Friday, August 29, 2014

How do you learn love?

By being a janitor in hell.

Disclaimer: I worked a shitload of hours this week. Tequila is involved.  All the same, it feels right.

Who the fuck is anyone who has not suffered?  What can they say:?

Morality

It seems to me that what we  might term the moral sense has as its objective the creation of a feeling.  You do good things to feel good.

But when it comes to abstract systems--like the economy--the connection between action and consequence can easily be obscured.  It is very possible to do something that makes you feel good which works on balance to hurt people you never see, never know, and whose fate you never learn.  And they never connect their misery with you.

The moral sense must be tied to learning, to a developed sense of responsibility to work diligently for understanding.

This is why my third sacred principle is Perceptual Movement.  I don't tie it down too hard.  What I mean is continuing to learn on every level which presents itself, in every language it presents itself in.

Idea on alternative energy

I proposed some time ago dropping small fusion bombs down a chute of sorts, deep into the earth, where the energy released could be put to productive use through turbines and heated water. It's probably a dumb idea, but may be close enough that it can be smartened up by someone with a more extensive engineering background than me.  It has long been my understanding that nuclear fusion, of which the hydrogen bomb is obviously the best example, is vastly more efficient than fission.

Here is an alternative idea.  As I understand the matter, the problem with solar and wind is that they are intermittent.  And wind towers are ungodly expensive, kill a lot of birds, and are ugly as bear shit.  Being intermittent, they cannot be relied on as steady power sources, which means in practice that countries like Denmark, which have tried to adopt wind technology, have to "borrow" nuclear power on a regular basis from countries like Germany.  If Germany did the same thing, they would have regular blackout, which is not a very good solution to solve a problem--Anthropogenic Global Warming--which does not even exist.

Long ago I wondered about giant batteries, but this is apparently not feasible.

Here is an alternative: what if you built large underground reservoirs of some material like water, or something better yet to be invented, which takes in and holds heat.  Run pipes of it through the sun in places like Nevada, such that it absorbs the radiant heat, then put it back into its "thermos".  This material--let's say it is water--can then be evaporated at a steady rate.  It can HOLD the energy it takes in, and release it in controlled ways.

I am no expert in physics, but perhaps a system can be designed in which the heat itself creates the suction to pull it in and push it out.  This is another huge problem with alternative energy sources: wind in particular takes more in fossil fuels to create (i.e. physically building the turbines then shipping them on the back of a truck somewhere to be erected with cranes on sites cleared by bulldozers) than it will ever generate out on a wind swept prairie.  It does make tree hugging hippies (not that there is anything wrong with that) feel good, but if the goal is reducing dependence on fossil fuels, it is an abject failure even on that level.

It seems to me--and I concede in advance and openly that I am perhaps being ignorant and stupid--that the focus on converting energy to immediate use, like photovoltaic solar cells, obscures the fact that energy can be taken up and stored in many forms.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Equivalence

Pondering, it seems to me that if emotions and thoughts BOTH arise from primitive sensations--our gut alone, as Peter Levine noted in a quote I posted a few days ago, has the "intelligence" of a cat brain, and is thus functionally an animal within us that both is affected by AND affects our actual brain--then they are equivalent.

It may be that there is no difference in perceptual sophistication on this level between an unintelligent person who expresses trauma through recurring feelings and images, and a much more intelligent person who is able to dissociate the feelings entirely and instead think obsessively.

The former, actually, would be more advanced.  I am perhaps myself somewhere in them middle.  I remarked long ago that my thinking seems to be a way of running productively.

But if you NEED thought, it cannot have an end.  You do not work, say, the way you work to build a house.  Once a house is done, you stop building (unless you want an addition, and that, too, has an end).  With thinking as an aim, there is no limit to the number of words you can inflict on the world.  Trust me, I know.

And this linkage is interesting.  I wake up most days and the thought comes in my head "everyone hates you".  I can and of course do dispute this cognitively, but that is not where it comes from.  What happens, I now realize, is that some primitive sensation in my gut gives rise to the feeling of disgust, and that in turn crystalizes as the thought.  Rather than interrogate the thought or the emotion, I am now focusing solely on bodily sensations, and it seems to be alleviating this problem greatly.  I am getting moments, and even hours, of honest calm.  It is a beautiful thing.

PTSD

The infernal thing about PTSD is you can never relax fully.  If you're on a lake, chilling, drinking beer, some part of you is still scanning the horizon, watching, preparing.  You are never off.  If there is a bump in the night, you have to investigate it.

Certainly, there is survival value in this.  In the wild, or in combat, or in a hostile environment, constant vigilance is needed.

But I think the way to do it is how animals do it.  They are completely relaxed most of the time UNTIL some signal appears to them.  They are not waiting for the signal, but respond when it appears.

If you can't relax effectively, you can't work effectively.  This is what I have concluded.

Peter Levine, on a related note, talks about how fear and anger and sadness and every emotion we are capable of feeling actually FOLLOW kinesthetic sensations.  The knot in your stomach becomes what we call fear.  It happens first.

This opens up an extraordinarily interesting possibility: by attending to our bodily sensations, by listening to them, feeling them, opening them up, challenging them, investigating them, we gain control of emotions.  We become able to get all the good things emotions give us--fear, for example, being a signalling mechanism that something is wrong--without having to go into them fully.

Further, we become sensitive to and better able to feel those sensations that give rise to the feelings we want, like belonging, emotional satiety, contentment, happiness, pleasure.

I have been attending particularly to feelings in my solar plexus lately, and it is astonishing how quickly I am becoming more optimistic and sensitive to feelings of space.

And what I am realizing is that these sensations give rise not just to feelings but to thoughts.  Thoughts are the products of unprocessed, unaccepted, unrecognized physical sensations.

Ponder that most meditation seeks to attain a thought-less state.  How can this be done when the body is not fully integrated?  This is the genius of Kum Nye.  Peter Levine is the first mainstream author I have seen mention this system.  Kum Nye necessarily precedes meditation.  There have been a number of reports that meditation actually makes many people more agitated over time.  Why?

I would guess that the underlying body energy remains unmodified, but its expression in thought is eroded, so it has no outlet.  It gets bottled up.  To be clear, this energy is not positive, but until it is identified and "pulled in", it remains.

And I think of a Sartre, who was compelled to write.  I think of intellectuals, compelled to think, even if everything they think turns to disaster, as happened with most French intellectuals of his period.

This is unidentified traumatic energy, unprocessed horror and sadness, which is remembered viscerally, and which comes out in both emotion and thought.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Religions

It is an interesting perceptual move/exercise/heuristic to consider all religions as metaphysical and cultural hypotheses. We tend to think of science and religion as opposites. Why?

This would allow us to integrate some of the insights of religion, such as the existence of a soul sever able from the body, without necessarily including everything, like Immaculate Conception.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Peter Levine and Philosophy

I would like to quote a very interesting passage from "In an Unspoken Voice" at length:

The most intimate sense we have of ourselves is through proprioception, kinesthesia, and visceral sensation.  Proprioception is afforded through special sensory receptors in the joints that signal the position of all the parts of the body with respect to gravity. Kinesthesia is the sense of the degree of tension in your muscles.  And the visceral sense arises from receptors in the gut that are integrated by the enteric nervous system (a neuronal system in our gut with more nerve cells and complexity than the entire brain of a cat has).  Without these internal senses and without an expanded "non-trance" perception of the external world, we simply are unable to know ourselves and realize it is YOU who is focusing on these events whether they are interesting, pleasant, beautiful, ugly, dangerous, dull and so on.  Without the unimpeded perceiving of these sensations, it simply is not possible to know WHO you are and what you want and need in life.  This is a strong statement, admittedly, but hopefully you will become convinced about its veracity through experiencing the following exercises yourselves. [he then goes on to describe exercises in Somatic Experiencing].

