Friday, May 31, 2013

Achilles

It seems I have a lot of what some would term "philosophical moments"--interludes in the course of my day where I contemplate "deep" things.

This morning I woke up thinking, among other things, about Achilles.  Like most, you likely think of him as a fierce warrior, the greatest of the Greeks by general agreement, killed treacherously from a distance by an arrow.

But the tale told in both the Iliad and the Odyssey can be read quite differently.  He had been given two fates: one a long, uneventful, and forgotten life, and the other the one which he actually lived, in which his fame--his "Kleos" (if I'm spelling that correctly) would live forever.

He had chosen the quiet life.  He had decided that the goals of his culture--roughly fame and fortune--meant nothing if they could be taken away on a whim.  They were not intrinsically a part of who he WAS, and thus he had decided he need not participate in this system any longer, need not draw his sense of self from the reflection of himself he saw in the eyes of others, but rather from his own experience.  This, at any rate, is what I understood.

What changed this sober and rational decision was powerful emotion brought on by the death of Patroclus, and if memory serves the desecration of his body.

So he fought as no Greek has before or since.  And he died.

Then we see his shade in the underworld, in the Odyssey, where he says he would rather be a slave to the worst of masters than be king of all the dead.  He is proud to hear his son fought well, but it's hard not to hear in this a final rejection of all the things which Greeks, then, held dear, even though on their lights he was first among them.

One senses that he would have been very content to be reborn as a sailor, or fisherman, or farmer, devoid of all heroic qualities, but capable of enjoying life in the most mundane tasks.  I see him taking special pleasures in the breezes blowing by him, the rising and setting of the sun, and in his family.

What do you value?  Why?  Do you feel you have gotten to the root of anything?  Would you want to?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Joe Biden

We are fortunate to have in the public sphere tangible evidence of the sorts of abuses of power anyone who studied Obama and the Democrats knew would follow his election.  We can call them scandals: for the awake, though, they are simply evidence of what we already knew.

We need to remember that large segments of the American public is functionally insane.  They are led there and reinforced in their lunacy by a news media that has also lost all sense of decency and moral proportion.  They pursue policies which hurt those they claim to help, and which are quite obviously hastening the demise of the United States, which has been the most noble experiment in truly Liberal government in human history.

Why?  Even they cannot answer that question, although of course they can cite lists of what is wrong with the status quo.  They simply cannot offer solutions to those problems which could ever work in the real world.  That fact is hidden by the fact that they can continue to claim that their policy proposals have not yet been taken far enough.  This is of course a lie for any student of history or contemporary affairs.

All of which is a long winded and tangential way to say that Republicans need to invoke Joe Biden when speaking of these scandals in the same way Bushcheney was a single word for Leftist propagandists for 8 years, such that one would have thought Cheney was the President.

The Dem's have two obvious candidates for 2016.  Hillary, between being shown as a long term and habitual liar by coming out as bisexual, as she apparently plans to, and her patent involvement in both abandoning our troops while in harms way and lying about, should be an easy target for competent Republican strategists.  Start taking her out at the knees now, and never let up until she either drops out or loses the election.

Same with Joe Biden.  Make sure that every unsavory thing about Obama that actually gets known in public is tied to him.

My two cents.  I believe in goodness, but if I were a political operative facing these horrible human beings, I'd make Saul Alinsky look like a saint.   We need to hit them hard and  often, knowing most of the media complex is shilling for them.

Article on Sade

Comments are disabled, so I thought I might share a few thoughts on this piece.

This is disjointed.  Unlike the author I am capable of intellectual cohesion, and the maintenance of a defensible thesis over long periods of time.  But that would require more effort at the moment than I am willing to expend.  It is what it is.

First off, I was gratified that those in the bookstore displayed the decency to more or less shove him off as a pervert when he asked for books by Sade.  If you have not read him, he "still possesses the power to shock", as one contemporary review has it.  No matter what you think you have seen in movies, or how strong your stomach is, trust me that there are images that have not yet occurred to you.

The author has a strongly Muslim name, Hussain Ibish.  I see that in fact he is active in the cause of eradicating Israel.  Some might frame that as being "pro-Palestinian", but this is the same thing, without the bullshit.

Muslims tend towards misogyny.  Just today I read in my Facebook feed about one Muslim teaching men how to beat their women properly, and another claiming that women who work outside the home should be sexually abused.  In my personal view, their subjugation of women--who after all have good ideas in profusion, daily--is a core element in the failure of Arabs to have achieved anything--hell, I'll say it--INTERESTING (outside, I will add, of the generally condemned Sufi communities).  Obviously Islam encourages this.

I will note that by his lights he cannot condemn me for such blanket statements, and by my lights telling the truth as I see it is always desirable.

With regard to his content, then, I would submit that absent short bits of coherence, the essence of this very long read is "I"m a pervert.  I get my rocks off imagining women being tortured.  Fuck you.  Oh, and blah, blah, blah, you have to accept me because I am verbose and obviously educated.  I invoke the tolerance card.  And I reiterate Fuck you."

What I wanted to respond to were a couple bits that harmonize with my own views, and a few examples of the sort of inanity that characterizes the Leftism cult.  Here is one bit:

Indeed, we could reasonably posit that his work laid the cornerstone for the entire anti-humanist project. Surely Sade’s most important contribution, at its high point, lay in dragging Enlightenment reason to absurdist logical conclusions, spelling out the method of its implosion, and anticipating the backlash against it that culminated in the sixties and seventies. What he bequeathed us was nothing less than a slow-growing but highly malignant, if not terminal, cancer buried deep in the corpus of Enlightenment rationalism.

What absurdist logical conclusions?  There is nothing inherently contradictory about the use of reason to govern human affairs, or the desire for progress in the material and moral realms.  What he is actually doing is STIPULATING that he, Hussein, should not be held to the standard of intellectual coherence; nor can his political beliefs be analyzed for consistency.  Put another way, he himself is rejecting Humanism and reason, and failing to justify it.  He is simply showing that Sade did it.

No sensible person has ever claimed that people cannot commit daily logical fallacies over the course of a lifetime, and never care or notice.  All you have to do is spend five minutes on the Daily Cause.

But I do want to underscore that he is quite right that Sade's project is anti-humanist, anti-rationalist, and even anti-pleasure.  Sade did not seek pleasure: he sought EXPERIENCE, and many of the experiences he chose (mostly in his imagination, to be clear, although not entirely) were awful.

Leftism, likewise, is an irrational project which in its ostensible aim of improving human life sustainably has not only failed every time it has been tried, but failed predictably, and at HUGE cost in human well being.

Who are those who keep proposing it and pursuing it?  The Irrationalists, whose philosophy has failed them, and who perforce pursue power.

We need to be clear: Sade was a broken man, a splintered man.  His sense of self was shattered early on.  Without having studied his life with much care, my best guess is that he was abused as a child, likely a libertine uncle.  Rather than try to pull himself together, he instead "rationalized' his destruction through destruction.  The sense of self is obtained in motion.  He was unable to proceed in a genuinely creative direction, so he chose destruction as his creation.

At some point Hussein talks about the purported Sadeiam nature of the NRA proposing more guns.  He simply stipulates this as symbolically significant.  In reality, more guns--empirically, according to scientific, rational data of the sort we expect in a society still governed by Enlightenment principles--equate to less crime.  80% of gun homicides happen in the half of the country that does not allow concealed handgun carry.  To help you out, that is a rate that is 4x higher than in those States which make carrying a gun legally possible.

In this, he abuses reason.  But he has already SAID that he is fine with abusing reason.  Why not listen to him?

Here is an interesting quote:

And Nietzsche obviously originated almost all of Ayn Rand’s ideas, though she pompously claimed to have been influenced only by Aristotle. Rand essentially popularized a distorted version of Nietzsche and therefore some elements of Sade’s legacy. She notably claimed to have been the most implacable philosophical enemy of Kant, a title that surely belongs to Sade and not Nietzsche, let alone Rand.
I actually more or less agree with this.  The Nietzchean influence on Rand--and she very definitely did read him--seems clear to me.  John Galt is an Uebermensch, in the proper fashion.  Nietzsche, at least as I understand him, never intended crime per se to be the mark of his hero--he was not a proper Sadeiam, as this author tries to suggest--but rather obstinate creation of the highest order while surrounded by mediocrity.  The Uebermensch DOESN"T CARE what ordinary people think.  He owes them nothing, and he gives them nothing.  He is superior to them.

This was the interesting part of the Nietszchean project, and that of Rand, to my mind; resurrecting the notion of qualitative difference in a materialistic world in which all life devolves in the end to mindless atoms.

He then goes on to say this:
 Sade’s contempt for property and the rationalist philosophical system derived from its defense indeed places him well to the left of the Jacobins and most other French revolutionaries.

