HONOUR: an hallucination stimulated by the proximity to local cultural fungi

Honour is a publicly affirmed attitude of esteem which attempts to reinforce the social ideals of the local curators of culture. To the hallucinating believer, honour appears as a lucent aura emanating from the presence or the memory of an individual who has adhered to a code of conduct congealed by intransigent traditions, conventions and customs. Special lenses are needed to be able to observe these aura. It is not possible to appreciate a particular aura unless a special pair of spectacles is worn which has been designed specifically for that aura's particular attributes. It is of no use whatsoever, attempting to observe one aura with spectacles that have been designed to observe another.

What one culture promotes as honour, another may treat with scorn. The ideal of virginity in one time and place may well be subject to derision in another. The ability to accumulate financial mountains is rewarded in some societies with public accolades and titles, whilst other groups view such behaviour as an obsessive disorder. During a war it is honourable to kill the enemy, and so the military agencies charged with promoting the fantasy, distribute diverse decorations and proliferate statues as a justification of the behaviour. The 'enemy' however has a quite different perspective. Nations don't often erect statues honouring their opponents in warfare.

In numerous cultures, the honour aura of individuals must be unequivocally established in an acceptable manner, but unfortunately it often appears to themselves and others to fade with the passage of time. In an attempt to either create or re-illuminate their level of esteem, these individuals sometimes choose to subject themselves, or others, to some sort of endorsed spectacular death. Various families, clans, gangs and armies promote the honour killing of others as an assured method of inaugurating or recharging the radiant glow. Even the perpetrators of terrorism are usually persuaded that their act of suicide and collateral mayhem is a contribution to some universal cause, and they will forever bask in a cosmic aura of honour and fame. It normally requires a particularly distorted lens of religious materials to be able to observe the afterglow around the pieces of distributed body-parts.

The fame associated with the conferring of honour can be pathetically transitory. The laurel crown of the athlete disintegrates and public memory of the achievement is rapidly overlayed with innumerable diverse feats of superior merit. The politician who is deferred to as 'honourable' whilst enjoying a brief window of power, disappears into obscurity with the voters change of inclination. Even honours for artistic achievement or altruistic endeavours appear to diminish rapidly when they are incorporated into the lower levels of an honour pyramid, which provides support and enhancement for the upper pinnacle layers of law, politics, and business.