Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Kingdoms: Inanimate, plant, animal, human - and skateboarder

Jewish mystics divide the world into four kingdoms. From lowest to highest: inanimate, plant, animal, and human.

The Inanimate consists of apparently lifeless entities incapable of moving or growing. Examples are rocks, metals, and minerals.

Plants are clearly alive; they grow and reproduce. 

 Animals have the additional ability to roam about and exhibit emotion and limited intellect.

 Humans possess true spirituality. Unlike animals, which are “programmed” to follow their natural instincts, the human can choose his behaviour based on abstract knowledge. She can also constantly ascend to higher states of self-refinement, perfection, and spirituality.

 In skateboarding, all four levels find expression. The wheels, trucks and bolts, made of rubber and metal, are part of the inanimate kingdom. A typical deck, made of plywood, is part of the plant kingdom. Meanwhile, the skater comprises two levels: his bodily instincts and drives (his animal self) is part of the animal kingdom, and his ability to transcend his animal nature by doing things meaningfully, and cultivate noble traits, is the human dimension. 

 It is noteworthy that a huge chasm exists between the plant and animal kingdoms. Whereas plants (and certainly the inanimate) are primarily physical entities, animals (and certainly humans) are primarily conscious beings with awareness, feelings and intellect.

This division is apparent in skateboarding where the inanimate and plant levels combine to form one independent entity: the skateboard, and the animal and human aspects comprise another independent entity: the human. Thus while the inanimate/plant levels are strongly linked, as are the human/animal levels, the two sets of pairs are independent. Simply: the skater is independent of his skateboard. In the act of skating, however, the skater unifies all four levels and harmonizes them. 

However, the four levels must be correctly ordered, for each level  'desires' to be subsumed in the level above it. Hence the earth nurtures plant life; plants are eaten by animals; and humans use animals for food, clothing, travel, or agriculture, thereby elevating them  into the human kingdom.
When skating, this implies that not only should  a skater avoid becoming subordinate to the inanimate and plant levels - that is, abandon his control over his board - he must also control his animal self and skate in a meaningful manner...

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