Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thou Art God

The Phrase, " Thou Art God", is the motto of the Church of All Worlds. It ties in with the Martian Old Ones way of thinking. It explains many reasons why Michael acts like he does. One simple phrase explains why Mike is not troubled by death, he glorifies it and takes it as an honor. Why do you ask? Why would Mike enjoy death? Well on Mars, the martians will eat the dead or those who have discorporated. Mike sees this, along with all other martians, as a true honor and it comes with great pride. If His martian people are starving , the one who discorporates to feed His people, is praised and honored. Mike sees this ritual as a great honor and does not phase him because he knows that,"thou art God". Thou Art God, is a theological principle that all martians follow. They do not fear death because Thou Art God. Mike states it as,'Thou art God,' Mike repeated serenely. 'That which groks. Anne is God. I am God. The happy grasses are God. Jill groks in beauty always. Jill is God." If you Grok, Thou Art God. No one is better than anyone else or anything else because Everyone and Everything is God. The grass is God, the trees are God. The martians believe in the phases of life as passing from adult martian to old one. So if you discorporate, or die, you become an old one, so no one really cares if they live or die because they are God and will become Old Ones. They live on Mars to understand each other, make water brothers, and Grok what they can. Eventually, this phrase becomes like a greeting mixed with a reflex. In the temple of The Church of All Worlds and other places where water brothers are present they greet each other with Thou art God and say it whenever a question is asked and understood. Thou Art God is what Mike was trying to teach to the World, While he was being pelted with rocks and being cursed out,"God Damn you!" He simply responded with," you are damning yourself because Thou art God. Which only resulted in more bricks and rocks being thrown. Those simple three words is what the Martian way of life means, Thou Art God. It ties in Love, Grokking,Water sharing, and everything and everyone that exists.

The Language Barrier

The Language barrier separates not only the basic communications between Mike and the Martians and the earthlings but also the emotional connections and spiritual connections  through grokking and water sharing.  The language barrier that separates Mike (speaking martian) and Jill, along with the other water brothers(English and Arabic) from really communing with each other. Mike could connect with Jill and Jubal through only English but not on the level that could be achieved speaking in martian. The water sharing between Mike and his followers allowed them to share a connection together, beyond what anyone can imagine. They were so connected that Mike and higher trained followers could view life through the eyes of their water brothers. This takes grokking to the literal level of observing through the observed. This level of connection among water brothers could only be accomplished through speaking and thinking in Martian. Thinking in Martian was key, without this, all water brothers were limited in their connections and advancing in their grokking by only speaking English. Michael was limited in communicating with us humans because he did not know English or other languages. Dr. Mahmoud, the first of Michael's water brothers to understand Martian explained it as language being like a map. Without a certain map you may not understand a language along with it's culture. Mike did not have the "map of English" so to speak, so he did not understand the ways of man or what they were saying. But over time he understood English almost to it's fullest and along with it, the culture of man/america. This applies the same to Earthlings learning Martian, they were lost in their thinking and only when they understood martian, did they begin to grok the culture and understand all that their thinking had to offer.

Jubal's Sculptures

Jubal Harshaw is a connoisseur of art among other things, but Robert A Heinlein really uses the sculptures of Jubal Harshaw and Jubal's ability to Grok them to the fullest as a way to convey his point about Michael and about the society we live in. The first sculpture, the "Caryatid Who Has Fallen under Her Stone" that Jubal mentions in his sculpture room.

 Jubal observes a connection between the lady in the sculpture and Mike. The sculpture is of a woman under the weight of a stone. Mike came to the Earth bearing the weight of having to spread the martian way of life to humanity and having to learn and become accustom to earthling ways. The next sculpture in his collection is, la belle heaulmiere.

This sculpture is of a very old lady and displays the effects of aging. When Ben notices this, Jubal corrects him in saying, "Anybody can see a pretty girl. An artist can look at a pretty girl and see the old women she will become.A better artist can look at an old women and see the pretty girl she used to be. A great artist can look at an old women, portray her exactly as she is...and force the viewer to see the pretty girl that she used to be... more than that , he can make anyone with the sensitivity of an armadillo see that this lovely young girls still alive, imprisoned inside her ruined body".
The last sculpture Jubal mentions, is the Little Mermaid.

