21st-Century Schizoid Americans

[The video for King Crimson’s 1969 performance of “21st Century Schizoid Man” was removed on youtube, damn it all to Hades.]

Amazing song. It became a favorite almost immediately after stumbling across it on Pandora 2 or 3 years back.

Want to marvel more at the talent that goes into creating a sexy piece of music like that? See this “Premiata Forneria Marconi” cover of it:

Blows the mind. Daaammmn. What artistry, nothing like the techno-pop auto-tuned crap churned out today.

Every once in a blue moon I just like to chill with this song, run it through 2-3 times, let it sink in. This song’s peculiarity grabbed me right away. And then you look at the lyrics, and it’s sobering poetry:

Cat’s foot iron claw
Neuro-surgeons scream for more
At paranoia’s poison door.
Twenty first century schizoid man.

Blood rack barbed wire
Politicians’ funeral pyre
Innocents raped with napalm fire
Twenty first century schizoid man.

Death seed blind man’s greed
Poets’ starving children bleed
Nothing he’s got he really needs
Twenty first century schizoid man.

Right on. I get it. This is one of those songs worth us 21st-century schizoids meditating on from time to time. But maybe that would actually lead to more mindless nihilism (as opposed to conscious and principle-guided nihilism I suppose, having now listened to others’ arguments drawing a distinction).

And maybe what I typically think of when I use the word “nihilist” in an insulting fashion are people who are so deep in apathy that they no longer care what they believe in. They choose not to think that far ahead, or they reassure themselves and others that the future will simply sort itself out. Technology and scientific research are bound to pave the way to universal happiness, don’t ya know? Because they don’t really believe in anything, they turn their attention to everyday life and willingly become consumed by mindless entertainment with little to no educational value at a time when we really need to be paying closer attention to what’s going on around us all.

Because we’ve dropped the reins. Who’s running this show? Still placing faith in the invisible hand of the market? This is not a pure capitalistic economy in the U.S., not by a long shot. And our economy is fusing with our political institutions, or, more accurately, it’s buying out its seats and positions with campaign contributions and lobbyist bribes.

And who do we imagine is responsible for this? It’s not as if it came about through an act of God, if by that we mean the deliberate workings of a supernatural force or being. No, it’s the vast majority of people on earth’s fault — WE THE 99%.

Now, I was born at the beginning of the ’80s, and of course life in the U.S. has been bullshit for a long time before then. It’s been bullshit since WWI. It’s been bullshit since the Civil War. Might’ve been bullshit right out the gate, but who knows? None of us were there. The documents passed down tend to be those of famous and influential people of a given time, not opinion polls collecting data on what average folks had to say about things. Gotta keep it in perspective.

And it’s inquiries like these that are schizoid in their own right.  Ha  High abstract thinking requires a bit of unsanity, to quickly paraphrase the message discussed in a recent video by Professor Anton:

I appreciate the way he thinks, mild in manner and all.

Back to “21st-Century Schizoid Man”…

So, how did we let this happen? How did we let modern life become what it is? Well, one thing humans did is placed a tremendous amount of faith in science and technology to deliver an impressive future we’d enjoy. As noted above, we assumed the market would somehow bring this about (though much scientific research isn’t determined by public input or purchasing power, but rather through political allocations we trust elected officials and appointed persons to carry out responsibly on our behalf — and how has that worked out for us?). Humans tend to choose entertainment over seemingly abstract duties and responsibilities, and plenty are overworked and lack time to devote to taxing inquiries. We’re kept so busy with trying to figure out how to navigate in modern life, and our social lives have become infinitely complicated now that we come into contact with so many varied people on a regular basis.

Every temptation under the sun exists today and can be had for the right price. In a sense, we in the U.S. do live in a modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah. That chips away from people’s orientation toward commitment, honesty, dignity, practicality, intuition, imagination, thrift, and heart. We’re a bunch of kids in a candy store, and it’s not a secret. Nothing feels truly off-limits. What does dignity even mean today when everything’s for sale, including most of our souls? Can we even grasp which way is up? What might that look like? What fundamentals continue to truly matter in this day and age?

Is this what nihilism means to some people? To be stripped of everything you thought you believed in and then try to reconstruct a narrative that may be more convenient or perhaps tailored according to principles we individually define for ourselves? Sounds nice in theory, but how many of us possess the willpower, fortitude, and well-developed conscience to properly direct our lives in an honestly productive fashion? How many want to do so beyond keeping up appearances? Today’s “sin” seems to lie in not keeping up appearances and thereby setting others at unease.

How much faith do I have in us? Aggregately? Not much. In select individuals? Plenty. In myself? I don’t know. The game has warped me. We humans are not infinitely malleable and our environments play such a major role in molding us; life in today’s concrete jungle and all that spins off from that is creating a specially challenging situation to contend with.

We must be in hell

It’s been a rough month.

Have a little bit of time left this evening to unwind before heading to bed. Actually it’s already too late, but dammit, I just need a little time to myself. Been so busy lately and under the weather.

