Originally published in Arthur No. 18/Sept. 2005
THE NORTH AND SOUTH OF YOU
An Erotic Worldview
by Jon Hassell
“I love the East, West, North and the South of you…”
— Cole Porter, “All of You”
A tale of two equators—one around the planet, another at the waistline—and how the present global imbalance between a “developed” (technological) North dominating an “underdeveloped” (but culturally rich) South is a projection of the imbalance between the “north of you” (head, intellect, abstraction) and the “south of you” (hips, sensuality, emotion).
Could the story be as simple as the difference in how people turn out after centuries of evolution in a cold, hostile climate versus a warm, friendly one? And if it were, what are the chances that such a simple answer would be accepted by those whose minds have become so deeply etched with the printed circuits of language and abstraction that what is obvious on a sensual level is routinely “explained” out of existence?
Relieved of the necessity of struggle in order to stay warm, southern peoples turned toward the “art of living”: decorating experience with a surround of color and pattern and rhythm. This was in contrast to northern peoples who—in order to merely survive in the cold—had to become resourceful in the way that later became known as “technology.” A few thousand years later, this branched into communications technology—the form which had the power to change the world more than any previous development. So the northern worldview—one reflecting the cumulative psychology of struggle—was the first to be projected worldwide in the seductive new forms of mass media.
And as the science and technology paradigm became the gold standard by which the rest of the world was judged (creating the cleavage into “first” and “third worlds”), many of the life-enriching gifts of the South—the ones which are often most treasured in our personal experience—have gone deeply undervalued, appropriated, or simply, gone.
A different kind of “global warming”—an emotional one—is called for as the basis for creating an alternate scale of “market value”—one that accommodates the samba as well as the microchip, one which reflects the actual degree of pleasure and cultural enrichment brought to our lives from the South, and the south of us.