 The little Mermaid sculpture is a mermaid who chose to become human and is sitting on a rock. Jubal wants to set it up as a memorial to Mike because just like the Little Mermaid, Mike has had to give up a part of himself to become human.

The Martians

We view martians as being like this...
or this...
But from reading the book Stranger in a Strange Land, the martians that are depicted are an extremely peaceful race that is only violent and destructive when their way of life is truly threatened. The martians do not live like we do. They are nothing like us. in fact, their are not even multiple sexes. The martians have three states of life. Being an egg or a nymph, a martian adult, and a spiritual Old One. The nymphs are all female and are not too bright. This stage of martian life is to weed out the weak.Michael explains to Jubal that on Mars their upbringing is backwards, the martians are weeded out at birth where 9 out of 10 nymphs end up dying in their first day. Where as on earth, humans are weeded out as adults and are helped as much as possible as babies. . The nymph or egg stage serves as a right of passage for all martians. A sort of Darwinist "survival of the fittest", to create only strong Martian Adults. Martian Adults are all male. They stand very tall and very passive. They are communistic for lack of a better "martian" word. They do not believe in possessions and are very material poverty stricken. The adult Martians build magnificent cities but they are not described in detail. These adult Martians are beyond intelligent, they have taught Michael all of their ways. The adults are very serious about their relationships with other martians. They value their relationships with their water brothers as being the most important thing. These relationships are eternal and are what make the martians so happy. I think this happiness is a symbol from the author. Those without the most money but that have the best of relationships are always the happiest. Anyway, the adult martians are extremely smart and have taught Michael all that they can, but Michael also learned other more important ideals from the Old Ones. The Old Ones are the supreme spirits of the Adult Martians that have discorporated They are extremely intelligent, beyond what is comprehensible. These Old Ones, may be smart bu they are not omniscient, they must grok their decisions before they act. With their intelligence they grok at lightning speed, making decisions in as little as a few centuries. These Old Ones are in no hurry to make decisions and will take an extra century or two just to be correct in making a decision. The destruction of the 5th rock from the sun, now an asteroid field, took over four millennium.The Old Ones are very powerful, intelligent and curious. They use Michael to help them Grok humanity. 

Michael's Struggle with Earthlings

Valentine Michael Smith is a human by definition, but a martian by action and thinking. This separation starts to become less and less noticeable as the story progresses. Michael begins to find out who he is really is as a person as he begins to grok and understand the ways of the earthlings. Along with his water brothers on earth, Michael sets up the Church of All Worlds. Which is not a religion and is not really a church. The Church of All Worlds is a place where someone can go to learn the martian language, way of thinking, and all that it has to offer. Michael uses the Church to teach humans of the martian way of life and way of viewing the universe. It is what Michael views as the humans salvation from themselves. To avoid all of the Wars, famines and wrongness that Michael sees, Michael tries to spread the Martian way of grokking and water sharing to humans so that they can live in peace and truly love.

The ways of humans; greed, manipulation, lies, and overall ignorance leads to Bishop Short of the Fosterite Faith to declare a holy war against the Church of All Faith's and declare Michael as the Antichrist. Michael can avoid the crusaders all he wants since he has a supreme understanding of the universe. He could make every single one vanish if he really wanted to, but that is not Michael. Michael understands that his mission is to convert and spread the martian way of life to humans so that they can ultimately live in harmony, but as Michael admits to Jubal that this goal is futile, He understands what he must do. Michael's work on earth is done, and now that his own earthling people hate him, he makes a last effort to help them and save them from themselves. Michael decides to preach to this angry mob outside of the Hotel that he and his followers are hiding in. Michael dies valiantly, by being pelted with rocks and bricks and rattled with shotgun pellets. Michael discorporates knowing that he has done has job on earth and has spread what he knows and understands. Michael's struggle with his real people on earth eventually leads him to discorporation but also to the happiness that, in time, he has taught all of humanity the martian ways but above all else, to grok and to love.