Again: I came up with the term Cultural Sadeist after a fair amount of thought.  It is the right term, in my view, to describe what I see.

Here he drops into farce: "Is anything, in this sense, more Sadean than self-negating Tea Party slogans such as “keep your dirty government hands off my Medicare?”

What Tea Party members are saying this?  Medicare is broke.  I'm sure as hell not saying it.

And I will submit again that definition is one of the most basic requirements for the use of reason, and all he has done here is equate alleged sloppy thinking with Sade.  Plainly, he is simply trying to get in gratuitous shots for the Cultural Sadeist camp, but it would be equally valid to say that A=not A is "Sadean".

He tried to argue that somehow totalitarianism is an end product of rationalism.  This is stupid.  Only an academic could be this dumb. There is nothing "logical" or rational about Fascism or Communism (note how he tries insert Stalinism rather than the correct word for the global malignancy he plainly intends, and still defends), if we take as our orienting intent the improvement of human life.  Neither did so.  Quite the contrary.

Here is how reason works: you determine what you want to achieve, which includes a clear definition.  If you do not achieve what you said you wanted to achieve, then your means was irrational.  If you nonetheless continue to use the same means, you are worse: you are a Democrat or a Frenchman.

Classic Liberalism is rational.  It is a proven means for the development of human freedom, and possibility of self expression. To the extent we face crises of meaning in our society, it is precisely because of the illogic and philosophical incompetence of idiots like Hussein.

And at last, the coup de l'imbecile:

Much of American culture is committed to egalitarianism, and demands and expects certain social and economic protections from government. But simultaneously, and often in the same breath, it venerates extreme wealth, individual privilege, and the prerogatives of the rich.

This dichotomy is driven, at least in part, by the classic American illusion of widespread social mobility and the idea that anyone can join our morally unrestrained power elite by hewing to the character-defining virtues of hard work, while also incongruously courting the favor of fortune. Meanwhile, a powerful strand of masochism in our political culture has pushed many toward the overtly avaricious and predatory, and indeed sadistic (though hardly Sadean), thought of Ayn Rand. Economic Darwinism is thus bizarrely repackaged as a corrective for corporate amorality—as well as the cure-all for absurd social injustices such as bailouts for financial institutions deemed “too big to fail.”

I want you to read those paragraphs carefully, slowly.  You need to understand that these are the basic presuppositions--myths--of not just this man, but substantially all the academics working anywhere in this country anywhere close to the Humanities, of any sort.

It is STIPULATED that wealth is wrong.  Why?  Well, if they were able to use reason to defend their views, we might have some chance of finding out.  But they don't.  They simply assume it.

The poor in America live better than 3/4ths of the world.  The 3/4ths of the world that lives in abject poverty lives that way in almost all cases because they have been pursuing some combination of socialism and outright Communism for most of the last century.

On the one pole you have Singapore, which did everything right and is very prosperous.  On the other you have China and India.  China, under the tyranny of the Cultural Sadeists, broke everything that had worked, killed tens of millions of its citizens through stupidity and outright murder, then after a half century of failure allowed Capitalism of a Fascist sort, and is achieving steady growth in the wealth of its richest citizens.  What is happening in China, in other words, is pretty much what he alleges is happening here, but isn't.

In India, they installed a socialist regime after Independence, and saw between thousands and millions die annually of hunger until they opened up the markets for competition in the early 90's, and have seen steady growth in the living standards of ALL their citizens.

This man, Hussein Ibish, demonstrated a PERSONAL interest in the work of Sade, which he confessed early in the piece, knowing that his invocation of politics at the end would cause the usual stupid people to do the usual stupid thing, which is forget this.

But I want to point out that Sade vividly portrays the rape, torture, murder, and cannibalization of children.  He kills and kills and kills in his books, the more lasciviously the better.

And he has the AUDACITY to condemn Ayn Rand as in any way REMOTELY similar to Sade?  Rand spoke CONSTANTLY about the ethical imperative to never use violence against anyone for any reason other than self defense.

What are we to take from this?  That like all Leftists he is a fundamentally fucked up human being.  Or, let me use his words:

But Sade, that shadowy doppelganger of the Enlightenment, still lurks in the dark corners and liminal spaces of our culture, whispering that reason often carries a very hefty price tag—and with ever more elaborate punishments to come.

What punishments?  I don't know.  Ask Barack Obama or Valerie Jarrett.  They carry 120 Days with them everywhere they go.

Better Left/Right Analysis

I am not an Objectivist, but I liked this: http://www.theobjectivestandard.com/blog/index.php/2012/06/political-left-and-right-properly-defined/

The proper purpose of government is to protect individual rights by banning the use of physical force from social relationships and by using force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use. A properly conceived political spectrum must reflect this fact. Whatever terms are used to identify the positions of political ideologies or systems must be defined with regard to the fundamental political alternative: force vs. freedom—or, more specifically, rights-protecting vs. rights-violating institutions.

Kennedy admired Hitler

 Posted as a commentary on this link: http://newsbusters.org/blogs/brent-bozell/2013/05/28/bozell-column-one-mans-fascination-hitler

I will add that the whole left-right continuum gets construed in various ways.  In the French Revolutionary National Assembly, it connoted on the right monarchists, in the middle what we should term liberals, and on the left bloodthirsty savages whose descendants became Communists.  Given that most people know little to no history, this continuum in popular usage is not very helpful.  For my own purposes, I use a continuum based upon no government at all on the right--which is to say people govern themselves based upon shared cultural values; government is as local as possible, which is to say each sovereign individual--and only government on the left.  It should be noted that as one moves from the right to the left "culture", per se, as a dynamic artifact of habit and behavior within a relatively cohesive social grouping, disappears.  So then, too, does the sense of self, and possibility of conceiving of individual moral growth.  This is why leftism in its very essence is evil.



I get into discussions from time to time about whether or not Fascism is a "right wing" movement.  Clearly, if we draw a continuum from less government on the right, to more government on the left, it is barely more palatable than Communism, which is hands down the worst conceivable form of government, and certainly far to the left of traditional liberalism, with its checks and balances. 

But historically, who have been the people attracted to Fascism/National Socialism?  For one, the man who started the New Deal under FDR, Hugh S. Johnson.  For another, the man who coined the term "New Deal". 

Here, a generation later, we see Jack Kennedy saying: “Anyone who has visited these places can imagine how in a few years, Hitler will emerge from the hate that now surrounds him and come to be regarded as one of the most significant figures that ever lived. There is something mysterious about the way he lived and died and which will outlive him and continue to flourish. He was made of the stuff of legends.”  and

“I have come to the conclusion that fascism is right for Germany and Italy. What are the evils of fascism compared to communism?”

Mussolini started as a Socialist/Communist, and National Socialist German Worker's Party--the full name of the Nazi party--was every bit as socialist as one would assume from their name.  It redistributed wealth, guaranteed an income and education to all Germans, prohibited land speculation (and usury, if memory serves), and in general differed only from Communism in its unrepentant nationalism, and in that its economic system worked, once you factored in the wars it waged to steal from other lands.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Courage

First, I have likely said this, but courage is obviously related to the French "coeur", heart.

Watched the new Star Trek yesterday, and it finally dawned on me that courage is not suppressing fear, but embracing it.  There was a book some years back titled "Feel the fear, but do it anyway.".  I would append that with "and don't forget the fear."

To become truly brave, I think you have to have the self awareness to know when you are scared, and to do what needs to be done anyway.  But I think you also need to keep that fear present.  You should never reject any part of your experience.  And what I think true warriors do is use that fear for greater effectiveness.  They would in fact be weaker, less able, if they did not more or less consciously accept the fear flowing through them, and channel it into an adrenaline rush.

Put another way, certain types of people are attracted to certain kinds of fear.  Why do roller coasters exist?  Why are there always rock climbers in Joshua Tree and Yosemite?  Why go 70 mph (or whatever it is) down a ski slope?

Could I posit that "fear is excitement we resist"?  That might be close to the truth.

Buddhism and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre

You may not see an immediate link between these two.  Let me offer a famous image: your roof is on fire.  Your house is on fire.  According to my recollection, the Buddha offered this image to someone who wanted to nitpick small pieces of doctrine which were unessential to his being "released" through the attainment of Buddhahood.

Ponder what early Buddhist life was like.  They were required to wander as beggars, owning only what they carried, which was a rice bowl and perhaps a few other essentials.  They were required to not eat after 12pm.  No doubt they had other tasks--perhaps the recitation of mantras or scriptures, and almost certainly meditation--but consider how hard this life was, at least physically.  For the true believer it was no doubt a liberation of sorts, living out the Buddhadharma, but put yourself in that position.  Imagine living in homeless shelters, wandering from town to town, constantly hungry.

"Life is Pain".  This is what Cary Elwes tells Robin Wright as Buttercup in "The Princess Bride" (I will note in passing that his role in the first Saw is in this respect interesting).  What Horror movies do is reinforce the sad, sick, grotesque side of life.  Could we not find many horrors in cancer wards?  In third world hospitals, with cases of elephantiasis, and leprosy, and all the deformations I am told by world travelers are quite common in unsanitized, non-developed nations?

The point of Movie Yoga is not to intellectualize about movies, although of course that is in some measure what I have done.  But I know myself--the feelings come later.  When things happen to me, the feelings land in a sort of filter, where I can release them at appropriate times.

The night after I watched Texas Chainsaw Massacre I got hints of some part deep within myself grasping that life is serious, at root.  This is an emotional truth, one that I think most modern Americans don't get.  We feel lost in the superficial, because we are not confronted with the existential.

In a very real way, Leatherface is chasing all of us with a chainsaw, but he is far away.  Our deaths are far away.  There is nothing to PUSH us, there is no imminent threat forcing us to fundamentally reevaluate who we are, and what we stand for.  But I think people need that, they want that, they want structure, and they are not averse to turning to fear to provide it.

Obviously, Horror movies do not tell us how to live our lives, but I think they may create the momentary sense in some/sum that life does have gravity, that it is serious, and that the existence of the viewer is not pure foam. 

My two cents for today.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Anti-Vampires

If it is not obvious, a very common perceptual "move" I make is to invert things, here, by wondering if there is a positive equivalent to a vampire; something undying, but which makes those possessing this energy willingly and often GIVE their life energy to others.

Tobe Hooper Interview, excerpt:


From here: http://www.avclub.com/articles/tobe-hooper,13680/
 
O: What do you think of the current debate over violent entertainment?
TH: [Pauses.] Let me see if I can put this correctly. It's messing with the First Amendment, it seems. It's troublesome in that way, and because there's a problem with messing with the continuity of the national psyche. It's difficult any time you mess with the tribal consciousness, the expectations of the country's psyche. It seems like censorship in a way that is not productive, constructive, or helpful.
O: There's a quote from the documentary where someone said of the early '70s that all that bad karma had to go somewhere, and that it's better to channel it into films than into other places.
TH: It really is.
O: I think if you lose that means of expression for violent thoughts and the darker sentiments of human existence, you're in trouble.
TH: It's both a catharsis and a safe darkness. When I was shooting in the '60s, making documentaries for the end of the Kennedy Title 3 Advanced Educational Programming, I saw things like effigies of one's boss that the employees could take it out on at lunch break and have a release. I think there are potential problems with restricting what anybody can see. It is, after all, a safe darkness and a place for a certain kind of release.

Disgust

Do we not, now, have exhibits that in their own way are both much more disgusting, and much more graphic than the death-filled scenes in "Texas Chainsaw Massacre"? I am speaking of the various "Bodies" exhibits, which take human corpses, and more or less make artwork out of them.  You literally have corpse "mobiles".

I'll ponder this a bit more.  It does seem to me both that we need a sacred and profane, and that this distinction, at carefully chosen times and ideally in ritually defined ways, needs to be broken.

The most salient characteristic of Horror, perhaps, is that it retains the sense of danger and submission, but never transcendence. It is one half of an ages-old equation.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Well, I finally got around to watching it.  I just finished it, so my thoughts will be a bit scattered.

One thought I had yesterday is that I think we all need to regularly express ALL the emotions.  We understand sadness and anger, love, joy, sexual desire.  But what about revulsion?

I read that there are, on one typology, 6 basic emotions: anger, disgust, fear, happiness, surprise, and sadness.  Horror certainly caters to the fear element, but also both surprise and disgust.  I would submit that in our sanitized world, where all convenience store clerks are taught to say "have a nice day", that some primal part of our selves craves the dissolute, the insane, the repulsive.  Cannibalism certainly fits the bill.

On a perhaps deeper level, do we not all sense that crimes are happening, even now, that particularly in wide open places may never be punished?  I have in mind particularly pedophilia, but wife beating, and cruelty to animals certainly also go on.

Think about the Texas of 1973.  This was an era when the reality of pervasive pedophilia/sexual abuse of children and minors was still widely rejected.  Children would tell their stories, and be abused for it.  Catholic priests were still routinely molesting children.  Actual racism was still present, and blacks had to watch their steps, lest they have violence visited on them.

There is a line from Conan Doyle's story "The Copper Beeches" which has always stuck with me:   They are traveling to the countryside on a very beautiful day, watching farmsteads go on by from the train window.  Watson says "Are they not fresh and beautiful?"

Holmes replies: "Do you know, Watson, that is is one of the curses of a mind with a turn like mine that I must look at everything with reference to my own special subject.  You look at these scattered houses and you are impressed by their beauty.  I look at them, and the only thought which comes to me is a feeling of their isolation, and of the impunity with crime may be committed there."

You hear country music throughout, even in very grim places, like when the gas station owner is tying her up.  They seem both to be hinting at undiscovered crimes--and here I have Tobe Hooper and the other author in mind (what do they know?)--and to be explicitly pointing to the violent nature of life, as in the description of the  process of slaughtering cattle, which of course was a large industry in Texas.

All living beings, in some ways, depend on the death or use of other living beings.  The smallest fish eat plants, and the larger fish eat them.  Humans are theoretically at the top of the food chain, but countless bacteria within us are always trying to survive and thrive at our expense.

And to the point of this movie, there is a bloodlust that is superior in some ways to the external trappings of our civilization.  Humans can be food for humans.  We can move sideways, and have in many cases.  There were many examples of cannibalism in Napolean's march on Moscow.

Few thoughts.  It will keep percolating for a while.

Yes, the National Socialists were Socialists

From here: http://www.examiner.com/article/fact-check-on-glenn-beck-s-documentary-was-hitler-more-liberal-or-conservative?page=1#comment-15055766

I will add, that it is worth reading the actual NSDAP platform: http://www.hitler.org/writings/programme/



You neglect the obvious fact that Lenin and Mao--ALL Communists in fact--ALSO outlawed labor unions.  Does that make them conservative?

Conservatism has two principle strands: respect for the past--and for coherent moral narratives based upon them--and free markets.  Hitler completely repudiated the moral ethos of the German nation, and under him markets absolutely were not free.  They were much more like the relationship between Barack Obama, Wall Street, and Big Business generally, like GE, and Berkshire Hathaway.

Culturally, National Socialism (I did not see you note that the full name of the Nazi Party was "National Socialist German Worker's Party; or that its principle constituency was the working and lower middle classes) did invoke the German past.  In that it did not try to completely invalidate every aspect of German culture, it was less radical than Communism; but clearly what it brought was revolutionary, not a part of actual German history.

And again, economically, the only difference between Communism and National Socialism is that in the former all means of production are controlled in ACTUALITY by the State, and in the latter they are only controlled in PRINCIPLE.  In both cases the right to the possession of the results of ones own efforts is non-existent.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Positive Money

I continue to view the efforts of the Positive Money people to educate people in Britain about the nature of our financial system favorably, and continue to view their proposals unfavorably.  Here is a comment I left today on their new website.  What I did not mention is that, as of the last time I read their proposal, the idea was to do gradually something almost identical to the deflationary process that initiated our own Great Depression.  In conditions of high levels of debt, deflation is devastating.  This means, inescapably, and as a simple matter of exercising logic, that any serious solution must first eliminate that debt, which my own proposal does.

The problems described are quite real, but the proposal simply transfers power from banks to the government.  Whoever has the power to create money has the power to create wealth from nothing.  Why is this intrinsically better when done by the government?  Why not anticipate an expansion of the symbiotic relationship that already exists between Big Business and Big Government?  Because your panel somehow becomes ethically superior?  There is no functional difference between banks creating money for themselves, and money being created by government and parceled out to chosen corporations.

The logical solution is to end money creation outright.  This is the ONLY equitable solution, the only solution that does not recreate a de facto master/slave relationship.

My proposal to do this is here: http://www.goodnessmovement.com/Page23.html

Add on to post before last

Again, posted on the "right wingers are murderers/Leopold and Loeb" blog post.

I will add that the "essentialization of the Other" is very much alive among the most robust, most strident, most self satisfied cultural nihilists/comfortably ensconced Humanities professors.  They simply consider anyone who views our cultural heritage with fondness, or the egalitarian project with scepticism, as being  a very appropriate object of hate.  Hate, per se, is not rejected, merely rationalized.

You have not even made a token effort to consider the benefits of free markets on actually living, actually laboring, actually suffering human beings.  You have posited them as evil, and made of anyone who supports them a psychophilosophical riddle, when the reality is that we are simply more knowledgeable, more decent human beings than your elitist cabal.

Purpose

What if you could somehow know that your purpose in life was to travel ten years through thick jungle, and endure great difficulties in so doing, only in order to get to a complex machine, find one small screw, and turn it one quarter turn?  What if you then had to travel another ten years out of the jungle?

