Jan Cox Talk 3147

A Ritual Can’t Speak for Itself, It Must Be Described


The following recordings are from Jan’s final years, when his voice was diminished and he spoke in a low whisper. Some listeners may find these tapes hard to listen to, or difficult to understand. Thus, as another option, transcripts are being made and will be posted.

Otherwise, turn up the volume and enjoy! Those who carefully listened to Jan during this period consider that he spoke plainly and directly to the matter at hand, “pulling out all the stops,” as he understood that these were to be his last messages to his groups, and to posterity.

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Summary = See below
Edited Transcript = See Below
Condensed News = See below
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Notes by TK

Rules and rituals. As soon as children are operationally conscious—acquire language—they invoke rules and rituals, proscriptions and procedures. Nobody questions their own societies’ rules, only the rules of foreign societies. All rituals and rules require the support of language, words and explanations, for one to participate truly in them. You can’t be a patriot by imitation.

Rules must be explicated to be valid and obeyed.

[The following is from the first few minutes of the 5/17 audio as colophon to the 5/14 audio.] The first ritual: Adam’s resolve not to eat of the apple of knowledge. Also the first broken rule! (43:06) #3147

Notes by DR

Jan Cox Talk 3147       Kids make up rituals and rules. There is something in the Nervous system that as soon as you become operationally conscious, you start making up rules and rituals and no one questions it. Humanity does not question rules and rituals other than individually. Why is it so natural? The rules and regulations must be described. You can’t see a ritual. Could a five year old look at anything that is not done by instinct and make any sense of it? The first ritual was ‘don’t piss off god’ i.e. ‘the voice in my head’. Rituals must be described. They cannot speak for themselves. Compare that to sex. It is literally impossible to be patriotic until someone describes to you what it is. And you can’t worship any god until somebody describes what he is verbally. Men didn’t make up what it means, words did.


05-14-2004 # 3147 
Edited by S.A.             

Humans, once they become operationally conscious, immediately start making up rules and rituals.  You should be able to remember doing that in your own childhood. Little nippers, easily before they get into first grade, will sit down at the table to eat, and suddenly tell their parents, “You have to take your fork and your spoon and reverse them on the table, and then hit them together, before you can start eating.” Or you’ll hear them talking amongst themselves, and they’ll decide to play a game—hopscotch or football or catch, and one of them will say, “Wait! Before we go in the back yard, we all have to touch the screen door two times with our hands,” and sure enough, the other kids will troop over and touch that screen door twice.

If a parent says, “How did you come up with that?” the kid will probably just laugh. That ritual came out of nowhere. Just as fast as he can talk, a five-year-old child will make up a ritual and a reason for the ritual. He’ll say, “There’s a witch who lives in the woods behind our house, and she told me that every time we go out the back door, if we don’t put up both hands and touch it twice, then she’ll eat us up.”

All around the world, all the way from metropolitan areas to woods and jungles, and everywhere in between, groups of adults are making up rules and rituals. Rules can be seen as rituals fully explained, rituals remembered—the rituals are created and then the rules to the rituals are taught. Some group of people in a village somewhere will rub yak butter on their feet before they go off on a long journey, because they say that it will ward off the evil spirits who live along the trail. There are plenty of people right now in churches, synagogues, and mosques involved in the same sort of thing, and nobody’s scoffing.

This has nothing to do with laughing at or criticizing anybody’s ritual. This has nothing to do with anything other than consciousness. There is something quite telling that is built into the human nervous system. No other creature creates rituals, but human children, once they are able to communicate using words, immediately start making up rules. “No, no! After I throw the ball to you, you can’t throw it over to Sally until you first drop it on the ground and then pick it up.”

Some other kid, hearing this for the first time, standing there with the ball, may go, “No! The rule is, you’ve got to throw it up in the air with your right hand and then catch it in your left hand before you can throw it to Sally.” Within ten seconds, there will be a great debate. Not over whether Northern Ireland should be under English or home rule, or whether Country X belongs to the Arabs or to the non-Arabs. It’s five-year-old kids going, “No! No! Once somebody throws the ball to you, you can’t throw the ball to someone else until you drop it on the ground and then pick it up.” “No! No! Once you get it, you’ve got to throw it in the air!”

