Laboring Under The Curse of Greyface


“Messes are opportunities for creative expression, for delight and discovery, and for pleasure and celebration. Messes are real. They are how we live. And they can be beautiful.” – Amy George Rush

This distinction comes from the Principia Discordia, the “bible” for what is either a religion disguised as a joke, or a joke disguised as a religion. Depending on your point of view, of course.

The distinction is called the Curse of Greyface, and it goes a little something like this. There are two axis you can measure the rightness of your actions along. (There are many more than two, of course, but these two are what you need to get this distinction.)

One is the axis of order versus disorder.

The other is creativity versus destruction.

At some point in our past, particularly in the West, right around when the Greeks were going strong a cultural axiom was created that declared that the main measure of rightness should be along the order/disorder line. In other words, and action was more righteous if it was based in order, and less righteous, or even evil if it was couched in disorder. This meant that whether an action was creative, or destructive, it was okay as long as it was orderly.

Conquer a neighboring nation while pillaging and destroying their culture, sure as long as you had a legal (ie, ordered) claim to the territory.

Cut down forests with no regard to environmental impact, of course, the wheels of orderly progress must keep turning!

Attempt the total decimation of a people? Well, you can sleep well at night as long as you were “just following orders.”

Our cultural measuring stick for advancement became order over disorder with no attention paid to creation or destruction.

The cure is obvious: Shift your value assessment from the line of order/disorder, to that of creative/destructive. Head for the creative, and have little care about whether your effort creates order or disorder in it’s wake. (Well, maybe have a little care. The cure for a curse is seldom to just flip the seats on the ride.)

Working under a paradigm that measures the rightness of actions based solely on the criteria of whether they are more creative, and less destructive, would be quite a thing indeed, I should think. When I start thinking about it, the lyrics for John Lennon’s “Imagine” start going through my head. I do not think this shift would fix every problem we face instantly. I do think it would deeply effect the flavor of our culture and the moorings of our value systems.

We would stop grading out children based on whether they could memorize facts and figures by rote. Instead we would grade them on the cool shit they came up with.

Laws would no longer be based on, “That’s the way it’s always been done” but would instead be guidelines for fostering, insuring, and propagating creative action and outcomes.

People would not be evaluated on how well they toed the line, but on how much they contributed.

In my personal exploration of switching the lines of evaluation, I have found life to be more inherently beautiful and expressive. By deciding the the value I assign to a thing based on it’s creative value I find that I have a lot more opportunities for joy in my life. I also steer clear of miring myself in tasks, or duties, that drain my creative potential.

For my money that is a much better way to go!

What do you think?

They Do Not Have The Power

power structure

Here’s another fun distinction.

One of the prevalent misconceptions in common discourse is that “they“, those on the top of group power structures, have the real power in the world. When we look at this closely though it seems to be the opposite.

They” have never had the power.They” have authority, not through some special right or capacity. Rather the authority comes from a “mandate from the masses.” In other words, the people below bequeath those above with power.

Consider a modern large corporation. At the top is the CEO. Below them are the other chief officers. Then comes some vice presidents. After that you’ve got the directors, then the managers, and finally workers. If the CEO is removed, the company continues. It may hit a stumbling block, but it will not crumble. The largest companies in our world have proven this again and again. However, remove a chunk of workers and things go bumpy real quick. Remove all the workers, and the company vanishes. Until they replace the work force there will be no work done.

Where is the real power there?

The same is true of any organization, be it a religion, a government, a non-profit, a volunteer relief crew. If those who do the work stop doing the work the organization only exists in name, with no function.

Somehow though, the opposite opinion persists. We have been horns-waggled into giving over our power. We accede to authority for fear of what they will do to us, and forget that it takes us to carry out their sentences on us. All to often we do not hold them to task for the authority we have granted them.

I think this is a good question to keep in our tool box and ready to hand, “Who has the power here?”

The answer can often be surprising.

Taking back the power we have lets us steer our own ships and take part in the decision making process. That’s not an easy thing to do, and I am not suggesting that it’s always an easy thing to do. Still, we can talk about it. If we stand together, those “in power” will have no alternative but to listen to what we want for our lives, in trade for our work.

By remembering that authority is granted, and not pre-existing, we can enter a dialog with those entrusted with authority on an even footing.