Back to Table of Contents



Chapter 1 Where to Start

Chapter 2 Language and Giving

Chapter 3 Reciprocity

Chapter 4 Definitions and Exchange

Chapter 5 The Concept of Man

Chapter 6 'Marksist' Categories

Chapter 7 The Collective Source

Chapter 8 Castration Envy

Chapter 9 Is = $

Chapter 10 Value 157

Chapter 11 Shifting into Exchange

Chapter 12 Giving Value to Exchange

Chapter 13 Market and Gender

Chapter 14 Deserving to Exist

Chapter 15 Pointing and Patriarchy

Chapter 16 The Point of the Ego

Chapter 17 What Does Democracy Re-Present?

Chapter 18 The Unmasculated Agents of Change

Chapter 19 Dreaming and Reality

Chapter 20 Giving and Love

Chapter 21 From the Garden to the Grail

Chapter 22 Cosmological Speculations

Chapter 23 After Words Practicing the Theory

Index of Figures

Selected Bibliography

Return to Home Page

Chapter 19

Dreaming and Reality

I think that our subconscious-conscious division might be an internal replay of the two paradigms. (Perhaps even the functioning of the right and left brains plays out this division.) Of course, this is hard to see because, at least while we are awake, it is always within consciousness that we are present to ourselves. And in consciousness, we are often serving our own definitions of ourselves, carrying out their self-fulfilling prophecies.

The gifts of words hover somewhere in our mental cupboards, ready to pop out whenever necessary. They are there vibrating in resonance with everybody else's words of the same kind. As we move through the external world, everything we encounter has the quality of a potential relation to our words and their combinations, and/or to the words of others. Our communicative needs for bonding with each other in relation to the world arise and are satisfied by the collective products of previous generations, which we collectively and individually recombine and use to create ever-new gifts, to which the parts of our world are related as their substitutes in communication.

We create our subjectivities ad hoc, together, by giving gifts to one another both materially and linguistically. The great potential for human development through this process is hampered by patriarchy. Only enough of our collective humanity remains for us to continue to understand each others' speech, transmit information, and function as somewhat efficient promoters for the egos we have developed through definition, self-definition, and exchange. The fact that we do somehow continue to live is evidence, not of the functionality of the masculated ego, but of the creativity of giftgiving and life itself, which carry us along in their flow in spite of the ego's self-reflecting empty shell and the self-similar society.

In patriarchy, the community we form by communication is usually shattered into many pieces or remains a wish, an abstraction floating somewhere behind our backs (a might have been, an ideal, a different possible world). Our word-gifts have been turned towards the purposes of exchange through advertising and propaganda, and we motivate ourselves according to priority lists which define us and others, putting ourselves as privileged ones at the top, bolstered by privileged one possessions or relations and positions within other hierarchies. We do not even notice the presence of society in our words, much less in our lives, because private property (even of our consciousnesses) does not encourage us to look outside at others as the source of our good or as having needs we can satisfy. Our thoughts appear to be our 'own,' because we are isolated from others. Instead, as individuals we are the alienated community, thinking.

If we could go back to materially nurturing one another, we would recreate our community and ourselves on a more solid earthly basis, healing each other and the planet. Instead, we look at ego values and not at bodies--the egos of the rich compete against the bodies of the poor. Evidence of parasitism abounds. Every nuclear test site, dump, mine, oil well attests to the destruction of the mother for the purpose of the gifts renamed 'profit' that exchange brings with it.

Our sharing has been pushed into a mythological past (or infantile bliss) and into by-products of our ego activity, and has become the collective unconscious since con-sciousness (knowledge together) in our society is based on definitions and exchange. Perhaps it is not Persephone, daughter of Demeter, who is the most important character in the Greek mythological story of a mother's loss but Hades, the son of Gaia, the boy who became the god of the underworld.

Knowledge of the Heart

Our hearts pump our blood to take the oxygen and nutriment out to our cells that need it, then when the blood is exhausted, it comes back to the heart to be nurtured. This is a physiological archetype that the exchange paradigm prevents us from following. Individually, too, our subconscious prompts us with buried information, and ideas come to us from nowhere, out of the blue, gifts from an unknown source we perhaps call our Selves, imagination, God.

