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One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star. -Nietzsche

  December 31, 2008

Reflections on 2008

My heaviest year, my most trying year. Things I was not ready for came regardless, some with the pointless stupidity of a violent death. Hangmen were paid and life went on. As I passed through the valley, a previously unvisited landscape came into view.

In sum, my best year ever despite great losses. Grand travels to strange and familiar places, most notably coming to enjoy 5am prayer calls in Islamic lands and then spending the best of spring and summer with Europe's varied flavors. Also several possible futures extinguished, including at least one marriage that will never be.

After losing a long love, finding deep Platonic love (so much more to give when you refuse to possess!) and renewed faith in the decency of the universe. Complicated considerations and a chance encounter with theater brought the simple realization that lasting friendship is more desirable than transitory passionate love, and that from a base of friendship anything further is possible.

Reckless romance almost succeeded in buying an incredible woman I've never met a house in a country neither of us has ever been to -- alas she too vanished like the dreams through which I know her best. Exquisite temptress!

Wonderful voyages through art, overcoming linguistic limits by having the most intelligent conversation in at least a decade without using any language, communicating entirely through music. Sapir-Whorf mocked by compelling counterexample.

A feeling of senseless death everywhere with too many possibilities prematurely aborted. Consequently gaining complete comfort with senselessness as common and typical, one more piece of modernity around which to navigate, but also increased perspective on the fragility of almost everything, how short a life we have to do what is necessary, and the brutal cost of frivolity and waiting.

What do you do when your greatest hopes vanish? You can only continue living, now a vagabond with a lighter sack. A loss is almost a gain; no longer any need to prepare room and contingencies to nourish a previously desired future that has died. It's gone and won't be coming back - make a new future. Thus a radical reduction to third world simplicity: nothing is waiting, thus freedom to wander with neither schedule or responsibility to anyone or anything. The world opens again, and it is not even spring yet.

Not bothered by total uncertainty because of no external expectations. I have nothing, thus nothing to assert, nothing to defend, and no worries about keeping it.

Unusual math: lowered hopes in others, lowered estimations of others, increased aspirations. Cheerful unbitter northern pessimism digging in for a long winter. Hopefully others are doing the best they can as they struggle with whatever troubles them. For personal preference: change locations to find where more rigorous and happy people reside? A long and circuitous path returning to previously discovered answers.

Feelings of freedom from form (all truths will shape themselves just fine), increasingly broad views including an immediate sense of unstated implications in all ideas and their inevitable consequences lingering far ahead. Every fact or claim seen in perspective of what must come with it, past, present, and future. Hidden elements in partial stories flare naked.

The volume of destruction and self-destruction are part of living in a terrible era, but this is the only one we can live in, so we must accept its character and effects, most importantly seeing them as they are without idealism or romanticism.

Skepticism towards all idealists and their desires: who wants something except those who do not have it and cannot create it? Wary of illusionists, romantic embellishments, imaginary worlds, and other delicious poisons.

Gravitation towards simplicity and destruction of pretense. Finding no resistance; others either lower their guard out of comfort or cease elaborate fictional explanations because they sense the impossibility of having incongruous tales and ornamentation believed.

Wonderful gifts from kind spirits: especially Ingmar Bergman! After visiting his Fårö this summer, reflection on his films as saying what we all know, but he says it so crisply and with delicate artistry. Proof that some films are actually worth watching, not just moron fodder for the perpetually bored suffering from free time. Realism, long intelligence and inner warmth of northern souls seeking others worthy of a chance. Are not all who are good people also neighbors with enough time to talk a little to one another out of more than utilitarianism?


December 27, 2008

Witchcraft Today

Westerners flatter themselves with titles such as "rational", "logical", and "scientific" as if their daily lives are not commanded almost entirely by irrational impulses and thoughtless compliance.

The facts of life are the same today as thousands of years ago and the conditions that allow man to be drawn to irrational conclusions and compel others to join him there remain as strong as ever. Even hundreds of years after persecuting witches, the same mechanisms used for witch hunts continue in the present day, using modern standards of "truth" based on self-flattering prejudices, new witchcraft experts, and loud proclamations of pseudo-knowledge about the wickedness of witches and other imaginary dangers.

After the madness of the 1692 Salem witch trials that found 29 people guilty of witchcraft and killed 20 of them for their heinous crimes, one of the witchcraft juries recanted after realizing they had no real knowledge or ability to judge whether anyone was actually a witch, saying

    "We do...hereby signify to all in general our deep sense of, and sorrow for, our errors, in acting on such evidence to the condemning of any person; and do hereby declare, that we justly fear that we were sadly deluded and mistaken; or which we are much disquieted and distressed in our minds; and do therefore beg forgiveness...and we also pray that we may be considered candidly, and aright, by the living sufferers, as being then under the power of a strong and general delusion, utterly unacquainted with, and not experienced in, matters of that nature."

The accusation of witchcraft was typically the result of an ideological or property dispute, providing an opportunity to attack an opponent and swear to invented facts. As witches were imprisoned and killed, one opponent effectively defeated another, settling petty arguments with the tactical use of force instead of anything resembling reason or truth.

The technique of labeling others remains powerful and common today. Unwelcome ideas are labeled with pejorative titles so their advocates can be dehumanized, depersonalized, and marginalized. Even "educated" people, well schooled in repeating platitudes learned from televisions and professors, often oppose ideas with nothing but ad hominem attacks on their originators. They then rally opponents of an idea who collectively say the idea is wrong because it is unpopular, i.e. a loud group opposes an idea and proclaims it unworthy of logical consideration. The same group supports a different idea because they or their televisions and teachers deem it "good", though it quickly wilts if given rational scrutiny.

The process of supporting and opposing an idea based on irrational crowd delusions is especially amusing when a great mind is summarily dismissed for expressing an unpopular opinion, as if mindless obedience to modern trends carries more weight than thoughts a genius might have considered carefully for decades. Rather then dispute the facts or reasoning of an idea, the true heirs of witch hunts label a person or idea, gather witnesses to testify their personal biases against the accused, and seek resolution by settling the matter with unjust force. The accusers enjoy the privilege of being taken seriously, preventing a hundred false assumptions from being challenged. It is really evil to hold an "erroneous opinion"? Is there any evidence that casting spells is even possible? If someone flew through the air or turned another person into an animal, does an enemy's claim of this make it believable? Should having an opinion contrary to authorities be enough reason to punish someone, especially if they make a convincing argument for being more correct?

The war against modern day witches continues the tradition of censorship seen previously in churches and royalty that protected their power by controlling which ideas could be expressed. The role of censors has since been largely outsourced to superstitious citizenry championing the masses and offended by any truth contrary to the superstitious ideals of the day.

Just as the books on a church's blacklist or the people exiled from a nation tend to be unusually interesting and thoughtful, so too are the people attacked today with labels. A few of humanity's benefactors try to inform us about popular but erroneous delusions, for which their reward is becoming a personal target and enduring tedious name calling from censors intent on protecting pleasant lies from being seen in their true light.

If Socrates lived again today he would again be attacked for offending small minded officials. Voltaire would be exiled, imprisoned, and slandered; Galileo censored and called immoral by a superficially different mass of superstitious opponents.

Instead of tolerating campaigns enforcing the dogma of the irrational, we should point out how modern day crusaders and witch hunters instigate elaborate battles to defend lies, superstitions, errors, and illusions. Though they often succeed in imprisoning witches and silencing wizards, they are acting with ignorance and malice as they repeat history.


December 11, 2008

Soulmates

However certain and sure footed our plotted path, we are irresistibly compelled to new considerations when the absurdly improbable appears before us. It is easy to accept oneself as unusual and incomprehensible to others, to dismiss mortals as hopelessly lacking in thoughts, inner spark, and experiences necessary for an inspired life, or to see aspects of their character as fatally flawed. These comfortable assumptions are immediately overturned when an exception arrives and we consider the possibility of being understood and sharing something better than solitude and silence, or at least different.

"Why have we been walking separately in the same direction when we could walk together for a while? You are no stranger; we speak at least one common tongue. Surely we have a few worthy stories and secrets to exchange. Like comfortable old friends, we shall talk into the night, and perhaps for a long while thereafter."

Mullah Omar had his bin Laden. Each initially saw the other as naive, misguided, but also curiously interesting, steadfast, and fearless -- potentially great partners for adventure if they could ever agree on what they would like to do and stop disagreeing about everything else. For that, time casts perspective on lucky meetings so that rare possibilities are not smothered by petty differences.

"Let us not bicker or stand apart on account of disagreements. What do little opinions and details matter in the scheme of things? What we could achieve together is all that is important."

Here we are in our restlessness and chaos, however troubling seem our excesses and protruding corners. But the difficult edges of our personalities are navigable and often harbor a core as warm and tender as the exterior is abrasive and inhospitable, well crafted to fiercely drive away vagrants and vandals. We are appropriately loyal to ourselves and our soulmates, accepting both truth and consequences.

"You have done this? So be it! No explanation is necessary. I trust in you and all fate. Now let us play it out in full until the end, come what may."

