The question “What do you want?” can be used against anybody practicing or considering Buddho-Darwinism as described here and probably also against Buddhists. It is a cunning question in that:
- it implies a shop-keeper or owner mentality where one has to pay the inquisitor for anything that one does want on the Darwinist survival side of Buddho-Darwinism eg. medicine for a dying child.
- it invites you to believe that if you are drifting toward the Buddhist side of Buddho-Darwinism, namely wishing to leave the eternal cycle of life by reincarnation and the suffering associated with it, then you are an offensive non-participator
I first came across the question after I had started dreaming in Denmark in early spring 1977. At the time, while having no particular ambitions, I was a reasonably sharp thinker and managing the basics of life, food, shelter and occasional relationships, (while being no alpha male by any means). A young woman from the Faroe Islands called Annette (pronounced Annetta in Denmark) had turned up at the offices of Huset, the young people’s centre set up in Denmark, where I had come to talk to Klaas, the Dutch man working there who I believe had been somewhat responsible for nurturing the idea of the centre. (For the record Klass’s surname was roughly Muizelaar though I would not swear to the spelling).
To digress for a moment:- Klass was married to another Annette, Annette Kristensen, sister of Birgitte. Birgitte was just about the “coolest hippie chick” in my young eyes that I could ever imagine, having in earlier years taken the hippie ‘land’ trail to visit India on a spiritual quest with her then boyfriend Kim Thompson and in 1977 working for Copenhagen council’s environment department. Annette, her sister, I thought was equally ‘groovy’ at first but gradually she began to say things that confused me, (I think she lied habitually just for the fun of it. An American boyfriend she had when I first arrived in 1976 called Bill once said to her “Oh lying again huh!” which she just half-giggled over and admitted). [the song ‘Wonderful Wonderful Copenhagen’ describes the city as a salty old girl and I suspect Annette was an archetype of this genre of personality]. These two 28 year old non-identical twins were to me, an edgy 21 year old who had only lost his virginity about a year before he met them, absolutely perfect specimens (that’s the Darwin believer in me using that word) of my ideal of European womanhood. As well as being hugely friendly Annette could quite happily invite me to go for a walk to a park in the centre of Copenhagen and sunbathe topless while we chatted and Birgitte was comfortable naked on a beach North of Copenhagen smoking a pipe of hashish with me.
To continue:- Annette from the Faroes was in the office and I was thinking something along the lines of “Oh great another lovely young Scandinavian woman to get to know” when she suddenly shot out of the office as if she had seen the something evil. I followed her out on to the main street to see what was wrong and she just stood with her back to the wall and asked “What do you want?” Back to basics I suppose should have inclined me to say “Food, shelter and maybe a bit of sex and/or female companionship now and again”. However, I said nothing because the question seemed so incongruous or perhaps intended to make me feel guilty about pursuing her welfare.
Since my enlightenment and the following crushing in Titan youth hotel and splitting at the Rebecca Fest ( See After Bliss) the question “what do you want?” has become the mantra of the new right wing enlightenment and the left wing as epitomised by the UK’s ‘New’ Labour Party. It is consumerism and over-population which will destroy the beautiful and interesting things of this world, but if everybody is subjugated to that question and must answer then I can only see a great deal of pain ahead.
I once saw on television a British actor and actress couple outside their cottage who described how they gave a lot away because they have enough. There have been many altruistic rich or comfortably well off from Carnegie in the USA and Bill Gates to this theatrical couple whose names I forget but the man could have been Richard Stillgoe. Equally there are many lower income people who pay there taxes and hope their government acts in an altruistic way with the money they take. One man I worked with in a factory recycling tyres, in my teens, admired the former communist state of Yugoslavia because they ‘looked after old people’. I have the feeling these people share a little of the Buddha and the compassion that goes with that, but the basic message here that I an trying to convey must remain that the very principle of economic growth is what we now need to rein-in, if our morality is not to be suspect. If we destroy everything that is not useful and harness all that is for our own ends, then we become as the creatures known as Daleks in the BBC series Dr Who, (see Dr Who and Star Trek). In doing that we become worthy of destruction and demonstrate that we are in no way capable of organising missions such as those of Star Trek in fact we become as destructive as the worst problems the crew of the Star Trek have ever encountered.
In studying science from an early age, like many little boys of my generation, fascinated by Dinosaurs etc, the morality I describe here seemed obvious and the future seemed to promise rule by science and sense. Unfortunately the intervening years have seen the rise of the “What do you want?” question and its justification of continuous rapidly expanding resource utilisation.
In the film “Pret a Porter” the TV fashion correspondent played by Kim Bassinger quits the business when one designer, having had her collection stolen, decides to send all her models on the catwlk naked. The character thinks the show is insane, but her assistant takes the microphone and says, about Simone Lowe, the designer, that she has shown women around the world, not about what to wear but about how to think about what they want and need from fashion.
The question perhaps that our survival and moral triumph depend on should perhaps have been and should perhaps always be in the future “What do you need?”