Professor Anton’s Highly Recommended Reading List (for “Communications Studies” students and others)

Professor Anton’s Highly Recommended Reading list

for “Communication Studies” students

 

Here is a non-disciplinary reading list for people who want to learn about communication and the human condition. Although particular chapters have been singled out, this is done only for direction: the whole book is recommended in most cases. At the very least, try to read a chapter from each book.

The list identifies some of the richest resources for thinking about communication, and it also seeks to demonstrate that thinkers from many different disciplines, backgrounds, and interests have recognized the centrality of communication to human endeavors.

Again: all readings are recommended. Those readings that have an asterisk (*) are more readable and may serve as better points of entrance; those that have a number sign (#) might be quite difficult and you may want to work up to those.

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Austin, J. L. (1962). “Lecture I, II, & III,” How to do things with words. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Bagdikian, B. H. (2004). “The Big Five,” The media monopoly. Boston: Beacon Press.

# Bateson, G. (1972). “A Theory of Play and Fantasy,” Steps to an ecology of mind. New York: Ballantine Books.

* Bateson, G. (1979). “Every Schoolboy Know,” Mind and nature: A necessary unity. New York: Bantam Books.

Baudrillard, J. (1983). “The Precession of Simulacra,” Simulations. New York: Semiotext(e), Inc.

* Becker, E. (1971). “Self-Esteem,” & “Staging of Self-Esteem,” The birth and death of meaning: An interdisciplinary perspective on the problem of man. (2nd Ed). New York: The Free Press.

Becker, E. (2005). “The Spectrum of Loneliness,” In D. Liechty (Ed.), The Ernest Becker reader. Seattle WA: University of Washington Press.

Bennis, W. (1989). On Becoming a Leader. Mass: Addison-Wesley Publishing Co.

Berger, J. (1977). “Chapter 7,” Ways of seeing. New York: Penguin Books.

Berger, P. L., & Luckmann, T. (1966). “The Foundations of Knowledge in Everyday Life,” The social construction of reality: A treatise in the sociology of knowledge. New York: Doubleday.

Berman, M. (1989). “The Basic Fault,” Coming to our senses: Body and spirit in the hidden history of the West. Simon and Shuster.

Bleibtreu, J. N. (1968). “The Moment of Being,” The parable of the beast. New York: Macmillan.

Blumer, H. (1962). “Society as Symbolic Interaction,” In A. Rose (Ed.), Human behavior and social processes: An interactionist approach. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Bohm, D. (1996). “Suspension and the Body,” & “Participatory Thought and the Unlimited,” On dialogue. London: Routledge.

Boorstin, D. J. (1961). “From News Gathering to News Making,” The image: A guide to pseudo-events in America. New York: Atheneum.

Boulding, K. (1956). “The Image at the Biological Level,” The image: Knowledge in life and society. Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press.

Brown, N. O. (1959).”Language and Eros,” &” Filthy Lucre,” Life against death: The psychoanalytic meaning of history. Middleton CN: Wesleyan University Press.

Buber, M. (1958). “Part I,” I and thou. (W. Kauffman, Trans.). New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.

Burke, K. (1966). “Definition of Man,” “Terministic Screens,” & ‘What Are The Signs of What?,” Language as symbolic action: Essays on life, literature and method. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

# Burke, K. (1970). “Epilogue: Prologue in Heaven,” The rhetoric of religion: Studies in logology. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Burke, K. (1973). “Semantic and Poetic Meaning,” & “Literature as Equipment for Living,’ The philosophy of literary form: Studies in symbolic action. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Burke, K. (1974). “Communication and the Human Condition,” Communication, Vol. 1 No. 2. Spring.

Campbell, J. (1986). “Cosmology and the Mythic Imagination,” The inner reaches of outer space. New York: Harper and Row.

* Carey, J. W. (1989). “A Cultural Approach to Communication,” Communication as culture: Essays on media and society. Boston: Unwin Hyman.

Carothers, J. C. (1959). “Culture, Psychiatry, and the Written Word,” Psychiatry, Nov. 18-20, 22, 26-28, 32-34.

* Carpenter, E. (1973). “Closing One Eye,” Oh, what a blow that phantom gave me! New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.

Carse, J. P. (1986). Finite and Infinite Games. New York: Macmillan.

Cassirer, E. (1944). “A Clue to the Nature of Man: The Symbol” & “From Animal Reactions to Human Responses,” An essay on man: An introduction to a philosophy of culture. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Castaneda, C. (1973). “Death as an Advisor,” Journey to Ixtlan. New York: Touchstone.

Cioran, E. M. (1964, Spring) “a Portrait of Civilized Man,” in Hudson Review.

Cronen, V. E. (1995). “Coordinated Management of Meaning: The Consequentiality of Communication and the Recapturing of Experience,” In S. Sigman (Ed.), The consequentiality of communication. Hillsdale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

de Grazia, S. (1964). “Free Time of Machines“ Of Time, Work, and Leisure. Garden City NY: Doubleday.

de Saint-Exupéry, A. (1950). “Chapter 6,” & “Chapter 70,” The wisdom of the sands. (S. Gilberg, Trans.). New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company.

Derrida, J. (1977). “Signature, Event, Context,” Limited, Inc. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.

# Dewey, J. (1981). “Nature, Communication and Meaning,” The later works of John Dewey, 1925-1953. Vol. 1: 1925. Experience and Nature. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.

Duncan, H. D. (1962). “Burke’s Sociology of Language,” Communication and social order. New York: Bedminster Press.

Eco, U. (1986). “Travels in Hyperreality,” Travels in hyperreality. Orlando: Harcourt, Brace, Javanovich.

* Eco, U. (1995). “A Medieval Library,” Communication in history: Technology, culture, society, (eds.). D. Crowley & P. Heyer. New York: Longman Press.

Emerson, R. W. (1940). “The Over-Soul,” “Circles,” & “Society and Solitude,” The selected writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson. New York: Random House.

Fish, S. (1980). “Normal Circumstances and Other Special Cases,” Is there a text in this class?: The authority of interpretive communities. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Foucault, M. (1993). “About the Beginning of the Hermeneutics of the Self,” Political theory,2, 198-227.

Fraizer, J. G. (1923). “Sympathetic Magic,” & “Tabooed Words,” The golden bough: A study in magic and religion. Macmillan.

Freire, P. (1990). “Chapter 2,” Pedagogy of the oppressed. (M. B. Ramos, Trans.). New York: The Continuum Publishing Company.

* Gass, W. H. (1985). “On Talking to Oneself,” Habitations of the word: Essays. New York: Simon and Shuster.

Gergen, K. J. (1991). “Social Saturation and the Populated Self,” The saturated self: Dilemma of identity in contemporary life. New York: Basic Books.

Goffman, E. (1959). “Performances,” The presentation of self in everyday life. New York: Doubleday Anchor Books.

* Goffman, E. (1967). “On Face Work,” Interaction ritual: Essays on face-to-face behavior. New York: Pantheon Books.

Goffman, E. (1969). “Expression Games: An analysis of doubts at play,” Strategic Interaction. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Goodman, P. (1972). “Not Talking and Talking,” & “Speaking as an Action, and Speech as a Thing,” Speaking and language: A defense of poetry. New York: Random House.

* Goody, J. (1977). “Evolution and Communication,” & “Literacy and Classification,” The domestication of the savage mind. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.

Gracian, B. (1950). “Keep a Store of Sarcasms and Know How to Use Them,” & “Do and Be Seen Doing,” The art of worldly wisdom. (J. Jacobs, Trans.). New York: Macmillan.

Greenblatt, S. (1988). “The Circulation of Social Energy,” Shakespearean negotiations: The circulation of social energy in Renaissance England. Berkley, CA: University of California Press.

Greenburg, D. (1966). “Methods to Misery with Others,” How to make yourself miserable: Another vital training manual. New York: Random House.

Gusdorf, G. (1965). “Speaking as Human Reality,” & “Speaking as Encounter,” Speaking (La Parole). (P. T. Brockelman, Trans.). Evanston: Northwestern University Press.

* Hall, E. T. (1976). “Context and Meaning,” & “Contexts, High and Low,” Beyond culture. Garden City, NY: Doubleday.

Hanh, T. N. (1974). “The Cyprus in the Courtyard,” “Mountains are Mountains and Rivers are Rivers,” & “Footprints of Emptiness,” in Zen Keys. (A. Low & J. Low, Trans.). New York: Anchor Books.

Hardison, O. B. (1989). “Mandelbrot’s Monstrosities,” Disappearing through the skylight: Culture and technology in the twentieth century. New York: Viking.

* Havelock, E. A. (1986). “The Modern Discovery of Orality,” & “The General Theory of Primary Orality,” The muse learns to write: Reflections on orality and literacy from antiquity to the present. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Hayakawa, S. I. (1963). “How We Know What We Know,” Language in thought and action. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World.

Heidegger, M. (1985). “ #23c Determination of the Basic Structure of Worldhood as Meaningfulness,” & “#28 The Phenomenon of Discoveredness,” The history of the concept of time: Prolegomena. (T. Kisiel, Trans.). Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Heidegger, M. (1995). “Thematic Exposition of the Problem of World through an Examination of the Thesis that ‘Man is World-Forming,’” The fundamental concepts of metaphysics: World, finitude, solitude. (W. McNeill & N. Walker, Trans.). Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Heider, F. (1958). “Affective Logic of the Relations Among P, O, and X,” The psychology of interpersonal relations. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

* Herder, J. G. (1966). “Section One,” & “Section Two,” Essay on the origin of language. (A. Gode, Trans.). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Heschel, A. (1965). “Part IV,” Who is man? Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Highwater, J. (1981). “Image,” The primal mind: Vision and reality in Indian America. New York: Harper & Row.

* Hoffer, E. (1951). “The Appeal of Mass Movements,” The true believer: Notes on the nature of mass movements. New York: Harper and Row Publishing.

# Holenstein, E. (1976). “Perspectives of a Comprehensive Theory of Language,” Roman Jakobson’s approach to language: Phenomenological structuralism. (C. Schelbert and T. Schelbert, trans). Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Innis, H. A. (1951). “Minerva’s Owl,” The bias of communication. University of Toronto Press.

James, W. (1958). “The Laws of Habit,” Talks to teachers on psychology: and to students on some of life’s ideals. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.

Johnson, W. (1946). “ Verbal Cocoons,” People in quandaries: The semantics of personal adjustment. New York: Harper & Brothers.

Johnson, W. (1956). “The Talking Tribes,” Your most enchanted listener. New York: Harper & Row Publishers.

# Jonas, H. (1966). “The Nobility of Sight,” & “Image-Making and the Freedom of Man,” The phenomenon of life: Toward a philosophical biology. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.

Keller, H. (1904). “Chapter IV,” The story of my life. New York: Doubleday, Page, and Co.

# Kierkegaard, S. (1944). “Becoming Subjective,” & “Subjective Truth, Inwardness; Truth is Subjectivity,” Concluding unscientific postscripts to Philosophical Fragments. (D. F. Swenson & W. Lowrie, Trans.). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Kierkegaard, S. (1967). “Communication,” Søren Kierkegaard’s journals and papers. Vol. 1, A-E. (H. V. Hong & E. H. Hong, Trans.). Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Klapp, O. E. (1986). “The Appetite for Information,” & “Creeping Banality,” Overload and boredom: Essays on the quality of life in the information society. New York: Greenwood Press

Koestler, A. (1967). “The Holon,” The ghost in the machine. London: Pan Books.

Korzybski, A. (1921). “Classes of Life” & “What is Man,” Manhood of humanity. Institute of General Semantics.

Korzybski, A. (1937). “Lecture 3, Lecture, 8, & Lecture 9,” General semantics seminar 1937: Olivet college lectures. Institute of General Semantics

Krishnamurti, J. (1969). “IX,” & “XII,” Freedom from the known. San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row.

Kwant, R. C. (1965). Phenomenology of language. Pittsburgh, PA: Duquesne University Press.

Laing, R. D. (1990). “Confirmation and Disconfirmation,” Self and others. New York: Penguin Books.

Laing, R. D., Phillipson, H., & Lee, A. R. (1966). “The Spiral of Reciprocal Perspectives,” Interpersonal perception: A theory and a method of research. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.

* Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (1980). “Concepts We Live By,” & “Metaphorical Systematicity,” Metaphors we live by. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.

# Langer, S. K. (1942). “Discursive and Presentational Forms,” & “Language,” Philosophy in a new key: A study in the symbolism of reason, rite and art. New York: Mentor Books.

Leder, D. (1990). “The Ecstatic Body,” In The Absent Body. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press

# Lee, D. (1959). “Symbolization and Value,” Freedom and culture. New York: Prentice Hall.

Lee, D. (1976). “To Be or Not to Be,” Valuing the self: What we can learn from other cultures. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press.

Lee, I. J. (1941). “Acquaintance, Abstracting, and Non-Allness,” Language habits in human affairs: An introduction to general semantics. New York: Harper & Brothers.

Lévy-Bruhl, L. (1975). “Notebook IV,” & “Notebook V,” The notebooks on primitive mentality. (P. Riviére, Trans.). New York: Harper & Row Publishers.

Lingis, A. (1994). “The Murmur of the World,” The community of those who have nothing in common. Indiana, IN: Indiana University Press.

Matson, F. W., & Montagu, A. (1967). The human dialogue: Perspectives on communication. (Eds.), New York: The Free Press.

* McCloud, S. (1994). “The Vocabulary of Comics,” “Blood in the Gutter,” Understanding comics: The invisible art. New York: Harper Press.

McLuhan, M. (1964). “The Medium is the Message,” “Media, Hot and Cold,” Understanding media: The extensions of man. Cambridge, MA.: The M.I.T. Press.

* McLuhan. M. (1969). Counterblast. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc.

Mead, G. H. (1934). “Thought, Communication, and the Significant Symbol,” Mind, self & society: From the standpoint of a social behavorist. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.

Merleau-Ponty, M. (1973). “Science and the Experience of Expression,” & “The Algorithm and the Mystery of Language,” The prose of the world. (J. O’Neill, Trans.). Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.

* Mitchell, R. (1979). “The Worm in the Brain,” & “Two Tribes,” Less than words can say. Boston, MA: Little, Brown, and Company.

Mumford, L. (1967). “The Mindfulness of Man,” The myth of the machine Vol. I Technics and human development. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World.

# Nietzsche, F. (1979). “On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense,” In D. Breazeale (Ed.), Philosophy and truth: Sections from Nietzsche’s notebooksof the early 1870’s. Atlantic Highland, NJ: The Humanities Press.

* Oates, W. J. (1940).“The Manual of Epictetus,” & “The Discourses,” The stoic and epicurean philosophers. New York: Random House.

Olson, D. (1994). “The Recovery of Communicative Intention,” The world on paper: The conceptual and cognitive implications of writing and reading. Great Britain: Oxford University Press.

Ong, W. J. (1962). “A Dialectic of Aural and Objective Correlations,” & “Voice as a Summons for Belief.” The barbarian within: and other fugitive essays and studies. New York: Macmillan.

Ong, W. J. (1967). “Word as Sound,” The presence of the word: Some prolegomena for religious and cultural history . New Haven, CN: Yale University Press.

Ong, W. J. (1971). “Rhetoric and the Origins of Consciousness,” Rhetoric, romance, and technology: Studies in the interaction of expression and culture. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

* Ong, W. J. (1982). “Psychodynamics of Orality,” & “Writing Restructures Consciousness,” Orality and literacy: The technologizing of the word. London and New York: Methuen.

Paz, O. (1956). “Language,” The bow and the lyre: The poem, the poetic revelation, poetry and history. (R. L. C. Simms, Trans.). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Percy, W. (1983). “The Fearful Self,” & “The Envious Self,” Lost in the cosmos: The last self-help book. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

* Percy, W. (1954). “The Delta Factor,” & “The Mystery of Language,” The message in the bottle: How queer man is, how queer language is, and what one has to do with the other. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.

Polanyi, M. (1966). “Tacit Knowing,” The tacit dimension. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday.

Polanyi, M., & Prosch, H. (1975). “The Free Society,” Meaning. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

* Postman N. (1978). “The Thermostatic View,” & “The First Curriculum,” Teaching as a conserving activity. New York: Delacorte Press.

Postman, N. Word Weavers/World Makers???????

Postman, N. (1985). “Media as Epistemology,” Amusing ourselves to death: Public discourse and the age of show business. New York: Penguin Books.

Postman, N., & Weingartner, C. (1969). “Meaning Making,” Teaching as a subversive activity. New York: Dell Publishing.

Radin, P. (1927). “The Higher Aspects of Primitive Thought,” Primitive man as philosopher. New York: Appleton.

Ricoeur, P. (1967). “Husserl and Wittgenstein on Language,” In E. N. Lee & M. Mandelbaum (Eds.). Phenomenology and existentialism, Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press.

Rifkin, J. (1989). Time Wars. New York: Touchstone Books

# Royce, J. (1967). “Perception, Conception, and Interpretation,” The problem of Christianity: Lectures delivered at the Lowell institute in Boston, and at Manchester College. Hamden, Conn. Archon Books.

Ruesch, J., & Bateson, G. (1951). Communication: The social matrix of psychiatry. New York: W. W. Norton.

Sartre, J. P. (1991). “Image, Portrait, Caricature,” & “The Sign and the Portrait,” The psychology of imagination. New York: Citadel Press Book.

Saul, J. R. (1992). “Individual–Life in a Box,” Voltaire’s bastards: The dictatorship of reason in the West. New York: Free Press

Schrag, C. O. (1986). “The Texture of Communicative Praxis,” Communicative praxis and the space of subjectivity. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Shands, H. C. (1960). Thinking and psychotherapy: An inquiry into the process of communication. Cambridge, MA: Published for the Commonwealth Fund by Harvard University Press.

Shaw, I. (1978). “Characteristics of Attention and Observation,” & “Sufi Study Themes,” Learning to learn: Psychology and spirituality the Sufi way. San Francisco, CA: Harper and Row.

Simmel, G. (1971). “The Stranger,” “The Poor,” & “The Miser and the Spendthrift,” On individuality and social forms. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Simmel, G. (1978). “Chapter 5, Part I,” The philosophy of money. New York: Routledge.

Sokolowski, R. (1974). “Parts and Wholes,” “Identity in Absence and Presence,” Husserlian meditations: How words present things. Evanston, IL, Northwestern University Press.

* Sontag, S. (1973). “Imprisoning Reality,” On photography. New York: Anchor Books.

Stewart, J. (1995). “Part I,” Language as articulate contact: Toward a post- semiotic philosophy of communication. New York: SUNY Press.

