This is part 2 of the blog series: The Marvelization of Man
I began this series talking about Marvel’s reboot of Morbius who is a character created in 1971 by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane. Morbius is a “Living Vampire.”
As a child, Morbius suffers from a disease that cripples him and makes him frail and weak. There are others like him; all will die young. But young Morbius is a smart kid and becomes a doctor. He finds a cure for his illness. And you guessed it, the cure comes from the genes of vampire bats.
Marvel hoped for another BIG blockbuster after the smashing hit of Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021). This movie earned $1.1915 billion US dollars. Morbius debuts in 2022 with a production budget of $75 million dollars but it only earns $163 million worldwide, with only $74 million dollars earned domestically, as reported by Forbes.
In short, Morbius was a great disappointment both financially and critically. Many critics said the plot was not well-structured.
While this may be true, I think Marvel also missed the mark of what Morbius’ character embodies. All movie character are symbols. This is why we like them. They remind of us of ourselves in some deep fundamental, eternal, and mysterious way.
Magic of Symbols in Storytelling
Marvel, and every other marvelous entertainment universe, draws on these symbols each time they tell us a story. The stories we watch today are not that much different than the stories the ancient Greeks and Romans enjoyed.
Indeed, the stories arcs are virtually identical in nature, scope, and meaning. Stories such as Prometheus and the Stolen Fire, Orpheus and Sisyphus, or Echo and Narcissus have just as much relevance to 21st Century humans as they did for ancient Greeks and Romans. These types of stories crystalize unique aspects of what it means to be human. They harness and embody specific patterns of human behavior that we all recognize and can relate to. They center such patterns in specific characters who become the hero, ruler, everybody’s man, trickster, femme fatale, tragic hero, warrior, sage, knight-errant, and many more patterns of behavior we all relate to or have experienced.
These patterns of human behavior have been well observed and commented on since ancient times. Plato called these recognizable patterns of human behavior Forms. His philosophies on Forms create the foundation of Modern Western philosophy. What he meant by Forms is that there are pre-existing ideals or templates all humans access and use to navigate life as a conscious being.
Carl Jung dedicated his life to understanding the secret life of the human mind and called these often unconscious patterns of behavior primordial images or archetypes.
Archetypes are everywhere and influence more than 99% of human behavior. Most of us remain unaware of the energizing patterns that influence our lives in a myriad of ways every day. Archetypes inspire us, guide us, possess us, rule us, and live through us every day.
This is why our favorite movies and stories depend on characters who are possessed by and living out a powerful archetype. Pamela Buckle Henning writes for writers and actors of the stage:
Archetypal patterns are an unintended, unconscious presence in human life. Archetypes are primordial patterns that operate within the psyche of every individual. They also operate within groups of people. When people gather together for any purpose, they can become unwittingly entrained in archetypal dramas. -- STAGES, SKILLS, AND STEPS OF ARCHETYPAL
PATTERN ANALYSIS by Pamela Buckle Henning
Bottom line, archetypes are fundamental to telling a powerful story, one that lots of people will want to see and pay to go see. The most powerful stories have characters, both good and bad, who speak to and meet our collective unconscious. Characters and stories that get at and illuminate something that everyone feels but can’t seem to put their finger on or name.
Vampires Are Archetype of Narcs
As a vampire, Morbius embodies the narcissistic archetype.
The myth of Echo and Narcissus warns about the danger of narcissism as the beautiful wood nymph Echo falls in love with the young and very handsome human man Narcissus who sadly loves himself more than anybody or anything else. This causes Echo to disappear becoming a tree in her forest while Narcissus stares at himself in pond. He stares so long, he becomes a tree rooted to the bank.
There are other many other aspects of the narcissist archetype, but the most recognizable one is that these are people obsessed with their own self-importance and status. In Jungian terms, these are people possessed by and fascinated with all the negative aspects of the ruler archetype.
Narcissists personify the negative aspects of the ruler archetype in that they desire power and control, see themselves as fit and entitled to rule and see others as inferior subjects. They fear losing their power and use multiple strategies to maintain it. -- Narcissism and Archetypes - Children of Narcissists
These are fearful rulers who are afraid of being overthrown. Their paranoia grows so intense and overbearing that it corrupts and cripples all good qualities and instincts they would otherwise possess. This corruption essential rips the wholeness of their psyche, leaving a gap for the shadow to jump in.
According to Jung’s interpretation of the Shadow Archetype, the shadow contains all the sex and life instincts. It is created as the conscious mind grows in relation to its culture where conscious survival compels an individual to repress ideas, weaknesses, desires, instincts, and shortcomings in an effort to adapt and conform to cultural norms and expectations.
It is this side of a fearful ruler’s mind that takes over filling him with every negative, shadowy, repressed idea, instinct, or impulse he has ever had. Suddenly, this feeble, frighten man is transformed into a monster and becomes a Ruthless Ruler.
Narcissists descend to dark interior places inside themselves. In the darkness of their own Shadow, they lose the ability to regulate and balance their own emotions, even to power their own psyche (ability to think and focus). They have essentially split themselves in half and can no longer self-regulate. They feel constantly empty and void inside, which feeds their fear and widens the gap between their Good Self and their Bad Self.
Soon they must pick a side. It does not matter which side they choose. They have split themselves into two opposing parts, which leaves them psychically starving. The food they crave is attention. This is energy for the psyche, and a starving psyche will do anything to get it, which sets them off on their ruthless pursuit to control everyone and everything.
The best supply of psychic energy for a Narc is watching or causing another person’s pain. To a Narcissist, watching someone suffer is like a vampire feeding on another person’s blood to survive. For Narcs, human pain and suffering is psychic blood.
Back in the 70s when Morbius was created, he was an appropriate evolution of the original Dracula imagined by Irish author Bram Stoker back in 1897 who then captured the evolution of corrupted, evil ruler archetype for his time.
The 1970s was a time of unabashed proliferation of narcissism. No longer did a person need to be rich and famous to be a Narc, but now you could be poor and weak, a common man or ordinary woman. Narcissism invaded American society with a vengeance, partly due to unregulated capitalism. In fact, being a Narc was good for business.
So, Roy Thomas and Gil Kane captured the changing psychological landscape that everyone was encountering in the 70s with Morbius, who was a conflicted vampire. He wanted to do the right thing, but his vampire mind proves more powerful than his human mind, which is very much like a narcissistic mind craving attention, power, glory.
The superhero-villain was a very compelling archetype then and remains one now. It plays off the idea that it takes a monster to destroy a monster.
Narcissism: Humans Who Feed on Other Human’s Pain
Narcissists must feed on another human being’s pain and trauma to live. Narcissists are hollowed out human beings with extremely weak psychological coping abilities. In fact, they really don’t have them at all, at least not the healthy kind. Because of this, they are very emotionally damaged human beings.
They manage their inner pain and inner hell by making other people feel the pain and suffering they are too afraid to feel inside themselves. So they project their pain, their suffering, and their inner hell on everyone else.
Narcs strange psychological math is: “I get rid of my pain by making you feel pain. In their mind, relationships are based on dominance and submission.” — Dr. Les Carter, Surviving Narcissism
Narcs feed off of your pain and enjoy abusing and crushing others to get their narcissistic high, also known as supply. Sounds a lot like drinking blood, doesn’t it?
And that’s exactly what it is, only psychic, emotional, spiritual blood. The 70s were a great time for Narcs to thrive, so enter a Marvel superhero specifically created to deal with them… because the old adage is correct: You need a monster to kill a monster!
And that is what Mordius becomes by trying to cure his disability with vampire genes; he becomes a monster, but he doesn’t want to kill his fellow humans unless he has to kill them. Then, he doesn’t mind and is pretty darn good at doing it. He even kills his childhood friend who goes off the rails with all these new powers of this cure of the childhood disease that they share.
Let’s Backtrack to Bram’s Dracula
Bram Stoker imagined Dracula in 1897.
Bram’s vampire, Dracula, is immediately recognizable around the world as this evil, fantom fiend who is already dead but keeps waking up to feed on the living.
He is of course a fictional character; however, Bram drew inspiration for this particular type of evil from a historical figure who was widely known back in his day for his thirst for blood.
This man was Vlad the Impaler. His real name was Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia. His father was Vlad II Dracul (or Vlad the Dragon) who was a prominent member of the Order of Dracul (also known as the Order of the Dragon).
The Vlads lived during the 1400s, which is a really tough time to be alive and running a minor kingdom sandwiched between two big empires fighting all the time as well as minor kingdom squabbles. The two great empires Wallachia sits between are the Holy Roman Empire (not to be confused with the Roman Empire) and the Ottoman Empire. In addition to these great machines of human will, are a bunch of minor states and kingdoms trying to grow bigger and pledging allegiance to one or the other empire so they might be rescued if they are invaded by a hostile force.
Young Vlad III is taken hostage by the Ottoman Empire as a child with his brother to make sure his father keeps his pledge of allegiance to Mehmed the Conqueror the man who conqueres Constantinople thereby ending the Byzantine Empire.
It is during this time as a prisoner that Vlad III learns the torture tactics that will earn him his name. Vlad III employs these horrific tactics in service to Pope Pius II who finances his efforts to take back his kingdom along with uphold the territories of christendom.
Vlad III employs his skills with such brutality, cruelty, and at a scale of magnitude never before imagined that he rightly earns his name Vlad the Impaler. He goes down in history as one of Europe’s most bloodthirsty evil fiends. And of course, his trail of blood sows fertile ground for Bram Stoker to create one of the most reviled, evil, bloodthirsty villains ever to be imagined and to enter popular culture’s collective imagination through Bram’s book.
Narcissism in the 1970s is proliferating rapidly. It is becoming a much more socially accepted, equal opportunity disease. In fact, if you do not have a bit of narcissism going on, it is hard to get ahead in business, in romance, and virtually everything we are told we should love and adore in our modern world.
This is where you get vamps like Morbius who really don’t want to drink human blood, but there’s this beast inside that must be fed. There is a flowering of vampire dramas in the 70s that mirrors the flowering of narcissism in world.
There is the rise of black vampires like top-grossing Blacula (1972) and Ganja and Hess (1973) that will inspire Black horror movies like Jordan Peele’s Get Out and Spike Lee’s Da Blood of Jesus.
There is Vampire Circus (1972) starring David Prowse before he become Darth Vader. And there are the psychological vampires like Martin (1977), and the lonely vampire Nosferatu, The Vampyre (1979).
There are vampires who drink the beauty of other humans so they stay eternally young, there are energy vampires, and Omega Man (1979) where vampirism is symbol of humanity’s continual hunger for progress leaving all but one man little more than nocturnal prowlers of blood. To get a real detailed breakdown of 70s Vamps, see 10 Vampire Movies From the ’70s You Probably Haven’t Seen (But Should)
By the 70s, narcissism had long since descended from the pedestals of popes, sultans, and kings. Narcissism now flourishes in wanton abundance among all of humanity and has continued to evolve ever since.
Marvel Got It Wrong
This is where Marvel got it wrong.
The Narcs who send chills down out backs now are much closer to Harry Potter’s Voldemort.
Lord Voldemort uses a wand to project his dark magic on his victims. A Narcs like Donald Trump simply uses his tongue (a bit like a wand but more like a snake). Modern Narc project their poison then take possession of a person’s mind sucking them dry, then filling them up with their Dark Thoughts. This is the magic of our time. People who come under the spell of an evil, vampire-like, magician like Voldemort (or Trump) are doomed to become empty vessels who do his bidding.
Today’s Narcs want to occupy your mind and fill your head with their thoughts. Narcs want you to believe they are omnipotent, but really they are parasites, viruses, feeble infections who need your mind to survive in this world.
Narcs are disgusting, degenerative, dying babies. And even Lord Voldemort is even 10 years behind the evolution of narcissism in our world.
Stranger Things nails it even closer to our collective truth:
Lord Venca, Number 1, the Mind Flayer!
So poor Morbius really needs to catch up to the crystalizing, consuming power of Narcissists in our Modern World.
Lackluster Nature of Transactional Archetypes
Every modern human being must navigate a slew of complicated social dynamics each and every day. We must navigate the social dynamics at work, home, hectic, even the gym. We are social creatures and maintaining strong community relationships influences our social health, mental health, physical health, and psychological health.
So, how do we psyche ourselves up to complete a hundred complicated tasks every day spanning work, home, and the day care center? How do we prepare ourselves psychologically for the hours of focused conscious attention needed to complete one task after another after another? How do we maintain our focus throughout the duration of the project? How do switch between the type of attention needed at work and that needed at home or in community?
Each and every human being does this sort of switching of focused conscious attention continuously throughout our day. We do it so much, we don’t even think about how we even do it, nor do we consider there is a psychological ecosystem sustaining the energy requirements needed to have a single thought, much less 10s of thousands of thoughts each day matched by 10s of billion of conscious and unconscious actions and reactions to our environment and changing circumstances.
So how do we do it: Maintain a Steady Stream of Conscious Thought?
How do we pull out attention back to a difficult task when it wanders away?
Watered Down Archetypes
My beef with Marvel and Morbius is that more attention seems to be going into creating another blockbuster movie rather than architecting complex, relatable, and believable characters. Individuals with real flaws and real issues that resonate with our complicated, complex, hyped up, machine-like world.
Super heroes and archetypes should give us recognizable human patterns that we can empathize with and pretend to be if we find ourselves in a similar quandary or situation that requires us to dig a little deeper for those inner Super Powers (that we all have) to do something hard.
Marvel, by focusing on making blockbusters, follows a formula for success that waters down the characters into transactional beings. Instead of feasting on information-rich archetypal characters, we end up watching sad, sorry, distracted, transactional creatures trudge through unoriginal storylines and adventures.
The magic is gone.
Instead we are served up highly systematized, transactional characters, highly processed and mainstreamed into sugar coated, tiny packages labeled: This Is A Monster, This Is A Hero, This Is A Super Hero,This Is A Conflicted Hero.
"Social dynamics boil down to the two main categories of relationships—transactional and transformational. The former often alienates leaders to their peers, while the latter builds strong, trusting relationships with peers, helping them to feel like their work matters and giving them a reason to care."
-- The Risks of Having Transactional Relationships with Your Peers; Leigh Bailey | April 11, 2023 | Blog | Executive Coaching | Leadership Development | Leadership Team Development | The Bailey Group
We are allowed to indulge as much as we want on all this filtered, strained, sifted, rarefied, clarified, in short highly refined stuff just as long as we don’t take it seriously! After all, come on man, these are comic book characters!
As we live in smaller and smaller cubby hole roles that are striped of responsibility and original thoughts, we feel the pressure pushing in on us to Hold the Mold no matter what. We assume lives of repetitive, homogeneity, but inside we are starved for meaning and purpose. We are starved for healthy, robust, vigorous ideas of what we might be… if only…
We are not suppose to formulate an answer to that. We are just suppose to go to work so e can go watch another Marvel movie when it comes out.
Too Much Watering CausesChronic Hypoxia of the Human Mind
The next blogs in this series will take a deeper dive into the transactional nature of our modern living and how this is creating a chronic hypoxia occurring in our minds. Simply said, we are being starved of information-rich, highly symbolic, nourishing ideas.
Man’s mind must breathe and its oxygen are ideas. Creating a chronic condition of dehydrated, highly processed, synthetic ideas deprives man’s mind of the air it needs to maintain a homeostasis capable of providing normal focus human conscious attention. is no longer possible.
In the body when hypoxia occurs, it is due to a lack of oxygen. In the mind when hypoxia occurs, it is due to a lack of nourishing, rich ideas that help root us to our tasks, to each other, and the Earth.
Failure to correct the current hypoxia of the modern mind will result in greater susceptibility to what A.M. Merloo, M.D., called the Rape of the Mind.
Born as Abraham MauritsMeerloo in The Hague, Netherlands, Meerloo came to United States in 1946, was naturalized in 1950, and resumed Dutch citizenship in 1972. Dr. Meerloo practiced psychiatry for over forty years. He did staff work in the Netherlands until 1942 under Nazioccupation, when he assumed the name Joost (instead of the more Jewish-sounding Abraham) to fool the occupying forces. In 1942 he fled to Belgium, and from there he escaped to England (after barely eluding death at the hands of the Germans). He became a colonel and was chief of the Psychological Department of the Dutch Army-in-Exile in England.
He was the son of Bernard and Anna Frederika (Benjamins) Meerloo. He was the youngest of six children and the only one to escape his occupied country and survive the Holocaust.
He married Elisabeth Johanna Kalf Den Haag, on May 16, 1928. The couple divorced on February 19, 1946. He subsequently married Louisa Betty "Loekie" Duits, a physical therapist, in New York City on May 7, 1948.
When one thinks of totalitarian states, Russia, China, Syria, Iran, and North Korea leap to mind. However, Joost explains in great detail the differences between overt thought control as practiced by torturers and subtle thought control.
Sneak Peak of the Marvelization of Man Series
Psychological Warfare as a Weapon of Terror
Every human communication can be either a report of straight facts or an attempt to suggest things and situations as they do not exist. Such distortion and perversion of facts strike at the core of human communication. The verbal battle against man's concept of truth and against his mind seems to be ceaseless. For example, if I can instil in eventual future enemies fear and terror and the suggestion of impending defeat, even before they are willing to fight, my battle is already half won. -- Merloo, M.D., called the Rape of the Mind.
Conversation From Previous Post
This is the end of a conversation I had with a friend about this first blog in this series. He shared with me this fascinating video about the Great Archetype that produced in me a great feeling and passion, which I suppose the the purpose of the Great Archetype. Below is my attempt to communicate this feeling to my friend
Thank you for sharing this. If you shared it to me previously, I did not recognize its importance then. But now, I can comprehend its significance! This is important. I'm going to have to digest it slowly as the visuals are stunning but knock me off course from reading the translations, which I know I need to read to fully understand.
From the Vimeo description, I am getting the jest that this is Christ Consciousness, Divine Consciousness, Cosmic Consciousness.
It is that thing man glimpses but cannot seem to grasp.
But of course not... there is nothing there to grasp... it is a state of mind beyond 2-dimensional thinking.
There are those among us, and who have come before, us who have gotten there (to Divine Consciousness), and even more importantly, they have come back to share this knowledge with us, but human consciousness as it is now is in a terrible mire.
This is where we are now. It is a divisive stage of consciousness... that is thinking... for it only knows how to cut and divide, sort and calculate, and put into order everything it cuts into bits and pieces, but thinking does not know how to put it back together again in the unified whole it was before the scissors of thought got to it.
We may not make it out of the mess we have made by ourselves using thought that only divides creating amazing and terrible things like the atom bomb, which this past week, some humans somberly remembered was 75 years since "at 5:29 a.m. (MST) on July 16, 1945, the world's first atomic bomb detonated in the New Mexican desert, releasing a level of destructive power ..."
And it will soon be 75 years, since man took that awesome power and dropped it on Hiroshima, then Nagasaki, August 6 and 9.
The events that Christopher Nolan has profoundly produced to remind us about in Oppenheimer, but I fear sadly due the Marvelization of Man, we (most of humanity) will not truly comprehend where we are at as a species on this planet.
I think Nolan duly points out that it does not matter that it is in the US where this terrible magic is cracked... people all over the world were cracking the code and figuring it out.... it was just a matter of time until humans figured it out.
Oppenheimer understood this and created an incubator to do it faster so that the Allied forces could win the wars against powers that had condensed into pure evil; powers rolling across the world stage like bulldozers achieving some of the most gruesome levels of destruction humans had yet achieved at that point in time remembered now as WWII.
Now, we can do even more hideous things to each other and we are doing so...
Now we hold the keys to our collective demise for destruction comes in all sorts of flavors--nuclear war, climate change, autocracies, and Marvelous Worlds full of capitalistic wonders that will dull us all down into one long droning wail of mediocrity very soon... and that is because ... we all agreed a long, long time ago... that only some people will be allowed to sit on top of functional hierarchies, which are the systems of power that rule the world as we know it now.
But we have all conveniently forgotten that all people are susceptible to the corrupting power of their own thinking!
And functional hierarchies are the most easily corrupted things we have created as conscious creatures. They are all around us like Trump Enterprises, Elon Musk, and the list is long of failed or failing corporations. The list is even longer of failed of failing states. The ones impacting us now are known as Russia, North Korea, and who knows, maybe even China maybe be in the running to rattle the nuclear rattle we hold in our tiny human hands in tantrums of ultimate self-hatred and self-destruction.
Some people I know put the USA, Great Britain, and all of Europe in this list too. I wrote a big blog about this...... I was pretty pissed because it is only in states that allow for free thought that we might still find the cure to our disease.
The kind of mega disaster that individuals like Christ and others tried to save us from... but still... most of us run directly into the flame of ignorance rather than grow up as we were meant to do from the very beginning...
And I do think God is woman
Now, I have diverged...lol...
All images, except for Feature Animation, use Midjourney AI to create the animations…that is until I ran out of credits. Following are the songs that enliven them.
This is the first blog in a series discussing the Marvelization of Man’s Mind.
After watching Morbius, I felt flat and bloated like I had just downed a Family Sized Package of Cheetos too fast.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved Morbius’ origin story!
The movie is well acted, well executed, and has superb special effects… just as we have come to expect from a Marvelous Marvel Movie… or should I say, just as we have been conditioned to expect?
Perhaps that’s it, Marvel Movies are entirely predictable. In the past 20 some years, they have become perfectly formulated to meet popular tastes. Because of this, we know what to expect, when to expect it, and how to expect it.
Marvel Movies run on well worn tracks of success. Yes, a few have been busts, but on average, Marvel Movies make $715 million dollars per movie with at least half of this gross-income, which means it goes right into the pockets of Robert Iger, CEO, and the Disney-Marvel Cinematic Universe. This has been the case since 2009 when Disney brought Marvel Cinematic Universe from Ronald Perelman who formerly use to pocket the bucks.
The Marvelous Marvel formula has evolved to include hooks and lures about how each newly rendered Marvel character retrieved from the Marvel vault and brought to life on screen will met up and team up with other recently revived Marvel characters for the next Marvelous Marvel movie.
Heck, soon the different Disney universes and their characters might begin meeting up with Marvel, or ever perhaps as, Marvel characters to fight off the bad guys.
Perhaps like this super cool new chic: Tinker Bell Die Hard Predator Ape?
Hell YEAH… this might actually BE interesting!
Marvel Characters Are Archetypes
We adore Marvel characters because they are archetypes. They speak to things deep inside of all of us: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Stuff that is really, really hard to speak to each other about in our overly average, highly regimented, very repetitive work, work, and more work worlds.
Mostly we don’t talk to each other about this stuff. It is so much safer (and let’s face it, it is so much easier) to be superficial with each other.
That’s what the movies are made for! Right?!
Movies give us an emotional release and a little freedom from all that stuff pent up and building up inside of us. The stuff we don’t or can’t talk to each other about, at least not on the deepest levels where our wounds usually lay. These are deep interior layers that we can seldom reach without self-expression that can lead to self-realization, if we allow it.
This is what archetypes partly do for us. They help illuminate things inside of us that are vague, mysterious, troubling, or even exhilarating. But things that are hard to put our finger on because they are inside of us and we can’t see them with our eyes. We can only feel them or try not to feel them when they bother us too much.
Archetypes are mental models that give shape and perspective on the shadowy, nebulous, unsettling, fuzzy states and feelings that can overtake us. They do a lot more than this, but for the purposes of this blog I’ll stick to how archetypes provide man with mental models on how to handle and act to feelings rising inside of him and all around him in other people.
Ever since Marvel’s founding in 1939 by Martin Goodman, which was then known as Timely Comics, the characters have been giving shape to man’s collective shadowy feelings and showing us possibilities on how to channel and handle our dim, indistinct inner worlds in our shared outer world.
In 1951, Timely Comics became known as Atlas Comics. It is not until June 1961 that it transforms into the franchise we know it today as Marvel with the launch of The Fantastic Four.
Ever since its beginning, Marvel characters were created to meet a moment. They emerged from the fabric of that time and in the spaces of what was happening in the country or world at that moment. Their creators invented characters who could met the demands and uncertainty of the times in which they were created.
I am sure each creator imbued their characters with the super powers everyone needed at that moment to survive mental through the demands, threats, and catastrophes of the times. That is what archetypes do. They provide strong mental images combined with stories that imbue inspiration, hope, and courage into the hearts and minds of real people who need to meet real life challenges as they navigate the ups and downs of life.
CharacterDate Created Creator(s)
Sub-Mariner | 1939 (Build up to WII)| Bill Everett
Human Torch | 1939 (Build up toWWII) | Carl Burgos
Angel | 1939 (Build up to WWII) | Paul Gustavson
Masked Raider | 1939 (WWII & shifting economics) | Al Anders
Phantom Reporter | 1940 (WWII & shifting economics)| Robert O. Erisman, Sam Cooper
Black Widow | 1940 (WWII & shifting economics such as women working to build war machines and bombs) | George Kapitan, Harry Gahle
Vision | 1940 (Intensification of WWII)| Joe Simon, Jack Kirby
Captain America | 1940 (Intensification of WWII)| Joe Simon, Jack Kirby
Black Marvel | 1941 (Intensification of WWII) | Al Gabriele
Uranian Boy | 1950 (First atomic bomb drop 1945) | Stan Lee, Russ Heath
The Fantastic Four | 1961 (It's the 60s and its Stan and Jack!) | Stan Lee, Jack Kirby
The Hulk | 1962 (It's the 60s and its Stan and Jack!)| Stan Lee, Jack Kirby
Red She Hulk | 1962 (It's the 60s and its Stan and Jack!) | Stan Lee, Jack Kirby
Thor | 1962 (It's the 60s and its Stan and Jack!)| Stan Lee, Jack Kirby
Spider-Man | 1962 (It's the 60s and its Stan and Steve this time)| Stan Lee, Steve Ditko
Iron Man | 1963 (Cuban missile crisis 1962)| Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Don Heck
Doctor Strange | 1963 (Cuban missile crisis 1962) | Stan Lee, Steve Ditko
Black Panther | 1966 (Civil Rights Act sign 1965) | Stan Lee, Jack Kirby
-- See full timeline at Wiki
I think you get the idea.
So, What’s Wrong With A Little Marvel Time?!
There is nothing wrong with a little Marvel time.
The issue is much more subtle and pervasive than that. It is not so much that we go to the movies to watch great, big, spectacular dramas that take our minds off our worries or give us a joyful jolt of non-reality.
The issue is rather what we are not seeing when we go to the movies, especially the really BIG blockbuster ones that are highly formulated and super monetized to capture our time and attention.
These blockbuster cash cows act like somewhat steamrollers crushing the competition and funneling more and more money into the pockets of billionaires who own mega conglomerates that control the content and production of multiple franchises and merchandise.
And guess what the mega billionaires want you to do?
They want you to go to see more of their movies and buy more of their merchandise so they make more money.
And we do exactly that… and each time we do, they grow even bigger!
If you’re wondering why Marvel movies all look alike, it’s because of us. It is the way we are choosing to consume them.
I recently learned more about this from Terry Gross’ interview with Lucas Shaw, who is in charge of Media and Entertainment at Bloomberg and writes the Screentime newsletter. He’s the one who made me aware of how much content Disney owns!
But there are a lot of other big Media-Entertainment Titans operating out there too and all of them want to get inside our heads and tickle away some our money that we make working highly automated jobs that require at least 8 hours of our days, 5 days a week.
Sadly, despite popular opinions, most of us do not work in our Dream Jobs! Indeed, most of us must go through the motions 8 hours days doing very boring, tedious, monotonous work. So who wouldn’t want to break free and escape into a Marvelous Marvel movie when it comes out?
But that might be exactly what the super rich want us to feel and react. They can make money from lots of bored people who need to escape from their dreary, mind-numbing, mechanical lives with a Fantastic New Movie!
And, hey wait, you can also escape and feel just like the movie characters feel by buying this splashy new watch or this brand new fancy car or this mouthwatering, very pricey dress. And of course you need the latest technology to go along with all this! You want to look modern don’t you?
All these fancy, enjoyable costly things are there to help you escape from your boredom and ease your burden of living highly repetitive, unvarying, humdrum modern lives.
Lucas Shaw tells Terry Gross how the movie-TV-streaming business is becoming one super long ad promoting consumerism, capitalism, and merchandising by the new Titans of Industry.
SHAW: You know, Barry Diller, I feel like, has been declaring the death of Hollywood for a long time now, so I do take what he says with a little grain of salt. But he's right that the growth of Amazon and Apple, which I would say are now two of the six major studios in town - you know, they've replaced some of the other ones that have been consolidated in the deals that we've talked about - entertainment is not their primary business. And it speaks to maybe the lesser value of traditional film and television in broader culture, where it - so does the fact that YouTube is now bigger than any TV network, that if you - that TikTok is as popular as any streaming service.
You know, film and TV doesn't have the same stranglehold on culture and on youth that it used to. And it's - if I were running one of these traditional media and entertainment companies - running Warner Bros. Discovery, running Disney - it would certainly scare me that two of our biggest competitors don't care about making money from film and TV in the same way because it means that the stakes are lower. The approach is going to be different. And entertainment is just a means of selling something else - in Amazon's case, you know, diapers or books or whatever it is; in Apple's case, phones and other devices. -- FreshAir, July 20, 2023
So my take away from this conversation is that the purpose of movies, TV shows, and streaming platforms are increasingly veering towards a focus on how to keep viewing audiences glued to a particular station-conglomerate, so it can make more money–be that ads, subscriptions, or the super cool merchandise they make, create, and sell.
The Hollowing Out Effect of Money
This hyper-focus on making more money is a major force in hollowing out many Marvel characters. You can read about the reasons why 16 actors are talking about quitting or leaving the Marvel Cinematic Universe here.
The Marvel universe seems to be becoming more one-dimensional and cartoonish as the focus on making another blockbuster and capturing the vast majority of the market take precedence over story. This focus on money has a watering down effect on the characters, making them feel less real, less vibrant, and less inspiring.
They are losing their numinosity, which is what archetypes hold for us. Numinous content gives our lives meaning, content, and purpose. Without numinosity in our lives, we feel drab, automatic, and mechanical.
But maybe the mechanization of man is one of the very objectives these new Titans of Industry seek to create inside of us.
If we are continually feeling unimportant, unremarkable, and unnecessary in keeping the clogs of industry running in the world, then we need to compensate for our super small roles in society.
How else can we wake up each morning and go out to do our boring, repetitive jobs?
So a good Marvel Movie is a great antidote to not feeling like a machine!
But, don’t get too caught up in the marvelousness of a Marvel movie! That would be going too far in our highly mechanized modern world.
If you do happen to believe Marvel characters are real and you look up to them and draw hope and courage from then (like any good archetype should do), then you will get laughed at because we are not really suppose to identify with them anymore. They are simply entertainment.
We watch them, then we get up the next day and go back to work to make some money so we can go watch the next amazing Marvel movie coming out soon because there was that little teaser at the end!
Another troubling result of the Marvelizationof Man is that Marvel movies are impacting how other movies are made or even more importantly, NOT BEING MADE.
With great big, super blockbusters with BIG special effects (like Marvel, Star Wars, Avatar), more and more people only go to theaters to see these on the silver screen. They don’t show up for the “other movies” being made and trying to survive in an increasingly one-dimensional entertainment universe.
Basically, every studio wants a piece of the action in this “shared universe” business.
But it’s hard to argue that any of them have been as successful as Marvel has.
This effect is drying up the field of creativity for the creation, production, and life of other types of movies that deal with difficult but really important stuff such as Women Talking:
The women of an isolated religious community grapple with reconciling their reality with their faith. Though the backstory, we see a community of women come together to figure out how they might move forward together to build a better world for themselves and their children. Stay and fight or leave. They will not do nothing.— Official synopsis
Or like the Fabelmans:
Growing up in post-World War II era Arizona, young Sammy Fabelman aspires to become a filmmaker as he reaches adolescence, but soon discovers a shattering family secret and explores how the power of films can help him see the truth.
It is lpLoosely based on Spielberg's childhood growing up in post-World War II era Arizona, from age seven to eighteen, a young man named Sammy Fabelman discovers a shattering family secret, and explores how the power of movies help us see the truth about each other and ourselves. —Toronto International Film Festival
He also encounters antisemitism and bullying, which is a very important issue that deserves far more airtime in our current culture and polictical climate.
Or going back even further to the time of radio like Suspense: Report From A Dead Planet
Another thing that struck me while watching Morbius is that really talented actors are playing pretty superficial, very simplified characters.
Matt Smith for example is the villain in Morbius. He is great as the villain, but his performance leaves me feeling empty. He is a really talented actor! Why don’t I feel more from his performance in Morbius?
Because I’m not supposed to?!
His super villain in Morbius is pretty vanilla compared to his roles in Season 1 and 2 of The Crown, The Last Night in Soho, and my all time favorite The Doctor of Doctor Who.
Also, Jared Leto who plays Morbius struck me as a super talented actor as well. I haven’t seen him before. He does a great job playing Morbius. In fact, he imbue more life into Morbius than the role allows.
Tarantino previously said that he would not want to direct a movie for Marvel Studios for the simple reason he is “not a hired hand.’ As someone planning to direct just ten movies in his career, and with only one of those to make up the number, it is probably not surprising that the Pulp Fiction helmer would want to concentrate on his own ideas. When it comes to the MCU, the director says that the franchise does not contain any “movie stars” as the characters are all people want to see. He said:
“Part of the Marvel-ization of Hollywood is… you have all these actors who have become famous playing these characters, but they’re not movie stars. Right? Captain America is the star. Or Thor is the star. I mean, I’m not the first person to say that. I think that’s been said a zillion times, you know, but it’s like, you know, it’s these franchise characters that become a star.” -- Quentin Tarantino Says Marvel Actors Are 'Not Movie Stars'
PUBLISHED NOV 22, 2022
Quentin Tarantino has been vocal about his feelings regarding the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it looks like he isn't quite done yet.
I will still watch Marvel movies.
But I will seek out and watch more different movies that leave an impression in my psyche and make me think about the world in ways I might not have before.
I will continue to gravitate to movies where BIG ideas are explored rather than BIG action but increasingly hallow characters dance across the screen.
I want something that satisfies my imagination and feeds my psyche, because feeling alive and not like small cog in a BIG machine is important to me, and only I can change my perspective and the way I feel about things.
Stories and movies feed my imagination so I can feed and grow my soul.
Stay tuned for this series because I am going to go deeper into the effects and impacts of living in our super consumerism society on man’s mind.
For now, maybe the Oppenheimer-Barbie movies will provide a reprieve from the Marvelization of Man’s Mind.
I made all images with Genolve using AI generated images, specifically Midjourney, this time. So I am just listing the songs used in the above animations.
Feature Archetypal Animation: Nowhere but Up |  Break the Chain 4:53
Recently, I found out that I really hate the word hierarchy. I came to this conclusion after arguing with an old, ex-Facebook friend about “functional hierarchy“.
I fundamentally don’t believe any human hierarchy can withstand the corruption of thought. It is thinking too much that has gotten the world into the predicaments it is in, thinking is not the God it once was, and it is not going to get us out of our messes.
We are like 10 billion baby birds clustered in nests of endless thought and thinking, and we are terrified to fly. This will make sense if you keep reading! But before dropping into the underworld, you better watch this Mother video!!!
This whole convoluted conversation happened because of a very simple question I asked about a diagram this particular man made about Transformational Change.
In the graphic he posted, I noticed there is no pathway for what to do if people don’t agree on the type of Transformational Change needed or on how to implement it.
So, I made the following comment:
On the outer circle of Discuss & Agree... what happens when you Discuss & Disagree or even further have Conflict?
Without this other very real possibility included in a realistic way, this is a closed-circle of "Liked-minded" thinkers who will grow smaller and smaller in their shared beliefs and ideas of Transformation, which they may conclude: "Needs to Be Imposed on Everyone Else for the Good of the World."
So much trauma and cycles of destruction, reprisals, vendettas have emerged out of Closed-Systems of Thinking ending in "Do Gooder" agendas.
What do you think?
Well, maybe I was alittle too provocative and Alan Wattsy in my comment when I ask about Do-Gooder agendas. He probably has no idea what I mean. But, as you will see, he assumes he knows what I mean… but he has no clue.
What I am referring to is explained simply in this video:
His response to my comment is as follows:
true. Which is why this model aims to 'transcend to THEN include'... the ethical commitment to acton behalf of the whole.
Can you show me a model where informed democracy is addressing Overshoot? No... there is, unfortunately, a functional hierarchy which needs to honour those who CAN see more, sense more, grok more, on behalf of the whole system/social field. This is only part of the process
If interested you might find more here (it's a link to his website...)
GULP! Now, I have a whole bunch more questions!
Really, he has made a mental model thatCAN identify people who have transcended and these people get admitted into some governing body who will make decisions and act on behalf of the whole?
Does this mean, the whole world?
Does it mean all the misfortunate survivors of the coming catastrophe that is going to destroy most of mankind …pick your catastrophe:climate change, nuclear war, AIs take over the world; they do this because they were given instructions by a Do-Gooder programmer desperately trying tomake the world safe for all life, so the AIs decide that humans have to go to make the world safe for more lifeforms.
You think I am exaggerating?! Then, you better listen to the Godfather of A.I.s as we know them today. He cracked the code for how the human mind works and implemented his understandings to machine learning. And did you know machines hallucinate? Well, the intelligent ones do! I think this is utterly fascinating!
I also know that this guy (and many others in his circle of friends on Facebook) fervently believe the world is going to collapse, and it is going to be God awful, so we better have a plan.
Knowing this, and assuming I survive the collapse, what if I don’t like this transcended group of people who are going to jump into action with their plan to save us and ensure only actions that benefit the good of us all are implemented?
And Grok?!! Really, is this like Mork (where is Mindy?). Or is Grok more like super Geeky?
Whatever it is, I don’t think I want anyone grokking for me.
I should have given up the ghost at this point, but I was stupid and engaged further saying:
Ah yes, functional hierarchy like what we see in the Good’Old USA or Russia sure is showing the world how much more they see than the rest of us can see on how to make the world Great again!
I say this tongue and cheek but without allowing for conflict even on the highest levels of hierarchy, I just don’t see how the human race is going to be doing much transforming any time soon, except maybe some fizzy bubbles on the sides of spaceship Earth
By the way, I could have also brought up China’s ambitions, North Korea’s ambitions, India’s ambitions, Saudi Arabia’s ambitions, and the newly incorporated states of mind and ambitions of Trump & Company, Elon Musk & Companies, Zhong Shanshan & Companies, Bernard Jean Étienne Arnault & Companies, and the list of corporations who make more money than most countries GDP is endless. But, I didn’t want to overwhelm him.
He responded with gusto! Writing the following response:
At this moment I've just watched a program on Al Jazeera on Black Lives Matter, and seeing (one of) the deep dysfunctional divisions in the US - the US is in collapse (see Umair Haque or Chris Hedges) [OH?!! Thank God this guy knows something I didn't know! Thank God We're going to die!], and will continue to split apart along these and other fault lines as biophysical reality gets harder to cope with (with climate change and ecological collapse and resultant economic collapse - which is already happening).
These divisions are caused by competing for identity (and survival) at a level less than that needed for the higher-level collective identity - in the words of one commentator the 'more viable future' would be 'a multiracial society that can live in harmony'.
I need to interrupt here. This guy has just made a huge pivot and is lecturing me about my own country! I live in the United States of America. In fact, I live less than 5 miles from the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC.
Now, I’m not putting Al Jazeera down, but since I live here and I must navigate these competing “identity issues” every day, I think I know a little bit more about them than he does or a single documentary can cover.
In fact, I’ve made a few documentaries myself about these very divisions and dysfunctions.
Here are just a few of them:
Whew! I bet you thought I’d never stop listing them!
Back to ex-FakeBook friend’s comments.
When I refer to 'functional hierarchy' I mean the sort of hierarchy that every natural ecosystem has - nested, holonic, and operating on behalf of the whole AND with diverse individual yet interdependent autonomous beings. In nature this animate intelligence expresses itself through co-evolution and within the higher 'goal' of 'life'.
AH!!! The baby birds! I bet you read this far to see what the 10 billion baby birds in nests is all about! It’s about this comment.
First of all, I bet this ex-friend doesn’t know that being a baby bird in a nest is the most dangerous time of a bird’s life. It is a time of flightlessness that make baby birds vulnerable to all kinds of threats--crows, squirrels, snakes, cats, even wind.
The best thing for a baby bird to do is grow up fast and get the heck out of the nest!!! And have you ever looked at a nest after all the baby birds have left? I have! It’s full of poop!!!
I am not very impressed with his responses so far and started to do my own research on how to run a country or run a bunch of survivors after a great BIG disaster.
I quickly find based on his reference to nests,which I think he wants it to sound NATURAL, that he really doesn’t mean ‘functional hierarchy‘ at all — if he is really talking about a natural system where there is lots and lots of diversity and autonomous living beingswalking about and doing their thing, then he is talking heterarchy; full stop: NOT hierarchy.
I found an article rather quickly in Forbe’s about all of this and this article led me to Philip Bobbitt’s Shield of Achilles. I will talk more about this later. But clearly my ex-friend has never heard of Philip or his book.
Also, before moving on to the rest of his comments, let’s dig into this word holonic:
It is also a fundamental theory of machine learning. So, we are back to the end of the world by A.I.s!
Who knows, he might even be the Do-Gooder programmer who writes a well intention code to save as much diversity of life as possible that ends the human race because the AIs determine we are killing life faster than we are preserving it.
And the last thing I want to know: has he talked to this animate intelligence himself?!
How the HELL does he know that this thing or being has a higher goal and that the goal is life?
First of all, I know he doesn’t believe in God, but this is sounding a lot like a God with goals who is going to Make Something Happen!
This an important clue to his thinking, and it provides a glimpse into the Mega Myth he fervently believes runs the universe.
This myth is The Fully Automative Model. This short Alan Watts tells it best!
Alright, I’ve digressed enough, so back to his comments:
In Human systems we most often have structural hierarchies, with power-over dynamics. We DO need ways of inviting (creative) conflict across difference to discuss the options in front of us; and a functional Democracy is meant to assist that process. And, it can... but often at a level that is removed from the emerging future realities of biophysical collapse.
Wow — I’m so glad he pointed this out to me. I would still be thinking humans who live in great BIG civilized systems still gather around one GREAT BIG camp fire singing Kumbaya to solve conflicts!
Is he possibly admitting that there should be an arrow in his diagram for conflict?!!
We could have ended this entire conversation right here!
But wait! He goes on!
If democratic representatives were aware of the biophysical realities within which all their ideas and creative options are nested (functional hierarchy) then perhaps they might make collective decisions in mutual interest at levels required for what's coming. Unfortunately most people are ecologically illiterate and removed from nature so they don't realize that their current comfort levels and assumptions of entitlement, and fear of others taking them from them, are threatened by bigger, more encompassing forces (that will affect everyone) that will cause massive suffering as whole systems collapse.
Fine, these are overly broad generalizations that basically paint a picture that pretty much every human being living in a civilization on Earth is an illiterate, fearful, comfort-seeking coward with entitlement issues. If he wants to define nearly 10 billion people on Earth in this way, he’s not all wrong, but neither is he all right.
In making all my documentaries, I met and talked with so many motivated, well-informed, highly intelligent people who had profound ecological awareness and were not sitting home eating Cheetos! Rather, they were getting on a buses at 3 a.m. to get to marches happening in Washington, DC on Climate Change, Science, Gun Violence, Trump, Lies, and Black Lives Matter.
Perhaps he’s simply mansplaining again. But he still has more to say:
My point about 'transcend' is that only people that understand this can see which futures are no longer viable. That does not mean they 'know everything' - but it does mean they have a different worldview. They cannot guarantee 'the way' to go - there is no single direction. They can however point to many of the non-ways to go, because of Universal Harms that would and do threaten Universal Interests - not just the vested interests of any particular group that sees 'others' as the biggest threat to their identity and wellbeing.
Oh goodie! Transcendence! Yes, I really want to know more about what he means by transcend!
But, Hmmmmm… there are ONLY a select group of people who can understand this? My father was a pastor. My grandfathers were pastors. My great grandfathers were pastors as were many of my uncles and cousins… and you get the picture… I have been steeped in the language and imagery of transcendence.
What he describes is not transcendence. It’s intellectual arrogance, which is super creepy. At least he recognizes he and other transcended individuals might not get it right and cannot guarantee “the way to go“.
I remain highly concern about how power and authority is being ranked and sorted in his System of Transformation.
How is this really complicated human issue of governing itself in ever bigger and bigger systems of humans going to decide and select people to serve on this “functional hierarchy“? How in the HELL are they even going to recognize Transcended individuals?!
First of all, I don’t think you can recognize transcended people. In fact, for thousands of years, human beings typically tend to kill people who have transcended, in other words people who have become Holy.
Why do humans kill Holy people? Because Holy people scare the crap out of us regular, run of the mill human beings.
And why is this? Because Holy people are Whole people–they have fully integrated their Light and Dark sides, their Good Side and their Evil Side, the Savior and the Devil. This is not my idea. This is a very ancient idea as expressed by Alan Watts.
So, if you think you are a bunch of highly intelligent Transcendedpeople, you probably aren’t. But if you take the reins of ruling a great big bunch of humans, and you believe you are a transcended bunch of bloʊks, then you are eventually going to have to decide who lives and who dies.
Running huge human systems is not for sissies or for people who are squeamish because Nature makes LIFE and DEATH decisions every day, and if you think you are a bunch of Transcended humans running things like NATURE does, then guess what!?? You are going to have to make these kind of decisions too.
If you don’t,Kaboom! Another disaster! Overpopulation, perhaps like The Mote in God’s Eye, which is a science fiction novel by American writers Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, first published in 1974.
This story is about human beings first contact with an intelligent alien race. How exciting, except these aliens are more intelligent than humans and they keep something concealed from the humans who are trying to decide if they are friends or foes. The thing they are hiding is population issues…really, really serious population issues that have caused this ancient race of intelligent beings to rise to spectacular heights only to crash back down into primitive savagery again and again and again… something they call Cycles.
Such big and complex decisions required to run an advanced, intelligent civilization (regardless of whether they are human or aliens) depends entirely on what is being valued by the group and by who wants to do the running of things.
How is this any different than what is happening in the USA, in Russia, or in any hierarchical system on Earth? In fact, how is it different than how corporations, cities, towns, non-profits, and pretty much every modern, technology-using human system (and perhaps even intelligent alien system) are deciding how to run things?
If an intelligent group of beings decides to run things by a hierarchy, then they have to decide first on what they value. Based on these values, a ranking is created that determines how the hierarchy will be structured.
In other words, the values selected determine who will be placed on top of the pyramid to give to the orders and who will be placed in the middle and bottom of the pyramid to listen to and follow the orders. Another way of seeing this, is that the people in the middle and on the bottom (everyone who are below the ruling class) are the ones doing the work to hold up the agreed uponvalues.
Everyone–this includes rulers, managers, middle managers, bosses, workers, and through much of human history, slaves–assumes the mold of the Functional Hierarchy. Another way of saying this is that every person assume a role that holds the mold, which operates constantly in the background of everybody’s mind who lives in the system. This operating system provides unconscious instructions sort of like an algorithm, which are a set of rules to be followed or calculations to be made to solve problems encountered as the system operates through time.
The mental model of a pyramid is a powerful system of thinking. Indeed it is machine-like. It can be cold, calculating, and extremely brutal, perhaps this is why humans are so found on hierarchies, regardless of if they are functional or dysfunctional.
However, whenever (wherever) humans create hierarchies to run things, lots of people and things don’t make it to the top of the pyramid because they simply don’t fit into the desired values of the “functional hierarchy” (something humans created based on arbitrary ideas and values). The people and things(living beings) that get left outside of the ideal are automatically de-valued. Clearly, something important is being left out, being ig-nored, by the very ideas necessary to create a Functional Hierarchy.
Let’s see if he answers or addresses any of these concerns because so far he has not. But he’s also not done explaining (or should I say mansplaing):
In our approach we don't create 'safe-spaces' where everybody stays in their comfort zone. We create 'safe-enough spaces' where people are challenged. From our website Glossary: (his website again and another diagram)
“Safety is not the absence of threat—it is the presence of connection.”
– Gabor Maté
We use the term to describe spaces where we can have challenging Courageous Conversations about difficult topics, involving rigorous inquiry from multiple perspectives, and still hold space for “respectful belonging” where we can appreciate one another as we live the questions together.
Part of our approach is to hold people 'safe-enough' while challenging them not to collude at levels less than the biophysical system dictates is needed - ie. face reality and live the questions, together, in Universal Interests... and, yes, you are right to be cynical, for it is virtually impossible from this starting point... especially in the US at present.
Hmmm… I don’t really have a problem with all this mulling about safety and safe enough and challenging people. But he is not providing a tangible way of doing anything differently than what we are already doing in the world with all our hierarchies, functional or not!
And, WOW, he is really putting the USA down! I never knew he hated Americans so much!!!
So, once again I press on when I should have stopped writing this:
So how do you select people: "that understand this can see which futures are no longer viable."
How do you ensure all peoples, the ones still asleep in the safety of civilization and the people awaken to the the coming collapse, are represented in the decision-making of the 'functional hierarchy' (I don't think you used functional previously, but that is beside the point)... who gets to decide what is functional and belongs in a human hierarchy?
Might it not be our very own overthinking of every problem and solution digging us all deeper into the pit of collapse?
And who is "our" in approach? Is this the synthesize of your years of deep thinking and consideration, which is considerable and done with empathic intent, or are there others involved in the "our"?
And, you did not mention Russia or Putin? How does this transcendent approach handle this situation? Or is this Western propaganda at work blowing up the situation in Ukraine?
One quick side note on overthinking and/or clinging to an idea or a thought when clearly one should have let go of it long ago. When a person does this, the idea or thought tends to grow smaller and smaller.
This is because the process of thinking presses the LIFE FORCE right out of an idea or a thought. The more the LIFE FORCE is removed, the less and less alive the IDEA is inside ones mind, or should I say the MORE DEAD the IDEA BECOMES.
Every single person who is born into Western Civilization is trained to do this from the day they are born. It is essential they learn how to do this and to do this all the time so that they stay in the social order, the social hierarchy, regardless of it is a functional one or not.
Alan Watts and many of great sages of Buddhism speak a lot about the need to let go of our ideas and patterns of thought and beliefs. They encourage us to fly, not to cling to dead and dying thoughts that make us do ignorant and increasingly crazy things. Once we outgrow our ideas or learn something new, we need to let go of them and move on with the flow of all things living in time and are alive.
Now, back to his thoughts and thinking:
...thanks for engaging. First, re 'functional hierarchy' I did mention it
I don’t think until this point he knew who I was, and I hit a nerve for sure: a functional nerve! In his original invitation for Transformational Change anyone, he does not mention functional. That is what I was commenting about. The first time he mentions functional and hierarchy is in his first comment to my original question. And his answer to that question is what made more questions in my mind.
But, he goes on:
"Can you show me a model where informed democracy is addressing Overshoot? No... there is, unfortunately, a functional hierarchy which needs to honour those who CAN see more, sense more, grok more, on behalf of the whole system/social field. This is only part of the process "
There’s the Geeky Grokking again. And the inference that some human beings are better than and more advanced than others, in what precisely?!
If you read it as hierarchy then you probably didn't see my point... it is a naturalfunctional hierarchy - which many debate, but which does exist, based on maturity, capability, consciousness levels and activation (or not) of human development potentials - NOT a constructed human hierarchy (like an imposed boss/ servant relationship - with power over).
OH WOW! He says it again, it is a natural functioning hierarchy! Which apparently should make all the difference something like what Simba discovered, right?
But, no, my ex-friend is not talking about a Natural System because he is dividing and cutting it up into all sorts of categorizes by using labels such as maturity, capability, consciousness levels and activation. This is what the thinking mind does; it cuts up reality into little tiny bits then messes them up, so we can never put it back together again…just like Humpty Dumpty or at least not as long as our selfish, self-center, fearful, greedy human minds are in control of the narrative.
And, he’s still not done mansplaining. So maybe there is still something in his explanation that won’t make the hairs stand on my arm.
Here he goes! Hold onto your steering wheel:
That said, people are, despite their best wishes and hopesNOT equal [I don't disagree with this, but please...] every parent knows this... you don't force a kid who can only crawl to walk before they are ready (or at all);[Well... duh!] yet you can assume they have the potential, and, if they see others doing it, will one day also do so - where does the leadership example come from...? Another younger kid? An older kid? An adult? [Ah, perhaps here's the natural functional hierarchy...you age into it? Is this what he's implying? Well, I take issue.] Hence we need to be careful NOT to assume people don't have 'potential' while also recognising that not everyone has actualised it yet - that's why we generally don't let kids drive trucks. [Haha -- he hasn't been to the USA! Here, we can do anything at any age!]
OK!!! Full Stop!!! We’ve got to explore this explanation a little bit more!
Hmmm… maybe babies can drive trucks!
And what if the evolution of mind runs in reverse to the evolution to the physical body?
I’m a MOM! I’ve raised a baby! Yes, my baby crawled, then she walked, and now she drives a truck!!! It all happened exactly as he says…LOL!
But, I don’t think WISDOM grows that way. I think on the Mental-Spiritual realm (this gooey, sticky place inside the human mind where we feel this utterly strange sensation of sentience, something we all simply refer to as consciousness) that growth rather runs in reverse to the body.
As we grow up, we get narrower and narrower in our thinking and focus. We are forced to shut out more and more of the world from our MIND so we can carry out the tasks of daily living (or survival in a manmade world). Eventually, we all get to an incredibly small world views with an incredibly small selection of thoughts, ideas, values that we think explain everything. What we fail to see is we have become a SINGULARITY and we are COLLAPSING in on ourselves!
This sounds terrible, but this is the mental world… not the physical world. This moment of COLLAPSE is the most exciting opportunity ever! It the MOMENT of Transformation.
The thing you got to do when you get to this MOMENT is KEEP MOVING… go man go!!!
Whatever crisis you hit, it’s there for a reason. It is your DOING, your HAPPENING because you want to GROW and TRANSFORM is what consciousness does... it is flowing, it is dancing, it is constantly making new patterns and experiences.
I can’t tell you what your moment of crisis will be or when you will hit it. But if you are human, you’re going to have a chance to thread the eye of your MOMENT IN TIME.
Each of us is born into this world with utterly unique capabilities and potential. Each of us is trying to master innate abilities we have always had, but we forget we have them because of all the training we get into HOW TO BE A GOOD CITIZEN.
Don’t get me wrong! There is tremendous value in this. Going around and hitting other kids over the head is not a NICE way to move through the WORLD (Trump and Putin obviously never moved passed this stage in mental development).
We all want civility in this world. That is how we all live in peace and plenty, but we cannot master our innate abilities without really digesting and integrating ALL the knowledge trained into us on how to be a GOOD CITIZEN and RECKON that with WHO WE REALLY are (and have always been since the day we were born).
Without this reckoning that is really going to feel like a constriction, a tightening and reduction of consciousness, you won’t get to other side of your Self.
If you are paying attention, there is going to a point of crisis in your life that is going to make you question everything. And this is ALL RIGHT! In fact, it is essential.
But, if you are not paying attention (Ron DeSantis, I’m talking AT you), and you don’t want to WAKE UP, then you are not going to WAKE UP. And this is ALL RIGHT too!
The only thing I can tell you if you do hit this point of constriction is:
But wait, my ex-friend is not done mansplaining:
Unfortunately many in politics (such as your infamous ex-Pres) reach arrested development at a level less than what is required to provide systems-ethical leadership for our times. Bully boy narcissism (pick any number of exemplars, globally) is not what's called for when the potential extinction of humanityis the writing on the wall.
[What did I tell you? He is totally into total collapse of our global system...and human extinction. But maybe we deserve to go extinct and resistance is futile, so why suffer the inevitable? It's a collective gamble that we all clearly lost...right?!!]
But this also pissed me off. Not the Bully Boy Narcissism comment, that just made it very obvious he is not paying attention to me or my work (as he pretended to do for years).
If he had been paying attention, he might have learned something NEW because I’ve been writing and posting about all this stuff (some stuff very humorously, some very critical of our ex-President) for a long time.
Basically, my take away from his comment is that he is implying this functional hierarchy is most probably going to consist of a lot of grumpy old men and a few token women who refuse to grow up.
I know this guy from lots of previous engagements, and I can read between the lines, and this is exactly what he is saying.
He is also implying HE is the one who can see further, run faster, and out thinkall the rest of us to lead this NEW functional hierarchy that will save the world from collapse (or after collapse)!
It leads me to wonder just which direction is he and his new functional leaders going towards? Is it truly the “right” direction to be looking or is it just more of the same tangled web of endless bureaucracies we are already stuck in up over our eyeballs already?
So these are some of the reasons this comment really pisses me off.
And also, some of the wisest, kindness, most inclusive people I know are young people. I would totally choose a younger people over jagged jerks like my ex-friend is being here as he defends his fictional “functional hierarchy.“
But, maybe I should still be patient and read keep reading:
As for "who are we when I say 'our'" - I provided a link to 'our' website - And Now What - and this is the About Us page - https://andnowwhat.be/about/ - and, yes, it is the result of "years of deep thinking and consideration, which is considerable and done with empathic intent" by each of us alone, and for several years collectively.
YEAH! Finally! He is addressing the Putin bastard and dysfunctional Russia!
As for Russia or Putin - what can I say... he would not be included in the 'transcendent' because he is, by definition, not aiming to transcend and include (partly my point) but to take-over by force... which, incidentally, also happens to be the way the US generally behaves - and it will continue to do so, for it fears losing the dominance its inhabitants take for granted, and fears what would happen if others behaved toward it as it has toward them.
But, hey wait! That is a huge BIG pivot! WOW, he really hates us. He didn’t even finish his thought about Russia.
I was REALLY hoping to learn something about his thinking on Putin.
Several years ago, back when we conversed all the time, I told him that the most evil character in my book is based on Putin. This was before Putin invaded Ukraine and Trump was cozying up to him like a pussy cat to a snake or is it a snake to a pussy cat or are they really both SNAKE CATS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Maybe Putin and Trump mated and mutated!!!!!!!!!!!
He immediately put me down by lecturing me on how Putin is a pussy cat, really he isn’t a bad guy at all, he’s just watching out for his country like any good ruler would do. And, it’s a BIG country he has to take care of and the world isn’t very nice place, especially the WEST. He told me that I was simply indoctrinated by Western media and didn’t understand things accurately.
He kind of sounded like Trump (?!!)in that moment! I have never forgotten his put down. And, it’s probably the real reason I needled him.
But, I have digressed again! Let’s get back to his mighty man-splaination!
So, to be clear - I think you have just pointed to why there needs to be distinction between those who CANthink transformationally, on behalf of the whole system, and those who can only think of their own vested interests or for a smaller subset of the whole (individual, in-group, corporation, nation)...
So, if you had to try to create transformative change that might get the US out of the mess it has created for itself, who would you select? Who would you not select? And why?
I’m fine with leaving Putin out of the hierarchy too… DUH!
But HERE again he pivots and attacks my country lumping the USA in the same dusty coal bin as Putin and his goons.
We are having this conversation, by the way, over the United States Memorial Weekend, which is a time we reflect on the men and women who have served in the Armed Forces, especially the ones who died or were injured.
I have 2 Great Uncles who served in WWI, an Uncle who served in Korea, and a brother who served in the Army Reserves. He’s really pissed me off NOW!
And Now What would have happened to the world if the US had not gotten involved in these great wars?
Would he really want a Kim Jong Un ruling over the whole Korean Peninsula? Does he know Winston Churchill begged the US to get involved in WWII? What if the US had just sat on its hands mumbling: “We don’t want to get involved in that war,” as it sang Kumbaya to itself as it pretended nothing’s going on over there?
Yes, the USA has made some really bad foreign affairs decisions. The US has sent troops into places they should not have sent them. The US has pulled troops out of places we have been when they should not done this: Afghanistan!!
What happened in Afghanistan is complicated. How do you define exactly when all the trouble began and how do you define when it has all ended? Was it 1219 to 1332 when the Mongol Empire ruled Afghanistan? Was it 1370 to 1405 when Timur (sometimes referred to as Tamerlane) ruled the land that would become Afghanistan plus a whole lot more of middle Asia? Both Empires are remembered for the barbarity of their conquests.
But that is ancient history, right? What does that have to do with the barbarity of our modern age? Well, have you seen Flee? If not, you should!
If you watch Flee, you may ask Why did the US fund the mujahideen?
Well that’s a long, sordid, complicated story that “began decades earlier, after the Soviet Union invaded that country in 1979. The U.S. wanted to do everything it could to counter the Russians during the Cold War. And so, at that time, the U.S. worked with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to arm Afghan Islamist fighters known as the mujahideen.” — Read or listen to PBS NewsHour and the Former head of Saudi intelligence recounts America’s longstanding ties to Afghanistan
This colossal battle between the two Titans of the Modern Western World, because if you’re going to be a Good Titan you’re going to need a Bad Titan. It has been this way in the human made world for 5,000 years. If you’re wondering why I pick this number, you are just going to have to wait and read my book.
Since WWII, the USA and USSR (now Russia) made so many Nukes if they went to war with each other, the world would descend into a nuclear winter so profound, life as we know it would cease. Something like Midnight Sky depicted:
So instead, the US and Russia poke each other through proxy wars that create a different sort of consequence: Blowback. I am not as stupid as my mansplaining friend wants to pretend that I am, nor are countless Americans like me.
US support of mujahideen created Osama bin Laden who would train Saudi men to fly planes into buildings pulling off one of the worst terrorist event on US soil 9/11. Leading to the US invasion of Afghanistan and hunt for bin Laden.
The Pakistan government has repeatedly denied that it provides any military support to the Taliban in its diplomacy regarding its extensive operations in Afghanistan.82 Of all the foreign powers involved in efforts to sustain and manipulate the ongoing fighting, Pakistan is distinguished both by the sweep of its objectives and the scale of its efforts, which include soliciting funding for the Taliban, bankrolling Taliban operations, providing diplomatic support as the Taliban's virtual emissaries abroad, arranging training for Taliban fighters, recruiting skilled and unskilled manpower to serve in Taliban armies, planning and directing offensives, providing and facilitating shipments of ammunition and fuel, and on several occasions apparently directly providing combat support. -- Human Rights Watch
Pakistan did this because it served their interests. US stayed for 20 years to encourage democracy because that served our interests. Then, the US pulled out due to a deal negotiated by the Orange turkey himself, Trump, and implemented by Biden, letting everything all come crashing down again, just like what happened to Amin and his family on April 28, 1992, and the USA played a role in this collapse too!
If we are really honest with what is happening in the world right now, it has so much more to do with ordinary, everyday men and women and their individual and collective beliefs, values, and biases than it has to do with a big bad Russia or a big bad USA.
Oh yes, humans know how to cluster together into great, big, bad armies and nations. We know how to build pyramids—Functional Hierarchies–structures that live inside our minds and operate endlessly like algorithmic codes transported seamlessly into our very souls on endless streams of thoughts (conscious thoughts or unconscious thoughts) and also the things we are told we must do or else!
We’ve been doing this for over 5,000 years. Creating human pyramids to get our way in this world; it is a very human thing to do. And it’s worked way too well!
Wherever Amin and his family fled, they had to fear the RULES and CUSTOMS of every country and nation where they had FLED desperately seeking safety… seeking a HOME.
How we treat the least of us is a global issue! Is there any place on Earth where humans have settled that can claim to be completely angelic and benevolent? Is there any nation, state, or city in the world from any time that has always made the right decisions at the right time, always and always and always… like a GOD or an angel?
I think my friend is a bit jealous of the USA’s status in the world because he knows his Functional Hierarchy is just a wish-dream. It is his performance; his great show in the world of men and their endless games of one-upmanships. Yes, indeed these are ships made out of thoughts built like pyramids. These Functional Vessels sail every day to the twin continents of Doom and Disaster.
This mansplayer knows very well where he’s going, and he also knows that he will never captain a ship as BIG as the Good’Old USA. But who cares?! He knows if he crows loud enough, long enough that we all just cry out: Hip, Hip Hooray–for that’s just what we say when another ship sets sail to the Land of Doom or Disaster!
Now, being pretty beyond pissed, I pressed him again:
I don't think you are really talking about hierarchies as how you explain it in the above comment.
Rather you are describing a Heterarchy, but this is your thinking and work, so you are absolutely free to name it whatever you like.
And, the And Now What? team looks exceptional
As for who would I select? There is absolutely no one I would select to form a team to transform the Good'Old USA. There is no way I am in a position to see, understand, or hear all the voices and ideas that would be necessary to do such a thing... this country will either survive or it will die, as things in this world have always done.
And to be clear... I am of the USA... but I am not of the fraction in the USA who are dead set... "to take-over by force" (as you put it) ...the rest of the world. Nor do I "fear losing the dominance" in the world, nor do I "take for granted" that the USA has dominance or that my Whiteness gives me privilege in the world as we know it. And, I am not alone in knowing this... and in the face of the pressure to conform to the Mold, I resist it, as do many others here in USA and as reports come on in Russia, despite the threat of death there, while here, it harassment, lost opportunities, and hate.
I must surmise your opinion of the United States is as low as your opinion is of Russia. I suspect you are implying that the US flows in the very same vein and mindset of World Domination and Control as Russia, China, North Korea, the unincorporated state of Trump, the unincorporated state of Elon Musk, and anyone else with power, authority, or money who can make others submit to them.
But be careful of over generalizing systems. They are always so much more complicated than you can fully see and comprehend. This is why I remain highly suspicious of hierarchies, even highly evolved, functional hierarchies, because when it comes down to it... it is only made up of men (and a few token women).
I might suggest that I am like a very small cell like an antibody reacting and responding to an overwhelming spiritual-psychological-psychic Viral Infection that seeks devastation and to do harm to pretty much anyone who is not on the "inside" of the infection.
And this infection is everywhere, not just Russia-USA, it is inside every human being on the planet, including myself... one can only acknowledge the infection is real, it is deadly, and it will not stop until human life is brought to its ultimate demise (self-inflicted and totally avoidable)...
I find by the way, the youngest humans among us are the wisest and healthiest. If I had to depend on someone to carry me to a safe spot because I ran out of energy (due to fighting against the overwhelming infection that I know is inside of me and everyone else and an infection that I know I cannot by myself overcome) I would choose the youngest among us in the infected country formerly known as the USA.
He responds with the infamous:
When people do this on FakeBook when there clearly is not a sickness, death, despair, or trauma, it means: “Fuck off” … with a smile.
By the way, Alan Watts says the best leaders are the most Selfish! What he means by this are individuals who have thought about what being Selfish means. Alan Watts says it so much better!
Anticipating Mansplayer would not be able to explain to me why I should trust a functional hierarchy to save the world, I did my own research. This is what I found.
Heterarchyvs Hierarchy vs Anarchy
In a hierarchy, if A is over B, and B is over C, then A is over C — your basic pecking order. In a heterarchy, though, you can have A over B, B over C, and C over A. Think of the game “Rock, Paper, Scissors.” Paper covers rock; rock crushes scissors; scissors cut paper. -- Heterarchy: An Idea Finally Ripe for Its Time by Jay Ogilvy | Forbes -- 2/4/16
“A heterarchy of values determined by the topology of nervous nets.” — Warren McCulloch’s 1945 essay
A HETERARCHICAL SYSTEM In a heterarchy, as opposed to a hierarchy, there is no “top” or “bottom” ranking. However, unlike in an anarchy, there is superiority and inferiority as each element is activated in some circumstances and inhibited in others. McCulloch calls these circular configurations of neurons: “dromes of diallels.”
Copyright Strat for 2016 www.stratfor.com
This is a fascinating article in Forbes: Heterarchy: An Idea Finally Ripe for Its Time. You need to read the whole thing yourself, if you are interested in this idea, but here are a few parts that really capture my excitement in discovering this word I did not know existed.
Interestingly enough -- and here's where both problems and possibilities start popping up -- this circular logic is identical to what Nobel economist Kenneth Arrow described as the "Voter's Paradox." The problem goes all the way back to the late 18th century when it was identified by Marquis de Condorcet. Consider the case in which one faction prefers candidate A over B and candidate B over C; a second, equal faction prefers B over C and C over A; and a third faction prefers, you guessed it, C over A and A over B. The choice that eventually gets made will not be a reflection of the real preference of the whole society, but will instead result from "irrational" and arbitrary issues like who voted first and who voted last. And over time and subsequent elections, the decision may cycle from one choice to another with no apparent reason. -- Heterarchy: An Idea Finally Ripe for Its Time by Jay Ogilvy | Forbes -- 2/4/16
Why the quotation marks around "irrational"? Because in the analysis of the relationship between hierarchy and heterarchy, it is precisely the definition of what counts as rational that is at stake. As McCulloch explained:
“Circularities in preference instead of indicating inconsistencies, actually demonstrate consistency of a higher order than had been dreamed of in our philosophy. An organism possessed of this nervous system — six neurons — is sufficiently endowed to be unpredictable from any theory founded on a scale of values. It has a heterarchy of values, and is thus internectively too rich to submit to a summum bonum [highest good].”
Now there is a phrase to conjure with: "internectively too rich to submit to a summum bonum." This sounds like the Middle East. Or the geopolitical, global problematique. Or the Republican primaries in the United States. Or the problems of the European Union.
