Saturday, March 5, 2011

Will You Step Into My Parlor: An Essay On The Spider And The Fly

Will you step into my parlor? said the spider to the fly
(Mary Howitt).

In Buskingdom I ask you: Are you a spider or a fly?

By far the most the simple approach to answer this question is to imagine the busker to be the spider and the customer to be the fly. The buskers would be spiders because they set up their rather stationary sidewalk pitches as ambuscades of surprise and attack. But this is not necessarily true.

To offer any qualitative answer to such a question demands a more complex and dualistic understanding of self and world, and to appreciate one's self in a world in which all things are seamlessly connected with one another. To do this, we must also believe that both the spider and the fly, in fact, galvanize each other, spark one another into action, into life.

All of us live in a world cadence, a rhythmic flow of sound and dance, participating in a symbiotic relationship between performer and audience, between spider and fly. We are all of us in Yin and Yang, constantly changing, having our opposites counteract one another, balance and turn into each other; day and night; hot and cold; north and south; up and down, inside and outside; spider and fly.

For the sake of contention and for your philosophic palates, allow me to offer some candies both sweet and sour on which to crunch.

Here is the first candy, and one that is sour:

Yuuuk! Eight legged creepy crawly arachnids. Swarming sticky yicky houseflies. Squash that spider! Swat that fly! Neither the spider nor the fly should affright, for neither the spider nor the fly are moral or immoral. With circumspection, the spider and the fly are just necessary adversaries to one other, and in fact, can intoxicate each other with both enthusiasm and frenzy.

And here is a sweet:

We are all of us spider and fly in the sense that we can gloze over our necessary need for one another; take for example, the ever smiling busker, another example, the ever condescending customer.

Another sweet:

We are all of us spider and fly, will-o'-the wisps for one another, the busker being a light of joy on a mundane day, the customer a light of joy on a busking lull day.

And another sour:

Moiling day to day, we are all of us spider and fly, being continuously hoisted by our own petards of capitalism and convention. Continually, we spin our abstract webs of greed, wealth, and status, until eventually we are caught in our own constructs of consumerism. New wheels, over mortgaged house, mundane job, are just three such examples.

And yet another sour:

We are all of us spider and fly, quite aware of our confinement, yet we still crawl or swarm about this blue orb of ours, seeking self-designed concerts of pleasure, and suffering other-designed moments of panic and grief.

Whenever I have taught first year Psychology classes, I have always posed to the students the question: Are you the prisoner or the product of your experiences?

Are you a spider or a fly? Is the question, perhaps, that I ought to have been asking.

And the sweet and sour answer?

We are what we are when we choose to be. And whether we be spider or fly, the song and dance of each is just another opus, another random composition of sorts created by who knows who ... Finis.

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