Strate, L. (2008). “Studying Media as Media: McLuhan and the Media Ecological Approach.” MediaTropes eJournal Vol I 127–142

Straus, E. (1966). “Objectivity,” & “The Upright Posture,” Phenomenological psychology: The selected papers. New York: Basic Books.

Thayer, L. (1987). “The Idea of Communication,” On communication: Essays in understanding. New Jersey: Ablex Publishing.

* Thayer, L. (1997). “Explanation as Motive,” & “What Would a Theory of Communication be For?,” Pieces: Toward a revisioning of communication/life. New Jersey: Ablex Publishing.

Thomas, L. (1974). “The Scrambler in the Mind,” The medusa and the snail: More notes of a biology watcher. New York: The Viking Press.

Urban, W. M. (1971). “Intelligible Communication: Its Nature and Conditions,” Language and reality: The philosophy of language and principles of symbolism. New York: Arno Press.

* Veblen, T. (1934). “Chapters 1-7,” The theory of the leisure class. New York: The Modern Library.

Volosinov, V. N. (1973). “Toward a Marxist Philosophy of Language,” Marxism and the philosophy of language. (L. Matejka & A. R. Titunik, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Von Forester, H. (1980). “Epistemology of Communication,” In K. Woodward (Ed). The myths of information: Technology and postindustrial culture. Madison, WI: Coda Press.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1962). “The Genetic Roots of Thought and Speech,” Thought and language. (E. Hanfmann & G. Vakar, Trans.). M.I.T. Press.

Watkins, M. (1986). “Imagination as Reality,” Invisible guests: The development of imaginal dialogues. New York: The Analytic Press.

* Watts, A. (1951). “On Being Aware,” & “The Marvelous Moment,” The wisdom of insecurity: A message for the age of anxiety. New York: Vintage Books.

Watts, A. (1966). “The World is Your Body,” The book: On the taboo against knowing who you are. New York: Vintage Books.

Watts, A. (1957). “Empty and Marvelous,” & “Sitting Quietly, Doing Nothing,” The way of Zen. New York: Vintage Books

* Watzlawick, P., Beavin, J. H., & Jackson, D. D. (1967). “Some Tentative Axioms of Communication,” Pragmatics of human communication: A study of interactional patterns, pathologies, and paradoxes. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.

Wheelis, A. (1966). “The Illusionless Man and The Visionary Maid,” The illusionless man: Fantasies and mediations. New York: Harper Colophon Books.

# Wilden, A. (1972). “Analog and Digital Communication,” System and structure: Essays in communication and exchange. London: Tavistock Publications.

Wilden, A. (1987). “Context Theory,” The Rules Are No Game. New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Wittgenstein, L. (1958). “The Brown Book,” The blue and brown books: Preliminary studies for the ‘Philosophical Investigation.’ New York: Harper & Row.

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Copied and posted with permission from Prof. Corey Anton, whose youtube channel others should definitely check out.

Lots of sources in the list above will be of interest to persons curious about the wide world of social sciences. I’m already familiar with a few titles but hope to take the time to read more going forward.

Time for some music therapy in this blue month of September

That song by George Michael always gives me chills.

I’d like to think I’ve had enough of crime as well. That song leaves me deeply touched and illuminates something inside.

(Update a couples days on: Frickin’ loved that song since wayyy back. The passion of his music — feel it. Wanted just to mention a portion that strikes a special chord all unto itself:

This time I think that my lover
Understands me (understands me)
If we have faith in each other
Then we can be…strong

I will be your father figure
Put your tiny hand in mine
I will be your preacher teacher
Anything you have in mind

I will be your father figure
I have had enough of crime
I will be the one who loves you
‘Til the end of time

If you are the desert, I’ll be the sea
If you ever hunger, hunger for me
Whatever you ask for, that’s what I’ll be

So when you remember the ones who have lied
Who said that they cared
But then laughed as you cried
Beautiful darling

Don’t think of me
Because all I ever wanted
It’s in your eyes
Baby

(Greet me with the eyes of a child)

(Yeah. I’m sappy like that.)

A song I regularly like to reflect with while out walking and driving:

That was John Lennon’s “Working Class Hero.”

A sad song that came back across my radar earlier today while out walking:

Haunting, gorgeous, and disturbing. Discovered this back in the ’90s on The Crow: City of Angels soundtrack. That was “Knock Me Out” by Grace Slick and Linda Perry.

Smile just before you cry

Don’t you go

I can take the fight

But don’t

Don’t you turn away

Such a painful tune to listen to.

So why not follow with another sad one I’ve loved for many years:

Songs can take on new significance in each phase in life we pass through.

Here’s one I haven’t heard in a long while:

That was Tricky and the Gravediggaz, also from The Crow: City of Angels soundtrack (1995). Getting nostalgic for that album now (never was much of a fan of the movies though). Been a long time since I listened to it and am going to have to search my CD case tomorrow to see if I still have my copy.

Reflecting further on that album tonight, here’s Korn’s “Sean Olson”:

Hmmm. I purchased that album when I was 14 or 15 and listened to it over and over. Can’t remember what that last song made me feel or think back then, but undoubtedly it left its mark along with all the rest. Pretty disturbing song now, re-listening to it for the first time in many years. Huh. It brings to mind a very different storyline and sexual imagery today than it could have back then. And I can see these lyrics being taken a number of ways, including literal sadistic perversion.

The joys of examining art, fucked up as much of it is.

Yet another song from that same album, this being Filter’s “Jurassitol”:

That’s just fine, just leave it like that

Bust your wallet while I break my back

Save your life with your life support

You know me I’ll pick up that

Hey old man, got something for you

Hey old man, got a real good tip

Something’s wrong and I guess you called it

Thanks a lot because now I own it

That song stays with me. Very interesting now looking up the lyrics, seeing as how my hearing (and comprehension) isn’t the greatest and that was back before the internet as we know it nowadays. Funny how much a difference a decade makes in today’s world — many kids today grew up with computers and this crazy internet. When I was a teenager, every time I hopped on a friend’s desktop (dial-up connected) and did a search, the results always seemed to lead to porn.  ha  So until the year 2000 when I purchased my own computer (at age 18 during my freshman year in college), all I understood of computers is that they have games on them (like Oregon Trail and some simplistic Star Wars-like one, controlled by keyboard arrow keys) and my stepdad worked on one, then they got fancy and became a gateway to tons of porn. That had been my experience anyway. Then e-commerce broke out shortly before I plugged my overpriced (financed) Dell into the dorm’s T1 connection, and I never looked back. Whole new online world unfolded from there on as everyone and their grandmas found their way online. Amazing to think I’m speaking of a mere 13 years ago.

Fast times we live in now. Very fast. Neck-breaking even. Can’t possibly keep up with all that’s happening around us, and never before have humans been bombarded with this frickin’ much information and stimulation. Truly mind-blowing when ya stop and consider where we as a species are standing right now. Brings to mind something I read:

“If we don’t change our direction we’re likely to end up where we’re headed.”  ~  Chinese Proverb

It looks to me our first destination will be hell, and if people manage to survive that and learn from it, perhaps someday the creation of something resembling heaven will become possible. But it depends on how heaven and hell may be defined — looks different to us all. What strikes me as hellish others are eager to defend and promote. *shrugs* Consider me obsolete then.

Leaving aside what religions have to say on the matter, heaven and hell are completely relative, and it appears what I imagine as a heaven on earth has already come and gone long, long before my lifetime (in select cultures during periods of whatever length). Heaven and hell are not permanent states or conditions in my view but rather fates determined by various factors, a major one of which is our own consciousness and our subsequent actions and behaviors.

A collective  can never be made moral. Individuals may strive and reckon with morality, and they indeed have influence on and each compose wider collectives, but the choices ultimately wind up residing within each individual. Yet we are impacted by others and by the environment(s) we grow up within. So which comes first, the person changing in the face of a culture and a society working against such changes (thereby confronting the risk of ostracism and persecution, or even prosecution in some cases)? Or the society and culture changing so as to exert a healthier influence on the members therein, in hopes of giving rise to higher quality individuals with a greater respect for virtue? It’s a paradox since both sides depend on one another. No person is an island within a society, just as any society is determined by the people within it. And around and around it goes.

If the society turns toxic, the people wind up damaged. Damaged people have a harder time first finding a better path and then maintaining their devotion to it, most especially if external forces are working against such endeavors (for example, titillating advertising intended to appeal to base desires or facing disapproval from peers when one winds up seeming like a stone drag for not going along with what they consider a “normal” program). And if the people can’t break away in the face of all the pressures and propaganda to look for themselves and then act in accordance with what they come to see, then societal “progress” will continue unhindered in its current trajectory. As society rolls on in this way, people are losing power, having forfeited control over the reins, so it’s any wonder what effective action someday may be possible, particularly with the advent of technologies capable of monitoring more and more of our communications in order to sniff out rebellions before they have a chance to significantly take effect.

People know what they’re up against, hence why so many choose to remain quiet and avoid being branded a rabble-rouser. People’d rather keep their friends and their jobs and not be thought of as kooky. Conformity is reinforced on three levels: through memes and propaganda promoted in the media and popular culture (as well as biases passed along as if facts within the educational system), through interpersonal influences and pressures, and within each individual based on what all we’ve internalized.

I’m not sure how we can get outside of this circular conundrum at this stage in the game other than by looking into our own selves, that being where the seed must be planted and nurtured into sprouting.

Says someone playing the part of a lazy devil at this juncture. Returning to the tunes…

A song I’ve loved for about a decade:

That was Angelo Badalamenti and Jimmy Scott performing the song “Sycamore Trees” for the Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me soundtrack.