No one finds that at all peculiar, so if you later hear about rituals like rubbing yak butter on your feet before you take off from some Tibetan village on a long journey, how can you find that strange? As you surely can surmise, there is no evidence that rubbing yak butter on your feet before you start on a long journey will protect you. There may be anecdotes that imply that yak butter works. Somebody might say, “Twenty years ago, right after my grandfather walked past Yumanar Pass, there was a landslide that would have killed him if he had been there, but he had yak butter on his feet.”

Last week, right here in the American Midwest, I heard somebody say on national television, “Thank God I went to Mass last Sunday, or else that tornado that whipped through this town might have hurt me personally. It only destroyed my house and all my farm animals, but I’m safe, because I went to Mass.”

No doubt, there are people who think that man’s statement is crazy, but everyone who says that somebody else’s ritual is useless ignores the fact that there is something in our nervous system that is attracted to rituals. You may feel something strike you—maybe not a huge dagger in your chest, but a little pen knife, a nail file—the recognition that you, too, have one or more little rituals you follow, even if you don’t call them rituals. Something you do before you turn out the last light at night, before you close the door when you leave the house, or before you get out of bed in the morning.

There is something in the human nervous system such that as soon as you become operationally conscious, verbally functional, you start making up rules that you can’t do this, you can’t do that, and rituals—things that you just do. After this early childhood spurt of inventing rules and rituals, by the time you get into school, you’re surrounded by them. I would suggest that the rules and rituals children learn from adults seem to a child to be of a different order, because by the time the child starts school, he’s already had six years of life, and three or four years of being fairly conscious of his own family’s establishing rituals and rules such as, “Don’t throw food on the floor.”

There’s something different about your parents giving you rules and setting up rituals. Your parents might tell you that every night before you go to bed, you must get down on your knees and pray, and thank God for protecting you and your family, or that before you go to bed, you must always come in and  kiss daddy and mommy goodnight. If the kid is given a rule like, “Don’t talk in school,” he may resist it a few times. But overall, people accept rules and rituals without question.

To a child, adults’ rituals seem to be of a different order than the rituals that he and his friends make up. He starts going to school with strangers, and the collective, public life of rules and rituals begins immediately, and no one questions it. We have an infinite number of social rituals, cultural rituals that are not necessarily religious or patriotic in the larger sense. A ritual may be something that is historically honored only in your particular neighborhood. Maybe all the Irish in your city paint their shoes green for St. Patrick’s Day, or in just one section of Paris, the Catholics have a special day on which to bring their pets to church to be blessed.

Don’t be confused if somebody says, “I don’t like that rule. I don’t like being told not to do this,” or, “I don’t see the point in this ritual.” An individual can challenge a rule or even a ritual. In boot camp, the drill sergeant might say, “When we come to the barracks every night, we touch this helmet that used to be worn by my ex-drill sergeant. We all touch it for good luck,” and some smart aleck kid may refuse to touch the helmet. But collectively, men do not question the existence of rules and rituals.

As always with such as this, why—assuming you realize the veracity of my statement that from the time they can speak coherently, children invent rules and rituals, and when they get a little older, they find themselves living in a world of many rules and numerous rituals, and they don’t question this. If we question at all, we only question other people’s rules and rituals that seem foreign and outlandish to us. Members of one religion may not honor the rituals of another religion. One nation with their own legal, cultural, and social rules may refuse to abide by the rules of some foreign nation.

Again, the point is that men collectively do not question rules and rituals. Why is it so natural to not question them? I suggest that pushing the question of why to the edge of reality would wake you up to what’s going on.