Humans are basically loving beings. Our social structures and the logic of exchange are patriarchal distortions of love. The sharing and caring which we experience in the original mother-child relation are often the only experience of free love we have, and they become the model for us for the rest of our lives. This is the reason early childhood is so important for our psychology. All the rest of our lives, we have to deal with the various distortions and blockages of love. Our nostalgia for childhood, even for the womb, is nostalgia for a primary period of health which has never returned, because there is no social or economic structure that permits it. Our independence is so distorted that we belittle dependence instead of honoring it. We insist on standing alone, and yet we are a mass of individuals crying to be touched, fed, caressed, supported.

The free circulation of the blood between the mother and the child in the womb is the natural paradigm of a healthy society. It is the model of life-giving collaboration, where both hearts pump the same blood and nutriment is shared. Like the wind that moves from a higher to a lower pressure area, good circulation moves from those who have more to those who have less. Once the child is born and draws the air into her needing lungs, beginning her interaction with the free outside world, she receives and perceives as much as she is able of the abundant environment and gives her new humanness to the gaze of the onlookers, her touch to other bodies, saying who she is and will be.

The circulation of the womb has begun on a new level--out from within a body to between bodies. The hearts no longer pump the same blood but pump laughter, language, motions, gestures--to the need which is recognized, goods and caretaking flow. The child creatively receives, is an interpersonal creature, an interpersonal heart, a subject of attention, who also gives attention. Milk flows to the needy stomach through the baby's own actively receiving mouth. It is not denied. There is no blackmail, bribe, payment. Though her signals may let us know her needs, these are not exchanges but free products issuing naturally from her whole being.

Like synapses where nerves do not transmit impulses through direct contact, but by means of processes over a different space, life in many forms is transmitted freely by the mother to the child, by the child to the mother and to the others who love her. Mother and child are pleased with the freedom of their giving. Neither is embarrassed by the relation of dependence, which requires and permits the circulation, just as no one is embarrassed by our dependence on air, which requires and permits our breathing. We can take what is freely given and give freely in this relation, enjoying and touching each other from the outside, sensation passing through and into sensation, sharing in time outside the womb.

Since our society is embarrassed by dependence--by the need for free giving--but actually would do anything to have it, we build ever larger barriers against it, including in the barriers a certain amount of flexibility, places to let off the pressure that builds up in us, because we cannot have what we really need. Yet, we keep working towards having or getting more than enough ourselves, so that it will seem free to us--only to us, not to others. Since we tap only our own experience as babies with our mothers and later find that the world and its rules are different, we may think that nobody else ever had or needs to have the experience of free nurturing.

Instead, the free circulation from those who can give to those who need, the ability to ask freely, to receive freely, to give freely, is the basic process through which the flow of life circulates unimpeded. The consciousness of the various things which are given and received is shared as perception or language are shared, freely in all the transformations, as the gifts pass from one person to another, from nature to people, from people to nature and to different people. This is the new consciousness of nature, an evolution, a new shared life of life.

Giving and receiving life is not confined to conception, pregnancy or physically birthing babies. Rather, it takes place in every act of need satisfaction. Exchange, by placing itself between the giver and the receiver, the giver and the gift, the receiver and the gift, has obstructed the synapse and confused us. The processes are distorted, unfree. We no longer intelligently and creatively give and receive life, but base our interactions upon masculation. A prize has recently been offered to the first male who becomes pregnant, but giving and receiving is exploited and belittled everywhere outside the womb.

Our Common Dream

We could look at judgments of reality and unreality (and of waking and dreaming) as depending on whether or not the exchange mode and the masculated concept relation have come into play. Dreaming explores other syncretic relations, frees samples from their phallic investment and satisfies our needs for understanding through symbolism, which is not one-to-one or one-to-many but 'over-determined'where one image represents a number of different and seemingly unrelated issues, items or events. Complexes and syncretisms1 of various kinds allow for associations we might never make within our hierarchical classification system (and social class system).

In dreams, our images do not have to toe the line, relating themselves to samples or to words, providing us with factual socially validated help for managing our lives in the 'real' waking world. Instead, they can free-wheel it, satisfying our needs as soon as they come to mind, or memory. They are subjective, me-first sometimes, but without the hegemony of the masculated ego. In dreams, our needs are gratified according to the pleasure principle, without our having to work for their satisfaction. Our real needs are symbolized, our intuition addresses them. Real help is given. In dreams, we are treating ourselves as if we lived in a gift economy. The reason why dreaming is only subjective and based on wishful thinking is that the external world is framed by exchange. Author-itarian therapists might frown at this 'regressive' and 'infantile' mode, but why not see it from the other point of view, as utopian and maternal? Dreaming seems to be the satisfaction of co-municative needs on an individual basis. If we could satisfy our co-municative needs collectively, we could all live our dreams.

