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.

Tonight’s thoughts on Corporate Amorality

Paying special attention at the 21-22 minute mark onward, culminating in the hallelujah moment coming at 24:15.

Did you catch that? “When people call corporations evil, what they’re really saying is that they’re simply completely amoral … compared to a shark.” Yup. That’s exactly what I mean when I refer to corporations as amoral. Having listened to the video up to this point while tending to laundry, and also as a big fan of the documentary “The Corporation” since several years back (even gave it as a gift a couple times — go. watch it. now.), this discussion has me nodding along in agreement. And most especially on that point. I do use the word “evil” because it is still extremely relevant. What is evil? Are all forms of amorality evil? No, it doesn’t make sense to accuse the natural world of being evil though its processes strike us as impersonal and oblivious to our moral concerns. Yet when it comes to human beings and human constructs, morality absolutely does factor in, and must. That corporations operate amorally while they affect all of society and everyone and everything in it, gone global — this is a problem. A legal fiction now dominates our economy and is determining legal policy swayed in its favor. It is a legal fiction that tremendously impacts and has radically altered societies across the world, changing the ways we live and work and eat, yet it claims to be above and beyond morality. How so? How can that work long-term? Insanity is required to place faith in a gameplan like that.

Just the myth of perpetual growth becoming somehow a sustainable strategy going forward, forever, was your first clue that someone’s loopy behind the wheel and hell-bent on driving economies into a straightjacket. It’s not science, folks — it’s just economics. Big egos are at play here. This is not the land of microscopic particles or predictable scientific theories. No, this is about people. Art and life in motion, hustling and bustling. We people function within moral codes in our social settings, from societies on down to neighborhoods to nuclear families to individual persons. That’s the way it goes. We are naturally moral beings, which is to say everything we create that is of the realm of people cannot help but be influenced by our moral sphere. It is a human construct, therefore we are responsible for it. The dream that we can create something that we can set and then forget is gimmicky cheesiness that we’ve not evolved far enough to deserve to entertain the notion of.

People don’t like to hear that, but it’s true. We’re still a rowdy, greedy lot. We’re fallible, and that means everything we touch can wind up misused, even if we never saw it coming and were mistaken in thinking we knew perfectly well what we were doing. As humans, we fuck up all the time. Such is life. Moral failings are a part of life. Yet when it comes to the corporation, created and managed by people, employer to and provider for people, we want to pretend it should be treated as if on the level of natural phenomena beyond our control? Completely unregulated? Allowed to roam around free to monopolize and oligopolize, to buy political power for prices collectives of ordinary citizens couldn’t possibly compete with, to produce products that turn out to be dangerous without government or citizen collectives’ oversight?

Sounds like a brilliant plan. Bet it won’t work. People who imagine something like this working are dreaming of some well-oiled machine that functions in a predictable fashion, yet they can’t seem to follow the predictions to their unsavory end. It’s become a centralization of power scheme, plain and simple, and it affects us all profoundly. And it openly admits to being amoral by design to boot. What a hell of a conundrum. I’m just surprised so many people continue to cling to this as if it’s really a long-term-sustainable plan. That’s Disney fantasy, folks. We’re talking about the accumulation of power here. People are working through this construct — this is no act of nature, this is a product of humankind. We live interdependently in societies.

There’s a very weird and disturbing trend of people jumping on board, blindly, backing this notion of “progress,” as though it’s a given. It must occur, right? Things must continue getting better and better, right? Like that too is something predetermined by…what exactly? A god? No. The universe? Thought that was supposed to be amoral too. Karma? Good luck? What makes people so sure that the future will be an ascension in terms of progress that will truly benefit humankind? Technological progress doesn’t automatically equate or positively correlate with human progress, not in the way people like to think. We’re deluded. Been fed a steady diet of bullshit for so long that most of us can’t figure which way is up any longer.

But that’s all I have time for at the moment.

Scientology Weirdness (Jason Beghe’s interview)

Stumbled across another scientology “documentary” (if it’s to be taken that seriously), and it tripped a thought of Jason Beghe’s interview on his involvement in scientology. Watched it a couple years ago and am now rewatching it tonight.

Scientology looks likes some weird Hollywood-promoted act. It’s a play on religion constructed with new-age, sci-fi, pseudoscientific “logic.” That’s why it takes on psychiatry — that’s its competition.

But then sometimes I wonder if scientology isn’t a clever attempt to demonstrate the absurdity of both religions (the dogma, not the spirituality religions were originally meant to help connect people with) and the fields of psychiatry and psychology when invested with so much power to decide the narrative applied to the entire population despite lacking evidence to support their basic premises.

The main premise being that humans’ psychological states deserve to be classified and treated as if “disorders,” frequently employing the metaphor “mental illness.” Yet who defines what “order” is by comparison? Is “order” simply what people with Ph.D.s and M.D.s say it should be? Is it what suits a functioning society, nevermind that our government is unarguably corrupt and that what we have going on today will prove unsustainable in the long-term? Why should we want to adapt to this unsustainable fantasy that is proving psychologically unhealthy? Because it makes living easier? No it doesn’t, not when so many people are living this deluded and/or depressed, having trouble finding meaning in a life that revolves around a paycheck or a salary and that has us pitted so bitterly against one another, locked in competition, communities and families destroyed in the process. We’re constructing a bizarro world in the U.S., and we feel discontent because so much of our time is preoccupied with bullshit. Welcome to modern times.

But anyway, back to scientology. What if it’s a cleverly orchestrated acting job intended to make a mockery out of both religious cults and pseudoscience? Because even if it’s not intended to suit that purpose, it’s sure doing a fine job. Interviews like that above also demonstrate just how easily people can get caught up in what they want to believe; like Beghe said, once people have invested time, money, and ego, it’s made all that much harder to turn back and critically assess the situation. Folks don’t like feeling like idiots. I don’t either, but I realize I am one.  lol

What interests me, though, is how deeply people are craving new narratives to follow. And I can relate to the yearning. Life is crazy, life is mad, to quote an Enigma song. But L. Ron Hubbard’s narrative proved to be—aside from being full-blown batshit—just another pyramid scheme and ridiculous hoop-jumping contest. But people buy it for reasons similar to why they buy into Evangelical Christianity. They want to belong to a community that appears to be leading the way. They want to direct their energies at something they wish to believe in.

And don’t we all, in one way, shape, or form?

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: