Coonology For Dummies (1.17.09)
Let's begin before the beginning. How far back can we trace the Raccoon lineage through history? A venerable Raccoon piety maintains that we have no historical origin, and that we antedate the creation of the universe. We were there, if not at God's right hand, then in his hair. In fact, truth be told, we were even ambivalent about this whole creation business. Why do it? Why go to all the bother? Why spoil a good thing? Why a cosmos?
But when God exteriorized his interior and involved himself in the so-called lila of creation, we were swept up in the general mayhem and confusion, and ended up in human form. So it definitely could have been worse, which is why Raccoons are always grateful. But very early in their earth-career, Raccoons had to learn to "pass," something we have been doing ever since. Even today, due to millennia of genetic selective pressure, we are the only humans who, for genetic reasons, instinctively recoil at being a member of a religion that would have us.
The Raccoon is distinct from the prototypical human, for he is not exactly a group animal nor is he a solitary animal. Rather, he craves companionship, but mainly with fellow Raccoons. The trick down through history has been locating them. For example, it is well understood that our genetic line has become weakened because of the difficulty of locating a fellow Raccoon with whom to maintain proper coonjugal relations. How many readers have both a Raccoon mother and father? Being a foolblooded Raccoon, my own 21 month-old kit is somewhat unusual (a "kit" is a young raccoon). I wonder if this will make his life easier or more difficult? Probably both.
Like the story of the lion that is raised by sheep, the literature abounds with poignant strories of Raccoons who have tried to "fit in" with the world, all the while sensing that something was deeply wrong or missing. Not a presumptuous breed, all but the heartiest Raccoons have tended to blame themselves for this, leading to the well-known phenomenon of the "self-hating Coon."
As we know, certain persistent traits set the Raccoon apart from his peers, including a sense of essential Truth, a sense of the sacred, a sense of beauty, a sense of grandeur (or dignity), and a sense of mischief. Taken together, these comprise his "coon vision," accounting for his laughably quasi-infallibility in metaphysical matters. But this mystical intuition is balanced by deep humility and charity, to such an extent that many humans don't even realize it when there is an "unassuming Raccoon" in their midst. Hence the title of the recent best-seller, "The 'Coon Next Door."
Other tawdry books have attempted to cash in on the Raccoon phenomenon. Their titles are well known: "The One-Minute Raccoon," "Tuesdays with Rocky," "Raw Chicken for the Raccoon Soul," "Awakening the Hibernating Raccoon Within," "Raccooneritis," etc. But as we all know, a Raccoon is not something you can "become." It cannot be conferred upon you (except by Petey through the mystical channel of the sacred "book purchase"), nor can it be taken away. In truth, nothing can add to or diminish one's Raccoon nature (unless you order two books or purchase an indulgence from Petey).
Now, as it concerns Raccoon dogma, the Raccoon has the well-attested bi-cosmic ability to simultaneously stand "within" and "above" tradition -- but only above because within. Thus, the Raccoon does not "fly," nor does he crawl. Rather, he walks -- sometimes on two legs, sometimes on four, but always with paws firmly planted on the earth.
The Raccoon is a very curious creature. When it comes to learning, he is an "intelligent omnivore," meaning that his education may be a desultory and chaotic affair. The loftiest theology may mingle side by side with the simple "rhythm and blues" of the American negro tradition.
The word "raccoon" is actually derived from the Algonquian word aroughcoune, "he who scratches with his hands," in our case, our heads. Raccoons vertitably come into the world "scratching our heads," and for many, the itch is never satisfied. Many Raccoon parents will compete over whose kit scratched his head at an earlier age, but research shows that it doesn't really matter, and that late-scratchers normally catch up with their peers. When one Raccoon greets another with the phrase, "How's 'yer bloody scalp?," it means "what eternal verity have you learned today?," as if to suggest blood emanating from the head due to the incessant scratching and "coontemplating." In fact, it is fair to say that true Raccoon knowledge always comes at the cost of real blood.
