Telling My Stories

A life lived outside

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The Rise and Fall of the Illiterati

Posted by catkisser on May 4, 2010

Part 1, Global Viewpoints and How I Arrived There

I have to begin this with some personal history.  The phrase “stranger in a strange land” has special significance for me because it sort of sums up much of my early life experiences.  There was a time when I believed that those with similar unusual life experience would be freed by them as I was.  The increasing fullness of years taught me yet another lesson, it’s not the experiences as much as it is whether or not you learn from them and the sad conclusion that most simply don’t learn.

My father, with whom I have many never to be resolved issues long after his passing, was an educator of the humanities who went to Dartmouth and Yale and studied both psychology and history.  I grew up surrounded with all the classics of literature, history and psychology as well as a pretty good collection of the golden age science fiction novels.  The psych eval done on me in first grade indicated I was reading on a seventh grade level then.  I remember in seventh grade having to fight the local Liberian for the right to check out Solzhenitsyn’s “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” because it was a commie book only an adult could handle.  She lost that argument and I got to expand my understanding of the Soviet people.  Not to mention learning quickly that her understanding of a “commie” book was totally divorced from reality.

I grew up at the very tail end of what is sometimes called a “liberal” education that included an expectation of exposure to Enlightenment literature and the classics.  I was part of the last generation that was taught the difference between democracy and a representative republic, something the average American today has no apparent understanding about.

In short, I grew up feeling I was a stranger in a strange land but schooled in the ideas that knowledge and it’s pursuit were desirable and valuable in it’s own right and no field of inquiry was off limits as a result.  For example, my seventh grade science project was unique.  Already having delved deeply into so called occult subjects and so called fringe science I decided to explore whether or not psychic ability measured by the Rhine cards being used at Duke University would be influenced one way or the other by hypnotism.  The answer was yes by small but statistically significant amount.  I got an F on that project because it wasn’t “real” science given by the very asshole who approved my doing it in the first place thus learning a much greater lesson than the work itself but far different than the one he thought he was teaching me.

A year later we move to New Delhi India.  We traveled slowly throughout Europe and the Middle East to get there using a very out of date version of “Europe on Five Dollars a Day” which meant we were always well off the beaten track the tourists took.  And I got to see a world that doesn’t exist today, one prior to the homogenization of Western/American culture.  And we lived in an India that still was much more similar to Kipling’s India than the India of today.  I explored that India outside the Western enclaves where most stayed and did so with relative freedom.

I attended school with kids from all around the world, not just Europe and America and I met some of the great minds of the time like Joesph Heller of Catch 22 fame, future Ohio governor and first lady Richard and Dagmar Celeste, future Indian Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi to mention a few.

So, due to a perfect storm of a unique neurology and a unique childhood I view the world much differently than most people do.  I learned to see the world though the eyes of an interested, even fascinated alien observing the wider human condition.  I see the world globally and work down to specifics, understand human nature in wide concepts.  The ancients called this “as above, so below” and today it is expressed in fractal mathematics and demonstrated by breaking a hologram which then has each piece a smaller but complete version of the original.

I put this first part here because of the autobiographical content.  the following parts will be at


2 Responses to “The Rise and Fall of the Illiterati”

  1. Zoxelilia said

    Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
    I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

    Thumbs up, and keep it going!


  2. SamanthaQ said

    Merry Meet Cathryn,

    I found my way to your blog by gently snuffling through links and doing some research after reading an article you wrote in April. The energy coming from the first article intrigued me so I though to follow the trail so to speak. Ah, “Stranger In A Strange Land” indeed, such has been much of the story of my life, though less so now that I lost an abusive husband and gained a spine. He’s in the summer land waffling about his next trip and unresolved issues from our life, while I’m here trying to get him to grow up. He’s a younger soul, but mine is not to judge. To be sure I’m not quite used to being a spirit guide while corporeally focused, I thought I’d turned that hat in before I came back to find what I’d lost. It’s not in my nature however to encourage suffering if I can help someone avoid it. Especially someone I love. This my dear is not the purpose of my comment.

    I’ve been reading backwards through your blog, and this post really struck some resonances for me, and I thought, in my own typically long winded way, to say hello and let you know you are not perhaps as alone as you might imagine. A Stranger In A Strange Land, oh yes Luv, most assuredly, for this is indeed at first blush a very Strange land. I have become very fond of saying over the years that those who fail to learn FROM the past, are doomed to experience it again. Education has been, for quite sometime, about parroting information carefully cultivated by self important people back to other people who are on the approved list to disseminate it. On so many levels it smacks of maintaining currently controlled reality, and a veil of unhealthy darkness over the globe. In short indoctrination instead of real education. The very real difference between helping young people learn how to think, as apposed to teaching them WHAT to think.

    Many people come to earth with a skull full of mush, and leave “thinking” what they are told to think. Others of us, the strangers, leave thinking on our own, asking questions, and finding the lessons, the truths inside Koan’s for example.

    In any case, I thought to say hello, and reassure you that you might not be nearly as strange as you might think, just in an apparently strange land. Much of our own journey’s have interesting parallels. And yes, for oh so very long I too considered myself a Stranger In A Strange Land. The big picture, yes Luv, so important. See past the illusions and allow yourself to remember more of your own past, and you may well find this land to be somewhat less alien than you might have thought. Awakening is seldom easy, but so worth it, and you my dear are up to the task.

    For now, I must go, my sky calls to me, so I think I shall take to wing and savor some physicality for a spell.

    Brightest Blessings on your path, and Namasté,

    Samantha of song and story.

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