Thank God there’s always music. Just randomly wandering through my music playlists…

[…]

Keep your children from doing wrong

Cuz you know damn well they’ll go to hell

[…]

Some say that hell is below us

But I say it’s right by my side.

Evil in the morning, evil in the evening

You know damn well that we all must be in hell

That was Nina Simone singing “Go to Hell.” It’s the sort of song that grows on ya quickly. It succinctly and briefly puts into words what I feel is true as well: that the hell to be concerned most with is the one we’re creating right here on earth.

An afterlife is beyond me. No one can say for certain, because those who know for certain aren’t here to tell. And that’s fine. The only worry I have with such an idea is the fear of being reincarnated. lol  But whatever. I heard or read recently someone saying that if that were the case, wouldn’t the best goal be to create a life worth living, a life we’d be proud to repeat? Sounds nice in theory at least. I’d be satisfied with us simply not co-creating hell on earth, however we might get around that.

Brings me back to pondering on the idea of attempting to create order (as through a bureaucracy) actually leading to greater disorder than expected, which I believe was discussed by Rick Roderick when talking about Marcuse (posted a few posts back on here). Makes me wonder if the inverse isn’t true as well, that when we back off on attempting to micro-manage everything and allow communities to be what they will and be molded by the individuals that reside there, that this chaotic arrangement might actually lead to greater order across the board. Perhaps a few basic principles deserve to be universally respected to maintain what peace is possible, but the fewer the better. People have to want such a way of life to work, and without concerted effort on the part of individuals choosing to live in accordance with a better way, all attempts will be undermined again and again.

But there’s no way to get everybody on the same page. Again, the fewer principles to be universally respected, the better chance for widespread compliance. And no, there’s no point adding “thou shalt not kill” to that short list, because people do kill and sometimes it’s even justifiable. If people’s hands are tied too tightly, they won’t go along with it. But before exploring what few universal principles might be worthy of adopting, we need to outline the ultimate objective they are meant to serve, which I believe is to allow the greatest amount of freedom for all balanced against the call for justice.

In what I’m envisioning here, more detailed mandates, codes, and laws would necessarily vary and be broken down to the community level where they have a chance of being enforced and where public compassion and individual mercy has the power to remain involved in social processes. But on the macro level, keep it simple, stupid. Because at that scope very little can be enforced without a heavy top-down, centralized approach to governing the masses, so the masses must ultimately be responsible for governing themselves, which obviously boils down to communities, then families and kin, then the individuals. I see no other way to keep from living in some form of a Nanny State.

But of course this says nothing about how to get out of our current predicament which is closing us in whether we like it or not. And perhaps nearly everything I come up with is little more than pipe dreams.

Back to music.

Moving on to one of my all-time favorite songs:

Switching genres to accommodate another favorite of mine, “Blood, Milk & Sky,” paired with some cool fractal imagery:

Holiday weekend in May unwinding with R.L. Burnside’s tunes

R.L. Burnside is badass, for those who didn’t already know. cool5

“See My Jumper Hanging On the Line” (1978 footage):

“Wish I Was in Heaven Sitting Down”:

“Bad Luck City”:

“It’s Bad, Ya Know”:

“Chain of Fools”:

“Goin’ Down South”:

“Snake Drive”:

Chillin’ out in the wee hours between Saturday night and Sunday morning, sipping earl grey tea and Busch Light, as I’m fond to do. Listening to good music and trying to unwind.

Gambling on better odds in 2013

Very slow about adding content to this blog, my excuse for the last several weeks being my draining work schedule around the holidays and then a bad cold that lingered on for two weeks. But here we are, standing in a new year, open to brand-new possibilities and opportunities for growth. Last year was rough and I couldn’t be more pleased to turn the page on all of that and commence writing a new chapter.

Tonight the hours are getting away from me, so I’ll just post up a song to christen the new year, with hope of returning here tomorrow.

Here’s an oldie and a goodie from Kenny Rogers:

Always loved that song. “You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away and know when to run.”  🙂  So they keep telling me.

Starting up this new venue…

The best way to start is to simply get to it. So, as is my custom, I’ll begin this blog off with a song, one I’m sure many are familiar with.

“Bullet With Butterfly Wings” by Smashing Pumpkins:

Lyric excerpt:

The world is a vampire, sent to drain
Secret destroyers, hold you up to the flames
And what do I get, for my pain
Betrayed desires, and a piece of the game

Even though I know, I suppose I’ll show
All my cool and cold, like old job

Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage
Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage
Someone will say, “What is lost can never be saved”
Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage

Now I’m naked, nothing but an animal
But can you fake it, for just one more show
And what do you want, I want to change
And what have you got when you feel the same

 

Because that song rocks. Plus it made an impression on me as a young teen when it came out and it still does. I, for one, continue to feel like an enraged rat in a cage, bewildered and exasperated by modern life and by most people populating the planet alongside me. As this blogging venture fleshes out perhaps the reasons why will become apparent. Cynical as that might come across right now…