What if your purpose in life were to wait in place for a ball to come bouncing down a chute, and to stand where there is a gap in that chute, lean over, and allow it to roll over you.  If you were not there, it would fall.  You can't know where the ball comes from, or what its end goal is, but you do know that if you do not stand your turn in place, that life will be worse for many.

It is impossible to know what our purposes are in life, of course, but I would submit that there are countless inflection points, "butterfly effect" points, and that the purpose for many may come and go unnoticed, but none the less critical for it.  One can never know what small effort, what seemingly insignificant act may make a large difference.  You can't live life sweating every last detail, but at the same time, don't ignore them either.  Do what you can.  Then do it again.  Eventually they will lay you in the ground, or send you into the sky, and your assignment will change. But the process will not, in my view.  How we live today, in this world, is how we will live in the next world.  We just know more there, and get a LOT more support.

That, in any event, is my orienting belief.

Economics Post

In response to this article: http://www.thenation.com/article/174219/nietzsches-marginal-children-friedrich-hayek?page=full

I will admit in advance I only scanned it.  I have read in full many pieces like this.  Their point is to so overwhelm the reader with seeming erudition that basic questions are missed, like "does socialism work?"  This is such a common tactic with the left that I would submit their propaganda would be impossible without it.

I have one simple question: what is the point of economic activity, if not to liberate the capacity for moral development?  And if that is the point, is not the question of how to do this an empirical and not a moral question?  Is it not obvious beyond any possibility of discussion that free markets create both wealth and the possibility of leisure--at least in a post-tribal society, and certainly in a crowded world--far better than any possible alternative?

The salient malignancy of socialism is that the egalitarian creed rejects morality outright.  Morality depends upon the notion of progress, and progress in turn depends upon the notion that some people have developed more than others.  This does not mean they were born that way, but that the very concept of a meritocracy depends upon the notion of people who are morally qualitatively different, even if equal before the law.

Unless you can answer my first question--again, "what is the point of economic activity, if not to liberate the capacity for moral development?"--then I will assume based on long experience that, despite your capacity to produce seemingly useful words, that your project is one of destruction, not creation; death, not life.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Postulate

All apparent logical contradictions between contextually valid statements are resolved in motion.

I've never read Logico-Tractatus Philosophicus, but I've always liked the geometric conceit of it.  I've also of course spoken of my fondness for Descartes and Spinoza's use of the concept of geometric proof.  I'm slowly working my way there.  I think this would be worth including.

I will add, that we need not "pass over in silence" (schweigen) such statements.  They are arrows.  We need to look at where they are pointing, the "that".  The "moon" is not the moon, but that doesn't mean there is not a bright orb that brightens the sky on a  regular basis.  The only difference is in the materiality of the perceptual domain.

Confused?  Ah, my work here is done.

Perfection

Perfection is the goal; and perfection is not the goal.

I think I get where the humor is in Zen Buddhism.  If you are laughing, you're in touch with your inner One Hand.  Clapping.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Thinking

I would not say I am a classic "artistic" type: by and large I pay my bills on time; I show up where I am supposed to on time; I have no weird fashion quirks; I don't owe anybody any money.

But I am a bit disorganized.  This is in part an inevitable result of having large quantities of ideas on dozens of topics every day.  Well, I'm fixing that.  I am implementing David Allen's "Getting Things Done" system, which I like in no small measure because of the lack of focus on technology.

Anyway, I dug into a container literally filled with ideas--something like a 1,000 sheets of paper--and this was on the top:

"What I want to do is bring to the task of thinking the mindset of a serious craftsman, and create objects both functional and esthetically pleasing."

I like that. 

I SAID that, you say?  Ah, but sometimes I think I'm either stupid or a dick, so my agreement with my own ideas is in no way a foregone conclusion.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Death and Rebirth

I am going to permit myself a public bit of self expression wrapped in being cryptic.  Let's call it the Yin and the Yang, because the Passive and the Aggressive just doesn't sound right.  Open and Closed doesn't quite work either.  How about "one foot moving forward, one foot moving backward, with Me suspended in the middle"? I am, after all, an ueber-Pisces.  There's one thing you didn't know about me.

In the early days of CrossFit, which is seemingly almost a household name now, I experienced what I would now call a death and rebirth experience. It was an odd thing, brought about in no small measure both because of my psychological strengths, and my quite profound and sundry short-comings/stupidity.  The outcome of that experience, arguably, is what put CrossFit on the path to the success it now enjoys.  It was never certain it would grow as large as it has; that was certainly far beyond the wildest hopes of the founders.  I know this.  This story has been so thoroughly buried that it is now known by few.

I experienced something like this with Holotropic Breathwork.  I nearly got booted from the training, and was definitely in limbo there for some hours.

Which of course brings me to Achilles (perhaps on my gravestone--which I won't  have, since I plan cremation; oh, maybe it could be written on a piece of paper and burned--they should put the proper Latin for what I intend by Pater Non Sequiturum.)

I have not read the actual Iliad, other than simplified versions that were not direct translations, but I did listen to an excellent series on it from someone (I'm sorry, I don't remember the name: she teaches at Northwestern) from the Teaching Company.  Even without reading the prose, I was absolutely fascinated by the story.  I had always thought it was a retelling of the Trojan War story, soup to nuts.  It is not.  It is about a period of the war in which the greatest warrior first rejects all Greek conceptions of war--first by isolating himself and rejecting the traditional enticements of booty and fame, and then by going too far in his violence, becoming almost the embodiment of violence itself, remorseless, pitiless, tireless.

He dies three times: first, by rejecting his role in society as a fighter and leader; second, by violating rules of conduct of war; and third, most importantly, by accepting the inevitability of his own death.  He had been given a choice, and had chosen being forgotten and living a long life, until stirred back into action by Patroclus' death.  He had literally shed his skin in the form of armor, and taken on another skin.

Please do not laugh immediately when I say I am no Achilles.  Yes, this is obvious.  But in a deeper sense, i would argue that we are ALL Achilles.  We are all here to fight battles.  We have the choice to stick to the tried and true, to emulate and follow the models society sets before us; and we have the choice to feel and fail and die trying to win our own worlds, our own sense of self.

For my part, I have no desire to consciously and consistently violate the rules of others, but I would submit that being willing to do so while chasing something else--to stray onto someone else's sacred land chasing a deer or following a cloud--is an inevitable and ineluctable element in trying to learn how to cross over into death and rebirth.

Take this for what it is worth.  I felt this needed to be said. I  do not share much of what I say to myself here--it is probably half and half--but some things I feel may have or grow wings, and are only able to do so with traction--earth--water, and the light of other spirits.

Guilt

Guilt is an odd emotion.  I have been talking about expressing emotions, but guilt feels almost like self attack, self flagellation, making the recriminations inside your head that could and perhaps were made by someone else.  How do you let emotions flow that feel like barbed wire?

Clearly, guilt has a purpose.  It is what distinguishes the psychologically normal from sociopaths.  But it can be abused in so many ways.  Overly done, dramatically done, flamboyantly done, it avoids the actual feeling.  Not felt at all, and the stasis of the system is assured.

But what is it?  I think in the end it is a call to qualitative change.  You made a mistake, were weak, were hasty, for reasons of a character flaw.  True expression of guilt is honest self assessment and CORRECTION of the flaw.  Since correction implies acceptance of imperfection, this is hard to do. 

And so we dance.

Xanthippus

This name has been stuck in my head, too.  Again, I have no idea where it came from.  Father of Perikles, Admiral of the Navy in a sort of Joint Command led by a Spartan, which accomplished the final victory over the Persians.

I've found that if you just go with things, more things follow.  This makes life interesting.

Cleanthes

Sometimes I get names stuck in my head.  Cleanthes was one of them.  To the extent of my recollection, he was not mentioned in the survey of Greek philosophy I surveyed; nor was Zeno.  The only place I likely would have encountered him was in Hume's "Dialogues concerning natural religion", which I read in graduate school, and which apparently contains him as a character.

Be that as it may, I looked him up, and some of what he says is quite interesting:

Cleanthes maintained that pleasure is not only not a good, but is "contrary to nature" and "worthless."[15] It was his opinion that the passions (love, fear, grief) are weaknesses: they lack the strain or tension which he persistently emphasized, and on which the strength of the soul, no less than that of the body, depends, and which constitutes in human beings self-control, and moral strength, and also conditions every virtue.[15] He said in a striking passage: "People walk in wickedness all their lives or, at any rate, for the greater part of it. If they ever attain to virtue, it is late and at the very sunset of their days."[16]

Zeno had said that the goal of life was "to live consistently," the implication being that no life but the passionless life of reason could ultimately be consistent with itself. Cleanthes is credited with having added the words "with nature," thus completing the well-known Stoic formula that the goal is "to live consistently with nature."[17] For Cleanthes, this meant, in the first place, living conformably to the course of the universe; for the universe is under the governance of reason, and everyone has it as their privilege to know or become acquainted with the world-course, to recognize it as rational and cheerfully to conform to it.[18] This, according to him, is true freedom of will not acting without motive, or apart from set purpose, or capriciously, but humbly acquiescing in the universal order, and, therefore, in everything that befalls one.[18] The direction to follow Universal Nature can be traced in his famous prayer:

Lead me, Zeus, and you too, Destiny,
To wherever your decrees have assigned me.
I follow readily, but if I choose not,
Wretched though I am, I must follow still.
Fate guides the willing, but drags the unwilling.