The Jubal of The Nile

Jubal Harshaw is the kind of person that we all aspire to be some day.  He is a Lawyer/Doctor/Screen writer/Poet/Connoisseur  of fine arts. Although very aged when he meets Michael, it is a life changing experience for him. Jubal has already lived his glory days and is on the downward slide of life. Money is not a problem for Jubal and he spends his days at his compound in the Poconos. He lives there with his three secretaries, his gardener, and his handyman. Jubal is a very intelligent man and is revered as the one person you want in the courtroom or at the operating table. Jubal uses his secretaries to write his screenplays, poems and short stories to sell to papers and directors. Jubal sounds like an amazing man who is happily living out the rest of years in paradise, right? Well, the one thing that Jubal lacks is a spiritual direction. Jubal was brought up baptist but has since renounced his faith and is sort of an observer of all faiths but not a follower of any. He educates himself on many different religions and understands some better than their own followers. He understand them so well that when he was explaining them to Michael, Jubal was mistaken as a follower of a few. Jubal's understanding of faith and his direction of spirituality was changed after meeting Michael. Michael taught Jubal how to love, grok, and understand life. Michael views Jubal as the only human that does not know martian but knows how to grok in fullness. Jubal ends up outliving Michael, but with Michael's legacy, Jubal begins to find his direction and complete his life.

Water Brothers

Water-Sharing was introduced to humans by Michael. Water-Sharing is making an emotion, eternal bond with someone by sharing water, or any type of drink. Mike got this idea of water sharing from His people on Mars. Water is such a a rarity on Mars, it is more cherished then diamonds on earth. The martians use it only in Water Sharing. The martians value relationships more than anything else and share drops of water to cement a relationship with a brother ( The Martian adults are only Male). This water sharing is forever and means an ultimate trust and commitment to each other. A water brother can never lead another brother into wrongness and will always do what the other asks. When Michael became water brothers with Jill, she noticed that whatever she told mike, he would do. Even if she told Mike to jump out of the window, he would do it without thinking twice because from his understanding a Water brother can never lead another brother into wrongness, and he would believe that it was the right thing to do and trust his brother all the way up until he smacked against the pavement and discorporated. Becoming water brothers with someone means that both parties are fully committed to loving, trusting, caring and protecting each other. Throughout the book, Michael becomes water brother with many people. In the beginning both Michael and the other water were clueless. Michael thought that human water brothers could do no wrong and never lead Michael to harm, and the human brother had no idea what becoming water brothers meant. Jill and Michael's other water brothers on earth had to learn just what it meant to be water brothers through Mike's teachings and experiences with them.

The Man from Mars

Valentine Michael Smith is the Man from Mars. He is son of two extremely gifted and intelligent astronauts who were part of the first exploration of Mars. Although the first Ship, The Envoy, crashed, Michael survived. He was taken in by the extremely wise and intelligent martians. They taught him all of their ways, how to think, feel,speak martian, Grok, share water, meditate, leave his body and telepathy to move destroy and manipulate anything and anyone. Michael has the Ancestry of a Man but is so far psychologically from humans. Michael had never laid eyes on a human before he was found by the second ship to Mars. He did not know anything of human customs or behavior and was completely oblivious of their being another sex.

We see Michael, throughout the story, as a truly amazing man. He came to earth to learn the ways of humans and relay them back to the Old Ones on Mars for 'Grokking', but ended up teaching humanity the beautiful ways of the Martians. He taught the people he encountered and that would eventually become his family, all of the ways of His Martian people. Michael can do extraordinary things. His ideas and how he interacts with things through grokking, were a feat in of itself, but he had a lot more to offer. Michael does not need to sleep but instead only needs to grok in meditation. In this meditation state, Michael can slow his metabolism to a halt, his heart rate so far down that he was presumed dead by human doctors, and just 'grok' in fullness everything that he has learned and experienced. Michael was the son to two genius's who's IQ were both above 180.This meant Mike was extremely intelligent and, along with his martian teachings, could learn new things at a dizzying pace. Michael has the ability to levitate objects and people. Martian arithmetic and understanding of how the universe ticks, allows him to use telepathy on anything. This telepathy means that Michael can read thoughts, levitate and move objects and people, make objects or people vanish or discorporate (to die). These amazing feats are thanks to Michael's supreme Martian understandings of the universe.Along with telepathy, Michael can exit his body. It is sort of like an out of body experience. While in his meditation state, Michael can exit his, soul or mind, and interact with people and objects without being seen. Michael's abilities are truly amazing and they weren't just limited to him. His teachings to his followers allowed for them to do what Michael can do, but only through vigorous training.

