Friday, April 17, 2009

A Meme Campaign

Tara was writing me notes this morning, instead of speaking, reminding me of a campaign I'd seen on Facebook, a day of silence for gay rights. I remarked this seemed like a tough commandment, as I'd already broken it through ignorance. The irony was apparent, as many get second class treatment simply for crossing invisible "color lines" that might not be advertised.

Being on the wrong side of history, for having been born on the wrong side of the tracks, like in some kind of prison camp (like Kiyoshi Kuromiya was, Heart Mountain, Wyoming), is the kind of unfairness this campaign was meant to signify. What's civilization about if not addressing inequity? As a species, we tend to enjoy serving justice, without sharing the same norms. Allowing for differences in taste is a skill among lawyers, as among other brands of diplomat. Kiyoshi became a respected gourmet in Philadelphia in a land of opportunity.

Anthropologists understand how orthoschemes (template orthodoxies) tend to model an indigenous cosmology, such as Adam's and Eve's in the Middle East. We don't learn if the snake in the garden was gay, not from Genesis, and in hermeneutics more generally the snake is hermaphroditic, meaning not sexless but ambisexed, that "third kind" we read about in the Coyote tradition (a school of Lakota), responsible for some local casinos.

This "original family" (not counting angels) soon became dysfunctional, per Abel and Cain, our mnemonic friends in group theory per our everyday algebra.[1] The implication was they'd disobeyed God and the rest was history, or "koyaanisqatsi" as the Hopi call it, also known as "oblivion" if you wanna sound bleak about it.

With the invention of jet travel, American tourists would come home with Kodak slides of other climes, where other models and cosmologies led to alternative outward behaviors of various kinds e.g. pictures of French kissing in public. Margaret Mead's subjects made disavowaling noises after awhile and who can blame them?

The spotlight of the over-curious, the paparazzi, grows wearisome. How do you say "none of your business" in generic Unicode. Britney Spears says it well, in her Piece of Me.

Nevertheless, these stories got back to us, making extra work for the pastors, who needed to reassert the prominence of tribal dominance according to community standards and practices. Even pastorless brands of Quaker, such as NPYM's, had to adjust for globalization. Portland's position as a sea port, though not as prominent as Seattle's, kept us from playing an ostrich with its head in the sand. Sailors came back with stories, sometimes more than stories.

For the most part, the various zip codes adapted to the news, but in different ways well known to market researchers. How far is the nearest airport? Do they read books? Demographics matter. Families near Las Vegas, even if nuclear, might not require the same Avon products as an equally nuclear family in Omaha. It even depends on what part of Omaha.

In 97214
, being gay is not necessarily "a problem" (no one cares either way, except in terms of finding a good match) whereas you'll find other neighborhoods where "gayness" is only spoken about in code. An "out bishop" would likely be "out of a job" in some sects, whereas others expect same gender relations as a consequence of enforced celibacy between the sexes, including among their top dogs.

Oregon has an "end of the trail" ethic which is somewhat live and let live. Getting this far was an ordeal on steroids, involving covered wagons, ornery horses, sometimes dissenting natives.

Portlandia's sons and daughters share that pioneer spirit of liberality that allows for (even close) collaboration across ethnic lines. You might be a Chinese rail worker, earning credit in grad school (signals engineering), or you might be a Nashville musician turned geek, networking in coffee shops, getting established. Both of you would be welcome at Cubespace, where no embedded sensors go off just because you play wii and/or snake charm and/or perl dive for a living (alluding to Barcamps, their obvious diversity).

[1] the properties of a mathematical group are Closure, Associativity, Inverses, Neutral (or Identity, iNverses), with Abel a pun on Abelian (a subclass of group).