Upon waking, a reality judgment comes into play at the same time that the one-many cognitive strategy kicks in. Then we use the one to uphold the other. We marvel at how silly our dreams were, discount our syncretic thinking, thus validating our one-many thinking. This makes us deny or forget and disqualify our dreams as inferior to our waking states, perhaps because our strategies for remembering are one-many as well. Children syncretically belong in the 'category' of dreams, as silly, non-rational and non-phallic. Women and wishes are also often relegated to the dream netherworld.

By over-valuing and phallically investing conceptual thinking in the society at large and projecting it into the structures of institutions, we have collectively created a social reality which is different from our dreams and inhospitable to that way of thinking. As we validate 'reality' each time we wake up, we also discount the kind of reality our dreams are made of and the many non-phallic parts of our waking world. Thus, it may happen that, every time we wake up, we unwittingly assert dominance, misogyny and the hatred of children, of nature and of giftgiving, as we say to ourselves, "That was not real--this is real."

If nothing else, dreams do satisfy one need shared by all--they provide an alternative, much as Communism did to Capitalism (and vice-versa), communicating to us that the 'real' world is not the only world, and masculated, phallically-invested conceptual thinking is not the only way of thinking. If dreaming functions according to unmasculated gift processes, it is a clue to a better world, like language and mothering. Humanity's common dream is the map of a world to come. The injunction to humanity to 'wake up' is mistaken. Instead, we need to change re-ality to make our dreaming come true.2

The Imposition of Re-ality

Language itself speaks to us, and it tells us that the collective unconscious has seen some things that we ourselves have collectively ignored. I believe language is full of clues to just the issues we have been discussing--the masculated concept, exchange, hierarchies and giftgiving. The words we are presently mentioning on this page are clues along the royal road to the discovery of the nature of 'real-ity.' (Spanish real is royal.) What the clues are telling us is that you can't get there on the royal road alone. You have to approach the 'subject' from another direction.

So kingship or thingship, from Latin--rex (king) or res (thing)--is telling us about the 'one-many' basis of re-ality. The pun existed already in Latin. It points to self-similar dominance patterns in our knowledge of the re-al, outside the giftgiving grain. And the ego as 'king' is also part of what defines this re-ality, coinciding with it in structure, while the giftgiving self remains outside it. Re-ality is a common ground, which originally comes from giftgiving, but is ruled by phallically-invested cap-italistic concept thinking.

Basing thinking on concepts disqualifies differences--or at least makes them important mainly as signals of another concept. "What concept do you belong to?" appears to be the real question. We leave aside your needs and how peculiarly interesting and beautiful you are, the sparkle in your eye. Instead we ask if you look enough like the model or sample to belong to the concept of 'beautiful,' the concept of 'lovable,' of 'successful business person' or 'academic.'

Is the affirmation of masculated re-ality the recognition of an external given, or the imposition of a gift which we have to receive? Perhaps we feel obligated, because of the exchange principle, to 'give back' something to re-ality. Re-cognition perhaps? Re-ality satisfies our distorted common needs, but may leave aside our healthy un-realistic individual needs. What are the consequences of not receiving the present? Abandonment? Insanity? And of receiving it? Do we give up the truths of our subjective view for the masculated collective view, so we won't be left out of the concept of human and sane? If we refuse re-ality, are we being ungrateful, selfish, 'self-indulgent,' as one psychiatrist said about mental illness? If we go crazy, perhaps we are just displacing our reality judgment from a collectively mediated to a subjective stance. We do that because we are all the 'walking wounded.'

A Selfish Collective View

A common judgment of reality is, after all, a collective attribution of value which is probably more likely to be functional to each of us than a purely individual attribution would be. When we insist on kindness, or wish for a better world, and people say we're not being 'realistic,' they are appealing to a collective attribution of a quality or value which assures at least a certain degree of functionality--adaptiveness for the individual as well as the group. For our own best interest (our self-interest), they say, we should adapt to the collective judgment, not change anything or envision anything different.

But why does the collective view seem to be less selfish? There is a division between the self and the collective, and what is not collective seems to be egotistical. But the ego itself is a collective product, and there are many collective mechanisms and values that give it strength. It also fits into a sort of generalized ego-orientation of the particular collective of which it is a part--for example, the race, the class, the religion, the nation.

