Dispatches from outside of what—exactly?
Conventionally, outside means the outside—the out-of-doors, the wilderness, the places untamed by human civilization. Yes, the dispatches are that, but they are also more.
The circle of human consciousness—individually and collectively—is haunted by that which we do not know and thus cannot control. Human efforts of civilization are simply that, control of the unknown. The binary is simple: that which we control is civilized, and that which is beyond our control is uncivilized, barbaric, the other, the outsider. The circle of civilization looks inward, and all roads lead to Rome.
To be outside, then, is not only walking in the woods. To be outside is to step over the circle’s edge, into the unknown. To be outside is an experience of death.
Death is the ultimate outsider. Death is the unknown. Death is the unconquerable enemy. Death is the end of control, the end of civilization. Death is the specter that haunts the fringes—merciless, pitiless. And yet, there is truth in these words: “those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it” (Mk 8.35).
To truly live, we must pass through death to life. We must abandon the circle while refusing to re-center another. To truly live, we must be dead to the world. We must go outside.
And dispatches—why use such an archaic word?
While etymological analysis is empty vanity–words mean what people use them to mean, no matter what some unknown forebear used to say–, I must admit that I am often vain. Dispatch does mean a message or report, and I hope that these messages will help you join me as we seek the Outside.
As always, there is more: Dispatch has as its ancient, irrelevant root the Latin word pedica, a fetter. A dispatch, then, is that which removes fetters. Dispatch is liberation. Dispatch is freedom from the circle, an opportunity to look outward and to move beyond the boundary.
I hope that you will join me. This is a journey. Let’s go outside.