fountainhead or vent?

fountainhead or vent?

As Emerson says, we humans are ‘vents’ that transmit influences from the vast and universal to the point on which our genius can act.


Indigenous aboriginals describe terrorists in the same way.  As tensions build in the relational social dynamics between Euro-American colonizers and the colonized peoples of the Middle East, there is a violent ‘venting’ of pent-up energies.  The people we call ‘terrorists’ are the vents through which relational tensions are dispersed, but they are not the jumpstart source of the violence; i.e. “it takes a whole community to raise a terrorist”.


The politician is like a sailboater who may initially, and at various times, be ‘becalmed’ for his power derives from having his sails filled with the influence of others.  He, too, is a vent that transmits influences from the relational continuum to the points on which these influences may act.


In general, people are vents that can focus and direct influence that derives from elsewhere; i.e. from a transforming relational continuum.


A curious interpretation of this ‘venting’ arises when we ‘talk about this venting’ using  noun-and-verb Indo-European/scientific language-and-grammar.  This interpretation does not occur using flow-based languages such as those of indigenous aboriginals.


Imagine that you are observing the dynamics within a cauldron of boiling mud in which mud volcanoes spurt forth fountains of mud.  What one observes is a circulating flow, a relational continuum which includes the cone-shaped relational features that we assign the name ‘volcano’ to.  Once we have created the subject ‘volcano’, we can use grammar to have it inflect a verb such as ‘output’ or ‘spew’ and say; ‘the volcano is spewing out mud.  The venting is, thanks to an ‘error of grammar’, transformed into a local jumpstart authoring source, at least within the ‘semantic reality’ of our language play, if not in our experience-based intuition.


The tendency for us to put a belief in semantic reality into an unnatural precedence over the physical reality of our actual, natural, relational experience as captured in our intuition, is not only common and popular amongst users of noun-and-verb Indo-European/scientific language-and-grammar, but has become a notable characteristic of Western culture which now dominates global society.


Why should we reduce even our view of self from ‘vent’ to ‘local fountainhead’?  If we understand ourselves as ‘venting’ in the transforming relational continuum, we are agents of transformation; i.e. we are, at the same time, Brahman and Atman.  But if we understand ourselves as fountainheads of creative effect, our powers of authorship are ‘our own’ and do not arise from the relational flow in which we are included; i.e. they derive from ‘beyond’ the physical world we are included in.  Out of this difference comes ‘non-duality’ as with a relational form [figure] in a relational flow [ground] versus ‘duality’ where figure becomes separate from ground, as in the subject and object constructs of noun-and-verb language-and-grammar.


In the dualism of Western culture, we acknowledge the independent existence of ‘material beings’ and ‘empty space’ and model ourselves as independent reason-driven beings.  This interpretation arises within our language-based ‘semantic reality’, rather than from the physical reality of our actual, natural relational experience, and we give it an unnatural precedence because we like to think of our ‘self’ as an independent being who is fully and solely responsible [a fountainhead] for the wonderful things we do.  As Nietzsche remarks;


 “In its origin language belongs in the age of the most rudimentary form of psychology. We enter a realm of crude fetishism when we summon before consciousness the basic presuppositions of the metaphysics of language, in plain talk, the presuppositions of reason. Everywhere it sees a doer and doing; it believes in will as the cause; it believes in the ego, in the ego as being, in the ego as substance, and it projects this faith in the ego-substance upon all things — only thereby does it first create the concept of “thing.” Everywhere “being” is projected by thought, pushed underneath, as the cause; the concept of being follows, and is a derivative of, the concept of ego. In the beginning there is that great calamity of an error that the will is something which is effective, that will is a faculty. Today we know that it is only a word.” – Nietzsche, ‘Twilight of the Idols’


“I’d rather be a fountainhead than a vent” is the Western culture-shaper.  It is Ayn Randism and it is the belief in ‘independent states’ [nationalism] and much more.


The patchwork quilt of 193 sovereign nation states painted on a replica of the globe of the earth is intended to affirm the ‘independent existence’ of each of those states and the powerboater captaincy of their respective political leader.  Yet in the understanding that comes to us from our experience-based intuition, the world is only given once, as a transforming relational continuum, and therefore each one of those coloured quilt-patches can be no more than vents or sails in the circulating winds and currents in the relational continuum.   For each of those quilt patches, as for each of us; “life is what happens to us while we are busy making other plans”.


Only the ego stands between these two versions of reality; ‘semantic reality’ and the ‘physical reality’ of our actual, natural, relational experience.


What does it take to keep ‘semantic reality’ in which we portray ourselves as fountainheads of positive results in an unnatural precedence over ‘physical reality’ in which we acknowledge our experience as ‘vents’ within a transforming relational continuum?


‘Flags’ that give us a common ego-based identity are important, the flags of ISIS and the flags of the United States.  Motto, anthems, holy scriptures bent to our ego-purpose [God bless us, Allahu Akbar], oaths of allegiance and courageous, sacrificial acts.   All of these ego-based embellishments help to keep ‘semantic reality’ in an unnatural precedence over the physical reality of our actual, natural, relational experience.


For those that see through to the damage that results from our ego-based self-deception that has us confuse ‘semantic reality’ for ‘reality’, like Einstein, the collective ego can be likened to a plague;


“Nationalism is an infantile disease; it is the measles of the world” – Albert Einstein


For the political leaders of smaller nations forced to succumb to ‘offers that cannot be refused’, political alliances have been a popular ‘solution’ as they tap into the collective ego of the most powerful nations.


“The capacity for self-surrender, he said, for becoming a tool, for the most unconditional and utter self-abnegation, was but the reverse side of that other power to will and to command.  Commanding and obeying formed together one single principle, one indissoluble unity; he who knew how to obey knew also how to command, and conversely; the one idea was comprehended in the other, as people and leader were comprehended in one another.” – Thomas Mann, ‘Mario and the Magician’ (1929)


What political leader of a smaller, less powerful “independent” quote/unquote collective can make good on his promises when the power-venting of large, powerful collectives floods into the unbounded relational continuum in which everyone shares inclusion?  The ‘physical reality’ relationship of inhabitants to habitat is not one of ‘independence’ but is given by Mach’s principle;


“The dynamics of the inhabitants are conditioning the dynamics of the habitat at the same time as the dynamics of the habitat are conditioning the dynamics of the inhabitants” – Mach’s principle


This principle derives from ‘physical reality’ which is radically unlike the ‘semantic reality’ which brings us ‘independent reason-driven beings’ and ‘independent political-leader-driven states’.  Which ‘reality’ do we put in precedence over which?


The ‘semantic reality’ of the most powerful ‘independent sovereign state’, … the self-authored ‘semantic reality’ [‘semantic realities are inherently ‘subject’ive] presents ‘itself’ as the fountainhead of ‘all things bright and beautiful’ regardless of the physical reality wherein the labours and resources of the world are being sucked up and are venting through the so-called ‘fountainhead’.


It is not just coincidence that the Euro-American colonial powers who tend to describe themselves as the fountainheads of ‘all things bright and beautiful’ are also, at the same time, in possession of the largest and most powerful militaries.


It is not just coincidence that those ‘independent sovereign states’ of the colonized regions [defined and declared to be independent states by the Euro-American colonizing powers] which are the least able economic performers are also, at the same time, in possession of the smallest and least powerful militaries.


In fact, it is no coincidence that the reasoning on such things that predominates in the world, happens to be the reasoning of the Euro-American colonizing powers.   As Lafontaine observed; “La raison du plus fort est toujours la meilleure.”


The parallels that arise between politicians and terrorists is that while they are both ‘vents’ for influences arising in the transforming relational continuum in which they are uniquely, situationally included, at least as discerned in the physical reality of our actual, natural, relational experience, … they are both presented as ‘fountainheads’ of assertive actions and results in the subject-verb-predicate constructs of ‘semantic reality’.


The political leaders of so-called [in ‘semantic reality’] ‘independent sovereign states’ are in no way sitting in the drivers seat of a local fountainhead of productive power.  They instead, steer the nozzle of venting circulation from the transforming relational continuum.  If a state is embargoed, its venting spew diminishes exposing the fact that it was never, really, the fountainhead it claimed to be.  That was just ‘ego’ talking, .. ‘ego’ that is the source of the abstract concept of ‘being’ which imputes subjecthood to local activities, so that they can be depicted as fountainheads in ‘semantic realities’ constructed with noun-and-verb language.  The Euro-American colonizing powers do not get ‘embargoed’ thanks to having an unequalled military that helps them continue to secure ‘offers that cannot be refused’.


Refusing the deals offered by Euro-American colonialism would be suicidal, so it there is rarely refusal at the level of political leaders, who opt instead to become pawns of the colonizing powers [NB.  Any time a word is used as a subject in the general discourse in this essay, which is impossible to avoid in this Indo-European language architecture, it is not intended as a fountainhead of action, but instead as a venting of relational influence].  The relational view is a beyond good-and-evil view of an action;


“an action in itself is quite devoid of value ; the whole question is this: who performed it? One and the same ” crime ” may, in one case, be the greatest privilege, in the other infamy. As a matter of fact, it is the selfishness of the judges which interprets an action (in regard to its author) according as to whether it was useful or harmful to themselves (or in relation to its degree of likeness or unlikeness to them).”— Nietzsche on ‘Morality’ and ‘Herd Behaviour’ in ‘The Will to Power’.


Meanwhile, relational tensions ensue which may ferment and build to the point that they do vent in suicidal actions, which in ‘semantic reality’ are attributed to local fountainheads called ‘terrorists’.  This ‘semantic reality construct’ is transparently at odds with the physical reality of our actual, natural, relational experience; i.e. as Ward Churchill, a spokesperson for indigenous aboriginals [who are well familiar with both colonial oppression and semantic reality based doublespeak] commented the day after 9/11 [September 12, 2001]


 “Looking back, it will seem to future generations inexplicable why Americans were unable on their own, and in time to save themselves, to accept a rule of nature so basic that it could be mouthed by an actor, Lawrence Fishburn, in a movie, The Cotton Club. 