Ponder this.  Ponder a philosophy class on Existentialism in which people submit to tapping into their primal nervous system apparatus, in which they chant VOOOO until some of them start shaking or have other powerful visceral sensations.  Ponder a class where the answer to who you are is: THAT.  The teacher will at that point be fully superfluous and useless, as indeed most philosophy professors are in practice.

Who you are is not an intellectual question, or at least at best perhaps one third an intellectual question.  The felt sense of self has NOTHING to do with cognitive operation.  It has to do with the EXPLANATION, with the words you use, with the conceptions you offer, the contextualizing.  It ENDS there; it does not start there.

I have argued that much of "modernity" can be seen as a poor resolution of grieving, but I would add to that that the better word and concept is probably trauma.  The two are related, but different.  Bolshevism only truly came into its own following World War One.  Communism, likewise.  Fascism likewise.  Millions dead, for nothing, for fuck-all, for the vanity of kings and would-be kings.  For NOTHING.

Surely nothing would be a better master, since It is at least honest.

There is a lot to digest here. Chew on it.

Seriously: ponder the statement "Substantially everything you have been taught about how to live, and what to do and what matters is almost completely wrong."

Do we not look often with sentimental attachment to primitives, to the "noble savage"?  From this perspective, is not their salient trait a continued attachment to the entirety of their selves, of their primal apparatus, and not an effort to paint over and wall off primitive instincts that gain in power because, having lost consciousness of them, we lose control over them, and they in turn begin to control us?

Food for thought.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Fascism

Fascism is social engineering. It is making the trains run on time, and eugenics, and government control of the economy.  As I have said from time to time perhaps the most brilliant piece of propaganda the Left ever came up with was positioning Fascism on the right.  Yes, Hitler fought the Soviets, and Mussolini fought the very Communists among whose ranks he once was.  But they differed in the specifics, not in their embrace of totalitarianism, not in their belief that a ruling elite could remake the world.

If we return to the original French Revolutionary Assembly, who do we find on the right?  Monarchists.  If the National Socialist German Worker's Party--which by the way got most of its support from the working class--had truly been a creature of the right, they would have been seeking to reimpose the monarchy, and return things to the way they used to be.  That was the furthest thing from Hitler's mind, unless we consider that his actual goal was returning to an imagined glorious, pre-Christian past that clearly never existed as he imagined it.

There is no functional difference between a bright shiny future, or a bright shiny past, if both exist in radical difference from the actual present.

Posted in response to renewed class warfare propaganda.

 Keeping sane tax rates for the investing class makes for easy propaganda for you, the party of Detroit and the Rust Belt.  It is a liability because none of you are willing to take responsibility for understanding basic economics.  "Supply Side" economics is nothing BUT economics, period.  It is well tested, irrefutable, and works.  The alternative, Keynesian economics, has been tested repeatedly and failed every time.  It has only been applied as a solution  to economic downturns in this country twice, during what became the Great Depression, and during Obama's reign.  Not coincidentally, both periods represent the worst recoveries in our nations history.

ONLY the private sector can create sustainable jobs.  How hard is this to understand?  And the people who run these companies are made rich, relatively, in the  process.  But we NEED them to create jobs.

You are obstinate because you hate wealth in people who do not support your schemes to change the world.  You are fine with George Soros, but hate the Koch brothers, who together have contributed many, many jobs, all of which resulted in huge amounts of taxes paid into the U.S. Treasure.

If you want to understand why we are working harder and getting less, it is because all of our wealth is being siphoned off by banks, through their power to create money; and by the government, which is borrowing 40 cents of every dollar spent, and in turn, roughly 60-80% of those dollars are being created by the Fed to prop up our credit in an utterly unsustainable way which will result in monetary inflation and following loss of wealth for nearly everyone.

Here is a treatment of this topic: http://www.goodnessmovement.com/Page23.html

To put this another way, if the top income tax rate were 100% above a certain income--and FDR imposed this during a period when he was trying to spur business investment, because he was stupid--do you think anyone would work one minute past the point where the government was taking everything?

history is clear: above about 25% tax rates, actual RECEIPTS go down.  Receipts from the top income earners WENT UP after Bush's tax cuts, both in total dollars, and as a percentage of the whole.

YOu want the rich to pay more?  Keep the rates where they are at.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Tribal Culture and difference

There is a continuum between dividing the world into us and them, and making the whole world us.  It is my view, which I suspect I could justify neuroanatomically, that some primitive part in us--to be clear, an ineluctable, inherent part of us that we can't switch off--has a deep seated instinctual need to classify people as Us or Them.

But the mechanism--and I do think speaking of it as a machine is accurate, making us conceptually cyborgs in some respects already--works in funny ways.

Consider this example: it is possible to consider homosexuality wrong, without rejecting homosexuals as people.  This would both integrate the Us/them mechanism, and allow for higher level brain parts to use conscious judgment to guide action.  You integrate a visceral response, with a socially acceptable solution consistent with the maintenance of peace.

In practice, I think this is the sensible and appropriate course taken by most people who are faithful Christian, Jews, and others.  Of course, there are people who hate homosexuals, like Westboro Baptist Church.  This is a poor integration of mind and body.

But there is also the approach taken by the Left of judging those who are alleged to have judged, and putting THEM into a culturally Other category, of shutting down of reason and creative, useful discussion, and instead directing animal hate at this other tribe of alleged haters, who cannot possibly justify themselves, because nobody is listening, by and large.  I don't see it, at any rate.  Go on the Daily Cause and say you hate the sin but love the person, and see if you last 15 minutes.

It was odd to me to detect in Peter Levine--a brilliant man, extraordinarily well versed in human (and primate) psychology and behavior--more or less invoking Democrat talking points at a certain point in his book, making Republicans out to be cold and heartless.

How does this happen?  

Here is the thing: we NEED difference.  We crave it.  And by difference, I mean putting people in categories and judging them as better or worse.

The egalitarian project, in its essence, works to deprive people of the ability to meet this need.  They wind up lost and rudderless.  Only in their membership within the community of the egalitarians can they meet this need, by separating out and judging everyone who is outside the group.  No, not everyone: they don't judge Muslims for their misogyny, as one example.  No, they judge people within our society, only, who could be in their group but choose not to be.

The path of accurate and appropriate perception is a difficult one.  As Levine notes, we really have three "brains", all of which have needs, all of which make demands much like Dr. Octopuses tentacles in the second Spider Man.  

You can only reconcile all three by becoming consciously aware of them, allowing them to speak, and then using your Executive function, your mammalian brain, to decide your actual course of action.

So much of modern life works to blunt our instinctual drives.  Levine dwells extensively on this. The urge to drive a mountain bike off the side of a mountain?  Instincts.

I am becoming more full of good things, as I let all of this wandering happen, let all this energy speak.  It is good.