Here’s something else you should find interesting. At first, what I’m about to say might seem obvious—but rules and rituals must be described in words. You can’t see a ritual. You can’t even see your own hometown rituals. As a child you go to church, or temple, or a mosque with your family, and see them engage in religious rituals, but you can’t understand, just by watching, what the rituals are about. You can’t understand a patriotic ritual without words to explain it. You’re at a baseball game, and suddenly a band starts playing. All the adults stand up, and they all put a hand over their heart. The smartest, the wisest five-year-old kid in the world can look at that ritual, and never figure out what it means.

Don’t just brush this off. Think how important rituals are to most humans. If ordinary Americans hear the Star Spangled Banner play, they will immediately stand up. I’ve been told that some will stand at home if the Star Spangled banner is played on television. When radio was king, back in the ‘thirties and ‘forties, it would sign off in the evening and play the Star Spangled Banner, and people at home would stand up and put their hand over their heart, and face the radio.

Ordinary people all over the world take rituals very seriously. I assume that at some point in your life, and maybe even now, you have had feelings about some ritual. It’s hard not to feel something when you’re in the right setting, and several thousand people as one stand up and all talking and kidding around stops. Even at a ball game, with people drinking alcohol and getting rowdy, once the Star Spangled Banner starts, they all stand up, and for two minutes stand stock still, staring at the flag. Standing amongst these twenty thousand adults at the ball game might be a five-year-old kid with an astounding IQ. He could look at his father and those twenty thousand other people, and if you could stop time, that kid could stand there for his entire lifetime without figuring out what that ritual was all about.

If you were a foreigner at your first baseball game, and twenty or thirty thousand people all stood up, and they all put their right hand on their chest and stared off into the distance at a piece of colored cloth hanging on a pole, you could look at them forever, and never be sure of the meaning of that ritual. Or perhaps you’re in a church, and the service is going on. People are kneeling, then standing up, making the sign of the cross, then kneeling again. If that ritual was in a language you didn’t understand, could you ever be sure of what the people were enacting?

As important as most of the world says that religion is, as important and significant as the Mass is to Catholics, and you, as either a five-year-old kid or a grown alien from another world, were watching that, could you ever make anything out of it? Is there anything that humans do, anything that they do not do by instinct, that you could look at and ever get any idea of what it is they are doing? The answer, I say to you, is no. Think hard about this, because it can make your nervous system quiver.

Things that people don’t do by instinct include everything in what I’ve labeled “man’s second reality,” everything that makes up man’s cultural, his spiritual, his artistic world. I assume that the metaphorical Adam, the first man, made up rituals, probably as soon as he was thrown out of the Garden of Eden and  had to start hunting for food. Adam probably immediately told Eve, “We’ve got a ritual. From now on, don’t do anything that that voice tells you not to, and whatever else you do, don’t try to drag me into it.” The first ritual, then, was don’t do anything to anger God—that is to say, don’t do anything to anger the voice in my head.

At any rate, all rituals—the patriotic, the social, the religious, the intellectual—must be explained. You don’t have to be taught to eat or to sleep, but everything else, the most important things in the world, all of the rituals, must be described and taught, using words. Somebody’s got to tell you, “Here are the rules and here are the rituals we live by.” You don’t need words to learn how to meet your basic needs—eating, drinking, sleeping—but the most important rituals in the world must be explained to you. Someone must tell you that if you don’t do this particular religious ritual correctly, then when you die, you’ll go to Hell and be punished forever.

The higher rituals are taken to be of extreme importance, yet not only must you be taught the rituals, but they must be described in words. A ritual can’t speak for itself.What if you were in a church, observing people taking communion, and you asked someone what the people were doing, and that person said, “I don’t know. Years ago, my father told me this was very important. He had me watch people do it, and I learned to do it. Whenever they do it, I do it too.” Is that person engaged in the ritual? He took the wine, he held out his tongue for the wafer, but without an explanation of what the ritual means, is he engaged in the ritual?

