the origins of things and how they have come to us. Gurdjieff urged people to bring this attitude to all things, not just food. And it is a tool for awakening. Try it! It wakes up the mind and the heart and the senses.
A parabola is bowl-shaped, like a lens or an antenna dish. The magazine Parabola was designed to pick up radio signal from the deepest recesses of space (I can’t help picturing the Voyager space crafts). It seeks to pick up evidence of the eternal truths that are central to all authentic traditions and ways, serving them to readers in a non-reductive way that might lead them to the center of themselves. It isn’t meant to be academic. It isn’t meant to be practical, a kind of handbook. It was meant to be handled, carried, left on the night stand. “Information wants to be free,” wrote Stewart Brand, creator of The Whole Earth Catalogue (which cost $5 in 1968), anticipating the free information on the internet. You can’t put a price on truth, especially sacred truth, especially truth at the center of your Self. Yet the form of Parabola–the tradition of search it represents–needs your support.