If there is a point to this post, it is that we cannot build a better society, which everyone claims to want, even if in the form only of not breaking what was working, if we cannot agree to disagree; if we cannot maintain civil and productive dialogue even when our instincts are kicking in.  This much is obvious, of course, but I don't think it can be emphasized enough that Leftism is an anti-tribal tribe, a cult of intolerant Tolerance.

And I of course can say this having spent thousands of hours trying to have productive discussions with them.  It's always the same: redirection, insult (actually they usually lead with insult; I would guess I have been attacked 10,000 times or more), silence.  This is unfortunate.  Real human beings suffer from our collective inability to solve real problems.  

Foucault

I try not to say things that are untrue, so I looked up a biography of Foucault, to check my memory.

I don't have time to read the whole thing, but will pass along the link, and a quote: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michel_Foucault

"I belong to that generation who, as students, had before their eyes, and were limited by, a horizon consisting of Marxism, phenomenology and existentialism. For me the break was first Beckett's Waiting for Godot, a breathtaking performance."
Michel Foucault, 1983

Ponder a world constrained in such ways--and by the way atheism is safely implied.  Can anyone wonder that with our best minds so stupid that we are in such a mess?

If you look at the structure of our society, the mental and social structures, understood as massive complex systems governed by strange attractors, you cannot but wonder what but habit is holding us together.  Religious communities, of course, have their creeds, and that is why America has not failed, but everything being taught in our best schools leads to moral confusion, doubt, and darkness.

Science is not a light: it is a method, and the people responsible for using this method have systematically cut out large sections of possible human knowledge.  They have cut out psi, specifically, and the survival of death, both of which are indicative of the utility of believing the word God does in fact have a referent, even if we don't yet understand just what it is, how to search for it, and what it will ultimately wind up meaning.

Philosophy

Philosophy is the duck on the water.  Reality is the feet paddling furiously under the surface.

As I grow, I realize that useful philosophies are really more like myths.  They are simple, direct, and can easily be visualized symbolically.

My own creed was born of necessity. I was desperately depressed and angry and sad and confused.  The whole mess, mixed together; and alone.  It is seemingly my destiny to be fully misunderstood by many, largely misunderstood by most, and completely understood by none.

But: don't feel sorry for yourself, never quit, keep learning.  It works.  I can attest to it.

But as I say from time to time, what we call philosphy--Kant, Hume, Nietzsche, Locke, etc--is largely useless.  POLITICAL philosophy is useful, but what I would argue is that by taking morality out of the realm of the visceral, the obvious--at least by fully detaching from sensation--what has happened is that it has self destructed, by becoming unhuman.

The games the deconstructionists/poststructuralists--and ponder those terms on their own merits, from a common sense perspective--play are purely cerebral.  Foucault apparently like being whipped, to feel alive.

The philosophy that is useful, the animals have.  Life lived is the love of truth, the love of the search for truth.

Perhaps that is true.  Perhaps not.  Perhaps both.  I will have to go and see.

Monday, August 18, 2014

EmWave2

I have really been using my EmWave2 seriously for a month or two, and what I have just realized in the past few days is that I can use it as a sort of auditing device, in the Scientology sense.  As I understand it, what they do is in effect hook people up to lie detectors, then read a series of words or phrases to them, and see where they react.  When they react, they are supposed to go into and experience those feelings.  That is my understanding.  Stan Grof speaks of this basic process with approval, although of course the rest of it is a mess.

I try to get to 200 twice a day on the High setting.  What I notice is that I will do fine for a while, I'll get to the green, but then suddenly it will pop over to red.  What I have started doing is passing a baton in my imagination over to that part of me, the traumatized part, the part that wants to drag me down to prevent something worse happening to me.  I give it the baton to speak.  That alone is usually enough to flip it back to blue.

But recently it has been giving me memories, sensations, unpleasantnesses that I had suppressed.  I have a lot of unprocessed content, because I more or less never STARTED processing feelings.  I was traumatized before I could speak.

And this is a good thing.  It represents a method of house-cleaning.

Today, as an example, it gave me dinner-time.  Every evening was unpleasant, as my father would bully us, while pretending to be funny.  For many years, the compulsion to stand up and leave the table immediately after any meal was nearly overwhelming.  Numerous people I actually liked commented on it.  It was a strongly conditioned response that was very hard to suppress.

Well, I went into that feeling, and started shaking, per Peter Levine, and immediately felt something pop, and felt better.  I went right back into green.

It would be foolish to think that's it, but it's a good start.  In the grand scheme of things, that was a very mild trauma, but it has less hold on me now.

As I mention from time to time, I share too much. This is none of your business.  But at the same time, I can't shake the feeling that it is POSSIBLE that sharing this might help someone.  Anyone reading this blog does so of their own free will, and can stop any time they like.  So you are used to me now, and if you keep coming back, there must be a reason.

Again as I mention from time to time, I also believe that in a higher sense, nothing we do is invisible to higher powers.  I can't hide, and there is no point in learning to try.  Whatever light I have, I do my best to contact and show.

Truth is frangible

Consider this article: http://www.spectator.co.uk/columnists/rod-liddle/9286532/its-ok-to-mention-anti-semitic-attacks-but-not-who-commits-them/

Is it acceptable that in modern Britain Jews are forced to live in fear because the ruling elite--and don't tell me Britain has not simply transitioned its aristocracy into a new ruling class, with socialism always and inevitably being characterized by a caste system far more abusive than anything a free market could generate--refuse to do the honorable thing and protect them?

I mention from time to time a scene a movie most seem to have forgotten, which has left a lifelong impression on me.  It is a scene near the end of the film "Judgement at Nuremburg", on the trials of Nazis following the war, and Spencer Tracy, as what I recall as an American judge, is speaking with Burt Lancaster, who was a Nazi judge, who was accused and convicted of crimes against humanity.  Lancaster is asking Tracy "how could I have known it would lead to this, to mass murder, mass torture, so much death? [I am paraphrasing, as this dialogue appends another dialogue, in which a death camp guard calculates how many dead there might have been].  Tracy answers: "You knew, the very first time you sentenced an innocent man to prison."

Edit: I looked it up:
 Ernst Janning: Judge Haywood... the reason I asked you to come: Those people, those millions of people... I never knew it would come to that. You *must* believe it, *You must* believe it!
Judge Dan Haywood: Herr Janning, it "came to that" the *first time* you sentenced a man to death you *knew* to be innocent.

British journalists KNOW what they are doing.  They just don't want to admit it.  They don't want to make hard choices.  They want the world to be this very nicey, nicey sort of place where all violence is simply misunderstanding, and that if they pretend blatant racism and bigotry are not being preached every day in substantially every mosque in the country, that somehow everything will just work out.

From where I am sitting, what is going to happen is British civilization is going to fail.  The rule of law, equality before the law, representative democracy, human rights, freedom of conscience and religion: all of it will be washed away because they are too weak to defend what is good about their country, and are too weak to admit that Islam is inherently opposed to universal human rights, to women's rights, to democracy, to religious pluralism, to free speech, to nearly everything decent which Western civilization has created.  It wants to return to an age characterized by oppression, cruelty, violence, death, and misery.

Why countenance this, outside of cowardice?  I see no reason.

This is why I created the category of Sybaritic Leftism.  Not all leftists are bad people.  Some are kind, decent, skilled, capable, humane, empathetic, and all the good things.  Denmark works.  Sweden works.  But they are failing.  They are failing because they are unwilling and unable to defend what they have built, unwilling to stand up to those who oppose their order, oppose their way of life.