Another dark, solemn melody, but what drama! Such a beautifully evocative song. The lyrics are kept simple enough that the sounds can sweep you along, letting it flow in and out and take on different meanings at different times. But always it is somber and heavy. Nevermind the movie (much as I do love the art that it is and own a copy — wasn’t as much a fan of the tv series); it’s an amazing song that shines on its own. What an incredible voice.

Here’s a song I’ve listened to often since age 13:

Positively love it. That was “Carly’s Song” by Enigma from the movie Sliver’s soundtrack, a film I watched quite a few times that year (1994-1995). Sharon Stone at her foxiest, IMO. Basically served as porn in my budding adolescence. What a sexy bathtub masturbation scene! But the idea of technology capable of spying on people within a building, including within their own units without their knowledge — that notion has permanently etched the film into my imagination and psyche.

Another song included on the Sliver soundtrack, Heaven 17’s “Penthouse and Pavement”:

That was a 1981 performance.

Here comes the daylight, here comes my job
Uptown in the penthouse or downtown with the mob
Here comes the night time, here comes my role
Goodbye to the pavement, hello to my soul

Now here comes my job
Credit, bleeding with the mob
Dreams become ideals
No one knows the way I feel
Love to love
Daytime, right time
All my life, yeah
All my life, yeah
All my life, yeah

As you face the wall
Gotta make it this time or never at all
Before your chance has gone
Captain this lead role and you’ll be the one
Shine and shine
This time, my time
Make me free at last
Make me free at last
Make me free at last

Now taking the time to read the lyrics and watching them perform on stage (love their chemistry), I appreciate that song all the more.

That’s enough for one night.

A dialogue between Professor Corey Anton and Stefan Molyneux from 2011

A dialogue between Professor Corey Anton and Stefan Molyneux from back in 2011:

Watched it once a while back, but tonight watching it again, paying closer attention now that I’m more familiar with Stefan’s positions after having watched several of his videos over the last many months.

Pausing at 16:34, yes, Prof. Anton was getting at there what I’m wondering about too. “Why do people become so slavish to institutions?” A top-down approach will never prove sufficient, not unless the plan is to someday turn us into droids, maybe require us all to be on prescribed drugs or find ways to genetically alter future generations (good luck with such a scheme and all that can and will go wrong with it). If we’re to exist as free individual agents with autonomy and power to live productive, meaningful lives, then it really does boil down to each of us individually, because an authority can not live our lives for us, and why would we want it to? Authorities and economies cannot provide all moral guidance, and again, why would we even want them to?

Yes of course each individual is molded by the culture(s) they are raised in and who they’re raised by and all the institutions and other external factors that shape reality as we experience it. And that’s where we run into the problem of the paradox: people are not strictly individuals nor strictly members of a collective. We are both, inescapably. It cannot be helped.

The libertarian argument has been augmented to suit modern economics and all talk of rugged individualists successfully striving for the top is a rarity-turned-myth promoted by this new narrative. It’s a fantasy that will remain very far from reality for most. This idea of pulling oneself up by the bootstraps is overplayed but useful in shifting all responsibility onto individuals, furthering this trendy belief that all the power lies within our own selves and there’s no one to blame but oneself. It’s an oversimplification, to say the least.

Stefan does not argue along that line and clearly does acknowledge educational and social influences, but he steps in another hole that plenty of “anarcho-capitalist” atheists step in, which is placing so much emphasis on the ‘science’ end of things without paying much attention to the history of how humans have behaved socially. We are not merely bags of bones, flesh and DNA — we are hugely defined by our relationships with one another, but we also have these inner lives and drives created through who we are (as is always evolving, but beginning with our core personality traits) meeting with our environment and all entities and people in it, both directly and indirectly. In short, we’re complex creatures with complex needs and a complex history. For some to assume that human nature can be rather easily molded to fit the latest ideology is a scary proposition, and I don’t see how this might be grandly accomplished except through some method of compulsion. This logic is premised on the notion that humans are significantly malleable while maintaining sane states of mind. I do not agree with that assumption. Look around and ponder it.

What Stefan is proposing is a theory that we have no way of knowing if it’ll prove successful, and the odds look to be against it on several levels, particularly when it comes to thinking people only behave violently because we are taught by authority figures to do so. That’s simply not true, and in the absence of any form of government providing some level of protection and redress for aggrieved persons, it’s going to be a painful lesson to contend with. Think corporations are going to come to our rescue? Would we even want that?

But what I think Professor Anton is getting at is us striving against some of our base-level motivations and drives and transcending them so as to become the moral beings we wish to be is the only way one truly becomes moral, because morality isn’t a top-down affair, at least not beyond superficial appearances. As much as culture and environment influences each individual, it ultimately winds up coming down to each individual’s striving.

Stefan differs from this in that he seems to believe a societal overhaul along with the creation of a new culture (somehow — that part’s never clearly explained, leaving us to wonder how the chicken will manage to come before the egg?) will impel people to do what is in the best interest of this new setup. His reasoning for this seems to be that it would be the rational thing for people to support — but how often are people all that rational is what I want to know? We have an entire history of acting irrationally on plenty of levels. In fact, it can be said that humans have never acted all that rational. But now, apparently, we’re ready to become rational. Why? Because we’re capable of reasoning and therefore should be able to assess what’s within our collective long-term best interest. This notion is predicated on the idea that we humans just keep evolving to become better and better, or at least we possess the potential to be so. And to an extent I agree — the potential does exist, potentially. Stefan’s argument seems to be hinged on this, plus the idea that people will opt for a 100% non-violent society. But on that latter point I couldn’t disagree more.

One reason being that if all others choose non-violence as their response, it leaves those with the willingness to act aggressively or violently with an advantage. They will do what the rest refuse to do — they will go on the physical offense. And believe you me, that will occur. It will always occur. We can adopt defensive strategies for dealing with it, but a non-violent strategy will render folks sitting ducks. And that’s fine if one wishes to abide by a pacifist code of ethics — go for it, but don’t expect everybody to go for it.

And I’m not sure we’d want a completely non-violent society anyway. We’re aggressive beings at times, and it’s so far proven the only effective way of handling certain disputes and violations. Stefan’s concept of non-violence extends so far as to include all coercion and force. Can there be a way to hold a person against their will without the use of force? Because they will resist with force. We’re active, physical creatures — this must be accepted. It is who and what we are at the core, and I can’t think of any way to transcend this if we are to continue to care about protecting ourselves and others (which we very much do care about).

In another video by Stefan he talks about all money being basically on debit cards where a bank or whoever, in response to a violation, has the ability to simply cut off one’s access. Now, I have trouble seeing this as much better than the use of force. We’re talking about a State-less society here so I’m unsure who decides and enforces the laws in this sort of setup (well, obviously it’s major corporations and banks, as he eludes to), but whoever or whatever does wields an awful lot of power, more than any entity really does today. Because there he’s envisioning all money going digital and all purchases requiring some sort of card or chip, all of this taking place within a corporate wonderland. Those with the power to control access to money control everything. They control all of society and nothing really stops them from coercing us, especially not if we’re all set on remaining non-violent.

Ya’ll tell me, how does the logic go here? How might people maintain power to keep mammoth corporations in check in the absence of any form of government? Some major corporations today are already proving more powerful than nation-states, and we’re seeing what they’re driven to do.

I must agree with Prof. Anton that it seems that logic is predicated on some sort of Social Darwinist theory, which is potentially dangerous. This is where all talk of evolution winds up troubling me a bit, because the reality is, counter to what some folks like to believe, that how we best adapt to a given environment doesn’t always turn out to be in humanity’s long-term survival interests. We’re not just ascending ever higher and higher, even though it appears right now our technology indeed is.

To be returned to at a later date…

Shifts Happen

A recording from June 2013 that explains a bit more on my current outlook:

Personal disclaimer and ramble for September 2013

No group of people is above being singled out and discussed. We all generalize as needed to point to cultural or social phenomena we’re trying to make sense of and call attention to. But, at the end of the day, these are only generalizations. Take them with a grain of salt, especially coming from me, because my mind has and does change over time in light of new information and experiences. It’s called personal growth and life exploration and it’s good for us.

I could gripe about the working class and poorer folks too, and likely I will at some point. Can’t do all my griping in one day, so give me time.

Gonna say some things that sound pretty ignorant, especially in my videos, video-making being a whole new concept for me and not one I’m catching on to quickly. Think: monkey with a handycam, editing during free evenings while drinking.  drinker  There’s no point in holding high expectations here. ha  There comes a time to take your time, does there not?

But I like writing on here, and hopefully my elaborations help clarify some of my points not discussed in detail in my videos (otherwise they’d be hours long).

People along with all of our social sphere remains fascinatingly complex and interesting to me. Anytime we attempt to discuss one issue from one particular vantage point, it can’t help but be a freeze-frame of just that one type of perspective. But it’s never the whole picture. This is my qualm with statistics as well and how they’re formulated, interpreted, and then misinterpreted by people attempting to bolster their arguments and promote their own perspectives and agendas. No issue is limited to only one or two ‘sides’ worthy of consideration.

We can skate eerily close to talk of relativism here, because yes, everything is indeed relative. Including our own perspectives in how they can shift from year to year, month to month, and day to day depending on what’s impacting us at any given point in time. Makes it tough for me to toe one line when my disgruntlement shifts its focus by the hour. heh

Some of us apparently were born and bred to be bitchers. The world takes all kinds.

I’m not sold on many claims being “cold, hard facts,” preferring to keep more of an open mind. If my brain falls out, so be it.

No group or position or stated ideal deserves to be placed on a pedestal and claimed above critique and scrutiny. That’s religious mumbo-jumbo and little more. Even the most sacred calls for our inquiry and inspection, and why would it not? All of nature is here for us to experience and explore, including ourselves and one another and all ideas brought to the table. One thing we should know by now is any group of people elevated above being scrutinized, inspected, and critiqued will wind up abusing their power in such a position of privilege. In short, we all deserve reality checks from time to time. Me too.

We live in crazy, weird times, and we have this amazing technology at our fingertips, whether we’re any good with it or not. The possibilities are endless on what can be communicated to one another now that so many of us are connected through the internet, and who knows where it all might lead? I assume it’s a matter of time before the internet shrinks in scope thanks to Google buying up all the popular hangout sites, and likely it’s already the case that anything we say and do on here might wind up being wielded against us eventually in the public court of opinion, but screw it. What are we so afraid of? Looking stupid? Saying something we might regret later? Calling potentially negative attention to ourselves? Appearing nuts? Well, so far as I can tell we are all nuts. Some nuts just subscribe to similar beliefs and hence don’t appear as nuts to one another thanks to confirmation bias. But we’re still all nuts.

Oh, and I suppose I’ll add here my belief that all persons are capable of spells of going “psycho.” That’s not a put-down, just an observation from knowing myself and others. Guess it’s not such a big deal so long as it doesn’t get taken to too crazy of extremes to where we’re doing major unnecessary damage. Just part of living. Though ramped up societal pressures and endless bullshit certainly isn’t helping any. Humans get stressed and act it out in various ways. No getting around that, especially not in crazy-making times. But we can try to make sense of it the best we can and think on what might help alleviate the mounting pressure that’s driving people toward anxiousness, depression, and resentment. Would be nice to see more thinking outside of the box here.

But people like to poke one another with sticks and escalate shit. Seems to be a popular form of entertainment. And perhaps we really are descending into an idiocracy, willfully, thanks to so much pandering to the lowest common denominator and technologies that let us be lazy. Perhaps we’re coming to the end of our evolutionary cycle in terms of long-term progress and healthy survival, likely as a result of contaminating our environments and consequently the gene pool. And maybe we, as a species, are already past the point of no return. It’s possible. And maybe it’s not necessarily such a bad thing either, just the way life can go. Life’s irony. Who knows? I surely won’t claim to, but it’s all interesting stuff to ponder. Nothing is off-limits for pondering.

FeministFrequency Series (plus rambly thoughts on nature vs. nurture)

I’ve been watching Tooltime9901’s video series discussing Anita of Feminist Frequency and her critiques of gaming and pop culture. The first 10 videos in the series are in the following playlist:

And additional videos have since been uploaded:

Ah. The old nature vs. nurture debate. The way I see it is nurture plays a tremendous role, but that stage is set on top of base-level biological drives. When people say “gender is a social construct,” that’s largely true in terms of how the mainstream pushes the idea of gender. But how genders actually shake out in reality oftentimes clashes with the prevailing social norms.  Socialization teaches us what to suppress and what to act upon in order to fit in well enough to function alongside others in a given society, and this of course varies across cultures and sub-cultures. There is no one “true” norm aside from variety, yet our culture is one that celebrates binaries and promotes false dichotomies. One must be either A or B, because C, D, E, P, Q, Y and X aren’t recognized as fully valid. Anything outside of A and B is viewed as a deviation from this supposed norm, and that tends to skew and bias conversations on this matter.

What I just stated appears more in line with what the field of sociology puts forward, though obviously as a social science there tends to be a greater emphasis placed on examining behaviors and in-group vs. out-group dynamics (competition) rather than exploring the biological origins of intrinsic desires. And this stems from specialization and divisions between disciplines that really ought to be freed up to flow together when impressing on students’ minds. But that’s just not how schools operate these days, much to my chagrin.

Both aspects (nature and nurture) matter so much that neither deserve to be trivialized, though it’s still probably not accurate to claim nurture and nature contribute equally to how we turn out. We experience them in tandem, so there’s no clear way to separate the two sets of influences, not usually. Socialization shapes how everything is framed for us, the society having already been in full-swing before we arrived on the scene. Conformity pressures, fear of ostracism, and being schooled by a long line of others instructed to accept similar narratives has led us to follow examples set by others. Furthermore, we do still live with relics from bygone eras that no longer fit with where societies are headed today, resulting in a lot of confusion and guilt and struggles with repression and expression.

But it doesn’t make sense to assume that a blank slate or neutral playing field can be created in the nurture department so that our “true natures” can develop unencumbered, this being one ideal I’ve heard professed by people who apparently think nature can exist in a vacuum. When it comes down to it, nurture is a product of nature — it’s how we’ve evolved as social beings. It’s an inescapable conundrum; the two sets of influences are inextricably united at the hip. Our nature is to nurture and to be nurtured, to teach and to be taught, to lead and to follow. It cannot be stressed enough that we belong to a creative social species.

This gets me to thinking about the two common, albeit very different, definitions of civilization, one pertaining to the formation of chiefdoms and then nation-states and now globalization and the rise of technologies and complex hierarchical organizations, the other being about civilized behavior taught to people in an effort to create and maintain a relatively harmonious and functional society. The latter often tends to be accompanied with utopian underpinnings where it’s believed that we can be altered and trained to become sufficiently docile and law-abiding creatures, and in this dream lies the problem. It’s fast-becoming a social engineering fantasy that ignores our innate, biologically-rooted drives or it aims to somehow eradicate or override them, and this strikes me as very dangerous and unnecessary. (In my mind, this ties in with the field of “mental health” and its goal to label behaviors as “disorders” and then attempt to “treat” them, but according to what normative standard are people being compared?)

When we step too far toward accepting nurture as paramount, we run the risk of fooling ourselves into believing we can play God on such an essential level that undoubtedly will prove psychologically destructive for many if not most subjected to such concocted schemes. Likewise, when people stray too far toward embracing  the role of nature at the near exclusion of nurture-related concerns, we see the rise of dogmatic biologically-deterministic narratives. Both extremes obscure the truth that there is a fusion interwoven all throughout who we are, beginning as soon as an infant begins observing and interacting with his or her environment.

Most of what we see around us is a social/cultural construct, from the concrete jungles we live and drive within, the schools and churches we may attend, family arrangements (e.g, nuclear and blended), employment options and economic conditions (and all money), and material goods and all else created or conjured up by human beings. We live within a matrix of human design. However, all of that exists within the larger matrix of the natural world that originally spawned us and that sets the ultimate parameters on what is possible. Sure, humans aim to push the boundaries and see what can be manipulated, but because we might try drugging ourselves and one another into oblivion to promote peace and non-aggressiveness, for example, doesn’t mean such a strategy won’t prove detrimental to our underlying natures and thence result in consequences that may prove pandemically fatal. (Such a scheme certainly goes against our psychological constitutions as animals and as people. If life feels rather meaningless for many people now, just wait until we become automatons.)

We humans possess great egos yet tend to lack much foresight and patience, making it all the more likely that we would confidently rush into implementing social schemes, thinking we have enough information and evidence to run with, only to learn (as isn’t uncommon) that there was much we did not know about what we were toying with. (As we’re actively in the process of learning already.)

On the flipside, by trivializing the role of socialization and focusing nearly all attention on biological drives, we run the risk of promoting base-level behaviors that civilizing influences have worked to allow people to transcend. Do we want to live as if so primitive that we become preoccupied solely with procreation and basic bodily need satiation? We are animals, but we’re also more than that. We possess amazing minds that have evolved to do a great deal more than strive to prove we are the fittest mating material. In a sense, falling back on dogmatic biological determinism theories serves as a form of escapism, allowing people to convince themselves that base desires and needs are all that ultimately matter and are what we’re most driven toward and thereby should be promptly catered to. Does this not translate into a hyper-focus on sex? Meaning on the act itself with as many partners as possible, rather than on forming lasting bonds and behaving pro-socially within a community network. And wouldn’t such a scheme, if followed through en masse, deliver a death blow to family and community traditions and produce a sense of even greater alienation among individuals? (Does that sound closer to heaven or hell to you?)

So-called social darwinism disappointingly has come to provide an excuse for common laypeople who are not very deeply acquainted with this and related subject matter to view everything in terms of competition and to feel justified and “perfectly rational” in behaving selfishly, going as far as pursuing anti-social agendas. Pick-up artists (PUAs) spring to mind. This view of life strikes me as encouraging psychopathic/sociopathic orientations (because that’s who will thrive is this sort of setup). And at bottom it doesn’t really make biological sense either considering most who are wishing to engage in sex with many partners aren’t doing so with reproduction as the goal, not at a time when the Law dictates that children deserve to be financially supported by parents, making it no longer sensible to want to spread one’s genes far and wide. (And perhaps this is one reason why some MRAs argue for the legal right to opt out of supporting unwanted young produced in “hook-up” situations?)

All I know is that it’s a big, complex ordeal and it does no good to try to jump on one side or the other, as if the imagined divide between these sets of influences is anything more than an illusory perception. If we want to be abstruse about it, the belief that nature and nurture can be meaningfully teased apart from one another is a social construct in itself.

None of my rambling here tonight is directed at the maker of the video series above. Just once again pondering into the wee hours of the night.

“…standing on the edge of the road, thumb in the air…” (on patriotism)

The song “Ride On” by AC/DC is still running through my mind. Such a sad tune. But a real one. Raw, real music. Unlike so much of the mindless bubblegum crap the music industry likes to spit out.

Music is art, and art is one depiction of life, framed, captured, isolated and beckoning for our inspection. Art isn’t appreciated merely with the mind — it goes deep to the heart and soul. All talk of logic and rationality and reasonableness becomes laughable, nonsensical, in the glorious realm of art.

Guess that’s why music matters so damn much to me.

Some of ya’ll want to talk politics and chatter about the latest news story and juicy gossip before moving on to the next and the next and the next. Some of you want to jump behind movements and parties and labels and fight one another on those ideological grounds. Well, have at it. Holds little to no appeal for me. I’m being drawn back to basics, back to my own core and to my own problems and questions. Politics can’t help me there.

I got to thinking earlier while driving that I wouldn’t consider myself a “patriot.” Watched a video on YT recently where a gal was coming out against war and in the end referred to herself as a “patriot,” and I couldn’t help but smirk a little. Maybe for a few years back in the day I wanted to look at my own objective as that, to be “truly patriotic” by resisting political chicanery and wars killing innocent people on all sides, arguing that this country needs to be turned in a different direction. The notion of patriotism had obviously been co-opted by charlatans and their blinded followers, and some of us wanted to strip it down and drag it back to where it rightfully belonged: in defending the U.S. Constitution.

Part of me still wants to believe that. I’m still anti-war and sick nearly to death of so much political and societal bullshit, and yes, we’re definitely headed toward a strange and uncool future in the U.S.  Probably unavoidable at this point. But the word “patriotism” means almost nothing to me anymore other than being a relic from an era in history, defending a great idea of setting up a representative constitutional republic based on the principle that a government that governs least governs best, structured with checks and balances built in. It was a phenomenally radical idea for its time, unprecedented, and people have fallen in love with the notion ever since.

Too bad people were not so motivated to maintain it. By the time I rolled onto the scene in the early 1980s, this country had already turned into something much more sinister. The government’s now bloated with power and money and cock-sucking leaches pulling huge pensions for the rest of their lives for simply having “represented” the people for a spell. Back in the 1700s there was no way for those folks to have imagined what a game-changer the corporation would prove to be, but they warned us to be vigilant.

It was a great idea, though it was constructed in an era where only landowners had a right to vote, leaving out the working majority and what may have been in their best interests. But once voting rights were extended out, society then ran up against the problem of most folks being ignorant and too easily misled. This problem has only worsened as society and our government have grown in size and complexity and technologies have advanced at break-neck speed. We don’t know what the hell is going on, not all the way around. There’s no way to know. It’s too big, too much to take in, and now there are too many secrets and lies and cover-ups and sleights of hand. We live in Bullshitville today. This is no longer America, not according to the dreams held in the imaginations of citizens of bygone times.

This is not America. But it does claim to be “too big to fail,” so most people will defend its upkeep tooth and nail, even while this society makes slaves of us all. Economic slaves — tied into earning a paycheck because everything requires money. Money comes from the banks, ultimately controlled by an “independent” Central Bank that maneuvered so as to be able to play puppet master to our government. Here’s how the Federal Reserve describes itself:

Who owns the Federal Reserve?

 The Federal Reserve System fulfills its public mission as an independent entity within government. It is not “owned” by anyone and is not a private, profit-making institution.

 As the nation’s central bank, the Federal Reserve derives its authority from the Congress of the United States. It is considered an independent central bank because its monetary policy decisions do not have to be approved by the President or anyone else in the executive or legislative branches of government, it does not receive funding appropriated by the Congress, and the terms of the members of the Board of Governors span multiple presidential and congressional terms.

 However, the Federal Reserve is subject to oversight by the Congress, which often reviews the Federal Reserve’s activities and can alter its responsibilities by statute. Therefore, the Federal Reserve can be more accurately described as “independent within the government” rather than “independent of government.”

 The 12 regional Federal Reserve Banks, which were established by the Congress as the operating arms of the nation’s central banking system, are organized similarly to private corporations–possibly leading to some confusion about “ownership.” For example, the Reserve Banks issue shares of stock to member banks. However, owning Reserve Bank stock is quite different from owning stock in a private company. The Reserve Banks are not operated for profit, and ownership of a certain amount of stock is, by law, a condition of membership in the System. The stock may not be sold, traded, or pledged as security for a loan; dividends are, by law, 6 percent per year.

[bold emphasis mine]

There’s part of our problem right there. People following Ron Paul like to come out as “real patriots” wanting to see the Fed abolished. And I’m not against such a plan, assuming replacement ideas surface. But it appears to be a pipe dream these days. Most folks would defend the Fed with everything they’ve got, because we are all so dependent on this system, and some see themselves as doing well enough under it. Start fucking with people’s means of caring for themselves and their kids and they’ll come out with pitchforks at the ready.

See, everything winds up coming back to fighting other people, because we are all the perpetuators of the current system. Most folks can’t imagine it any other way and will scoff at any new ideas. While this system has been all about rapid change since its earliest beginnings, it provides a train for people to ride along on which we’ve grown accustomed to. Scary as this ride might be, people are leery of jumping off and seeing what else may come.

So what does it mean to be a “patriot” in this context? To belong to a minority that helps light brushfires in the minds of others? Lots of ways of going about that, not all of which are positively focused. What I mean by that is there’s another class of people who go their own way whom we commonly refer to as criminals. We tend to negatively associate the term, but when you stop and think about it all it’s really stating is the individual is a law-breaker. And the truth is that as we stand today, some laws deserve to be broken. Probably a great many. If there isn’t a principled reason of greater consequence behind the law, then of what relevance is it? That’s a question I always ask when examining any ‘lawful’ expectation placed on me.

I doubt most folks will have any clue what I’m talking about here, so let me try to break it down a bit. Some of us out here don’t swear allegiance to any particular nation or state or to whatever rulebook it’s decided citizens should play by. Some draw their inspiration instead from moral laws that they recognize as superseding any and all statist bullshit signed into law by stuffed business suits.

Part of what keeps me sane is knowing that the genie is already out of the bottle, technology is in the hands of average people, and we do have the power to circumvent legal channels in many cases. To me, this is an important aspect to freedom, because if we don’t maintain the right and the ability to do with our own bodies and minds as we see fit, we’re not free. Some might take this as a reference to drugs, but I’m referencing everything. Just finding ways to reduce the amount of taxes you pay in is a worthwhile act of rebellion in a time when the government’s aim is to redistribute wealth unfairly, usually taking from us and giving it over to war contractors or to bailout mismanaged industries also deemed “too big to fail.” Insurance companies are next under this so-called Obamacare.

Circumventing to the point of criminality in my mind isn’t necessarily a real crime. Oh, the State will claim it is and will try to lock us up on account of it. But we’re faced with a choice: we can either continue selling our souls for the illusion of comfort and security, or we can start taking risks and living according to what our minds and bodies are aching for us to do. Bending over and taking it isn’t what my body or mind want out of this life.

So I recommend we get creative. Call it whatever you will.

I personally have my own course of action and do what it is I feel is within my power and is correct for me. Others may have different ideas, that’s fine. But what I’m advocating for here isn’t a sense of lawlessness exactly, but rather a meditation of sorts on what is of real value to us, separating it off from the sea of bullshit we’re currently swimming in, and then taking individual action to uphold what we consider sacred. Because politics and laws can’t deliver this to us — it’s always been up to us to decide this for ourselves and then determine a course of action in sync with what it is we think matters most.

Granted, most folks think the current status quo is the best game in town, so they will act accordingly, and I cannot stop them. Can’t even barely reason with them. Hence why I’m better off figuring out ways to opt out in my own sphere, because those commie fascists have numbers on their side and are intent on steering this ship right into that iceberg. I’m on the ship, and I don’t like this one bit. But I only have my own life to live. It’s the only one I have much control over. And I damn sure don’t have to go along cheerfully or silently with this destructive American project.

More thoughts on peace inside each individual

Listening to music and my mind wandered back to this topic. Something else deserves to be mentioned.

The song playing at the moment:

Have loved that song for so many years. It hits somewhere in my core. Been a while since I last heard it.

“Gonna change my evil ways, one of these days…one of these days…”

That’s the gameplan. Been making progress. Still got a ways to go in key areas, I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’m kinda fucked up. Hence why I’m offering advice and ideas to others.  lol

God, I love that song. Fuckin’ A. The thing is these days I’ve settled down and can’t just pick up and move like I used to. Not able to travel hardly at all the least 5 years either. Kinda feels claustrophobic sometimes. Like there’s no way to escape. No more riding on. One or two trips a year these days. Busy. Working. No sick days off. And that’s fine. It’s the life I chose. But I can’t run anymore. I’m trapped, stuck dealing with the people I’m burning bridges with. That changes shit. Led to a good bit more isolation, self-inflicted by-and-large, because dramatic bullshit kept (keeps) happening too often out in public. I apparently don’t play terribly well with most others anymore.

And this relates to the topic of peace on the individual level. What does that mean and what does it require of us? How do I change my evil ways, but also maintain my own authenticity? Perfection means little to me in this context; it has nothing to do with what I’m aiming at here. What does it mean to improve oneself in this day and age? To do what more people pat you on the back for? Not necessarily. Probably not even usually, not IMO. Nearly everybody’s as lost as the next person.