Is this not quite close to the Buddhist conception of abandoning desire?  I would say, though, that "logos" in my view should mean more than reason and intellectual order.  A forest has "logos" because it is ordered too, simply in a deeper way.  Chaos, per Chaos Theory, has a "logos" that can be approximated.

We do not live according to reason.  We live according to our spirits, of which reason and apparent logic is but one manifestation.  We have to have a place for "that", as I have said.

That's enough on that.  I am procrastinating.

The Ring

I think I get it now: movies will keep bouncing around my head until I notice and articulate somewhere the lessons they are trying to teach me.  The Lord of the Rings--as an epic filled with, and almost entirely informed by--mythos, has a lot to teach.

More than once I have pondered the symbolism of the Ring.  It is not quite evil, outright.  It is more subtle than that.  What it feels like to me is compulsion, the spirit of compulsion.  It is a muscle that spasms and never releases, but to which you become addicted.

It is the spirit of monomania, of thinking one thought over and over and over.

It is sending on only one frequency.  We are meant to wander here and there, in spontaneous ways with deeper orders.  As I have said often, what is unnatural is a planned and unspontaneous order--the chopped down/groomed forest, in the Taoist idiom--which is ordered only in conditions of coercion, which has no staying power, no longevity.  It lasts only as long as the muscle spasm is in place.

Now, I have been making good progress over the last month or two in personal growth. I have reached a point where I am willing and able to let some part of me fall away, as a sort of snake skin, or covering, that I no longer need. 

And some part of me I would identify with the ring keeps feeding me news of death and disaster.  There's no point.  Go back now.  Live in a permanently curtailed, small world, and wait for direction there.  Thoughts that, in short, make me tense, make me worried.  Heart attack, heart attack.  Business failure, business failure.

Why are the Shirelings so resistant to the power of the Ring?  Because they lead relaxed, natural lives, surrounded by and tending to life, and are thus as opposite of the power of the Ring as they could be.

To my way of thinking, what is natural is an open meadow.  What is unnatural is a skyscraper built upon it. Why should it matter 1,000 years from now if people remember what we built?

The "I" of Ayn Rand is in my view a sort of nervous tick, a momentary disruption.  I mention her specifically since the skyscraper represented everything manly she wanted, including her own penis (OK: that's going a bit far, but my kids, having seen a picture of her, refer to her as "the woman who looks like a man".)

What she wanted was hard and enduring, and difficult to craft and build.  The ascent up the skyscraper represented the literal and figurative high point of "The Fountainhead".

But is it natural for a flower to desire to blossom alone, so that its glory can be greater?  Paradoxically, Ayn Rand wanted the admiration of others for not wanting the admiration of others.  She wanted recognition, but only for doing it her way.  She wanted to be seen as an absolutely unique genius, but did not tolerate any dissent from this view among her admirers.

Can we not ask: is the pleasure of feeling above others really superior to the feeling of connecting with others, and having the ability both to generate spontaneous joy and to receive it?  Do we not in the end want our feet in earth, and not concrete and glass?

Few wandering thoughts.  If it doesn't make the images go away, I'll have another go after a while.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Olympus has fallen

I'm trying to watch more movies.  I've liked Aaron Eckhart since "Battle: Los Angeles", so I thought I'd give it a go.  I am going to speak as if you have seen the movie.  I'm not paid for this.

First, when it became obvious both that the North Koreans were behind it, AND that they were actively trying to dismantle America's nuclear deterrent--as well as, of course, having engaged in what by any standard is an act of war by attacking and killing many Americans, and taking its two top officials prisoner--why not phone the head nutcase, and give him a simple ultimatum: release the President and all hostages in the next 10 minutes, or your nation goes up in flames.

What does Morgan Freeman do?  Agree to the terms, to "save" the President.  Now, I have likely quoted Jack Nicholson's famous line from "As good as it gets before", but will again.  How does one write of a typical leftist?  You write a conservative, then remove all sense of reason and accountability.

I have told my kids already: if somebody ever threatens to kill me unless you do something they can't do by themselves, understand they are going to kill me anyway, and kill you, once they get what they want.  You can't make a good deal with a bad person.  Period. This is common sense.

But what has Morgan Freeman done?  In order to win some minute chance of saving the President, he virtually ensures war between North and South Korea, and then the destruction outright of the United States.

Yes, it is just a movie, but they make movies like this because people are too stupid to think things through (another personal favorite non sequitur: in Eraser, after Arnie gets to the roof of a highly secure building, how does he get off?  We are not told).

To be clear, it is likely millions will die in any war on the Korean Peninsula, since somebody is likely to use nukes, most likely the North.

And compare Obama to Eckhart's President.  Does it not make you want to weep?  Could you imagine Obama in a situation like that reacting with even a SHRED of moral courage?  What challenges has he surmounted in his life?  Running a campaign which mainly consisted in reading speeches from teleprompters someone else wrote?  He is to a real President what Ben Kingley's drug addled Mandarin would have been to a real, serious, terrorist. He is an actor, and not even a particularly good one.  No one believes him when he says he feels "compassion".  He was unable even to fake credible tears after the murder of over 20 kids in Newtown.

Otherwise, the movie was the umpteenth knockoff of Die Hard.  Worth the $4 I spent.

Edit, two other thoughts.

1.  Did we not just go through the scenario described, roughly, of a North Korea taking provocative action, and threatening missile tests?   Think about this: Obama's silence, in the face of a semi-credible threat of nuclear attack, was deafening, at least for those with sense.

2. Gerard Butler's character is the sort of person, I'm sure, that Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods were: men with character, absolutely dedicated to their cause, and utterly undeserving of what happened to them.  They are people who make people like Obama and Hillary look like the midgets they are. They are what makes this country great.

I remember a story a SpecOps friend told me.  When Clinton authorized the release of dual use nuclear technology to the Chinese back in the 1990's, he had just completed SERE school, which among other things involves being locked in what amounts to a dog cage for day or two, and in the advanced training getting waterboarded and beaten.  I didn't ask the details of what happened, but I'm sure it was unpleasant.

What bothered him is that people like him have to undergo very severe, very difficult training to protect secrets that in most cases have a shelf life of no more than 48 hours.  Yet, Clinton, who like Obama never underwent any security clearance, was able to release strategic secrets that could affect the destiny of nations, at no cost to himself, and without even being coerced.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Black Helicopters

I well remember the militias that formed under Bill Clinton, and the sundry conspiracy theories floating around.  The Left, of course, began writing effective propaganda about right wing "paranoia" many years ago.  We were told there was no Red Menace, even after it was revealed that the principle architects of both the UN and the Bretton Woods agreement were Communist agents.  We were told the "domino theory" had no validity even after Communism brought its unique version of hell not just to South Vietnam, but to Cambodia, Laos, and many nations in Africa and Latin America following what the Soviets interpreted as America's decision not to oppose them.

Even now, we have a man in the White House about whom we know almost nothing other than that he has been surrounded by anti-liberal radicals his entire life, and brought many of them to Washington with him.

Whenever I see people mock those who question the fundamentally Liberal character of modern left wing intellectuals and policy makers, I always like to link this piece here, as it puts their views in their own words: http://www.claremont.org/publications/crb/id.1588/article_detail.asp

We were told just this week something to the effect that people who are asking for actual science from the global warming crowd are nuts.  Consider in that regard this quote, chosen more or less at random:

[l]iberal democracy is sweet and addictive and indeed in the most extreme case, the U.S.A., unbridled individual liberty overwhelms many of the collective needs of the citizens.... There must be open minds to look critically at liberal democracy. Reform must involve the adoption of structures to act quickly regardless of some perceived liberties.

We have to understand that these academics and think tank leaders--and the people who bankroll them, like the Rockefeller Foundation and George Soros--have been wanting to more or less erode democracy in favor of something like the fascist economic and political system China has evolved for something more than 50 years.  None of this is new.

Thus, whose sanity should we question, when we have thousands of people in positions of influence openly advocating for an end to the primacy of Constitutional law in the governance of our republic, and who act consistently in support of that aim, as Obama has since the day he hit office?

Taking people at their word is not paranoia.  Ignoring them: THAT is lunacy.  Turns out Hitler was quite sincere, and so was Van Jones early in his career, before he learned the Fabian principles of gradualism, appearing respectable, and persistent conscious deception about their actual end goals.

Keynes, further response

I like taking arrogant and ignorant left wingers out at the knees.  This is likely a character flaw, but I am good at it.  This is a response to a response on Keynes I put up several days ago.  He listed the normal responses, including the obligatory pretense that there are "countercyclical" spending cuts, which of course there never are, and never have been anywhere I know of since the initiation of this madness in the 1930's.

What we need to understand is that "austerity", as it is being bandied about in Europe and the United States, is committing to provide 20 candy bars a day to a 600 pound man, with an annual increase of 2 candy bars per day per year for the next forty years, or until he dies.  He gets used to this idea, then all of a sudden it is decided to reduce the amount of increase to 1 3/4 candy bars a year.  The horror.

Put another way, if true austerity is "belt tightening", what is actually being discussed is a decrease in the rate at which the belt is loosened.  It is still belt loosening; the only thing being discussed is the rate at which we should continue becoming fatter; or, to make it concrete, the rate at which the Federal Government continues to metastasize.

And it is worth reiterating often both that every public sector job can ONLY exist at the expense of private sector jobs, and that government stimulus in the best possible case does the same work the private sector would have done, after taking a cut out of it, and in most cases subtracting intelligence.  If you believe that digging and filling in holes is productive, that is taking intelligence out, and ensuring that whatever word is used, "investment" is not and can never be an appropriate one.

When used by the left wing the word austerity is to sound fiscal policy what the word social justice is to actual fairness. It is a propagandistic meme designed to allow the short sighted to convince the stupid that 1.4 trillion dollar deficits can be sustained forever. To be clear, that IS what is being proposed. Obama's latest budget does not balance EVER, within the lifetime of ANYONE. And that is just the annual budget. NOBODY, on the left or the right, is proposing actually paying down our debt, except Rand Paul, whose proposal is serious, and Paul Ryan, whose proposal is far too weak.

Mussollini did praise Keynes, and Keynes did praise Hitler, but I am not going to take the time to look it up. I would ask, though: what would Keynes have objected to in Hitler's use of state power to buy up large segments of the private sector and enhance employment? And Hitler DID have a plan to balance the budget: invade the rest of Europe. He was far more sane than Lenin.

If you want intelligent analysis of the faults of our system, read my treatment of it: http://www.goodnessmovement.com/Page23.html . What you think you know consists in logical fallacy, presumption of facts which are not true, and the repetition of talking points created by people just as ignorant as you.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Lord of the Rings

As I've mentioned, I recently went through the whole thing again.  One thought that kept occurring to me this time is that it was economically invalid.  Where were the farms around Minas Tirith?  The riders of Rohan were presumably pastoralists, but if so, where were the cattle and sheep?

Now, obviously there exist substantial logistical difficulties in mounting to this level of detail, but on another level I would like to submit that in his prioritization of economics as a reflection of underlying power dynamics, and thus an issue of primary POLITICAL importance, Marx was quite astute.

We dealt, of course, with the kings in the movie, but there would have been serfs, since this was presumably a feudal system.  Did Tolkien and/or Peter Jackson not want to show these people, since they kept referring to the "free" kingdoms of Middle Earth?

And what did the orcs eat, in a land without sun?

Virtue can only take priority over hunger when hunger is largely and regularly sated.  This means anyone concerned with building virtue must take an interest in effective economics.  Life is logistics.  This is not speculation, but daily observation.

What if the Buddha had wandered into a strange land, attained Nirvana, but been unable to speak the local language to communicate it?  How many human wonders have been lost for the proverbial "want of a nail"?

Saw

I'm trying to take this idea of Movie Yoga seriously.  He makes the case that even the most horrific violence can actually be cathartic, if you lean in emotionally, rather than zone out; if you allow the scenes to affect you, see what rises from the depths of your unconscious, and then accept and integrate, affirm and bless, those contents.

So I decided to watch two horror classics, Saw and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre".  I watched Saw last night.

As I process it, several plot elements come to mind.  First the emotionlessness, the passionlessness of the doctor.  Even as time is ticking, he is acting as if he has all the time in the world.  6 o'clock comes around, and he is surprised by it.  ONLY when he can no longer act, does the full weight of urgency strike him.

For his part, the kid is hasty.  The movie is bookended by the key he lost in his haste to get the recorder.  Interestingly, had the doctor been on his side, his plodding approach might have won him the key.  But of course the murderer knew that.

It occurs to me that all the characters in the movie have classic hamartias, and that Horror in some cases might be viewed as a species of tragedy, complete with catharsis.

In Movie Yoga, he makes the case that life is characterized by constant death and rebirth cycles, which have four main components: complacency/safety; being forced from safety, but unable to move, being trapped; energetic motion away from the forces oppressing you, running from them, fighting them, and eventually moving towards something; and finally freedom, a completion of the journey.  There are of course numerous examples of this in the Lord of the Rings.  One he doesn't mention is the womb-like pseudo-safety of Helm's Deep, and the final need to press out, to forego defensive barriers, in order to win the day, which of course happens at dawn.

This series of steps echoes the physical birth process, which Stan Grof argues is a very important element in everyone's psychosocial development.  Parts of ourselves can be stuck at each stage, with following life consequences.  The goal, of course, is to facilitate movement, with the idea being that sufficient movement will erode barriers preventing us from consistently being able to travel through to freedom and stay there.

But back to Saw.  I was watching myself, and when the movie started, I was acutely feeling their confusion, panic, anger at confinement, and an overall sense of anxiety.  I found myself standing while watching it.  What was going to happen?  And I identified with the doctor's final panic attack, when he realized how his passionlessness has put his wife and daughter in grave danger.

And in the end, of course, he failed.  There was nothing he could do when he finally chose to do something.  But we the viewers did not fail.  We can learn from his lesson.  We can learn to value life more, and to live with more passion, more connection, more vitality.

In some respects Jigsaw acts as a deity in the Greek sense.  He even wears a pig's head, and dresses as a priest.  He acts as a daemonic spirit, where daemon can mean god, demon, fortune or fate.

He is evil, of course, but the point of the movie is to interact creatively with it.  What do the events on the screen teach US, the viewers?

It is worth noting that Greek tragedy is quite violent.  Cannibalizing children, incest, rape, and of course murder feature prominently, particularly, I read, in tales concerning the House of Areus.

I have work to do, but will likely post something on the Texas Chainsaw Massacre after I view it.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Post on Keynes

 Posted here: http://prospect.org/article/sex-economics-and-austerity#comment-20506

It is as interesting that someone should try to defend Keynes via his homosexuality as that one should attack him.

Reality is simple: you cannot spend more money than you take in forever.  You cannot borrow money forever.  You cannot borrow or spend your way to prosperity.  We borrow over $1 trillion dollars a year, and interest ALONE on our national debt will soon exceed the Pentagon's budget.  These are not "right wing" speculations.  They are facts,  Period.

Further, the more important aspect of Keynes personality we need to look at is his lifelong association with radicals like Leonard Woolf, Lytton Strachey, and most ominously George Bernard Shaw, who was one of the first people he wrote when completed his masterpiece of BS, the "General Theory".

Read the last chapter of that book.  What is unmistakeable even for an average mind is that he was Fascist, and I mean that in a technical sense.  He wanted potential government control over all aspects of economic life, with large, supportive corporations to be left alone as long as they toed the line.  He praised in his lifetime the economic policies of Adolph Hitler.  He in turn was praised by Benito Mussollini--the former Communist who came up with the name "Fascism", kids--who called Keynes ideas "pure fascism".  Yes, that is a quote.

Why were he and his Russian wife allowed to travel the Soviet Union without supervision?  Because they were regarded as ideologically safe.  George Bernard Shaw praised both Nazism and Communism, and there is no reason to believe Keynes did not share his fundamentally elitist and amoral worldview.  Keynes simply thought Fascism was more intelligent.

People like you are ruining this world by stupidity, by allowing vicious and evil human beings to continue their quest to destroy all semblances of a truly Liberal political order, and all traces of anything approaching honest morality.

Virtue and Vices

You know, the sun you see today is not the same sun you saw yesterday.  Both the sun and your eye have changed.

The opposite of an opposite is a continuum.  Non-duality does not preclude the existence of difference.

And the point I wanted to make here: all vices and virtues exist uniquely and in dynamic ways for all people.  The way I express vanity may differ in small but significant ways from how you express vanity.  The way I indulge anger may differ from how you do.

Practically, what this means is that it is easy to blind ourselves both to our virtues and our vices, because they do not exist in us precisely the way we seem them--or feel we see them--in others.

If I admire the courage, say, of Achilles, but do not express it in his way, does not mean I am not brave.

If I resent the egotism of another, that does not mean that it has not found a place in me, and nestled comfortably in some dark place in me I refuse to see.

I find the process of self discovery--which in many respects is also "other discovery", because it facilitates deeper connection--endlessly fascinating.  Some may see this as self absorption.  Maybe they are right.  I don't know.  Likely, the final answer is

Anti-Manicheanism

Per the recommendations in the book Movie Yoga, I rewatched the Lord of the Rings over the last few days. I own the movies, and have watched them a number of time.  I will share a few thoughts.

First, it seems to me it would be useful to use the same practice I use in dream interpretation in Movie Yoga.  In what way does EVERY character represent some latent aspect in you?  Can you say you are fully without hunger for power?  That you have abandoned all slavishness in you?  That you always use moral reasoning and empathy in all your decisions?  Or, conversely, do you not have untapped potentials expressed by the elves and wizards?

Secondly, I have long wondered about the extent of the macabre in Tibetan Buddhism, such as the ritual use of human bones, and their practice of cutting the bodies of their dead into pieces and feeding them to vultures.

Like most people, I have long separated myself from evil.  Hell, I have a site dedicated to the exploration of Goodness.  Can we really say, though, that evil is out there, and not that it is a quality of energy which is always present to our experience in potentia?  It is always RIGHT THERE, waiting, as is Goodness.

When I watch movies, they start trains of images flowing, some from the movie, many completely spontaneous.  It is literally like watching movies my unconscious is creating as it goes.  Sometimes it is interesting, sometimes not, but I have learned to watch, as there is always something which some part of me is trying to make conscious.

In my meditation, I had images of cannibalizing Gimli.  Now, I like Gimli as well as anyone, so what was this?  It is rage.  Achilles, after he had wounded Hektor, told him he wanted to rip the flesh from his bones and eat it raw.  This imagery--and historically in practice--this has been an Ur-image of primal bestiality and anger.  This means I am tapping into some unrecognized spot of rage, primal rage.  This is a good thing.  Kum Nye literally means "massaging the emotional/spiritual body", and what I found was a pocket of tension.

Immediately after this image, I had images of Saurumon laughing and smoking with Gandalf, in an open spirited and happy way, in a time long before his fall.  I had images of Gandalf showing a bad temper in his younger years.  We see him only after he has conquered that bad habit.  I saw that many of the soldiers for the Rohanese and Gondorians beat their wives and abused their children.  I thought of an imaginative book which radically rethought the Lord of the Rings, by telling it from an orc's perspective: http://www.salon.com/2011/02/15/last_ringbearer/

It seems to me that only by embracing our capacity for evil that we can see clearly, that we can finally purge ourselves of it; or, as I should put it, perfect the process of purging ourselves of it daily, by learning not to cling to ideas, habits, or emotions.

We can posit, I think, that the heart of existence is joy.  This is what the mystics teach us, and I believe it.  What prevents the emergence of this truth is a protective coating of habits, which the Buddhists and others have described in great detail.  One of these habits is rejecting experience, rather than diving into it, and bobbing back up.

Now, what I am describing can of course be abused, and is not suitable for people who are on the edge.  But for those with strong wills and solid reality testing, it is quite interesting.











Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Greek Philosophy and That

During my cross country trip, I listened to the 12 hours of Greek philosophy, 6 hours on Buddhism, and 6 on the Iliad.  I am sensitive by nature, when I want to be, and wow many impressions were left. 

I will say that I used to want to catch ideas the way you catch a butterfly, to cage them on a page somewhere.  I decided recently to stop that, to watch them come and go, and if I miss a few, so be it.  Whatever is important remains within me and will come back at the appropriate time.  Many of the ideas I had on the trip in reaction to these lectures I have lost, but some keep reappearing.

One is that we could with justice point to our current social problems as grounded in mistakes made by the Greeks.  For one thing, they neglected the role of the body in perception.  There is no equivalent in the Greek tradition to sitting meditation, that I am aware of (some, say Pythagoras, may have had it, but if so, they did not speak of it).

For Aristotle and Plato, living--loving Truth--was synonymous with thinking, with thought, with the efforts of the brain.

But so much of life is NOT thought.  There is a passage in the Tao Te Ching where Lao Tzu says something like "how do I know this is so?  Because of THAT."  That is him pointing to something real, which cannot be confined to the book.  What is a liger?  I could Google it, or, if one was in the room, I could say THAT.

In the lecture on Buddhism someone was asked if some thing or other was true or not true.  He did not answer, and was considered clever for it.  What is the sound of one hand clapping?  One accepted answer is apparently to clap with one hand without saying a word.  As far as I can tell, to the extent koans have ANY utility, they are to point to the incompleteness of language and thought.  You could do that equally by relaxing in a wonderful bath, taking it in fully, then pondering briefly the futility of attempting to render your experience in words.  You can either evoke from others imaginings, memories, or simple images.  Not even the most simple experience can be fully rendered (as animal fat is rendered) into language.

So what make language the measure of all things?  I am of course only one of many to ask this question.

There is something inherently reductive about the requirement that action be based on logic.  Logic is only a part of ourselves, and very much one of the least important aspects of our actual experience, of life as it is actually lived experientially.

How do intellectually deranged people like Richard Dawkins come into being?  By making the use of logic the ONLY means of approaching truth, and simultaneously making the apprehension of truth the only purpose of life.  Materialism is not a scientifically sound doctrine.  Matter, as far as we can tell, does not "exist" in any final way, and our best guess is that our own consciousness--or some supreme consciousness we may as well call God--is what causes the latent to manifest, for the world to exist.

But only within a materialistic, which is to say energetically static, standpoint, can we say all the questions have been answered, all the problems solved, the nature of human existence solved, using logic, and only logic.  You cannot perform logically sound operations upon fluctuating premises, such as the stipulation of a  connection between cause and effect within our own perceptual domain, in ways that can be measured.

My brain is tired.  I did not exhaust this theme, and am not quite sure I hit the points I wanted the way I wanted to, but I'm going to stop t

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Writing

I recently listened to a 12 hour treatment of Greek philosophy.  I had many reactions, of course, most of which I will likely never post here (that is another topic), but did want to find that I found Socrates' thoughts on writing his ideas down interesting.  Effectively, his position was that ideas live, and that writing them down calcified them in some way, such that they could no longer interact with others in a living way once he was dead.  Dialogue was no longer possible, and he preferred being forgotten to being misunderstood. 

This is an interesting perspective.

Is not all writing dead, and resurrected by the reader?  I was wondering about some of my own writing, and how I would respond to questions about it.   I would have to rethink myself to the place where I wrote it, which I hope would be regressive, since I would hope I have grown since then (yesterday; five minutes ago).

Each resurrects writing in their own way, even the author.  I myself can't remember what I believed 5 years ago, not in detail.

Can there be an honest writing of the future?  I don't know.

Talking out loud again.  May make sense, maybe not.  Gibberish is sometimes the idiom of the open.

Spirituality

I would like to define Spirituality as I understand it as "The perfection of normality."  Is it normal to feel desire when a heterosexual man sees an attractive woman?  Of course.  My spirituality simply offers him the choice of using that normal, natural desire to further his own spiritual growth by chasing her around, or to let it go immediately as not compatible with his current goals.

Anger, sadness, jealousy, greed: none of these are foreign.  None of these are abnormal.  What I would submit, though, is that it is certainly useful to believe that happiness is our natural state, and in point of fact I think this is actually true, in an absolute sense we will be able to see when we pass on.

Our task is to follow a path laid down for us to happiness, which travels through, and attains familiarity with ALL, the side routes of all the normally unhelpful emotions.

I have more to say, but I feel it won't quite come out right at this time, so I'm going to go watch some more of the Lord of the Rings, and keep testing out my Movie Yoga.  If it works out, I'm going to compete in the Regional Serenity Contest next month.  I think I may even be able to make Nationals. (h/t to the Onion.  That link is pretty funny.)

Anti-Wounds

I just finished a very interesting book called "Movie Yoga", by Tav Sparks, who more or less runs the official Holotropic Breathwork training.  The premise is that movies can act as triggers for deep latent nexuses of emotional tension, which if accepted and acknowledged, if allowed to flow freely, will loosen deep knots within our psyches, and allow the normal and natural flow towards wholeness with which we are all born.

I think he is right, but that he does not go far enough.  It seems to me that we all crave direction, and in the moral sphere the only directions can be away from or towards our moral goals.  A personality based on a chosen goal is characterized by a deep qualitative order I have called "Telearchy" which provides a sense of relief and freedom in and of itself from the burdens of confusion, self pity, and an unstable sense of what to do in life.

Within (W)holotropic Breathwork, the goal is definitionally Wholeness, and the means of moving towards it the liberation of what they term the Inner Healer.  For those who are hurt--pretty much all of us--release from the prison of self defeating, deeply imbedded, generally unconscious behavioral and emotive patterns is wholesome, invigorating, and useful.

Doing my meditation this morning, though, it occurred to me that if a wound is concave emotionally--if it represents the intrusion of the outside world in such a way that a permanent change has been affected--then there ought to be the emotional equivalent of a convex curve as well.  We can in fact intrude into the world, from the inside out.

Joy, as an example, can be infectious.  Optimism, love, excitement: all can be spread.  What you need to do this is a superabundance of these traits, such that you are not only not deficient in them, but so profoundly filled with them that you cannot but spread your abundance.

In my view healing wounds is only half of what humans are capable of.  We are capable of becoming human dynamos, sources of light and healing energy.  I have at times felt strong currents flowing through me, and my goal is to build this flow as well as I can, which in my case will first consist in meeting my own emotional needs well enough that I am never an asshole (a counterfactual statement, regrettably, at the moment), and that I am able to achieve consistent congruence between thought, word and deed (also not currently a salient element in my own life).

I used the word guru in one sense a few posts ago. I will use it in another way.  Let us suppose that everyone is emotionally wounded, or at least incomplete in some way.  They are not sufficient unto themselves.  They cannot act as radiant lights without context, without emotional support, without people who understand them.

It seems to me there is a limit to what can be achieved within a mass of people, each of whom needs some section of the others for optimal functioning.  Do there not need to be those who are "self-born", who regulate their own destinies, who can give without taking?  I feel there do, those who can move but not be moved.  We might follow Aristotle, and place their final reliance on God, however we define the referent of this word. I am fine with that.

Such people, though, I would also call "heavy" (guru), and certainly teachers.

Stacis

I had a mild synchronicity with this word yesterday, which I will not discuss.  For reasons completely inscrutable even to me, I am sending it out here.

If I have any long time readers, you will have noticed I am sometimes almost completely self indulgent, as here.  It is needed sometimes, for all of us.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Ten Thousand Things

Somewhere in the Tao Te Ching it says, approximately, "the ten thousand things rise and fall without ceasing".  This has long been my go-to quote for dealing with change, or really difficulty of any kind.  I recently taught it to my oldest, who found it interesting that something 2,500 years old would still be relevant, and in this case, helpful in dealing with constantly shifting high school social terrain.

I don't know why, but I get this picture of this vast ocean, and countless things bobbing up and down.  In that vast space, my own ups and downs feel less important, and in any event it is in the nature of the world that what once was, will soon enough be no more, and what was not, will soon enough come into being.

You can shrink from this, or shine a bright light on it and welcome it.

Friday, May 3, 2013

5 Tibetans

I like this movement system.  It is a really good way to get going in the morning, and about the most efficient system I have found both for basic core work, and for stretching out the major muscle groups.

Here is one link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HjtslbrFbLY

Here are verbal descriptions of them: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_Tibetan_Rites

For the spinning, I have found that I can separate myself from the dizziness.  You pick a point you return to while spinning--like figure skaters do--and when you have done the 20 or 21 rotations, what I find is that the point keeps moving, like there is a wind moving, but that if you simply let the wind move, that eventually the dizziness disappears entirely.  I have gotten to where I can do 20 spins fast with almost no recovery time.

For the second, I like to raise my arms, too, to touch my toes.  That is not in there, but I like it.

This is my most basic exercise system.  If I do nothing else, I do this.

Here's another video.  She is quite easy on the eyes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJElLrpBetc

Star Parker and Abortion

I liked this column: http://townhall.com/columnists/starparker/2013/04/29/how-abortion-has-changed-america-n1579604

She says: "Let’s be clear that pro-aborts and pro-lifers differ on far more than technicalities about when life begins. They differ about what life is."  I agree.

She says: "It takes a certain deadening of the heart, of the soul to read the description of the little baby clasping his fingers and toes as the doctor jams his scissors into his skull , and still believe this should be permitted."  I agree.

We need to be clear about the logic of the "pro-choice" movement (quotes, because one half of the people involved gets no choice): there is no difference in principle between removing a woman's gall bladder or kidney, and removing and killing a viable child.  This is the logic of "My body, my choice".  This is the logic of Kermit Gosnell and those who defend him.

She says: "Since Roe v Wade, we’ve given birth to a new materialistic culture of narcissism where reverence for life itself is gone. Life has become a commodity and people use each other as cavalierly as they destroy innocent young life." I agree.

What was the logic of abortion choice?  That women would fare better when allowed not to have children they did not want, and which they somehow "contracted" from consensual sex that was done unintelligently.

What has been the effect?  Are women empowered?  Given that the most abortions are performed in poor black ghettos, it would seem not.  Can we say that killing thousands of little black babies every year is somehow improving our communal life?  Yes, the statistical likelihood is that they would have become de facto wards of the State, but this is only true because Democrats prevent all economic policies from being enacted which would likely generate economic growth in the ghettos.

I think Star Parker is right that tolerating abortion requires a coursening of the spirit, a hardening of the heart, a chosen violation of natural human instincts to protect and defend the defenseless.

In all my moral/ethical writings I talk about looking at the effects over time and across populations of certain types of behavior.  As I see it, this is the only wise, the only true way to get at the heart of morality, which is about elevating the human spirit, and increasing feelings of peace, joy, and belonging.

Abortion clearly does none of these things.  All one can say about it is that it provides economic advantages to irresponsible and frivolous people.  That is not a sufficient defense to warrant not opposing it, at least in most cases.

And to reiterate what should be patently obvious, there is no Constitutional right to abortion.  It is nowhere to be found, or even hinted at in the Bill of Rights.  Roe v. Wade in important respects paved the way for the patently unConstitutional Supreme Court defense of Obamacare.

Mediocrity creates mediocrity.   Stupidity and lack of principle can become habits, particularly when reinforced by vigorous propaganda.

Obama, Christians, and the military

Astonishingly, Obama has declared a proxy war on Christianity, in what is arguably one of the most religious groups in the country, the Armed Services.  Here is one link.

They hired themselves a bigot, who does nothing all day but hate on the religiously adherent.  What is the game? 

Obviously, in a general way, the goal of all Leftists (Cultural  Sadeists) is to destroy any coherent social structure outside the relationship of the isolated individual with the State.  Religion and tradition generally are both enemies to be destroyed.  As I have said, in my view the inner core of the gay marriage push is to denigrate and marginalize traditional family structures outright.  Gay marriage has NO history anywhere in recorded history, anywhere on the planet, and now we are supposed to consider it a fundamental right.  It is not.

Specifically, though, I think the Left has realized that for any coup to succeed you have to have the military on your side. There is no other way, and DHS cannot make up for this gap.  Logically, then, why not wage a war on religion, and by extension on all social conservatives?  By a process of gradual elimination, people more open to radical new political forms may take over the ranks.

I cannot say if this is an intelligent strategy, but it appears to be the one being pursued.  It would seem to me that a large backlash is quite possible among those who choose to stay in, particularly if ably led by senior command officers, who if capable of war-fighting, one would hope would also have the balls to defend the basic rights of their troops, which would include free social interaction, and the freedom to speak of religion, which has provided countless soldiers over millenia with much needed comfort.  Even the SERE books used to speak of the manifest and much tested value of a belief in God in surviving extreme situations.

Time will tell.

Conditioned Existence

Buddhists posit three types of suffering--which as I have pointed out, consists both in actual felt pain, and unrealized, unsuspected, potential happiness/elevated experience.

The first type is what country singers and blues singers sing about.  It is poverty and following difficulty and resentment.  It is dishonesty in others.  It is being a double amputee.  It is hunger, both physical and emotional. It is all the felt sufferings of mind, body and spirit, which we call pain.

The second type is a sort of pooling of resistance and tension in response to change.  It is holding on to what is passing by.  It is disruptions in the smooth flow of breath because we want one thing to be true and not another.

The third type is the most subtle, what they call "conditioned existence".  Put most simply, it is having a self that we want to retain, to hold on to.

I was listening to this series on Buddhism several weeks ago, and when he came to the part about conditioned existence, I inexplicably started sobbing, in a way I have not done in many years.  I was driving, and it was a bit inconvenient.  I nearly pulled over, but it passed.

Conditioned existence is feeling trapped by your history, unable to break free and fly.  It is in the very structure of your body, how you have learned to move in response to your particular psychosocial history. 

I watched a bird land on the very top branch of a tree last week.  Conditioned existence is that bird thinking that because it is on the top of the tree, that it has realized its full potential, and forgetting how to fly.
You can feel that shrinking, like plastic wrap in an oven.  Just because it is transparent, does not mean that it does not hold you.

We all live in cages.  We choose these cages because they provide our "four walls of freedom", to paraphrase Merton.  But this is an illusion.  We were meant to roam open oceans, and fly in empty spaces.  It is fear that holds us back.  We create the walls. Those walls protect us from out there, from the knowledge of freedom.