There is no face to consciousness. Rather consciousness is faceless. It does not reside in long skirts turbans and funky beads. Neither does it reside in pointy-toe crocodile leather shoes. And consciousness definitely does not reside in BEE boeps. Consciousness is not about how lines one can make rhyme or the facts one could recite about so called black history. Consciousness is bigger than the individual and thus bigger than the labels individuals and groups of individuals like to give to each other.
To label is to judge. We cannot judge another human being. Because judging makes us create labels-boxes are human constructs in order to identify the self from the other which invariably leads to the other being perceived as anti-self and thus negatively. To judge the uniqueness of a person and then categorise it and thus make it seem that the person is not so different after all, is to make the singular seem universal.
One of the biggest problems I have encountered with people is their apparent lack of substance regarding issues of any sort of consciousness. They rather pre-occupy themselves with the form.
The following experience might serve as a useful illustration of my point. I was in a certain area of town where certain so-called conscious people are known to gather. In this particular instance a young man approached the regular group of conscious people known for hanging around in that particular area. This young man-let’s call him X, was then ridiculed by the group of ‘regulars’ for his dress code. Now X had dressed on that day, in a way that that could arguably be described as different. I use the word different because it was different to how the ‘regulars’ dressed and certainly far more different to what everyone who congregates in that spot would generally wear, and perhaps most importantly, different to what everyone else there was used to X dressing. X was criticised as has having betrayed his publicly professed belief-system and was accused of now worshipping his god’s nemesis. X was also told that he was dressed in such a manner that showed that he was not proud of the colour of his skin. The debate that followed was intense and really it epitomised the theme of ‘The Artful Dodger’ article. The regulars were pitted on one side of the proverbial ring and X on the other. What was the resolution of the debate? There was no resolution.
And the reason for that in my humblest of opinions is that the debate was based on flawed assumption that there is wrong and a right way to present you. In certain circles it might be the R500 shirt with jeans and formal shoes and in other circles it might be a turban, baggy jeans and R1000 sneakers. For the regulars it was clear-how you dress demonstrates who you are and what you represent. Clothing is an integral part of the armour you wear when going to battle. Obviously for them, you were either a pointy-toed BEE man, a Goth dressing Satanist or a humble turban wearing man believing in a black God-there was no room for fluidity For X it was about being able to express himself, his individuality, his need to be different within his context. Clothing could and was just that clothing and a canvass for creativity. Clothing was not crucial in his understanding to his fundamental belief/believes.
The debate presupposed that there were only two alternatives. And in its crudest form the alternatives could be articulated as conformity and loyalty versus individuality and creativity. In other contexts the debate manifests itself as the juxtaposing forces of ‘capitalism’ versus ‘communism,’ freedom versus ‘equality,’ ‘fluidity’ versus ‘rigidity’, ’structure’ versus ‘agency’. The assumption that your exterior appearance shows how deep you really are is flawed. But also to think that the exterior does not in some way affect and is affected by what you surround yourself with is also naive. A book cannot be judged by its cover but it (the cover) can be a good indication of what it is that you are about to read.
My main argument is this and it is by no means an absolute: consciousness is neither appearance nor a special kind of inward introspection where one an ‘ahaa’ moment. Consciousness is both. It is a collection of the past but yet a present body who is capable of creating a different future. Consciousness is contradiction and the ability to balance the two or three opposing forces within and around you. Consciousness is the beop, the beads, the skirt, the shirt, the jeans rolled into one big turban then untied again. Being a consciousness individual means embracing and dealing with change yet at the same time being constant enough to be recognisable. Consciousness is cognisance of the fact that every human is a universal singular- the same but different.
The’ universal singular’ relates to a product of time and space, of the past and the present. We are products of history whilst we are still creating it. We are the constant instance embodying what is what was and what is to come. Our vulnerability exposed in our ignorance of the fundamental reason for our existence. This creates a need to generate ways to defy nature as though nature is ignorant of its own existence. The most difficult thing to accept sometimes is one’s own ignorance, or rather limited vision. It is painful to acknowledge that you just do not know. However, that thing which you are seeking for will be revealed to you when you gain freedom by accepting the simple of fact that you does not know.
To live in a state of not knowing is to live at the crux of life itself. It is a constant state of disillusionment. No abstractions and theories just practicalities of living. Not living by creeds, beliefs, conspiracies and mysteries. An everyday acceptance of pain and suffering. There is very little that is controllable. The variables are too complex, varied and ever-changing. It is irrational rationality, rational irrationality, thought and emotion.
So, personally I don’t care for external appearances, per se. Let me clarify that you can do your wrap around skirt and turban today and then wear skinny jeans and have a weave tomorrow. However I do have a problem if you profess to be something, judge someone else for not believing or doing whatever it is that you do and then turn around to be something else. Hypocrisy is for the meek and weak, for those who have no back bone. Rather it is best to recognise that human is both male and female, ying and yang, emotional and rational. We are all just living contradictions.