“The Vanishing American Adult”

From the Hoover Institution, Nebraska Senator Benjamin Sasse joins Peter Robinson to discuss his book The Vanishing American Adult and the growing crisis in America of “prolonged adolescence,” the necessity of productivity despite now transitioning into a consumption-focused economy, the lagging of virtues in what has become a preeminent first-world society, and the passivity commonly shown by millennials in the face of this unfolding reality and what can be done to instill better habit formation so as to build a work ethic as well as to learn to appreciate the values our nation was founded on.

I can dig much of what Senator Sasse is putting forth here, old-school and traditional as it can’t help but be. Not that all or even most traditions are wholly useless or obsolete to where they deserve to be discarded in the dustbin of history. In fact, we’d better learn more about those traditions and what all they encompass and why they came into being before jumping to the conclusion that they no longer serve a useful purpose or matter. This is me saying this, of all people. Some things can’t be brought back once they’re gone, and we humans have a bad habit, nowadays especially, of assuming we know more than we do. Thinking we have the right answers when we don’t. Getting caught up in modern life and not taking the time to explore in depth what we’ve historically and evolutionarily come up through.

Life is a massive puzzle that we’ll never be able to completely figure out. But now we do tend to act (at all age levels) as though if we can dream it, we can then somehow bring it into fruition and that will necessarily be good. We’re naive in that assessment, IMO. It’s a grand assumption, very often wishful thinking rooted in nothing but hopes and ideals. If we can’t or won’t seriously grapple with who and what we are—as individuals, groups/tribes, cultures, nations, and overall as a species—then how valuable and realistically applicable can we expect our dreams to be?

An untold number of generations have come before us struggling through entire lifetimes while striving to comprehend life and living, to survive and gain wisdom and insights to pass forward so as to give each subsequent generation a little bit more to work with. Yet we like to act nowadays as if all that’s come before is dwindling in relevancy, archaic, impractical in this day and age. I used to feel the same way when I was a younger. Admittedly still do to an extent, especially when faced with religious fundamentalism and the dogmatic extremes exhibited therein. And yet also I more and more feel drawn toward lessons already out there and articulated, wanting to learn from them instead of stubbornly refusing and attempting to reinvent the wheel. I need to focus more of my own time investigating and familiarizing myself with what has come before. Hard not to feel tremendously ignorant and humbled when confronted with so much information and ideas and observations generated and recorded in the past, just waiting for us in the 21st century to conscientiously engage with it and see what springs forth.

Aristotle sounds like a good place to start.

“Biblical Series II: Genesis 1: Chaos & Order”

Today listening to part 2 of Jordan Peterson’s series on the Bible:

I appreciate his attempt to bring biblical stories back into relevance by examining them through a modern psychological lens. Very interesting stuff.

“Joe Rogan Talks About the Biggest Unsolved Mystery Of All Time”

And then youtube went and removed the video clip in question, so in its place I’ll have to post the entire 3-hour podcast. Dammit.

The portion in question (which I’ll have to find on there later) was an excellent conversation between those three.

“Psychology of Redemption in Christianity”

A lot of truth spoken there…

“Marxism 101: How Capitalism is Killing Itself with Dr. Richard Wolff”

A very interesting explanation of Karl Marx’s analysis of Capitalism:

Yes, I very much understand these critiques about modern life. Marx was a Luddite of sorts, which I can relate to (to an extent). Let me pause to state this. THIS is why I get defensive when people categorically dismiss “Marxist teachings” and lay all blame for the Leftist political ideologies we’re experiencing/witnessing now squarely on his shoulders. As if he’d likely be in full support of what’s become of the so-called Left. And as if other thinkers haven’t contributed plenty of their own to the modern “Leftism” mix.

People like to say they’ve read his “teachings.” Yeah? How much really? Most of us haven’t directly read a whole lot from the man, especially considering how incredibly much he wrote. Letter after letter between Engels and him, on top of his books on these topics. Not easy reads, hence why many aren’t directly acquainted with what Karl Marx actually said. Including plenty who claim to be fans of him. The information and ideas bandied about since his death and in his name can drift straight off the plantation of whatever he actually seemed to have in mind.

The man wasn’t terribly pro-technology, but either way he still couldn’t be expected (in the late 1800s) to foresee the industrial explosion of unprecedented proportions that the next century would usher in. People didn’t even have an imagination for what all was in store on this level or in detail. How could they? UNPRECEDENTED times we now live in in terms of technological innovations and the evolution, so far, of global economics.

This is truly an interesting time to be alive.

The man merely added to the mix his own views and analysis. So be it. I have no problem with him doing so. Though I do take issue with what’s being done in his name, as if his teachings alone are ultimately responsible, big of a contributive factor as they apparently are. Leftism =/= “Marxism.” The political Left is puppetry, “neo-liberalism,” just as the political Right is as well with its “neo-conservatism.” Somewhat different teams competing for global jockeying positions. We see this. We know political systems are rigged all around the globe. Money does obviously factor into how it’s carried out as well.

Many of us don’t want to be slaves to a new kind of slave-owner. And this is precisely why I say that slavery never truly ended, it just changed shapes. More inclusive now. Welcome to Corporatism.

The threat of Communism proved similar in certain aspects. Different strategy employed, yes, but in the end you still wind up in both cases with a ruling class with a bunch of “serfs” under their thumbs, only to a more extreme degree in the case of Corporatism since developing nations are in the running jockeying for positions since they’ll take what they can get, out of necessity.Which can and does lead to fucked up results in several notable cases. This is no longer a secret. People have good reason to express consternation over such an economic setup. Irritates me that Capitalism all unto itself winds up blamed, though I also recognize the importance of anti-trust laws, which largely haven’t been enforced in many decades, quite obviously. Which has allowed oligopoly rule across numerous sectors, though technological innovations unto themselves have also altered and created plenty of these sectors especially within the last 60 years alone.

Personally, I find Communism as it’s ever been practiced detestable. BUT, I don’t conflate Communism with socialism. Based off the same original notions, yes, but then taken to crazy extremes, particularly when the concept wound up applied to a huge society (Soviet Union) and was carried out in a top-down manner. Socialism doesn’t quite work that way, in essence. It’s a bottom-up approach, by and large, though wider federations may prove possible. Though it doesn’t translate (apparently) when applied to a massive nation-state setup. Turns into totalitarianism when attempted, as history has demonstrated thus far.

Rulers everywhere we look. And perhaps that would be okay if they were benevolent and were actually committed to protecting our wider interests. But that won’t ever happen if the people can’t hold them accountable, which we obviously can’t (or aren’t) currently. We’re rendered at the mercy of what’s unfolding, and we may see it and feel the earth shifting beneath us. Life has gone into hyper-drive over this last century, and now we’re embarking on a new one. One where likely middle classes will begin blooming in China and India and elsewhere outside of the West where we have been abandoned by a good amount of our manufacturing base, shortly followed by experiencing record national and individual debts, all while printing paper money nonstop backed by virtually nothing. We can see this. What will become of the U.S.? We don’t know, but it doesn’t look very good at present. And the politicians running have succumbed to being caught up in a game that’s beyond most of us in terms of making much of a lasting impact and improving and preserving our society in a sustainable fashion.

While I can understand the shift in people’s hearts, I wish we’d use our minds all the more. Exercise them. Explore ideas, particularly those we may have a knee-jerk reaction away from.

I don’t see socialism and libertarianism as necessarily incompatible. Perhaps they are the new political “right” and “left” down here on the ground. Reckoning with the philosophical conundrums arising between individual vs. collective or so-called “societal” interests. So many buzzwords make it to where discussing these matters feels cheap, like people’s eyes glaze over when they happen to peruse them. I get it. Really do. But we have to somehow come to terms with the fact that we are both social beings and individuals in our own right. There’s a balancing act quite obviously called for here, yet different people will likely opt to attempt it in varying ways. Hence why I like to talk about my dream of 10,000 communities going their own ways. Let the social experiments begin…

Pipe dreams, I know. Because now we appear locked into this trajectory, whether we like it or not. Jumping into a political “camp” or movement won’t likely improve a thing. Especially not when so many have become so divided. Few of us can agree on hardly any one thing anymore it seems. If ever people did. But some of us must find a way to interact with and/or group up with those we’re capable of living and working with to the best of our ability, if only to find solace and cooperation in whatever lies in times to come.

I don’t have any answers. But I do understand the various concerns. Can also understand our Western concerns and how it may look to those most well-adapted and proven successful in our current setup. But times are a-changin’ whether we like it or not. And whether we try to prepare for it or not.

Crime will likely increase. We’re a very materialistic culture. Entertaining ourselves to death also. I’ve heard Yugoslavians basically fell prey to the same lure.

After listening to the audiobook for Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature, and appreciating it to an extent (final chapter aside), I’d argue that he spoke (and wrote) prematurely. Comforting as it would be to agree with his analysis.

Lately this eerie feeling has been coming over me. Listening to all the propaganda and watching how race relations are being ramped up in our society, I get to wondering if it’s possible if an economic breakdown occurs in the U.S. if we may go the way of South Africa. At least in essence, though in our case it’s not simply two or three races/ethnic backgrounds against one another. We’re the biggest melting pot on the planet — the great human experiment in civilized living.

It’s become fashionable to talk shit about “white people” today, yet the reverse is deemed intolerable. Hmm. If we’re honest with ourselves and set aside our excuses and rationales and just pay attention — observe — we see this going on. It started with jokes and has grown noticeably more vicious with time.

Increasingly not a secret.

We should be able to examine these matters without being pigeon-holed as belonging to the political Left or Right as a result. Screw all of that nonsense. And to hell with devoting ourselves to ideologies of any sort. Better to keep an open mind since not a one of us has it all figured out. Explore. These ideological cages are just that — utopian traps sold to us by people who don’t give a damn about us, who simply rely on us and the money we spend, pandering to our psychologies so that we don’t revolt and remove them from power. Even then, another of a similar caliber would surely take their places since we don’t understand the process of power and how it can accumulate. Forming hierarchies is in our nature, but what we’ve constructed are so BIG that they’re guaranteed to fail us. We can’t reach those people anymore. Just have to accept their dictates sent down the ladder in the form of laws. Can fight them through the courts and sometimes win (still, just wait 20 years and see if the court decisions wind up reversed…), but eventually they plow on through while claiming to have enough popular support. Pandering and pretending — that’s American politics at present.

It’s easy to feel powerless in the face of all of this. But we each only have one life to live, so far as we know, so we might as well make it interesting and do something with ourselves that isn’t a complete waste. Was watching another talk with Dr. Jordan Peterson earlier today (see last post) where he goes into all that and I highly recommend others hear the man out. Aligning with ideologies is a way to shirk individual responsibility and hide within a crowd. Best to opt to do something more courageous than that at least. That is too easy.

There are plenty of thought-provoking thinkers on any and all possible “sides” who are worthy of hearing out even if we wind up disagreeing. Suspend judgment for a while and just let it in and ponder. Helps in better fleshing out our own beliefs and ideas, to challenge them and thereby alter, deepen, and expand them. No shame in exploring far and wide.

Admittedly kinda surprised me initially to stumble across Abby Martin conducting that interview. Proved to be worth taking in as more food for thought. The professor explained his position very articulately, though I still don’t see a top-down approach winding up ultimately resolving this dilemma, at least not how the globally-minded may envision it. We shall see.