As I mentioned a few months ago, at current rates something like 1 in 4 Swedish women will be raped, in almost all cases by Muslims.  Why tolerate this?  Why be so inhumane as to subject your women to that?  Every immigrant there was born somewhere else.  They can and should be returned if they fail to assimilate.  This is not rocket science.

It is only once you dedicate yourself to the belief that life is supposed to be easy, that it can be made easy, that hard choices can be avoided, that violence is never necessary, that moral choices become hard.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

What Leftists fear

Space and difference.  They want to be clumped together, and not in contact with anyone who is an ideological other.  They fear "alterity", to use Academese.  Genuine alterity, of course.  Cross dressing transexual hermaphrodites they are fine with.  Anyone who THINKS differently, they are NOT OK with.

I just realized that HuffPo is deleting/censoring EVERYTHING I post.  I just had a post deleted that had nothing to do with politics, and was not even remotely offensive.  They fear anyone outside the realm of GroupThink.

You have to grasp that to live in fear is to live in anger.  Leftists of course accuse conservatives of this, and it is likely true of some, the Jesse Helms types, but my experience is that most of us just want a fair system that works to maximize opportunities for all, and a legal system that treats everyone as equal before the law, but no more than that.

What we categorically reject is an elite that uses the political system for personal enrichment, while using the labor of one group to buy the votes of another.

I value compassion.  I value empathy.  And conservatives--aka Liberals--best express these values, at least in principle, to my mind.

Peter Levine

I am finishing up Peter Levine's marvelous book "In an Unspoken Voice", and have decided his basic thesis is absolutely correct: we are in most important respects animals who use math and language.

As he notes, this knocks us down a few notches from standard religious conceptions, but the USEFULNESS of his ideas make this a necessary conclusion.  I am still processing this.

What I will say for now is that even if one grants, as I do, that we are driven in large measure by primitive instincts that have NOTHING to do with reason, this does not mean that there is not a next evolutionary, and spiritual step we are meant to work on.

The evidence that the mind and brain are severable is to my mind conclusive, which means that some larger dimension is at play.

It is perhaps my confusion and vexation about needing to adapt to his thesis, though, that accounts for some of the aggression in my past few posts.  I have to reframe in important ways who I think I am, with I suspect very important qualitative gains to be had for so doing.

There is zero doubt in my mind that his ideas need to be multiplied and deployed.  Whatever is next, it goes through learning to process trauma intelligently, which is to say somatically and instinctually, which is to say as animals.

Politics

Trey Gowdy, in my view, is clearly "playing politics" with the Benghazi committee.  He is going to try and get as close to the election as possible before he starts releasing the really damning stuff.  This is how the game is played.  Democrats plainly play it better, and have for some time--this is how they keep a hold of people's minds, even when everything they touch turns to failure, even if some of the failures, like the welfare state, have not yet become obvious--but by definition all politicians play it.

But ponder this: could "playing politics" work with intelligent, well informed people with memories longer than the latest news cycle?  Would image trump substance?  Would games work?

No, of course not.  Playing politics is for stupid people, uninformed people, impressionable people.

It is quite possible to have legitimate policy differences.  It is quite possible to reach differing solutions to complex problems, and it is appropriate and useful in a democracy to do so.  But only if the discussions that result are substantial, and focused on actual solutions to plainly existing problems.

Playing politics is the art of failing on a sustained basis to do what you were elected to do, and yet somehow keep the trust of the people you need to get elected.  It is the art of convincing imbeciles to do your bidding, and cashing the checks after all--most--eyes have moved on.

Free will

In the Tao Te Ching it says roughly that "those who know they are crazy are not crazy."

I watch around me, and most people are not as qualitatively different from bugs or field mice as they might suppose.  They are governed, yes, by a combination of psychological programming and instincts, but they are on auto-pilot.  They never stop and ask what they really want, who they really are, and then set about getting these things--I would argue affects are what are worth the pursuing--and living out their own being as well as they can.

The free will discussion does not interest me, other than to comment that CLEARLY most people use only a fraction of the freedom that is plainly available to them on some level.

Our jobs on this Earth is to disrupt the patterns we were given, to divert our life energy from the trough into which we were thrown, and into something qualitatively better.  Few see this, and fewer still realize it.

This, at any rate, is my belief at the moment.

Poems

I have a plastic bin filled with ideas, papers covered with notes.  I opened it today for the first time in a number of years.  It is so much, it overwhelms me.  It is something on the order of this blog in terms of content, none of it published on the internet.  3-4 diaries, and huge stacks of paper.

I will have to decide what to do with it.  I will likely put it back, for now.

Here is one line from a poem I wrote that I thought I might share:

If we can see the darkness, does that mean light is near?

I think this is a good question.  To recognize the category dark, you must be capable of imagining an alternative, no?

Oh, good things are happening.  I am shredded daily, and I have learned I can take it.  My wounds will not kill me.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Rest

Sometimes the best thing you can do for the world is nothing.  Often this is the best thing you can for yourself, and the two are obviously related.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Robin Williams Last Words, as I imagine them

"I cannot give of myself anymore, when I have no self to give."

Rightly or wrongly, I think I understand some of what he went through.  He obviously entered "adulthood" with major traumas embedded in his system from a childhood of what I recall he described as neglect, but which likely had other elements, such as parental narcissism, excessive demands, and loneliness.

He never processed these traumas.  He likely did extensive talk therapy, but talk therapy does nothing.  Done poorly, it can even make things worse.

His humor was a shield, clearly, but he likely also discovered early on that the positive feelings he could generate in others made him feel better.  Serving others made him feel better.

But here is the thing with trauma: until you untie the knots, until you loosen the grip it has on you, you cannot relax into the arms of others.  You cannot accept help and healing from others, no matter how often or eagerly or sincerely they offer it.

I myself am gradually unfreezing.  I will likely have to work tomorrow, after a lot of 6 and 7 day weeks, and I was able to actually imagine being happy about it, singing.

Here is an interesting little tool you should use carefully if you have some visceral trauma: say VOOOOOOOO, for a full outbreath.  Peter Levine developed it as a way of loosening literal visceral trauma.  You have an enormous quantity of nerve endings in your guts.  You more or less have a "gut brain".  And often trauma resides there, as I understand the matter.

In my own case, I usually go into uncontrollable shaking.  But this is fantastic.  It has an end.  If the shaking never comes out, there is never an end.

It's hard to say with suicides what will happen.  We speak of a next life, with most of us knowing nothing of it (we do of course have people who have died and come back to describe it, among us).

My felt sense, though, is that Robin Williams did what he could with what he had.  He gave what he had, then there was suddenly nothing left, no reserve, no way of replenishing.  He was never led to water.

I aim to be a leader, someday.  I aim to find this water, and help others drink from it.  All of humanities problems have answers.  We are not helpless, and there is no reason for any of us to be alone together.

End Note: I have this vision of Robin Williams in heaven, tremendously relieved that he does not have to pick up and carry his burden of humor and goodwill every day.  No one is asking him to, and he does not need to.  He can take a walk in a beautiful park, and lose himself, without a care in the world.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

ISIS Conspiracy Theory

Let's call this number one.  More may occur to me.

