Maude’s Soul

Thomas Moore in The Care of the Soul makes the following statement on page 268:

“(The) world soul affects each individual thing, whether natural or human made. You have a soul, the tree in front of your house has a soul, but so too does the car parked under that tree.”

Almost all people who would call themselves religious would agree that each person has a soul. Some would agree that animals also do, and perhaps they might agree that under certain conditions they would have to admit that even those objects which can not be distinguished from their surroundings except for their form, such as mountains, might arouse certain almost instinctual feelings of soul when viewed under certain conditions. However, we are now faced with the invasion of electronic equipment, primarily computers. I have been faced with the problem directly when occasionally my computer, which (whom) I have accepted warily, attacks me with the statement that I may not deal with the current material because it is currently being modified by Jack Meier. Doesn’t this damn thing even recognize me? How can it, if it does not have a soul? It must have one or it could not be refusing to cooperate with me. Phenomena such as this must really be putting skeptics on hold! But such electronic devices as robots seem to be challenging skeptics more than computers do. They have charmed adults as well as children (who have not yet learned to suppress soul) largely because of their infinite potential to communicate as well as serve human wishes. As we have seen, for example in film, they can arouse fear, the opposite of desire, and the soul must always deal with opposites.

But what about mechanical devices which have primarily a single function like an automobile? They are very much a part of American culture, and were highly desirable as a symbol of freedom to my generation, enabling us when young to escape the confines of parental domination and build up our egos and expand our horizons. But could such an object really have a soul? It seems here that the term projection must enter in. If it had a soul of its own, could an automobile belonging to the father of the family, when driven by the son, have but one soul? A soul implies ability to respond. This can be projected.

For instance, I had when I left graduate school a Kaiser sedan of which I was fond, and projected a name onto it, calling her Maude. A friend and I put all our belongings into it and moved from Iowa City to the Bay Area. Although it was a large car, it was so heavily loaded it kept hitting bottom. I discovered later that this was not good for the clutch. But it got us there without mishap, driving night and day, since we could not afford a motel. One slept, the other drove. Maude got no sleep. I was very proud of her – she obviously had a soul. Months later she had a blowout. It was when she was going 15 miles per hour, pulling into my driveway. The clutch shortly after finally gave out, leaving her powerless; but while still coasting, I saw an auto mechanic’s shop right ahead and had just enough inertia to get into the station. I simply left the car with the mechanic and when he tried to drive it into his repair space, it started but he could not get it to move. He asked how in the world I got to the station, and I simply replied, “I don’t have the slightest idea.” Both instances to me demonstrated soul. It seemed that the car was doing its best to show loyalty to someone who cared for it. But of course, such thinking is crazy! If these were the only examples in my life, I might think that the skeptics are right. But such thinking makes me feel better as long as I don’t tell anyone. So I have a formula for leading a crazy life. Simply live your life “as if” things have soul, but don’t try to convince the world of it. Perhaps things don’t, but we can be awfully good at projecting. Thomas Moore can try to convince others, but it takes a whole lifetime and several books and a firm belief that the whole thing is worth it. And I don’t have that much energy.

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One Comment on “Maude’s Soul”

  1. Laven Master Says:

    Hi! I’m at work browsing your blog from my new apple iphone! Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward to all your posts! Carry on the fantastic work!

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