Thursday, April 30, 2015

Left is right and right is left

As I ponder the matter, it seems to me I would be justified not only in calling myself a Liberal, which I do, but a leftist as well.  From a strictly historical perspective, the true liberals sat somewhere in the middle of the French Revolutionary Assembly, but the mythos is that those on the right wanted stagnation--a return to a simply reformed "ancien regime"--and those on the left radical change; they were, as they could come to call themselves, in aspiration "progressive".  They wanted to leave the past behind and build something new. In practice, of course, they replaced a tyranny with a worse tyranny, state violence with worse state violence, repression with yet worse oppression, and in general committed all the crimes of Louis the 16th without his redeeming restraints.  General war was waged for many years in which millions died, solely because of the legacy of these fools.

What I would submit is that those on the "left" today want nothing more than global Pharaohism.  They want a permanent elite to govern a permanent abject mass of helpless subjects.  This is what I feel.  Perhaps I am wrong, but it is difficult to see anything but evil arising in the hearts of those unable to commit to any form of substantive goodness.  They speak their fascism often.  You simply have to learn to interpret intentionally misleading phrases like "open society".  In general, you have merely to invert them, to see the perversion behind them.

When you look at the stone monuments in Egypt, what they wanted to convey was permanence, stasis, the pointlessness of trying to change the system, which lasted for many thousands of years.  Changelessness was what they wanted, and largely got.  I have seen these chasms of carved stone in my dreams and they filled me with dread.  Human beings were reduced to cattle, and governed by cruel and abusive tyrants.

Thus the project of the Left is nothing but a return to the past, a past which took us thousands of years to climb out of.  Communism is Pharoahism.  Nazism was Pharaohism, complete with monuments.

The people who want true progress are those who want freedom, true freedom, meaningful freedom.  If we look again at the French Revolutionary Assembly as a sort of bell curve, both sides are anchored by people who differed only in the past they wanted to return to.  Those in the middle were in fact the most truly progressive, most truly visionary.  People like them led our own Revolution and founded our nation.  In France, of course, they were by and large killed.

Thus a true Liberal is a true Progressive.  I want progress in the form of continued access to technological advancement and all the advantages free markets bring, coupled with a steadily shrinking government, a steadily diminishing Pharaohist project.  I want the power elite to be put out of business, and countless communities of common interest formed which meet the emotional and cultural needs of those involved.

This is a truly radical notion. I am a proud revolutionary.

If I were King

I will admit to fantasizing sometimes about what I would do if were to become King of America for two years, besides working on my evil laugh.

I would implement my financial plan.

I would implement this IRS eradication plan.

I would make it so no one who doe not pay taxes has the right to vote.  My reasoning should be obvious: to contain the problems first seen by the Greeks well over 2,000 years ago, and which are equally obvious today.

I would require everyone over the age of 16 who wanted to vote to read certain books and pass tests demonstrating understanding of the content.  The first two would be "Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" and "The Black Book of Communism", so as to teach the perils and methods of different types of Fascism.

They would read the passages in Keynes General Theory where he admits his aim is fascism, learn about his cultural milieu and close connection to the Fabian fascists, and read Henry Hazlitt's refutation of Keynes in "Economics in one easy lesson".

They would read "The Fatal Conceit", Paul Johnson's History of the American People, Thomas Sowell's "Basic Economics".

They would read Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States" followed by another text detailing the many factual errors, exaggerations, and omissions in that text.  Actually, it might work best if an annotated version were created, so that the truth and the errors are shown side by side.  To this we could perhaps add a Chomsky text, and an anti-Chomsky reader.   This would work to teach people that bullshit can appear to make perfect sense.

Anyone attending college would be required to read Jacques Ellul's Propagandas to graduate.

They would be specifically taught the truth about our chosen abandonment of the Vietnamese people, and what it meant for them and the region in general.

They would read both the Federalist Papers and Anti-Federalist papers.

They would be required to demonstrate an understanding of the Constitution.

I would fund schools and teachers to do all this teaching.

We would IMMEDIATELY protect our energy grid from an EMP.  Why this has not been done is a mind-numbing mystery I prefer not to visit too often.

I would provide MASSIVE funding for research into psi, the survival of death, and all associated fields.  Atheism and materialism are counter-scientific belief systems, and their prevalence in the sciences is one of the reasons for the pervasive failures in the Humanities.

I would abolish most of the Federal government, gradually, giving States time to take up the slack and set up their own apparatus to retain what programs they saw fit.  I would get rid of most of Homeland Security nearly immediately.

I would retain most of our Navy carrier groups, and the Marine Corps, but otherwise downsize the standing military, while requiring the States to create the ability to provide trained units on demand.  I would strongly encourage them to create some form of compulsory service to grow kids the fuck up through difficulty, either military, or search and rescue.

I would reduce the NSA to two levels of connection.  No more open net spying.   I would massively increase the CIA's HumInt capabilities (after a thorough audit of both agencies--and the FBI--to see how much bullshit they have been getting away with, and firing as many people as I needed to).

I would build an effective missile shield.

All of this would represent a very good start.  I have other ideas, too, but do not want to share them at the moment.

What would be left after two years would be a system again highly resistant to demagogues and tyranny.

Privatizing the IRS

I am a statistic.  I have been hung up on repeatedly, and spent many hours taking care of things that should have taken a few minutes.  You cannot convince me that the IRS has not chosen to pout about its budget cuts by making customer service much worse than it needed to be, even with the cuts.  They are doing a work slow-down to try and get their money back.  If their jobs depended on it, they could do better with less.  I have no doubt of this.  But nobodies job depends on it.  Lois Lerner told Congress to go fuck itself, and thus far has gotten away with it because they are, by and large, incompetent cowards (in that regard, did the Republican controlled House pass a budget and send it to the Republican controlled Senate?  If so, I didn't read about it.  They need to make Obama veto fiscal sanity.)

Anyway, I got to thinking about privatizing the IRS.  Ted Cruz and others go around saying we need to "abolish the IRS".  Well, no matter how much we cut the budget, the Federal government will still need money.  Somebody has to pay for the aircraft carriers and welfare cheats.  I have never called for the abolition of the Federal government, and have pointed out repeated that there is no point in a Constitution if there is no point in national government.  Thus, revenues need to be collected, but there is space within which to debate how and by whom.

My first thought was to allow private corporations--debt collectors, effectively--to bid for the right to collect taxes, something like the process in Jesus' time under the Romans. On the plus side, you could collect data on efficiency and customer service, and factor them in whenever you periodically rebid the contract, with poorly performing companies losing the contract.

But there is an issue of scale.  The IRS has 95,000 employees, give or take, and no company can scale up and down that much with anything approaching speed or efficiency.  At least, I don't think so.  This is a question of logistics I am not presently qualified to evaluate, or willing to investigate.  I suspect a transition would be a cluster fuck.

But here is an idea I like: what if the primary income collection were done by the States?  They have an existing tax apparatus and are already collecting money from their residents.  They would simply take more--usually nationally generalized percentages and procedures dictated by Congress--and remit them to the Federal government.

Some huge benefits would flow from this.

1) Most obviously, the money is ALREADY coming from the States, so we simply ratify and simplify the existing situation.  There are no Federal income taxes paid by people not living in a State or Washington DC.  What happens is the money is collected via a separate pathway, and then money used to bully and coerce the States into doing things the Federal government wants them to do.

How did they get a national speed limit of 55?  By threatening to withhold highway funds.

Medicaid in most cases is partially funded by Federal money, which again was simply taken first from the States, but in a great many cases this money is redistributive, since differing States have more or less generous Medicaid programs.  Roughly a third of the "Stimulus" (does anyone remember that?  Do you remember how passing it was "urgent", and couldn't wait for a thorough debate?  Do you remember it was supposed to keep unemployment under 8%?) went to bail out incompetently run Medicaid programs.  That money was taken from people in States who were responsible, and given to people who were profligate (to the extent the money was paid in taxes: obviously about half of it was borrowed outright).

So if the States collect the money it doesn't flow the Federal Government, and then some of it trickle back.  No money flows from the Federal government to States at all.  They simply keep what they need.

2) If the Federal government is being abusive--as is clearly the case under Obama--then they can go on tax strikes.  They can refuse to pay.  This creates huge leverage, and redistributes in a major way the balance of power.

3) The taxing authority becomes more local, and thus more vulnerable to--and accountable to--the will of the voters.  Customer service gets better.

4) We are able to eliminate an entire agency.  Imagine the inefficiency of filing both State and Federal returns.  All we do is add some line items to the existing returns, and we could do the same or better with perhaps a third more people than already exist at the State level, and are able to give 95,000 people who exist at the expense of the tax-payers--who reduce by a vast amount the capital available for investment--their walking papers.

5) There will then be no agency at the Federal level which can be abused for political purposes.

6) This would directly support my contention that the locus of social welfare should be the States, each of which was always empowered in theory to be the principle center of decisions about morality, about issues which are intrinsically ambiguous and open to multiple solutions: abortion, prostitution, drugs, euthanasia, and to the point, the extent and form of using public monies to secure some form of basic protections against hunger, sickness, homelessness, and other ills.

I have to say, this is one of my better ideas in a while.  I think.  I am smoking on it--I have a lit cigar next to me--but other than the obvious fact that 95,000 people, AT LEAST--who are unionized at the tax-payer expense--will oppose it with every inch of their bureaucratic beings, I see no down side.

Researching this, we would likely need to abolish the 16th Amendment, which would require a Constitutional convention, but it was created, and could possibly be stricken down.  This would be the best and surest means of reigning in the Federal government.

Hierarchy of Belonging

I was laying in bed this morning, dreaming, as I do--as I remain very grateful I can do--and it occurred to me that what I need is a group of 10 sacred prostitutes to care for me for a couple of days.  Women who have processed all their own traumas, and dedicated themselves to giving, to healing--which itself can often be found in a certain sort of sexual contact, characterized by both physical and emotional intimacy.

Then I generalized: I suspect most men would benefit from this.  Most of us have never really made our peace with the feminine, with our own feminine sides, and of course with those of the women around us.  There is of course a role--an important role--for the masculine to play, but the feminine is larger.  It expands more.  There is more space in it.  It is intrinsically more spiritual. It goes farther.

Then I started thinking about hierarchies of belonging.  If we follow the Polyvagal Theory, then we really have three levels of nervous system functioning which can take over, depending on the circumstances and our reactions to them.  The lowest is the immobilization/trauma response.  Above this is the fight or flight response.  Above this is the social response, which would include reasoning, chosen self restraint, as well as higher emotions which are facilitated by existing at this level, which would include love and a sense of connection.

One can in fact rationally desire and pursue love, as the most rewarding pathway for human action to follow.  You can reason your way to it.  This is, I think, an important point.

But I got to thinking that you can coalesce groups of people around lower focal points too.  The bonding of men at war?  Persisting group experiences of shared fight or flight.  This bond exists at a primal level, because that is where it happened.  In other circumstances you may have nothing in common with--or even like--these men (and I am of course generalizing, since most people in combat are men, although the same would apply to shared stresses among woman or mixed gender groups), but when you face death together, you take something away.

And sacrificial rites would exist at the gut level, at the trauma level, at the unmyelinated vagus nerve level.  The bonding would exist at that level, that of fascination with death, that sense that compels you to look at a car wreck, wondering if you will see a dead body.

They are ritual horror, ritual death, done slowly and with great attention.  As I think I've mentioned, I wanted to do a paper in graduate school comparing the phases of a serial murder--there is an arc of psycho-physiological states--with those of a traditional ritual, particularly a sacrifice, using particularly Turner's ideas.  I was turned down, but given that some of the first texts we were required to read--Durkheim and Freud--were written by atheists, I still no reason I could not have applied social psychology to the thing.

Be that as it may, in this regard I think we could see some parallelism between the Jewish practice of ceremonially slitting the throats of sheep and goats and other animals and calling it the praise of God; and those of Satanists, who use cruelty to build bonds among themselves.  These people do exist.  I've known  therapists who worked with their victims.  They seem particularly to enjoy hurting children.

There is obviously a continuum.  But I would recall to your memory--if it ever lived there--the story of God telling Abraham to “Take your son , your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you. ” 

God tells Abraham to make a holocaust--a burnt offering--of his son.  He winds up not doing it, but the story is there, and that in itself is telling.  How can we know what actual practices were excised from the Bible, which I would insist must be viewed as a human and cultural document?

Thus we would see here a human cultural evolution from one nervous system focal point to another.  From horror, to fighting, to reasoning, at least in principle.  We have departed from reasoning in our allegedly highest cultural centers, because they have tied themselves up in knots intellectually, because they lack the capacity to process life emotionally.  This state need not endure, although it remains to be seen if they will burn down--or allow to be burnt down--all the highest accomplishments to date of the human species; if, in fact, they will facilitate another and larger holocaust.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

"Scary" Ideas.

I was reading this, and got to thinking: http://rare.us/story/why-millennials-are-afraid-of-scary-ideas/

1. True Liberalism requires adults, which requires individuation/separation from the  womb.  Fascism in some form--and understood broadly I would incorporate monarchism under this banner/ceremonial ax--can be the only creed for a society whose members consistently fail to individuate. I would note that most of human history has seen tradition imposed by violence at every level from the home to the State.  To this very day, if an Untouchable walks in an upper class Indian neighborhood, he is liable to be killed, and no police report ever filed, much less the crime punished.  This is a society which does not value individualism, or rising above your operant conditioning.  Most societies are like that.

I wonder from time to time what exactly Bill Ayers taught. He wrote a number of texts (in addition to Obama's two books) which I have long intended to look up, but there is only so much time in the day.  Child Development was his field, if memory serves.  One could scarcely do better, in building his version of 1984, than to generalize the parenting practices on display here.

2. As a general rule, parents who raise children who fail to individuate have not done so themselves.  The parents of these perma-children are co-dependent.  They need to keep their children sucking at the proverbial teat so that they themselves can avoid the pain and confusion which would attend the recognition of their long term failure.  For children to individuate, they must be pushed away by the parents to some extent.  They must be told to take risks, and to risk failure regularly.

3. No good parent should wish only good things for their children.  All of us need challenges to grow, and unplanned challenges do the most in forcing us to become more resilient, adaptable, and ALIVE.  You build emotional muscle in the using of it. Hoping for an easy slide through life is the equivalent of encouraging them to avoid any physical exercise at all, because it requires effort.  It is a hope for their failure.  It is the opposite of love.

4. Only people who have individuated can even begin to think about spirituality.  The path one needs to walk shifts constantly, and no one can tell you where to go and what to do, reliably. No one can guide you on a path you are inventing as you go along.  You have to learn to trust yourself, your own instincts, and to go where no one you know has gone before.  Certainly, there are good tools, and some good teachers, but in the end we all are responsible for ourselves.

5. I think we could perhaps speak of Male Fascisms and Female Fascisms. Male Fascism is arresting and jailing or killing anyone who dissents.  It is Communism.  It is Nazism.

Female Fascism, like women themselves, would be more subtle.  Think about what would happen if these women got complete power.  Would they be crucifying people in the streets, shooting dissidents in the head?  No.  I don't think so.  What they would do would be to ostracize people who failed to goose-step with them.  They would limit where you could live, and where you could shop.  They would limit where you could work, and who you could marry.  You would have no access to the internet, or physical access to a public place where you might say something inconvenient.  You would be, for all intents and purposes, removed from society, but not directly.

And even though this process would be based on the very same hatred, the very same cruelty as Male Fascism, they would be able, in their discussion groups where they debated how best to "care" for society, to consider these merely unpleasant but absolutely necessary precautions to prevent unpleasantness that might ruin someone (else's) day.
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It would, in other words, be based upon the same grandiosity and self delusion which guide all left wing lunatics.

The headless ones

I got to thinking about that dream I had back in 2012: the ritual decapitation of leftists.

When the head is gone, what is left?  The gut.  You have a being which is pure instinct, which feels rage and hate and violence and all the other nasty emotions with no governing control, no conscience, no restraints.

If those energies had been stagnant, this is liberating.  It feels like freedom.  You can finally express a rage which was bottled up in hesitancy, which you could not justify rationally.

One of the major problems with soft rich white people--who are the main demographic contributing to leftist politics--is that they do not allow themselves to believe anything.  You can't be truly Christian--not if it means judging gays.  You can't be proudly American. You can't be proudly male.  You can't value success in a conventional way.  Virtually every pathway for expressing creative energy which is sometimes tinged with anger and violence--these are normal human emotions, felt by all--is blocked.

So the solution is to stop thinking, and start reacting.  If you like, you can paper it over with a stance of ironic detachment: detachment from the actual constructive use of reason.