“Harvard Talk: Postmodernism & the Mask of Compassion”

Another great talk from Dr. Jordan Peterson:

“Alan Watts ~ Stop Competing With Yourself” (his BEST lecture!)

That was excellent. Tied together so many of his past lectures succinctly while also feeding into other reading material I’ve been pondering over time. This particular lecture cemented my respect for Alan Watts. Haven’t always understood what he was talking about, but I stuck with him and appreciate the light he’s helped provide overall. He’s right — the skill to living isn’t simply self-discipline (important as that unarguably is) but learning how to find the right balance. Differs for each of us, and the possibilities are nearly endless.

We can be snobs to one another. That’s easy enough to do. We can divvy up into separate “camps” and talk shit and focus our attention there primarily. Plenty already do. Will lead us straight to hell as a society and a species if we keep this up, but we’re free to do so obviously. Or prove incapable of not doing so if we individually remain complacent in our present forms. Life requires growth and we’re psychological beings. No escaping that truth.

But how we figure out navigating in a manner that seems worth it is the existential question of our time.

It’s a fact that much of this can’t help but come down to our own selves, impactful as external influences can’t help but be. Hence why it’s important to opt for better influences, those which can promote positive expansion. The alternative is what? Let ourselves slide into the abyss? What is our love affair with the abyss? I think Dr. Jordan Peterson is right when he’s basically said staying down there comes with the benefit of evading personal responsibility. Strikes a chord inside, rings correct. Mea culpa too.

Nobody else can change these facts for us. Only we individually can make the decision and actively plod in that direction. Even a slave-driver can’t effectively force us if we collectively and actively resist like mules. That seems obvious enough. Might murder a bunch of us, but still can’t force us to put our hearts into something against our will. Might reduce many of us to a cowardly state, but that’s largely through our own compliance, if not entirely. We as individuals actually do possess a lot more power than we commonly publicly acknowledge and demonstrate appreciation for.

We’re spoiled on modern life and the ease at which we can hide out from one another and interact behind keyboards anonymously if desired. Modern technologies allow for an atomized form of existence never before known by our species. Easy to get drunk on it and all its comforts. I know. Welcome to modern life. It’s ALL a big mystery to each and every one of us. Learn as we go. Hopefully. Maybe.

Depends on how we choose to live. Nobody else can determine that for us. Short of killing us, and all that does is extinguish us — still doesn’t force our will to ACT. Definitely can impact us seriously though. And that’s no small matter. But this is where ancient Stoics did have the right idea. We can’t control all of the variables in life, quite obviously. Never could and never will. We can’t help but be vulnerable beings, as all lifeforms are. And we can’t completely control other people, try as we might. Can to whatever extents, but that’s it. There is a sovereignty to the individual that is untouchable by others, try as we undoubtedly will. Sadists probably know this all too well in the end. There’s a private sphere within each of us that will forever remain unexplorable by all others. Fact of life. We are individuals yet we are communal. Both are true, and neither is avoidable nor alterable (at least not without massive negative consequences). Not if any balance is to be achieved. And some sense of balance is necessary for satisfaction in life.

Can’t seem to escape these truths lately. Recurring. Thanks to my reading and viewing material, which I’ve learned a lot from over time. We are blessed to have this amazing internet. Anyone who doesn’t own a desktop computer or at minimum a laptop is being left in the dark ages (and no, “smartphones” aren’t solely sufficient for exploring this medium — way too limited/limiting). But I suppose people will have to work with what they’ve got if that’s necessarily the case. Still, the information available so freely to us nowadays is unprecedented, truly amazing. We are lucky in this regard and shouldn’t take it too much for granted. So many opportunities surround us currently.

I say this all to myself more than to others, though it’s to all of you too. We need to step up our game as individual persons in however many which ways. For one’s own personal sake, if for no one else’s.

“2017 Maps of Meaning 9: Patterns of Symbolic Representation” (Dr. Jordan Peterson)

Sitting with this lecture this morning: