I was captivated by another Throughline that aired on January 19, 2023. This episode explores possible Extremist Futures as envisioned by Omar El Akkad in his novel American War.
Omar’s novel is about America’s second Civil War. He imagines 50 years into our future. A time when climate change has turned Florida into an underwater theme park and climate disasters devastate the world. His vision is very similar to mine in my novel Sapience: The Moment Is Now (not yet published).
In American War, the world finally understands that it has to stop burning fossil fuels and bands them–but it’s too little too late. The US is the last to band fossil fuels. All states agree to switch to more sustainable energy except Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. These three states take up arms, deciding they would rather secede than stop burning fossil fuels.
They lose, again, but what follows is a years-long insurgency. This is where his story is mostly centered.
Something Omar says in the beginning of this Throughline needs to be emphasized. He says, “We read to feel into another.”
This is how we come to know and understand each other. A country or a state (I’m thinking of you Florida) that bans books because they might be subversive… God Forbid… they might give children ideas… is a system that seeks to keep its citizens in ignorance.
Break down the word: ig — nor — ance. States and countries that ban books are teaching their people to ignore what they see with their very own eyes.
And, people who are kept in ignorance are a heck of a lot easier to manipulate too!
He also says, “Story is the final act of Resistance!“
The New York Time’s describes his novel: “Omar El Akkad’s “American War” is a disturbingly plausible case in point — a tale of a future America torn asunder by its own political and tribal affiliations.“
This is what caught my attention too.
Throughline plays some from the audio book of American War that includes sound effects. Had I not caught the beginning, I might have thought I was listening to real, on-the-ground reporting.
Omar’s story feels real, very real. It feels like it is already happening.
He grounds his story telling by his real life experiences as a boy in Lebanon where he was a witness to the devastation of war and what happens to people in refugee camps.
Omar says, “A society subjected by warfare is akin to moving backwards in time.”
Think of what Putin is doing to his people and to the beautiful people of Ukraine. Every image coming out of his sick ego trip is likened to images from WWI.
The Academy Award nominated movie All Quiet on the Western Front vividly paints the insanity of rich, powerful men who send other men to die for their personal power and glory. In this movie (and of course the book), Paul Bäumer and his classmates are just cannon fodder for a fatherland that has gone mad.
If you are having a hard time remembering the horror and senselessness of death of WWI, then watch All Quiet to remind yourself that quiet means dead. Watch as these young, gifted boys sign up for service and get pumped up by grumpy, old narcissistic men who stuff them full of overly romanticized, patriotic notions of war and how they are defending the fatherland. It’s on Netflix, so you have no excuse.
Omar describes this souped-up patriotic messaging as euphemistic fraudulence.
This article begins with the college admission scandal that caught up actress Lori Loughlin and fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli in acts of fraud to get their children into the best schools.
Robert writes, and this is important:
In an earlier blog post we suggested some reasons, grounded in behavioral ethics, that might help explain why reputable people and loving parents became involved in these frauds. The conformity bias, the self-serving bias, and incrementalism all may have contributed. The evidence disclosed in the indictment offers additional clues.
A euphemism, say’s Webster’s, is “the substitution of an agreeable or inoffensive expression for one that may offend or suggest something unpleasant.”
Famed Stanford psychologist Albert Bandura writes of “moral disengagement,” suggesting that people, such as Loughlin and Giannulli, who think of themselves as good people can do something bad so long as they can selectively suspend morality for their activities. One way people do this is by use of euphemisms. Bandura notes:
“Language shapes the perception of events and the thought patterns on which people base many of their actions. The personal and social acceptability of given activities, therefore, can differ markedly depending on what those activities are called. Euphemistic machinations are used widely to detach and depersonalize doers from harmful activities. Cloaking detrimental activities in euphemisms can be a powerful weapon.”
Examples of the “sanitizing and convoluted language” (Gambino) of euphemisms that have helped people make their peace with wrongdoing include the following:
Dead civilians = “collateral damage”
Mass firings = “right-sizing”
Lies = “alternative facts”
Burning down villages = “pacification”
Fraud = “creative accounting”
Genocide = “the final solution”
Empirical studies indicate that “euphemistic labels can psychologically sanitize unethical practices, facilitating our participation in them.” (Moore & Gino).
The World is Either Good or Evil
This is a lie. Every modern human being born today is told this lie.
Omar talks about how this idea is used to twist us into doing all sorts of evil things. It is a notion, an idea, a belief drilled into us since the day we are born until the day we are dead.
It is this very idea that the world can be cleaved into a good side and a bad side that allows us to be manipulated.
I would add it is precisely splitting the world into Good and Bad parts that lets us justify just about any abominable violence we can dream up.
It is also what allows ruthless rulers to turn plain, ordinary, decent human beings into killing machines and monsters.
Ruthless Rulers are already monsters and include men such as Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Ali Khamenei, Kim Jong-um, Denis Sassou Nguesso, Abdullah Aziz Al Saud, Bashar al-Assad, and there are many more (see the list of Current World Dictators).
We live with these monsters right here, right now on our planet. And they are pounding our world straight back to the Stone Age just as fast as they can.
What do you think? Are they winning? The Red countries that is… are there more red countries than yellow or green?
That is exactly what they want you to believe. But, perhaps you are beginning to sense out it is precisely this idea of division that is the problem.
One of Omar’s characters is an empathetic lair. He is the character that goes into the refugee camps and radicalizes the kids there.
Omar says there is no such thing as exotic suffering, but empathetic liars make you believe there is. Empathetic liars parse the fine threads of what we do and what is done to us. Empathetic liars play upon the lack of self-agency in a place like a refugee camp (or one of Putin’s prisons) and use it like a gleaming lure to hook their targets–kids (or Russian prisoners) whom they plan to turn into cannon fodder.
Omar says, “People go to bad place when their self-agency is taken away from them.” And the more damaged a person is, the more their circle of Trust closes in, making them extremely vulnerable to empathetic liars
And that is exactly what autocrats, dictators, and pretty much most of the Republican Party in the United States are doing. Whoever they are…all close ranks around their strong man, hype their followers up on FraudulentEuphemisms, and close the circle of Trust until only one man can be trusted.
And, there sure are a lot of want-a-bee dictators who desire to be the one and only man the entire human race can trust–Putin, Trump, Xi Jinping, Ali Khamenei, Kim Jong-um, Denis Sassou Nguesso, Abdullah Aziz Al Saud, Bashar al-Assad, or pick your poison.
Yes, Omar is very right to envision the coming of America’s Second Civil War! Heck, we might be staring down the path to WWIII.
I think Empathetic Liars is another name for Dark Empaths. Dark Empathy is not a good thing. Dr. Ramani does a very good job in this video explaining why all of us need to be on the look out for Dark Empaths and Empathetic Lairs.
Reality? What Reality!
Omar talks about when a group of people believeanything they want to believe is real… you’re living in a very dangerous place and time.
Add the element of violent insurrection being a central part of a country’s narrative, and you have a tinderbox waiting to explode.
He admits he’s been amazed how reality has out did his fiction.
He warns, “There is a particular Force that when it emerges within a group of people, it must be stared down directly.”
I would add that when this Force is encountered: You cannot blink. You cannot turn away. And, if you falter, it will destroy you.
I’m writing about such a force too. I was reminded of a prologue I was playing around with to describe my story. I realize it is exactly what Omar is warning us about.
Image from: Penguin Random House Audio | “Powerful . . . As haunting a postapocalyptic universe as Cormac McCarthy [created] in The Road, and as devastating a look as the fallout that national events have on an American family as Philip Roth did in The Plot Against America. . . . Omar El Akkad’s debut novel, American War, is an unlikely mash-up of unsparing war reporting and plot elements familiar to readers of the recent young-adult dystopian series The Hunger Games and Divergent.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
Following are a few things that caught my attention this week, especially since they are relevant to what I am writing about in my novel about the role of consciousness and modern cultures. The first thing isMemory Wars. It is a six-part podcast exploring how society confronts sin. I only heard one episode, but it got me thinking deeply about how societies fail to deal with sin.
Memory Wars: A podcast exploring how society confronts sin
I heard S1E2: The Two Reconstructions that explores the similarities and differences between the Reconstruction that happened in the U.S. after the Civil War and the one that occurred in Germany after WWII.
America’s Antebellum Period
The biggest difference between the two Reconstructions is that after the U.S. Civil War (April 12, 1861 – April 9, 1865), there was no outside agent to oversee the period of Reconstruction following the demise of the Antebellum Period. Countless reparations and services were needed to repair the damage inflicted on nearly 10 million slaves alive at this time.
Between 1525 and 1866, in the entire history of the slave trade to the New World, according to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, 12.5 million Africans were shipped to the New World. 10.7 million survived the dreaded Middle Passage, disembarking in North America, the Caribbean and South America. And how many of these 10.7 million Africans were shipped directly to North America? Only about 388,000. That’s right: a tiny percentage. -- How Many Slaves Landed in the U.S.?
by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. | Originally posted on The Root
Slavery started in Jamestown Colony, the founding county of the British Empire in North America. It is also the founding colony for the soon to be United States of America. Slavery grows into a brutal industry that lasts for more than 200 years allowing white men to make tremendous profits and becomes the basis for how the economy works in the United States.
America’s Reconstruction Era | Brief & Incomplete
More than 200 years of slave-based industry has made Americans deeply unwilling to confront the brutal realities of being a nation built by slaves and founded on slave-based economic models. America’s Reconstruction barely got started before it was shut down. America’s Reconstruction era lasted only from 1865 to 1877.
After this, any positive steps made during this very short time were quickly turned around by Jim Crow laws, which quickly crippled and reversed gains made by recently released slaves.
America still hasn’t reckon with its brutal history, racist culture, and slave-based industry specifically designed to make business owners and shareholders rich while keeping ordinary workers poor.
The US has intentionally engineered extreme inequalities and injustices into its systems of governance and business. They are written into laws and US constitution. They are meant to elevate white people above all other people.
There are many white people alive right now who feel they are engaged in a life and death battle to maintain these laws. These individuals are willing go to great lengths of hypocrisy and false piety to justify their sin. Some are willing to die for their beliefs and attack the Capital and Congressmen and women who do not believe like they do.
We’ve been here before. It doesn’t end well. Sin never does.
First Archetypal Animation | Justifying Sin
In Germany after WWII, the U.S. led Reconstruction efforts.