This is a highly subjective inquiry. How should I live my life? What is this life asking of me, what do I have to give, and what can I improve upon? Who am I trying to be? Who am I now? Where might I go from here? Where am I headed now?

It appears evident that peace must begin in oneself. How can it be any other way? We’re the source from which actions and behaviors flow. We are the actors and the deciders. We are the lovers and the fighters. It is us. It is me, one part of a wider collective, one member of a civilizing species, one grain of sand, one soul among many.

But how does one make peace with what the U.S. is swiftly becoming? How do we make peace with wars fought in our names, with our tax dollars, when we are left feeling nearly powerless to stop it? How do we make peace with eating crap and watching crap and admiring crap and masturbating to crap? How does a measure of inner peace come about?

I won’t pretend to know. No, that one’s eluded me thus far. But I know the process must begin in myself. I am the only person I have any real control over, I know me better than anyone else ever will, and I depend on me to get by in this world. I am my own keeper. Who else can truly claim to be? Who else knows what you do in every waking moment? I am my own police. This is called self-government, and we don’t speak much about it in this country beyond basic hygiene and school or work performance, hence why the younger generations are so stupid about it (myself included). We are living out of balance, going with the flow of others in our same predicament.

How can we have world peas without individual peas? lol  Sorry, I read that somewhere.

But that’s the dilemma. And everything mentioned in my post right before this one factors in on top and further complicates the matter. It comes down to the question of what does a moral life look like? Can we sustain major nation-states and metropolises while maintaining our sanity? Because it’s changing us. It’s turning us colder, more fanatical, more depressed and anxious. Just look at the amount of intoxicants we’re using. It’s a form of escapism. Guilty as charged. Look at people exercising themselves nearly to death. Look at people working their lives away, seeing making money as the only real goal worth pursuing. Notice how disconnected we feel, from one another, from our own genuine ambitions and desires, from a reality that makes sense.

Can you envision 10 years down the road, because I can’t. Life is changing so rapidly. It’s difficult to know what to expect or how best to prepare.

All of this creates discord that appears inconducive to fostering peace within our hearts and minds. How do we get around this?

Well, I’ve been thinking and believe that even seemingly small acts have their place and can prove incredibly important in the long run. Some of us might be bigger jobs than others and therefore require more work to keep relatively steady. Some are simple and easily cheered and contented, but we didn’t all come from the same mold. And that’s okay. Such is life. There’s really no “normal” to speak of here. But I think regaining what reins we’re able on our own lives and our own selves is paramount. That doesn’t mean trying to strictly control oneself or one’s environment, but rather working toward the sort of things that give us real pleasure in the end and that we can be genuinely proud of ourselves for. Until our individual confidences are built up, where can we begin? How much can bloom from us if we feel sick and weak in the spirit, body and mind? And what does it take to replenish oneself?

I don’t rightly know, though I continue to seek out possibilities and ideas.

The beer has called an end to this posting.

On the topic of peace

But what do we mean by peace? This is something I’ve given a lot of thought to, especially during the time I spent volunteering within my local “peace community” (i.e., non-violent social justice activist organizations). And I gotta say, my thinking on the subject has taken new shape over time.

“Peace” has become a shallow buzzword. People on youtube like to sign off with the word, even after spouting off hard-core against another group of people. It’s an overused word, like “love,” covering such a broad spectrum that it’s become incredibly hazy to the point of being trivialized. What do we mean by “peace”? What might it look like? In detail. People like to start rattling off what Lennon said in the clip above, saying it’s about peace in the home and peace in the schools and peace on the planet. But what the hell does that even mean? What would get us there? And what would it take to keep us in that frame of coexistence if ever humans did ‘evolve’ to that point?

I’ve been forming some ideas.

Ask yourself: which individuals tend to be most peaceful? Those with shit to tend to, in other words people with jobs and/or responsibilities and/or creative endeavors that absorb a good deal of their time and energy. Now let’s pause there. I’m not a fan of nor advocating for busybodyness — there are productive and nonproductive uses of our time and ways of earning income (that being a discussion all unto itself). But ever heard the saying that “idle hands are the devil’s tools”? Yup. We get bored, go looking for entertainment and wind up getting into mischief. We know this. And I happen to think unsatisfying work provides an added incentive to seek out new stimulation.

What I love about the concept of gardening/small-scale farming is that it calls for our physical labor, at least in a conceivably sustainable setup where many more people contribute to food production and Big Ag’s oligopolies are broken up into more manageable and fairly competitive pieces (keeping in mind monopolies and oligopolies are anti-trust violations and anti-capitalist in terms of disrupting the free market by making conditions hostile to small businesses). While technologies surely can aid us in ways our foreparents could only dream about, I do believe the exertion of our own physical labor is good for us. If it weren’t we wouldn’t have so many people buying gym memberships and workout videos. Physical exertion is good for our physical and psychological well-being, yet it’s become for many estranged from the activities required for earning a living.

When you honestly consider this it almost seems like by splitting the two apart, we created new problems: the centralization of food production scheme (i.e. Big Ag) that allows most Americans to not participate in any way directly with their food’s creation; as technology advances and populations increase due to a stable and relatively cheap food supply, many of the jobs made available involve office or service work that are widely considered soul-draining, boringly repetitive, and wouldn’t be undertaken if not for need of a paycheck; there’s now a need to find time to exercise outside of working hours, and a collective lack of motivation to run on a treadmill has led to an obesity epidemic. We are now consumers, and many consume more than we expend in terms of our individual energy. This appears to me like life out of balance, and what’s worse, I can’t see any real benefit to sticking with the current status quo.

Modern agriculture is heavily dependent on fossil fuels from start to finish in the process, and its distribution network has trucks and ships and planes headed in all directions around the clock and around the globe. (That show about ice road trucking up in Alaska springs to mind.) We’ve grown utterly dependent on this system, and heaven forbid it ever shut down.

We could go on to think about the risks associated with the heavy use of pesticides and fertilizers (including the possible link to bee populations dying off, which crops absolutely require), the shitty conditions for animals inside factory farms (and what it does to us to knowingly dine on disrespected beasts — spoken as one diehard meat-eater), GMOs and high-fructose corn syrup in damn near everything, the bullshit business practices and marketing schemes that most Americans have no way of escaping, etc. But this appears sufficient to prompt others to consider the value of one’s labor and how perhaps we might have had our fingers on a good thing before we allowed it to get jacked up to the extent it is today. Or perhaps that was a necessary phase in human history because of the innovations it has brought, though, too, there’s the infrastructure it’s spawned, and that is ultimately what holds us back from turning any other way. We’re bound by laws and property taxes and the need to earn money in order to survive in this modern world. Near-subsistence living, in this setting, doesn’t look practical.

We’re in a conundrum here. No question. Perhaps we can focus now on utilizing what we’re able, like purchasing produce from community-sponsored farming networks. But it’s tough to circumvent the Big Boys these days. Damn near impossible.

So going back to this idea of peace, it seems like the most productive and meaningful trek toward that goal requires a diffusion of power. Because part of the problem today is people feeling and largely actually being disempowered. I’m not a fan of that word either thanks to its over-usage, but the concept remains relevant at the core. How much power do any of us really possess anymore? The power to choose between brands and service providers? How many choices truly exists in a sea of illusive conglomerates?

What do average, ordinary people want out of life? Many will say work that feels meaningful, love and support from family members and friends, good food, good beer and wine, good sex, a sense of belonging somewhere and an ability to contribute something to society of value — a relatively simply life, in all, albeit one rich thanks to social ties and labor that serves a worthwhile purpose. Rearing young up well and producing the sustenance needed to continue living both fit the bill, as do plenty of other tasks and jobs needing to be fulfilled to serve the needs of people.

But that’s far from what we have. So far that it seems like a pipe dream, nonsensical utopianism. And perhaps that’s correct — maybe it’s not going to happen. But that’s one place where we may have power, and if we were able to exercise it we could, through boycotting efforts made possible by providing more for ourselves, possibly dismantle the mammoths calling the shots currently. We buy what they sell because it’s quite nearly the only options on the shelves. And this extends far beyond agriculture. Whatever happened to human handicrafts in America? Now everything we purchase is shipped from China.

We are not free and never will be free because we have lost touch of how to care for ourselves. Unless we recover this ability, we will have little say over the course of modernity unfolding. We will be led so long as we remain unable to lead ourselves, and if we can’t even provide for our most basic needs, will we not always wind up as slaves to something or somebody else? What ground do we have to stand on otherwise? As it is now, most of us are being swept along on a moving train, watching life whirl by while feeling powerless to stop and settle down into a less chaotic existence.

This is not all people of today’s fault, but it is our problem. I personally do not own a yard or property, so this all can’t help but be offered up as mere food for thought.

So around and around we go. Without power within our own hands and labor that feels meaningful that also provides something of actual value, we will remain agitated. In a world ablaze with warfare and divided by deep economic disparities, and in societies where we feel trapped by laws we’ve never even heard of and conditions we never willingly signed up for, we will remain anxious. A situation like this leads people to start chomping at the bit in hopes of finding political resolution to what ails them. Therein enters mass movements that attract disgruntled souls wishing for change that they know not how to help bring about. And from there we see clashes and great rivalries and much bickering and people feeling like they must choose a side to identify with. Everything becomes framed as a competition, another spectator sport, which devolves into a senseless back and forth where people lose focus on what really even matters.

And on and on it goes.