As we know, the Raccoon is a nocturnal animal, both literally and metaphorically. Epistemologically, his "night vision" is a complement to the "day vision" of the rank and file human. Being that he can "see in the dark," theology and metaphysics come naturally to him, whereas certain "practical" matters, such as how to dress appropriately, may be a closed book. As day vision is to the head, night vision is to the heart, meaning that the center of cerebral activity for the Raccoon is in the chest region. This is not to be confused with the unmoored emotionality of his human brethren, especially his liberal sisterly brothers, who habitually confuse intensity of feeling with depth of thought. Rather, the Raccoon heart represents the higher unity of the modes of thinking and feeling. Furthermore, it is always mingled with doing, which is to say action. The Raccoon "lives his realization," rather than merely thinking or feeling it. This is the paradox of our "non-doodling." We may look like we're just doodling around, but we're not. My in-laws will never understand this.
We have all seen baby Raccoons who sleep "upside down." In fact, Raccoons are born "upside down," which, for us, is "right side up." In practical terms, it means that Raccoons are born with a different orientation to the cosmos than our human counterparts. Specifically, the Raccoon comes into the world with figure and ground reversed, so that their primary orientation is to eternity rather than time. Thus, their birthright is a state of being that would represent the culmination of a lifetime's spiritual practice for the non-Raccoon. But it is not as if this cosmic disorientation represents an unqualified blessing, since it contributes to the Raccoon's alienation. He may not be particularly "worldly," and in fact, it would represent something of an aberration if he were. Much of what the world regards as being of the utmost significance will, for the Raccoon, represent urgent nonsense, or what one Raccoon called "dying of miscellany." The Raccoon is always being "Reasonable," if not necessarily "reasonable," which can lead to friction with other humans. What they call "reality," we call a tight-fitting dream garment woven from the substance of the dreamer.
There is a certain natural "detachment" in the Raccoon, as if he can never completely give himself over to the illusions of the world. And since their primary orientation is to eternity rather than time, they can find it exceedingly difficult to get all excited about this particular time. At the very least, he won't get caught up in the momentary "tempest of the day," as if it has some eternal significance. It is not uncommon for certain Raccoons to feel as if they were "born at the wrong time," but the fact of the matter is, for a Raccoon, time itself is the wrong time. However, once this is realized, then any time can be the right time. Or at least no worse than any other time.
It is difficult to gauge the historical significance of Raccoons, since their influence largely goes unnoticed by those who write history. Indeed, their contributions cannot be weighed on the scales of the world. Rather, their influence is always qualitative, interior, invisible, and hidden. Although not visible to the "historians of the day," one can nevertheless draw a straight line from Raccoon to Raccoon down through the night time of history, and it is the task of each Raccoon to stand in this line, make it "come alive," and hand it down to the next generation. Thus, we have our "tradition" -- tradition defined as the vertical prolonged into the horizontal -- but it is a hidden one.
The Raccoon has few natural enemies, but fewer natural friends. A "coongregation" occurs when any two Raccoons meet "in his name." The Raccoons can be from any tradition, but will nevertheless joyfully recognize each other as "brothers under the pelt." Naturally, they will often find that they have more in common with each other than with the human members of their own traditions. Thus, there are Christian Raccoons, Jewish Raccoons, and esoteric Vadantacoons, but the opposite is not true -- there is no doctrinal "Raccoon Christianity," for example.
Time for just a couple more Raccoon "fun facts." Although Coons can look pretty sluggish at times, they do not actually hibernate. Rather, they go through a period of decreased activity, which is referred to as the "daily torpor." All Coon children know that this torpor lasts until the school bell rings. It was once assumed that adult Coons outgrew this torpor, but it can often persist into one's work life.
Lastly, when introduced into Germany in the 19th century, Raccoons seeking food in wine cellars and storage areas eventually became a threat to the country's wine industry. But worldwide, Raccoons have been a boon to the beer industry. They are especially coonnoisseurs of dark ales, often lapping at one while listening to various forms of music in the American negro tradition.
Tuesday morning, 5:00 AM. Must finish post before sun comes up and daily torpor sets in!