The atrocities happening in Iraq were already happening in Syria.  That's probably where they developed their methods.  I remember reading about them dismembering a small girl while she was still alive roughly a year ago.

Here is the thing: they evolved very quickly, in less than a year, from a ragtag bunch of sadistic psychopaths, to an ORGANIZED bunch of sadistic psychopaths.  They went into Iraq able to do large scale battle maneuvers, something like on the battalion level.  It seems obvious they got training somewhere.

It seems likely we provided that training.  If we were covertly funding them, and covertly providing arms--some from Libya, and some likely CHEMICAL weapons from Libya--then why would we not have been covertly providing training?

Obama is afraid if he gets too aggressive that they will let the world know this.  Hillary Clinton, when she said her major foreign policy regret was not getting our soldiers to fight alongside ISIS, so as to implement an Al Quedist government in Damascus, was tacitly admitting that they did not anticipate them leaving that battle entirely, and creating a large embarrassment--note, neither Obama nor Clinton have any moral compass or integrity whatsoever, and are functionally sociopaths themselves--in Iraq.

And one can legitimately question the whys and wherefores of Obama's blatant commitment to the Muslim Brotherhood.  What is the connection?  How deep?  How long has it been there?

Obama's enemy is the Western way of life, and that is the MB's as well.  Perhaps the enemy of my enemy. . .  That saying does come from the Middle East, if memory serves.

I will add as well: why is the Middle East violent?  Because of Muslims.  If you could wave a wand and make Muhammad have died of cholera as a child, it would be peaceful.

Parenting

If the water in which your children swim is filled with nutrients, it does not matter much what you say.  They will be fine.

Do you ever understand how important the tenderness with which you look at them is?

Do you see that honest, loving smiles heal and strengthen?

Loss

I think Robin  Williams death will resonate for a long time.  The loud echoes will disappear, but people will remember where they were when they heard the news.  It's like Elvis.

Elvis, too, was a seemingly ALIVE person, filled with energy; and yet he died on a toilet, of the acute effects of chronic drug consumption.  In important respects, he killed himself too.

For me, though, it has been therapeutic.  It was like somebody tore a veil off of something I needed to see.  I was dreaming, in coded language, last night of a move that was very traumatic for me in my teen years, something I have never been able to mourn properly.  The feelings were overwhelming.  I woke in a state of unreality: so much pain--how can anyone take it?

Well, I don't know.  But I can.  Most qualitative break-throughs are not like the sky opening and rainbows coming down.  What happens is that POSSIBILITY emerges into consciousness, where it was not before.

But I felt what I think these poor people in Iraq are feeling, abandoned by America, abandoned specifically by Obama--who is comfortably thinking about his approach on Hole 15, and wondering what they will serve for lunch.  I felt sleeping in a home I knew I had to leave forever at dawn, hearing gunshots in the distance, wondering if some monster would suddenly come bursting in.  I packed all my stuff, the things I loved, and when we finally ran from the house, I forgot them.  Everything I knew, every connection with home and that life was gone.

I understood, on a deep level, the connection of Peter Quill, in Guardians of the Galaxy, to his Walkman.

And we got to a crowded depot, filled with people, and I lost my family.  They put me right to work, with a new group of people, and I grieved that I may never see my family again.  EVERYTHING was lost.  Everything.  I did not know if I could ever get it back.

But you go on, do you not?  We all do.

Feeling love in the abstract has never been a problem for me.  Neither has expressing it with individuals, for limited periods of time.  What is hard is feeling that sense of embeddedness, of belonging, when you have been ripped apart multiple times, and never fully integrated those horrible feelings.  I lost my first best friend suddenly, when I was 3, when we moved.  I lost my second best friend suddenly, when I was 7, when we moved.  I lost my third and last best friend suddenly, when I was 14, when we moved.

Some part of me has apparently never recovered.  That is a lot of loss, and I am at heart a very sensitive person.  I need to recover, and I think typing this will help.

 I understand, though, on a deeply personal level, how Robin Williams could be simultaneously so caring and available, and yet so alone.  He killed himself with his wife in the house.  How horrible must it have been for her to know that despite all their good times, he found himself unable to open up fully even to her, to cry, to mourn, to access those antique, primitive child states, that primal horror and confusion and loss, meaninglessness, vertigo, and loss of self.

I feel all these things; and I think in feeling them claim them and create the possibility of growing beyond them.

If I could offer any motto, any summation of what matters to me, it would be Churchill's "Never quit.  Never, never, never, never."

Life is an exercise, nothing more, but nothing less.  You win by continuing.

I say again: I will be human someday.










Spirituality

consists in first learning to cling to this and not that.  It then becomes becoming that, and not this.

That is as short a summary as you are likely to find.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Curiosity

It is apparently the case that within the nervous system, curiosity and trauma are incompatible.  They run on separate or at least opposed circuits.  You cannot simultaneously feel curious and traumatized.  I read this in Peter Levine's "In an unspoken voice".

For some time I had "Be Relentlessly Curious" as a bumper sticker on my car.  Perhaps I felt this.  Curiosity continues to be one of my principle values.  I can and have argued at times that it is the single most important virtue, as it leads you to discover all the others, and why they matter.

If life is an adventure, curiosity is what gets you out the door.

Robin Williams

I'm still processing, but the thought that keeps recurring is that he was like the Sean Penn character in "Mystic River".  He was a warning, a warning about emotional isolation, going it alone, doubting humanity, allowing fear to win. No one kills themselves who does not feel alone, not like that.  His wife may well have been in the house, and found him.  I know the lead singer for Boston was engaged to a woman, killed himself in a bathroom, and she found him.  That is a horror I hope I never know.

At the end of the day suicide is a selfish act.  He brought joy to millions, and that is worth something.  Clearly, he never fully developed the ability to connect with others on a really deep, emotionally meaningful level.  He was too good at deflecting intimacy.

But I think of the Kevin Bacon character in that same movie, who, confronted with the crime Sean Penn committed, struck by the senselessness of it all, opens himself up emotionally to the woman in his life, who could not speak because she never felt heard.  That is how I remember it in any event.  It's been some years since I saw the movie.

Let this be for us a reminder, an opportunity: connection matters, people matter, love matters.  Value those around you.  Give hope a chance.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Service

I think for a great many people, the largest kindness you can show them is to listen to them.  And when I say listen I mean LISTEN.  Don't have any thought at all as to your story, or what you can say in reply.  Have no thought at all but understanding on a deep level what they are saying overtly, and what they are trying to say subtly.

So many ships sail alone, and the sea is vast.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Teaching

I would argue that in the spiritual realm who you are is what you teach.  This applies to parenting as well.

As I mentioned within the past couples weeks, I twice had occasion to learn deep, valuable lessons without words.

And as I say from time to time, this is what the Tao Te Ching refers to as "that".

Judgment



I agree that one needs to do what one can to engage with others, to understand them as fully as possible, and to grasp that no person or group can be fully contained in cartoon-like simplifications.

At the same time, I would argue a principle danger we face is the eradication of the notion of relative truth.  It is in my view a comforting falsehood to believe that all views and behavior patterns are equal, that all contain some fragment of that elusive chimera "Truth" with a capital T.  One can admit many relative small t truths, and admit as well that they are confined to a time and place, but still retain this capacity for relative judgement.

As one obvious example, I read today that ISIS is beheading Christian children and sticking their heads on poles in a park somewhere, I believe Mosul.

Can we not all agree without serious discussion this is evil and wrong and that no coherent or defensible argument exists for this behavior within any civilized order?

Such judgments become much harder when we give up the right to judge in the abstract, and before any concrete, specific situation is on the table.

In my view, proper moral judgments are local, necessary, and understood as always imperfect.  That does not, however, mean we should not make them.  When necessary, we should ALWAYS make them.  This statement I can generalize, because I put necessary in the definition.  What constitutes necessary is another question.  I would submit at least that when people are being harmed, and we have the ability to stop it, we have to at least make a decision.

That's enough for now.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Spirituality and Dancing

We have all heard the metaphor that different religions are like different sides of the mountain.  I have never liked this metaphor and never understood why.

Here is why, I think: a mountaintop is a place which is static; what is wanted is a dynamic state, a way of moving, including moving in being.

Here is, I think, a better metaphor: different religions are like different types of dancing.  No educated person would confuse a waltz with samba.  One is very formal, elegant, measured.  The other completely exuberant and spontaneous.  But both, at root, are cultivating the same pleasure in movement, the same freedom, the same root spontaneity.

And in a sense, is trusted spontaneity not perhaps the defining attribute of freedom?  Is it not one of the things we long for most?  Is it not in some ways HOW we create what we call our selves?

Can anyone doubt that some Viennese, however repressed and cold in the rest of their worlds, took profound, deep, exuberant pleasure in this recreation?

What one seeks in dance, in many respects, is consistent across cultures.  You seek altered states, pleasure, a sense of connection, a sense of balance and rhythm, and even joy.

And does it matter what dance form brings these feelings?  All can succeed, and all can fail, particularly if excessive focus is placed on external form rather than internal motion, connection with the sensation of pleasure in movement.

I have personally seen people make samba miserable, by trying to do it exactly right.

As with so many things, look to un-self conscious children to see the proper spirit.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Expression of emotions

It occurs to me that the only emotions which connect you from the inside out to the environment, which flow from you, are joy and love.  Positive emotions.  Creativity.

Hate, anger, grief: these separate you from the world as a whole, EXCEPT that if they are shared with others, they can bind you to them quite strongly.  But necessarily there is then a Us and a World.  There is a separation.

All of us need in my view to be principled concerned with our relation as in-dividuals, as undivided entities, as personalities and souls, with our relationship with God, with Pneuma, with spirit.  This is where deep, lasting connection and joy are found.  And sharing this connection does not create an us/world split, as God is everywhere, and the group mutable and spontaneously expressing this connection.

This occurred to me pondering Kum Nye Dancing versus Kum Nye itself.  The former is an EXPRESSION of emotion, and necessarily if it is you contacting the world spontaneously, these are positive emotions.  Kum Nye, is about contacting emotions and expanding them.  They can be anything, and they are localized to you.

I think of the Tibetans sitting in caves for three years, three months, and 3 days.  They are, ideally, in constant contact with soothing emotions, and primitive joys.

I had a lot of very spiritual dreams last night.  It was good.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Proportion

Asking too much of someone is a species of cruelty; so, too, is asking too little.

This is the core problem with egalitarianism: they do not recognize the category better on an individual level, on the only level in which excellence can POSSIBLY be deployed.

The tyranny of low expectations is just one more flavor of the moral monster I aggregate as Leftism; it is just one more expression of concealed, vicious Sadism

Growth

Breathwork always frightens me.  I can face any fear, though.  On some level, everything frightens me, because fear is about all I felt when I was very young, and I function reasonably well in the world.  No one calmed or comforted me.  I state that as fact, not because I am feeling sorry for myself. [edit: I cannot resist pointing out how maudlin and untrue this is.  OF COURSE I was comforted.  My mother held me, read to me, and did many of the things mothers do.  She simply scared the living shit out of me a few times when I was very young--quite possibly literally--and as I grew, was unable to separate her personality from mine.]

The point I wanted to make is this, though: I said to one of my fellow participants that there really is no choice but to do inner work.  You have on one hand a lifetime of mild misery that never ends, and on the other a much shorter but harder period of concerted effort.  You get misery either way, but one does not have an ending point, and one does.  And what's more, you become useful.

I have been to the mountaintop. I have felt what is possible for human beings to feel and express, and I want it.  Duhkha is anything short of exuberant happiness, and whatever comes after it, which the Buddhists label Nirvana.

My house is on fire.  So is yours.  There is no choice for the wise, for those who can see.  None.  And you should be grateful for this.

Emotions

Emotions are the result of the interaction of our sense of self with the world, both the world as it is, and the world as we imagine it to be.

There is a deep truth here somewhere, that I do not have the time to contemplate.  I will say that I have always felt an intuitive connection with Tantra; and I was thinking about Zen this morning: it feels to me like the effort to interact with the world via mind, without the mind.  It is an attempt at pure experience, without emotions.  It has always felt hollow and superficial to me, a putative cure for intellectualism which actually feeds it.

But what do I know?

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Straight lines

Straight lines do not appear in nature.  They come only from the math animal.

Ponder.

Wonder

Wonder is one of the best emotions you can feel.  I have always loved glass art, and was looking at a piece in a museum yesterday, and was filled with this sense of awe and beauty.  The capacity for wonder can salve a great many wounds, injustices, and insults.

Fascism

Fascism, from the inside, likely appears as nothing more or less than the right sorts of people FINALLY being in charge, and making needed and overdue changes that everyone would support if they were smart enough to understand how necessary they are.

Lois Lerner, we now read, thought "right-wingers" were crazy.  Within the Fascist mindset, the law is really intended for stupid people who are not gifted with the intrinsic wisdom and insight that guides the Statist.

Within their own minds they are right, and everyone else is wrong, and given that they are right, what moral or legal impediments should slow them down?

The Jews had to be purged, right, for the good of the human race?  Nazism was nothing if not social engineering of precisely the sort leftists have ALWAYS called for.

Dissidents have to be put in jail or killed--right?--because they are WRONG and risk screwing the perfect system up.

And it is hard to wake up from within this system, because it is self sealing.  You simply do not talk with or interact in any way with people who disagree with you.

Anger

I have a fierce temper.  It does not come out often, but both of my children have told me it scares the crap out of them when it does.

As with everything else, I am working on this.  It feels like an overreaction--there is clearly a place for anger in my world, but anger appropriate to the time and offense--comes from a place of perceived helplessness.

Peter Levine makes the case well that a principle therapeutic method is converting helplessness--freezing, or an actual helplessness--is "promoting" it through the nervous system hierarchy to the fight or flight response.  Both are acceptable, but need to be vigorous.

Anger, of course, is a fight response.  I can and have left dents in sheetrock walls with both my fists and head.

What I am realizing, though, is that anger has multiple sources.  There is of course the proximate cause.  I have been angry this week because the IRS apparently lost a tax return that I show as received and accepted, and which indicated a sizable refund.  Instead, they sent me a levy notice for money that I did not owe, and I had not paid because a large number minus a small number is still positive.  I tried to sort it out with them, but two people in a row hung up on me after conveying with their chosen words and tone of voice that they had no actual interest in helping me, and viewed what assistance they did offer as a favor to me, and not an ineluctable and important part of the responsibility inherent in being empowered to take people's money by force.

Given Lois Lerner's stunts, there is no reason not to believe there are people there capable of simply deleting returns to cause people like me trouble.  The IRS has no cause to view itself with anything but organizational contempt [I would like to propose here that the IRS be formally decimated, in the Roman Legion sense: fire every tenth person, without regard to level or status.  They are arrogant, and quite obviously believe themselves not just beyond the law, but even beyond the need to justify themselves.  For the Cincinnati office, where much of the Fascist activity took place (more on that in my next post), fire one in five.]

Be that as it may, though--even granted justified rage--I am in a cage when I cannot escape anger.  You have to let it go.

Here is the interesting point, to me, that I wanted to make: it is obvious that primal wounds are activated in situations like this, where you have a monolithic and indifferent, but abusive, entity; BUT ALSO anger can be the result of me enabling daily helplessness by not managing my affairs as diligently as I could, or could be reasonably expected to.  I get angry at myself, and direct it outward, and that anger is the result of devolving from a conscious, calm, and controlled place, where I direct my actions with reason, purpose, and willing acceptance.  I don't know how to set limits yet--I don't know when enough is enough--but I can clearly do better.

Tonight, I took the rage out on myself, and ate some food--calzones--that were not on my diet.  It calmed me down; that, and talking with some folks at the  bar that I've known for years about random stuff.  That is the activation of the social self Levine talks about.

Whenever you break your word with yourself, that is a type of violence.  You have done something to yourself that you would likely not have done to someone else.

It seems increasingly to me as well that much anxiety has deep seated anger as a root.  It is an expression in your mind of a somatic reality that you have not yet processed.  We are not meant to worry.  Animals don't worry, as far as we can tell.  Some part of you keeps a tension in you to remind you it is there, but it cannot name itself, or bring itself fully into awareness without careful study and quiet.

I go everywhere.  I try my best never to lie to myself.  I see my flaws, and am trying to work on them.  That is all I can do.  I share this process with you in the hope it might provide you comfort or insight.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Courage

Courage is a creative use of fear.

How's that?

I'm in an odd place.  I'm still processing last week.  I have odd times, with odd people, sometimes.  I like right angles, curves, and loopety loops.  And misspellins.

I feel like I connected my head with my heart.  This is an odd thing.  The mind is still there, and the heart is still there, but they are now talking.  It feels weird.  I think that was the source of yesterday's odd post.  I like to think of my thinking as a hammer: hard, clear, fresh.

But clearly, I think a LOT.  How can I say I don't like discussing ideas?  I just like discussing them with myself.  I find that even though I am an asshole sometimes, I tend to agree with most of what I say, and understand the bulk of my thinking, although some of this shit god only knows what the actual point is, if any.

To use a word new to me, I think I have tended to pendulate between states.  I feel until it gets too rough, then enter my head.  After a time, I head back into thiis feeling shit.

But the shit is getting easier.  I'm actually accessing moments of profound contentment and even joy, despite the fact that I have tapped into and am now in dialogue with some fairly serious trauma.

I'm sure I've mentioned this somewhere, but if you write as much as me you can't keep stuff straight: my "guru" is a guy named Jack Schwarz, who I have never met.  I had two dreams of him, both of which remain with me to this day.

In the first, he was skateboarding.  What he communicated to me was a deep sense of playfulness and fearlessness.  Life is not so serious.  Pain is not so serious.  Engage.  Interact. Play, wherever you are and whatever you are doing.

I feel like I have entered that energy somewhat this week.  My day job sees me driving many miles every day, interacting with people and environments that are completely foreign to me, solving problems with no help, then moving on.

The addon to the story is that the dream encouraged me to look up his website.  I had read about him, and I think had one of his books, but otherwise had no idea about him.  When I pulled it up, the very first image was of a kid skateboarding.  Experiences like that stay with you.

The second dream was of him--and he may have been dead at this point, as I don't remember the exact date--showing me what absolutely unconditional love feels like.  I just saw him, and felt this radiant energy coming out of him, and knew that no matter who I was, what I had done, or where I came from, I was loved, absolutely.

The Hindus speak of Darshana, and the Jews and Arabs of Baraka (yes, same root), which is a qualitative energetic communication.  I believe I received Jack's Darshana.

Now, he absolutely discouraged cultism, and personal devotion.  He always said you have to find your own way, although he offered ideas and practices which had been helpful to him.

To my mind, no book or teaching could ever even approach the gift of feeling these energies, such that I can aim at trying to manifest them in my own life.

Oh, I'm having some tequila again, but all alcohol has ever done for me is make me more honest.  I have love and respect in me.  I take my responsibilities very seriously.  I take my life seriously.  I work HARD at personal growth.  I have walked into Hell many, many times.  I know I can do it, and I am tempted to say it does not frighten me, but I have likely just numbed that part of myself.

I need to hit the sack.  8 hours of driving tomorrow, and I will not have a day off for at least three weeks.  It's all good, though: it's an adventure.  I am really, truly beginning to feel that excitement and enthusiasm.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Philosophy

The emotionally based need to discuss ideas is counter-productive.  It  becomes a distraction rather than a task in problem solving.

There is no passion in intellectualism.  It is a disease of emotional dwarfism.  Most college kids, certainly Humanities majors, succumb.

Yes, I saw Les Miserable.  Narcissism and grandiosity are not in my view desirable traits.  Yes, of course you have to love Jean Valjean, but the kids who set up the blockades, not so much.

Good tequila may have been involved in this post, which I may disagree with tomorrow, but not likely.

Honestly, I am just sitting here drinking after an odd day--an odd week, for that matter, with several more to come--and contemplating the stereotypical college night of sitting up discussing ideas: free will, God, death, politics.

I have always hated these discussions.  I have my own ideas, and by and large nobody ever presents me with anything I have not heard or seen.  I state this as clinical fact.  I cringe when certain "deep"topics come up.

My best interrogator is me.  I know my weak spots.  I know where I am ignorant.

But even then, there is a feeling, not an idea, that I am seeking.  It is the feeling of drilling somewhere, then watching and feeling something emerge, something new to me, something interesting, something alive.

My new mantra is Adventure.  I am feeling increasingly able to frame inconveniences, long days, human stupidity and chance in ways that are interesting and exciting.  To my mind, I am very lucky, but I still get my panties in a wad sometimes.  I'm trying to reduce that, turn it, with the goal of making every part of every day something that I am engaged in and connected to in natural, organic ways.

Random musings.   Do with them what you will.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Addiction

It feels to me like the relationship of an addict to his or her "poison" is exactly that: a relationship.  It is not different in kind or principle with the relationship one has with another human being.  It has feeling qualities.  It has variation.  It changes day to day.

And it seems to me the essence of addiction is getting from chemicals a sense of connection with something, with feelings, and I think in particular the sense of relief from isolation, which is not quite the same as belonging, but awfully close. and as close as most addicts think they can get.

The cure lies in developing new relationships that over time exceed in value the relationship with the substance, which after all cannot quite speak for itself, and onto which feelings must be projected.

As I have said before, this is the principle innovation of AA.  It is not the 12 steps, but the inclusion of groups of like-minded people saying and believing the same things.  It is the creation of a tribe, or if you like, a church.

One can with justice ask how and why we are all--or if you like, why I particularly am--so stupid, why we (I) fail to meet our (my) needs in effective and harmonious ways.  I don't know the Answer, but I will continue to come up with answers.