A docile, ripe world waits to be taken and unveil its secrets to the brave and daring. Though solitary you begin and are content to remain, a soulmate can appear when you least expect it, transforming your journey with the gentlest questions, rarest light, and most subtle textures. If you reinterpret your journey as constituting mere form, you will see how your soulmate helps to endow it with substance.


November 30, 2008

How to interact with me

  • I will not understand any movie or television references. Please communicate about real life instead.
  • Communication is good. You can tell me anything. I won't freak out but will understand you better. In the worst case I will probably help you bury the body.
  • I'm not dramatic. If you provide drama I will retaliate by offering perspective.
  • I prefer doing things to not doing things. If I don't know how to do something, I will figure it out. I consider that normal and will expect you to explore and attempt also.
  • I tend to have too much energy and will keep going until collapse. When I finally go to sleep it takes me about ten seconds to fall asleep.
  • I will encourage you to believe that life is not difficult and to find this true by experience.
  • I like having plans and goals. However well conceived, they are subject to cancellation, reprioritization, alteration, and additions. This is normal and I won't get upset when this happens.
  • Not aspiring is what disappoints me most. So much is easy and possible, and I will encourage you to do it and help where I can. A life of safe nothingness is not for me.
  • I often try to do more than I can and double and triple book myself, but sometimes this results in grand success. This is part of my excess.
  • If I like you, I will eventually dream about you and notice your best aspects, often in a spiritual or abstract way. Sometimes I will tell you about these reflections, but in any case they help me appreciate you for reasons not related to any particular event in our interaction.
  • If I say too little about you, it is not for lack of thought about you. Give me a hint you would like to hear more and I will tell you everything.
  • I have high standards and am highly critical. This is primarily turned on myself and the world broadly. I have near total acceptance of close friends despite awareness of their flaws. I am a fair judge, even of my own flaws. Do not take a critical statement to be malicious when it is intended only as a tolerable fact.
  • My humor can be unusual. Do not take it literally.
  • I am curious how things work and like exploring hypotheticals. Usually I only want to know where things fit in the universe.
  • I am not concerned much about anything short-term. Time passes quickly and the problems or successes of the moment quickly vanish. My interest is in building the future.
  • I am very ethnic. This and its implications will probably be initially confusing to you.
  • What I don't know is worthy of my exploration if you can tell me how it is interesting and meaningful to you. I consider many maybes and things outside of my experience.
  • I have wide interests and preferences. Beethoven might be my closest spiritual companion one day and Nine Inch Nails the next. Both would be correct.
  • I cook, clean, do laundry and otherwise run my house. I also write, play music, exercise, dance, and do yardwork. I prefer my days full to empty.
  • I am not concerned with the background noise of what most people do or think, nor do I oppose it. Live and let live!
  • What I do results from my traits, none of which I chose or had any part in shaping. Everything essential about me has been the same way for as long as I can remember and matches stories of my infancy. Here I stand; I can do no other. I understand and enjoy what I am, and wish myself nothing different, but reject erroneous attribution.

References available upon request


November 28, 2008

Time to bleed (pain as transcendable preterite)

stigmata
Kantian athletic abstractions -- Pain is merely a signal. Like a speed limit designation, it is a recommendation, not anything fixed in reality, and can be similarly dismissed or exceeded as desired, disregarding it as background noise to explore what comes with the unchecked and open new space. If noticed, one "takes a hit", but in any case goes forward and reaps the reward, often finding gems from which others have been scared away.


November 27, 2008

Playtime

Adult responsibilities are tiny, instantly forgettable burdens - yes, one needs appropriate shelter, food, and transportation, but acquiring these takes nearly no effort and thus claims of overburden are absurd or reveal a broken constitution.

Much more important is sustaining childish wonder and an eternal spark: curiosity to see how things work and find out for yourself what no one can tell you, to see the world from close and afar, to find suitable playmates, to periodically discard boundaries, assumptions, habits, routines, and previous structures to clear a cluttered virtual landscape, to obey inspiration wherever it leads you, to write a love letter or appreciative note, always keeping in mind the blessing of knowing special people, to trust yourself entirely even as you venture into unfamiliar worlds, to aspire towards ever greater meaning, purpose, and truth, to have wonderment at the strangeness of things and their unusual beauty, considering and then attempting alternatives while at the same time accepting what stands for now in its glorious banality, to accept no easy or fraudulent answers, to speak truths among friends without self-censorship, to slay saints while laughing at vaunted ghouls and phantoms, to transform into judge and jury of oneself and to become more militaristically strategic from that assessment, to easily dismiss fools, the confused, the dogmatic, the idly wandering, and the malicious instead of concerning oneself with them and their maladies, and most of all having eyes that still flash with interest and a perpetually fresh spirit that never sinks too low or grows dull.


November 26, 2008

As Life and Death Unfold

My mindreading ability is quite poor. I end up learning about people through open undirected conversation and genuine questions about what they are thinking, doing, and planning, or even more abstractly wandering with them in what they wish to explore. We are alive only briefly and should have honor enough among friends to have honest discussions, no matter how uncomfortable a truth might seem. The more direct something is discussed, the more quickly we can resolve misunderstandings and address conflicts that have not yet been overthrown.

This approach also means sometimes not raising the obvious. You can't tell moderns what will work or they will sabotage it, nor can tell them what will fail or they will almost surely do it. Oh you clever nihilists and self-destroyers, attempting to prove everything sane, healthy, and beautiful is impossibly out of reach! If they dismiss truths or evade questions, responding with a gentle detachment releases pressure to provide an answer and so the situation can drift away in comfortable denial and obsolescence.

You're going to be here your whole life so it's better to become comfortable and adept with reality instead of burning time trying to evade and deny it. That doesn't mean comformity or rebellion -- both are easy, false answers -- but rather seeing possibility and choosing wisely so you can at all times make for yourself the life you deserve.

By instinct I prefer being a storyteller to being a lecturer, as most knowledge flows from examples of interesting living and events reaching natural conclusions. Even hypotheticals can often be explored through stories, using reality checks at developing stages to assess likely outcomes. As with emotional intelligence, the exploration can only be as good as the raw material being used.

At first it is unpleasant when you sense the rhythm and tempo of what people are doing because you begin to see several steps in advance that they are preparing a harmful failure. How meticulously they perform each step of this ritual! The result becomes inevitable long before it happens, but time remains necessary for its conclusion to develop. Nothing suffices to halt their sequence, nor can they be pushed out of the way of their self-created onrushing bus at the last moment. They have made an alliance with this fate and must perform dutifully to the end. Perhaps their devotion even earns them their destiny. As Schopenhauer wrote, "Every great pain, whether physical or spiritual, declares what we deserve; for it could not come to us if we did not deserve it."

We can only have a thick skin for watching others harm themselves and others. We do not acquire a taste for witnessing destruction, but rather come to a soldier's realistic acceptance that destruction and misery is common in this era of confusion and dissolution. Being smart is no salvation either -- usually that just means more creative mistakes and the ability to go farther when lost before their ingenious ships run aground. After too many viewings of this repetitive carnage, we accept it as "normal" because it is common and can no longer consider it of any great concern, even when people we love are harming themselves and force us to watch their torment.

After all, humans are resilient and our humanity must be also. We can take it on faith that from pain comes wisdom, and from this a broader foundation for contemplation and consideration can emerge. They will do better next time and over time good people will do well in general. Not all is lost.


November 22, 2008

Obesity is progress and enlightenment

I forget sometimes that some people grew up always having the Internet, cell phones, fat people, lazy people, stupid people, unknown neighbors, and no community. Even ten years before all that, though civilization was still in its accelerating decline, you could find plenty of sane and healthy examples of quality people. This was before retreating into virtuality was possible, escapism and drugs were mainstreamed, or "hooking up" was invented. Some standards still held.

Do not think that the way things are today are the way things have always been, or that "progress" is anything more than decay, or that Europe or other parts of the world are moving quite so fast into the ditch. Go back to sources just a few decades ago and you'll see the time as quaint and innocent, maybe even boring in its calmness and normalcy.

Q. What would people do if they didn't have stuff to click on all day?
A. Something better than clicking on stuff. People used to actually do things.

Q. What if people had to plan in advance to meet friends at a specific location at a specific time but didn't have cell phones?
A: People organized their plans, thought things through beforehand, and didn't flake out. It was a really good time when people said things and then did them. Moderns are puny in comparison.

Obesity is best understood as a form of progress and enlightenment. Stuff your face with junky garbage and stare at idiocy on a glowing screen. All the morons are doing it - it's smart. Life doesn't get any better than that baby!


November 15, 2008

Do something, do anything

Nietzsche advocates an almost feral way of life as a way to break through paralysis, whether caused by society, self, or other. As a "physician of the soul", he avoids easy dogmatic solutions by prescribing no specific method or goal. What matters is having your own calling and obeying your inner nature's will for exemplifying a particular possibility, often a range of moving possibilities over time. By connecting with what moves us, taking action to affirm our wishes becomes inevitable -- a sort of magic.

Assuming your childhood was like mine, you will know the magic of thinking "the world (or at least my world) should have [x] in it, thus I will create it by doing [w,y,z], regardless of what others say should be or not be done, for my decision is correct, aligned with the universe, and just, and will be seen as such when it is birthed." This is wildness, a spirit not destroyed, a dreamer who creates without restraint, and it is also a spark of genius that is often natural in childhood without needing to be taught and can only be lost by being snuffed out.

Moralists will say it is irresponsible for people to make their own choices, meaning they want a society that is normative, standardized at the level of an educated person who competently repeats newspaper cliches, professors, and television programs but cannot form a critical thought. Nothing happens in that stagnant utopia because everyone who could exhibit magic is too timid or uncertain of themselves -- a sickness that was not there in the innocence of youth. But what do the voices of sheep herders matter? Let those driven by fire light up the world.


November 12, 2008

Disposable girlfriends (invert the dominant paradigm)

Most guys meet girls randomly, whether in bars, parties, or other contrived escapist settings, and then try their best techniques to bed them for the night or a little longer. Sometimes when it works, a relationship ensues, developing into evenings and weekends with someone new and enjoyable: drinking, eating, entertaining, talking, goofing around, and maybe then moving in together, at least until the consequences of the real personalities emerge and someone's expectations are shattered. When the illusion is broken and the fervid mutual passion they once had evaporates in the face of bare realism carrying too heavy a weight, the pair inevitably develops (or rather cultivates!) problems and usually splits soon thereafter. All they had was blinding hope and burning desire, but had not developed a lasting love for each other -- only for the hunger of their passions and what they wanted the other person to seem.

Passion is essential but by itself is a veil that leads people to blindly rush into hopeful mirages when instead they could enjoy courting, flirting, and playfully exploring while getting to know the person that has intrigued and attracted them. By appreciating what draws you together and savoring every taste, you can take your time and get to know them for who they are. This lets you find out if they are worthy of your efforts and love, for if they shine true you can more easily give them everything.

Popular aggressive dating advice tells men and women both to avoid being categorized as friends, calling friendship a dead end at odds with their advice for achieving a high number of serial short-term hookups. But a friend is the most able to offer honorable love without deception, while romantic conquistadors prefer to carefully present a persona crafted for plundering. By the time you find out who the other person really is behind the mask and see that you could not possibly have a future together, they are already on their way to the next stop in their relentless voyage of unsatisfied consumption.

After dramatic fights and breakups, a mere romantic girlfriend is gone forever, which is probably for the best if a couple could not find a lasting purpose and joy in each other. In contrast, a friend remains a friend even if a passionate relationship blows up, and perhaps later you can even forgive and laugh about your mistakes and difficulties. Friends outlast even severe blunders, as those are part of the personality you have come to know and accept. Friends remain in your life for what they always were and both of you can take pride in having once hoped for more, and then surviving when your greater aspirations failed.

As friends, all doors remain open for what matters the most: bringing two spirits close for honest communication, shared curiosity, adventure, reliable support, mutual nourishment, and appreciation for the lucky circumstances that allowed you to find each other in a cluttered and mostly vapid world.


November 11, 2008

Building a safe bunker so nothing can ever happen


In a safe bunker, nothing can happen. It's like a jail, but with fewer drugs, less rape, more fear, and more passive compliance.

These are not abstract policy questions. When, not if, terrorists strike within our borders again, Federal support will be indispensable to an effective local response.
Congressional Hearing

When -- not if -- terrorism returns to the U. S., our EMS and hospital systems will be ill-equipped to manage the consequences
Centers for Disease Control

After the "incident",
when the skies are again safe,
please check that my bunker held strong.
From there we will rebuild in our image.

November 10, 2008

Non-partisan reality

To cheer for a sports team requires a type of madness best seen in perspective when someone is cheering for a television simulation of teams accumulating points for manipulating a ball in a prescribed manner. A fan cheers for "their team", chosen arbitrarily, often by accidents of proximity, and takes pride in steadfast loyalty regardless of victory or defeat.

Most people are the same way with all of their opinions and beliefs. They support a particular religion, political party, morality, and social cause not for logical reasons, demonstrated benefit, or from deep consideration, but because they once chose that opinion and remain attached to it even when it has disproven itself with repeated failure.

It is not fair to excuse this as ignorance because the perpetrator is typically well informed about the failure and the large expense incurred to produce that failure despite the best wishes of all participants. One need only to look at pseudo-debates between warring factions to see the foundation of dysfunction. The opportunity for learning and informative discussion exists, but is overtaken by people defending their dogma -- not for the sake of protecting or clarifying the dogma, but to affirm their personal investment in it.

If confronted for a rational explanation of sustained support for a failed system, the cheerleader typically answers that the actor was not a true believer (whether Christian, Communist, Republican, etc) or the system itself was not a pure manifestation of the ideal that the cult's inventor once imagined. And yet the one true representative of their faith cannot be pointed to because he has not yet existed -- but if he ever does then his pure system will surely be validated with a positive result. Just wait, pray, and keep faith! By proposing an impossible case as necessary, they build an infinite arsenal of excuses for avoiding reality.

Recognizing the fallibility of every system and acknowledging their often significant shortcomings allows one to avoid being a cheerleader and to instead make useful any of the few positive aspects within a system by divorcing them from the failing whole. Test all things, and take freely anything that stands true and sturdy when firmly battered and doubted. Take care not to believe what sounds good in theory but has proven false in practice. Experiment freely, but consider the cost and impact of experimentation.

No system has a monopoly on truth and no single system has ever prevailed. If you loyally cheer for a failure, you dishonor life by advocating what does not work. Instead you could look for answers that might not be easy or have devoted obsequious fans, but are actual solutions.


November 2, 2008

Destruction as a practical solution


Why isn't it working?

It is forgivable when people struggle with problems because of their inexperience, i.e. they have never applied themselves in an orderly way towards their current goals and thus their formulations are insufficient or off target and they either aren't aware or don't know how to steer their course. Other times there is a deeper conflict and the botch is passive-aggressive sabotage; a secretive first strike to weigh things down and make the original problem harder than it was, as if complicating the untying of a knot by instead tightening it. We see this same curse in the cosmic instinct for victims of abuse to perpetuate that abuse or its cousins on others, and thus negativity is kept alive to impregnate future souls with unneeded and unearned misery.

The process of achieving goals is just basic organization: the formation of a plan based on understanding of the objectives with ongoing communication providing feedback for adjustments. And yet 99% of people fail to achieve this and look to blame something other than their disorganization when they miss their desired outcome.

Easy ways to stall any project and make nuclear trigger fingers itchy:
  • Declare there must be immediate action, but without agreeing on a plan
  • Declare there must be communication, but afterwards taking no action and forming no plan
  • Agree with the plan but then stall or take no action
  • Ignore the agreed upon plan without proffering amendments, instead drifting off and spacing out
  • Insist on detailed elaboration of plans before any action begins
  • Stick to an action plan when new information is uncovered to reveal earlier strategic predictions are incorrect and require the plan be adjusted
  • Cancel meetings and plans altogether; spontaneously wing complex interactions requiring careful guidance (how is one to aim for what is unknown?)
  • Keep a plan secret and cut off communication. This is worse than having no plan because no one can know what they should be doing or if it is on target or what the target is or if any part of the plan is working.
If the participants can't figure out how to solve basic problems and there is a lasting struggle without improvement, at some point it becomes obvious that this group will never do better even if given a million years to try. But how can a leader give up and accept failure when others want to waste more time on what will never work? Suddenly the enticing possibility of grand destruction appears and with a gentle push obviates the problem by immediately removing everything connected to it. And what a show! Lights, smoke, a teasing stillness, explosive rumbling, drama, tragedy, and delicious decadent idle indulgence until impact -- ending in a nothingness where once a resolvable but unresolved knot stood. The people had the ability but simply were not up to what was necessary, at least not individually or in their stillborn alliances betraying mutual contempt and indifference.

When bad behavior is perpetuated and impervious to diplomatic negotiations and treaties, it constitutes a hilarious provocation begging for a nuclear response in which mutually assured destruction provides a path forward. If need be, blow up the world and cast a cleansing wave of fire upon the defective humanoids along with the healthy few who were obviously unable to work together and overcome their parasites. Nature will try again in a million years or so -- maybe things will fare better next time.

More pragmatically: either something is working, something is struggling but various corrections are possible and worth attempting, or something is resisting all good efforts and thus is taxing at least the spirit while consuming time on fruitlessness. How much wasted toil over the impossible is enough? Recognize all things for what they are, regardless of whether the sickness itself is understood, and do not waste further well intentioned effort barely sustaining a patient that lingers near death in the best of all realistic outcomes.

In our daily lives, most of what you could blow up is quite small, but deliberate destruction remains a largely liberating and restorative option. If something you interact with isn't working, turn your inner microscope on it and determine why. Apply your best insight and the helpful advice of the wisest elders you know. When conventional treatments, rest, fresh air, exercise, sunlight, and other remedies fail to improve it and it is revealed as a Sisyphean dead end -- bring dynamite!

October 31, 2008

Le costume et la blague


A third of all English words are French, but their English usage is largely separated from their original character. Making this linguistic dilution worse, the playful notion of life inherent in the French personality is lost on English speakers who tend to cluster around utilitarianism or escapism, ensuring they will not be very close to the living spirit the French originally captured when coining their words.

The word costume in French can be traced to its original meaning of more than the literal translation of a formal suit. Its historical usage designated an outfit worn to create an appearance characteristic of a particular period, person, place, or thing. So a costume is for play-acting, with the actor exploiting himself for effect in the image he conceives for his imagined role.