On April 3, 1948, President Truman signed the Economic Recovery Act of 1948. It became known as the Marshall Plan, named for Secretary of State George Marshall, who in 1947 proposed that the United States provide economic assistance to restore the economic infrastructure of postwar Europe. -- The Marshall Plan (1948)
These efforts included exposing euphemisms Nazis used to mask their antisemitic and racial laws. Nazis did the same thing writing their sin into the German laws and policies. The Nazis were high on their brutal beliefs and worked like steamrollers to implemented their hellish vision in the lead up to WWII. Their fiendish frenzy included:
The 1933 “Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service” forced Jews and political opponents of Nazism out of Germany’s expansive civil service.
Jurists wrote and enforced laws removing Jews from public service, set their own racialist view of Jewish identity with the “Nuremberg Race Laws,” and eventually enforced laws disenfranchising, despoiling, and ghettoizing German Jews.
A large percentage of the planners of the Holocaust came from the judiciary. Men from the security apparatuses, ministries, and civil services—those groups Hannah Arendt described as “desk murderers” (Schreibtischtäter)—overwhelmingly came from the legal profession, marking just how much every step of the judicial process from training to the highest courts was active in the Nazi regime. -- The Reconstruction of Justice in Post-Nazi Western Germany; article on the continuities of German law and the jurists who spoke out against an authoritarian justice system.
August 11, 2021
These efforts were laid bare to make Germans reckon with their sin. Lots of Nazis were put on trial, indicted, and executed or imprisoned.
Denazification did not end there. Ordinary German citizens were made to watch Hollywood movies that showed the atrocities committed by the Nazis and drove home the role complacency by ordinary Germany citizens played in the horrors of the Nazi War Machine.
Germans had to watch these movies to receive food or other relief items. German citizens also had to fill out questionnaires that determined the level of their Nazism and this determine what kind of work they were allowed to do.
Denazification of Germany
This video provides a good recap of the positives and negatives of German Reformation efforts.
And it details the differences between what happened in West Germany (implemented by Western Allies) and East Germany (implemented by Russia under Stalin). It brings viewers right up to our current era where the lure of authoritarian governments is looming large again in the minds of so many “modern” people and neo-Nazis are on the rise around the world.
It is hard not to compare Putin’s outrageous claim that he is Denazifying Ukraine with the speech Hitler gave to the German people just before he invaded Czechoslovakia. He told his people he was reclaiming and reuniting the Deutschland, German speaking parts of Czechoslovakia.
Getting no push back from the rest of Europe, Hitler went on to invade Poland, France, Russia…and ultimately he would have invaded the world if we would have let him.
There is a direct line that needs to drawn by lies Hitler, Stalin (yes, this man was evil), and Putin tell about what they are doing or did. What they are doing is shining their warped beam of beliefs and focusing it into death and destruction.
In other words, these men are sin makers... they are creators of Hell on Earth. They are creatures who are far more deadly and dangerous than any dinosaur.
They are are monsters, not men.
Second Archetypal Animation | The Same Beast
Germany faced its horrible past. Can we do the same?
Shortly after the National Museum of African American History and Culture opened in 2016 on the National Mall, I was speaking to some patrons of a successful nonprofit about the importance of candid racial dialogue in politics and in the places we live, work and worship.
One of the participants had recently toured the museum and had a pointed question. Why, she wondered, were all the exhibits that visitors first encounter dedicated to slavery? Among other things, she was referring to a reconstructed cabin built by former slaves from Maryland and a statue of Thomas Jefferson next to a wall with the names of more than 600 people he owned. “Couldn’t the exhibits begin with more uplift?” the woman asked, arguing that Black achievement was more worthy of the spotlight. She suggested that the museum should instead usher visitors toward more positive stories right from the start, so that if someone were tired or short on time, “slavery could be optional.”
Her question was irksome, but it did not surprise me. I’d heard versions of the “Can’t we skip past slavery” question countless times before. Each time serves as another reminder that America has never had a comprehensive and widely embraced national examination of slavery and its lasting impact. Yes, there are localized efforts. But despite the centrality of slavery in our history, it is not central to the American narrative in our monuments, history books, anthems and folklore.
Third Archetypal Animation | How America Just Keeps Justifying Sin: Make America Backwards Again
There is a simple reason: The United States does not yet have the stomach to look over its shoulder and stare directly at the evil on which this great country stands. That is why slavery is not well taught in our schools. That is why the battle flag of the army that tried to divide and conquer our country is still manufactured, sold and displayed with defiant pride. That is why any mention of slavery is rendered as the shameful act of a smattering of Southern plantation owners and not a sprawling economic and social framework with tentacles that stamped almost every aspect of American life. -- The Opinions Essay: Germany faced its horrible past. Can we do the same? By Michele L. Norris
JUNE 3, 2021
Locked Up: The Prison Labor That Built America’s Business Empires
This episode is presented by Reveal and shows how the American south quickly shut down Reconstruction and reinvented slavery by using the prison system as a new slave labor force. Before the US Civil War, less than 8% of people in prison were black. During the rise of Jim Crowe era and the prison industrial system that rose to replace slave labor, the new of black people locked up skyrocketed to over 75%. Most were incarcerated for petty crimes and sentences to hard labor for months and years. Some would not survive.
Fourth Archetypal Animation | Locked Up — How Jim Crow Created the New Slave Labor
Companies across the South profited off the forced labor of people in prison after the Civil War – a racist system known as convict leasing.
After the Civil War, a new form of slavery took hold in the US and lasted more than 60 years. Associated Press reporters Margie Mason and Robin McDowell investigate the chilling history of how Southern states imprisoned mainly Black men, often for minor crimes, and then leased them out to private companies – for years, even decades, at a time. The team talks with the descendant of a man imprisoned in the Lone Rock stockade in Tennessee nearly 140 years ago, where people as young as 12 worked under inhumane conditions in coal mines and inferno-like ovens used to produce iron. This system of forced prison labor enriched the Tennessee Coal, Iron & Railroad company – at the cost of prisoners’ lives.
At the state park that sits on the former site of the Lone Rock stockade, relics from the hellish prison are buried beneath the soil. Archeologist Camille Westmont has found thousands of artifacts, such as utensils and the plates prisoners ate off. She has also created a database listing the names of those sent to Lone Rock. A team of volunteers are helping her, including a woman reckoning with her own ancestor’s involvement in this corrupt system and the wealth her family benefited from.
The United States Steel Corporation helped build bridges, railroads and towering skyscrapers across America. But the company also relied on forced prison labor. After US Steel took over Tennessee Coal, Iron & Railroad in 1907, the industrial giant used prison labor for at least five more years. During that time, more than 100 men died while working in their massive coal mining operation in Alabama. U.S. Steel has misrepresented this dark chapter of its history. And it has never apologized for its use of forced labor or the lives lost. The reporters push the company to answer questions about its past and engage with communities near the former mines.
Behind the Lie of Monopoly
“We’re born into the world and think the world is simply the way we are born into it.” — One of the guests on Throughlin’s History of the Game Monopoly
Fifth Archetypal Animation | Monopoly…More Than A Game
Monopoly is one of the best-selling board games in history! It was actually created to get people to think about real life monopolies and how they impact real peoples daily lives.
Most people just love to play Monopoly because it is fun, especially if you need a distraction from the stress and monotony of earning enough money to buy your daily bread.
How Monopoly has been marketed to us is probably why we often don’t notice the deeper messages embedded in the game.
In this episode of Throughline, the narrators explore the origins and history of Monopoly. It’s not what you think. In fact, it reveals how a critique of capitalism grew from a seed of an idea in a rebellious young woman’s mind who created this legendary game that celebrates wealth at all costs. But behind the legend, we’ve been told a lot of lies; one was the theft of a young woman’s brilliant idea.
There's more to Monopoly than you might think. It's one of the best-selling board games in history — despite huge economic instability, sales actually went up during the pandemic — and it's been an iconic part of American life at other pivotal moments: a cheap pastime during the Great Depression; a reminder of home for soldiers during WWII; and an American export during its rise as a global superpower. It endured even as it reflected some of the ongoing inequities in American society, from segregation and redlining, to capitalism run rampant. That's because Monopoly is also built on powerful American lore – the idea that anyone, with just a little bit of cash, can rise from rags to riches. Writer Mary Pilon, the author of The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World's Favorite Board Game, describes Monopoly as "the Great American Dream in a board game – or, nightmare." -- Do Not Pass Go (2022) | Throughline
We are responsible for noticing Sin. When we see it, we must name it. Sitting and watching from the sidelines is no longer an option.
We are responsible for paying attention to what is going inside and outside of our bodies.
If we misrepresent and falsify our sinful actions or fail to act to stop sin when we see it inflicted on others, we are whitewashing reality. This is sin and only leads us further down the road of turning Earth intoHell.
The prosperity gospel is quintessentially an American theology. It is 17th century Puritanism colliding with 19th century New Thought; a spiritual movement that included unconventional and nonconformist thinkers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and William James.
This strange mix then gets hitched to capitalism with a generous sprinkle of hand raising, hallelujah happiness on top; a highly energetic spiritual movement emerging out of little old Topeka, Kansas, in 1901.
The prosperity gospel makes it alright to be rich. In fact, if you’re not rich, you are probably not a good Christian and probably going to Hell.
“The Lord is my banker; my credit is good”
This is Charles Fillmore’s reinterpretation of Psalm 23.
Fillmore founded Unity in 1889 in Kansas City, Missouri. He wrote, “Unity is a link in the great educational movement inaugurated by Jesus Christ; our objective is to discern the Truth in Christianity and prove it.”
It is one of the many religious movements towards the end of the 1800s coalescing and growing out of the New Thought movement.
Fillmore was known as an American mystic who was renowned for his spiritualist interpretations of Biblical Scripture.
His beliefs paved the way for even shinier and more fervent believers who felt God rewards those who are most deserving and faithful to him with money and wealth.
Laws of Prosperity
By the early 1900, the blending of the Puritan work ethic with New Thought was fully fermented into a very bubbly, verifiable, abiding religious zeal that would be enough to put any over-worked, poverty-stricken, overly anxious worker into a state of heavenly glory, at least for a little while, say the typical time of a religious revival promising wealth and prosperity to all of God’s law-abiding, hardworking sheep (Christian-speak for people of faith).
With earthquake-like economic disruptions caused by the Industrial Revolution, this refreshingly fervent religious pastime came just in time for greedy corporate capitalists who needed people to work hard, really hard, so they could make more money.
Add the Holy Fire of the Pentecostal church that believes spiritual gifts are the miraculous ways God works in the world today, and the bomb fire of the Prosperity Gospel Movement ignites into a big and growing spiritual fire of everlasting glory–Hallelujah…praise the Lord, our savior Jesus Christ!
Never mind about deep structural inequalities built into capitalistic systems that are designed to elevate and reward individuals who hold the reigns of power while holding down and keeping poor people who are not born into such privilege.
Russell Conwell and other very charismatic ministers (such as Kenneth Hagin, Ken Copeland, Oral Roberts, and Jim Bakker) blame poverty on an individual’s failure to believe hard enough or to be good enough people who deserve to be rich or to not giving enough of what little money they have to the preacher man.
The idea that you have to give money to get money is a fundamental message preached in the Prosperity Gospel like a little money seed that might grow into a great big money tree one day.
Trumpism Is the Prosperity Gospel Running Wild in American Politics
Since its beginnings in the early 1800s, the Prosperity Gospel has ebbed and flowed. It grew rampantly in the 1900s, then waned during the WW I and II years. It rallied again during the postwar boom of the 1950s, then waned only to return bigger and better than before with the big hair days of the ostentatious 80s.
The mega fall of mega church tele-evangelical preachers and power couples such as Jim Bakker and Tammy Faye or Becki and Jerry Falwell Jr. might have hinted at an incredible reservoir of hypocrisy bubbling underneath all the pretty God Loves You, hallelujahs, and Praise the Lord, but it wasn’t enough to inoculate the masses from the powerfully, tempting, very yummy Gospel of Prosperity.
Enter televangelist Joel Scott Osteen and his non-denominational very charismatic brand of christianity to save the day. He offers 40 powerful promises right from the mouth of God that he, little old Joel Osteen, can let you in on…if you buy his book, believe hard enough, and oh yeah, donated to his mega church in Lakewood, FL.
Jumping into the very big wake being made by Osteen and other mega-ministers who shepherd their ever growing flock of faithful followers with bigger, badder, ever better televangelism programming is the man with the yellow hair and permanent orange tan… and oh yeah, about half of the Republican Party who want to get in on all that fun and money!
And WOW-WE! Look how the Repubs are battling it out for who gets to have the biggest slice of followers! Looks like running down to Mar-a-Lago to kiss the ring on Trump’s orange hand after January 6, 2021 wasn’t enough to save you Kevin. God isn’t shining his spiritual gifts of prosperity on you today Kevin–that’s for darn sure!
But, I digress, let’s get back to Trump who makes a pretty simple political pitch that Jonathan Last sums up nicely in a piece he wrote after Trump whipped out a front page story about himself on February 6, 2020 at the 69th annual National Prayer Breakfast: Acquitted.
Trump’s simple pitch is this:
"God wants you to have what you want! I should know, because I have it! Come get yours too, for a small contribution!"
It might be interesting to note that at this time, while Trump was at the National Prayer Breakfast on February 6, 2020, COVID-19 is already spreading in the United States.
Trump says nothing about COVID. Days and weeks after the prayer breakfast, Trump continues to gloat about his Acquittal but still fails to say much of anything about COVID.
He says nothing despite advisors warning him in December 2019 and in January 2020 and February and March of 2020 that COVID is coming!
Bob Woodward interviewed Trump during this time for his book Rage. Woodward repeatedly asked Trump about his response to COVID. Trump repeatedly played it down saying he didn’t want to cause a panic.
Rather than cause a panic, Trump turned commonsense ways of staying safe, such as wearing a mask, into a culture war.
The U.S. has one of the highest death rates from COVID since the beginning of the pandemic in 2019 and 2020. The vast majority of deaths occurred in 2020 while Trump was President and playing it down so he might get re-elected as President so he could make more money!
Personally, this doesn’t sound like a very good way to enjoy the fruits of the New Prosperity Gospel that Trump touts. Dying seems the very opposite of enjoying prosperity.
Wrapped & Tied in Knots of Powerful Positive Thoughts
Tara Isabella Burton sums it all up very well in her 2017 article published in VOX.
It’s difficult to say that the prosperity gospel itself led to Donald Trump’s inauguration. Again, only 17 percent of American Christians identify with it explicitly. It’s far more true, however, to say that the same cultural forces that led to the prosperity gospel’s proliferation in America — individualism, an affinity for ostentatious and charismatic leaders, the Protestant work ethic, and a cultural obsession with the power of “positive thinking” — shape how we, as a nation, approach politics.
Also see, Throughline’s very excellent episode, Capitalism: God Wants You To Be Rich, which aired July 8, 2021. Towards the end of this episode, they play a soundbite from an archived recording from a Trump rally.
TRUMP: You know, I said the other day - 'cause so many people, they carry around "The Art Of The Deal" because they're begging. They're begging their politicians, please, please read "The Art Of The Deal" when you negotiate with China and with Japan or with Mexico and with Vietnam.
One of the speakers in this episode unpacks what Trump is plugging into here.
BUTLER: And I think this is crucial for right now. It flows into a kind of Christian nationalism. It means that God is especially favoring, you know, the nation as a special place. And so the people who live in it, who follow after this particular kind of thing, are going to be more blessed than anybody else in the world.
And another speaker unpacks it a little further.
BOWLER: I think people crave - even if they might hate it, they crave a gospel where the responsibility always falls back on them. Because it's always the one thing we can control is ourselves. So if you preach an empowered individualism, you've got a gospel you can believe in, which is always us.
The prosperity gospel goes by many names: Word of Faith, Health and Wealth, Name It and Claim It. This “different gospel” teaches that God provides rewards, including personal happiness, financial wealth and physical health, for believers who have sufficient faith. Prosperity theology developed in America in the last century and has been called a “baptized form of capitalism.”
The preachers associated with the movement — including Kenneth Copeland, Joel Osteen, and Creflo Dollar — have some of the largest congregations and best-selling books in the country, and they host television programs that seem to air at all hours of the night (and are some of the most-watched programming around the world).
1. John 10:10 — “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
The signature verse of the prosperity gospel, John 10:10 is used to suggest that God loves his followers and wants them to have every good thing. But interpreting this verse to promise physical gain neglects the depth suggested by its context.
The preceding verses illustrate the parable of the sheep and their good shepherd, Jesus, who calls them by name. The sheep know the good shepherd’s voice and follow. Verse 10 contrasts Jesus with false shepherds who steal and kill and destroy. The abundance of life suggested here has to do with knowing and being known by Jesus, not material things. The Tyndale Commentary explains, “He does not offer them an extension of physical life nor an increase of material possessions, but the possibility, nay the certainty, of a life lived as a higher level of obedience to God’s will and reflecting his glory.”
2. James 4:2 — “You do not have because you do not ask God.”
This verse is used to bolster the “name it and claim it” part of the prosperity gospel — if you don’t “have,” it’s because you haven’t prayed enough. This interpretation ignores the verse that follows, in which James says, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
Creflo Dollar says this of prayer: “When we pray, believing that we have already received what we are praying, God has no choice but to make our prayers come to pass.”
While prayer (including intercessory prayer) is crucial to the life of a Christian, using it to force God into appeasing the believer’s desires also goes against the very prayer Jesus prayed on the eve of his crucifixion: “Yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42
The last chapter of Maria’s book is: Why Fascism Is Winning and its subtitle is Collaborate, Collaborate, Collaborate. She is the recipient of the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize for her courage and work standing up to President Duterte, 16th President of the Philippines who was elected to the role of the presidency on June 30, 2016 (exactly 6 months after Trump did the same thing in the United States).
Both men went to work attacking the Press. Both men claimed they, and they alone, knew what is right and wrong. Both men labeled any coverage from the press that they didn’t like as Fake News, Unreliable, Unprofessional, Untrue. Both men worked furiously to annihilate truth, facts, and reality. They knew divided we fall!
To some extend, both men succeeded beyond their wildest mad fantasies!
Duterte’s Mad War
Duterte went to war, he said, to reduce ‘crime, corruption, and illegal drug trade‘. Many cheered. In reality, he would leave a brutal, bloody legacy of dead. Official numbers account that 6,248 people were killed, but human rights groups say the number is much higher, as high as 30,000 people.
Investigations show many victims of Duterte’s war on drugs were his opponents, leftists, drug users (who needed treatment, not a bullet), and some dealers. The UN has implicated Duterte in more than 1,000 killings and disappearances of people. Police whistle blowers have told how they planted guns and drugs on these victims to frame them as involved in the drug trade. For more on these stats, please see the BBC’s June 30 article: The bloody legacy of Rodrigo Duterte.
Trump’s Mad Dash to Dictatorhood
Trump’s 4-year term is just as distributing. He knew COVID-19 did not bode well to be elected for a second term. So when the virus arrived in the United States, Trump went into deny, distort, and distract mode.
He continually played down how deadly the virus was and mocked people who wore masks. This turned a cheap, easy, commonsense public health approach of keeping people safe into a culture war.
Veteran Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward on Monday called the former President Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic a “crime” that killed more than 1 million people.
The Hill reports Woodward said: “I call it a crime, not telling the people that he had been warned that — by his national security advisers in the most vivid way, which is outlined in these tapes, the interviews with them, where they are telling him.”
This is the reason why Woodward released the tapes he recorded with Trump early in 2020 as he interviewed him for his books Rageand Peril; earlier, he wrote Fear.
As of November 23, 2022, over 1 million US citizens have died of COVID; the vast majority of these deaths occurring while Trump held office before a vaccine was available. Trump crippled the CDC and turned public health guidance into a political weapon.
There Is A Big Yang to Pay When Facts Fall Prey to AuthoritarianDisinformation Campaigns
Since we are on the topic of global pandemic, let’s take a look at President Xi Jinping. He has recently been elected to a historical third term. This of course is code for President for Life.
He has cozied up to Putin, imprisoned Chinese Wiegers, carried out a brutal crackdown on democracy protesters in Hong Kong, and most recently was posturing in a tense standoffs about the fate of Taiwan. Many think Taiwan could be the next Ukraine as XI Jinping lines up his ducks to make Taiwan China again.
But real life, especially nasty little viruses, don’t always go along with the next chapter of the Dictator’s Playbook. President Xi Jinping took a hardline approach to COVID when it first emerged in Wuhan, China.
Zero COVID policy worked at first and it became the main strategy of Xi. Local authorities eager to prove how loyal they are to Xi have implemented extreme lock down measures, including locking people inside their homes and whole apartment complexes.
Xi has bragged about how effective China’s Zero COVID policy has worked, while the rest of the world suffered. He didn’t put much effort into vaccination efforts other than insisting China make its own vaccine while claiming Western-made vaccine like Pfizer or Moderna would be ineffective.
“China would never do something crazy like use a COVID-19 vaccine made in the West! Heck, the Western World is falling apart… look at what happened at the US Capitol!“
Well, Xi is right about the US Capitol. We have lost our collective mind, but it is not because we have a free society and democracy (that is what he and his flying monkeys blameall the evil on).
The reason we are losing our collective mind is because our trust landscape is being destroyed by people who want to be just like him–a bully and a dictator—and digital clones, keep reading! But when you tell lies and spread disinformation to prop up your authoritarian ambitions, they tend to come back and bite you in the butt. And that is what is happening in China now.
CNN reported more than 17 protests occurring all over China, some very bloody. The deaths of people trapped inside their high rise apartment because the fire escapes had been locked due to Zero COVID lockdown measures ignited these protests but anger has been building all over China after 3 years of overzealous lockdowns. These measures are killing people too. Some have not been able to get medical care for heart attacks or other life threatening health conditions, others have committed suicide, all locked down have complained about getting rotten and substandard food or no food. This has lasted for months at a time.
Xi put himself into this very small box.
The protests are a real threat to his authority, but so too is China’s failure to create a vaccine that works. Virologists have compared China’s vaccine to Pfizer and Moderna and found it is not as effective.
Compounding the limited effect of China’s vaccine, China just has not put as much effort into vaccinating its population, relying instead on enforcing its Zero COVID policies with upmost brutalities. The result is the vast majority of China’s population are under vaccinated or not vaccinated. Nor do many individuals have immunity from a previous infection compared to the overall population.
If they let up on Zero COVID without vaccinating their population with a vaccine that works, COVID will roar through its population killing millions and while it does, it will be mutating and this could cause a BIG problem for the rest of the world, again.
If Xi relents and allows Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to be used in China, he reveals his lies about Western democracies to his people and he looks weak.
Oh what a sticky misinformation landscape Xi has created for himself!
If Disinformation Doesn’t Work, Create A Scapegoat and Attack It
This is what Putin is doing now in Russia. He is losing the war in Ukraine. He looks weak and stupid. He needs a good distraction so his citizens don’t rise up against him and who knows, perhaps they castrate the man.
After all, it is his actions, and his actions alone, that have cut the Russian people off from the rest of the world–no Facebook, no Twitter, no vacations to Paris or Italy, no McDonalds–all because of his war with Ukraine.
So what does Putin do? Putin makes being gay illegal in Russia. He calls it a sickness of democracy and the Western World. He claims Russians don’t have gay people.
Come on Putin… now you look even more stupid than before. To read more about Putin and his flying monkeys, see Ukraine Letters.
The Dictator’s Playbook
Dictators around the world and throughout history use the same tactics. They attack the truth, exaggerate threats to make people afraid, and enflame emotions to herd as many people as possible under their make-believe umbrella constructed out of their annoying, droning chant: “I and I alone can fix it.”
That is the secret spell of a dictator. This stupid chant is his top-secret, classified magic potion. This is what every dictator throughout time has ever used to manipulate the masses. It is called ignorance dust. It is what evil fairies use to make their mischief.
What they don’t say out loud is …they broke it and they made up the boogeyman who you are now afraid of!
Dictators systematically claim they represent truth, decency, and dignity while fabricating facts, fiends, and fantasies about their own greatness.
Dictators pit people against each other, then they sit and watch the carnage on TV.
1. Expand your power base through nepotism and corruption.
2. Instigate a monopoly on the use of force to curb public protest.
3. Curry favour by providing public goods efficiently and generously.
4. Get rid of your political enemies.
5. Create and defeat a common enemy.
6. Accumulate power by manipulating the hearts and minds of your citizens.
7. Create an ideology to justify an exalted position.
You should read the article because Mark gives some very lively examples.
So, Just How Do You Stand Up to a Dictator?
Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate
This brings us back to Maria Ressa. She stood up to Rodrigo Duterte and to Mark Zuckerberg and his Facebook nightmare. In an interview with Dave Davies on FreshAir she said:
I wasn't the only one under attack in Rappler. And Rappler is about a hundred people. We're - we just became - we hit 10 years. We're 10 years old January this year. So my gosh, we're going to be 11 by January next year. But it's 63% women. And our median age is 23 years old. So when our younger reporters came under attack, I became far more protective of our team.
And within a short period of time, we increased our security six times, seven times, because at some point it became very clear that online violence is real-world violence. And, you know, in your introduction, you talked about the attacks of President Duterte and Facebook. I think, by 2016, I was calling for an end to impunity, impunity of Rodrigo Duterte and this brutal drug war and impunity of Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook. They go hand in hand. One could not have happened without the other.
DAVIES: When you started Rappler, this news service, one of the things you note is that the population of the Philippines had already become remarkably attached to digital technology. Different from a lot of places in that way, wasn’t it?
RESSA: Yeah. Look, we were the texting capital of the world before this, the SMS capital of the world. And then we became known as the social media capital of the world. And by January 2021, for six years in a row, Filipinos spent the most time online and on social media globally. A hundred percent of Filipinos on the internet today are on Facebook. Facebook literally is our internet.
DAVIES : I mean, it seems that what you were discovering was that social media platforms, like Facebook, have discovered that people respond to sharply emotional messages. And so the algorithms give them more of that – anger, hatred, resentment – which, in turn, brings more engagement, which is what their economic model is based on. And it – you observed that this was allowing people who were telling lies that were destructive and poisonous to democracy to spread faster than truth.
The interesting thing is that you actually had conversations with Facebook executives about this, right? You met with a bunch of them. Did they get it? What did they say?
RESSA: Rappler was essentially an alpha partner of Facebook. We knew Facebook in the Philippines better than Facebook did. And I went to them with the data, hoping that they would give me more data and fix it. I thought it would be an easy fix 'cause in 2016, it was alarming to see this kind of, you know, incitement of hate. In 2017, I was one of about a dozen startup founders that Mark Zuckerberg met with. And, you know, I was trying to get him to come to the Philippines to see how powerful Facebook was. And at that point, 97% of Filipinos were there. And that's what I told him. I said, you know, you really have to come 'cause 97% of Filipinos on the internet are on Facebook. So he started frowning. And I thought, OK, I must have been a little too pushy. And then, he looked at me. And he said, Maria, where are the other 3%?
RESSA: I think that was the problem, right? They were so focused on market share, their profits, their goal for the business, that they forgot to look at the social harms. I also don't think it's a coincidence that they do not tell the difference between fact and fiction. It doesn't have any business or economic benefits to doing that. So at this point, you don't even have facts. So what did they do? They outsourced it. They gave - it became a fact-checking network that was doing this. But it was never integral to the product by design. Social media divides and radicalizes, and this is what we're seeing in the world today.
DAVIES: You write that, at one point, Zuckerberg wanted Facebook to start to really focus on weeding out offensive content. And you said, you’re missing the point. It’s – the problem isn’t content; it’s distribution. What did you mean?
RESSA: Because so much of the debate centers on content when that isn't the problem. Doesn't matter if your crazy neighbor talks about a conspiracy theory. You'll still like your crazy neighbor, and you listen. But it becomes different when that's the front page of your town newspaper. Imagine, the crazy things now make it to the front page. That is what goes viral. And that's the world we live in.Doesn't matter if it's real or not as long as it captures your attention. So it is your amygdala that decides, right? If you get angry, you'll share it.
And this is the - I mean, look, there is a - E.O. Wilson, who studied emergent behavior in ants, said that our greatest crisis that we face is our Paleolithic emotions, our medieval institutions, and our godlike technology. That godlike technology manipulated us to the point that the very systems of democracy that gave rise to this is now at the verge of failure.
DAVIES: You know, at the end of the book, you kind of ask the big question, which is, what do we do about this? I mean, now that you’ve – it’s apparent how harmful and poisonous this can be for democratic institutions. You know, in the United States, I mean, tens of millions of people believe made-up stories about a stolen election despite plenty of fact-checking that has been published debunking a lot of these stories. You think you have some strategies that might be effective? I mean, this is a little complicated, but share some of these ideas with us.
RESSA: In the short term, we decided, as we were walking into our presidential elections, that we would try to figure out what a whole-of-society approach to civic engagement could look like. And we created a four-layer, facts-first pyramid - four different layers. The bottom layer are 16 news organizations - the first time news groups worked together. You know, I've been trying since 2016, but we finally all work together. And that is the supply of fact checks.
But as you know, fact checks are really boring. They don't get wide distribution on social media. So that leads to the second layer. It's called the mesh - 115, 116 different civil society groups - NGOs, human rights organizations, climate change groups were there - business, the church. The Philippines is Asia's largest Roman Catholic nation. And the goal of the mesh layer is to share those boring fact checks, but to add emotion because emotion is what moves it through distribution. And what we found when we did that was that inspiration spreads as far as anger. The third layer are academic institutions. Eight of them total that took the data from the first two and every week told Filipinos how we were being manipulated, who was winning, who was losing, what were the media narratives being seeded? And then finally, the last layer, layer four, is rule of law. It's legal organizations from the left to the right in the Philippines, from the free legal group to the integrated bar of the Philippines to the Philippine Bar Association.
They filed, in less than three months, more than 21 cases, tactical and strategic, that helped protect the three layers. It worked. We were able to - it was the most successful attempt to try to take over the center of our information ecosystem. We mapped it. But more than that, within two weeks of launching this facts-first pyramid, the Philippine government - the office of the solicitor general filed a petition at the supreme court against Rappler and our commission on elections, because we were working with them at that point. They said that fact-checking is prior restraint. They tried to stop us from fact-checking. It almost made me laugh.
DAVIES: To kind of summarize here, it sounds like what you’re proposing is that news organizations need to overcome some of their competitive instincts and work together when there is important fact-checking to be done, connect them to other organizations in a way that puts energy and emotion into it and get that out there.
RESSA: Think about it like this. Like, if you don't have integrity of facts, you cannot have integrity of elections. And ultimately, what that means is that these elections will be swayed by information warfare. I mean, you know, it's funny. Americans actually look at the midterms. And they say, well, it wasn't as bad as it could be.Death by a thousand cuts - it's still bad. And if we follow, you know, what - the trend that we're seeing, if nothing significant changes in our information ecosystem, in the way we deliver the news, we will elect more illiberal leaders democratically in 2023, in 2024.
And what they do is they crumble institutions of democracy in their own countries, like you've seen in mine.But they do more than that. They ally together globally. And what they do is, at a certain point, the geopolitical power shift globally will change.Democracy will die. That point is 2024. We must figure out what civic engagement [looks like and], what we do as citizens today, to reclaim, [and] to make sure democracy survives.
In Maria Ressa’s interview on 1A, she explained surveillance capitalism and how it enabled want-a-be dictators like Duterte and Trump to actually get elected in Free and Fair elections. Something she told Jen would never have happened pre-Facebook (and other social media era).
Here is how she explains it:
technology has degraded facts and broken our societies. I became a journalist because I believe that information is power - it’s how we get justice. The death of democracy began when journalists lost our gatekeeping powers to the technology platforms that not only abdicated responsibility for protecting us ... but also destroyed democracy by destroying the facts ... for immense profit.
Like the age of industrialization, there’s a new economic model that brought new harms, a model Shoshana Zuboff called surveillance capitalism - when our atomized personal experiences are collected by machine learning, organized by artificial intelligence - extracting our private lives for outsized corporate gain. Highly profitable micro-targeting operations are engineered to structurally undermine human will - a behavior modification system in which we are Pavlov’s dogs, experimented on in real time with disastrous consequences. This is happening to you - to all of us around the world.
Engagement based metrics of these American tech companies mean that the incentive structure of the algorithms, which is just their opinion in code implemented at a scale that we could never have imagined, is insidiously shaping our future by encouraging the worst of human behavior. Studies have shown that lies laced with anger and hate spread faster and further than facts.
Without facts, you can’t have truth. Without truth, you can’t have trust. Without these, we have no shared reality, no rule of law, no democracy.
In my upcoming book, the prologue I submitted last year began with the splintering of reality in Crimea in 2014. I had to revise that when Russia invaded Ukraine using the same narratives seeded then. Would that have happened if the platforms had acted 8 years ago? That is the true cost for the world.
Now these networks form a global nervous system of toxic sludge partly fueled by geopolitical power play. In 2018, we connected the information operations in the Philippines with Russian disinformation networks through websites in Canada. In 2020, Facebook took down information operations from China that were creating fake accounts for the US elections, polishing the image of the Marcoses, campaigning for Duterte’s daughter, and attacking me and Rappler. In 2021, the US and the EU called out China and Russia for Covid-19 disinformation.
We are all connected.
To read more on how to tackle this huge problem that the whole world faces, a psychological-social virus just as deadly as the Coronavirus, see her speech: The Assault on Freedom of Expression. It is jaw dropping.
No one can afford to sit on the sidelines and watch how this all plays out. Every human being alive right now has a choice to act or watch democracy fall. And if the choice is to watch, you will also watch the world fall over the Climate Cliff.
You (reading this right now)… you will be alive to watch this all happen. It is happening right now and it is going to happen faster than anyone has previously predicated.
If we don’t save democracies, we will never get around to collaboratinglike we have never collaborated before as a global species to solve the looming climate crises bearing down on all of us right now. These climate crises are going to push the entire human race over the Climate Cliff.
It is time to Wake Up!
And Ron DeSantis (another want-a-be dictator), go buy yourself a mask, fins, and snorkel because if Florida is where Woke Goes to Die…well, Florida ain’t going to be around after Earth’s glaciers melt… and it’s going to happen much faster than the Woke People you disparage are telling you it will happen!
Think about it. Think about it hard.
What will you say to your children and grandchildren 50 years from now when there are no more democratic countries and we fail to act on Climate Change?
What will you tell them when you did not try to stop the Putins, the Xis, the Trumps (and his flying monkeys), and the rigid old men in Iran persecuting and killing their young people?
And old men of Iran, for what? What are you killing your young people for… a strand of hair sticking out from a veil?! Come on you stupid old men… what are you going to do? Kill every young person in your country? Yes, probably you will… the ouroboros is the symbol for rigid old men clinging to their dictatorships.
And the North Koreas…well, Kim Jong Un is sitting pretty these days not collaborating with anybody not even his fellow dictators and firing off his rockets… he is the ultimate symbol for a manly male, a tough pluck... a virile coward if I ever saw one. Someone has to enjoy all the spoils he directs only to him and his loyal supporters.
Maria Ressa says we are all living in the upside-down now. Yes, the very same weird world as depicted in Stranger Things. In this world, only the ruthless get to relax in luxury. Everyone else suffers unbelievable poverty, abuse, and gets crushed under super surveillance systems created by dictators afraid of losing power.
We may be wise enough to know that Facebook is tracking us using super surveillance systems and this is pretty bad… thisis where we are now. We all exist in a world of digital clones that are used against us to make huge profits for the ridiculously rich people of the world (think Elon Musk— you can be a corporate dictator too!). These are nasty little things corporations and social media platforms use to make more money by tearing truth, facts, and reality into tiny shreds. Read Maria’s book!
But the next step is not so very far away in our collective global future. The people fighting for their very lives in Ukraine RIGHT NOW know this! They know Putin will not stop if he wins Ukraine. No strongmen, no dictator, no authoritarian is ever satisfied with what they have. They always want more. That is their purpose in life. They have made themselves into monsters and the only thing they can do is devour the entire world. There are a lot of monsters alive RIGHT NOW trying to do this very thing.
The next step Maria Ressa is very clear about is the fall of democracies around the world and the rise of dictatorships ruled by the ruthless. I believe her. And guess what? There is not much room at the top. What all ruthless rulers eventually do if they last long enough is turn on the very people who put them in power. Think about it. Ruthless rulers always need a foil,a ploy, an enemy, a scapegoat. Once they kill all the obvious people, they will start in on their loyal base of followers, the very people they put to sleep using their maniacal evil fairy dust:ignorance.
This is happening NOW on our watch!
How will you explain this to your children?
How will you explain food shortages, water shortages, raging floods and fires, sunken cities, more global pandemics, and governments that won’t even allow you to hold up a blank sheet of paper to protest not being able to protest for your most basic human needs and rights?
I wrote this piece about one year ago. Being brutalized (physically, psychologically, or spiritually) by someone who holds power over you takes unbelievable amounts of inner strength, courage, and perseverance. Feeling rage is never wrong. However, choosing how to express rage can cross social, cultural, and moral boundaries that exist for very good reasons.
I believe rage is something building up all over the world for many reasons such as being bullied by popular kids at school, bullied by a boss at work, bullied by governmental systems designed to enforce huge inequalities baked deep into its operating systems long ago, or bullied by another country who seek to control a people or a place through violence carried out with impunity.
It doesn’t matter where or how superior power is used to control another human being such use of force is humiliating and is meant to put someone else down. A person on the receiving end of this sort of abuse is suppose to feel fear, sadness, anger, and rage. It is part of the abuse. It is a form of social torture.
If you find yourself in a place of rage, you are right to feel it. Do not try to suppress your rage or run from it. Turn around and face it dead on. Only this way can you choose how to express this rage. It is energy. It has to flow. It will flow whether you are conscious of it or not.
How a persons deals with how rage flow depends on many factors such as family, culture, social groups, emotional maturity, personality, mental health, social structure, and so many other factors. But it is only with conscious awareness that you can capture your rage and choose a better path of action versus a more destructive path.
Rage is going to flow consciously or unconsciously. You begin to heal and regain your strength and dignity when you are conscious of your rage, when you feel your rage, when you own your rage. By doing this, you can use your rage to get to a better place like a sailor who uses the wind to get to where he wants to be rather than letting the wind blow you somewhere you don’t want to be.
Note: Rage can be manufactured, especially in these times. Let’s call this Fake Rage. It is artificially induced into people’s minds by other people seeking to manipulate public sentiment for their own purposes. This is not the kind of rage I am referring to in this blog.
Sacrifice to the Squirrel Gods
Thanksgiving… what a wonderful time to get together with family and friends and share our collective blessings, and oh how precious, after a year and a half of not being able to get together due to a global pandemic!
But, Thanksgiving, oh how aggravating, antagonizing, and infuriating it can be to get together with precisely the people who know how to get under your skin. The one’s who know how to rip off the fragile psychological Band-Aid you’ve managed to put over the bubbling hot well of pain, torment, and psychological abuse inflicted on you by people who are supposed to love and support you (friends or family), but instead they get their kicks inflicting emotional pain and psychological torture at your expense.
Since inflicting pain and torture back on them is not the karmic path you want to take, nor may you have the opportunity to tell them just how horrible and monstrous they have become as defectively amoral human beings… something like June was finally able to do when she confronted Serena Waterford in her prison cell in Season 4, Episode 7 of the Handmaid’s Tale. The part where she screams in her face ‘Do You Understand Me’:
If you don’t have this outlet to express your anger and rage at their moral deficiencies and extremely flawed character traits that are hurting you, then try a sacrifice to the squirrel gods!
t’s what our ancestors used to do long, long ago. We think it’s kind of silly and not what a modern person should be doing… but this is another ploy by your tormentors to keep you feeling horrible. They don’t want you to find your voice, your power.
You can’t let go of your rage any more than you can hold onto it.
The only thing you can do is to try to remove the inner obstructions that are hanging you up as you try to navigate through this blistering inner torrent that is moving through you like a river of rage searing its way through your soul.
That is what sacrifices where for long, long ago. They were never for some god sitting up on high making judgements over us all. They were for us… to help us navigate inner rivers of rage so that we do not become the monsters who are tormenting us and causing so much destruction not only in our lives but the shared reality of everyone.
So make a sacrifice…use your creativity to make your voodoo doll, your effigy of your tormentors. Project all their dangerous energies and damaged soul into your talisman and set it out as an offering to any animal spirit you choose–it could be ravens, wolves, or squirrels.
It is so satisfying…and when you feel this satisfaction inside, you have removed an impediment to your rage because it needs to flow, it’s part of your power and you need all parts of your power…the good, the bad, and the ugly… to heal and grow into the individual you want (and know) you are, which is not a monster like your tormentors but a healer and conscious decision maker of your destiny.
One year later, my rage has not gone away but it has evolved. Margret Atwood is a genesis in capturing the evolution of rage… the kind I’m talking about above. Season 5, episode 10 is absolutely awesome and Billie Eilish’s song dead on! Go Margret, go June, go Serena! Maybe there is hope!
Not long ago, in an extremely rare moment of bipartisan unity, Republicans and Democrats came together to discuss UFOs, now called unexplained aerial phenomena or UAPs by the military. It is the first Congressional meeting on the topic since 1969.
David listened into the hearing along with Mick West.
Mick West is a British science writer, skeptical investigator, and retired video game programmer. He is the creator of the websites Contrail Science and Metabunk, and he investigates and debunks pseudoscientific claims and conspiracy theories such as chemtrails and UFOs. Wikipedia
This short episode of This American Life is a curation of their discussion of the Congressional Hearing while they listened to military officials present a report to Congress that includes about 400 incidents, which is up from 143 assessed in a report released about a year ago.
Mick explained a lot of the unexplained aerial phenomena as camera artifacts such as these:
Scott W. Bray, the deputy director of Naval intelligence, told lawmakers there is no evidence of aliens, and they still haven’t uncovered anything “nonterrestrial in origin,” although there remain incidents they can’t explain.
That Doesn’t Mean They’re Not Real
Despite lacking physical evidence that proves the reality of UFOs (other than other explanations such as camera artifacts, mylar balloons, and contrails) that does not mean there isn’t something very real going on. Indeed, this unexplained phenomena is as old as man’s ability to articulate his experiences to others. What makes humans extraordinary on this planet is our shared ability to perceive and share physical reality through words, symbols, and ideas. Human beings also share the ability to perceive and make sense of inner realities. Indeed, mankind’s most spectacular ideas and inventions originate from this inner dimension of being.
Carl Jung is best known for his theories of the human subconscious and the idea he termed the Collective Unconscious. Through his practice as a psychiatrist, he came to believe humanity shares a subconscious mind that stores the memories of all human beings, dead and alive, that are available to us through images, visions, dreams, and other phenomena humans experience, especially at times of stress, trauma, life and death.
Jung wrote a book about UFO and paranormal phenomenon. Here are two summaries of this book:
While Jung is known mainly for his theories on the nature of the unconscious mind, he did have an interest in the paranormal. In this essay, Jung applies his analytical skills to the UFO phenomenon. Rather than assuming that the modern prevalence of UFO sightings are due to extraterrestrial craft, Jung reserves judgment on their origin & connects UFOs with archetypal imagery, concluding that they have become a "living myth." This essay is intriguing in its methodology & implications as to the nature of UFOs & their relation to the human psyche. -- GoodReads: Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies
In the threatening situation of the world today, when people are beginning to see that everything is at stake, the projection-creating fantasy soars beyond the realm of earthly organizations and powers into the heavens, into interstellar space, where the rulers of human fate, the gods, once had their abode in the planets.... Even people who would never have thought that a religious problem could be a serious matter that concerned them personally are beginning to ask themselves fundamental questions. Under these circumstances it would not be at all surprising if those sections of the community who ask themselves nothing were visited by `visions,' by a widespread myth seriously believed in by some and rejected as absurd by others.--C. G. Jung, in Flying Saucers Jung's primary concern in Flying Saucers is not with the reality or unreality of UFOs but with their psychic aspect. Rather than speculate about their possible nature and extraterrestrial origin as alleged spacecraft, he asks what it may signify that these phenomena, whether real or imagined, are seen in such numbers just at a time when humankind is menaced as never before in history. The UFOs represent, in Jung's phrase, a modern myth. -- GoogleBooks Summary
Jung maintained throughout his life that man’s inner life, dreams, images, visions is real and carries a reality, a gravity that can be felt in our lives each and every day.
Reality Is Strange | We Need Inner Astronauts Now More Than Ever
Perhaps we need more inner astronauts willing and able to go where no man has gone before, equipped with abilities to chart our inner space, just as we do our outer space. Indeed, inner space may be far vaster than the universe, which may be a little phenomena of this vast inner space that we do not understand very much at all.
In a time of so much crisis, we need to learn how to better articulate inner weather and dangerous patterns just as we have learned to watch and predict weather patterns and identify dangerous patterns such as Hurricane Ian.
There have been many dangerous and horrible natural disasters this year, including devastating floods in Pakistan, acute heat waves and historically lower water levels in rivers throughout Europe, and increasingly bigger and deadlier fires worldwide (see 2022 International Wildfires: As of Sept. 8, the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) estimates that within European Union countries, between 2 million acres and 2.1 million acres have burned).
There is also dangerous and deadly inner weather that is sweeping the world. It travels on currents of propaganda, misinformation, lies, and conspiracy myths. Hurricane Putin is meaning the entire world with his threats of nukes, sabotaging his own pipeline (a play he used to get into power when he had apartment buildings blown up and blamed it on Chechen separatists), and the death, destruction, and torture of Ukrainians. His maniacal invasion of Ukraine rides on his strangle hold on power in Russia allowing him to infect and propagate a collective homicidal psychosis among his people. His and other strong arm actors in our world are distracting us and contributing to our collective failure to mitigate climate change while we still can.
Can you tell which pictures that are Putin’s hurricane of devastation and death and which are Ian?
Several days ago, I heard Rachel E. Gross interviewed on the The Takeaway about her new book “Vagina Obscura: An Anatomical Voyage.” Melissa Harris-Perry, the host, introduces Rachel saying:
Rachel's new book looks at the historical dis, miss, and lack of information about the bodies of people with vaginas, which includes women, trans men, intersex people, and non-binary people. In the introduction to her book, Rachel describes conversations she had with multiple scientists who tried to explain why we understand so much less about female anatomy and vaginas compared to male anatomy and penises.
Interesting things Rachel says about vaginas:
"When pressed, he and others acknowledged that this discrepancy at its heart is due to sexism within science and who is actually doing the investigating. For most of history, women, especially women of color, trans women, and women who are sexual minorities have been excluded from the supposedly universal endeavor. As I reported this book, it became clear to me that the two problems were inseparable. The marginalization of women's bodies from science is largely due to the marginalization of women from science."
"A huge theme in this book is that you only see what you expect to see and you can't see what you aren't looking for. That mostly comes up when we're talking about these older, usually male anatomists who are looking at female bodies and expecting to see something. They expected the female body to be reproductive, to be mostly about the uterus. To not really have that big a capacity for pleasure or for active dynamic processes going on."
"What they illustrated was very passive, a hole or a cave. The word vagina actually means a sheath, which suggests that its main role is to house a penis, which it is not. There definitely is a reimagining going on by a lot of new scientists and you can see that in the art throughout the book. Every chapter opens with an illustration that really looks at these organs in a new way. Usually, one that is active, dynamic, and resilient."
"Unfortunately, the idea of shame has really impacted the way that science, medicine, and people with this anatomy have viewed the "female body." There's a really strong pattern going back to Hippocrates of anatomists really insisting on naming these body parts after shame, especially the clitoris and the vulva. Hippocrates called all the genitals the shame parts, essentially, but that continued. Every time a French anatomist would, ''discover" the clitoris, he would name it the shame part."
"Even today you have words like Scham Lippin in German, which means the shame lips and refers to the labia. You have pudendum, which is an anatomical term that's hopefully being phased out, but it means the parts for which you should be ashamed. Again, it refers to only the vulva. Shame has really attached itself to the female genitals in particular, and that has affected the way science is done. There is a hesitancy of looking directly at this part of the body. There is a tendency to associate it with danger, sexuality in a negative light, the threat of pregnancy and STDs and disease."
"It's really blocked us from looking at the incredibly unexpected and expansive things that this system is doing. The ovaries are producing hormones that support body-wide health from bone health to heart health, to brain health. The uterus is one of the most regenerative organs in the body, and when it's not pregnant, just going through monthly menstruation, it's ushering stem cells and immune cells to heal this wound painlessly, it's creating new blood vessels and it's doing this every month on cue, and it probably has a lot to teach us about regenerative medicine in general but having looked at these organs with themes like shame and only reproduction in mind has really narrowed the view."
The female body has long been shamed by modern civilizations and many religions for centuries. Rachel says it has been colonized with the same imperial brutality inflicted on native peoples and the land worldwide. I think this is shameful: Man’s capacity to inflict brutality upon his fellow human beings and all life.
The Shame of Being a Sexual Being
Around the same time, I heard The TakeAway, I also listened to a lecture by Alan Watts about Repressed Sex. I never know where Synchronistic Stories are going to lead me, but this one seemed important.
Alan Watts artfully captures our confusion and shame around sex. Above is the video with his lecture and below is a transcript of it if you prefer to read. I’ll let you make your own connections, if you’re interested.
Transcript from video with time markings:
0:08 min Because naturally when you love someone 0:10 very much indeed in the enthusiasm and 0:13 ardor of youth you say things that are 0:18 hardly logical or rational you stand up 0:24 before an altar and you say my darling 0:25 my sweetheart my perfect pet I adore you 0:28 so much that I will live with you 0:30 forever and ever until death do us part 0:32 and that’s the way you feel at the time 0:36 in rather similar mood ancient peoples 0:40 would hail their kings and say O king 0:42 live forever obviously this was not 0:45 literally meant they were just wishing 0:48 him a long life but to live forever no 0:50 sir no mortal does that so the trouble 0:56 was you see that when certain kinds of 0:59 extravagant poetic expressions got in 1:04 the hands of people like Agustin and 1:06 Tertullian who were rather influenced by 1:10 Roman literalness they wrote it into the 1:13 law books and so this amazing situation 1:19 came about but we still have not fully 1:22 explored the subtlety of it let us 1:27 consider certain periods when this 1:31 attitude of PrudeISM towards sexuality 1:34 was in us in an ascendancy nearest to 1:38 our times is the bourgeois revolution 1:42 you might call it in Victorian England 1:45 and the United States we all say 1:48 Victorian as an adjective to indicate 1:51 grundyISM extreme monogamya definite 1:59 disgust for all things sexual and yet 2:04 when we really go into the history of 2:07 the Victorian period we find that it was 2:10 an extremely luscious 2:12 EPOC one has only to look at the 2:17 lushness the victorian furniture he 2:20 realized that chairs are disguised women 2:26 that the way even piano legs are shaped 2:30 when this kind of thing is throughout 2:33 Victorian art forms and the conduct of 2:37 the British aristocracy during that 2:39 period record description people like 2:45 Freud and Havelaar Kellis made certain 2:49 mistake yeah they said about the church 2:57 and about religion in general that it 2:59 was nothing but a form of sublimated sex 3:04 they said these people for curious 3:06 reasons suppressed sex and therefore it 3:09 becomes a very powerful force for them 3:14 you must remember of course that they 3:16 worked on a hydraulic analogy of human 3:18 psychology that they liken it all to a 3:21 river if you dammed it up that would 3:23 burst it down he doesn’t actually follow 3:26 that human psychology is hydraulic but 3:29 this is the metaphor they used now they 3:31 said the church has repressed sex but 3:34 actually if you look at its symbolism it 3:37 is nothing but an expression of sex 3:40 everything is reduced to libido as the 3:43 fundamental reality and the church 3:49 replied “It’s nothing of the kind we deny 3:52 this we think that this reduction of 3:55 everything for sex is just a way of 3:57 attacking holy things and on the 4:01 contrary we would say that people who 4:03 are fascinated with sex and make it 4:05 their God are replete are repressing 4:06 religion 4:11 now the problem in this debate everybody 4:13 missed the boat the church should have 4:18 been in a position to say to Freud well 4:20 of course 4:21 thank you very much ah yes indeed our 4:25 symbolism is sexual, the steeples on our 4:28 churches the vesicle shaped windows and 4:36 of suffer addict shields on which we put 4:39 images of the crucifix or the Virgin 4:42 Mother of God these are all quite 4:45 plainly sexual, but you see the sexual 4:49 biology in its term reveals the 4:53 mysteries of the universe; sex is not 4:56 mere sex sex is a holy thing and is one 5:04 of the most marvelous revelations of the 5:06 divine but imagine the church just 5:11 couldn’t say that if you look at Tibetan 5:16 Buddhist iconography they’re images or 5:20 you look in Hindu temples you will find 5:23 things that Europeans and Americans have 5:27 never been able to understand here are 5:30 images of Buddhas and of the gods 5:33 engaged in amazing diversions with their 5:37 female counterparts and everybody thinks 5:40 it needs a kind of dirty sculptures now 5:43 they are nothing of the kind they are 5:47 saying to the people who look at them 5:51 the play of man and woman is on that 5:57 level on the level of biology a 6:00 reflection of the fundamental play of 6:02 the cosmos the play of the positive and 6:06 negative principles of the light and the 6:08 dark of the mental and the material they 6:13 all play together and 6:17 the function of sexual play is not 6:22 merely the survival and utilitarian 6:24 function of reproducing the species as 6:27 it is among animals to a very large 6:29 extent what peculiarly distinguishes 6:33 human sexuality is that it brings the 6:38 partners closer and closer to each other 6:42 in an intense state of United feeling in 6:46 other words it is a sacrament the output 6:48 and visible sign of an inward and 6:50 spiritual grace bringing about love and 6:54 so if that is peculiar to human beings 6:58 it is perfect nonsense to degrade human 7:02 sexuality by saying it should only be 7:04 carried on in the way that the animals 7:06 do theirs because they have not yet as 7:11 it were evolved to the place where sex 7:13 is the sacramental expression of man and 7:19 woman’s love and this love in that sense 7:23 is a kind of enthusiasm which means a 7:27 being possessed by the Divine falling in 7:32 love although considered by practical 7:35 people to be a sort of madness is 7:38 actually the same sort of thing as the 7:40 mystical vision a grace and in its light 7:48 we see people in their divine aspect 7:54 when as the song says every little 7:57 breeze 7:58 whispers Louise there is a sort of 8:02 extraordinary state of mystical 8:05 intoxication in which the ideal woman 8:10 has become the goddess which is from one 8:17 point of view what every woman is if you 8:20 see her with the scales of your eyes and 8:24 likewise every man 8:28 seen with the scales of her eyes so what 8:38 happened then 8:38 as a result of this historical situation 8:40 was mutual name-calling between the 8:45 proponents of religion and the 8:47 proponents of scientific naturalism such 8:51 as Freud and Havelock Ellis and in our 8:57 own times Albert Ellis and people of 9:02 that kind they’ve never got together 9:06 because they’ve never understood 9:10 neither the church nor the opponents of 9:13 the church have clearly understood that 9:15 the secret or unconscious motivation of 9:18: sexual repression is to make it all the 9:20: more interesting and on the other side 9:26: it has not been clearly understood that 9:28: the sexual biology and all that goes 9:38: with it is a figuring forth on the level 9:47: of biology of what the whole universe is 9:50: about ecstatic clay so as a result there 10:04: has been a kind of compromise 10:07: today in ecclesiastical circles sex is 10:11: being damned with faint praise people 10:18: are saying after all yes sex was made by 10:20: God and we should remember the Jewish 10:22: point of view and it is perhaps for 10:27 something more than reproduction to 10:29 bring about the cementing of the 10:31 marriage ties between husband and wife 10:33 but 10:37 still in practice it remains the 10:42 frightening taboo on the other hand the 10:50 opposition to Christian prudery goes 10:54 overboard and always moves in the 11:00 direction of total license you see 11:04 what’s going on as a contest between the 11:06 people who want the skirts pulled down 11:08 to the floor the people want them pulled 11:10 up to the neck and you you know you’ve 11:14 got to draw the line somewhere but the 11:17 play between these forces is where are 11:19 we going to draw it well that’s very 11:21 exciting provide neither side wins 11:24 I mean imagine what it would be like if 11:28 the libertarians won and they took over 11:31 the church so that on Wednesday evenings 11:34 the young Presbyterian group would meet 11:37 for prayer through sex every child would 11:45 go to the school physician for a course 11:47 in hygienics and they would have 11:49 classes and that have plastic models and 11:51 all the children would do it in class 11:52 very clean hygienic circumstances all 11:56 sprayed with rubbing alcohol it’ll be 11:58 fun imagine how boring it would all 12:00 become so you see the people who say no 12:05 modesty is important have something 12:07 right about but they mustn’t be allowed 12:10 to get away with it but they mustn’t be 12:13 obliterated see life works that way 12:17 let’s take an entirely different analogy 12:19 let’s take a given biological group a 12:22 species we’ll call a it has a natural 12:26 enemy B now one day a gets furious at 12:31 the natural enemy B and says let’s 12:33 obliterate it and they gather their 12:35 forces and they knock out their natural 12:36 enemy well suddenly after a while they 12:41 begin to get weak they get over 12:43 populated there’s nobody around to eat 12:45 up their surplus creatures and they 12:47 don’t have to keep their muscles tensed 12:49 against 12:50 any enemy and they begin to fall apart 12:52 because they destroyed their enemy what 12:55 they should do is cultivate the enemy 12:57 that’s the real meaning of love your 12:58 enemy there is such a thing as a beloved 13:01 enemy and if you don’t have a beloved 13:07 enemy in other words if the Flies and 13:10 the spiders don’t go together you’re 13:12 going to be too many spiders or too many 13:13 flies and these balances are keep the 13:17 course of nature going well it’s exactly 13:19 the same thing as between the Libertarians 13:21 and the Prudes they need each other and 13:25 you should thank if you’ve got a prudish 13:28 father and mother you should be very 13:31 grateful to them for having made sex so 13:33 interesting 13:41 so don’t defy them completely don’t go 13:43 around campus with placards bearing 13:45 four-letter words because that’s going 13:50 to spoil the show that every generation 13:53 must react to the one before you see to 13:56 keep this tension going and it is by 14:00 this tension this play of the opposites 14:03 that we have the love that makes the 14:05 world go round.
The Shame of Being a Conscious Being
The third synchronistic thread I encountered is the Primal Split. This is the moment an infant becomes aware that he or she is a separate being from the mother. This is the beginning of a complicated cascade of emotions and conflicts that spark the awakening of ego-consciousness and symbolic thought, if the infant makes it to the other side of this split. If the infant navigates this crossing successfully, there is a moment of shame that must to be dealt with on the journey in becoming a fully conscious being.
I was doing research on the Primal Split for the book I am writing and realized its connection to Rachel E. Gross’ book and Alan Watts’ lecture. I also discovered this amazing performance art exhibit about the Primal Split created by Oya Damla.
Following is background on Melanie Klien and Oya Damla along with a fascinating theory of knowledge that is very much related to the Primal Split, shame, and how we come to know who and what we know as human beings. Again, I’ll let you make your own connections.
Melanie Klien& The Primal Split
Melanie Klein was an Austrian-British author and psychoanalyst known for her work in child analysis. She was the primary figure in the development of object relations theory. Klein suggested that pre-verbal existential anxiety in infancy catalyzed the formation of the unconscious, resulting in the unconscious splitting of the world into good and bad idealizations. In her theory, how the child resolves that split depends on the constitution of the child and the character of nurturing the child experiences; the quality of resolution can inform the presence, absence, and/or type of distresses a person experiences later in life. -- Wiki
While Freud's ideas concerning children mostly came from working with adult patients, Klein was innovative in working directly with children, often as young as two years old. Klein saw children's play as their primary mode of emotional communication. While observing children as they played with toys such as dolls, animals, plasticine or pencils and paper, Klein documented their activities and interactions. She then attempted to interpret the unconscious meaning behind their play. Following Freud, she emphasized the significant role that parental figures played in the child's fantasy life and concluded that the timing of Freud's Oedipus complex was incorrect. Contradicting Freud, she proposed that the superego was present from birth.
After exploring ultra-aggressive fantasies of hate, envy, and greed in very young and disturbed children, Melanie Klein proposed a model of the human psyche that linked significant oscillations of state, with the postulated Eros or Thanatos pulsations. She named the state of the mind in which the sustaining principle of life dominates the depressive position. A depressive position is the understanding that good and evil things are one. The fears and worries about the fate of the people destroyed in the child's fantasy are all in the latter. The child tries to repair his mother through phantasm and behavior therapy, overcoming his depression and anxiety. He employs phantasies representing love and restoration to restore the others he destroyed. Morality is based on the standpoint of depression. Klein named it the depressive position because the efforts to restore the integrity of the damaged object are accompanied by depression and despair. After all, the child doubts whether it can fix everything it hurts. Many consider this to be her most significant contribution to psychoanalytic philosophy. She later developed her ideas about an earlier developmental psychological state corresponding to the disintegrating tendency of life, which she called the paranoid-schizoid position. Klein coined the term "paranoid-schizoid defense" to emphasize how the child's worries manifest as persecution fantasies and how he defends himself against persecution by separating. The paranoid-schizoid position develops at birth is a common psychotic condition.
Klein's insistence on regarding aggression as an important force in its own right when analyzing children brought her into conflict with Freud's daughter Anna Freud, who was one of the other prominent child psychotherapists in continental Europe but who moved to London in 1938 where Klein had been working for several years. Many controversies arose from this conflict, and these are often referred to as the controversial discussions. Battles were played out between the two sides, each presenting scientific papers, working out their respective positions and where they differed, during war-time Britain. A compromise was eventually reached whereby three distinct training groups were formed within the British Psychoanalytical Society, with Anna Freud's influence remaining largely predominant in the US. -- Wiki
Check out Oya’s website for more about her beautiful interpretation of the moment of the Primal Split. The images of the Second Archetypal Animation come from photos she shares of this performance. She also shares original sound track for this performance. To hear this, you need to go to her site. It is well worth your time if this topic interests you.
Sex, Kids, and The Theory of O
With the birth of consciousness, humans enter a new realm of being. In this realm, knowledge and truth are incredibly important because they help us navigation through the world of symbols, which we use to navigate through our lives. Truth and knowledge especially matter in the corrosive vat of anti-truth and anti-knowledge. Our modern age is full of false prophets touting false truths and false knowledge, in short, they are full of shit and hocking lots of lies to enrich themselves or to exert control over other peoples minds.
I write about truth and knowledge in my story and encountered one of the most fascinating theories of how humans come to obtain knowledge or lose it. It is Bion’s Theory of O. Here is a bit of his theory. It is complicated. I’ll let you make your own connections if it interests you.
"Bion, who was to become the awesome explorer of the "deep and formless infinite" of the psyche, first immersed himself in the theories of Freud and Klein and then gradually developed a revolutionary metapsychological metatheory for psychoanalysis. Bion incurred the criticism of his colleagues by daring to investigate faith, spirituality, religion, mysticism, metaphysics, and fetal mental life. His concepts of transformations in L(ove), H(ate), and K(nowledge), as well as ofintuitionistic and subjective science[Transformations in "0" (Ultimate Truth, Absolute Reality)], constitute an objective and numinous psychoanalytic epistemology."
"Bion was preoccupied with the concept of ultimate reality and absolute truth and reoriented psychoanalytic metapsychology into a theory ofthinkingandmeta-thinking aboutemotions. He distinguished the "thoughts-without-a-thinker" from the mind that had to develop in order to think them. I believe that his concept of"intuitionistic thinking"also presumes the presence of a more profound aspect of that mind: Not only did a mind develop to harvest the "thoughts without a thinker," but another aspect of the mind had to originate these "unthought thoughts." I believe that Bion came to a realization that true "thinking" ("dream work alpha" along the dimensions of "L, H, and K") is an unconscious -- if notpreconscious -- act and that what we normally term "thinking" (application of the ordinate and abscissa of the "Grid") is really"after-thinking."
"By realigning psychoanalysis with metaphysics and ontology (existentialism), Bion perforated the mystique of ontic "objectivity" implicit to logical-positivistic, deterministic science and revealed its own unsuspected mythology--itsabsolute dependence on sense data. Applying his concept ofreversible perspective,he found myths, both collective and personal, to be themselves "scientific deductive systems" in their own right (Bion, 1992). Mostly, Bion founded a new mystical science of psychoanalysis, a numinous discipline based on theabandonment of memory, desire, and understanding. To Bion, mysticism is "seeing things as they truly are -- without disguise" (personal communication). He was preoccupied with the question of how we know what we know."
"In this contribution I emphasize my understanding of Bion as theintuitionistic epistemologist, the"emotional mathematician"(Bion, 1965), the "mystical scientist" (Bion, 1970), the intrepid voyager into the deep and formless infinite, "O." I suggest that a "Transcendent Position" is implied by Bion's conception of "O," the latter of which overarches"nameless dread," beta elements, the "thing-in-themselves," the noumenon, "absolute truth," "ultimate reality," and "reverence and awe." -- From BION'S "TRANSFORMATION IN 'O' by James S. Grotstein
On the other side of O is Q. That little mark on the right side of Q is the sign of the corruption of thought and descent into lies. It is the sign of anti-truth, propaganda, and infantile rage.
It is the sign that a person is stuck in the paranoid-schizoid position. These individuals have split the world into the Good Mother (all that is good) and the Bad Mother (all that is bad), and they have stepped into the good bubble and seek to destroy all that is bad failing to realize it is all one, everything is connected. The Good Mother and Bad Mother are the same Mother. The Good Reality and Bad Reality are the same Reality. Destroy one and you destroy All. This is indeed a shameful place humanity has allowed itself to fall into basically because we are afraid of who we really are.
See Juliette Kayyem‘s story in The Atlantic. Trump is an outsized purveyor of propaganda and lies. So is Putin. We will pay with our precious world if humanity continues to close its eyes to the danger these liars and the threat they pose to everyone and existence itself. For the human beings who buy their lies and false truths, they give up their individuality to become part of a psychological monster bent on destroying the Bad Mother…never understanding that the Good Mother and Bad Mother are One.
"For a man who believes in nothing, has no coherent ideology or value system except his own continuing relevance, obsesses over conspiracies, and subsists on grievance and anger, Donald Trump took a long time to fully embrace QAnon. For some time, the former president has been flirting with the cult—which believes, among other preposterous things, that Democrats are part of a global child-sex-trafficking ring that Trump will ultimately defeat. But lately, that courtship has turned into a consummated marriage, as Trump incorporated QAnon tropes into an Ohio rally and started spreading them on his social-media service. -- About the author: Juliette Kayyem, a former assistant secretary for homeland security under President Barack Obama, is the faculty chair of the homeland-security program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. She is the author of The Devil Never Sleeps: Learning to Live in an Age of Disasters." -- The Atlantic by Juliette Kayyem
Trump never found his mother. He never reconciled the Good Mother with the Bad Mother. He is permanently stuck in the paranoid-schizoid position. He is a permanent infant; a raging toddler, and so too is any one who paints the world in absolutes, in black and white , in this and only this is good: everyone else is bad. We will end the world if we remain hostages to such infantile men such as Trump and Putin. Any human being stuck in the authoritarian position is playing the Confidence Man game, which is a ruse for being a permanent paranoid infant. These are mad men leading us collectively straight to Hell.
Trump and his infantile, paranoid comrades are shameful.
The End of Shame
The final synchronistic thread that struck me is the death and burial of Queen Elizabeth II. Death is definitely the end of shame. It is the end of a journey through life. It is the end of that person’s story, of what that person came to understand, to know, to feel, to treasure or despise, to love, to cherish, to hate, and how they reconciled differences and conflicts. How we navigate our lives, everything we come to know and loves, comes to an inevitable end with death.
Alan Watts is absolutely right, the church is full of symbolism about sex. The steeples and naves of Christian churches are ripe with human sexuality, which is the most awesome act of creativity we are capable of as living beings. And so it is in death we end our journey through life and we are returned the womb, the tomb, from which we came.
This is what I wrote in reflecting about the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
For anyone who has lost a loved one, the ceremony of the burial of Queen Elizabeth II was poignant and full of rich symbolism and pageantry. There are many who mourn her passing, and there are many who say the time for royals is over. But, we as the people of Earth have never needed the symbolic role that Queen Elizabeth II played for more than 70 years more urgently.
We are crumbling under the weight of modern inconveniences, complexities, and confusion. We are losing our inner rudder, our collective moral compass. When we as the people of Earth can no longer unite under a common cause, let suppose this is the continuation of a habitual planet conducive for life, then we will simply rip apart the fabric of society necessary to met the challenges of this century.
Queen Elizabeth II played a role. She knew she was a symbol of stability, of hope, of continuity and the ability of her people to endure the tough times as well as enjoy the good times. Lacking such role models, symbols of strength, virtue, and compassion, it is easy to fall prey to our own thoughts of competition, revenge, vengeance, hate. No, she was not perfect, no human being is or ever will be and much was left undone in the wake of British imperialism. But, she showed a path, a better way, and we the Good People of Earth should take heed.
There are terrible problems ahead of us. Nuclear destruction has never been closer with the savage craze of Putin. This is such a man capable of pushing the button, so is Trump. And if nuclear war doesn't get us, then the global food crisis Putin has unleashed with his vengeful war will kill millions beyond the hundreds of thousands he has already killed with his insane war. And, he is creating the ultimate distraction preventing the world at the very moment it has a chance to mitigate the worst effects of Climate Change. There is only 8 years left. We are the people who will leave this great task left undone, so the future of life on Earth certainly hangs on the thinnest thread yet.
It is truly a time to take stock and act as we have never done collectively as a species before.
Feature Archetypal Animation:
Images for First Archetypal Animation:
Gross was asked to sketch out some basic ideas for each chapter for the illustrator, Armando Veve, who did opening chapter illustrations for each chapter. “The result was very fun, and developing the final illustrations was super collaborative,” Gross says. Rachel Gross — The Open Notebook
She united and guided Britain through so much history–good times and bad.
She Modernized the Monarchy
1 hour ago | Queen Elizabeth II: A Life in Photos: The longest-reigning monarch in British history, Queen Elizabeth II was born in 1926 and was crowned in 1953. — Photo gallery below mostly from this Wall Street Journal article.
She Had Her Own Style
She Loved Horses
She Loved Dogs
Most of All She Loved People
She Knew How to Tackle A Crisis
She helped steer her nation, and indeed the world, through tough times and always with elegance and grace reminding everyone this too will pass and we will be together again.
When she made a miss step with being too reserved after Diana’s death, she didn’t double down and insist she was right. She pivoted and changed. She showed us how to grow throughout one’s life, be it long or short.
Archival Footage of Queen Elizabeth
Here are some older archival footage of the young Queen Elizabeth II. She lived through some of the greatest changes of the modern world and she showed how to lead a nation not through intimidation, lies, strong-arm tactics, but by listening, being present, keeping her heart open, being willing to change, admitting mistakes, and loving her people, her family, and indeed, the world in all its diversity and wonder.
Balancing Duty With Family Was Hard
She Was A Unifying Force
Leaders Around the World Remember Her
Line of Succession
Music of Feature Animation:
God Save Our Queen (British National Anthem)The Royal British Choir God Save Our Queen (British National Anthem) 2:23
She modernized the monarchy and harmonized the world. She never stopped learning, growing, and changing. She will be missed.
Description: This episode was published days before the 20th anniversary of 9/11 and just weeks after U.S. troops withdrew from Afghanistan. It is the first part in Afghanistan: The Center of the World, our Peabody Award-winning series about Afghanistan, focused on the country and its people.
Afghanistan has, for centuries, been at the center of the world. Long before the U.S. invasion — before the U.S. was even a nation — countless civilizations intersected there, weaving together a colorful tapestry of foods, languages, ethnicities and visions of what Afghanistan was and could be. The story of Afghanistan is too often told from the perspective of outsiders who tried to invade it (and always failed) earning it the nickname “Graveyard of Empires.” In this episode, we’re shifting the perspective. We’ll journey through the centuries alongside Afghan mystical poets. We’ll turn the radio dial to hear songs of love and liberation. We’ll meet the queen who built the first primary school for girls in the country. And we’ll take a closer look at Afghanistan’s centuries-long experiment to create a unified nation.
Description: This episode was published days before the 20th anniversary of 9/11, and just weeks after U.S. troops withdrew from Afghanistan. It is the first part in Afghanistan: The Center of the World, our 2022 Peabody Award-winning series about Afghanistan, focused on the country and its people.
How did a small group of Islamic students go from local vigilantes to one of the most infamous and enigmatic forces in the world? The Taliban is a name that has haunted the American imagination since 2001. The scenes of the group’s brutality repeatedly played in the Western media, while true, perhaps obscure our ability to see the complex origins of the Taliban and how they impact the lives of Afghans. It’s a shadow that reaches across the vast ancient Afghan homeland, the reputation of the modern state, and throughout global politics. At the end of the US war in Afghanistan we go back to the end of the Soviet Occupation and the start of the Afghan civil war to look at the rise of the Taliban.