The ego also depends on a collective attribution of value and reality to the individual's internal configuration, which validates it for each of us, but especially for (successful) masculated men. The self-similar structures in the society perform this function. The privileged one, the process of exchange and the denial of giving, institutions based on masculation, money, and the phallically-invested concept are all social mechanisms by which value is collectively attributed to the individual ego.

The ego and egotism may be viewed as a collective stance, while the subjective stance really may be more giving and other-oriented. We can collectively be very egotistical. However, we could collectively put the dividing line somewhere else between individual and collective, and validate a different kind of ego and giving itself, creating a different kind of collectivity. In order to see that the split is in the wrong place, perhaps we need a three-dimensional view. If we see what we think of as our selves as made from and through the social gift that is language as well as through the gifts of life perhaps we would stop envisioning a polar opposition between individual and collective, the I and the other. This re-framing would allow the division between subjective and objective, subconscious and conscious, dreams and reality to be different.

Reality is affirmed and defined by the imposition of the masculated way upon the collective. The distorted community is constructed to carry out this imposition and its definition as 'real' is part of the construction. The judgment of reality is a meta message which serves to maintain the patriarchal status quo. Then reality seems to be just organized meanness based on the cruelty of 'human nature.' Anything goes, because we believe the meta statement, "People are just that way."

The individual gives the value of reality to parts of her experience, creating an on-going attribution with a continuing gift effort of energy. But reality itself does not appear to be giftgiving or to include the gift paradigm. Giftgiving on the external is being continually misread, and the internal gift mode is unseen and unrecognized as such. Sometimes, if we are not burdened by scarcity and overwork, we can experience the giftgiving side of nature and each other, but for many people these happy moments do not come very often.

All of this has the effect of not allowing our internal giftgiving mode to have a co-respondent in reality, though perhaps our efforts to get others to give to us might be seen as mistaken attempts to make 'reality' reflect our giftgiver within. (Perhaps our giftgiver within appears to us as an 'other.') Since we have validated exchange and put the mother in an other category, it seems right or harmonious that others should give to us.

If we look compassionately at exploiters, we can see that they are convinced of the reality and perhaps permanence of scarcity, and that they feel the challenge to overcome this individually by taking, i.e. making others give. Their very parasitism is almost an attempt, within the scarcity created by their way, to make reality nurture at least themselves when it doesn't nurture anyone else. Perhaps it is an attempt to make reality their own mother; is this the secret motivation of greed? Are they each sucking alone on the reali-titty?

If they believe they deserve more than others because they produced more or are stronger or more intelligent, exploiters are participating in the exchange mode and canceling the gift, which is, paradoxically, what they were seeking. No one can make reality her mother, unless we restore the gift paradigm for everyone. Reality is a collective construct, and if we collectively construct reality to nurture only one or a few at the expense of the many, we destroy the many--who are the collective. We must make our giftgiver within correspond with real giftgiving on the outside--this will liberate both the individual and the collective. Meanwhile, restoring our contact with nature can help us find an ecological niche outside us for our giftgiver within. Nature needs to be cared for, restored to herself as the free giver; then we can align ourselves with her.

Exchange is actually a displacement of what would be the solution to our problem--giftgiving both internally and externally. Exchange requires that the 'other' take on the same ego-oriented motivation each exchanger enacts. Each gives, but for something beyond the present, something other than the satisfaction of other's needs. The giftgiving side of the 'other,' or nature or reality is misread and translated into the 'fair' or 'just' correspondence between giving more and getting more. Reality then does not seem to give freely, but only to respond to an exchange. Then because giftgiving is not modeled in reality, we reflect the distorted equation. The solution is collective giving, collective altruism. Money, as a collective product, can be used to begin this process.

Dreams-Come-True Inside and Outside

Maybe if dreaming is in the gift mode, Spider Woman really does dream the world as Paula Gunn Allen says.3 But masculated re-ality is a collective nightmare, a collective gift to end all gifts, which cuts off giftgiving because it assimilates it into exchange. Masculated reality is what much of humanity unconsciously gives energy to. We need to collectively dream something else, and to give our waking energy to making a different reality, making our dreams of a better world come true instead of our nightmares. With more giftgiving in reality, our giftgiver within would be empowered, as would our creativity and love.

Artistic creation is giftgiving in reality and a bridge into a better world because the medium or vehicle of the gift is itself a free gift, which satisfies and creates aesthetic needs. For example, singing is free to the listener, and the vehicle, the voice, satisfies a need, a potential in ourselves for enjoying beautiful and pleasurable sounds, rhythms, harmonies, while the words satisfy communicative needs. Visual art is similar. The colors, forms and textures can create pleasurable sense givens, whatever the subject or topic of the work may be. Though many kinds of art can be bought and sold, they all maintain a free need-satisfying side, which is essentially their co-municative channel. There is no exchange between the ear and the music, the eye and the painting, though access to those experiences is often expensive. The work of art itself gives. The creative gift of the artist is the ability to make something that gives.4 (Earlier, in contrast to Levi-Strauss, we said that women are not commodities or messages exchanged among kinship groups, but gifts-who-give.) Numerous kinds of exchange-based activities become parasitic upon art, as they do upon other sources of giftgiving.

Even if art restores giftgiving to some extent in the outside world, it does not suffice to corroborate the cancelled model. For the present, giftgiving stays in dreams and the unconscious, and unrecognized as such in art, stories, myths. Stories can introduce children kindly to exchange through communication, satisfying that need. They show children the transitivity of one thing leading to another, the satisfaction of one need, which permits the satisfaction of another--an action resulting in something else. Action can be seen as giving; satisfying one need creates another--when the baby has eaten, she needs to go to sleep, or out to play. The mother needs to clean up, to rest, to go back to work.

The if-then structure, however, captures the gift with a consequence--if you put your finger in the fire, it will burn you. When the framework of social reward and punishment is introduced, the transitivity of the gift transforms into the logical consequentiality of exchange. If/then becomes 'do this, get that.' Thus, it may seem that when the child does something, what reality 'gives back' is what she 'deserves.' Did Cinderella deserve to go to the ball and marry the prince because she worked so hard? Did Little Red Riding Hood deserve to be eaten by the wolf because she was not obedient to her mother? These stories are explorations into the exchange between 'reality' and the stories' protagonists for children who are just beginning to consider their behavior according to the exchange mode.

What are the prices we pay for not giving, the rewards we get for giving? An equilibrium rules these exchanges--at least in fairy tales. As children begin to learn how to exchange, their morality co-responds.5 Making children obey, instituting a system of rewards and punishments, brings them away from the gift mode they were participating in with their mothers and prepares them for the exchange mode rampant in 'reality.' Stories satisfy children's need to be introduced through kindly co-munication to a 'reality' rendered alien by exchange.

It is true; we do have a need, as children, to be taught to adapt to 'reality.' But that is because 'reality' is distorted. The need to adapt is imposed by an environment which is artificially and pervasively altered by the exchange paradigm. Socialization imposes an evolution towards functionality in the system and an adaptation to the roles of having or not-having at all the different levels. If we were functioning within the paradigm that works for human and planetary development, we would not have to be taught giftgiving and receiving from the outside, but we would learn from our experiences--just as we learn to make sense of our perceptions, to manage our bodies' activities and at least in large part, to speak.

Teaching children to obey imposes the dominance-submission pattern, including the reward and punishment components of exchange, upon warnings like: "If you put your finger in the fire, you will get burned." This phrase is purely informational, but it is used to prop up parental dictatorship like, "If you don't say, 'Yes, M'am,' you can't go out to play." These dictates function according to the exchange mode, even giving our actions a price in terms of consequences. "You disobeyed. You're grounded for three days." The author-itarianism of the parent is often not only a replay of her or his own childhood and relationship with her/his parents, but an attitude of oppressiveness against her/his own giftgiving and receiving 'child within.' Our schools, with their practice of grading, extend this reward and punishment process to quantitatively evaluatable amounts of 'knowledge' acquired.

The Iroquois and the White Man

When women support women, or nurturers nurture nurturers, a transitivity of giftgiving takes place, so that the good is passed on and on and the receivers receive from and give to many. When this is done on principle, people become conscious of it and then reality contains more actions determined in this way. If the gift paradigm were validated and consciously practiced, however, we would not need to think of it as a principle. We would be able to be more flexible, experiment, and act on a case-by-case basis. Perhaps, if we found it useful, we could even safely practice exchange in some instances--because the context as a whole would carry giftgiving. Native American woman-led tribes, like the Iroquois, created alternative giftgiving realities of this sort. The context carried the gift values even though exchange--at least symbolic exchange--was practiced to some extent, and wars were sometimes fought.