A suit is not practical garb, but conveys a solemnity that is taken at face value and conferred to the wearer, granting him a degree of respect without requiring evidence that it is deserved. The costume is effective when it makes others imagine what is not there.

When you next see a suit, consider what it is saying and whether the wearer is unwittingly play acting, though without a linguistic reminder that he is merely an actor faking a persona through appearance.


October 29, 2008

My method

As we figure out what is ours in life, what we are, what we can do, and what is appropriate for our abilities and constitution, we develop our own regimens and methods suitable for our desires and purpose. Some of my approach and what I find inspiring is merely personal with no broader value. Other parts are generalizable and widely useful to clear openings through self-paralyzing clutter from which each person can then go forward in their own way.

We are trained, trusting, and largely unaware of our shared self-confinement as if in a small patch of a dark forest. Because these are the boundaries of our typical experience, we take it as a representation of the universe and usually dismiss anomalous events defying this model, quickly returning to the programming of passive compliance.

But there are strange deviants among us with poor ability to mindlessly repeat slogans and obey gaseous leaders of captivity and restraint. These irrepressibly curious have to by instinct explore possibility and go out to probe the edges, only to often find what has been called a boundary was only a timid guess made from afar. These imaginary end points are not ends at all, but can be traversed as portals to emancipation.

A heretic discovers light and suddenly the forest is not what it seemed to be in darkness. Priests who lied about their knowledge and misrepresented reality are forever dismissed and suddenly the books of law become blank slates. Another wanderer finds a way through what was once called a dense dead end, and a larger world is revealed. The fearful, lazy, tired, and easily content remain in the dark confines of the forest while the wanderers go out to meet the world and find similar spirits who escaped the dimness of safety and related prejudices.


October 21, 2008

Grammatically realigning hypothetical syllogisms by denying the antecedent

"There's nothing you can do that can't be done"
==> Everything you can do demonstrates what is possible

"Nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be"
==> You are in your present state and not another, nor could you be in another

Desire, hope, and possibility beckon
See what belongs to you
All things are woven together for all that comes to pass
How could anyone disagree with the universe?


October 17, 2008

Alchemists of despair: Transforming tragedy into triumph

When Goethe met Beethoven in 1812, he was shocked by his 'completely untamed personality', a solitary savage that by instinct would not obey basic social conventions. Beethoven's Heiligenstadt testament captures his despairing thoughts as he struggled with hearing loss just as he was beginning to innovate post-classical romanticism. Depressed and considering suicide because of the misery of his secret deafness, he was stricken by the cruel irony in the loss of "the one sense which should have been more perfect in me than in others." After considering his exit, he pledged his life to art, devoting himself to all that nature has called upon him to create, fearlessly offering himself to face any worsening situation that could arise.

As Beethoven's example shows, there is never a reason to quit if you are doing what you believe. Pledging your life is an affirmative act of faith, whether risking it in violent circumstances or spending it creating the world of your dreams. You can expend yourself on what is deserving and you will be replenished again and again. If you hold back, whether from fear or desire for preservation, you will remain small. Nature provides what is needed: give everything and you will always have more.

Schopenhauer has said of the Musician in general: he speaks the highest wisdom in a tongue his reason does not understand Schopenhauer encourages the same approach, even eternal war against constant misfortune, because life's intrinsic blessings demand an honorable posture. Retreat from a possibly bad outcome is resignation from life, and one must always retain courage and rise to meet any challenge.

In this world, where the game is played with loaded dice, a man must have a temper of iron, with armor proof to the blows of fate, and weapons to make his way against men. Life is one long battle; we have to fight at every step; and Voltaire very rightly says that if we succeed, it is at the point of the sword, and that we die with the weapon in our hand--on ne réussit dans ce monde qua la pointe de l'épee, et on meurt les armes ā la main. It is a cowardly soul that shrinks or grows faint and despondent as soon as the storm begins to gather, or even when the first cloud appears on the horizon. Our motto should be No Surrender; and far from yielding to the ills of life, let us take fresh courage from misfortune:--

Tu ne cede malis sed contra audentior ito.
[Virgil, Aeneid, vi. 95.]

As long as the issue of any matter fraught with peril is still in doubt, and there is yet some possibility left that all may come right, no one should ever tremble or think of anything but resistance,--just as a man should not despair of the weather if he can see a bit of blue sky anywhere. Let our attitude be such that we should not quake even if the world fell in ruins about us:--

Si fractus illabatur orbis
Impavidum ferient ruinae

[Horace, Odes iii. 3.]

Our whole life itself--let alone its blessings--would not be worth such a cowardly trembling and shrinking of the heart. Therefore, let us face life courageously and show a firm front to every ill:--

Quocirca vivite fortes Fortiaque adversis opponite pectora rebus.
[Schopenhauer, Counsels and Maxims]


October 16, 2008

Muß es sein? Es Muß sein!


Beethoven named the last movement of his final quartet "Der schwer gefaßte Entschluß" (The difficult decision), labeling a key thematic motif "Muß es sein? Es muß sein!" (Must it be? It must be!"). This is a transcendent statement despite having the appearance of a direct, practical approach.

Stages of perspective:
a) an assertion of will; "I want this outcome, thus I shall make it be."
b) a transformation; "I have dreamed it and wish to carry it further into the broader world."
c) acceptance; "What I want is not important in the scheme of things, but neither can I deny the world. Thus I embrace fate, come what will."
d) a daring, curious, fearless faith; "Let us not delay, but go forth into the mystery of mysteries. What awaits there is appropriate and right, for it can be no other way."

    Serenity

    Autumn approaches with uncanny distinction
    But today still eternal golden rays shine
    Orange leaves portent months of slumber
    And still life goes on as it must

    A day sacred, tender, savored
    Soon it will be gone, reduced to a memory
    We will long again for precious, fleeting joy
    And it too will return, as it must


October 4, 2008

Drunken Apple Salmon

If you don't know how to cook, you should learn. Food is easy to figure out, and as with all things, experimentation brings knowledge and is usually harmless.

Wild Alaskan Salmon fillets
Olive oil or butter
Bacon
1 apple
1 onion
Wine or liquor
Brown sugar
Salt/pepper

1. Broil salmon with light olive oil and brown sugar topping.
2. Slice bacon into small pieces and cook in olive oil or butter.
3. Slice onion and apple. Add to bacon.

4. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. When browning noticed, add a touch of wine or liquor.
6. When salmon is done, put on plate and put bacon/onion/apple mix on top.

7. Enjoy


September 29, 2008

Using Reason as Idolatry

So little that is rationalized has a rational basis. Perhaps nothing at all can be defended as rational if you dare to look far enough down the rabbit hole. Whence does rationality originate? Trace any claim of rational decision and you will find a feat of spontaneous creativity invented after an event and rhetoricalized into a first cause, barely different from how clever politicians and priests ascribe blame to irrelevant actions and take credit for natural events. The formal reasoning and claim of intent is only constructed after the actual event is already in motion.

When it comes to the action of instinct, an entire world exists that rational facilities can at best observe the unknown from a distance. Why do you prefer one thing to something else, find a motivation to perform an action, or form any decision? Claims of knowledge of consciousness are only guesses and well crafted self-deception. One can speculate to derive rules from superficial commonalities observed from a limited survey of previous events, but no matter what they are called, they are never more than speculation measured afterward.

Our attraction to another is likewise intricate animal instinct with its own internal language. While intelligent conversation with the rare creature capable of thinking and communicating is delightful, attraction is an organic dance both participants perform most innocently when uninterrupted by attempts to provide commentary on what was already sensed and effortlessly acted upon. A natural wisdom has been stored and accumulated over generations, needing no justifying exegesis for what was already unconsciously decided.

Here too, reason can only look around cluelessly after attraction is detected, consider what it has in common with other attractions we have previously experienced, and then contort the awareness of attraction into words, at which point those words are already reduced to irrelevant trivia. Just as there is a physical intelligence that removes a hand from a hot stove without a detailed study of the physical and moral considerations, so too does attraction reach a quick and sensible action without ponderous deliberations.

The insistence on applying fraudulent overintellectualized explanations keeps alive the ignorant misunderstanding that a singular dictatorship of deliberate thinking is the source of all action, when more correctly such reasoning is a boasting, speculative, gossiping afterthought that at no point has contact with or direct knowledge of the actual motivating force. Reason, when extended far beyond its domain, is a busybody and tabloid journalist, making wild and entertaining presumptions and guesses because it lacks substantial information to convey.

You do best to honor life by leaving it unburdened with the needless addition of popular fiction.


September 10, 2008

Pushing the Deck of Cards

In a city leveraged by political machinery, it was unexpected that a press conference held today would specifically remind us that a two-party Democracy is an absurd charade. With both parties in agreement over all major issues, President Bush's approval rating hovering around 30%, and Congressional approval ratings under 20%, looking for "change" by altering the name of the party in control yields little when both parties have pledged to implement the exact same failed policies.

The deficit has been steadily growing, government expanding, liberty decreasing, and still there is no political representation for the majority held positions opposing the Iraqi war, restrictions on civil liberties, and deficit spending.

Because neither of the two major candidates support what the majority wants, the media encourages people to support the "lesser of two evils" which ensures people receive at least a modest dose of evil. They also cast their vote in favor of what they don't really want, making a mockery of voting. Some people are fearful of what one candidate would do to the country and vote for the other who will do about the same, while other people see through this silly game and refuse to participate.

Today's approach calls the bluff by rejecting the closed two-party system that has proven its shortage of solutions and demands an open discussion about political ideas. Only time will tell whether there is a way to get public servants to listen to the people instead of forcing them to make a losing choice between two unpalatable options.


August 30, 2008

Zappa as prophet (1986)

"The biggest threat to America today is not communism, it's moving America towards a fascist theocracy."


August 19, 2008

Death as adventure

Young reckless death has an unintended artistic quality to it in how the actor experiments with eternal nothingness, once again beating the rest of us to a new destination and leaving us to wonder and reflect upon the person whose voyage has forever left us without them. Death awakens all observers, even sobering those drunk on modernity's numbing distractions, and is perhaps the one real thing still recognized by the monotonous mental zombies of our day.

We reflect on the great deeds of a person, not so much the little things they did unless they are examples of a general character, but more often of the greater efforts to which they contributed their time and vigor. They are gone now, just as they once did not exist, but what they were able to achieve while alive is given posthumous respect and veneration, like a miracle of lasting substance willed forth during a strange brief period before the universe again returned them to nothing.

In this way, we are like condemned prisoners who know our fate but hold firm to a code of honor. In theory we could all do nothing but consume entertainment products, drink ourselves into a happy stupor, perform our daily labor obligations, and use one another for social amusement. But here too, even morons of all educational classes have an instinctual respect for those who did what was right and necessary instead of taking the easy way out as most do.

Three forces collide here that make this way of life inevitable for those who are naturally heroic. The first thing that is needed is a personality that does not change based on a particular situation. One holds firm to one's values and character despite the opportunity for shortcuts and intellectual laziness. Secondly, one has an instinct for honesty and justice that does not set its sights upon a single outcome but considers all things in the abstract. If a judgment does not favor oneself, one's friends, or loved ones, but is nevertheless the correct assessment, it must stand because of the larger principle, and is never compromised for personal advantage. Such a mind is a fair mediator of conflict who can correctly see all sides and render proper measure of its substance and its complex contingencies. Finally, the person is driven by either a spiritual realization or a lack of concern with the physical self (or both!) in which expending oneself is not seen as a burden but as a necessary and appropriate way to accomplish one's goals. Age will slow the body and soon the body will be gone anyway, but in the meantime some battles can be fought and won. It is better to attempt and accomplish a few things that matter than to hide from life like a semi-animated corpse addicted to petty amusement.

As we grow older, we encounter more and more death. Loved ones leave us, friends and acquaintances surprise us by checking off the planet, and respected anchors of life we imagined youthful and enduring disappear one by one.

A life of a thousand years would change little, other than cluttering the planet with many more bored, scared, timid people afraid of living. Nor does hooking people up to machines to give a few more years of physical existence pay proper tribute to the spirit of life. It is the quality of life that matters, and there are too many examples of a person who died young but lived a far fuller life than the older people around him.

Nature gives us death so that new life can have an opportunity. The people we respect appear by showing their feats and putting their personalities into their works. After their time has expired, the stage is cleared so others have a chance to show what they are made of before they too are cleared from the stage.

Death is not to be feared, but rather we should shake from the prospect of a passive life in which a person holds back from giving all that they are.


August 12, 2008

Sit back and enjoy the carnage



August 10, 2008

What you missed from 80s punk, hardcore, and related inspired disruptions

Punk and hardcore incubated into a powerful hybrid strain that flourished in several major cities, but grew best in California where hope, pretense, beauty, dystopia, potential, and disillusionment fused into an explosive genre of alienation, unrestrained critique, and open dissent that diverged from the happy pacifist movements that preceded it.

These genres became known for a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) approach that arose from the complete disbelief in existing structures and a broad skepticism of humanity. Instead, self-reliance and hyper-activism were seen as the way forward. When everything around you fails and most people are content to live in a sterile, insular, artificial world, anyone who wants more from life must create it themselves. This same lack of systemic faith is voiced today in other forms, such as home and private schooling that considers the public version a hopeless dead end, organic food as a return to health and alternative to low quality mass chemical farming, or the common desire for personal wealth so people can buy their way out of doomed systems of collective failure.

While everyone else was passively rolling along with whatever happened, punk and hardcore bands were screaming furiously about real problems that most people had become accustomed to and now considered normal. Whether endless bogus wars, society's collapse into incoherency, or the daily grind that drains the human spirit and reduces people to blinking meat, beyond the angry vocals and distorted guitars was a legitimate idea sounded by those who foresaw the looming fate of canaries fluttering in the coalmine.

To speak the forbidden, point out consequential mistakes, and indict leaders who irresponsibly feign solutions is a sure path to ostracism, but also benefits society when legitimate problems are placed on display and can no longer be hidden by distractions and demands for silent tolerance. Though hugely critical and unhopeful about civilization's success, honest critique has always been a positive contribution and necessary counterbalance to projects veering off course. The underlying motives seen in punk and hardcore are the same as those all healthy people have, only there is a more critical eye cast on collateral damage, self-serving approaches, phony politeness, and the cliched lies we are expected to repeat to show we are harmless non-thinkers who comply, never resisting even blatant errors and foolishness.

When alternatives are taken away but are unsuitable for addressing actual needs, nature finds a new path. Punk and hardcore exemplify this process, bursting forth with a vigor appropriate for the urgency of their message and the dangerous despair their articulators recognized.


D.R.I. (Dirty Rotten Imbeciles)
Innovators of speed and energy known for short, rapid blasting songs, this Texas band rejected docile passivity in a world with real problems that go ignored and unaddressed. Their music is active dissent inspired by the failures that define modernty.

I don't need society
Reaganomics
Commuter Man
Why?
Balance of Terror
My Fate to Hate


Recommended: Dealing with it, Crossover, Four of a Kind
Fear
"The last time we played here there was a riot."
This clip shows a good example of California punk attitude and free expression before the era of politically correct self-censorship. After a few minutes of spiteful sarcasm, insults, and fighting with audience members, they launch into an inspired set. They don't make crowds like these anymore, nor could moderns understand such an appearance.

I Don't Care About You
Beef Bologna


Recommended: The Record
The Exploited
Spasmodic anarchic Englishmen suspicious of those who lead every misery inducing system, this band wrote throbbing anthems of rebellion as their countermeasure. Though their popular song Fuck the USA was catchy straight-ahead punk, their talents were inconsistant and only periodically offered a glimpse into their ideological intentions.

Troops of Tomorrow

Recommended: Dead cities

Misfits
Glenn Danzig's dark vehicle matches simple but capable melodies with a straight-head driving pulse for his masterful vocals. Songs are assertively short and crisp, crafted tightly around tension and rhythmic focus that resolve into spirited choruses.

As the band's name suggests, this music is the inspired view of an outsider who does not belong. Death, escape, violence, and horror are constant themes and though real, are upsetting to the timid who are accustomed to the placid comfort of their fictional bubble world.

Bullet

Recommended: 12 Hits From Hell, Walk Among Us, Static Age, Box Set
Minor Threat
A cornerstone of Washington DC hardcore, Minor Threat led the "straight edge" movement that revolted against oversocialized consumption by denying themselves alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and sex. In their song "Out of Step", frontman Ian MacKaye suggested these things were merely unimportant distractions. Seeking clarity by stepping back from assumptions, such experiments with asceticism birth new alternatives by removing people from their comfortable patterns of self-induced madness.

Watch the entire hall explode at 1:16 when the music starts.

12XU
Small man, big mouth
Filter


Recommended: Complete Discography
Dead Kennedys
California hardcore and punk collide with mockery and frustration over social dysfunction, abusive power, and mainstream stupidity. Sarcastic and a slap in the face of authority, this band sees the state of humanity as a total diaster and its future as a barren wasteland of Huxleian extremity.

Holiday in Cambodia

Recommended: Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables
Black Flag
This seminal California band is based around Greg Ginn's abstract atonality and dissonant structures that cast violent doubt on society's framework, yet unhesitatingly forge forward. The disciplined composition communicates explorations of insecurity and dissatisfaction that are rich in their fervor and bitter substance. Over two decades after its release, the essence these songs captured remains powerful and fresh.

Rise Above
American Waste


Recommended: Damaged
Bonus: Slayer
Slayer recorded an album of punk covers called Undisputed Attitude as a tribute to their punk roots with an aggression that emphasized the raw nihilistic recklessness of punk meeting the modernity's speed and anger. Since the time punk appeared, nothing has been solved and the explosive potential it expresses has only increased. Compare this with their classic 1986 release Reign in Blood, still a high water mark for metal.

Abolish Government / Superficial Love

Recommended: Reign in Blood

August 7, 2008

The Beautiful and the Ugly


It is energizing to be with well constituted people who are beautiful inside and out: rich in spirit, kind from strength, fearless from experience, creative from easily provoked inspiration, reasoned and reasonable from practical understanding. Who would not desire an entire world of such people? And so one crafts their days around the beautiful because what is ugly cannot help and does not belong to us.

Directionless societies with spurious wealth bloviate about the purpose of life being happiness and the pursuit of fun, a never ending, never satisfied quest that usually brings only disappointment because what is sought cannot be won directly. The linguistics of seeking fun are backwards and naive: happiness and joy cannot be found by chasing meaningless distractions, but are a natural result of doing what is meaningful and has purpose. A person is happy when aligned with what is necessary for their lives. People who strive to do what is "fun" cannot win any lasting satisfaction or happiness because they only pursue escapes to hide from life and therefore are never aligned with what is necessary for their nourishment.

Of the few things that you can truly own in the world, the most important is your temporary vessel that will soon be expired. You can use it for anything you want, making whatever future you can imagine within its capacity. It is doomed to perish in short order, therefore do not fear the inevitable but instead strive to sensibly accomplish what is possible in the limited time that remains, knowing that the certain end is drawing nearer every day but that great potential still exists and should be exercised rather than living idly as though one was already dead. You will soon lose this one chance to be what you are; therefore exert yourself for this brief blink of an eye while you still can, and reveal yourself to the world as you truly are in this celebration of an unusual circumstance that will never be again.

In your interactions with the world, you can shape things for better, for worse, or withdraw and passively allow the world to remain drifting the direction others are shaping it. Your self will pass, but the instinct for beauty and what you have shown others and birthed into the world will recur in the next generation and onward provided that external disruption does not prevail.

Those who love life will choose to expend themselves in their effort to beautify the world. Your efforts are replenished: any soreness and tiredness are temporary, but the result of efforts outlast any temporary discomfort and provide the inspiration of ascension. The discomfort soon becomes invisible because the activity is what matters and the negligible cost to the temporary self is not worth the vulgarity of bitter complaining.

Once conceived, most tasks are nearly effortless because they are just physical implementations of already completed mental blueprint, and so the action is easily accomplished as the simple execution of a finished plan. The psychological reward of these victories is important: by your hand, one more thing around you has been made more beautiful.

Nothing is beautiful, only man: on this piece of naivete rests all aesthetics, it is the first truth of aesthetics. Let us immediately add its second: nothing is ugly but degenerate man - the domain of aesthetic judgment is therewith defined. - Reckoned physiologically, everything ugly weakens and afflicts man. It recalls decay, danger, impotence; he actually suffers a loss of energy in its presence. The effect of the ugly can be measured with a dynamometer. Whenever man feels in any way depressed, he senses the proximity of something 'ugly'. His feeling of power, his will to power, his courage, his pride - they decline with the ugly, they increase with the beautiful....In the one case as in the other we draw a conclusion: its premises have been accumulated in the instincts in tremendous abundance. The ugly is understood as a sign and symptom of degeneration: that which recalls degeneration, however remotely, produces in us the judgment 'ugly'. Every token of exhaustion, of heaviness, of age, or weariness, every kind of unfreedom, whether convulsive or paralytic, above all the smell, color and shape of dissolution, of decomposition, though it be attenuated to the point of being no more than a symbol - all this calls forth the same reaction, the value judgment 'ugly'. A feeling of hatred them springs up; what is man then hating? But the answer admits of no doubt: the decline of his type. He hates then that out of the profoundest instinct of his species; there is horror, foresight, profundity, far-seeing vision in this hatred - it is the profoundest hatred there is. It is for its sake that art is profound...
[FWN, Götzen-Dämmerung]


July 18, 2008

l'changement pour l'changement

Change for the sake of change
Where useful idiots shine -- Ignorant voices call for change, unaware that the universe is always in flux and that change is everpresent. A better society or governmental system is not achieved by introducing random, reactive change pleasing to the masses, but is obtained by rationally preserving what is of value and reducing what lacks value. As the idiots gather and cheer for what sounds good but is beyond their understanding, they are manipulated to support the introduction of variation for the sake of variation (and profit for its corporate sponsors), oblivious to essential ideas like purpose, organization and planning.

Under the spell of a shape-shifter who promises whatever sounds good to the easily fooled, focus shifts to a fantasy land of utopia, a secular heaven that lacks articulable goals and can never be refuted because it is clever enough to avoid any specific assertions on which it could be evaluated.


July 14, 2008

What I've Been Reading

Finding modern books worth reading is an exercise in pleasant accidents and improbable coincidences that bring awareness of intelligent and useful books despite the noise produced by promotion of millions of inferior works. May you too gain from these lucky mistakes and these joys also be yours!

The Discovery of France by Graham Robb

A hundred years ago there was no France, just a bunch of dissimilar towns that were doing the same as they had done for thousands of years. Neither was their a French language outside of Paris, though some "French" people had learned a few years of French as a second language.

This book makes it clear with detailed research and historical examples that the ancient past is not so ancient, and in many cases continues on still today.

The Northern Crusades by Eric Christiansen

The battles to tame the last of the European heathens raged for centuries as the bringers of Judeo-Christian submission forced their gifts upon people who had previously lived in accordance with nature and reality. Despite widespread pagan genocide by the Judeo-Christians, isolated populations continued living as they always had, still holding true to their values and beliefs, unaware of who claimed rule over profitable cities or of the Middle Eastern religion promoted by the occupiers.

The Economist Magazine

If you are able to read one magazine, it should be the Economist. The title reveals its perspective: all stories are seen through the eyes of how money can be made from world events -- a very stupid and short-sighted viewpoint -- but the factual reporting is top-notch, insightful, and focused on pragmatic analysis.

The moralizing and desire to equalize everything for the sake of easy commerce is understandable given the goals of their readership, but once you get past that there is no better news source for a quick but potent summary of world events.

The Secret History of the War on Cancer by Devra Davis

As cancer rates rise along with the unchecked use of cancer-causing chemicals and toxic waste, the depth of knowledge about cancer within the medical profession has been declining. Davis takes the reader through the history of what has been known about cancer and how much has been lost along the years as if indifference, human weakness, or deliberate sabotage took its toll. Though it is often repeated that curing cancer is not profitable but prolonged treatments can earn millions of dollars in insurance fees, Davis paints a picture of a profession that was once on the verge of curing cancer but now struggles and fails to retain awareness of what once was known.

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Perhaps the only living example of a traditional scholar, Nassim Taleb enjoys puncturing the self-inflated who presume to know far more than they really do. In an age where people bestow titles upon themselves and everyone imagines themselves the smartest guy in the room, Taleb effortlessly points out the carnage of errors and presumptions piled upon one another so the inevitable collapse can be understood before it occurs.

In this book, Taleb focuses on rare events that are not predictable or even considered in standard analysis, yet are often definitive, whether as field-changing innovations or a perfect storm of financial events. His emphasis is on clean, detailed thinking about what is really known and how to look forward understanding past extreme events that were not predicted, yet took place with highly impacting results.

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

Meditations serves as a Traditional holy book that provides wisdom and counseling in difficult times. Its spirituality is deep, its advice eternal, and its lessons easily demonstrated. It is a good antidote to individuality and helpfully reminds that personal lives are short and the larger whole is what matters, but the self is completely unimportant.

Paired with long walks, Meditations will clarify the deepest and most troubling questions when given the proper quiet, reflection, and receptivity.

In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto
by Michael Pollan

These extra calories are from nutrient-deficient food. It began with refined flour in the 1870s which removed bran and wheat germ to produce long-lasting snowy white flour. Consumers loved it because flour no longer turned rancid, and it didn't become infected with bugs.

Okay. Why didn't bugs chomp down on this new flour? Quite simply because the nutrients, the bran, wheat germ, carotene, were gone. Pollan explains, ". . . this gorgeous white powder was nutritionally worthless, or nearly so. Much the same is now true for corn flour and white rice." Take a look at a package of white flour and count the additives that make up for the loss of natural ingredients. Then you'll understand the basic thrust of this book and its remedies.

Cancel Your Own Goddam Subscription: Notes and Asides from Nation Review by William Buckley

Who knew that William F. Buckley Jr., the quintessential conservative, invented the blog decades before the World Wide Web came into existence? National Review, like nearly all magazines, has always published letters from readers. In 1967 the magazine decided that certain letters merited different treatment, and Buckley, the editor, began a column called Notes & Asides, in which he personally answered the most notable and outrageous letters. The selections in this book, culled from four decades of these columns, include exchanges with such figures as Ronald Reagan, Eric Sevareid, Richard Nixon, A. M. Rosenthal, Auberon Waugh, John Kenneth Galbraith, and Arthur Schlesinger Jr. There are also hilarious exchanges with ordinary readers, as well as letters from Buckley to various organizations and government agencies.


July 13, 2008

Revolution March in DC

The atmosphere was festive, relaxed and welcoming with a hippie feel of tolerance and togetherness yet fully prescient of the action necessary to win what all desired. Without delusion, the 10,000 or so people gathered dismissed passivity and fatalism, instead seeing the world as open, raw, and red in tooth and claw, ready to be uprighted if the right hands took it forward.

Ron Paul has hit his stride as a speaker, speaking easily and fluidly in contrast to a less polished public presentation during the early part of his presidential campaign. Though his message then was more thoughtful than his opponents, they were better story tellers even when they had nothing of substance to say. In recent months, Paul has demonstrated media mastery, and this was the case here as well as he spoke warmly to his adoring partners in revolution.

Against the backdrop of the Capitol building, Dr. Paul reflected on his joy of being "discovered" after decades of the same message, admitting his initial doubts about whether he was to be the messenger and then reluctantly allowing his platform to shine a light on the unpopular truths that had to be discussed. When his opponents tried to silence him by shaming him for speaking out, it resulting in popularizing his ideas, gaining him increased mindshare and millions in campaign donations.


Most revolutions are caused by envy and class warfare, typically leaving the nation worse off when the mob revolts against public order. In this revolution, grievances are a result of public disorder: a reckless leadership dismissing the Constitutional rule of law, a reckless foreign policy that endangers the people and destabilizes the world, a reckless government spending that threatens the prosperity of people, and an increasing police state that attempts to suppress legal activity and instill mindless compliance.

What will the revolution look like? It will be fairly quiet though disruptive. From the edges, supporters will slowly gain access to local and state governments, curbing their intrusion of outside bodies, advocating localized decision making, enforcing fiscal responsibility, increasing personal choice, and shrinking the force of government against the citizens that fund it. Government will be made responsible and tamed to serve the people instead of working against them.

Though not invited to speak at the Republican convention in Minneapolis, Dr. Paul promised his convention there would be much more exciting. With an interesting deconstruction of the delegate system underway, several days of interesting dissent promise to reveal a collapsing Republican party and more hints about how the democratic system is open to reform, though a new party appears necessary.

Dr. Paul finished his speech by saying that revolutions are not won by having 51% of the people in agreement, but by an active 3-5% -- and his supporters already have that percent. They must now carefully move forward and bring their vision to light.


June 1, 2008

Walking into the dark

If one is curious and brave, they will frequently find their explorations leave them in uncharted territories. Others usually tolerate their unusual inquiries, merely finding it interesting that someone would have such interests and concern themselves with the world in which they live. The oversocialized lack passion for discovery, so safely encounter nothing either unsettling or great.

An untamable curiousity is both a lock and a key, for its products are inaccessible except to those who already possess the desire to venture onto hidden paths.

You cannot take someone where they are not ready to go, nor entice them into interest in what does not naturally interest them. At best you can meet them along the same path they have discovered for themselves - maybe they are going the same way for a while? Here all wanderers are authentic and share the same exploration. They have previously faced namecalling, slander, and demands of conformity, but brushed them off and still walk with the same unbroken spirit they have had since birth, still asking uncomfortable and necessary questions. They know too well disappointment, shattered hopes, and bitter losses. And they are not afraid to walk in the dark.


May 12, 2008

We Who Are Still Children

We are not rebels. We are not contrarians. We merely say and do what is true and necessary because silence, restraint, and inaction are the choices of people already dead inside. If you cannot say what you think and do not take action to validate the world you desire, you are a mute trapped in a dream, watching passively as life happens externally without you

We are not cheerleaders or servants. We are not good at obeying sacrosanct orders because we would ask uncomfortable questions and point out facts that cannot be discussed. We can only promote an ideology to the extent that it corresponds with the world we have questioned and observed.

We aren't this way for ego purposes because it does not matter if we are the ones who do things. It only matters that words are said and the deed is done - better still if other able souls contribute what they can. We are happy to be unseen and unknown so long as the world now holds a little more honest life. We know the danger of this because the masses are opposed to truth and attack anyone who offers it, calling them names, distorting what is said, and trying to slander and shame the living into the ignorant passive silence or mindless sloganeering they expect of all people.

In one of his last interviews, Michel Foucault talked about how to view problems and find solutions to what isn't working. He concludes there is much to do and this should inspire us to action.

Q. Do you think that the Greeks offer an attractive and plausible alternative?

Foucault: No! I am not looking for an alternative; you can't find the solution to a problem in the solution of another problem raised at another moment by other people. You see, what I want to do is not the history of solutions, and that's the reason why I don't accept the word alternative. I would like to do the genealogy of problems, of problematiques. My point is not that everything is bad, but that everything is dangerous, which is not exactly the same as bad. If everything is dangerous, then we always have something to do. So my position leads not to apathy but to a hyper and pessimistic activism.

Our lives are short, but when we see a way to right a wrong, to fix what is broken, our innocence compels us to act like children and take action instead of evading like clever adults who make excuses in the corner to let things fall apart. In short order we forget our pains, our labor, our slanderers, but we will forever keep our spirit of eternal rejuvenation alive. In doing so, we inspire those around us to always take action to improve and correct what is needed instead of tolerating competent hands to remain idle while problems remain. We make the world around us better, more meaningful, more beautiful, and more open to possibility instead of taking the side of would-be jailers, censors, and commanders.


May 10, 2008

Free spirits run riot


Jobs take their toll through repetition that transforms people into mindless robots. You see this when you purchase a pack of gum and are asked if you need a bag to haul the gum to your car. Or you might buy a dozen items and be asked if you need a bag. You may freely reply "No thanks, I'll just juggle" because general awareness is rare in this age.

Humans become drones when mental exhaustion takes hold. After spending many hours in dull mechanical activity, they tune out and mindlessly repeat previous patterns that do not match reality, revealing themselves to be semi-sentient oxen. This happens to laborers, office workers, academics, politicians, and nearly all other professions where physical presence suffices as credit for fulfilling labor duties. Instead of thinking critically about what they encounter in life or on the job, they phone it in and overlook that for all actions there is a goal, and its underlying requirements must be understood and addressed, or the time spent is lost and wasted.

Most people remember their friends in high school being alive, aware, and able to assess the world around them and see beyond social pretense, even if with incomplete and deficient knowledge. We remember their eyes bright with the enthusiastic spark of possibility and an inspired spirit that had vision and was fearless to attempt -- and this lives on in some people, though carefully guarded.

College beat the life out of most people, stealing their fight and turning them into sheep that fulfill demands and wait passively to be told what to do and think. Most educated people do not even question the generically prepared path and interchangeable masters who command them as they wander through an imitation of life.

Those who remained alive after graduation were taken out by tedium a few years after entering the working world. Retaining one's cheerfulness while watching others march to self-destruction is challenging, especially when you love and respect them, but this helps remind us to keep our spirits strong and to be true to ourselves. We shall remain the same for all time while others give up, drink up, consume tv shows and ball games, repeat cliched lies, and follow previous patterns instead of thinking critically. It is essential to properly assess virtues and handicaps.

We are dissuaded by the easy answers that are too often lies, or at best oversimplifications. Resistance comes not from a desire to be stubborn, but because the prevalent dishonesty offends us -- yes, even we free spirits who offend others by speaking unpopular truths have our own moral standards that we uphold.

Those who remain aware in adulthood are strange, but necessary cases. Life is not about following what is easy nor should authenticity be compromised. Nor are we purists who wait for the perfect case to appear, for life is short and we have to work with what we have at hand and can reasonably assemble to fulfill our cosmic purpose. Our acts ripple beyond us and outlast us, and are not even performed for our gain. We are actors of the universe, perhaps put in motion for a larger purpose. In any case, we must be what we are and take the actions we were born to achieve.


May 6, 2008

Transcendent Love

1 Corinthians 13 speaks about love in a manner befitting of tired slaves when it advocates enduring, being useful, and quietly serving a master. This is a crude material misunderstanding of love and fails entirely to speak of noble character, spirituality, or transcendent love.

Love is larger than the self and the fluctuating social order because the individual worthy of love is properly seen as an example of a type and not a destination in themselves. We all have physical forms and they are mostly inconsequential. What matters is the essence of the person and that they find a way to exert their eternal characteristics regardless of the time in which they appear. A strong spirit is immortal and will wind its way triumphantly through whatever situation it faces.

Love is a kinship of souls, as one can only venerate another when there is something in common that is understood and valued. It seems we are all a part of an orbit, generally consisting of no more than a few thousand people with similar paths but different trajectories that are close neighbors at times and recur, with the length of our shared paths varying as we wander through our destiny in the universe. Too many times to shrug off as random we have found improbable commonalities or the ease of old friends with people who are independently going in a similar direction as us and with similar aspirations -- and despite the large world they are no more than one of thousands. Often it is only the brightest stars that glimpse one another in the night sky.

Love dares: show me your character, show me what you really are! Love embraces, forgives, sanctifies. Love dances, love gazes deep into another's eyes and soul, love joins two people in laughter and curiosity. Love is a tender exploration, a tempting possibility, both desirous tingling passion and a sober dream that is real.

Love turns blind to many faults, not so much from idealization as a lack of concern with the vulgar and banal, except where these become so severe as to hamper a person from greater pursuits and thus come into focus. But even mistakes are a part of a curious character and must be loved with the whole. All boats that sail do so upright, but those which have sunk are not seen, but rest at their end.

Love inspires when we taste and appreciate the character, gifts, works, and energy of another. From this perspective, love for another requires no possession. One can form love merely with the knowledge that a person exists and of what they are made. They are loved for what they are, what they mean, and what they do without ever meeting them, or even requiring acknowledgment or awareness from the loved. Their spirit and character stand on their own and need not be captured to be what they are. Likewise, love does not even require the loved to be living, as the spirit one loves exists beyond the physical realm and what they were and did over a lifetime is not nullified by the necessity of death. Their life affirmed what they were, even if they have not taken physical form for centuries.

We love others ultimately because we love the world, specifically its best examples that affirm life and inspire us with the awareness of eternal vibrant character that cannot be suppressed. We can know these people in spirit and love them for being what they are. We love life because it created people who are true to themselves and cannot be otherwise.


April 26, 2008

Well decided

Against "the mind" as a singular agent making a solitary decision -- the mind is a legislative body, governing over a broad constituency that for any choice or opportunity might sift through varying positions of support, dissent, indifference, sabotage, and personal agendas. But when the vision is clear and all know their proper role and position, near unanimous support compels a governing mandate. A lesson for legislators: show how the specific fits into the whole and what cooperation each part must offer for the whole to gain, and then all good ideas will receive popular support. Corollary: an idea that cannot be articulated should not be proposed.


April 8, 2008

At Peace with France

The French are unconcerned with trifles. No wonder they are called anti-American. The French live relaxed, prepared, realistically, and do not easily tolerate fools. When they find something distasteful, they simply reject it and refuse to participate in its schemes.

French culture is perhaps most famous for Voltaire, but still produces disagreeable geniuses like Michel Foucault: part libertine excess, part begrudged revenger, part revolutionary, part saint, part cynic -- a mass of energized contradictions coming together to unseat historically repeated lies. A personality as rich with flaws as with gifts, but most of all: a personality! Not a flaccid academic cliche repeater, not an interchangeable ideologue, not a pale imitator. Foucault is like a close friend about whom you can appreciate what is special while overlooking his faults.

Ambassadors to the arts also remind us of France's cultural appreciation and cultivation. Upon first seeing Renaud and Gautier Capuįon perform enthusiastically with the National Symphony, I was overjoyed to see that music was still alive and had living representatives. In France, high standards still produce superior results.

The creation of ballet is quintessentially French. Who else would undertake a study of forms, determine those that are most beautiful, demand prolonged training, total attention to detail, and to do so with such sensitivity that all agree on the supreme result? Witness Russia becoming aware of ballet, quickly understanding its value, and becoming its champion as if it was their own. In ballet, the abstract French mind pursues a strange but beautiful mission and grants itself absolute permission to refine its vision into a perfection of its inspired dream. It is this spirit of grand voyage we can love about the French.

I've previously dismissed southern Europeans as impossible because they are prone to fits of emotive fluctuating character. One moment they are swept away by love, then betrayal, then hope, then rage -- and ultimately all imagined without any actual rational basis. Northern Europeans expect less and are content with less, not falling too low when disappointment appears or being very elated by a temporary triumph; tending to be self-sufficient in inspiration, friends, and thought, but also often seeming dry or cold to the uninitiated. Still it is wisest to dismiss the rabble and crazies of all populations. We should look instead at the best examples of a people and seek to understand the greatness of their character and creations.

We could learn a lot by becoming more French, more contemplative, more appreciative.


March 26, 2008

Making Normal

kafe
Throughout Italy, superior, inexpensive coffee exists as a general standard and principle, because good food and drink are a basic part of all civilized cultures. In Argentina, where filet mignon costs a few dollars for a meal, Argentines laugh at the idea of "grain fed" beef because all tasty cows eat grass, not inferior grain. There is little expense when a nation baselines for quality instead of cutting corners to produce low cost products by deliberately making them of unnaturally low quality.

Choosing between low and high quality is not difficult if one thinks in the long-term and rejects corporate food "innovation" that reduces quality for larger profits. Eventually this "innovation" creates a third-world food supply like that enjoyed in the U.S. by an increasingly unhealthy population.

Throughout Italy, even in small cafes and airports, the coffee is of a quality that even the best shops in the states do not offer. And it costs half the price and is considered a normal and basic standard.

Tolerance for low quality is effectively a subsidy that ensures inferiority.


March 6, 2008

Purpose for Expression

In general, art results from one person's desire
to communicate with another -
All means are equally good -

In painting as in literature, the means is often mistaken for the end - Nature is the means not the end - if one can achieve something by changing nature - one must do so - When one is deeply moved a landscape will have a certain effect on one - by portraying this landscape one will produce a picture of one's own mood - it is this mood which is the essential thing - nature is just the means - how far the picture then resembles nature is irrelevant - To explain a picture is impossible - it is precisely because one cannot explain it in any other way that it is painted - One can merely give a little hint as to the lines one had been thinking along
I do not believe in art which has not thrust itself into being by a person's desire to open his heart
All art, literature and music must be produced with the heart's blood.
Art is the heart's blood.

- Edvard Munch


February 18, 2008

The One

Everything develops from one thing.
Passing away is a punishment.
Passing away and coming into being are governed by laws.
Passing away and coming into being are delusions: the one [is all that] exists.
All qualities are eternal. There is no becoming.
All qualities are quantities.
All effects are magical.
All effects are mechanical.
Nothing is fixed except concepts.
[FWN]


February 17, 2008

Magnanimity, Humility and Pride

Nassim Nicholas Taleb is my favorite modern thinker and the closest form modern society has to the classically educated man. He is free from having to feign knowledge and enjoys speaking truth in the face of vaunted ignorance that otherwise is tolerated and permitted as the dominant mode of discourse. His research into source materials often uncovers basic misunderstandings and academic laziness that have been repeated as doctrine for centuries. Sloppy work is the norm for academics and the "educated", while truth and verified knowledge seems to be of little concern. Oh, but they have good intentions...

Those who desire honest and sane thinking demand much higher standards than the "educated" who argue tirelessly about lies, nonsense, and the irrelevant after having waged war against truth and pledged their careers to defending an empire of largely fictional reality. This drives the honorable people away from academia and leaves the incapable, crooked, feeble, and ill-constituted in charge.

    The magnanimous despises others justly! (but without being puny). He does not gossip, only takes grand tasks, does not care for honors, does not work for Goldman Sachs (wearing a tie, demeaning "annual reviews", in exchange for millions in bonuses), does not care for academic tenure & for the company of academics and other half-men (but does not hold grudges), does not kiss the clients' behinds, does not read the NYT, etc. ἀναγκαῖον δὲ καὶ φανερομισῆ εἶναι καὶ φανερόφιλον ... καὶ ἀληθευτικός [upfront in his loves and hates! & free!] The problem is to be grand precludes psychological socialization by a milieu (say when you become part of an academic or professional collective, you no longer feel free of your opinions lest you hurt someone and become progressively domesticated).
    [ Nassim Nicholas Taleb ]

February 7, 2008

The Long Flatline

Wages today are almost 10 percent lower than they were in 1973, after accounting for inflation. The share of national income devoted to workers wages and benefits is at its lowest since the late-1960s, while the share going to profits has surged.
[New York Times]

[Equality means more workers making a larger labor pool, bringing down costs so companies can make more profit. Now women can work for a company instead of having a family. Corporations love it, so this must be the "progress" they keep telling us about on TV.]


February 3, 2008

Americans like to work more hours for less money

Median Yearly Family Income

With two-thirds of the nation saying the country is on the wrong course, the two parties are offering candidates both of whom played major roles in setting that course. And neither probable nominee has advanced ideas to deal with the crises America faces, nor even shown any great awareness that the country is in crisis.
...
As economist Robert Reich writes, the real wages of working men have not risen in 30 years. Families maintained their standard of living three ways. Wives went to work. The men began to work longer hours than in almost any other developed nation. The family's equity in its home was then borrowed to sustain consumption.

Percent of Working Married Couples
Hours WOrked per Year in Families with Children
Workers' average annual hours in paid work

Now, with the middle class tapped out, the home equity used up or declining, and mortgage, auto and credit card debt turning rotten, the U.S. government is going abroad to borrow 1 percent of GDP to hand out in checks in May to get consumers buying again to prevent a recession.

What kind of long-term solution is this?
[More]


January 13, 2008

The Fruits of Progress: American Wealth, Health, and Education

At every opportunity, Americans are told by mainstream media that their current society is the best possible configuration and superior to all other previous societies. Their leaders call themselves the wisest possible leaders, and despite great personal wealth, their sole interest in leadership is to help the poor, weak, stupid, and powerless because it is not fair to be born with low capability.

Statistics show the United States ranked high in 1950 but has since fallen in all major categories. The reasons for this and the source of the change are never investigated or discussed.

America's feeling of "wealth" comes from having debt of over $48 trillion. This comes to over $160,000 per person, or over $640,000 for a family of four.

Basic family expenses have more than doubled over 30 years, while discretionary income has remained steady.

As real wealth declines, husbands alone can no longer afford to support a family alone. Women are now sent to work, and their children are raised by strangers.

Health declines, with people eating more cheap, junk food and watching entertainment programs instead of accomplishing anything.

How would you have time to do anything in your life if you are watching television all day long? How could you think if your brain was pumped full of idiotic nonsense for hours every day?

Education has declined from being a world leader in 1950 to now no longer being competitive against advanced nations and barely beating third world nations in basic standards.



Children raised in America tend to be poor, unhealthy, uneducated, in broken families, and behave badly. If once a world leader, the United States is now resting at the bottom of first world nations and is poised to soon become a third world nation.


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