Michael in his meditation state. In this instance, it happens to be at the bottom of a pool.

Retro Future

The setting of Stranger in A Strange Land is like that of any old 50's comic books. It is like like the Jetson's but instead of being in space it is here on earth. We have to keep in mind though, that this book was written in the late 50's and is supposed to take place in the future, i.e now. If we think of how the 50's culture thought of the future, we think of many robots, flying cars, and spacemen. This really is exactly the setting of Stranger in a Strange Land. The setting feels very retro-y. All cars fly, and are driven by robots. Most everything is automated. But the idea of the internet is very vacant. Phones have transformed into a video screen in order to connect with someone but are always land lined. There are no cell phones ant to use a phone you must access a car, house, or booth. The idea of space exploration in the 50's with the introduction of better rocket technology really furthered the idea of space exploration in the future. Michael was a human born on Mars and many space ships were starting to explore mars. The moon has had civil wars over who owned it. Later on in the book, it mentioned that a space exploration team has successfully landed on Pluto. And there were talks of sending teams to Jupiter. The 50's retro idea of the future really takes over this book. I do not see the futuristic society that we see now playing any role in this book, but a more retro World that is advanced but is the literal image of the futurism craze of the 50's. Full of Robots and flying cars.

This is sort of how I viewed the cities described in the book

Grokking the word 'Grok'

Grokking the word 'Grok'

Throughout, Stranger in A Strange Land, the word 'Grok' is used constantly. Since it is a Martian word, it is very unusual for us. To 'grok' or 'grokking' has many meanings but can simply be put as to deeply understand something. The book offers a clearer definition that explains that to 'Grok' means to understand so thoroughly that the observer becomes a part of the observed. to merge, blend, intermarry, lose identity in group experience. It means almost everything that we mean by religion, philosophy, and science and it means as little to us (because we are earthlings as color means to a blind man(Stranger in a Strange Land). We do not have a word in English for understanding something as deeply as Michael and the Martians can, mainly because we cannot understand anything like this. Our World is always in such a rush to get things done and will never sit and really ponder a decision.Humans always make decisions with haste but always fail to really think and 'grok' the fullness of their decisions. We have so many wars and so much hardship because we, in essence, do not 'grok' each other. When talking to Jubal about the Martians, Michael said, "You see by their (the Martians) standards, we are diseased and crippled - the things we do to each other, the way we fail to understand each other, our almost complete failure to grok with one another, our wars and diseases and our famines and cruelties- these things are insane to them. They will decide to kill humans out of mercy".
The Martians 'grok' decisions to fullness and this takes thousands of years. The decision to destroy the 3rd rock from the sun will take a minimum of 500 years and maximum of 5000 years. Humans make decisions with such quickness that we sometimes do not understand the consequences of them.For example, We can order a triple Decker bacon cheeseburger that is just dripping in grease pretty quickly and have no trouble eating it, only to find out later that that 1500 calorie burger does not sit right with your stomach. If we sit back and understand or 'grok' our decisions we could have chose a better food. Michael can 'grok the fullness of everyone he meets, everything he sees, feels, hears, and thinks about. When he 'grokked the grass in Ben's living room, he understood that the grass was meant to be stepped on by joining with the grass and understand what the grass feels. The term 'grok' may be weird to us but it really does have real world applications. I doubt that our society or government will ever wait 500 years to declare war on another nation but if we could really understand each other and what the consequences of war are, we would never be in conflict. 'Grokking' really can help in decision making and will help you if you understand it. Next time, before you "jump the gun" and make a decision, just sit back and really ponder what consequences this decision could have, why you are making this decision, and what it means to whatever or whoever else involved. If we  'grokked' each other and everything like Michael does in Stranger in A strange Land, I doubt that the world we live in would be so messed up.