The values of the gift economy threaten the practicers of the exchange economy, and I believe that this is a reason for the ferocity of the White Man against the native people. The White Man had a mother, too. He learned to kill her in the slaughter of the witches. Yet, he could not do that without killing himself, his mother within. There is no gender. Humans are all formed according to giftgiving. By slaughtering and enslaving his European mother, the White Man deprived himself of the model of his human potential. By leaving the motherland and penetrating the Americas, the White Man left his humanity to carry out his false masculated agenda of conquest. There he found mothering societies, exploited them and committed genocide upon them. What he considered civilized was the ego and exchange, with its empty logic coming from definition.

Yet, the White Man has a heart. He lived in his mother's womb; he was nurtured by her, received her gifts and gave her his own. What he did not realize is that all men and women share the same dream, the same way of dreaming and the same way of speaking. We already have a common language. The language is not just co-munication of material gifts--though this is important. It is the communication of verbal gifts. It does not matter what the specific sound-gifts are, but that we give them to each other. The Tower of Babel is just the phallic symbol of masculation, which does not let us see that all our languages and our lives come from the Mother and from Mothering. If we can give up masculation and return to the mother and child within each of us, we can restore the dream.

From Re-ality to the Goddess6 Rhea-lity

Giftgiving and exchange are locked together on the level of economic re-ality, a fact which puts many obstacles in the path of doing effective social change work towards giftgiving. Moreover, the goal of social change is often mistakenly identified as the integration of everyone into the exchange economy. This goal is mistaken because it ignores the fact that, for the market to function, free gifts must come to it from somewhere.

There are many groups who are excluded from the capitalist market system whose products do not have access to the market or cannot compete there. Artisan work by indigenous people, for example, though it is of the highest quality, usually has no way into the market except through exploitative middlemen. Recently, projects market have been begun by well-intentioned people, who seek funding from foundations or other entities. The problem is seen to be the presentation of the crafts on an equal footing with mainstream items. (There needs to be an 'equal exchange.')

The contradiction here is that the goal is seen to be an assimilation into the economy which has excluded and exploited those groups, and which continues to exclude and exploit others, taking from them large quantities of hidden gift labor. Only a few can become 'equal' to the mainstream few who are 'equal,' and all of the few are brought to this 'equality' through using the hidden gifts of others. The gift of the funding of these projects takes the place of the hidden gift labor for a time, but 'self-sufficiency' within the capitalist economy is usually an illusion, because capitalism needs hidden gifts in order to function. 'Self-sufficiency' often only means effective dependency on the capitalist market, just as it has for women who enter the labor market in order to be 'self-sufficient.'

The production of Native American beadwork in Hong Kong is a case in point. International exploitation produces cheaper, more competitive, 'more equal' products than social justice or self-sufficiency projects can. It factors in the gift-quotient that becomes available through the exploitative relation between nations (which produces the difference in their levels of life), together with the 'gift' of the exploited labor of the workers in the individual foreign enterprises. The illusion is that groups 'outside' of the mainstream could succeed if only their products were good enough to be competitive. What is not seen is that being 'good enough,' being equal, or even in the same 'ballpark' requires the addition of a comparatively large amount of hidden gifts.

Perhaps by producing a new product or cornering a market, people outside of the capitalist economy could enter it successfully, benefiting their communities. But this requires a knowledge of the market which individuals achieve through education and through experience in the market, which usually brings them into attempting success for their own profit, not for the community--according to the capitalist values of 'every man for himself.' Even the attempt to enter the market, to produce competitive or equal products, validates the market and 'equal exchange' as the best (and even as the only) way to abundance. Alternatives are seen as impractical or non-existent. The gift economy, hidden and integrated into the exchange economy as exploited labor, is victimized and sacrificed--no value is given to it; it is invisible or discredited and despised.

At the individual psychological level, the subconscious is out of sight but serves as the source for the energy of our conscious minds. Many subconscious motivations and associations never reach the surface and are discounted. In the same vein, people outside the market support those inside the market. Similarly, women support men in their 'equal' relations with other men and in their competition to dominate, without recognizing the effort they themselves and other women have put into nurturing them. What we must do is to stop giving value to the kind of consciousness which is based on exchange and mutual exclusion, to equality in the market, to making our products or ourselves or our children 'competitive,' and try alternatives which are altogether different.