“You’ve got to learn, ” the line went, “that when you push people around, some people push back.”

As they should. … As they must. … And as they undoubtedly will.

There is justice in such symmetry”.

The subtly of oppression imposed by ‘deals that cannot be refused’ versus push-back that is of an extremely violent and vicious and random character, does not nullify the point being made by Ward Churchill [a point that was also made by Jean Chrétien on the first anniversary of 9/11].


Fountainhead or vent?  Semantic reality or physical reality?   These are the choices that will shape the form and direction of popular opinion and directing of influence.




Political leaders are elected to head up notional ‘independent sovereign states’ which are seen by the citizens as ‘fountainheads’ of productive results.  However, there are in evidence many currents [e.g. ‘the brain drain’] which concentrate technologies and expertise, using them to exploit material and energy resources in regions where such technologies and expertise is ‘more dilute’.  To egotistically conceive of such acquisition as evidence of one’s own innate giftedness [fountainhead rather than vent] is a distortion deriving from ‘semantic reality’ that is dangerous in the sense that political slogans to ‘Make America Great Again’.


That is, while the initiative is portrayed, in ‘semantic reality’ as a re-kindling of a superior capability innate in the American people that for some reason has gone dormant and needs reviving, the physical reality may instead be that imbalances in the regional concentrating of technologies and expertise in that earlier era may have favoured a corresponding imbalance in the flow of wealth.  [In an evolving collective, as pointed out by Stephen Jay Gould using the metaphor of baseball, the decline of .400 hitters need not represent a decline in hitting competency, as it could be constituted by an improvement in fielding, in which case rallying the hitters to recover their former greatness may simply be playing with their egos. ].


The indigenous aboriginal view is that humans are never ‘fountainheads’; e.g. Ernie Benedict, a Mohawk Elder, sees the earth as a mother who we must respect and care for, … to use the gifts she has given us in caring for her [man as ‘vent’ responsible for transformation]. Ernie sees those gifts as having been stolen and held hostage by the colonizers, who apportion them out only to those who would join with them and be accomplices to the theft.  Moving over to the side of the colonizers would put one in the position of stealing from one’s own parents and grandparents.

National political leaders [particularly businessmen] can ‘play with the ego of the people’ whether or not their own egotistical self-portraits as fountainheads rather than as vents are consciously intended and manipulative, or unconscious.   Within a society in which business successes are protected by regulatory and enforcement authorities and held immune to damages arising from the inevitable unplanned externalities and side-effects that negatively impact society, the ‘semantic reality’ that promotes the notion of the producer as a fountainhead rather than as a vent tends to be well-received, flattering the ego of those involved, as it does.

The notion of ‘competition’ of independently-existing fountainheads who are all born equal in the eyes of the law, is a game that ‘semantic reality’ continues to support.  It is the basis for modern politics in spite of increasing frequent and more severe reminders of the physical reality of global relational interdependence.

National political leaders are honest in this respect; they cannot help but see ‘terrorists’ as fountainheads of terror since they see their own ‘independent selves’ and their ‘independent nations’ as fountainheads of productive achievement, as do many of their supporters.   This is the influence of ego, as Nietzsche has pointed out, which is the source of the abstract concept of ‘independent being’ which in turn provides the foundation for moral judging.

The relational worldview of Nietzsche and the indigenous aboriginal tradition [see ‘Blackfoot Physics’] points to the physical reality of our actual, natural, relational experience for the source of understanding, rather than the ‘semantic reality’ fashioned from subject-verb-predicate constructs.  In this view, there are no fountainheads, only vents.  As “vents for the transmission of influences from the vast and universal to the point on which our genius can act” [Emerson], our natural agency is in transmutation of inter-entity conflict by way of relational transformation and so cultivating, restoring and sustaining balance and harmony.  This is the way of ‘restorative justice’ which suspends binary judgements of ‘offender and victim’, ‘guilty and innocent’ by suspending our belief in ourselves as ‘fountainheads’ of our own behaviour and acknowledging ourselves as vents for the transmission of influence from the transforming relational continuum in which we are each uniquely, situationally included.

The national political leader and the terrorist share this need for opening themselves to the relational view where the volcano as fountainhead swallows its ego and acknowledges its self as ‘vent’, where value is no longer assigned for self-determined ‘production’ but instead for facilitating harmonious relational transformation.

In the Peacemaker myth of the Iroquois, the peacemaker, Dekanawideh, does not seek to overthrow or exterminate the evil Adodarho, but to meet and find reconciliation through mutually influencing relational transformation that subsumes polar tensions.  Finding the hidden harmony in opposites is the mystery of the bow and the lyre

Hodos ano kato (ὁδὸς ἄνω κάτω), “the upward-downward path.” are simultaneous opposites, the source of “hidden harmony”. There is a harmony in the bending back (παλίντροπος palintropos) as in the case of the bow and the lyre. – from Heraclitus