What if you were an alien at a ball game and saw somebody stand up, take off his hat, put his hand on his chest, and look out at the flag. You ask him, “What does that represent?” He replies, “I don’t know. Everybody does it, so I do it. If I don’t do it, everybody gives me nasty looks, so I do it.” Is that man being patriotic? No, he is not. What is lacking? The words describing what he’s doing.

Lack of the explanatory words would stop you from being all of the things that are important to ordinary, sane people. It’s that simple. You won’t understand this if you think sarcastic thoughts, which  your natural-born mind will do. Everybody’s mind will tell them, “What idiots!” It’s inherent in our consciousness. You may think that you’re hearing what I’m saying, but if you just snicker at it, you’re not getting it. The point is that it’s inherent in us to invent rules and rituals, and to accept the almost endless rules and rituals that are presented to us by our culture, our religion, our political system.

Nobody mentions this because man’s consciousness doesn’t deal in it. At least in public, most humans all over the world would say that their religion is more important to them than sleep or sex. They might say that their country is more important than their life, that they would give up their life for their country. However, it is impossible to be patriotic without patriotism being explained to you. You can’t be patriotic a teeny bit, your little toe can’t be patriotic, one cell in your little toe can’t be patriotic, until someone describes to you what patriotism is. You can’t worship and honor God under any name if someone doesn’t explain to you what God is. Verbally. In words. There is no other way. You can’t draw God any more than you can draw patriotism. You and the world’s greatest troupe of mimes can’t act out what God is.

Somebody with words—nothing but words will do—must describe to you all of the rituals, and what’s behind the rituals. They can say, “Always stand up when you hear this music. Take off your hat. Put your hand over your heart.” They can even show that much to you. But you can’t be patriotic, you can’t honor you country, until in words, somebody tells you what this means.

Remember, though—men made up what this means. I can be more specific. Men didn’t make up what this means. Words did. Because without words, nobody could have made up what being patriotic is, or what being religious is. This is not a sterling silver arrangement.

Jan’s Daily Fresh Real News (to accompany this talk)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Aligning The Door To Hit The Few Conclusively In Their Inner Ass
MAY 14, 2004 © 2004: JAN COX

The Frontal Lobes Dual Proprietorship.
One man noted that someone (?) is always talking-to-him,
and his partner said: “Same thing used to happen to me;
I handled the situation by starting to do all of the talking myself.”
(“Funny how that works out,” mused his brain stem,
“one of them doing the talking — the other, the listening.”)
Heavy Earth Moving Equipment News.
The solution to everything you don’t want to hear in your head is to produce your own purposeful speech;
the counter to the meaningless narrative life broadcasts to the entire human species
is your own personally conceived story which you convey to yourself.
The view of man’s collective mind cannot be reshaped –
but what the few can do is relinquish it in favor of their own independently achieved perspective.

Authorities refer to prisoners only by their two (first and last) names,
for a man with three names can have three thoughts and thus be a flight risk.
Neural captivity is best effected by using the shortest chain possible.
(“Yeah — you ain’t gotta be that much smarter’an a chicken to keep one caged up.
It’s really great bein’ a human,
[and I mean in the total sense — not just the thinkin’ one.”])

If you don’t go ahead and pretend that the stuff popular in the city is exciting,
you’re left with just one other generally unappealing possibility.

People love to talk in their sleep.

Art is for the pleasure of the artist; everything else said about it is bullshit.

To stay ahead of the game — change your name.

Put simple: what the certain man wants is to not be in man’s natural state of mind.

Travel Pastimes.
On city streets, commonly are men’s most memorable trips made whilst tied to invisible irritants.

Men’s ordinary mind loves to hear: “We’re not out of the woods yet” —
about almost any matter.

One group of otherwise splintered citizens was at least on one occasion
able to muster sufficient community cohesiveness to collectively oppose the construction in their neighborhood of a neural dump (though as they later learned): a-lot-of-good-it-did-them, inasmuch as the ever present urban mental fog
eventually does its job on everyone who resides in that area of the mind.

There are two forms of entertainment: reports on the physical world (science),
and on people (gossip) —
neither contain what the certain man is looking for.