Perception

Sometimes one blind man has the trunk of the elephant, one the leg of an elephant, and a third the ass of a donkey.

Death

Can you imagine your own non-existence?

For my part, I believe that consciousness survives death.  I believe, based on considerable study, that this is the only conclusion supported by the actual evidence.

And yet, our goal, we are told by those who have apparently passed on, is evolution, growth.  We have to expand, grow beyond our ego selves.

But who is left when this is done?  Are you still recognizably you? Is there a point where you take a final, divine breath, and merge with something?

It seems to me that we are built to fear dissolution.  We are built to favor survival, continuation.  This is in our genes, in our bodies, in our animal selves.

Yet, I would contend that even if there is no final moment when we cease to be as discrete entities, it is still useful to be able to visualize it.  It is when work is done.

We die nightly.  We "fall" into sleep. We throw ourselves into sleep.  We lose consciousness, assuming we will awaken again, and of course most of the time we do.

But we have to consent to die.  We have loosen our grasp on our faculties, on our senses, on our minds and bodies.

And I think it is precisely the openness needed to consent to die which facilitates growth.

I did Holotropic Breathwork last week, and one of my "emergences"--this may be the word I use in the future--was being nailed to a cross.  It filled me with grief and terror, and I had some powerful physical reactions.

But the space was filled with green.  It was not a sad space.

And in my next session I was hanging on the cross, and found it congenial.  I laugh to say this, but I did feel supported by the cross (in the sense that I was physically hanging from it).  From this vantage point I watched humanity in all its griefs, stupidities, and futile efforts.  I saw failure from ignorance, failure from pain, failure from violence.

There were moments when I was sitting, too, where the room darkened (visibly: I assumed a cloud was passing over the sun, but it felt deeper than that), where people were crying and moaning, that I felt a deep sense of the terror of being human, of feeling lost, of struggling and falling, never knowing which way is up, who to trust, where to go.

Death gives you this.  As Carlos Castaneda said, it is a valuable adviser.

I continue to make progress.

Communist Motto

This is the way it works, but I'm not sure anyone has ever expressed it clearly:

You have to break a few eggs to make an omelet; and if you never actually get around to making an omelet, at least you got to break a few eggs.

This is why I call it Cultural Sadeism. The punishment is the point, not an incidental by-product.  Egalitarianism rests on a deeply rooted emotional need to place people on Procrustean beds and cut their limbs or rack their bodies.

Resentment--and Socialism is merely a cover for an intellectually respectable, if not defensible, expression of resentment--is the creed of those incapable of self directed happiness.

And I will say this: I am decreasingly inclined to anger at evil.  Some people need to be stopped--they need to be confronted in public, they need to be imprisoned, and some are likely best just put to death--but when I look at evil what I see increasingly is human beings turned into machines by trauma.  They are trapped, and do not know they are trapped.  Evil feels like a way out, but it cannot be escaped.

Goodness is freedom.  Goodness is happiness.  Goodness is creation, love and contentment.

And it is inherently generous.  When you can make more than you need, it is pleasurable to give it away.  We assume that what people most need are things, but this is of course stupid.  What everyone needs is love, which is to say a sense of being understood, of being accepted, and of being safe.  And being safe can mean having the freedom to take risks.  We all need risk in life.

What sane loving mother would protect her children from all possible harm?  Put another way, what sane, loving mother would build a cage around her children and call it love?

Yet, this is precisely the Socialist project.

Few musings.  I had not intended to write that much.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Unfairness

I'm debating someone on Facebook, and that is the wrong place, so I agreed to post statements I made that she disagreed with, and debate at length.

My invitation: Pick a statement you believe to be clearly true that contradicts anything I said; or pick a statement I made that you believe clearly wrong. I will cut and paste it verbatim to my blog, post a link to it, and we can debate until you start contradicting yourself, or we agree that insufficient data exists to formulate definitive positions. Or, until you embarrass me, and cause me to realize my sense of the strength of my positions is entirely unwarranted. I have never censored any comment, and for any lurkers will note that Anonymous is enabled. Feel free to pile on. 
Response: 

"Anyone who has ever formed a corporation, particularly a C Corp, is struck immediately by the gross unfairness of getting taxed both at the corporate level AND at the individual level." My husband, Peter C. above, formed a C Corp and ran it for 30 years, and he posted Noam Chomsky's video in response to that. 
Here is that video.

Second Response"I suspect most people who are surprised that for-profit entities would seek to maximize revenues have never seriously thought about going into business, much less run one." [this is my comment, to which she is responding]. Ummm, also inaccurate. Both my husband and I ran for-profit businesses and we did not engage in unethical actions to maximize profits. Putting profits above all else has resulted in egregious behaviors in many businesses. Presumably you don't need me to provide examples (I am highly educated and just covered corporate crime less than a year ago and would have no problem finding ample evidence for this.)

Third Response"None of you are emotionally capable of" [full statement, from me, in response to what I perceived as generalized repetition of bad propaganda: None of you are actually emotionally capable of seeing beyond your patent biases, or engaging in meaningful, useful dialogue].... I am a cognitive neuroscientist by training (PhD-ABD with an additional degree in psychology),. Do you have any idea what type of experiments you would have to run to determine anyone's emotional capabilities? And yet you made this pronouncement to a group of strangers based on your own emotional responses. I don't even need to refute this as it is patently absurd.

I do not have time tonight to respond in depth, but will over the next few days, in comments.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Happiness

Logically, if Goodness is a volitional character disposition in which you take pleasure from the happiness of others, and can live happily on your own--my definition--then to the extent one pursues Goodness, happiness becomes a moral duty, which is to say a means.

Truly, deeply Good people are happy on the inside.

TSA

I get pissed off every time I have to fly.  As a general rule, I drive everywhere, if I have time.  I mean everywhere.

This last time, going through, it struck me that a resilient organism reacts to trauma with an appropriate fight or flight response, shakes it off, learns from the experience, then returns to a status quo leavened by new experience.

What happens when the government is involved, though, is that a new organism is created.  This new organism is unconnected with the old trauma.  Rather, like any organism, it comes into being and immediately sets out to expand and propagate, to ensure its continued existence.  It develops survival instincts, expressed through metastatis into domains and activities which can only tangentially be connected to its ostensible mission.

No one is trying to hijack airplanes in this country.  To the extent of my awareness, in BILLIONS of interventions--and forcing people to take off their shoes and belts, as one example, is an intervention--the TSA has not stopped ONE attack. None.

But people continue to diligently consent to full body scans, and getting every piece of luggage opened, and in general dealing with the stupidity of the process of security theater.

We all know 9/11 can't happen again the same way.  Passengers will fight back.  The cockpit door is bolted and reinforced.

We all know that airplanes are much safer than cars, and I think anyone with a shred of sense would realize that they are safer not because the TSA does a good job, but because nobody is trying to hijack airplanes.

Yes, of course there are pockets of deluded, violent people.  Yes, the NSA can and should spy on them.  But this nonsense of patting people down and forcing them through ridiculous levels of security needs to stop.

Airlines should be allowed to opt out of airport security protocols, and passengers, having been informed of this decision, should be allowed to fly them.  If I run the risk of being shot down if the plane IS hijacked, I am willing to take that risk, and so too would many Americans.  I have known a number of people seriously hurt in car accidents.  I have never known, and never expect to know, anyone hurt in an airplane accident, much less an act of terrorism.