While it may appear difficult to create giftgiving projects in present reality, I suggest that many ways are actually possible that are not being recognized as such. Many women whom I know personally provide services, housing, training, and support free for other women, often believing that they themselves are 'crazy' because they are not requiring payment. There are many experiments with women's land trusts, movements for self-sufficiency and living lightly on the earth.

Movements against domestic violence and sexual violence involve the free satisfaction of needs, as do movements against addictions. People in these movements, as well as those working against racism, and for the liberation of peoples, against the destruction of the environment, against the puer-ile games played with radioactive waste and chemical time bombs, against war, militarism and military spending are all giving enormous time and energy to satisfying important general needs for social change.

While a great deal of volunteer work is done by women, much is done by men, as well. It is not clear to those who are involved in mixed activities that, in doing unmonetized need-satisfying work, both males and females are following the gift paradigm based on mothering. Women's leadership according to giftgiving values is therefore not taken as the standard. Indeed, women often support men who are carrying out the masculated agenda, even volunteer in activities that have the goal of creating social change. In fact, in many cases, the masculated agenda is not even recognized as problematic.

Giftgiving has often acquired a bad name, and people have been discouraged from doing it, because patriarchal beneficent organizations have imposed their gifts upon the receivers, considering them passive and inferior, not listening to their assessment of their needs. Here, too, women as well as men have espoused paternalism to the detriment of everyone involved, and clouded the connection between women and the gift paradigm by not recognizing the difference between giftgiving and exchange. In fact, these organizations have often used giftgiving as a pretext for domination and profit-making of various sorts.

I have heard the old saw--that it is better not to give poor people fish but to teach them how to fishwith a twist that points at social change. We need to ask how the scarcity was created in the first place. Why have the people not had access to the lake so they could learn how to fish? Was it privately owned or controlled by a corporation or a government? Is it even possible that a group of hungry people could live by a lake to which they had access and not learn how to fish?

We need to give to change the causes of poverty, and one of the major causes of poverty is the system based on exchange. Creating projects to bring people into the market system will not change the causes of poverty. We need to create a change in consciousness, which will let everyone identify the causes and focus on changing them.

It is important to create alternatives to patriarchal capitalism, experiments based on the ways economies were organized by different groups of so-called 'primitive' peoples outside the market system. I suggest funding or otherwise promoting alternative projects--perhaps non-monetized local gift and sharing circles or projects to restore fertile land to dispossessed people to live on and farm. (Many women have already begun buying and sharing land with other women). These projects need to be made possible by monetary gift giving--funding--which in itself is a different economic way. Though funding may appear to be parasitic upon capitalism, it is then parasite upon the parasite--so it has a meta view (parasight) and can put a different way into practice.

Funding gift economies (even in an experimental way) carries its own confirmation at the meta level. It is giving for giving. By asserting the existence of alternatives, we can affirm the value of difference and dis-invest from capitalistic equality. From within the classes privileged by the domination of the equal = sign, women at least can hear the resounding call of the First Commandment of Altruistic Reason: "Try something different. This isn't working!"


Matter-spirit, mater (mother)-breath are probably false oppositions. The illusion is that mater doesn't mind because she is attributing importance to the other and not taking credit--but that really means she minds more. What we have to do, instead, is make mind mater. Atmospheric pressure moves the air, and as we develop a need for it by expanding our lungs, it is inspired, satisfies the need. Things in nature satisfy needs--from the chlorophyll in the leaf providing sugar for the root, to plankton at the bottom of the sea, where whales feed, loll and take their ease--from ancient rocks with which we build our houses, to the potter's wheel.

That is because needs, which are also a part of nature, are creative. Creatures, including humans, adapt to what is given, as well as change it. Mat(t)er is already mind; parts of it attend to one another, needs arise and are filled. But the human mind has been interpreting itself according to the exchange paradigm and so has detached itself from its matrix, reflecting upon itself. In allowing itself to be taken care of by giftgivers, women, the mother and child within, the many--the mind is not minding about them. Occupied by its ego-orientation, it philosophically tries to track what it alone is doing.

Perhaps the mind (and the brain, as well) can be better understood if we look at them from the viewpoint of the gift paradigm. If we put the mater back into matter, we can see how she minds, how mind is mothering, and how we must now satisfy our own need and that of humanity and the earth, to recognize that mater as a given. Spirit hardly matters in reflection; it is breath upon the mirror, something belonging to a different concept. But actually, the mother and the wind work according to similar principles. They go where there is a lack, a void, a need for them. And they bring the words we need to hear to form our communities again.