The problem with heterarchy, and the challenge to making it work, is not the lack of hierarchy, but too many competing hierarchies. And that's the reality we live in. -- Heterarchy: An Idea Finally Ripe for Its Time by Jay Ogilvy | Forbes -- 2/4/16
"Heterarchy" is an unwieldy word. Our ongoing discussion group on making heterarchy work eventually abandoned the word when one of our members looked it up in the Oxford English Dictionary and found the definition to be "rule by aliens." That's not what we meant at all. Despite its unwieldiness, and shadows of aliens, though, the term recommends itself for the way it mediates the dialectic between hierarchy and anarchy. -- Heterarchy: An Idea Finally Ripe for Its Time by Jay Ogilvy | Forbes -- 2/4/16
As Francis Fukuyama showed in The Origins of Political Order, the first hierarchies were imposed by "strongmen" and then later justified by ancestor worship and a priestly caste. From all we can determine, primitive hunter-gatherer bands were heterarchical. Teamwork joining different skills was necessary to bag a woolly bison. But no one leader called for deference to a summum bonum.
With the transition from nomadic bands of hunter-gatherers to larger settlements with agricultural surpluses, patriarchy and hierarchy were required to maintain some degree of order. As my colleague in this space, Ian Morris, argues in his several books, the bargain we humans made with hierarchies might strike a visiting Martian as odd once it compares the life of the unencumbered hunter-gatherer with the lives of later citizens suborned under often onerous hierarchies. But once you start down that road toward hierarchy, from the point of view of defense and security, bigger is almost always better. So there is a natural logic of larger, more powerful hierarchies conquering and subsuming smaller, less powerful hierarchies.
Next thing you know, people are talking about "the American Century," or "the Chinese Century," as if it is perfectly natural that some nation must be number one. I recall an invitation to give a talk at Rand a few years after the fall of the Soviet Union. The concern at Rand was how to manage a "unipolar world" now that the bipolar order of the Cold War had come to an end. I tried to tell the researchers at Rand about heterarchy ... but they were not interested. There was a mindset there, a hierarchical mindset, that insisted that somebody must be "number one," and it better be us.
You see this mindset at play in the well-worn epithet of the lion as "king of the jungle." Who says that the jungle has to have a king? The jungle is not a political order, however many alpha male gorillas may roam its paths. The jungle is an ecology -- an incredibly complex web of metabolisms, relationships and interactions, some of which may be hierarchical. But there is no summum bonum in the jungle. -- Heterarchy: An Idea Finally Ripe for Its Time by Jay Ogilvy | Forbes -- 2/4/16
Three Types of Hierarchies
Chapter 25 of Philip Bobbitt’s Shield of Achilles. In those 60 pages, Bobbitt develops three scenarios:
As you will not be surprised to hear, these scenarios and their names can be associated with certain geopolitical avatars, namely, North America for the wide open Meadow, Europe for the publicly managed Park, and East Asia for the ethnocentric Garden. "In a meadow all is profusion, randomness, variety. A park is for the most part publicly maintained, highly regulated with different sectors for different uses. A garden is smaller, more inwardly turned -- it aims for the sublime, not the efficient or the just."
Bobbitt then explores a range of drivers and trends, possible events and challenging decisions prior to the articulation of the three scenarios in which all of these elements play out in different ways. In my humble opinion, the truly remarkable climax of Bobbitt's very long book is the elegant construction of the heterarchy of choices playing out in the global geopolitical dynamic involving the United States, Europe and East Asia. -- Heterarchy: An Idea Finally Ripe for Its Time by Jay Ogilvy | Forbes -- 2/4/16
If you read this far, you should go to the full article: Heterarchy: An Idea Finally Ripe for Its Time by Jay Ogilvy | Forbes — 2/4/16 and read carefully all the possible scenarios of the three different ways the 3 different ways of organizing hierarchies interact and lead to global outcomes. . No wonder my ex-friend is terrified, but then again, he is trying to solve an impending cataclysm with yet another type of hierarchy.
Hmmm… yeah… like that is going to work after more than 5,000 years of increasingly dysfunctional myopic hierarchies!
For five centuries, the State has evolved according to epoch-making cycles of war and peace. But now our world has changed irrevocably. What faces us in this era of fear and uncertainty? How do we protect ourselves against war machines that can penetrate the defenses of any state? Visionary and prophetic, The Shield of Achilles looks back at history, at the “Long War” of 1914-1990, and at the future: the death of the nation-state and the birth of a new kind of conflict without precedent.
Mythos and Melodrama in the Philippines
Another thing about hierarchies is that they can go sideways fast. Big ones can. Little ones can. Corporate ones can. Non-profit ones can. Peace-loving ones can. Bottom line, if humans build a hierarchy to run something, it seems too tempting for humans not to take advantage of it.
Also, governments of any kind are dealing with a lot of information, pushes and pulls, demands, crises, polls, budgets, public opinion (that is by definition pretty variable depending on the day) and so many more things. So to take a country like Russia or the USA and make the comments my ex-fakebook friend said is a pretty naive and ignorant thing to say.
This episode on Throughline is very compelling. If you want to see how easy it is for a hierarchy to go sideways, listen to this one.
Corruption. Wealth. Authoritarianism. Torture. These are the words many people associate with Ferdinand Marcos, the former dictator of the Philippines, and his wife, Imelda. But in 1965, on the day of his presidential inauguration, clad in bright white traditional Filipino clothing, Ferdinand and Imelda were the picture of hope and progress: the Camelot of the Philippines. They styled themselves as mythical figures with a divine right to rule, even as their democratic ascent reached a dictatorial peak.
Ferdinand Marcos ruled for two decades. And then, in 2022, more than thirty years after his death, the Philippines elected a new president: Ferdinand's son, Bongbong. Both in his campaign and since taking office, Bongbong has evoked the Marcos era as a golden age — effectively, rewriting history.
Welcome to the "Epic of Marcos." In this tale of a family that's larger than life, Ferdinand Marcos is at the center. But the figures that surround him are just as important: Imelda, his muse; Bongbong, his heir; and the United States, his faithful sidekick. The story of the Marcos family is a blueprint for authoritarianism, laying out clearly how melodrama, paranoia, love, betrayal and a hunger for power collide to create a myth capable of propelling a nation.
Today on the show, the rise, fall, and resurrection of a dynasty — and what that means for democracy worldwide.
The Freedom of Speech
Another thing about hierarchies is that they need to select and enforce the values that matter. But just as I was needling my ex-friend, how are these values selected? Are we conscious of them or not?
This episode of THROUGHLINE goes through the history and conscious and unconscious biases of the USA selecting and enforcing just one value: Freedom of Speech. If you are interested in this process, take a listen. It is worth your while!!
Book bans, disinformation, the wild world of the internet. Free speech debates are all around us.What were the Founding Fathers thinking when they created the First Amendment, and how have the words they wrote in the 18th century been stretched and shaped to fit a world they never could have imagined? It's a story that travels through world wars and culture wars. Through the highest courts and the Ku Klux Klan. What exactly is free speech, and how has the answer to that question changed in the history of the U.S.?
Most anarchists are disappointed hierarchists. From Mikhail Bakunin to Harvard philosopher Robert Nozick, anarchists have taken potshots at the failings of hierarchy: They shoot holes in the purported legitimacy of exercises of authority, whether by the divine right of kings or the use of violence to impose subordination.
As Francis Fukuyama showed in The Origins of Political Order, the first hierarchies were imposed by "strongmen" and then later justified by ancestor worship and a priestly caste. From all we can determine, primitive hunter-gatherer bands were heterarchical. Teamwork joining different skills was necessary to bag a woolly bison. But no one leader called for deference to a summum bonum[the highest good, especially as the ultimate goal according to which values and priorities are established in an ethical system].
-- Heterarchy: An Idea Finally Ripe for Its Time
So in summary of the Forbe’s article and Throughline episode, hierarchies can be concluded understood as:
Organic vs Mechanical World View — More From Alan Watts
Throughout this series I have been trying to explain two fundamentally different ways of looking at our world, one characteristic predominantly of the West and the other of the East. And these might be called, respectively, the way of description as opposed to the way of seeing. The way, in other words, of understanding things in words or in terms contrasted with the way of understanding through looking and seeing a field or a subject totally all at once. Or you might call these the linear view (strung out in a line) or the total view (seeing all at once), or the serial view on the one hand as contrasted with the simultaneous view on the other. -- Alan Watts | Organism Earth
Now, in classical Western science we have depended largely on this serial or analytic view, which understands the world by translating it into ideas, into words, or into, say, even series of numbers. The basic feature of it being that things are understood in a step-by-step way in sequence. And insofar as we constantly look at nature in that way, we tend to think of nature as something constructed—something, in other words, made or put together as we ourselves make and put things together through a series of steps. And perhaps this gives us the feeling that if we understood nature sufficiently, if we understood in full detail all the steps which go to the making of our universe, we could ourselves make it. -- Alan Watts | Organism Earth
Now, it’s here, you see, that we get a very fundamental contrast between East and West, and especially through Chinese and Japanese ideas of the formation of nature. Because for them it seems extremely odd to think of nature as being constructed or made by a sort of step-by-step procedure.Their feeling is rather that the world and its forms are not so much constructed as grown. And one of the most important keys to an understanding of Far Eastern thought is to see the difference between a view of a constructed world and a grown world. -- Alan Watts | Organism Earth
Now, to give a sort of crazy illustration of this: supposing I construct something—for example, an artificial flower—and you know, when you get instructions, how to do this, and you buy a book of do-it-yourself artificial flowers, you get a step-by-step procedure which tells you what to do. Step one: take a piece of wire with a black button and fix it to the end. Step two: take the stamens previously cut out and affix it to the button. Next step: insert a disk of sticky material, push the wire through the middle, and then affix the petals. Here they go. And notice that, as I put them on, I take them from outside and around me—things that are bits—and I bring these bits together to make the flower a construction, or whatever form it is that I’m intending to create. And so from going around to the center, from getting something that was previously pieces and bringing it all together, I get my flower. -- Alan Watts | Organism Earth
But now watch how an actual flower grows; how it starts, as it were, from the center. And it unfolds itself not bit by bit, but all the parts of the flower exfoliating together from the center outwards, in contrast to the making process, which goes from the outside inwards. From a situation where the parts are originally all apart (all in bits) and then assembled, contrasting with a situation where you have some simple beginning (like a seed or a bud), and as it expands it constellates or forms its own parts from within itself. And this is the fundamental process of natural growth. It’s in the same way that the human baby is formed within the womb. It’s in the same way that, if you watch crystals under a microscope forming a solution, you will notice the whole area of the crystal, the whole structure of the crystal, coming into being all together at once, and you will not see a kind of bit-by-bit assemblage which we use when we make machines or make houses or make tools. Even when we carve a block of wood—although the block of wood is not originally a lot of distinct parts, nevertheless we work upon it from the outside towards the inside, whereas all processes of growth go from the inside to the outside. -- Alan Watts | Organism Earth
Now, in our current scientific way of thinking in the West, this kind of growth, this kind of formation, is always talked about in terms of what we call field theory; fields of force. And I suppose one of the most striking exhibitions of what a field is can be seen in looking at the formation of magnetic lines of force in iron filings—as when we take filings that are not magnetized, just thrown chaotically over an area, and then, with the magnets underneath, notice that all the filings form together into a pattern, the whole area moving together, every single part of it simultaneously into its shape. And that shows us the whole nature of a field of force. -- Alan Watts | Organism Earth
(Blab, blab, blab…I skipped a lot of important stuff from his talk to get to the part that links up to my inquiry about hierarchies vs heterarchies, but what Watts says here is exactly what Jay Ogilvy is sharing in the article in Forbes)
And then, in turn, in the field there is a structure, and the structure of the field is thought of as governing the formation of the universe. And you may remember that, in the last program, I gave you a particular Chinese world which meant the basic pattern or order of the world. Do you remember this word, which is pronounced lǐ, and which had as its original meaning “the markings in jade,” “the fiber in muscle,” or “the grain in wood.” This word, then, designates the basic structure within the tao, within the fundamental field of the world, and thus its order—which can be, as it were, understood by looking at it, but is too complex, too much happening so fast all together at once, for us ever to be able to analyze it in the relatively clumsy language of words. Now thus, you see, it seems to us that that order is enormously complex. The order of nature, the order of beauty, the order of ethics—all these kinds of orders baffle us when we try to think about them bit by bit. -- Alan Watts | Organism Earth
But actually this order is only a complicated order when we try to think about it. I mean, it’s very simple, isn’t it, to drink water if you put it in a cup or a glass and toss it down. But it would be extraordinarily complex if one tried to drink water with a fork. And in the same way, the world and the order of the world, the activity within the field, seems incredibly complicated to us when we try to translate it into thinking and into words. But this, then, is the fundamental Chinese Taoist and Indian Buddhist view of how the formations of the world arise. Not by a step-by-step process which can be put down in a line like the instructions for making the flower, but by something which happens spontaneously all together at once. -- Alan Watts | Organism Earth
For more on Mansplaining and Other cruel things people to on FAKEBOOK and other social media outlets, see:
All this writing about Transformation has made me remember that I wrote a blog about this very idea 6 years ago, way back when I started this blogging business (which is a pretty useless one at that).
One of my very early posts was titled Is Collective Transformation Possible? It was sandwich between my Girl With Dragon and Divine Dodo series. Also, I had just finished my Women’s March Documentary documenting why thousands (millions) of women and men around the world gathered to march against Trump and after doing all that work, well, yes, I was hoping some people would watch it…at least some of it…and commune with me about some of the really important issues people were bringing up. We all felt what TRUMP stood for and it was revolting. But no one really watched my documentary and NO ONE communed (communicated) with me about any of the issues explored in my Women’s March Documentary, except my REAL friends in Germany.
I joined hundreds of Facebook groups to meet liked-minded people who might care. It was so exciting and so hopefully for a minute, then my time of constriction came.
I knew it was coming. I could feel it. It had been building up for quite some time. But no one I was talking to then understood what I was talking about. I told this one group that felt itself to be an extremely rare group of enlightened beings, that I needed to go through a very small hole or to make a very difficult journey. They just smiled politely and said: “Oh, maybe you’re already on the other side? Maybe you’re already HERE!!”
And when my time of constriction gripped me with such despair that death sounded more pleasant that life and thoughts of violent murder and suicide floated continuously through my mind… all these NEW, hopeful, FAKE friends vanished like THE NOTHING. Many of my physical friends did too.
I was left to navigate my inner DARKNESS where a good part of my inner collective wanted me dead. I was drawing my journey. I was documenting my descent. But you know what Mansplanyer said to me at a point of crisis, a time when I simply needed a compassionate listener and occasional cheerleader? He told me he didn’t think the Dodo was a good look for me and I shouldn’t continue… people might get the wrong impressions!
Well…DUH, Duh, duh! Do you see what is happening to Dodo? He’s being crucified for GOD’s sakes! Don’t you think I know DEAD is not a GOOD look?
As my inner collective divided into fighting factions–some aspects of myself wanted to help me, other aspects not so much, my exterior collective crumbled as well. These were the real life people who said they were my friends but they dried up like the Great Salt Lake, leaving nothing to help me during a very difficult time–a kind word, likes of my blog posts, regular comments on my Facebook page–would have meant so much to me at this time.
The System of Facebook is not set up to operate with kindness and compassion. Rather it is set up for Performers to Perform.
I would soon learn all these “NEW” friends were FAKEFRIENDS. They were happy to court my attention IF (and only IF) I FOLLOWED THEM. The more blindly I followed, the more FAKE ATTENTION they might throw my way, and even that was ify. Most just had to be constantly admired!
This behavior is called Bread Crumbing or Baiting. It is an aspect of a significant psychological disorder called Narcissism. And FAKEBOOK is especially calculated up to cater to Narcissists and for people suffering from the opposite imbalance of this disorder: the ECHO Personality.
I was an echo that nobody missed when my voice began to fail and fade.
I chose to surround myself and to trust people who were nesting, in hollow holonic circular thoughts that spun round and round shrinking, sinking, shrieking point of consciousness that was cut off from true human understanding.
I pulled the Cloak of Darknessand Doubt over my own head and descended into HELL.
To be a genuine human being requires self-sacrifice. It requires suspension of thinking and judgement. It requires listening, sometimes for hours and hours and hours, as someone else wails in grief and despair due to the circumstance of their life. To be alive, to be a real authentic human being requires give and take… not just take, take, take… and abandoning others when they become a burden to you.
To be a trustworthy person, you have to be a person that another person can TRUST to be there when TIMES are TOUGH. This might require sitting for hours and hours in complete silence just being with another human being who is being crushed by their circumstances. It is only people who are capable of doing this who can be TRUSTED with AUTHORITY. Only people who other people can depend on to BE THERE when YOU NEED THEM can be trusted with the Authority to make decisions for the Greater Good, which might very well require the Sacrifice of Self.
Just like what is going on in Ukraine right now… hundreds of thousands of men and women are STANDING UP, STANDING AGAIST BRUTALITY… TO HELL with my MANSPLAYER ex friend who equates the USA with Russia! I STAND WITH UKRAINE! I stand with every person doing creative acts of resistance as well as every person fighting, killing other people to defeat Russia NOW!
This is the stuff my father did. He was never called to serve in a war. He was a listener. He provided compassionate assistance to anyone for as long as they needed it! He was a healer. He gave his time, his money, his life for others. This is how the world is saved… not by abandoning each other when we need each other the most because it takes too much TIME! Time is all we have… and how we value our time decides the type of world we live inside.
Saving the World is not the stuff being hocked on FakeBook or pretty much anywhere you look or turn for security and comfort (not comfortable but for solace and support) in our modern, overly complicated, pyramid-based world.
We made this world out of thoughts! It is a world that forces every civilized person to Hold the Mold of their cult–ture, of their caste, of their race (because the Modern World is extremely racists), of their economic situation, and of their place in the social order (all the hierarchies in which they live and must navigate to work, to play, to live).
The Modern World was built by narcissists to lift up narcissists that is why narcissist are rising to the Top of Likes like frothy bubbles on FakeBook, this is why they rise and hold the highest levels of power in almost every modern human civilization on Earth–each one built out of pyramid schemes. That is why everybody wants to be a narcissist in our world or at least they need to learn to play with narcissistic people and like it. Because that is how you wield POWER in the physical world NOW.
If you aspire to be a narcissist,FakeBook is the place for you! There are so many narcissists playing and sparring with each other on FakeBook. And there are so many echoes (like ME) attracted to all the glittery, sparkly thoughts, ideas, wishes, and dreamsthe narcissists spin. But, they are simply spinning hollow holonic nests of dead and dying thoughts. And the spinning of these expiring, nesting thoughts creates a vortex that has a suck. And if you get sucked into one of these vortex (most often it is one of your own making), you are heading straight down to HELL.
I knew what was happening to me, inside and outside of me, 6 years ago. And, The Dodo knew that I had pulled the Cloak of Darkness and Dark over my head. The Dodo knew I did this to myself, but the Dodo did not judge… he was just there providing glimmering specks of creative imagination, LIGHT—sparks of light (but not thinking light), that were guiding me through HELL.
And the Dodo was the one thing that Mansplayer didn’t want me to have. He told me to give up the Dodo, to stop drawing him!!! And, I did stop drawing him, but I also stopped following the Mansplayer. But I was still in HELL; however now, without my guide, the dumb, stupid Dodo! HELL is a place of our own making... HELL is where you doubt yourself! Doubt is the Dark Force!
In this old post where I wonder if Collective Transformation is possible, I provide a list and links to all the wonderful people I was meeting on Facebook 6 years ago. I cannot recommend any of these people today. Not the artists, musicians, or writers who are listed, but the people who made me DOUBT myself. These people I cannot recommend.
These people know who they are. They are the ones playing at DOING something to SAVE the WORLD. But they can’t even SAVE THEMSELVES much less take a MOMENT in their very busy days to HELP anyone else who is drowning.
“OH NO!” You’ll hear them yell. “I can’t stop. You’ll slow me down! You’re too much of a burden in this state of despair. I’m the only one who can SEE more, RUN faster, TRAVEL farther than ALL the REST!! I’m the only one who can SAVE the WORLD!!!!”
All of them yell this. Mansplayers and Womansplayers, there are hundreds of thousands of them all yelling different version of this chant night and day…telling you (begging you) to follow them! But the only place you are going to go if you follow them is down because without the super powers of kindness, compassion, love… these people, all of them, are just hypoallergenichollow holonic nesters spinning around and around a vortex of their own making, drilling deeper and deeper into the darkest parts of themselves on streams of endless thoughts.
You are MONSTERS…you people who pretended to care about me and then abandoned me when I really needed a helping hand. You, the ones who treated me as if I were the contagion, while in reality it is you suffering from the most prolific pandemic of our MODERN time: Narcissism and Supreme Ignorance created by OVERTHINKING. This is the Greatest EVIL of our TIME. We are all vulnerable to it but some fight it off better than others.
I don’t know how I survived this time. It lasted for more than 6 years! But the story that my very dear friend from college told me about her suicide attempt somehow stopped me from mine. Today, I don’t think Collective Transformation is possible, even though this is what my story is about. The one I have been writing since 2012.
Have a GREAT DAY! And, remember, GO FOR IT! Follow your passion and whatever you do, keep moving, don’t stop!
Right now, as of today, the 2023 Alberta, Canada wildfires have burned over 842,000 hectares that is casting smoke that can be smelled in Washington, DC.
Meanwhile, Typhoon Mawaris bearing down on the island of Guam. This is a Category 4 Typhoon with sustained winds of 135 mph and storm surge expected to be as high or higher than roofs of one story buildings.
These are dangerous events that threaten lives and will destroy property totaling millions to billions of dollars. And these are just the latest in a series of serve weather events bearing down on the world--be it astounding flooding events, tornadoes, derechos, fires, and many other severe weather events (click on link to see just the list of 1 billion dollar disasters in 2022).
Layered on top of these events are mass shootings in the USA...a civilization so polarized, it's paralyzed.
Layer onto all of this the War in Ukrainewith 18,280 casualties (6,596 killed and 11,684 injured -- stats by Radio Free Europe) along with nuclear saber rattling by the crazy tsar Putin driving Russia into the ground and North Korea accompanied by Xi Jinping, China’s very uptight and control freak ruler, eyeing Taiwan
Human beings have always lived in uncertainty. It is only recently we feel it isn’t normal to feel uncertain about something.
But what if we need uncertainty to thrive?
Uncertainty has largely been replaced by routines made very predictable and reliable by all our technology. Living life today is so much more predictable than living it just 70 years ago, much less 150 or 700 years ago. Some may say modern human life is downright boring until something unexpected, unplanned, unpredictable occurs. Then, suddenly we may feel uncertain, anxious, uncomfortable, frighten. We want these feeling to go away because these aren’t the nice feelings we are suppose to feel in our technology rich, everything is at your finger tips society.
But wishing this to be so would be a huge mistake…
Do you want to know why?
Well, I’m not going to tell you. I’m going to let you dwell in a place of uncertainty and let you see what you find out.
However, I will provide a few road markers, if you are willing to take the voyage into the uncomfortable space of being uncertain, not knowing, a place that feels more than a little bit unhinged.
Are you a voyager?
Let’s find out what your look of today really is? Let’s dive into if it may be possible to imagine and see a different look… another way to live a modern life? Does this make you feel uncertain? Is this a bad feeling or a good one? Why?
Let’s explore some more….
The first road marker on this voyage into uncertainty comes from Humankind Public Radio in an episode called Constant Emergency.
This audio documentary explores what constant emergencies do to people. It delves into what living in constant states of anxiety and fear does to a person’s psyche and sense of wellbeing. One thing we know is that constant states of emergency translates in our bodies as constant Fight or Flight mode. Being constantly in Fight-or-Flight can generate unrelenting stress and anxiety that can further translate into violent self-talk as well as violence to others.
Have we entered an age of unrelenting chaos? As we grope for a “new normal”, has humanity reached a kind of turning point?
It feels that way — in the wake of the Covid pandemic, intensifying impacts of climate change, the war in Ukraine, mounting threats to our democracy, repeated mass shootings and so much more.
In this timely audio documentary, you’ll hear inspiring stories of survivors. We also listen to health care providers, clergy and others who offer specific guidance to help people navigate these choppy waters. They conclude that new, hope-giving possibilities are emerging.
You’ll learn about a fascinating group of caregivers who travel to trouble spots and train local residents in proven techniques that can help people to heal from trauma. In the lyrics of folksinger Carrie Newcomer: “there’s something holding steady and true, regardless of me and you.”
In this provocative Humankind program, we consider:
1) What resources are needed — for emotional and physical health and for the functioning of our communities?
2) What are ways out of thinking that, in all this commotion, we’re in a downward spiral, with no other options?
3) What simple self-care techniques can relieve the tensions now being felt my so many?
-- HumanKind Radio | Constant Emergency
Following are quick insightful impressions I gleaned while listening to the speakers:
Insights From Melissa Barnett
Each of us carry a full spectrum of emotions concerning our environment that range from love, fear, grief. And there is a lot of un–metabolized fear out there. My perception of the forest had changed after coming back from the fire. Instead of seeing quiet and green and calm, I saw fuel for fire resulting in panic. It was primal fear and hard to be there after the fire. After a catastrophe, isn’t having one’s faith shaken meant to do? Shouldn’t we re-think our patterns, our behaviors, or beliefs?”
“Working with children who came back after the fire, we did art, deep breathing, connection with animals, being outside and looking around their family and friends to see who is there to support them and thinking how they can help them.”
“Peace begins with me.” — Say this as a mantra while you breathe
— Melissa Barnett yoga instructorSonoma, California
Insights From James Gordon, MD
“Training people who are former caregivers (doctors, mental health workers) but also training teachers, preachers, household workers. First step is to shut up and focus on breathing, being here and now. This is a concentrative meditative exercise that calms down the flight or flight response. It lowers heart rate and blood pressure. It calms activity in the amygdala (responsible for violence) and places focus in Frontal Lobe (responsible for compassion, kindness). Deep breathing also activates cranial nerves (responsible for recognizing emotions in others) and frontal lobe come into function when we breathe slowly. When trauma is overwhelming, people go into freeze effect. People release neurotransmitters and disassociate from what is happened. It is a life saving response, but being constantly in freeze response it is deadly. We get people up and moving, maybe dancing, and something shifts inside. A man from Sarajevo who witnessed his entire family massacred after participating in Dr. Gordon’s deep breathing, relaxation, and dancing for the first time was not oppressed with visions of his family being killed.”
“To help people feel safe again in their lives requires hope, an internal shift that our lives can heal. Many people who have suffered trauma believe their is nothing they can do to change their lives. Trauma disables the healing aspects of our brains and minds.
— James Gordon, MD Center for Mind-Body Medicine, Washington, DC
Insights from Rev. Susan Beaumont
“For a vast majority of people living now there is a longing for simpler, easier, and more pleasant times. There are some eager to rush forward to resolution, but most want to turn back. There is a lost of hope. This is process of disintegrate of systems for new things to emerge. We have to live in this in-between place for the new thing to emerge. It is very hard to sit with Not Knowing. Lost of hope is biggest problem because we loss the ability to be creative in fixing what is wrong. In addition, there is a rush to restore the status quo. We have to remain unsettled so we keep creating, we keep innovating, but rather institute old practices as the New Normal (fueling the fire of collapse). For leaders finding the balance of feeling unstable and stable is very difficult.”
“New community needs to emphasize compassion and teach people how to sit with others and be present with each other in suffering without wrapping it up and putting a pretty bow on it. When people are in need, people benefit most simply from another person willing to listen and be present to the other person’s suffer and suffer it alongside of them… no solving, so strategy. We can be in it but not of it. We can surrender to the circumstances instead of rallying against them and then let it pass through us. A lot of our suffering comes from rallying against them.”
— Rev. Susan Beaumont Troy, Michigan
Insights From Nichole Warwick
“Grief is the BIG Elephant in the room. Not wanting to sit with our losses and our grief. Grieving is a sublet, multi-level process. Went through Al Gore’s Climate Change course, but after seeing so many images of devastation I was overwhelmed and grief struck but I couldn’t articulate it or see it in myself. So there was an element missing in the course for a long-time after I just couldn’t land what it was. A few weeks after the Climate Reality class, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and then I understood what was missing. We live in a culture ill-equipped to deal with grief. Our culture wants people to hurry up and get back to “normal”. With this diagnosis, I didn’t have a choice about my grief. With the tsunami of feelings and emotions, I had to take my time and process is it all.
“It takes courage to see the things we don’t want to see. It take courage to act and show love to people in pain, experiencing loss, or trauma. Look for ways you can help others and this grows your courage to endure your own pain and trauma.”
— Nichole Warwick Sonoma, CA Community Resilience Collaborative
Insights From Sabrina N’Diaye
“Something amazing always grows from bad experiences. There is this tree that grows in the middle of abandoned buildings and rubble. I have witness the darkness and I have witnessed the beauty that rises through it. Sit with yourself, be with all of your feelings and emotions, do not run away so you can be there to see the tree when it rises. When I think of all the people I admire, all of them had to walk through trauma. When I’m doing my work, it is to remember I am supposed to have the experiences to make me afraid, angry, frustrated, joy, love, and laughter… (all of this teaches me who I am.)”
“When feeling overwhelmed, I let myself cry when I hear another person’s story of pain and trauma. I give myself permission to feel what the person is feeling. Also, so many leaders of countries are hurting people. I cannot change the President of Russia, but I can change how I talk to my husband and my children and everyone around me and this changes the energy around us.
The next road marker comes from one of my favorite philosopher-entertainers, Alan Watts. This is a podcast series hosted by Mark Watts, Alan Watt’s son. This one in particular is essential for understanding the beauty and value and necessity of uncertainty.
The third road makers comes from the Library of Consciousness (I love the name of this website-resource). I was looking for something Alan Watts said for my story, so I have highlighted nibbles from this transcript from one of his lectures.
“To act without being motivated by the fruits of action, [this is the way to get out of the wheel of karma.]”
“So long as you’re looking for results—be they good or evil—you’re still bound [by the laws of karma].”
“The word dharma—sometimes meaning “the Buddhist’s doctrine,” or a certain way of life when you talk about a person’s svadharma—you mean “their own function.” We would translate svadharma as “vocation.” Sva is the same as the Latin sus: “one’s own.” Dharma: “function,” in this case. “Operation,” “way of life,” “style of life,” “profession,” “trade,” “role.” It means all those things. And the one thing that dharma really never means is “law,” although it’s often translated that way.”
“Because, you see, you don’t get the idea of law until you move to a culture where order is based on the idea of obedience. In the West, you see, the origins of law spring from where? The laws of the Medes and Persians, the Laws of Hammurabi, the Laws of Moses, and later Roman law. The only healthy legal tradition we have in the West is British common law, which proceeds in an entirely different way from code law.”
“Because, you see, the difference between code law and common law is that code law is laid down by the wisdom of an all-powerful ruler who tells everybody how they must behave, and they must obey him. But common law is evolved by discussion of particular cases rather than referring all the time to abstract principles which are put down in words. And the judge—the good judge—is a wise man, a man with a sense of equity and fair play who arbitrates an issue which is debated in front of him. And from the precedent from which he creates by his decision, common law evolves. You see, that’s a more organic way of producing law. The code law system, which we inherit from our most ancient theological backgrounds, is a tyrannical method of law by imposition.”
“And so you must understand that—in both Hinduism and Buddhism—there is really no fundamental idea of obedience to a personal ruler. Certainly not in Buddhism. A little bit, sometimes, in Hinduism. But even then we get terribly mixed up because, for example, I was talking of the Bhagavad Gita: this is often translated “The Lord’s Song.” Now, for Bhagavān (or Bhagavāt in Sanskrit) “Lord”—as an English equivalent—is quite inappropriate. Because a lord is one who lords it over you. Bhagavān is a title of reverence and respect and love. “The Song of the Beloved” would be much better, in a way—although it’s not quite correct from a strict point of view. We don’t really have an equivalent for this word, the Bhagavān.”
“So although, you see, there has been—in India itself—tyrannical rule, and although the Arthaśāstra (as a manual of politics) gives directions to a tyrant as to how to govern by absolute power, going along with this exposition of this very Machiavellian point of view to government is the constant advice of the sage: yes, this is what you have to do in order to fulfill your office as a ruler, but never forget that you’ll never succeed. The more you try to rule things by force, the more you will stir up violence against you. And so you can never hold on to your power and your possessions; it will always flow away from you.“
On Living With Uncertainty
“So there was one of those great rajas of ancient India who asked a jeweler to make him a ring that would restrain him in prosperity and support him in adversity. And the jeweler wrote on the ring: “It will pass.” But when we come to the deep cosmological and metaphysical ideas, we don’t have law in the Western sense, and therefore nature is not looked upon as something which is an orderly system because it is obeying a commandment.”
On Backward Thinking
And we get into the same confusion when we imagine, for example, that money is wealth. Here we have fantastic wealth, you know, and we have the technological possibility of making everybody on Earth the enjoyer of an independent income. We can’t do it because people say, “Where’s the money going to come from?” Because they think money makes prosperity. It’s the other way around: it’s physical prosperity which has money as a way of measuring it. But people think money has to come from somewhere, like hydroelectric power or lumber or iron, and it doesn’t. Money is something we invent, like inches. So, you remember the Great Depression; when there was a slump? And what did we have a slump of? Money. There was no less wealth, no less energy, no less raw materials than there were before, but it’s like you came to work on building a house one day and they said, “Sorry, you can’t build this house today. No inches!” “What do you mean, no inches?” “Just inches! We got inches of lumber, yes. We got inches of metal. We’ve even got tape measures. But there’s a slump in inches as such,” you see? And people are that crazy! They can have a depression because they have no inches to go around, or no dollars. That’s all a lot of nonsense!”
There Are No Separate Events
“There are no separate events. This is startling to people. But it’s really quite easy to see that there are no events in nature, because you can ask very simply—let’s take something called an event: how do we demark it from other events? At what point, shall we say, were you born? Were you born at parturition? Or when the doctor slapped you on the bottom? Or cut the umbilical cord? Or when you were conceived? Or when your father and mother were first attracted to each other? When was it? When did you begin? There’s no way of deciding except arbitrarily. And for legal purposes we say you were born at parturition. And that’s when the astrologer casts your horoscope—except that other astrologers disagree and want the conception time, and say that’s the real beginning. There isn’t a real beginning. It goes back and back and back in an inseparable continuity. When are you dead? That’s another big argument. And you can get all kinds of ideas about that.”
Point-Instants Are Imaginary
“So once you see that an event is a term in an intellectual calculus—calculus being the way of measuring, say, curved formations by reducing them to point-instants and counting it, you see? But actually, the point-instants are imaginary. The curve wiggles along and it doesn’t stutter from point to point. But in calculus you make it do that. So just as there are no point-instants in the curve, so there are no events in nature. Nature is a constantly fluctuating pattern. You can only designate particular wiggles in a pattern arbitrarily. You can count a convex formation as one wiggle or a concave formation as one wiggle. Then you decide if you call it—if you give the convex properties the title of “wiggle,” you have to deny it to the concave properties, and vice versa.”
Have You Ever Watched A Snake Swim?
“When a snake swims, there’s nothing more beautiful than watching a snake swim in water. Lovely motion! But, you see, it wiggles along. And its wiggle is conceivable, you see, as convex—or was it concave? This way and that way and this way and that way. Now, which side of the snake moves first hen it wiggles? See, it’s very easy to see there.”
Now When the World Moves, What Starts First?
“Now, when we interact with the world, what moves first? Who starts it? The objective world or the subjective world? But they are related as this to that. You can’t have an object without a subject or a subject without an object. Can’t have something known without the knower. And that gives the show away. There isn’t any real distinction between the knower and the known. There’s two ways of looking at something, yes; two poles of a single process. But the knower and the known are subsumed as the knowing. And all life is knowing, being, becoming. And it isn’t something, in other words, that works by the idea of “all this happens because someone shoves it.”
What Is Karma–Really?
But if it’s your karma, everything that happens to you—put it in another way: everything that comes to you is a return to you of what goes out of you. Yes, obviously that’s absurd if you confine the definition of yourself to your voluntary, conscious behavior. That’s a ridiculous definition of one’s self. One’s self, by any stretch of the imagination, must involve far more than the conscious and voluntary aspects of our behavior. And if we see that it involves, intimately and inescapably, the behavior of what we call the “other,” the “not-self,” the “environment,” and see that these two are moving together like the two sides of the snake when it swims, then you get a very curious feeling. And you have to be careful of it if you’ve got a Western background.”
“Because this is what happens to a lot of people who play around with psychedelic chemicals. There are many, many cases of inflation among these people. That is to say, when you get this sensation that the two sides of the world—the inside and the outside—are moving together, you may think: “I am ruling it!” “I am God” in the Western sense of the word. Therefore, your ego—instead of being, as it were, integrated and transcended with all this process—merely assumes vast dimensions, has megalomania, is blown up by the mystical experience. And so you get the holier-than-thou people going around who seem to think that they’re above all human conventions and have no obligations to anyone or anything: because they’re divine, and they can do as they damn please.”
Choosing the Lesser of Two Evils
What they haven’t realized is that doing as you will isn’t a new kind of behavior that you suddenly put on and say, “From now on, I’m going to go around doing as I will.” You have to realize first that that’s what you’ve always been doing. And you could look at this from a very simple point of view—it’s not a complete point of view—but you can say: “Well now, what about the people who did good and who did the things that they didn’t want to do?” You know, everybody’s mother said to us, “Darling, sometimes we have to do thing we don’t like.” Well, what about that? Well, you can always say the kid obeyed the mother and did the thing that it didn’t like because that was the better part of wisdom. In other words, if he hadn’t done that, something worse would’ve happened. And we choose the lesser of two evils. And when you find yourself in a situation where you have to choose the lesser of two evils, then you say, “I want out of here!” and you take the easiest way; you take the line of least resistance. So that’s your doing.”
Praising and Blaming
““That’s not my fault, that’s your fault!” And so we go around apportioning faults to everybody. Because if we’re going to apportion praise the good things people do, you can’t make praise mean anything unless you also go around blaming. Praise and blame go together. Supposing everybody was acting in a praiseworthy way and we praised everybody for everything—they’ll get tired of it. They wouldn’t even notice it anymore. So, so long as you’re going to get a kick out of being praised, you’ve got to go around blaming, too. It’s very simple.”
Sermon on the Mount
And Ananda Coomaraswamy once described the life of the liberated being as a perpetual uncalculated life in the present. And you say, “Wow! I don’t think I could do that.” That saying of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount about “be not anxious for the morrow.” The uncalculated life. “If God so clothed the grass of the field, will he not much more clothe you, faithless ones?” And I’ve never met a preacher yet who would really take that up. They all say, “Well, of course, that’s too hard a saying for most of us. It’s not practical. Everybody has to take thought for the morrow and calculate.”
We Are Just Kids WithPlastic Steering Wheels
“Well, at this point people can go in two directions. There’s one class of people who will say, “Alright, let’s live the uncalculated life. Let’s not make any plans.” And before you know where they are they’re living in a filthy pad, and scrounging around, and living on petty thievery, and so on. This is the usual thing. This has got into it the wrong way. The first thing to do is just as I said: whether you like it or not and whether you know it or not, the relationship between you and the environment is always one that is harmonious. So, in the same way, you are always living the uncalculated life. And you have to find out, first of all, that you’re always doing it, and that what you call your calculations and the things you did were funny little rationalizations. In other words, your ego has about as much control over what goes on as a child sitting next to its father in a car with a plastic steering wheel that is turning the car the way daddy drives it. Because, as I pointed out, most of the functions, most of the goings-on in you, around you, the circumstances of life, have nothing to do with your ego at all. And you don’t even know why you make up your mind to do certain things. We know superficially; we have a few ideas.”
The Pretender — “It’s All Fake”
“So whenever you do a thing like that, you see, you make a forced change. Now, if the change is to happen in the same way that a seed (at proper season) breaks open and sends up a shoot, see, it comes from the whole force of life itself. Now, when you see that, without your having to do anything—see?—you are living the uncalculated life and you’re only pretending you’re calculating it and arranging it, then—as it were—you will have a grasp of the total situation. And you can allow it to produce changes in action which are not forced. So this is why there is always a trend in every kind of spiritual doctrine which says something about grace. Divine grace. There must come about something in you, a change, which you can’t produce. And if you try to produce it you will be a victim of spiritual pride. But on the other hand, all teachers at universities are saying, “You’ve got to make an effort.” There’s some discipline. There is something you must do. Well, that’s the only way to get it across to people that you, as a separate effort-maker, are a myth, are a phantasm. Because if you really try to control your mind and only think the thoughts that you think are good thoughts to think, you will find that you’re going ’round in a circle. Krishnamurti’s awfully good at pointing this out. When people ask him, “How do you meditate?” he says, “Why do you want to meditate?” “Why are you concentrating?” “Why are you saying prayers?” “Why do you think you should believe in God?” And it always comes up: “Because I’m just a son of a bitch. I’m out for my own good, and this seems to be the way.” So he says, “You see? You don’t have any genuine love at all. It’s all fake!”
“My Basis for Moral Behavior Is Pure Selfishness”
And so you have to find, first of all, where the genuine love is. Now, you love you, don’t you? That’s genuine. I won’t argue about that. But then, when you start from this—I gave a talk some time ago to the Air Force; their camp or lab where they make weapons, do all the research. And they got a bunch of us there who were ministers and philosophers, and they had the nerve to ask us: what was our basis for moral behavior; personal moral behavior? Well, I said, “My basis for moral behavior is pure selfishness. And I’m talking, after all, to realistic people here, and I don’t think we need be sentimental and beat about the bush. After all, you’re all warriors and fighters and so on, and you know how rough things are. So I’m going to say to you, frankly: I’m out for me. But, of course, I don’t do it in a tactless way. I don’t go around and hit people over the head and say, ‘Give me this’ and ‘Give me that.’ I’m much more subtle. I say good manners, and ‘please,’ and ‘how nice you all are,’ and so on, and finally people feel massaged, psychologically, into a state where they’ll give.” But then I said after that, “There’s some things that bother me. The first one is: if I love me, what do I want? And furthermore, who am I?”
I Cannot Experience Me Without You — To Love Another, Is to Love Myself
“Because if I’m going to be realistic about getting what I want, I’ve got to be pretty sure what it is that’s me, and what is the state of desire in me. If I am desire, you see, if I am a center of desire, what’s it all for? Well, I think of all the things I want. Well, it so turns out that none of them are me. I might say, “I want dinner.” Doesn’t mean I’m going to eat me up. Any pleasure I can think of is the enjoyment of something that I haven’t thought of defining as myself. Because I like my sensations, I like what happens to my body when I take a fine wine and down it. But then, what’s the difference between my body and the wine? If I say I like the wine, I also mean I like me and the wine together; the mixture. But then I don’t eat you, or a friend, or a lover, in the same way as I drink wine. I live in association and like this. But then I’m loving things that aren’t formally supposed to be me. And as I go into it—in other words, as I investigate what I mean by “me,” I find that I can’t put any limits on it; that I cannot experience “me” without “you,” or without the “other.” They’re inseparable. But you don’t find this out until you investigate it, until you really go into the question: “What do I want?” And that’s the most important investigation anyone can make (which I’m going into in the next session): the question of power. And all these military men, they think they want power. And so I said to them some very subversive and undermining things without anybody knowing it until long after I’d left!”
What Do You Desire?
“Let’s go through with it. What do you want to do? And when we finally got down to something which the individual says he really wants to do, I will say to him, “You do that, and forget the money.” Because if you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you will spend your life completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living; that is, to go on living doing things you don’t like doing—which is stupid! Better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing than a long life spent in a miserable way. And, after all, if you do really like what you’re doing—it doesn’t matter what it is—you can eventually become a master of it. It’s the only way to become a master of something: to be really with it. And then you’ll be able to get a good fee for whatever it is. So don’t worry too much. Somebody’s interested in everything. And anything you can be interested in, you’ll find others who are. But it’s absolutely stupid to spend your time doing things you don’t like in order to go on doing things you don’t like, and to teach your children to follow in the same track. See, what we’re doing is: we’re bringing up children and educating them to live the same sort of lives we’re living, in order that they may justify themselves and find satisfaction in life by bringing up their children to do the same thing. So it’s all retch and no vomit: it never gets there!”
What Do You REALLY Desire
“And so, therefore, it’s so important to consider this question: what do I desire? Well, when we answer that question in a naïve way, we figure out that what we want is to control everything: to create girls that don’t grow old, apples that don’t rot, clothes that never wear out, conveyances that get from one place to another instantly so we don’t have to wait, power available to do anything that you could conceive and do it just instantly; like that. To get this funny technological omnipotence. But if you take time out to think about that, and really go into it with your full strength of imagination and find out whether that’s where you want to be, you will soon see: that’s not what you want. Because the moment you have a situation where you are really in control of things—that is to say, in which the future is almost completely predictable—you will see, as I said last night, that a completely predictable future is already the past. You’ve had it. And that’s not what you wanted. You want a surprise. You don’t know what that’s going to be because, obviously, it wouldn’t be a surprise if you did. You want a pleasant surprise.”
Putin’s HELL… And All Other Tyrants Who Want to Control Everyone
“Imagine the situation of Big Brother: Mr. J. Edgar Hoover, Heinrich Himmler. To be glued, day and night, to a highly defended office with telephones, television screens, watching, peeking, spying on everyone and anything. Getting all this information together. Why, you could never leave the office! I mean, a character, I suppose, like J. Edgar Hoover goes home in the evening. But when he’s back home, you know, there are guards sitting outside the door, there’s that hotline telephone going to something. He’s always having to be in control. And he can’t take any time off, he can’t go for a walk in the park with a friend, or go innocently to the movies, or sit down and just relax and have an undistracted party in the baths at Big Sur. What a pauper this guy is! Completely deprived! Because he wants to be in control, because he wants power. People are frustrated in love; if you’re jilted. There’s a natural tendency in a human being to seek power as a substitute. And that’s a very negative thing. It’s like having a bad temper, to seek power after you’re frustrated in love. You should try and get back on the love beam. Because nobody wants power!”
Psychic Technology — Now That’s Power!
“Now then, when Oriental philosophy and religion was first introduced to the Western world, it was introduced under the auspices of people who were fascinated with power. It was introduced in the latter part of the 19th century, when we had heard all about evolution and how the human race was going on to ever greater heights, and we would eventually develop superman according to Nietzsche or G. B. Shaw and H. G. Wells. Remember all that early fantasy of where evolution would lead through the development of technology. And so, at this time, people like H. P. Blavatsky were talking about the mysterious wisdom of the East, and they phrased it, they commended it to us, in a technological spirit: that there was psychic technology, that there was something, that you could go way beyond anything that could be done through the physical sciences. You could cause your physical body to disintegrate to another level of vibration, and then transmit it and reassemble it somewhere else. You could live as long as you like because you control the fundamental processes. You could determine, if you decided to die, where you would be reborn, exactly. You would be a complete master of life. And so there are still innumerable books being sold which present Oriental philosophy and religion in this light. That charlatan, Lobsang Rampa, who writes about Tibetan mastery—people read that because they think that there may be a way of beating the game.”
Thinking Psycho-Technology All the Way Through to the End…
“So, therefore, the wise men of Asia were represented through this kind of propaganda as masters of life; as, for example, people whose emotions didn’t bother them, who could put up with any amount of pain by simply turning off their feelings, who could foretell the future, who could read your thoughts, and who were above all kinds of ordinary human frailty. Well, when I first met Buddhist priests, Zen masters, swamis, all these wise men from the East, one of the first things that impressed itself upon me was that they were perfectly ordinary human beings. They had bad tempers, they were fussy about certain things, they just acted as I would expect human beings to act. And so, at first, I was very disappointed. I thought they had feet of clay, but they didn’t come up to these promises of psycho-technology.
But after a while I got to realize why not: that they had already thought all that through. They had thought through what might be done if one had all these powers, and had decided that wasn’t what they wanted. The powers of this kind, in Sanskrit, are called siddhi. But there is hardly one decent scripture or text on yoga that does not say, again and again: if you get siddhi, ignore them. Go on to something else. These are only the foothills. These are, furthermore, not only foothills, but they are seductive, blind alleys. Won’t take you anywhere at all.”
Do You Really Want That Plastic Doll? That’s All?
Now, I think that this is the greatest possible lesson for the Western world to learn, because we are so hung up on the idea of power, of control, of being able to make everything go the right way, and we’ve never thought it through. When you get control of it, what are you going to do with it? Supposing I’m an alchemist and I have a whole secret closet full of love filters; very potent ones. And if I see a desirable woman, all I have to do is to offer her a cigarette or give her a glass of wine with one of my secret potions in it, and instantly I’m her master. Now, when I think that through, what would I do with a situation like that? Because all I’ve got, again, is that plastic doll that, when I push it, it does what I tell it to and doesn’t have any comeback. What you always are looking for in things is where the surprise is there, where there’s a comeback. And you say, “My god, this thing is alive! It has a will of its own. It is not in my control. And I would like to have a relationship with something like that, because it would never be dull.” And also, you would feel true affection. After all, you can make love to yourself in a mirror. You can have one of those Dutch wives; you buy them in a place in Kobe, where you get these rubber girls that you fill with hot water. And sailors take them on long voyages. But what an awful thing, you know, when you realize that this thing has no surprise in it, no thing that it does on its own, you see?”
Pursuit of Pure Pleasure Leads You to the Naraka Worlds
Because, you see, pursuing pleasure beyond a certain place takes you into what the Buddhists call the naraka world; that is to say, to hells. When you have explored pleasure to its ultimate limit, the only thing you can get a kick out of is pain. So naturally, you descend from the deva world at the top of the wheel to the naraka world at the bottom, where it shows all these beings in states of torture. Now, of course, the priests say—when they’re bringing up children—if you do bad things you will end up in the hell world. But this is a very inadequate way of showing how one gets to the hell world. You get to the hell world as a result of not knowing what you want, as a result of thoughtless pursuit of pleasure which ends you, eventually, in the pursuit of pain. So if you’re in the hell world, that’s where you want to be!”
What Do You Really, Really Want?
So then, we ask the question: if the motivation of power-gaining disappears—you’ve seen through it and you know that’s not what you want—what other motivation takes its place as the origin of actions? And it seems to me that the answer here is compassion. Simply because, when you want to relate to another living being, what you really are asking of them is that they be in the same situation that you are. You want to meet and encounter someone else who has your problems, your fears, and your delights. You don’t want a doll, you want another “you,” another “self,” because that would be at least as surprising to you as you are. And so, then, at once, when you see that that is the case, and that the most interesting thing in the world is the relationship with these others, and you can see at once yourself in the situation of all the other people, and then you think: no, I don’t want to control these people. I would like them—yes—to be controlled in the sense that they were happy to do the things I would like them to do. But obviously, I can’t force that. Because if I forced it, they wouldn’t be happy.”
This Is the Magic We Have Lost
“But there is, despite a lot of foolishness that goes on this, is a sound thing, you see? That there really is no greater satisfaction that you can imagine than that kind of personal relationship wherein you can trust a being who is other than you and not under your control to do for you what you want—because they like it. As you, on your side, would want to do something for them in that way, and so as to give pleasure to the other person. Just take, in sexuality, where you get a kind of a critical example of this: the biggest fun in sexual relationships is giving orgasm to women. And if that doesn’t happen, many men feel disappointed. Because a thing that they really wanted to do was to give pleasure and get their own pleasure out of giving it.”
Othering of the World
“So you see, it’s really, in a way, the same idea as the Hindu idea. When the Christian speaks of God giving the creature freedom of will, the Hindu says: no, God gets lost in that person and gives up power. And it’s really the same thing. It’s the idea that the all-powerful surrenders power. So that the more you give the power away, what you’re really doing is you’re “othering” yourself. Now, the more you “other” yourself by giving power away, the more of a “self” you are. Because “self” and “other” are reciprocal. So you find that people who, through a sādhanā (a yoga-discipline), have overcome their ego, have transcended the ego, are tremendously strong personalities. You would think, theoretically, they would all be non-entities and to lack entirely what psychologists call ego-strength. But actually, they’re nothing of the kind. They are—every one of them—unique. They’re all quite different from each other. And they are very, very (what I would call) strong characters. Because the more they have given it up, the more they get it.”
A Lovely Irresponsible State To Be In
So, in this way of thinking—let’s put it in another dimension for a moment. Let’s suppose we’re thinking of a relationship that is not just of people. People are very obviously other and independent of one’s ego. But give it to everything. Say to everything—which, of course, is going to include as much of yourself as you can objectify. In other words, your stomach, your intestines, your everything, you see? Say to it all: “Now it’s your turn. Let’s see what you’re going to do.” Let it happen. You know? You do this complete let-off of control. And you find that you—I have to put it in a provisional way first—you get the sensation that everything else is living you. It lives you. That you’ve given away control, you see, to everything else. It’s a lovely irresponsible state to be in.
Bllwp! In giving away the control, you got it.
But then, you see, you do the flip. Bllwp! In giving away the control, you got it. You’ve got the kind of control you wanted. That’s to say, where you had a loving relationship to the world but you didn’t have to make up your mind what it should do. You let it decide. Now, do you see: that’s how your bodies work. You don’t have to make up your mind what your nerve cells are going to do. You’ve delegated all that authority. If the president the United States has to lie awake at nights thinking what every official under his command is going to do, he can’t be president. He’s got to make an act of trust in all those subordinates to be responsible and carry on their things in just the same way as you make an act of trust to all your subordinate organs to carry on their functions without you having to tell them what to do. And this is the secret of what we will call organic power, as distinct from political power. Lao Tzu puts it in this way:
The great Tao flows everywhere, Both to the left and to the right. It loves and nourishes all things But does not lord it over them. And when merits are accomplished It lays no claim to them.
— Lao Tzu
“Let’s see what you’re going to do.”
The more, therefore, you relinquish power—trust others—the more powerful you become. But in such a way that, instead of having to lie awake nights controlling everything, you do it beautifully by trusting the job to everyone else, and they carry it on for you. So you can go to sleep at night and trust your nervous system to wake you up in the morning. You can even tell it: “I want to wake up at six o’clock,” and it will wake you up just like an alarm clock. This seems a sort of paradox to say this, but the principle of unity—of coming to a sense of oneness with the whole of the rest of the universe—is not to try to obtain power over the rest of the universe. That will only disturb it and antagonize it and make it seem less one with you than ever. The way to become one with the universe is to trust it as an other—as you would another—and say, “Let’s see what you’re going to do.” But in doing that, you see—in saying that to everything else (that you have been taught to think is not you), you are also saying it to yourself.”
All the segments above come from the Library of Consciousness assembled by Organism Earth. I stopped at 1:28:18.
History Is Over!
The final road marker comes from an episode from Throughline titled: History Is Over!
As the end of the 20th century approached, Radiohead took to the recording studio to capture the sound of a society that felt like it was fraying at the edges. Many people had high hopes for the new millennium, but for others a low hum of anxiety lurked just beneath the surface as the world changed rapidly and fears of a Y2K meltdown loomed.
Amidst all the unease, the famed British band began recording their highly anticipated follow ups to their career-changing album OK Computer. Those two albums, Kid A and Amnesiac, released in 2000 and 2001, were entrancing and eerie — they documented the struggle to redefine humanity, recalibrate, and get a grip on an uncertain world. In this episode, we travel back to the turn of the millennium with Thom Yorke and Stanley Donwood and the music of Kid A and Amnesiac.
Kid A & Amnesiac
Soundbites from this episode of Throughline
“It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.” — SOUNDBITE OF FILM, “THE MATRIX” FISHBURNE: As Morpheus
“I’m not a bum. I’m a human being.” — SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1
“What is internet anyway?” — UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3
“You know, progress is not necessarily a good thing. Our success was not necessarily a good thing…” — YORKE
“Into the next century, anxieties will increase.” — UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #6
“Fire coming out from all over.” — UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #7
“The risk of the virus expanding worldwide.” — UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #8
“New cold war.” — UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #9
“A field of tears.” — UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #10
“Sea level rise.” — UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #11
“Millions still struggling to be free.” — UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #12
“There’s no question that we must feed the monster. Because the monster has already won. It’s like a movie, but you can’t stop it unless you wake up.” — YORKE
“Florida is where WOKE goes to die.” — Ron DeSantis
“You need to name it… name the fear, the dread… and it will begin to diminish.” — YORKE
“There’s always a sense of dread and a need to get beyond that fear so we can imagine and express a world that can look different than now.” — YORKE
One Last Thing to Ponder on Uncertainty
What is the opposite of space element?
Neither. Space is best thought of as an empty vacuum, and the opposite of space is density. It doesn’t matter whether it’s earth, water, gas… anything collection of atoms starts to develop a gravitational field, pulling more atoms in as well as space.
It really is quite spectacular that we are even alive at all. Perhaps, uncertainty is the rocket fuel that powers us into the unknown so we can know. And anyone who really pushes the limits and explores knows how much we need each other in this voyage… perhaps now more than ever before.
On April 25, 2023, Carolyn Bryant Donham died in Westlake, Louisiana. She was 88 years old.
Sixty-eight years earlier, as a 21 year old girl, she accused the black teenager Emmett Tilll of whistling at her, grabbing her hand, and asking for a date. All of this except maybe the whistle (which could have been someone else, even someone white) was a lie, but her husband Roy and his half-brother J.W. Milam took it upon themselves to mete out justice, Jim Crow justice, justice laced with hate and loathing.
With Carolyn in the car, Roy and Milam broke into Emmett’s uncle’s house, kidnapped him, then beat, shot, and lynched Emmett beyond recognition. They threw his broken body into the Tallahatchie River where it would not be found for days.
The year was 1955. Because of the bravery of Emmett Till’s mother who insisted on an open casket funeral, the lynching of Emmett Till in Mississippi ignited the spark for the Civil Rights Movement, which would crash across America trying to washout hate.
But hate is a mighty sticky thing. It clings to craggy rocks inside the mind that are full of grievances, grumbles, and grudges. White people cling to hate in order to feel important,in command, and confident about their place in the world. Having seizing power centuries earlier, White people have created tremendous systems of inequality and injustice. And now, White people cling to these corrupted systems for dear life!
They do so because they don’t know if they really can stand on their own two feet. They really don’t know if they can make it in the world where everyone has equal rights, equal opportunities, and true equity. White people are afraid of their own incompetence, ineptitude, and inadequacy. I am White. I know.
I also know hiding behind a wall of seething hate makes people feel powerful for a minute, but that feeling is fleeting. And hate is a very heavy thing. Hate drags people down into Pits of Ignorance. These are very deep, very dark, and very nightmarish place inside every human being, except we are too scared to look.
But that’s the cure! Looking!! That is the only way to vanquish the haunting ghost of hate. Looking and confronting your own Pit of Hate, is the only way not to be controlled by hate. A person has to face it, to own it, and eat it. It is part of being a conscious being.
If you are human, you are processing all sorts of awful feelings and emotions that are in direct competition for your conscious attention. The only way not to get sucked in to one hole or another is to keep both opposites, both sides of yourself, within your gaze of conscious awareness.
Justice is a very important element in digesting consciousness and growing a stronger psychological-spiritual body over time.
No, there won’t. They last person involved in his murder has died.
This is the woman responsible for telling the lie that got Emmett Till killed.
I only learned about Carolyn Bryant Donham’s death yesterday (about a week after she died). I was wrestling with a section in my book about hate. I heard about her death on the Take Away while taking a break trying to do a refresh of my muddled mind.
Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry was speaking with with Timothy B. Tyson who is the author of The Blood of Emmett Till and senior research scholar at Duke University. She was also speaking with Keith Beauchamp who is an award-winning filmmaker behind the documentary “The Untold Story of Emmett Till” and producer of the movie “Till” about what Bryant’s death means in the quest for justice in Emmett Till’s murder.
Side note: I am so disappointed with NPR for cancelling this show. We are living through times of unprecedented violence, ignorance, and hate. To survive such times, we need diverse voices. Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry through this show provides such a voice. It is a significant lost on the landscape of sanity, truth, and recovery from the fatal infection of hate.
The Take Away — Emmett Till
Melissa Harris-Perry recounts the events of that fateful day in 1955.
On August 28th, 1955, two adult white men, Roy Bryant and JW Milam, kidnapped 14-year-old Emmett Till at gunpoint from his uncle's home in Money, Mississippi. It was the middle of the night. Bryant and Milam beat and shot Emmett. They used barbed wire to tie a cotton jean fan to his neck, and they threw him into the river. When Mamie Till-Mobley received her son's remains, the child was disfigured beyond recognition.
She made a choice so vulnerable and courageous; it altered the course of history. At her insistence, for five days, Emmett's mutilated body lay in an open casket. More than 50,000 people visited the Southside Chicago Church where he lay and millions more saw the shocking photos of the brutalized Boy in Jet Magazine. All bore witness to the stomach-churning realities of Bryant and Milam's racist violence.
"When people saw what had happened to my son, men stood up who had never stood up before. People became vocal who had never vocalized before. Emmett's death was the opening of the Civil Rights Movement. He was the sacrificial lamb of the movement." -- Mamie Till-Mobley
Melissa Harris-Perry: Her steel-spined courage launched a movement for justice, but Mamie Till-Mobley never received even a modicum of accountability for the murder of her son. In 1955, an all-white Mississippi jury refused to convict the killers, and in 1956, Look Magazine paid the men $4,000 to print their confession to the murder. Throughout it all, there was a third co-conspirator, Carolyn Bryant now Carolyn Bryant Donham. It was Mrs. Bryant who told her husband and brother-in-law that Emmett Till whistled at her. It was Mrs. Bryant who told the 1955 Mississippi jury that Emmett physically accosted and sexually propositioned her.
It was Mrs. Bryant, who during the trial, brought her own young sons to the courthouse, dressed in their Sunday best. It's Mrs. Carolyn Bryant captured in a Black and white photo who stands with her head thrown back in laughter, embracing her husband Roy at the end of that farce of a trial. It's a photo that still haunts my dreams and my waking. Late last week, Carolyn Bryant now Carolyn Bryant Donham died at the age of 88 while in hospice care. Joining me now is Tim Tyson, senior research scholar at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University and author of The Blood of Emmett Till. Tim, welcome to The Takeaway.
You can read or listen to the entire interview here.
My Take Away of The Take Away
I zeroed in on a point in their conversation about how jovial and happy the defendants were when a white jury found Roy and Milam Not Guilty.
Several months after their acquittal, the two men with the help of their defense attorney sold their story to Look Magazine where they admit their guilt. They get even more recognition and celebration by vast swaths of the White Community bathing in racism and hate.
I had to find a picture of these jubilant hate-filled white people. I did. It is very jarring. They are so young, so jubilant, so ignorant (and happy of it). What is even more jarring is that Carol’s sister-in-law, Juanita, looked a lot like me when I was that age.
With that recognition, I immediately realized that if had I grown up in a community infused with hate and racism, I could have easily been that girl smiling so brightly in the courtroom knowing they had all just gotten away with murder.
This recognition of how easily I could have been her is frightening. It elicits a deep and profound feeling of disgust and self-loathing inside myself. I want to condemn her and them, but I know I need to be honest about my own ignorance and hate.
So how do I do that?
The first step is recognizing that hate lives inside of me. It lies in wait like a sleeping dog ready to jump up and bite anything that threatens me, rejects me, injures me, makes me feel bad about myself, threatens my family, threatens my livelihood, threatens my beliefs.
Hate lives inside all of us. If you are a human being who thinks, you are creating hate. It is a natural byproduct of thinking, just like pooping and peeing are natural byproducts of eating. We all produce it just by being human and thinking.
Thinking is division. Thinking is cutting the world up into smaller and smaller pieces to understand it, predicate it, and make it feel safer for us to exist. But when you split the world into pieces in an effort to control it, you always get opposites. We name these opposites Good and Bad, or you might know them as Us and Other (the Evil Other).
So, I recognized myself in the picture of Carolyn and her sister-in-law laughing in court. And then, I found this picture of Carolyn. This picture captures her hate. I see it in the rigid tilt of her head, the stiffness of her shoulders, the hardness of her face, and mostly, I see it in her coldpinpoint, hard eyes.
When a person is calculating hate, their eyes narrow like slits. The pupils grow smaller and hard like bowling balls. Their glare hardens like ice picks. They are calculating how to kill you.
This the glare I see in this picture. It glare people recognize all over the world. When you see this glare, you should run!
Another source about Carolyn and the murder of Emmet Till is accounted by American Experience: Getting Away With Murder.
It turns out that Roy, Carolyn, J. W. Milam, and Juanita were poor, really poor!
American Experience recounts:
Carolyn Bryant, the daughter of a plantation manager and a nurse, hailed from Indianola, Mississippi, the nucleus of the segregationist and supremacist white Citizens' Councils. A high school dropout, she won two beauty contests and married Roy Bryant, an ex-soldier.
The couple ran a small grocery, Bryant's Grocery & Meat Market, that sold provisions to black sharecroppers and their children. The store was located at one end of the main street in the tiny town of Money, the heart of the cotton-growing Mississippi Delta. They had two sons and lived in two small rooms in the back of the store.
To earn extra cash, Roy worked as a trucker with his half-brother J. W. Milam, an imposing man of six-feet-two inches, weighing 235 pounds. Milam prided himself on knowing how to "handle" blacks. He had served in World War II and received combat medals.
On the evening of August 24, 1955, Emmett Till went with his cousins and some friends to Bryant's Grocery for refreshments after picking cotton in the hot sun. The boys went into the store one or two at a time to buy soda pop or bubble gum. Emmett walked in and bought two cents' worth of bubble gum. Though exactly what happened next is unconfirmed. She stormed out of the store. The kids outside said she was going to get a pistol. Frightened, Emmett and his group left. -- American Experience
Their collective act of violent hate made them popular! In fact, it made them celebrities for a minute.
Some reporters talked about Roy and Carolyn's "handsome looks" and J. W.'s tall stature and big cigars. They even alluded to Carolyn as "Roy Bryant's most attractive wife" and a "crossroads Marilyn Monroe." -- American Experience: Getting Away With Murder.
She is pretty in this photo. The hate is not in her eyes. She looks soft and like a doll, which how women had to look back then. Even though women had won the right to vote several decades earlier, misogyny still ruled and ran rampant just like racism. Carolyn knew being pretty was her only asset.
During the trial, the families arrived with their sons dressed in their Sunday best, Roy and J.W. in starched white shirts while their wives donned cotton dresses. Many whites in the surrounding counties showed up to watch the show. They brought their children, picnic baskets and ice cream cones. Meanwhile, African American spectators were relegated to the back and looked on in fear.
Carolyn testified under oath, but outside the presence of the jury, that Emmett said "ugly remarks" to her before whistling. -- American Experience: Getting Away With Murder.
Making up her lie about Emmett Till lifted Carolyn above her station in life, which was a pretty poor station with very few prospects, despite being pretty.
She hadn’t even graduated from high school. Her biggest accomplishments up til this time was winning two beauty contests and marrying Roy, then popping out two babies all before turning 21.
But suddenly, she was popular! Really popular! Hate had made her Great! She was getting noticed and being showered with so much love by others harboring and clinging on to hate, which was most White people in the South just like her.
Now, fast-forward to May 3, 2023. Have we changed very much since this horrible crime?
Hate Is Popular
Emmett Till’s death ignited the Civil Rights Movement. And a little less than 10 years after his brutal murder, it would be written into law through the civil rights act of 1964.
But not before a lot of pain and suffering occurred as recalled in this interview on 1A.
“Hate was popular,” Jeff Drew tells Jen White in an interview about The Birmingham movement, 60 years later produced by 1A. “What we were trying to do and continue to try to do is bring awareness that everyone is important. Every human being is important.”
On May 2, 1963, hundreds of school-age kids in Birmingham, Alabama, woke up with a plan.
Through coded messages broadcast by local radio DJs, they were given the signal to leave the classroom and meet at the park for a peaceful protest against segregation in the city.
“My mother said, ‘I’m sending you to school, don’t get in any trouble’,” said Janice Kelsey, who was a 16-year-old high school student in Birmingham at the time. “I was going to school. I just wasn’t going to stay.”
Jeff Drew also participated in the Children’s March. His parents were involved in the Birmingham movement for civil rights and hosted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in their home.
“You cannot imagine the joy of being on one of those buses on your way to jail,” said Drew. “We were nearly dying to participate.”
Janice Kelsey and Jeff Drew joined us at the Carver Theater in Birmingham last month for a community conversation on the fight for civil rights then and now. Their actions as students in the spring of 1963 brought national attention—and a new momentum—to the civil rights movement, support for which had been waning as more adults were jailed and reluctant to be arrested.
Civil rights leaders, including James Bevel, recruited young people to participate in a peaceful demonstration on May 2, 1963 in what became known as the Children’s Crusade. Hundreds of kids were arrested by police for parading without a permit. Images of police dogs and firehoses being used on students in the city highlighted the injustices in Birmingham and prompted President John F. Kennedy to express support for federal civil rights legislation.
On our trip to Birmingham, we also spoke to the next generation of activists. Ashley M. Jones is a Birmingham native and the Poet Laureate of Alabama. At 32 years old, Jones is the state’s youngest-ever poet laureate and the first person of color to hold the position. Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin also joined us to talk about how the city’s past informs his role today.
And, 59 years after the Civil Rights Act, White Americans are still rolling in raging pools of hate. Hate is still immensely popular, so popular, people are making tons of money selling it to all the grumpy people holding onto grudges and hurts and who need to take a daily swim in their pool of hate to feel better about themselves!
We have lots of new celebrities helping to spread and celebrate hate. Here are three who have recently been in the news. But there are tons more! We are literally being drown them.
America has a huge problem with hate. We love it so much we want to tear our country in two again. The Civil War really did not end on April 9, 1865. It lives inside the minds of people who are swimming in their private pools of hate.
But, we don’t have to worry… collective hate is running rampant all over the world.
Hate remains really popular everywhere!
So, let’s tackle Collective Hate.
We all know what it is. Collective Hate is when one group of people dreams about crushing another group of people because it makes them feel powerful (for a minute, this kind of power is fleeting too).
When a group of people full of hate actually act on their hate-filled fantasies, they act like fanatical freaks. That’s because they are… because they have drained the humanity from their being, leaving nothing but a husk that looks human but acts like raging monster crushing, killing, stealing everything from the people they hate.
Collective hate is visceral. It is so toxic it drives the people infected by it mad. Mad humans infected by hate will do the most vicious, brutal, savage things like Roy and Milam did to Emmett Till. Mad, hate-filled humans act in barbaric, fiendish, heinous, hideous ways. It’s an epidemic on Earth right now.
Let’s delve into how hate wraps around a person’s heart and mind to steadily squeeze the humanity out of them.
Carolyn Bryant’s Story (or More Aptly Her Great Disappointment)
Now, there is no way I can possibly know what Carolyn was thinking or feeling that terrible day, but let’s suppose, she was feeling a little bit sorry for herself and unhappy about her life. She was a beautiful woman. She knew she was a beautiful woman.
If only things had gone a little bit different 90 years earlier, which is when the Civil War ended (April 9, 1865), she would probably, no: most certainly, she would be living a completely different life right now! (Hate always happens in the Now)
Why instead of being the daughter of a plantation manager and a nurse from Indianola, Mississippi, Carolyn Bryant might instead be a beautiful, beguiling Southern belle like Miss Scarlett O’Hara! But, if only for one tiny, little glitch, that snatched her wonderful, beautiful life away like Gone With the Wind!
Of course the wind that blew her dream life away was that the Confederate lost the Civil War.
Because of this glitch, she was condemned to run a small grocery, Bryant’s Grocery & Meat Market, selling provisions to black sharecroppers and their children. She took turns with her sister-in-law, Juanita, watching their children and tending the store while their husband’s drove trucks to make extra money because they were all very poor.
The store was located at one end of the main street in the tiny town of Money, the heart of the cotton-growing Mississippi Delta. And also right next to Indianola, Mississippi, which was the nucleus of the segregationist and supremacist white Citizens' Councils.
Carolyn was a high school dropout, she won two beauty contests and married Roy Bryant, an ex-soldier. They had two sons and lived in two small rooms in the back of the store.
-- American Experience: Getting Away With Murder
This was not the life she was supposed to live. She was sure of that! And this made her mad, and more than a little bit grumpy as well as resentful.
These feelings are the perfect ingredients for hate to take root and grow. Combine her personal grievances with the steady drum beat of the Southern Segregationist and White Supremacists constantly spreading their toxic thinking far and wide and polluting the collective swimming pool of human connections that everyone needs to survive, Carolyn Bryant was the perfect instrument of hate.
She bought into the thinking that White people are suppose to give the orders and be in control. She bought into the feeling of being deeply wronged that White people couldn’t stack the social decks in their favor they way they used to do. She bought into the fantasy of yearning for and bringing back the old way of life in the deep South.
Carolyn Bryant was the perfect poster girl for Southern Hate.
Crash Course on Cognitive Dissonance
Segregationist and White Supremacists use cracks between reality and people’s dreams/fantasies to break social bonds. One of the things they work hard to increase in the hearts and minds of hurting humans is cognitive dissonance.
In the field of psychology, cognitive dissonance is the perception of contradictory information and the mental toll of it. Relevant items of information include a person's actions, feelings, ideas, beliefs, values, and things in the environment. Cognitive dissonance is typically experienced as psychological stress when persons participate in an action that goes against one or more of those things. According to this theory, when two actions or ideas are not psychologically consistent with each other, people do all in their power to change them until they become consistent. The discomfort is triggered by the person's belief clashing with new information perceived, wherein the individual tries to find a way to resolve the contradiction to reduce their discomfort.
Coping with the nuances of contradictory ideas or experiences is mentally stressful. It requires energy and effort to sit with those seemingly opposite things that all seem true. Festinger argued that some people would inevitably resolve the dissonance by blindly believing whatever they wanted to believe. -- Wikipedia: Cognitive dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance in Politics
Cognitive dissonance theory might suggest that since votes are an expression of preference or beliefs, even the act of voting might cause someone to defend the actions of the candidate for whom they voted,[self-published source?] and if the decision was close then the effects of cognitive dissonance should be greater.
This effect was studied over the 6 presidential elections of the United States between 1972 and 1996, and it was found that the opinion differential between the candidates changed more before and after the election than the opinion differential of non-voters. In addition, elections where the voter had a favorable attitude toward both candidates, making the choice more difficult, had the opinion differential of the candidates change more dramatically than those who only had a favorable opinion of one candidate. What wasn't studied were the cognitive dissonance effects in cases where the person had unfavorable attitudes toward both candidates. The 2016 U.S. election held historically high unfavorable ratings for both candidates.
After the 2020 election, which Joe Biden won, supporters of former President Donald Trumpquestioned the results, citing voter fraud. This continued even after such claims were dismissed by numerous state and federal judges, election officials, governors, and government agencies as false. This was described as an example of Trump supporters suffering cognitive dissonance.
Cognitive Dissonance in Self-perception Theory
In Self-perception: An alternative interpretation of cognitive dissonance phenomena (1967), the social psychologist Daryl Bem proposed the self-perception theory whereby people do not think much about their attitudes, even when engaged in a conflict with another person. The Theory of Self-perception proposes that people develop attitudes by observing their own behaviour, and concludes that their attitudes caused the behaviour observed by self-perception; especially true when internal cues either are ambiguous or weak. Therefore, the person is in the same position as an observer who must rely upon external cues to infer their inner state of mind. Self-perception theory proposes that people adopt attitudes without access to their states of mood and cognition.
As such, the experimental subjects of the Festinger and Carlsmith study (Cognitive Consequences of Forced Compliance, 1959) inferred their mental attitudes from their own behaviour. When the subject-participants were asked: "Did you find the task interesting?", the participants decided that they must have found the task interesting, because that is what they told the questioner. Their replies suggested that the participants who were paid twenty dollars had an external incentive to adopt that positive attitude, and likely perceived the twenty dollars as the reason for saying the task was interesting, rather than saying the task actually was interesting.
The theory of self-perception (Bem) and the theory of cognitive dissonance (Festinger) make identical predictions, but only the theory of cognitive dissonance predicts the presence of unpleasant arousal, of psychological distress, which were verified in laboratory experiments.
In The Theory of Cognitive Dissonance: A Current Perspective (Aronson, Berkowitz, 1969), Elliot Aronson linked cognitive dissonance to the self-concept: That mental stress arises when the conflicts among cognitions threatens the person's positive self-image. This reinterpretation of the original Festinger and Carlsmith study, using the induced-compliance paradigm, proposed that the dissonance was between the cognitions "I am an honest person." and "I lied about finding the task interesting."
The study Cognitive Dissonance: Private Ratiocination or Public Spectacle? (Tedeschi, Schlenker, etc. 1971) reported that maintaining cognitive consistency, rather than protecting a private self-concept, is how a person protects their public self-image.Moreover, the results reported in the study I'm No Longer Torn After Choice: How Explicit Choices Implicitly Shape Preferences of Odors (2010) contradict such an explanation, by showing the occurrence of revaluation of material items, after the person chose and decided, even after having forgotten the choice.
There’s a lot more to cognitive dissonance, but I digress and I am sure you see how this is a very handy tool in sowing fields and polluting rivers full of hate.
Now let’s get back to hate mongers and how they used cognitive dissonance to grow huge toxic waste pits of fetid, stinking hate. That is because hate is a natural malodorous waste product of thinking. A normal healthy human being is supposed to poop it out, not eat it. But that is what hate mongers know how to do. They know how to make people eat their own shit.
Here’s How Hitler Did It — Hitler’s Ignis Fatuus
Let’s define Ignis Fatuus so you know what I’m talking about:
Ignis Fatuus is a mid 16th century word. It originate from modern Latin speakers amd literally means ‘foolish fire’ (because of its erratic movement). It has evolved to mean: something deceptive or deluding.
This definition and images come from Oxford Languages Dictionary. I kind of like Foolish Fire! And I think men like Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Putin (some of the biggest killers) like it too! It's like possessing the power of Dark Magic, knowing how to get people to believe Foolish Pipe Dreams... stuff men like Hitler can say, knowing he will never, ever deliver on the promises he is making to the masses. They are illusions, delusions, nightmares cloaked by glitter and sickening charm.
So back to Hitler’s ignis fatuus. He was part of a great body of people who just suffered a huge lost. This big lost was due partly to a style of self-inflated vanity, stubbornness, snobbishness, and stupidity corrupting the German hierarchy, which led to a massive miscalculation that lost the war.
The war Germany lost was WWI. And they were punished by the victors, and rightly so, but like Carolyn Bryant and lots of White people who used to make lots of money using slave labor, some of the German people were sore losers.
Among these sore losers was Hitler.
Let me be very clear, not everyone who experiences trauma or crisis ends up becoming a sore loser. In fact, the vast majority of people do not, many even grow stronger and get even better at accepting and assimilating reality.
But there is also a percentage who don’t grow or can’t grow. This is who I am talking about here, Germans who could not accept and assimilate that they were wrong, they lost, they needed to change.
Among this group of sore losers is Hitler: a roguish, impish, and deceitfully deluded man as well as brash and brazen. He captivates just enough sore losers to gain some traction. One he got a little power, he leveraged it to get more.
Then, many more Germans flocked to him like some new, exciting lover. Not all, of course, many Germans were afraid and for good reason.
Hitler understood all this, and manipulate everyone to leverage even more power. One way he galvanized public support was creating a good foil/a scape goat. Hitler attacked the Jews and mongrels. He was going to make the world pure again.
This fantasy was the cornerstone of his convoluted ignis fatuss and the disaffected Germans fell for it–hook, line, and sinker.
Adolf Hitler came to power with the goal of establishing a new racial order in Europe dominated by the German “master race. -- United State Holocaust Memorial Museum -- 9/20/19
Adolf Hitler and the Nazis believed that the world was divided into distinct races. According to the Nazis, each race had its own traits. These ... -- Nazi Racism | Holocaust Encyclopedia -- 12/15/22
Stalin’s Ignis Fatuus
Stalin’s ignis fatuus is similar, but he rode to power on the back of Lenin and the Russian Revolution, a wave that was sweeping across the world. It was a backlash to rapid industrialization and the ridiculous amount of power and wealth landing up in the hands of a very few; the rich, evil capitalists! See a pattern here?
Stalin carefully calculated his chances to take control of this great wave. When his chance came, he took it with tremendous ruthlessness–killing every rival in his party without mercy.
His passion for control mutated him into one of the world’s biggest control freaks. Russia still suffers to this very day from the devastation Stalin wrought. He is the very reason why Putin now controls Russia. Putin is imitating Stalin to a tee. Putin is pushing his foolish vision of a Great Russia once again on his poor, demoralized, broken, diminished people. They are so because Stalin killed so freaken many enlightened, differently thinking Russians.
Stalin's “revolution from above” sought to build socialism by means of forced collectivization and industrialization, programs that entailed tremendous human ... -- Library of Congress
Starting in the late 1920s, Joseph Stalin launched a series of five-year plans intended to transform the Soviet Union from a peasant society into an industrial ... -- History Channel
"Once he decided to attain absolute power, he would never relinquish it," observes Alexandre Allilouiev, nephew of Joseph Stalin. "He was a monster." In order to achieve his goals, Stalin set about re-imaging the vast empire in his own image, which included the extermination of all those who dared oppose or refused to adhere to his ideology. The film follows the activities of Stalin on November 24, 1938 - a crucial day that set in motion the end of his Great Purge. -- A Day in the Life of a Dictator: Joseph Stalin
He believes he's been chosen by providence to create the ideal socialist, communists society. To do this, he must destroy everything to recreate it. He puts into action a scientific, systematic plan to purge unwanted peoples of Russia. - A Day in the Life of a Dictator: Joseph Stalin
Pol Pot’s Ignis Fatuus
Another brutal killer who cloaked his ugly shit under the same auspices of the Russian Revolution, the backlash to a rapidly changing, globalized world. Lots of people longed to go back to the old ways, the old life, the idealized past. And, this is what Pol Pot sold bundled up with with a lot of hate.
The Khmer Rouge, organized by Pol Pot in the Cambodian jungle in the 1960s, advocated a radical Communist revolution that would wipe out Western influences in Cambodia and set up a solely agrarian society. -- History Channel -- Jan 7
Pol Pot wished to create a state focused on their rural idyll, with all citizens pledging loyalty in a way which prohibited all ... -- Holocaust Memorial Day Trust
Pol Pot's objective was to construct a classless, communal and self-sufficient Kampuchea, unspoiled by foreign influences, intellectualism and ... -- Alpha History -- 9/12/20
In 1960, a small group of Cambodians, led by Saloth Sar (later known as Pol Pot) and Nuon Chea, secretly formed the Communist Party of Kampuchea. -- United State Holocaust Memorial Museum
The party's aim was to establish a classless communist state based on a rural agrarian economy and a complete rejection of the free market and ... -- Al Jazeera -- 2/3/12
Mao Zedong’s Ignis Fatuus
Moa Zedong also rode the Red Wave. He also sold an idealized, backwards looking China who would vanquish all the evil Capitalists and live happily ever after! Xi Jinping is riding on the back of Mao now.
Mao and his communist supporters had been fighting against what they claimed was a corrupt and decadent Nationalist government in China since the 1920s. Despite massive U.S. support for the Nationalist regime, Mao’s forces were victorious in 1949 and drove the Nationalist government onto the island of Taiwan. In September, with cannons firing salutes and ceremonial flags waving, Mao announced the victory of communism in China and vowed to establish the constitutional and governmental framework to protect the “people’s revolution.” -- Mao Zedong outlines the new Chinese government
Cultural Revolution: Mao believed that this would ultimately create a new society where there was no gap between urban and rural, laborers and intellectuals. What are some of the ... -- University of Washington
Communism, Capitalism, and Democracy in China: Mao wanted to eliminate capitalism and its emphasis on property rights, profits, and free-market competition. He followed the ideas of Karl Marx, who envisioned ... -- Constitutional Rights Foundation
Moa Zedong was willing to kill to make his dream a reality. He was willing to kill lots of people, and he did.
Putin’s Ignis Fatuus
Let’s play a different game with Putin! Let’s pretend he had an ideal childhood and experienced lots of love growing up and was surrounded by peace-loving, Earth-loving Russians. Perhaps the descendants of people Stalin was trying to kill but missed. This Putin is a happy, pot-smoking hippy!
Yes! Before Putin was a KGB agent and mass murder, he was a happy, happy hippy!
What nice eyes this young, happy, hippy Putin has!
If only we could have this Putin back!
But sadly yes, this is a deepfake. It is made with AI. I saw an interview with the man who is making AI deep fakes, but he’s hiding, so I can’t share it.
Collective Hate rises from inside each and every individual. It is the collective accounting of grievances and wrongsevery civilizations harbors, especially if they have been around for a long time. All civilizations go up and go down; the stock market goes up and down; all people’s lives go up and down; all living beings experience ups and downs… that is called being alive.
Hate attempts to grab hold of only one side of the wave. Haters only want to exist on the up part of the wave (the up and up, we’re going up, we’re on the rise).
But in order to do this, reality must be split into Good and Evil. Hate mongers step into the Good Fairy Bubble and spew the Evil they have cut off from themselves on everyone else.
They know the ordinary man and women are afraid of their own shadows. Of course they know this because most modern societies and civilizations teach people to be afraid of their own shadows!
Hate-filled fear mongers tap into this pervasive fear and anxiety that plagues pretty much ever human living in a civilization. They tell people how unfair the world is treating them. They get them really good and frighten about all the things coming to ‘get them like the boogeyman‘, and then tell them that the Evil Others did this to them. Then they tell them that they better fight like Hell to keep their lives the way they want it and get their fair share.
Really, what hate-filled fear mongers are really doing is getting people to eat their own shit. If there are people who don’t do as they are told, and if the hate-filled fear monger has power, the disobedient people are killed.
“Do as you are told or else!” — the hate-filled fear monger cries
This is a tale as old as time, which for human beings living in civilizations is about 5,000 years that when all this hate and fear and more hate and more fear really started to grow. You’ll have to read my book on why this is so.
But in the meantime, do we really want to live a world ruled by Shitty Ideas and Foolish Fires?!
I found this song entirely by accident. I love putting together ugly images with beautiful music. And this one matched better than I could ever have intended!
Lyrics by Musixmatch
You always do this stuff We’ll never be enough You were floating in the life We were floating in the life It’s in your eyes [Hate lives in the eyes]
You think that’s not fun, the day is done With no other feelings Just why are your eyes not shining in lights? [Hate shuts down life… the shining lights of life] There’s more than one meaning Just get what you want, but again you got numb, [Greed feds Hate] It’s because of freaking illusion [Hate grows in Foolish Fantasies, delusions, and illusions] That life is not fiction, the sense in the description of love, [Life is wiggly… it goes up and down… fiction tries to make life all up all the time… that’s a lie] It’s an awful conclusion [No one likes to admit they have to poop and pee, but it is true — the origins of Shame another great catalyst of Hate]
You could always turn it back [Yes, turning back is always such a great idea! Look where we are as a world in the year 2023! It’s so Great!! Let’s do more turning backwards!] Get another heart attack [Let’s see… there is the Putin heart attack, Xi Jinping heart attack, Trump heart attack… should I go on?!!!] We roll! We’ll find ourselves in love
Oh fuck… [Yep… we are pretty much fucked as a species due to our propensity to engage in Foolish Fantasies]
This story had a deep and lasting impact on me. I was a child when it came out. I loved it the most of all the Dr. Seuss books. But it also troubled me. It felt very different from The Cat In the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, or Oh the Places You’ll Go.
It felt like a puzzle that needed to be solved and time was running out!
I felt that the one word the Lorax leaves behind for the greedy, old Once-ler was the key to solving the puzzle! But, what does it mean? Unless…what?!!
Dr. Seuss tells us what the Once-ler thinks Unless means at the end of the story. The Once-ler thinks that unless someone like the boy cares a whole lot, the world will never change.
It seems so simple. Surely, I felt as a child, there are bunches of children just like me reading this book and understand the message and will care enough. Surely, we the kids of the 70s get it, and when we grow up, we will change the world and avoid catastrophe.
But, we didn’t. Here we all are, 52 years later, and the world has not changed course. It remains fixed on the same course that it was on back in the 70s when Seuss first published The Lorax. In fact, it feels that we are all speeding ever faster… and to what? The End?
Clearly, the Lorax means something entirely different in his silent message he leave to the selfish, self-absorbed Once-ler. Clearly, Unless means something different than what the Once-ler thinks. But what? What do we need to do as humans to avert total disaster… perhaps even the end of the world as we know it now?
Quick Recap of The Lorax
The young Once-ler arrives in the forest where the lovely Truffula Trees look like lollipops and the cute fuzzy Bar-ba-loots bears play alongside the beautiful Swomee-Swans birds and lovely humming fish!
But instead of seeing the incredible beauty all around him, the young Once-ler cuts down one of the incredible Truffula Trees and makes a Thneed!
What really?! A Thneed… this is the thing that everyone needs!
Dr. Seuss uses the Thneed as a symbol for the modern world’s obsession with fossil fuels. And Seuss is certainly right about this, gas-fuel-oil is truly something everyone needs in the world we have made.
There are lots of Once-lers in the modern world making millions and billions of dollars harvesting fossil fuels for all the things we need in our slick, fast-paced modern world!
The Lorax confronts the young Once-ler saying:
"I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.And I'm asking you, sir, at the top of my lungs" —he was very upset as he shouted and puffed —"What's that THING you've made out of my Truffula tuft?"
But the Once-ler does not hear the Lorax. Or rather he hears him but ignores him proclaiming he has a right to make money from the trees!
The Lorax rallies all the animals and tries again to make the young Once-ler listen and understand.
But there’s no stopping the happy young Once-ler. He cuts and chops and build a factory to make even more Thneeds! And then the Lorax is forced to come back and to tell him this:
'I'm the Lorax who speaks for the trees which you seem to be chopping as fast as you please. But I'm also in charge of the Brown Bar-ba-loots who played in the shade in their Bar-ba-loots suits and happily lived, eating Truffula Fruits.'
Nope, the Once-ler won’t listen. He builds an even bigger factory, and one even bigger than that one.
Soon, the Lorax comes back with another dire message telling the Once-ler:
"Once-ler!You're making such smogulous smoke!My poor Swomee-Swans...why, they can't sing a note!No one can sing who has smog in his throat."
The Once-ler shrugs and continues chopping down the beautiful Truffula Trees and making a Thneeds.
The Lorax returns again. Now it is the Humming-Fish who can no longer hum.
This time the Once-ler gets mad and shouts:
'Now listen here, Dad! All you do is yap-yap and say, 'Bad! Bad! Bad! Bad!' Well, I have my rights sir, and I'm telling you I intend to go on doing just what I do! And, for your information, you Lorax, I'm figgering on biggering and biggering and biggering and biggering, turning MORE Truffual Trees into Thneeds which everyone, EVERYONE, EVERYONE needs!'
Not long after this the Lorax does the thing that sticks in my mind and haunts me to this day. He builds a small platform underneath the Once-ler’s factory, waits for the Once-ler to look out, then without a word, the Lorax picks up the seat of his pants and flies away disappearing through the last blue hole in the polluted, ugly sky… and that is that… Unless...
So What Did the Lorax Mean?
Dr. Suess says many years after the last Truffula Tree is chopped down, the now very old Once-ler thinks the word Unless means:
But, it hasn’t worked. Hope is not enough. To fix this mess, it take action.
Are We Even Capable of Changing Our Fate?
Do we really need to destroy our planet before we care enough about it to fix it?
I know, I know, the seed the Once-ler throws down to the boy is a symbol of hope and we all need hope to Do The Right Thing. But quite honestly, do we really know what the right thing is that we should be doing?
And nature will do just fine after humans are gone. Kind of like 2067, an Australian SciFi film, where that is exactly what happens.
Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Ryan Kwanten Writer/Director: Seth Larney By the year 2067, Earth has been ravaged by climate change and humanity is forced to live on artificial oxygen. An illness caused by the synthetic O2 is killing the worlds’ population and the only hope for a cure comes in the form of a message from the future: “Send Ethan Whyte”. Ethan, an underground tunnel worker, is suddenly thrust into a terrifying new world full of unknown danger as he must fight to save the human race.
I think the Lorax is telling us something else. I think the Lorax is warning us about ourselves and that Unless we learn how to let go of bad ideas, we are doomed to create the world we are speeding ever faster towards making. The one that will kill us.
What Is the Lorax Warning UsAbout Ourselves?
I think it is Shame; toxic shame to be specific.
Shame is an emotion of civilizations. We feel shame, and it is necessary to feel it. Feeling ashamed motivates us to improve ourselves. It motivates us to take care of the people around us, so that we to treat them with kindness, dignity, and respect.
No one wants to feel shame. Of all human emotions, shame is perhaps the hardest one to endure. Because of this, it is one of the scariest, most loathed, most feared emotion in our human tool box.
If shame had a color it would be the color of pee. Listen to Snap Judgement, and you’ll understand.
Actress Diona Reasonover was on the brink of her big break. But she never expected it to happen while she was on her vacation.
Diona Reasonover is an actress who lives in LA, you can check out her writing on “I Love You America” with Sarah Silverman on Hulu.
Produced by Adizah Eghan
Note: Diona had a knee injury and could not make it to the bathroom on the plane before others beat her to it. Then, the plane begins to descend and the flight attendant not very understanding. So you’ll need to listen to how Diona solves her dilemma.
The episode before this one is worth a listen too: Date With The Devil. This one touches on the topic of how ee always hear about the people who survive a disaster and who often give credit Jesus or God for their good fortune, but we never hear about the people who made the exact same calculations, believe just as much in a higher power, but ended up dead.
I think we have become a bit lopsided in thinking about our survival as individuals and as a species when we hear only miraculous stories of good fortune, good luck, or good timing that allows a person to avert a tragedy.
But what about the people who don’t avert disaster? What about the people who get killed?
D. Parvaz touches on this in a very different story. It is a scary, tormented, horrifying, heart-wrenching story about people (through no fault of their own) do not make it. Indeed, they are murdered by monsters. That’s what humans become when they don’t digest and assimilate all of who they are as a human being. This means seeing the good in one’s self as well as the bad in one’s self. And yes, shame is one of those things.
People who refuse to feel their shame, fear, guilty, or whatever makes them uncomfortable will project them onto other people. People who don’t feel shame will do shameful things, horrendous things. They are no longer human because they have thrown half of who they are away.
So, don’t thrown your shame away! You need it. You really, really do… and the Lorax understood how desperately humans need to feel shame and other parts of themselves that make them truly capable of being human.
John Amodeo (a psychotherapist for over 40 years) describes that how not dealing with our feelings of shame there are far-reaching, destructive consequences.
He says, “When shame lurks outside of our awareness, it can become the driving force behind the destructive rage, blame, and violence that is damaging our world.”
Have you ever encountered someone who is boiling with a seething rage bubbling just under their human-looking skin but really what is lurking underneath is a monster ready to explode at the drop of a pin?
A teenage honor student who knocked on the wrong door was shot.
Cheerleaders who accidentally opened the wrong door of a car late at night are shot.
Teenagers who pulled into the wrong driveway and were turning around were shot, one died.
Children playing basketball and their ball rolls into a neighbors lawn are shot at, one father lost a lung after getting shot in the back.
Amodeo describes shame as the felt sense of being defective and inadequate: “it as an “intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.”
Shame has also been defined by Gerhsen Kaufman as a breaking of the interpersonal bridge. As human beings wired for connection, we dread isolation. Children fail to thrive when they don’t feel a safe and secure connection with caregivers. When healthy attachment is ruptured, a child feels unworthy of love and acceptance. This unbearable shame can lead to a mad scramble to prove our worth in distorted ways that often dehumanize others.
In a 2016 article, shame expert Bret Lyon, who leads Healing Shame trainings, describes how intolerable shame can be transferred to others:
“Driven by the need to keep the feelings of shame at bay and away from themselves, people can exult in their contempt and cynicism—finding a curious kind of gratification in it… In extreme cases, runaway contempt can cause people to lose sight of another’s humanity. Even their right to exist. This has led to extreme behavior, in Germany and many other places.”
Amodeo drives home the point of toxic shame, the very same one that I think the Lorax is trying to drive home to us with his message Unless. Amodeo writes:
When the drive toward personal “success” or being superior becomes dissociated from our humanity, we seek gratification in ways that will never really satisfy us. We become disconnected from our souls, as our innate longing for love and connection curdles into a desire for status, money, or power. These substitute ways to seek gratification often spiral out of control—taking us on a perilous journey away from our fellow humans—and away from our true selves. This desire for a narrow self-gratification overlooks the reality that we are inescapably interconnected.
We can observe this shame-driven dynamic in our fraught politics, where looking good replaces being good (truly caring about others). We can see it in political and business leaders competing to amass the greatest wealth and power, which often translates into a race to see who can be the most contemptuous and divisive.
Some political leaders—and followers who relish the thrill of belonging to a group that has special knowledge and that is superior to others—have so thoroughly dissociated from their vulnerability, their humanity,their hearts, and their souls, that they have no compunction to deny the rights of others, or, as we've seen in Ukraine and elsewhere, committing atrocities without any healthy shame to check their behavior.
The Big Choice
So… what are we going to do? Are we going to save our beautiful world full of life or are we all going to drown in a Yellow Sea of Seething Shame?
This is a job that requires every person on the planet to do. Every living individual needs to claim their shame and proclaim proudly: “I am human! I do stupid things! I learn from them! I become a better human because I use my shame to grow!”
Or, you can lock yourself inside a dilapidated husk of what used to be your humanity… deny your shame, cast it onto everyone else around you as you fake being a perfect human being.
But, your performance is nothing more than a rickety, glittery, shiny shell of who you used to be. Inside there is nothing to balance you out and make you human. You have become hollow; a garden hose flowing with seething shame disguised as rage.
On A Related Note
My college roommate from College of the Atlantic shared this story. It is closely related to the responsibility of each and every person to do the invisible work of sustaining and maintaining psychological as well as social health, which takes daily work.
Kicked out of the university lecture
Subject: Legal studies.
The professor enters the lecture hall.He looks around.
"You there in the 8th row. Can you tell me your name?" he asks a student.
"My name is Sandra" says a voice.
The professor asks her, "Please leave my lecture hall. I don't want to see you in my lecture."
Everyone is quiet. The student is irritated, slowly packs her things and stands up.
"Faster please" she is asked.
She doesn't dare to say anything and leaves the lecture hall.
The professor keeps looking around.
The participants are scared.
"Why are there laws?" he asks the group.
All quiet. Everyone looks at the others.
"What are laws for?" he asks again.
"Social order" is heard from a row
A student says "To protect a person's personal rights."
Another says "So that you can rely on the state."
The professor is not satisfied.
"Justice" calls out a student.
The professor smiling. She has his attention.
"Thank you very much. Did I behave unfairly towards your classmate earlier?"
"Indeed I did. Why didn't anyone protest?
Why didn't any of you try to stop me?
Why didn't you want to prevent this injustice?" he asks.
"What you just learned you wouldn't have understood in 1,000 hours of lectures if you hadn't lived it. You didn't say anything just because you weren't affected yourself. This attitude speaks against you and against life. You think as long as it doesn't concern you, it's none of your business. I'm telling you, if you don't say anything today and don't bring about justice, then one day you too will experience injustice and no one will stand before you. Justice lives through us all. We have to fight for it."
“In life and at work, we often live next to each other instead of with each other. We console ourselves that the problems of others are none of our business. We go home and are glad that we were spared. But it's also about standing up for others. Every day an injustice happens in business, in sports or on the tram. Relying on someone to sort it out is not enough. It is our duty to be there for others. Speaking for others when they cannot.”
-- Shared by Liza Hall -- 12/4/22
Feature Archetypal Animation
Music:How Bad Can I Be (From “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax”) — Geek Music
It seems especially important to understand fate and destiny since a person’s circumstances can be greatly impacted for the good or for the bad by the roll of the dice of either one.
But do we even have a choice? Can we stack the decks of fate and destiny so we get more paradise and less hell in life? Is this even possible?
Laozi believes it is and chapter 9 shows us further how to drum out our personal destiny day by day by being conscious of the choices we make and actions we take that are determined in a large part by how much we consider. Laozi suggests considering all pathways of action, especially possible opposite actions.
It is better to leave a vessel unfilled, than to attempt to carry it when it is full. If you keep feeling a point that has been sharpened, the point cannot long preserve its sharpness.
When gold and jade fill the hall, their possessor cannot keep them safe. When wealth and honors lead to arrogance, this brings its evil on itself. When the work is done, and one's name is becoming distinguished, to withdraw into obscurity is the way of Heaven.
Taking things too far: Lao Tzu is wonderfully clear in this verse - it’s easy to understand that a knife that’s been sharpened too much loses its edge. Or that a vessel that is at capacity is overflowing.
So why is it so hard for me to see that I already have enough? Why do I need to keep getting more and more to feel accomplished in life?
I don’t know about you, but there have been times when I’ve felt that it’s never enough - and I’ve actually thought, “yeah, I like this - this means I’m driven! Let me keep this feeling and I’ll always be achieving!” -- To read more, see The Tao Te Ching for Everyday Living
Feature Archetypal Animation
Blending Modern Images and Music With Ancient Wisdom
It is she who said monsters are made. Think Frankenstein, definitely constructed by a human.
And we do this all the time…in our heads simply repeating the stories we tell ourselves that create indelible images, which we then project onto the world we live in. Or better said, the world we wish we lived in.
The Planet We Made
Olafur Eliasson is an Icelandic–Danishartist known for sculptured and large-scale installation art that employ elemental materials such as light, water, and air temperature to enhance the viewer’s experience. He designed the cover of Time this month to highlight our collective climate crisis that will affect and impact everyone on Earth. Rich or poor, everyone will pay a huge price for further dithering and delaying on taking immediate action Now.
Olafur tells Time to create the effect on TIME’s cover, he employed a technique called after imaging. By following the instructions on the cover, when the page changes, your eyes re-imagine our overheated planet in the healthy vibrant greens and blues we, the human race, were born into and began our journey as a species through time.
The Monsters We Make
This same elusive after imaging takes place inside our minds. The images that get stored inside our minds are created by the stories we tell ourselves and the images we consume as ordinary citizens.
These images, let’s call them cultural images, are stored in our minds as belief systems. Beliefs are vastly more complicated images than the one created by Olafur Eliasson for the cover of TIME. However, compared to reality, beliefs are pathetic and paltry.
Belief systems tend to leave far more outside (the evil other) than inside (the person who sees the the world like you do). All of us adopt and cultivate belief systems. They help us know who we can trust. And, they help us survive by acting as short cuts to reality.
By popping your beliefs into a situation, you can just get down to action. Or really reaction to a situation because beliefs allow you to skip the work of hard thinking, critical analysis, and feeling into what you are actually experiencing.
Systems of belief are informed by the families we grow up in, the cultures we live in, and the religions we participate in (or do not participate in). Systems of belief are further evolved and informed by friends, peers, teachers, clubs, politics, and media, among many other sources.
Whether you accept the stories and images imparted to you through these systems, whether you believe them or you don’t believe them, beliefs about how the world is or isn’t are formed and held in the mind very much like the phantom image Olafur Eliasson created on the cover of TIME.
Each and every belief are things you have choose to accept, to believe, and to store in your head. You choose to believe the things you think are true or what you don’t believe or believe to be not true, regardless of whether they are empirically true or not true.
Once you commit to a belief (in other words you swallow an idea hook, line, and sinker), it creates an indelible image of how the world is, which gets overlay onto everything you do and everyone around you. Very much like the elusive image Olafur Eliasson made for the November 2022 cover of TIME. You put them there, and then you project them on the world.
Beliefs are more likes wishes, fears, and desires. They accord with more how we want the world to be rather than how it really is. Our wish/fear/wants live inside our minds and are projected on the world every moment of our lives. They hoover and cling to everything and everyone we come into contact with like a ghostly aura. Depending on what our projected system of beliefs tells us we should believe about a person or a thing that comes into our narrow bandwidth of focused conscious attention, aligns our actions and behavior in the world.
This rather simple ability has oversized implications–some good, some bad. It is an ability that we take for granted as human beings. Our ability to create systems of beliefs is a form of ignorance (ig–nor–ance, what we choose not to see) and it has gotten the better of us. It is what allows us to turn ordinary human beings into monsters or our world into a wasteland.
Kendra R. Parker explains our creation of and fascination with monsters this way:
When Dracula appeared in the 19th century, there was all of this fear, the English were preoccupied with borders, boundaries and nationalism. Between like 1881 and 1900 there was an increase in the number of non-English Jewish people. There was this xenophobia, this fear of Jewish people, this sort of threat of external colonization. And so these fears about the threatening outsider, who is going to come in and disturb the national pure body, finds its way into Bram Stoker's Dracula.
And if we come to the United States in 1898, we have newspaper images popping up out of North Carolina that depict Black men as vampires because there was this fear of Black men. There's this fear of black men being in politics and so that if you got black political power, then they're going to take over and destroy white women and all of that. And so you've got all of this propaganda.
And there are two images in particular. One is called "The Vampire that Hovers Over North Carolina." It appears in 1898, and it's a Black male vampire coming out of a ballot box. And there's another image that same time period in North Carolina where you got vampires coming out of the grave to vote and they're Black. And so there's this fear that if you let these monsters vote, they will take over and destroy our way of life.
The Monsters We Are
When we use our system of beliefs to turn other human beings into monsters, it is ourselves who become the monster. When hate becomes our fuel, then the transformation is complete. The monster has been made.
It is a way of being in the world that leads to Hell. It is the path of destruction, of mayhem, and of death.
It is a way of being in the world that may begin by being suspicious, distrustful, and skeptical. But it can quickly eclipse who you think you are and make you into a person who takes pleasure in being cynical, ghoulish, grisly, and grotesque.
Such a journey is often summed up by the popular phrase —Take The Red Pill. This means a person that falls down a rabbit hole. They start out innocently following juicy breadcrumbs of gossip and plausibly outrageous happens that grow ever more implausible. But once you get hooked on these toxic breadcrumbs carefully left behind by Master Manipulators who are experts in making the implausible sound plausible. Indeed, the Truth that you are willing to die for.
How To Make of a Monster
Step 1) Chop the world into absolutely good and absolutely evil, then choose a role to play in this absolute drama (it goes without saying that whatever side you play on… that is the righteous side, the good guys, the side that is going to slay absolute evil)
Step 2) Select a Mask for the role you will play in the absolute drama to rid the world of absolute evil (make sure you are the Super Hero of your story and everyone else is the bad guy)
Step 3) Strap Your Mask Tightly To Your Face So It Doesn’t Slip or Fall Off (you don’t want anyone to see you are merely human like the people and other living beings you are dehumanizing)
Step 4) Cut Up Bits and Pieces from the World and Other Stories, Then Mash Them Into Your Mask So You Become Unrecognizable Like Camouflage (it doesn’t matter if the bits and pieces make sense anymore, you are creating your super hero version of yourself!)
Step 5) Add Lots of Layers to Your Mask, Be Sure to Use Lots of Devilish Deceit and Deception, More Camouflage to Help You Better Play Your Role (God forbid anyone recognize that you’re really human behind your Fake Persona)
Step 6) Distort, Deform, and Mangle Your Mask to Create Fantastic New Levels of Distractions and Illusions, Even More Camouflage… Fighting Evil Isn’t for Sissies (this will draw others to you — your followers, your zombie army)
Step 7) Forget You Are Wearing A Mask: Now You Are A Monster
I have not read this book, Metaflesh. But, the image of the cover is captivating. To me, it perfectly captures how we can turn ourselves into monsters using any system of belief, any one at all. In the land of make believe, nothing is sacred. Once we slip down a rabbit holes inside our minds, the inner Hellish landscape allows us to endlessly violently project onto others what we cannot admit to ourselves that we are.
This is a book review of Metaflesh from where I got the image:
Metaflesh is written by Evan J. Peterson, author of The PrEP Diaries: A Safe(r) Sex Memoir and DragStar!, the world’s first drag performer role-playing game. Metaflesh is a book of verse and prose from the point of view of Frankenstein’s Monster. The reflections are inspired not only by Mary Shelley’s seminal work (double entendre fully intended) but also by the pop culture descendants of her novel. Sources include a wide variety of Frankenstein/mad scientist movies and song lyrics. The book also contains themes of Jewish folklore, queer culture, camp, and a lot of David Cronenberg-style body horror. The book covers the gamut of the Monster’s experiences through over a century of movies and songs, and portrays the Monster as both gender-fluid and a sort of chimerical film critic, reviewing portrayals of their self through lyric poetry and flash fiction.
This is an ingenious book of metafiction. Just as Dr. Frankenstein cut up different people and stitched the bits together, Peterson cut up and reassembled his sources, turning them into something greater than the sum of their parts. Borrowing from William S. Burroughs cut-up technique, he splices together Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein with F.T. Marinetti’s Manifesto del Futurismo (Futurist Manifesto) and with J. G. Ballard’s essay, “Why I want to F*ck Ronald Reagan.” He apostrophizes the sexually explicit films of avant-garde queer Canadian creator Bruce LaBruce and doesn’t forget to include General Mills’ Frankenberry breakfast cereal or select lines from Mommy Dearest and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The combined imagery of classical Greek mythology, white supremacy, drag queens, Judaism, and zombie erotica do not merge into a hot mess but meld together into a deliciously readable book.
This literary retrospective is sad, funny, quirky, surgically precise, and captivating. I was never bored and didn’t skip through parts. I tore through my first reading at speed and have been taking my time through subsequent readings. The only spot which slows me down, pulling me to a frowning halt, is a simile in the poem, “His Name is In Me”: “gross as the tallest savage.” Although I’m aware that white supremacist imagery is intentionally used throughout the book—punching up, not down—the use of the word “savage” feels out of place here. It is a racial slur used against Black and Indigenous peoples and stands out awkwardly in a poem strongly based in Judaic imagery. If it is a slur used against Jews, I am unaware, but this is my only quibble with the entire book. -- Book Review: Metaflesh by Evan J. Peterson
Someone OnceTold Me
Someone once told me that my blog The StoryTelling Species Series was just a story. He really just wanted to put it down and elevate himself because we were having a very strong disagreement about COVID. I knew he was wrong, but could not explain to him why he was so wrong then.
Now I can. I knew it is the stories we tell ourselves that make us into heroes or villains, good or evil, saints or monsters. Now I know how it happens inside our minds.
Given how susceptible we are to believe our own stories and lies about ourselves, it is best to give all other people the benefit of the doubt and trust they are not the monster you are afraid of… the one that lives inside of you. It is best just be human and to recognize that we have a little bit of good and a little bit of bad inside of us.
It is when we hang onto the evil inside of us and refuse to let go of it that we make ourselves into monsters and turn Earth into Hell. Trust that reality is far more interesting than the stories we tell ourselves about our selves and others.
Trust that you belong here and now with everyone else and that together we can heal ourselves. This is something we can only do together. And if we heal, Earth heals and our burning hot planet may once again shine in its brilliant, beautiful, life sustaining blues and greens!
In the second episode of Shantaram, available on AppleTV, Lin steps out of his friend Prabaker’s tent in one of Bombay’s sprawling slums. He looks around at all the people in the bustling slum who are looking at him and wonders if they are afraid of him and hate him. He knows he doesn’t belong there, but fate has put him there.
Thinking to himself, he says something like this: “It is what people know about themselves that make them afraid of you.“
In A World…
I rewound and watch this moment again. I was not expecting a nugget of wisdom in this drama. But, there it was…something real, something true, something very pertinent to the world we live in now. Today, no matter where you live, we live in a world….
…where MAGA Republicans think all Democrats are evil beings who drink the blood of children. This belief makes liberals and Democrats not really human. If they aren’t really human, then that makes it all right to kill them, all of them.
“Oh? You don’t believe me?”
Listen to this man right here. He’s the man with the littlest Wiennie of them all. The man in the middle touting hate, lies, deception, stories of separation, fear, and division. He’s Steve Bannon.
This little man, Trump’s Rasputin, knows that a democracy divided is easy to control. And he wants to control everything. Look at his beady eyes and scrubby stubble. He’s a tormented man doing everything to create confusion, chaos, and destruction so he can rise as a Christ for a world of sinners. If you have not seen CNN’s special report Divided We Fall, it is time to watch it.
“Oh — you don’t trust CNN?“
“You say it’s the radical left touting Joe Biden’s radical agenda…and before that it was Hillary….and before that it was Obama…and before and before…”
How far back should we go with the blame game and ‘I don’t trust you‘ contest? To Adam and Eve? Is it really that nasty little snake who started it all?
If you’re playing this game, you have already swallowed the Red Pill, and it’s working its toxic poison deep inside of you. It’s a poison that makes you deeply afraid of others and deeply afraid ofyour own shadow. And, you probably should be deeply afraid of your own shadow.
That is what Lin is aware of while standing alone in the slum of Bombay. That sneaky shadow that lives inside all of us casting its evil intensions and desires onto everyone else, except for you.
If you are playing this game, you have joined the ranks of people who violently participate in the denial of diversity. You do this to legitimize yourown violent fear of anyone who doesn’t walk like you, talk like you, look like you, act like you, or think like you. You secretly believe and harbor a wish to bring into being a world that obeys and worships you.
The dirty little secret is hidden deep inside of you is a greedy, little, bloodthirsty thing who rages and whines about inflicting pain and suffering onto others. You want to do this so that you can enjoy your comforts and privileges. You need to do this because how would you know you are enjoying comforts and privileges unless others are suffering?
When you get called out on your racism, homophobia, antisemitism, and racism, you rage. You rage against the radical liberals who are merely pointing out your evil shadow. But, you don’t want to see the evil inside of you. So you build a wall. It’s a really tall wall that is made from the seething anger and rage boiling inside of you. If anyone gets too near, it burns like a living fire.
‘God damn it!’ if anyone is going to penetrate you inner wall and see that howling, wounded, frighten, greedy thing that lives inside of you.
That thing…. that scoundrel, that fiend, rascal, rogue, fraudster, trickster, beast, son of a bitch, deviant thing, loser, weirdo, cry baby, stupid brutal bastard, and bully. But guess what? So am I, and so is everyone else you know. We all have this evil thing living inside of us.
It never goes away. It bubbles and boils and burns inside us all. It pursues and terrorizes us in our dreams. Lin says, “A dream is when a wish and fear come together. A nightmare is when they are the same thing.”
Remaining ignorant of your evil being merely locks it inside of you where it is hidden behind the carefully constructed idea of yourself (your persona: the role you play in your community and for your family). It is your personal internal prison cell behind the giant wall that you built to conceal your evil being. You built the wall so well, most of the time you can’t even see your evil being locked inside your mental prison cell with you.
This thing inside of you is relentless and torments you night and day. In an act of utter desperation, you spew it out onto others and shout in a voice dripping with rage and fury:
“There! There is the boogeyman!
There is the Devil!
There is the Evil Thing that must be annihilated!”
Or, if the other person (the boogeyman) was once part of your exclusive club of people who know the Truth and what is really going on, you might shout:
“Hang Mike Pence!!”
In a world where Putin calls the people of Ukraine Nazis. Never mind he is the one acting like the Nazi. He is the one full of hate. He is the one who has driven out close to a million Russian men because they don’t want to fight in his barbaric, poorly equipped, and pretty bad army. He is losing. So he resorts to lies and double downs on stupid while waging his limp, impotent Nuclear Weiner.
Do not be fooled by Putin’s weak, victim-based, impotent hysterics! He is exactly the type of man who would push the button.
In a world where Iran’s Moral Police beat up and kill young women simply for wearing their hijab too loosely. But it is themselves they are really policing. They are afraid that if they see a single strand of hair sticking out from a hijab, their Limp Weak Weiner will grow. And if this happens, they are afraid they’ll lose control and turn into the Devils they know themselves to really be deep, deep down inside. This corrupt and bankrupt regime has already killed 272 you