If you’re interested in what others consider to be good taste — you have no taste.

Ordinary men are fascinated by depictions of men being crushed by events —
while the rebel’s interest is in them being so by their own consciousness.

The Certain Man And The Past.
On the back of his frontal lobes is printed the warning that things behind him,
in his ordinary mind and memory, may appear larger than was their actual size.

One man named his old mind: “Who Cares?” and his newer self made one: “I Do.” (Truth is: they named themselves.)

Just as men can’t help being sexually attracted to women’s breasts
neither can the rebel control his attraction to the area of his mind not being used.

Sometimes one guy stops and points at himself in a mirror and taunts:
“Ha ha! — I’m still alive and you’re not!”

Earlier Item Revised.
To stay ahead of the game — have no name.

Ordinary people all eventually lose that which is most dear to them: their physical life;
the certain man — if he succeeds in his life —
loses that which is most distasteful to him before he dies.

If you don’t go ahead and pretend that the stuff they call knowledge in the city
IS actually informative,
you’re left with just the one other generally unencouraging possibility.
(All in all: the safest course concerning all city activities is to: pretend.
“Why do you think they call it the: City?! — a place no creature without thoughts
would put up with!”)

Man’s ordinary condition of consciousness makes the nervous system rebel stupid, dazed and secretly — mad as hell!

While routine men say that: “Living well is the best revenge,”
to the rebel: being awake is.

The Unstated Code Of The City.
If you can’t be independent — seem to be carefree,
and if you can’t be carefree — appear to be serious and insightful,
and if you can’t be serious — be frightened and confused
(same as everyone else in the city).

An awakened man’s mind is like an intangible virus that allows him to get into other people in a way absolutely indescribable to ordinary minds.

Sign found posted in the area between rebel camp and the city limits:
“Notice! If you are still living where you were born, we regret to tell you this — but! — you’re probably not going ANY WHERE!”-

Further Revision Of Supra Story.
To really stay ahead — be dead.

All inner prisons are serious affairs only to those who don’t know about their construction materials.

“Tell me: why did you marry me any way?”
“Well…I can’t rightly say….except at the time I guess it seemed like the thing to do,” and with mock sincerity and admiration came the response:
“Wow! — it’s a good thing you don’t run the rest of your life like that.”
Rear view mirrors in city vehicles can explain anything that occurs there.

One of hormones’ responsibilities is to age and decrease dreams of escape.
(“I’m old and tired — what the hell do I care any more!”)
Note: No prisoner is dead and without chance of parole until he agrees to it.
In the city however, they operate on the tacit assumption that you are
born already dead and a terminal captive;
only the few who somehow know instinctively of the rebel mental area outside the city are able to there against, effectively struggle.
When it comes to irritation: Captivity is its own reward.

When you have put your early stir time to good use,
a blank wall can eventually become a quite welcome — even stimulating sight.
Only prisoners still plotting escape are bothered by their confining surroundings.

In the rebel territory: being convinced, and: thinking are not the same thing.

A son asked a father:
“Is there anything you will not say to me?”
After thinking about this for one second, he replied:
“Being awake only means something to those asleep.”

Two things can’t be fooled: total darkness and complete light.
(“As in you’re either: in doors full time, or: gone from home for good, right?!”)

The thing about captivity is that it’s stagnant — while real life is active;
confinement is passive — only effort vital.

FYI Arty Update.
A certain urban poet who rhymed: pitiful with: city full
has been stripped of his title and demoted to: mere human.

Said a father to a son: “So: the whole thing can be put like this:
The way to avoid living in a dream is to not take any story seriously.”
“Except for one?”

Conversation Concerning: DoingTheThing.
“It’s not thinking or talking about it that counts.”

“Then what does?”
“REALLY thinking about it.”
“But that’s what I believe I do.”
“And you’re wrong.”
“How do you know?”
“Has what you’re doing worked?”


Being lost is of interest only to those still lost.