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Natural Uses for the "Useless"

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The English word "Use" in 1200 AD meant employing for a purpose or the act of putting into service, as in exercising to acquire a skill or for performances. The first English record of "Useless" was in Shakespeare's "The Rape of Lucrece" (1595) in the sense of lacking actual fitness for a purpose. Later, Europeans said it was part of the family of "Futile" or "Vain" (lacks imaginable fitness) deemed to be inherently incapable of accomplishing a specified result. "Useless," in the widest sense, signifies not of use for any valuable purpose and is thus closely similar to valueless and worthless. More specifically, European dictionaries define it as having or being of no benefit; ineffective (having no means to accomplish a purpose or having no effect); incapable of functioning or assisting. But African Traditions' Critical Thinking (CT) does not look at the Useless as a thing having no benefit. With sufficient creativity and the right situation, everything has usefulness of some sort. Still CT looks at the "Big Picture" to decide if the situation, this "Thing," and the timing are/are not worth getting involved, in light of ones top priorities and standards. If so, and after considering the effects and the consequences to oneself and to others, CT decides if it is in ones best interest to do so. Something may be interesting (e.g. trivia), important, and natural but is useless when chosen over something necessarily needing to be done immediately.

First, CT repurposes the "Useless" for a difficult problem when study of the thing's prior failure might have success some other way. Perhaps others misapplied it (e.g. in the wrong direction or on the wrong plane of existence); or applied it at the improper time; or it was defective; or it needs updating. Yet, its "home" may be in another channel or awaiting the proper channel to be discovered. Hence, CT never discards the "useless" but rather puts it aside awaiting the proper place for it. This requires a readily available storage system, taking only seconds of research to find it. Second, CT idlely plays with the "Useless" so as to get ideas for designing Options, creativity, and inventions. Application change does not equal pattern change. Third, "Beneficial Useless" only means lacking a goal to achieve because the benefit is in the activity. Simply because they exist, such beneficial useless things are intended to be enjoyed just as they are. Play creates order and, in fact, is order. It is momentary and limited perfection brought into an imperfect world sprinkled, while going through its maze, with confusion and tough times. Games are played for their own sake--and that is perfection of a simple design. Music and dance benefits are in the doing and that is the destination. Mountain climbing is done because "it is there." Fourth, Play is a Free Mind state. Things done playfully, whimsically, for its own sake or with abandon are an expression of that person's autonomy. This means it has its own realm of Being--and that is perfection. Nothing about it per se will contribute to achieving immortality. Yet, it is Spontaneous (that which happens of itself) and in spontaneity alone lies the true spirit of play--done for no reason--containing no reason--and independent of the present struggle of existence. Besides, spontaneity has no commerical value and it never should since that would injure the spirit of the creation. Creativity awaits.

Play is its own good reason--a reason free and unhampered and existing for its own sake--a reason resulting from the overflow of spiritual, mental, and physical energy (called the Creative Play Impulse). Fifth, Freedom is the very key of Spiritual Play, an expression of ones Dignity (i.e. ones indwelling image of God in African Tradition). In African tribal dancing it is manifest with movement of the entire body to syncopated rhythms checkered with asymmetrical fluidity; angular bending of the arms, legs, and torso; shoulder and hip movement; scuffing, stamping, and hopping. By so doing with a free spirit of improvisation, like in Jazz, this indicates the participants are using it as a means of connecting with their Dignity.


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