You become an anger machine, one absolutely resistant to the persuasive efforts of anyone who may disagree with your politics based upon the blatant and ineluctable fact that the chosen methods never lead to the purported ends.  Never.

One of the paradoxes of Identity politics is that they reduce identities; they do not increase them.  If you are fortunate enough to be one of the "protected" groups, you still are only defining yourself as a non-white male.  I would argue that the principle problem in black communities is precisely a lack of identity, of a sense of self.

You create an authentic self through making decisions based on principles you have chosen to value, particularly when these decisions are sometimes difficult.  That is how you define who you are, what sort of person you are.  That is how you build authentic self respect.  There is no other way.  There is no other way.

The essence of Identity politics is division: it is trying to strengthen one group POLITICALLY by attacking another group, typically rich white males. IF ONLY Republicans did not exist, IF ONLY the Man didn't have it in for them, IF ONLY manna was not prevented from falling from the sky by those evil corporations, all would be right with the world.

But of course this is bullshit, or at least largely bullshit.  Anyone who is given a free education and fails to make use of it is stupid.  Anyone who does not have a plan to improve their own life, or at least that of their children, is irresponsible and stupid, at least if they don't like the quality of their life.

You do not build people up by making excuses for them, by giving them reasons not to do work only they can do.  This is obvious wisdom, and will never change, no matter how technologically sophisticated we become, or how wealthy.

When I say Identity politics work only politically, I mean that.  They work to get cynics elected, and to make them rich.  The lot of actual, individual people is impoverished: morally, culturally, socially, and economically.

I have been to Baltimore.  Driving downtown, you pass block after block of ghetto, to finally arrive in a nice, gentrified, white, downtown.  It would appear the whites live in the suburbs, come downtown for ball games or concerts, then go back home.  This leaves thousands of unemployed blacks sitting on their porches every day watching the world go by.  You do nothing long enough, it kills your soul.  It is depressing.

But I will return to the fact that two parent black families fare just as well as two parent white families, at least when it comes to raising children.

All of the efforts of Democrats to help them have made their lives horrible.  Only headless people would continue to believe the lies.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Kum Nye

Virtually everything that gets called "spirituality" is in my view bullshit.  I spent a lot of time in that domain in my early twenties, and it was and remains my perception that the vast bulk of the money and time involved in this huge industry is spent on vanity, self-aggrandizement, and even oneupsmanship.  In that domain, you are often surrounded by flakes and emotionally superficial people.  I understand the cynics fully.  Both the words love and spirituality are vaguely traumatizing for me, after having endured their abuse for so long.

But I have to say I have reached a point in my personal development where I am beginning to open up to my Kum Nye practice, and have realized that true spirituality literally is about the pursuit of new emotions.  I remember the first time I heard Annie Lennox sing about that, and wondered how a new emotion could be possible.  After all, haven't we all felt everything?

No, no we haven't.  I literally feel I am exploring new facets of myself, undiscovered caves and tunnels, which are filled with riches I didn't suspect were there.  It is exciting.

Here is a nice quote from "The Joy of Being" by Tarthang Tulku:

There is beauty that you have not yet seen.  There is sound that carries consciousness into heavenly spheres.  There is fragrance more exquisite than the rarest incense.  There is joy that expands beyond ecstacy and dissolves the seeds of suffering.  You deserve to experience all these treasures and manifest their significance to all humanity.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Die Hard model of spirituality

I know it's a bit cliched to return again to that mountain of wisdom, Die Hard, but if you will bear with me, I think some nuggets remain unexposed. It is such a richly textured film.

Alan Rickman and his Germans have detailed plans to get through every layer of the safe, until the last one.  They work and work and work, and then are stopped.  Then the FBI cuts power, and the last layer opens itself.

It is my personal belief that a daily or at least regular spiritual practice of some sort is very useful and important.  But I think sometimes playing hooky can actually be enormously beneficial.  I said this a few posts ago.

Sometimes doing nothing is what you need.  And I don't mean self consciously "doing nothing".  I mean: hey look, a SQUIRREL!!!  I think I need chicken and waffles today.  I wonder if they have Seinfeld reruns on Netflix.  My dog needs a belly rub. My goodness, what a pretty day!!!

In any event, this is what I personally need sometimes.  And I did have chicken and waffles today.  Very tasty: salty and sweet.  Now I'm going to listen to Green Onions.

The only way to take life seriously is to laugh at it sometimes.

You hear that?  It's laughing too.  The airs of this world have many blossoms and many terrors, but it is all interesting.

Love and Literary Criticism

I was thinking today about the pervasiveness of what I would call Tubaforms in the "interpretation" of literature.  You have Freudian psychosexual analyses: Henry David Thoreau had an unresolved Oedipal Complex.  You have class analysis: the construction of sexual and class identity in the works of Dead White Male (or female exhibiting False Consciousness--since we know what true consciousness is).

In my view, what every human being on the planet needs is love.  They need to be able to receive it without guilt or holding back, and they need to be able to give it in the same way.  This is a very, very simple tubaform, but one which concords better than ANY other of which I am aware with the plainly observable needs we all have.

In breaking down "class" for example, what is the end game?  Is it human felicity?  Given that such narratives invariably depend upon hate and destruction, how could any sane person expect anything good?  Mack the Knife is a left wing hero. I mean that literally.  Look it up.

I look at these simplistic analyses, and it occurs to me they are mechanistic.  Thoreau was not someone whose mother failed to give him authentic permission to individuate as a man.  No: both were embroiled in an occulted biochemical mechanical process which occasionally creates incomplete reactions.

I get why people would want to dream of utopias; but as I said the other day, you do not create a utopia based solely on what you do not want.  In point of fact, that process is utterly lacking in intelligence and purpose, and no one who fails to purpose anything can claim to be working FOR anything.  They are lost in a house of mirrors.  That many are lost with them changes the basic situation not one iota.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Fear, further thought

In the same sense that curiosity is the neurological opposite of trauma, I would argue that fear is the opposite of playfulness, and that playfulness is necessary for creativity.  Play is unstructured, spontaneous, fun.  It calls on creative instincts intrinsically.   This makes it something which interacts with existing paradigms in interesting and unexpected ways.

True spirituality, in my view, is playful.  It is happy.  It is free.

This is obscured by the fact that religion--which is the devolution of usually honest spiritual awakenings to structures of power based upon codified and rigid ideas--relies on fear for compliance.  Sin and you will go to hell.  Sin, and we will SEND you to hell.

And I don't think it is true that play has NO rules.  Different dances have different names.  I simply think that it calls forth an open flow of energies of the sort that need to flow for any of us to interact directly with Life, and to look forward to, to cherish, the prospect.

People who despair, are those who cannot imagine playing in a world filled with cruelty and destruction.  Ah, it is all sound and fury, and behind the curtain there is nothing to fear.

Here is one of my favorite poems, which I have likely posted at some point:

On the Seashore

BY RABINDRANATH TAGORE
On the seashore of endless worlds children meet.
The infinite sky is motionless overhead and the restless water is boisterous. On the seashore of endless worlds the children meet with shouts and dances.
They build their houses with sand, and they play with empty shells. With withered leaves they weave their boats and smilingly float them on the vast deep. Children have their play on the seashore of worlds.
They know not how to swim, they know not how to cast nets. Pearl-fishers dive for pearls, merchants sail in their ships, while children gather pebbles and scatter them again. They seek not for hidden treasures, they know not how to cast nets.
The sea surges up with laughter, and pale gleams the smile of the sea-beach. Death-dealing waves sing meaningless ballads to the children, even like a mother while rocking her baby's cradle. The sea plays with children, and pale gleams the smile of the sea-beach.
On the seashore of endless worlds children meet. Tempest roams in the pathless sky, ships are wrecked in the trackless water, death is abroad and children play. On the seashore of endless worlds is the great meeting of children.

The Spirituality of Fear

In the same sense that arrogance is a mistake in the future, as Edward de Bono put it, I would argue so too is fear.

In general, fear constricts our perceptual field, and colors what we see and hear and think.  It can in some cases facilitate perception, as Gavin de Becker argues in "The Gift of Fear", but ambient, decontextualized, non-threat specific fear does the opposite.  It makes you stupider.

And I was pondering that I was raised to equate religion with fear: good Christians fear Hell.  It is eternal, and once there, you can't get out.  This is self evidently something to be concerned about.  I am a theist, obviously, but I can understand Ricky Gervais, I think it was, when he quipped that God loved us so much he created heaven for us, and that he created hell just in case we didn't love him back enough.  This is roughly the ideology of this version of religion, one which is even worse in Islam.

I think it possible to stipulate that no authentic spirituality can be built on persisting fear.  If fear is everywhere, you are dealing with a sociopsychological illness that has nothing to do with God.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Cultural Criticism

I read this piece by Terry Eagleton: http://chronicle.com/article/The-Slow-Death-of-the/228991/ and got to thinking.

I look at blueprints all the time, and I have never seen one, ever, which specified in detail what it DIDN'T want: no use of structural steel, not too many doors, no red paint, no blue in the carpet.

Eagleton, as some may know, is a Marx-biased fascist, and thus when he bemoans the lack of critical studies, what he is really complaining about is insufficient government funding for incompetent dilettantes to occupy all their time taking strong stands on issues--like economics--they really don't understand. If English teachers confined themselves to teaching English literature, that may be one thing, but he himself invokes Foucault, and implicitly many others, going back to Plato through Marx.  This has nothing to do with English, and everything to do with cultural subversion through English.  One could even argue that most English professors in fact view their own field--the underlying assumption that English, per se, is worth studying--with contempt, outside of the aesthetic merits they take in well crafted prose, which is not different in its nature or ultimate usefulness from the same appreciation applied to fine wine.

Personally, I took advantage of state underwritten education, majored in the humanities, and STILL have learned vastly more since I graduated than I ever did in college.  As I have likely mentioned, I often listen to Teaching Company lecture series.

To return to the topic, though, Marx was a critic.  He was not an architect.

Let us think as architects, though.

We want a political system which allows groups of differing visions of life to resolve their differences peacefully.

We want a society which values creativity, expressed both in the artistic domain, as well as the economic domain.

We want a society which protects individual rights, both in the freedom from (the violence of others or the government) and freedom to (to do anything which harms no one) senses.

We want a high general standard of living, and a close correspondence between an individuals willingness to work hard, and their following income.  We want to be free of those who can take from others without contributing anything.  We want all wealth to be earned, at some point. (it is worth noting that Oxbridge could easily be seen as having been purchased on the backs of peasants; and attended in large measure by the descendants of successful thieves).

We want everyone to be equal before the law.

These are a few desiderata.  None of these are valued in Communo-fascist regimes.  In all such states, violence of the government against the people is the norm; oligarchs earn rich livings at the expense of the populace as a whole; creativity is only valued when it enriches the elite; and diversity of opinion is squelched.  This is the condition in Cuba.  It is the condition in North Korea.  It is the condition in China, which in my understanding STILL operates labor camps of the sort Hitler used.

The way that imbeciles like Eagleton rationalize their bad ideas is--and I'm going to guess, talking out loud here:

1) They are divorced from consequence.  He does not think a Communist coup is likely, so he will not have to explain to the suffering masses why he supported it.

2) They surround themselves with the ideologically like-minded, making their horrific ideas, filled with death as they are, seem palatable.

3) Being divorced from consequence, they are divorced from the necessity of planning.  It is one the ironies of this whole thing that those who most value central planning are themselves incapable of planning at all.  They aren't interested in it.  It comes dressed in overalls and looks like work, and even though he pokes fun at himself, it seems likely Eagleton really is as effete as he appears.  He is not going to take on the cares of someone concerned with making important things happen correctly and harmoniously.

Marx himself, in my understanding--I have his biography on my shelf, but like many other such books, have not made the time to read it--was a slob.  He didn't work regularly or at all.  Like Rousseau, he was a chronic debtor, and unreliable in nearly everything.

I do not think it would be taking things too far to view the entirety of his economic and philosophical views as extended rationalizations of his personal failings.  When you fuck up, what is the first thing you do, if you are intelligent?  You do abstract.  This is a great way to avoid emotions that are unpleasant.  You fuck up a lot, and you spend all your life thinking.  Once you are thinking, what do you think about?  Why it ISN'T YOUR FAULT.  Make it large enough and complicated enough, and nobody will see that you felt unloved at age 3.

The world runs on ideas.  If you feed it bad ideas, it gets ugly.  Feed it good ideas, it brightens up.  Eagleton is complaining that his campaign to paint England grey (and call it a rainbow) is underfunded.  To that, I say: marvelous.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Being a Warrior

There is nothing beautiful about war, and the only beautiful thing about warriors is they don't quit.  That is it.  A true warrior is mean, constantly vigilant, and has sacrificed some part of his or her life to the protection of their community.  They have learned to live with horror, and if they learn to love battle, it is only because that is the only place where their inner hatred can meet an outer reality that makes sense.

I get in touch with my inner warrior sometimes, and he is a very strong, very capable self that is angry, calculating, and covered head to toe with battle scars.  He should be dead, but he wasn't ready.

But all warriors know their destiny is to die, and so is the destiny of everyone around them.  Nothing lasts.  You cannot depend, ultimately, on anyone but yourself.  Everything else will be cut away, and so one day will you be, too.

We idealize warriors, I think, because our culture has become much too effeminate, having cast aside masculine virtues like risk-taking, valuing physical privation and difficulty, and seeking out difficult challenges.  These are all to the good.  These are needed and good virtues.  But they are not war.  War is learning to kill our fellow men (and women: do not forget that the bombs we drop do not discriminate) effectively.  It is learning to suppress normal human impulses of empathy, connection, and revulsion at the thought of violence.

As a friend of mine once put it, who had seen enough of it, "war is as romantic as a meat grinder."

I have PTSD and spent last night being reminded of it nearly hourly.

I do have a battle plan, though, to deal with it, and I am executing it.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Democrats

Can we not call the Democrats the party of political codependence?

I offer from time to time the analogy of these 800 pound people we read about every so often--the story has become less interesting, having been told many times--who are confined to their beds.  No one who cannot get out of bed survives alone, and the person who facilitates this--their co-conspirator in their own effective avoidance of life--is criminal.  They are depriving someone of a life; and of a responsibility which, alone, can buy them true happiness.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Larceny

My youngest confessed to me the other day to cutting a class.  After she revealed her method--the simple plan executed audaciously--I felt some pride, and gave her a high five. I told her I wanted a little--just a little--larceny in her soul.

And I got to thinking about why.  You would think someone who reasons everything through like me would have reasons for doing things.  I don't, at least not always.  I very often go by gut instinct and feel.

What I told her was that organizations, human systems, can become corrupt.  Just because someone is in charge does not mean you should listen to them.  It does not mean you should not resist them, in large things and small.  I do not want to build habitual obedience, and a good test for flexibility on this score is precisely the ability to break rules without excess guilt, and without getting caught.

I don't reflexively admire people who do X religiously for a long period of time.  Somewhere in that period of time, an adjustment was needed, and this fact was missed because they were attached to the outward form, and not the inner purpose.  Sometimes you have to cheat on yourself, and take a look around to see if you are missing anything.

And law and morality are very often quite different.  Our leaders break both laws and moral codes constantly, but they remain our leaders, at least politically.  I have long taught my kids that just because something is legal, that does not make it just; and just because something is illegal, that does not make it wrong.

I also teach them it is OK to break a rule, if you know why it exists; and I teach them to regularly take calculated risks.  Taking risks is how you build judgement, and calculating teaches you to think.

We would not be better off if everyone were a pirate, but I also question those who reflexively follow authority.  Even the so-called counter-culture has leaders who are not questioned.  Obama is doing virtually all the same things they criticized Bush for, but the criticisms were propaganda, not principle-based, and so they cannot judge him for the many things he has done they would have crucified a Republican for.

Having a small black flag somewhere in you means you are alive.  You are not reflexive, and you will not easily be taken for a machine.

The Commissariat

I think I said at some point my motto is "Neither Kings nor Commissars".  When I say Commissar, I mean low level bureaucratic apparatchniks who have the power to interfere with your life directly.  And if they are all around you, it is the rule of the Commissariat, understood broadly.

I was pondering all the SWAT teams proliferating under Obama.  The FDA has one.  The Consumer Safety and Product whatever has one.  The Department of Agriculture has one.

What does a SWAT team give you?  The power to scare people.

And I got to thinking too, that once you have a Commissariat of some sort--let us say the Food and Drug Administration--it can be counted on to justify its existence by finding problems even where they don't exist.  And what do the SWAT teams do?  They rehearse scenarios in which they are needed, in which SWAT really is an appropriate response.  Since such scenarios are far-fetched, they define down what constitutes a need for Special Weapons and Tactics, as opposed to an unarmed official knocking on the door with a clipboard.

What exactly do Homeland Security agents do?  They are apparently agents who are not TSA, not Secret Service, not Coast Guard.  Well, among other things, they justify their existence.  They create problems where none existed.  They dumb down the situations in which they are needed; they expand the scope of their operations.

The thing about bureaucracies is that they metastasize always and everywhere unless they are carefully regulated.  Anyone wanting to squelch American liberties has only to create enough of them, and overfund the rest, and simply wait.

We are reaching a point where everybody feels the need to keep a look over their shoulder, at least in the most Regressive States, lest they violate some norm they didn't even know they were being held to.

This post was provoked by this article: http://www.salon.com/2015/04/19/what_a_horrible_mother_moms_arrested_for_leaving_their_kids_in_the_car/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=socialflow

Edit: Here is another example:

 http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/exclusive-new-fed-rules-nypd-training-101-article-1.2192488

When they call Peter Zimroth a "monitor", they should use the word "Commissar".  When there is some fucking asshole telling you every fucking minute about what you need to do and how, you are living in a Commissariat.  I am mildly--only mildly--redefining it.

And I would add as well that the closer the center of decision making is to the individual, the more complex the social order, because they more decisions that get made.  The farther that decision moves from the individual, the less decision making they do, and it makes them stupider, because they don't learn from experience.  It also, in a formal sense, reduces complexity.

Socialism is rows of trees--the same trees--all planted in a row.  They call this order. Liberalism and Free Markets are forests, which is a complex order.  The latter is vastly more resilient, and interesting.

Screening for Trauma

I think it is a truism that power attracts precisely those least likely to bring wisdom and an altruistic mindset to it, but I think we could speak more generally that the world is run by people who are unable to relax, whose success depends in large measure on a long term monomaniacal, obsessive focus on each next step in self aggrandizement, regardless of the field.

Freedom, then, over time places power of all sorts in the hands of those who are unwise.  Freedom contains, too, though, the power of reform, and this rule obviously is not absolute.  It merely describes what I feel is a tendency.

I would stipulate this: no person who is unable to relax fully, to let EVERYTHING go, can be said to be fully psychologically healthy; and I would guess this is most people on the planet, certainly in the supposedly "developed" world; it is likely less true for those who have less to hold on to, although I don't presume to speak for the poor, who in almost all cases would certainly prefer not to be poor.

Autogenic Therapy rests on this premise.  How it works, effectively, is that as the patient learns deep relaxation, more and more unconscious content, held in reservoirs of sorts, comes flowing out.

It has been my own experience that there are qualitative levels, approximately, and that as you process one, you gain access to another.  The end will find me capable of letting go of everything that binds me, which is the goal of most spiritual traditions, all of which, in my view, would benefit from incorporating the insights particularly of modern trauma psychology.

Virtually everyone you see on every street is "walking wounded" in some way.  Given the chance, they will not be able to fully let go in a deep relaxation session.  This is my guess, although of course my opinion may be skewed by me being, I think, a bit more wounded than most.

But I got to thinking.  I remember being screened for scoliosis in grade school (I have it).  What if we screened kids for trauma?  What if, for example, we taught every school kid in America both Progressive Relaxation and Autogenics from grade 4 through 6?  Sooner or later, all traumas would likely come out.

Look at our prisons: could you not hang a sign on the neck of virtually everyone there, even those in for drug and alcohol related offenses, and say "untreated trauma victim"?

I suspect you could hang such a sign on every other person, at least, in a typical ghetto.

What a wonderful society we could build, though, if everyone got the help they needed, and which in most cases they didn't even know they needed.  This holds particularly true if as many people suffer from pre-3 trauma as I suspect do.  What emotionally immature mother is not capable of scaring the shit out of a rambunctious 2 year old?

Food for thought.

Ponder that last phrase.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Closing of the Day

Did you see more than a fraction of what happened in front of you?  No, of course not.  Don't be stupid.

Did you learn more than a fraction of what was presented to you?  No, of course not, don't be arrogant.

Ah, did you greet the day with some acceptance, and do your work with something approaching pleasure and engagement?  Here: give yourself a grade between C- and A.

Did you learn SOMETHING?  Pass/fail.  Grade yourself.

There will be another quiz tomorrow.  You can thank me then.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The reification of Modernity

In my view, "modernity" is acadamese for sloppy thinking, laziness, and grotesquely unwarranted moral and intellectual hauteur.

I was reading this piece: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/04/13/philosophy-returns-to-the-real-world/?_r=0

We start with a softball game, with Stanley Fish as umpire:
When I was in graduate school at Johns Hopkins in the early 1980s, I played on the intramural softball team of the postmodern literary theorist Stanley Fish. I recall his umpiring at a practice once when the batter, my buddy Mike, now a distinguished professor at Yale, argued a call. Fish good-humoredly pointed out that what’s a ball and what’s a strike is not an objective, external, or natural fact, it’s an interpretive practice; and according to that practice, whatever the umpire calls is real: If he calls it a strike, it’s a strike.
What do we call this attitude everywhere else?  Fascism.  Or in another era, Monarchism, or at least Oligarchy.  It is "might makes right". The entirety of the Western Liberal tradition of philosophy was intended to end it.  Everything our best minds did for several hundred years, which resulted in an unprecedented out-pouring of political freedom and vast material wealth, spread across all classes, was oriented precisely around avoiding assholes like this getting the upper hand.

Well, they got the upper hand.

Then we read about his interactions with Richard Rorty (PoMo, which means "intellectually impoverished Modernist"):

Rorty challenged me, over and over, to describe an undescribed object, to tell him about something outside language. He didn’t, according to himself, deny the existence of the world, he simply held that the assertion that there was stuff outside of language was itself a linguistic practice.

Jesus H. Christ.  How the fuck would you describe something without using words?  This is a fucking tautology.  If he had asked me to describe the feeling of being kicked in the shins without using words I would have kicked him in the shins.  Yes, plural.  Then I would have hoped he asked me to describe the feeling of a groin kick.

Can you name me any word which has no descriptive referent?  Cow?  Milk?  Even more complex words like "justice", which can be defined in many ways, can still be defined.  I would define it as equality before the law, regardless of social class, race, or gender; and the diligent effort to punish the guilty.

As I have said many times "that" is a fully descriptive term.  Who is Bob?  HIM.  We do not form words and then match them with outer realities.  Our entire early life is wordless.  It is pure experience.  And everything that matters afterwards is also wordless. Love is wordless.  Joy is wordless.

This is the creed of people avoiding feelings.  I would suggest that is the psychological root of the whole thing.

And I would offer an alternative definition for philosophy I put forward earlier: Philosophy is the structured intellectual process of learning to effectively get from THIS to THAT.

Finally, he feels the need to defend those who would speak of "reality":

Some of the motivation for the realist turn has been ecological: Climate change isn’t just in our heads or in our descriptions, but a real-world situation that requires real-world physical transformations. Others have been political: defenses of the urgent truth of justice, or of the importance of material economic conditions and the treatment of physical human bodies. And I think that, as our experience becomes in many ways increasingly mediated or virtual, we simply started yearning toward the old-fashioned physical environment, which was always available and still is, and on which whatever we see on a screen depends utterly. Ideas are always an index of longings.
People like this should be fired and forced to apprentice in practical trades like plumbing and carpentry.  Such idiocy would not long endure a daily engagement with real and practical problems.

Friday, April 17, 2015

PTSD

I think the shortest description of PTSD is "internalized horror".  I have gotten to some powerful energies, and staying with it, to allow it to process and dissipate, is very hard.  It is much easier to allow myself to slip into mere fear, which I can usually combine well with intellectualism.

There is a large qualitative difference between fear and horror.  Fear is a surface emotion, or so it feels to me.  Horror is many dimensional, complex, rich.  It is unpleasant, but still interesting--I suppose like a car accident.

And I feel horror very much represents the involvement of the gut, of very primal, very primitive nerve impulses.  What you do you feel, when you are "frozen" with fear?  What is that dream, where you try to run but you can't?  I think horror is an activation of the unmyelinated vagus nerve system, which is suppressive, which works to slow things down, with the logical end state being complete immobility, complete paralysis.

And I will speculate again that the popularity of horror films must have something to do with a felt sense that something is missing, that some part of the process of living is going unexpressed.  We do not encounter primal terror in our ordinary lives, most of the time.

Think to farmers: they regularly slaughter animals.  Hunters kill because they enjoy it.  And in my experience, most of those people are very relaxed.

Being able to process horror and being able to process trauma are in my view the same thing.  It seems likely one could view some spiritual practices--especially Tantric practices--in this light.  I have in mind things like meditating in cremation grounds and smearing human ashes on yourself, and keeping human bones around as relics.

My task, I think, is to maintain contact with this energy while ;progressively diluting it by combining it with ordinary energies, with daily life, by staying with it and functioning, not allowing it to slow me down.  I think I can do this.  It's not easy, but few things worth anything are.

Music

Music mediates moods.

I have long used Iasos Angels of Comfort/Angel Play when I do Kum Nye.  It adds something important, and helps me go deeper.

I'd encourage you to listen to these when you are feeling contemplative: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GT3RiHYqSUk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uni-TVcsU6A

I think some men feeling listening to relaxing music is unmanly, but what is manly about fear and anxiety? If you are badass, you are relaxed.  You won't find many wound up lions outside of cages.

While I'm at it, Edwina Francesca's "Breath of Heaven" is amazing too.  I'll listen to one of those tracks every morning when I do my EmWave2.  That, the Cistercian Monks Chants, or something from Vangelis or Stephen Halpern.

Here's something nice from Vangelis: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2Bp-xkMc20

Breathe in through your nose to a count of 4, and out through your mouth to a count of 8 until it's done, and relax every muscle in your body.


Forgiveness, Part Two

I like this analogy of a mirror, used by some mystic group--Sufis or Kabbalists, I think--in which we learn to be sensitive to, and to reflect, God's light.  Growth is "polishing the mirror" and sin, in contrast, would be smudging it.

Here is the thing about sin: it is error, plain and simple.  It is taking a wrong turn to get to the grocery store, or accidentally over-salting your chili.  It is contrary to your own best interest, and thus not something, properly understood, that you should ever need to be punished for.  Punishment is for maintaining social peace and harmony.  It is an outer form.

Inner punishment has no use.  There is never any point in beating yourself up.  The task is to LEARN, and having learned, the sin evaporates.  You take the correct route to the grocery store.  You make superlative chili.

This is why there is no point in judging people--or yourself, for that matter.  Life is filled with "tasks at hand", and our job is to do them as well as we can, and when we screw up, to learn, and do better.  You, and everyone you meet, is a work in progress.  If you want to do good, set a good example.  Teach.  As the Tao Te Ching says, a good man is a bad man's teacher and a bad man is a good man's pupil.  Everything is relative.

Even the most twisted sadists, if you penetrate to their cores, are broken children, filled with horror, self disgust, and the most terrible emotional pain.  Their paths are very, very long ones, but all end in the light, in my view.

But this is all speculation.  I need to go to my task at hand, which is a session of Kum Nye.

The Science of God

I've been sleeping in a lot lately.  My job allows me to get away with it, and I am slowly contacting and learning to dissipate the horrors within me.  Seen rationally, it is productive, immensely productive.  But I still feel guilt.

This morning, as often, I was praying God would forgive me, and it hit me that this request is absurd.  Being somewhat cyclically amnesic, I've likely said this before, but ponder the stupidity of asking forgiveness from an infinite being.  In my view, God is the animating force behind everything that exists; God both creates the form and the motion.  Richard Feynman said that a square meter of empty space has enough latent energy to boil every ocean on Earth.  Multiply that by an infinity of space, and that is still likely too small.

We can't begin to grasp what we don't know.

But I did want to make two points: I think the image of God as a punitive parent creates fear, and fear creates violence and hiding.  I have no doubt that the reason I was tortured as I was, was to prevent me becoming a "brat", and going to hell.  Love was not a word used or understood, but brat was.  Come hell or high water my mother especially was not going to raise a brat.

When you ask forgiveness of God, why?  Because you fear punishment. In my case, I am doing something which makes me feel good, but have an ambient anxiety that I have done something wrong, and that the way to dispel it is to ask forgiveness.  I do this out of fear.  It is a way of reducing fear, because this would be reasonable if you were interacting with a human and offended them in some way.

But I truly think there will come a day when we view most religions as fairy tales, as ridiculous, as profoundly psychologically unbalanced in many ways.  I think Love is and should be the universal creed, but even in Christianity it is diluted and unbalanced by the terror of Hell.  Much hatred and violence flows from this primordial fear.

And I will wonder out loud how accurately human history could be viewed as as history of undiagnosed and unprocessed PTSD, which is more or less a disorder of the nervous system, and which leads to depersonalization, dissociation, pervasive fear and paranoia, and an inability to relax.  Did the Assyrians beat their kids?  I'll bet they did.  What is the cure for fear?  More fear.  War as homeopathic remedy.

I will say as well that I think a new and better psychology will figure out how to access and process infant trauma.  I'll bet it is much more common than we suppose.

Finally, the point of this post was this vision that popped in my head of developing an actual science of God. We know about Zero Point Energy.  We know non-locality is a feature of our universe.  We know consciousness can affect matter.  Somebody needs to jump in with both feet and start finding and better understanding how our universe is shaped by an ordering principle, by a dynamic energy which is endless.

Some people are doing this of course, as people like Dean Radin have well chronicled, but my vision is a post-religious world, based fully on science, but a humanistic science, one which grasps the importance of faith and ritual and play, one which understands the value and centrality of symbols and human connections.

The specific vision that popped into my head was the creation of an endlessly reactive surface, and finding people who could affect it, and figuring out how.  Robert Jahn demonstrated telekinesis as an observable reality beyond any reasonable doubt.  But he did it statistically.  My vision is doing it directly.

All these things are vastly important.  We are literally talking about the nature of life and the structure of the universe.  No more important topics could be imagined.

And yet fools waste time on spent theories, that should have died 100 years ago.  There is no matter, only energy.  It is my personal view that all of us are created a million times a second.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Intelligence

The smartest guy or gal in the room is the one with the best answer to the problem at hand.  It is this simple.  It may be true that in a great many contexts this will be the same person, but anyone who assumes they are that person is in most cases being stupid.  You have to gather evidence.  This is how intelligence works.  Intelligences presumes stupidity until it can prove--or reasonably and plausibly conclude--otherwise.

IQ is vastly less important than the problems you can solve.  I look up Marilyn Vos Savant, and I don't see anything interesting: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marilyn_vos_Savant

Motivation matters.  Courage matters.  Playfulness matters.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Credit

It's between hard and impossible to know what effect, if any, all my writings have had on anything or anyone.  I continue to write because I think I am not superfluous, and because even if I presently am, that need not always be the case.  I can develop my ideas sufficiently that they go into a book which might have some influence.

What I never do is think about getting credit for any ideas I may propose.  It delights me to think some of my best ideas may be taken wholesale--even verbatim--and used elsewhere.  That is influence.

I think of Musashi and his dictum that the focus always be cutting. You focus on each stroke, and maximum effectiveness: here, in creating and conveying coherent, communicable, and useful ideas. We can safely assume that in none of his contests did Musashi think about his reputation.  Nor was he focused on winning.  Winning is an abstraction that takes you out of the moment.

No, he focused on his breath, his body, and how next to inflict a potent wound upon his opponent.

This mindset is useful everywhere.  Virtually everything else is confusion.

Reflection on previous post

My idea would be called "inflicting freedom".

Here is the thing: freedom is an escape from certainty.  It is an escape from finality, necessity.  You can CHOOSE what you want, what to pursue, who you want to become.  But it is not a foregone conclusion that you will achieve it.  But you CAN.  It is possible.

I read that Gunther Grass was an admirer of the Castro regime, but a harsh critic of the Soviet Union.  One wonders why.  I don't want to make the time to investigate, but I think it reasonable that as someone who CHOSE to join the Waffen-SS, he was someone unsure what the proper use of freedom was.

Cuba never had a mass famine.  They only killed thousands of people, and what torture they did was mostly the "advanced" Soviet variety of soft torture, like locking people in small boxes for long periods of time.  This, to some, makes it seem almost palatable that an entire nation is sitting around in the heat, underfed, underemployed, under constant surveillance, and in large numbers willing to risk death to live in poverty here.

But I think the very lack of freedom is appealing to certain class of lost human being.  Life is simple in Cuba.  We must grant that.  Do what you are told and keep your mouth shut.  Who is unable to understand those instructions?

Thus, inflicting freedom on a certain class of these lost human beings would be a de facto torture, even if one that is only made so by THEIR refusal to individuate, to assume personal responsibility, personal agency, to make imperfect choices in an imperfect world.

I get in mind the many Saw scenes of alleged freedom.  I have within me a capacity for cruelty.  I was more or less psychologically tortured as an infant.  Much of it is coming up: terror, fear, coiling up in a ball helplessly.

But I see beyond this.  It does not limit me. In Saw everyone was not free. They were given two choices: live or die.

In my scenario I imagine advanced forms of self torture.  What if I made one "colony" composed ONLY of profoundly narcissistic, self absorbed, intellectual blow-hards?  What if I furnished them with a library of precisely the texts I knew they would fight about?  Marcuse, Gramsci, Marx, Lenin, Feuerbach, Hegel, Foucault, Heidegger, etc.  I am not familiar enough with the intra-idiot debates to say at this moment what would be there, but I would figure it out.

So many people, granted freedom, choose confinement.  The ability to value, to savor, freedom is an advanced life skill.

Even in America much of our "freedom" was merely a freedom to choose the form of ones confinement, which is to say one's exact religion (religio, again, meaning "to bind").

I see clearly how it is possible to perform operant conditioning on children, like small animals. You reward what you want, and punish what you don't.  Through physical abuse, you can associate trauma with disobedience, making the only possible relatively anxiety-free place the state of absolute obedience.

This is the condition in which many religious people live today. I would say, in fact, that much of the world is like this.  Between zero and few societies raise their children for freedom, for autonomy.  Rather, they condition them to live as their parents did, who were conditioned to live as their parents did, etc.  Errors in the system come from wars and calamities, with the systems then adapting and again self replicating.

What if our grand global vision were actually raising children for freedom, the world over?  I think it is a much better vision than the global fascism and commissars the global elites want for us (but not for them: although of course they already live in gilded cages.  No free person could wish coerced unfreedom on others).

If I were in charge. . .

At root, the world is currently divided into two basic groups ideologically: those who want to treat people as cattle, and those who retain a sense that there are differences that matter between people.

There is of course considerable diversity in the latter group: being founded on the notion of difference, this is obviously necessary.  There is little difference within the first group, at least qualitatively.  They can be counted on to moo on cue.

Given power, the first group seeks to level everyone on Procrustean beds.  The superior are to be broken.  The inferior are to be excused and even extolled.  They take the logic of concentration camps one step further: the goal is not just torture, but getting people to "admit" that this torture is good for their souls, in much the same way the Spanish Inquisition once did (I suppose one could draw an interesting analogy there somewhere; it would be best to put it in the mouth of a Russian).

The latter group has two basic approaches: violence, and Liberalism.  The Iranians obviously think they are God's chosen people, even though they are lazy, corrupt, ignorant, misogynistic, and very, very violent.  Without commenting on the merits of their self perception, we can grant that they very much think they are not like other people, and that other people should therefore be killed.  Given the power, they would take over the world.  And they would not torture people, they would merely give them the choice of converting or dying.

Only within Liberalism is difference negotiated. Only within a system like America are people NOT treated as ignorant cattle--at least in principle, since self evidently the media has shown that most people can in fact be manipulated in any direction chosen--but rather encouraged to form their own views, and to DEMONSTRATE them.  If you think your cultural system is better, you are given the chance to show it, by bringing up happy, successful, emotionally well adjusted children.  Smart people will imitate you.  Inferior people will resent you.

Which brings me to the point of the post.  There is no question in my mind that Obama and Hillary would like to slowly put a strangling noose around the neck of our freedoms, and grow in time to govern as czars, with legions, hordes, of commissars evaluating every last thing done and said by everyone, with the compliant and brown-tongued to be congratulated, and the rest punished in ways which are "regrettably necessary."

But if one looks at the history of Communist coups, they are always backed by a compliant and supportive military force, typically one with a long history of combat in support of the mother nation.  Lenin had those who fought in WW1 and opposed the Czar.  Mao, those who fought the Japanese.  Ho, the Japanese and French.  Castro, Battista.

The frog analogy of course remains a factor, one which implies necessarily the complacency and stupidity of the American people, one they have demonstrated repeatedly, and which is hardly unique in the world.  Who  could have seen the shortages in Venezuela coming?  Everyone.  Everyone.

But one does have to wonder about the loyalty of the American military to an agenda that is fundamentally in conflict with their oath of duty.  They swear to uphold the Constitution against all enemies, foreign AND domestic.  And one can scarcely plausibly accuse those who are citing the Constitution of opposing it.

Thus I will wonder again out loud about the possibility of a coup, should the American people once again demonstrate a profound inability for self governance.  Another financial crisis is a foregone conclusion.  We cannot sustain this level of debt and spending.  I cannot say when it will happen, but we are bound for another major financial catastrophe.

This in my view is the Leftist plan of attack.  But they will need all these people being trained in crowd control and riot suppression to beat back the very reasonable shrieks of the American people at being led like fattened cattle to the slaughter. Part of me feels this is what we deserve.

But not all of us deserve this.  A great many of us have in fact become active, vocal, and have opposed with every legal means at our disposal these abuses.

Thus I wonder if a coup may not in the long run be in the best interests of the American people.  It worked in Chile. To be clear, I am not calling for the overthrow of the American government in the way, say, Van Jones did daily for years on the streets of LA; or that Frank Marshall Davis or Saul Alinsky did. I am merely speculating that it is possible, and may be more positive than negative.

Finally, my vision, if I were in charge.

I would arrest all the radical professors and teachers and politicians, and globalists and union leaders who brought about this mess, and do an experiment.

I would put them in walled enclosures of considerable size, perhaps 200 square miles, filled with arable farm land, with all the tools and books and supplies needed to build a new society.  They would have sheep, and cattle and chickens, and fish farms. They would have wheat and corn and cotton.  They would have tractors, and lumber and hammers and nails (and sickles, of course).

They would also have all the tools they needed for failure. They would have drugs in large quantities, booze, and guns and ammunition.

I would build maybe 20 of these things, depending on the numbers involved and just watch. I would reintegrate any group which proved capable of survival.  I think they would have learned their lesson. Those who chose violence and/or failure, would be transplanted into the same enclosures and abandoned.

The fact that people of similar physical capabilities and exactly the same resources could go in many directions shows clearly, in my view, as a pure thought experiment, that there are differences that matter between people.  They differ in their resilience, empathy, ability to persuade, ability to resist self pity, imagination, etc.

That these differences would become apparent in a free society--and note nobody outside the groups would be dictating anything, so they have complete functional freedom--is to my mind a virtually axiomatic feature of true Liberalism. The task is not to tear down the better, but to raise the lesser.  It always has been, and always will be in any society wanting to claim to be good.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Death and my flag

I sent this email, which I've partially edited, to my Hoffman Group folks, on Easter Sunday.  I will add that I am still sick in some ways, both physically and spiritually. I am tired.  I don't feel good.  I still have powerful things coming up.  I think my typical night without booze would scare the shit out of most people.  But I have begun to be able to imagine an end to it, to all this relentless marching uphill into the wind and rain.  This is a truly remarkable development.

This past week I spent most of my time in both a spiritual and literal sickness. I was blessed by having little work to do, so I have been deeply focused on the resolution of some deep wounds, and have what I think are some insights to share.

We spent a great part of every day for 6 days absorbed in inner journeys, didn't we? In one of those journeys, a pennant came to me, which will be my banner for the rest of my life. Like all such things, the meaning of it was unclear to me, but I drew a picture of it, and have finally had the time and courage to make it. I've included a picture.

I call it "Perfection through Death", which sounds morbid, but it is in fact filled with life affirmation. It scared me until I figured it out, and it will still be a daily reminder both of my responsibility and the hope it enables. The symbol in the middle is the Tibetan number 9, at least as well as I was able to copy it. The vision came to me as a normal 9, and should be read (as this was active knowledge available to my unconscious) numerologically (http://www.numerology.com/numerology-numbers/9) . I used the Tibetan version because I am partial to the Tibetan tradition. It also looks to me like a man or woman praying.

There are parts in all of which need to die, in a natural process. Grief needs to die. Fear needs to die. Clinging needs to die. Helplessness needs to die. Perfectionism and self criticism and self loathing need to die.

When you look at nature it is in a continual process of death and rebirth. All that is born dies, but some part of it continues. Looked at as randomness, there is no purpose to it. But if you look at it as pruning, as the death of one part that some other part may blossom, it acquires a whole new meaning. New growth always follows a forest fire.

Maybe I can coin a term that might resonate even with those of you who think you are atheists: Psychological Darwinism. The new cannot come into being until the old is separated, and allowed to die, and burned.

This is sent to you in a spirit of destruction and hope on a holiday you may not celebrate, based on a tradition few of you likely embrace fully, but whose mythic--read "deep psychological insight"--importance is vast. Christianity, of course, is not the only tradition with resurrection as an important motif.

Here is what I would say to you: the death of the one is the birth of the next. Resurrection and death cannot be separated. Growth and leaving behind cannot be separated. It is impossible to keep a foot in the past and move into the future. You must die, and in dying be reborn.


I send this in a spirit of love--and I must say sense of peace, as if something just fell away, something hard, and hurtful and unneeded--in the hope it may help some of you in what no doubt continue to be struggles. I believe deeply that no matter how heavy your cross, you can bear it and in the end find redemption and peace. We all of us just need to carry on, and do the best we can. This is all that is asked of us.




Sentimentality

I probably should have added "variability of affect" to the previous post, but thought Sean Penn deserved his own post.  There can be no doubt that would have been his opinion, had I asked him, although he likely would like this entire blog dedicated to his very unique and unprecedented creative genius.  Not everyone had the audacity to float around on a boat outside New Orleans after Katrina, he would remind us.

We are told, often and both directly and indirectly, that our lives need romance.  They need adventures.  They need great passions, great sorrows, great joys. We must treat our relationship with the other sex as this sort of interdependent game in which both of us seek to maximize sentiment as long as possible, with the inevitable consequence--sentiment being mutable, and prone to go in all directions given a long enough time horizon--of the eventual dissolution of the game, and of course more sentiment and another game.  I see this weekly at the grocery store, reading the tabloid headlines.

The lesson I have learned from Kum Nye in particular, though, is that there is a very interesting layer UNDERNEATH all the great surface passions.  It is a realm in which calm and healing and fascinating energies grow and expand.  Let us say that curiosity is a buoy, floating anchored in the ocean.  You can grab the anchor line and follow it to its root, which of course is beyond words.  It is THAT.

All our emotions are like that.  Once you get to that layer, the explosions and fireworks and drama all seem kind of pointless.  I would not trade my trauma--and the transcending of my trauma--for anything.  It has been enormously valuable.

At the same time, I think much of our popular imagination is based on ghosts, on grand facades concealing nothing.  We lack spiritual skill.  This is a truism, but still worth saying, in my view.  We are so profoundly stupid, when intelligence is and remains possible.

Sameness and pattern recognition

I talk from time to time about qualitative versus quantitative diversity.  Most college campuses teach what I call quantitative diversity, which is the number and variety of your sex partners, the type of sex you have, the music you listen to, the clothes you wear, and what books within a range you are reading.  Your race and nationality could be added of course.

Qualitative diversity on a college campus would be someone who was home schooled, believes absolutely in Biblical inerrancy, and believes sex should be saved for marriage.  Such people are abhorred by the very people who use Diversity in every other sentence.  What they mean is superficial diversity, not diversity of ideas and world view.

Edmund Burke talked about the powerful influence of fashion in the French Revolutionary period.  Entertainment, clothes, food, gossip: all in constant motion.

This is the thing, and I am repeating myself, but I hope in a slightly different way: there are types of change which are not really change at all.  It may be that the song at the top of the Pop chart varies weekly, but does the TYPE of song vary?  Not really.

It may be that clothes fashions change continually, but does the nature and purpose of clothes really change?

Outward motion, in my view, can and often is used to mask inner stagnation.  You might know someone who is constantly embracing the latest thing, and think that their life varies often.  But if the rule is "embrace the latest thing", then that rule itself is constant, isn't it, and it implies a lack of personal freedom and choice, does it not?

You can look at constant motion and see constant change.  You can also look at constant motion, and see circles everywhere, repeating endless loops, in tired and boring fashions of fashion.  This is taking the same information and forming a different pattern.

Paradigmatic work is difficult, which is why so few do it.

And I can't remember if I posted this or not, but within Complexity Theory they have this duality of explore/exploit.  If you want the best ham sandwich, you need to try a few places.  Once you find a really good one, it makes some sense to go there regularly, but if you never explore, you can't be sure there isn't a better one somewhere.  People spend careers optimizing these sorts of processes.

What I would say though with regard to inner work is that exploration is almost entirely the whole game.  You dig and dig and dig and dig.  And the more you learn, the more naturally becomes integrated into your life effortlessly.  "Exploiting" is simply greater skill in what you had to do anyway.

The only place there is a choice is in the Learn/Teach dichotomy.  The best teacher is someone who has spent the most and best quality time not teaching, but learning.  Teaching, of course, can be learning, but it is not the focal point.

There was a famous Tibetan teacher--I think it was Padmasambhava, but I don't have time to look it up--who spent most of his time alone, came out a delivered a sermon or two, then headed out again, never to return.  He saw that teaching made him useless to himself.  He also saw the need to say something, even if it was damaging to his own practice.

This world is filled, potentially, with very interesting people and activities, and most of us avail ourselves of almost nothing given to us.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Manliness

First off, there is ZERO cultural benefit to getting rid of archetypes like Feminine and Masculine.  What do you replace them with?  Rational?  I think the search for perfect reason is driven by unprocessed emotions, making it thoroughly IRRATIONAL.  Reason uses the gut.  This is today's received wisdom.

Equal?  Why?  To what end?  Where do you move after equality?  Leftists have no good answers to these questions since, again, their quest is fundamentally anti-rational, or as I sometimes call it, Post-Rational, which is a synonym for most of what has happened in the Humanities in the past 50 years or so.

What are you doing?

I don't know.

Why?

I don't know.

What is your goal?

I don't know.

How will you know if you get there?

Don't worry, I won't.  THAT question I can answer.

This is how shit happens, has children, and rents up the block.  There is no spring in this world, no summer, winter, or fall.  Nothing really changes, because that is the goal.  That is the real goal.



Here is what I logged on to post: I was watching someone size me up at lunch today, I think because I was having lunch with an attractive woman.  He was with his buddies, his clique, and I could see the mental comparisons going on.  I'm not much to look at, especially when I'm working a job site.  I look like a construction worker.  I fit in perfectly, beer belly and all.  People ask me "what do you do?"  I say "construction", and they nod and say that makes sense.

But I was thinking to myself, the real man is not the one who has the things, the toys, the women, who competes with everyone all the time.  I was looking at this guy with a bit of a smile, thankful I had not fallen into his trap, his cage. I like who I am and what I do, and I don't give a rats ass what other people think of me, and I very definitely do not get jealous of them.

The real man, to MY thinking, is the one who just does not give a shit what people think of him, from the bottom of his toes to the top of his head.  That person is free.  That is the ONLY path to becoming free from fear, and free to live.  In all other directions, you have to consider the judgments of others, their opinions.  You have to fear not fitting in, sticking out, being the odd one out, the misfit.

To my way of thinking, a real man does whatever the fuck he does, consistent with mental health (I am not praising psychopathy, merely a healthy set of boundaries and sense of self, and a healthy engagement with life and living), and finds people around him who fit him, who are suitable for him, and for whom he is also suitable.

That is leadership, too.   I remember thinking in high school that most of the people who were called "leaders" were just figuring out which way the wind was blowing, and hustling to get out front.  That is not leading.  Leading takes balls, and it always implicitly implies the possibility of failure.  You may be the one shouting to the wind, that everyone thinks is nuts.

But only your opinion of yourself matters.  That in my view is the way to live.  If you world praises you, and you do not respect yourself, then that is what matters.  And if the world hates you, but you do respect yourself, that too is all that matters.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Counter factual

What if Hitler had never arisen?  We assume there would have been peace in Europe, but we forget that even then there were many Communist agitators in Germany and elsewhere, and that National Socialism was created in no small measure to oppose International Socialism.  Me and mine versus none and done.  A gut sense of my people versus the world; opposed by a despair underlying an intellectual commitment to personlessness and global violence.

Would Europe have been conquered by this soulless doctrine?  It made major inroads despite the evils it enabled and defended.