Mother Nurture

I go for a walk in the country--there are so many creatures, insects, plants, wildflowers, so specific and different from each other in the places and ways they grow. A variety, a magnificent wild, slow dance of plant and animal life is in each square foot of terrain. Each kind is related to a word as its name, but they are rhea-lly far from equal. Now the combination of the concept, the definition and the exchange has produced an environment where things are actually identical to each other. We no longer pick berries in the woods; we pick up identical cans of berries at the supermarket.

The goddess has not been completely destroyed. Preparing, cooking and eating the food we cook--feeling, moving, many types of enjoyment from sex to poetry to watching a storm--are still ways of embracing her gifts. But forcing reality to give has to do with male violence: mining, drilling, bombing. If you force someone to give, you get security that they will give, and perhaps this security provides needed comfort to the artificial exchange ego.

We should look at Rhea-lity as Mother Nature, Mother Nurture. The same thing is being done to her that is done to us, depleting her so as to force her to give, showing that men do it the right or only way, that they have control of Rhea-lity as well as re-ality. They do this by not attributing or giving nurture to nature or value to giving. Canceling the mother makes it appear that mechanical cause and effect, if-then, objective exchange processes, are the basis of life. This blots out a whole spectrum of nurturing intentionality from the least 'human,' the wind, or the chance of the amoeba's finding a juicy morsel in its path, to the most 'human,' a feminist revolution or a lullaby. In the beginning, ontogenetically and phylogenetically, mothers feed their babies.7


The work of maintenance of the world still attributes value materially though 'menially.' Despite monetization and exchange, needs continue to be recognized by women (and some men) both emotionally and intellectually. In fact, I believe it is the human connection with the needs of others and our own that is the basis of human emotional life. Masculated egos, immersed in exchange, are notoriously (and unhappily) detached from needs, 'insensitive.' Attention to needs appears to be irrational, because what we consider rational is based on exchange. Since we have allowed exchange to pervade our world, blocking out giving, we have set all our values askew, making them more abstract than they would have been if they had been grounded in giving. Then value has been given to abstraction itself.

Emotions continue to flicker around unsatisfied needs, drawing attention to them, giving them value so they can be satisfied. Those emotions are often ignored, discounted, disqualified and otherwise superseded by the logic of self-interest. Giving value to abstract reasoning draws our attention away from needs. While it is true that abstract reasoning may sometimes be useful for understanding how to satisfy complicated needs, it can become an end in itself and an excuse to disregard needs and the emotions that lead us to them, forever.

Patriarchy has re(x)-ified re-ality. It has extended its network of self-similar images--phallically invested conceptsseizing the gifts of the collective, like an OBN of businessmen seizing new markets. Overlaying these concepts onto 'reality' diminishes its nurturing side, makes needs invisible, discounts the emotions that respond to them, and reality then becomes mechanical and objectified. What is a given is taken for granted, important only because it has been organized into concepts, made relative to privileged ones. We are always in receivership, however, though we don't recognize it. Reality is always nurturing, even though abstract concepts hide it and deceive us. The network of concepts, the self-similar system, is an invisible web, abstractly shared, deviating our attention away from the real gifts of the goddess Rhea and onto phallic Rex and Res.

1People who associate (form a society) with one another usually practice giving-and-receiving with each other in a variety of waysand would do it more if they did not live in an exchange economy. That is why giving and receiving are a key to the idea of 'associations' found in dreams or among words. A schizophrenic who was asked to perform Vigotsky's experiment told the experimenters that the 'sample' was a policeman telling a crowd of people what to do. We have traced enough self-similar patterns at this point that the policeman-crowd relation can easily be seen as a 'one-many' concept derivative. The policeman actually dominates the association-crowd, while the schizophrenic gives us the gift of a needed connection ('association') which has not been made. (See Hanfmann and Kasinin, op.cit.)

2I would like to mention that the spiritual practices which promote gratitude upon awakening keep us partly in the gift mode for a few more moments, providing some continuity between our 'real' worlds and our dreams.

3Paula Gunn Allen, The Sacred Hoop, Beacon Press, Boston, 1992.

4Lewis Hyde discusses the creative gift in a somewhat different sense in The Gift, op.cit..

5See Carol Gilligan, In a Different Voice, Cambridge, Mass, Harvard University Press, 1982, for the moral perspective of care.

For-Giving Chapter 20

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