You want peace? Well, I want relative peace. Peace at any cost holds no appeal to me. Human life involves drama and problems and disagreements and conflicts, and I accept that. Child-rearing isn’t all about hugs and encouragement; it also necessarily involves discipline and rules to follow. We cannot escape all authority, but we could certainly reassess what authorities we’re willing to tolerate and abide by. One authority our efforts will never fully trump is Nature, that being a given, our human constructs paling in comparison. So it seems to me we have a choice to either work within it or continue fighting an uphill battle to nowhere we really want to be. The latter allows us to be more lazy and unproductive — it’s become the path of least resistance.

I’d love to see others and my own self find ways to become engaged in this dilemma, and hopefully as a result of needing to cooperate to a larger extent in order to problem-solve and through focusing our attention on more productive uses of our time we will leave one another the hell alone so far as nit-picking and generally behaving like asses with nothing better to do than start unnecessary drama.

Maybe getting back to basics on some level would do us all more good than we realize. And maybe through that the goal of achieving some sort of peace will stand a better chance.

Hurts me soul too

That was “Hurt Me Soul” by Lupe Fiasco, this being a song I stumbled across a little over a year back on Pandora Radio. Tonight it was chosen specifically due to its title.

Hurts me soul.

I hurt a bit lately. Changes. A couple current family-related concerns drudge up old memories and the blues. Drudges up some anger too. But whatcha gonna do? Can’t change the past. Just trying to keep managing the present as I go. Like my guy reminded me tonight, I do have most of what I ever wanted now, today. That being the love and company of my partner and support of close friends and Grandma, a non-corporate means of earning a living, keeping a roof over my head and food (and beer) in my belly, all the books I’ll ever have time to read, a reasonably well-behaved feline, a decent car, entertainment, freedom from participating in past lifestyle choices, etc. So why let the past poison the present? Well, that’s the tricky thing about our pasts…

It lives on in our minds, replaying bits and pieces triggered by whatever’s going on throughout each day. Smells, sights, similar circumstances, etc. The past doesn’t just fade away because we may will it to do so. And it never stops being a part of us. It’s what shaped and molded us, for better or worse — everything that occurred in the past and all the people we came into contact with interacted with the cores of our being and together helped chisel the art that is oneself.

Free will enters in to whatever extent, but is it not also influenced by the expectations of others? We certainly weren’t free to choose our families or the people we were tossed in with by them in our early years. And if you come up with any discipline you know you certainly weren’t free to interact in that environment and with those people as a free, autonomous agent. Resentments form and can simmer for years.

And then we hit adulthood and people expect you to flip a switch and turn off concern for all of that. Mine it for its good points and let the rest go. Spent much of my 20s trying to do just that. It was a worthwhile endeavor that taught me a lot about myself and others. Broadened my empathy for people I’d previously over-simplistically caricatured.

But I continue to struggle with the notion of forgiveness. It’s an Oprah-ballyhooed trendy idea. Forgive whoever who has wronged you so that you can feel better within yourself. You can release the anger and resentment and pain all on your own with no effort or apologies needed from the other parties. You can choose to not be controlled by your pain. You are responsible for your own feelings — no one else can make you feel anything. Those are the claims. Yeah, well, in case it needs to be said: it’s nearly all bullshit. It’s a guilt-inducing lie that tells the individual that they and their emotions can and do exist in a vacuum where they hold the reins and wield all of the power, independent of what others may do to us.

And it’s shit like that that makes me skeptical of the extremes people are willing to go to, in this case in the name of individualism. The notion of individualism taken so far as to expect us to behave as if completely atomized and capable of behaving with robot-like control over our minds and bodies is the talk of psychopaths, not ordinary people. Such cultural expectations would prove unsustainable due to the widespread psychological harm it would do. This damage arguably is going on already.

What a terrific performance by the Avett Brothers.

The tragedy of all that stated above is that more and more seem to be accepting Oprah and Co.’s logic, ignoring the reality that there remains a tension between each individual and all others they interact with, extending out to wider society and then to all of humanity. It’s a web, and it also stretches back in each one of our pasts to all interactions with others and our environments experienced before. Sounds abstract, but we intuitively understand this or at least behave as if we do.

People may want to argue that bringing in our connections with others is some sort of scapegoat in our attempt to deflect personal responsibility outside of ourselves, holding to the belief that we each possess ultimate power over our emotions and our lives and that those who can’t toe the line are just lazy and lacking in will power and therefore deserve to be miserable. But who do you figure they’re referring to in that last bit? Why, most of us, that’s who. Nearly anybody possessing a conscience and sentimentalities of the heart.

Some people want to talk nowadays as if everything ought to boil down to “logic” and “reason” and “rationality” and “proof” and “empirical evidence” and mathematics, but that’s only one half of life. If that’s the yin, where’s the yang? It’s in our heart-felt emotional lives, our connections with others, our families and clans of belonging, our impulses and creativity — so much of what makes life feel worth living. We are social beings first and foremost, which is to say that if logic gets in the way of that, we tend to stray from being too logical (always while convincing ourselves that we’re indeed very logical — when don’t we?).

I’d argue sticking with the “yin” described above and neglecting the “yang”-side of life will prove a serious detriment to humankind eventually, making it illogical in the end. It’s pandering to a life out of balance, and when scales are tipped too far one way they tend to ‘knee-jerk’ back in the opposite direction before settling out. It’s anyone’s guess how long it could take, this being a process that plays out on and on and on.

Individualism vs. collectivism is the great social paradox. It’s a tension that cannot be naturally resolved. Not that I see it as a problem necessarily needing some sort of permanent resolution. It’s just the way life is, and we experience it on many levels, from the political sphere on down to our interpersonal dynamics and the memories that spin off from that and follow us throughout our lives. We like to think we individually are so mighty as to not need help from others, but it is an illusion disproven from the moment of conception. No human is capable of being an island, not fully and completely. Adults who attempt it frequently wind up going mad with depression. We are social beings, first and foremost.

Our lives are woven in the fabric of this tension. We are products of paradoxes that we have little choice but to learn to live with. Because they belong to the designs of the natural world, the framework we are bound to exist within.

Brings to mind another funny paradox about living as slaves. Humans have enslaved one another for at least as far back as civilizations have existed and perhaps even before then. Slavery is probably what allowed civilizations to come into existence in the first place. Cheap expendable labor, freeing non-slaves up to tend to other matters, like sitting around theorizing. Slavery allowed the West to rapidly ascend, and it arguably formed the foundation for capitalism (though we don’t call it slavery anymore, preferring economic jargon that sounds more sophisticated and somehow less barbaric). Capitalism was special, though, in that it freed masters from responsibility for their slaves. No more needing to house or feed them, while still not being required to pay employees a living wage. It’s clearly evident this, at bottom, is a cost-cutting scheme dreamed up by masters-of-old.

But anyway, what’s funny is that slavery is what we humans are fighting to try to stay out of with one another, now taking the battle to the political arena, and yet without slavery ever having existed the world would look very different today. Most people would likely still be either farmers or hunters out of necessity, because people would have to pull their own weight as best as able. This means big, centralized civilizations would serve no function, and therefore wouldn’t have come into being. Rather than be slaves to other groups of people, all humans are left to contend with their dependence on nature, the ultimate slave master. People wishing to escape that reality wound up in no better position unless they belonged to the master class(es), oftentimes determined by technological advantage achieved off the backs of those previously conquered. And which is worse? In the end will we not wind up being forced to contend with nature as ultimate master anyhow?

Ah well. Strayed far off the original topic of guilt, resentment, family, and individual power to forgive and move on. How much power does one individual possess, and does that amount of power fluctuate throughout our adulthood? Can we always help weak or tormenting spells, and should we always try to stomp them out? Do they not potentially provide value as well in allowing us time to think and ponder and rehash and soul-search?

Which brings me to the thought that initially inspired me to blog this evening: I am a soul; I have a body. This came to me after reading the titles of a couple of videos by atheists disputing the idea of people possessing souls. They say there is no evidence that souls exist, and I can’t help but chuckle. None of us really understand what a soul is, and how can we? It’s understood intuitively as representing our essence, of which our body is the vehicle. How might someone convince a skeptic of this truth? Probably can’t, because it’s not of the realm of science, at least not at this juncture. I suppose it doesn’t matter much what others happen to think on this topic — at least not to me. It’s not even a subject we can wrap our feeble languages around, let alone hope to prove or disprove.

So I continue on in speaking and thinking as I do on that. And today I am aware of suffering within my spirit. It began with a memory popping in mind first thing this morning, and more reflections followed as the day wore on. It happens. Even if I could fully forgive everything, I can’t forget. Beyond that, I’m not convinced everyone deserves forgiveness, particularly those who never ask for it. Maybe on some level it becomes the right thing to do, just to release the situation and let it rest as what has already come before. But a desire to stay the hell away from certain people seems unavoidable as well as healthy in plenty of cases. And then there’s grief over what’s been lost or broken, that being a tough pill to swallow and simply accept. To say that we can and should simply exercise our power to repress and move on strikes me as shallow and non-introspective, and in people who aim to do this I’ve witnessed the pain popping up later in life and dismantling their present. So it seems to me something we can’t simply walk away from and ignore but rather must go through and out the other side of, however long that may take.

But what does one do if stuck? I guess that’s where will power must come into play. If I will not direct myself, others may try to use me to serve their own ends, or I may be abandoned by those who lose faith in the health of our connection, and I wind up a slave to circumstances then.

Harshly put, Firefall. Noted.

… All is easier said than done.

… Is it really coming down to picking our preferred form of slavery?

Just thinking out loud again.