Now we are getting into the nitty gritty stuff of why we need strong archetypal characters and stories, especially now. We need them because we live in a time chock full of improbable characters playing as if they are super heroes, but really they are just playing insidious tricks on our minds so they can get our money or get power.
And if they do get enough power, they are going to take everything from you (Yes, even if you supported them, especially if you supported them!)
And also as if we need even more examples of why we need to strengthen our minds against frauds and fakesters, just the other day, David Gura spoke with Zeke Faux of Bloomberg News and New Yorker staff writer Sheelah Kolhatkar about the trial of Sam Bankman-Fried who is the disgraced founder of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX.
This part of the interview is exactly what Joost Merloo is writing about here and why I am highlighting in this blog: We are suckers for people with money. We are even worse suckers for people who pretend to have money!
GURA: For people who haven't invested in crypto, haven't dabbled in this world, don't know Sam Bankman-Fried, don't know what FTX is, why is this story, why is this alleged fraud so important and such a big deal?
KOLHATKAR: This is an old story, to some extent. This is a story about, you know, an ostensible genius who happened to be very young, lauded by the press, you know, worshipped by Silicon Valley, who was allowed to go out and behave in, ultimately, a reckless way with other people's money while people turned and looked the other way. And, you know, lo and behold, things were not as they seemed. Something was seriously wrong, and it resulted in a, you know, terrible amount of pain and destruction and financial losses.
And this arc, this narrative arc, is something we see over and over again, particularly in sort of hot, new tech companies where you often have these young men who are just empowered to go out and behave recklessly while they try and grow their companies. And then, of course, we figure out afterwards that they were cutting corners or fraud occurred, and, you know, there's all sorts of pain and recrimination. And you don't have to care about crypto to care about the outcome and the question of whether justice is served in this case.
-- The fall of crypto | All Things Considered, NPR
The Enigma of Coexistence
Is it possible to coexist with a totalitarian system that never ceases to use its psychological artillery? Can a free democracy be strong enough to tolerate the parasitic intrusion of totalitarianism into its rights and freedoms? History tells us that many opposing and clashing ideologies have been able to coexist under a common law that assured tolerance and justice. The church no longer burns its apostates.
Before the opposites of totalitarianism and free democracy can coexist under the umbrella of supervising law and mutual good will, a great deal more of mutual understanding and tolerance will have to be built up. The actual cold war and psychological warfare certainly do not yet help toward this end.
To the totalitarian, the word "coexistence" has a different meaning than it has to us. The totalitarian may use it merely as a catch-word or an appeaser. The danger is that the concept of peaceful coexistence may become a disguise, dulling the awareness of inevitable interactions and so profiting the psychologically stronger party. Lenin spoke about the strategic breathing spell (peredyshka) that has to weaken the enemy. Too enthusiastic a peace movement may mean a superficial appeasement of problems. Such an appeal has to be studied and restudied, lest it result in a dangerous letdown of defences, which have to remain mobilized to face a ruthless enemy.
A tragic example of this is what happened to Khasoggi five years ago today.
As I write this blog, today is five years since Jamal Khashoggi with murdered and mutilated. Rachel Treisman opens this segment saying:
Jamal Khashoggi — a Saudi dissident who lived in Virginia and wrote for the Washington Post — walked into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain documents for his upcoming marriage. He never came out.
Khashoggi, 59, was dismembered, and his remains have never been found.
U.S. intelligence later determined that a team of 15 Saudi agents had flown to Istanbul to carry out a "capture or kill" operation approved by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS).
What strikes me as particularly pertinent to what Joost Meerloo is saying above is what Khashoggi’s friend and collegue Washington Post columnist David Ignatius says:
It's undeniable that there have been major changes in Saudi Arabia in the last five years, Ignatius notes.
Saudi Arabia and Israel have hinted they are open to establishing formal relations, which Ignatius says is something he never thought he'd see in his lifetime.
"It would be wrong not to credit those changes," Ignatius said. "What bothers me is that those changes have been implemented essentially by force ... We should understand that this is a modernizing dictator. And there's always the danger that citizens of Saudi Arabia could be thrown into prison if they disagree with him."
If you are interested in this topic, you should listen to the whole interview. It is only 3 minutes; time well spent to understand the complexities of our time and how what looks like a good thing or even a GREAT things, might be a very poisonous thing for our psychological reality.
Coexistence may mean a suffocating subordination much like that of prisoners coexisting with their jailers. At its best, it may imitate the intensive symbiotic or ever-parasitic relationship we can see among animals which need each other, or as we see it in the infant in its years of dependency upon its mother.
In order to coexist and to cooperate, one must have notions and comparable images of interaction, of a sameness of ideas, of a belonging-together, of an interdependence of the whole human race, in spite of the existence of racial and cultural differences. Otherwise the ideology backed by the greater military strength will strangle the weaker one.
Peaceful coexistence presupposes on BOTH sides a high understanding of the problems and complications of simple coexistence, of mutual agreement and limitations, of the diversity of personalities, and especially of the coexistence of contrasting and irreconcilable thoughts and feelings in every individual of the innate ambivalence of man. It demands an understanding of the rights of both the individual and the collectivity. Using coexistence as a catch-word, we may obscure the problems involved, and we may find that we use the word as a flag that covers gradual surrender to the stronger strategist.
Do you think the United States’ Congress has a high understanding of the problems and complications of coexistence? Given the recent fight over funding the US government and now Matt Gate’s stunt, it seems we need divine intervention to help guide us weaker minded souls in just remembering how to compromise and get along together.
“In the majestic Halls of Congress, God ushers elephants to one corner and donkeys to another, bestowing upon them a much-deserved respite.“
Images made on Genolve using AI with music for each animation as follows:
Feature Archetypal Animation
Music: The Greatest Showman (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) — Various Artists — The Greatest Show
Introduction: Reminder Why We Need Strong Super Hero Movies
I found a great article on Harrison Ford in Esquire where the writer Ryan asks Harrison what he thinks the point of stories are for people. Harrison answers:
“I guess the point is, these stories we see—movies, novels—we look for ourselves in these characters and these stories,” I say, rebooting.
He nods. “We look for ourselves, and we look for useful information to help us navigate our fucking lives and the world that we’re living in,” he says. “We don’t realize we’re looking for that. But we’re looking to pull out of a fantasy something that’s useful to us. And what’s useful to us is to emotionally participate in things outside of our own lives.”
-- Esquire | Harrison Ford Has Stories to Tell |Yeah, Indiana Jones is back. But enough with the legend stuff. We spent two days in L.A. with Ford—in his airplane hangar, at his house—drinking bourbon and talking about what really matters in life. By Ryan D'Agostino | PUBLISHED: MAY 31, 2023
To understand the animation of Hans Solo and his poached eggs you need to read the article in Esquire. In short, Harrison Ford is a super hero archetype actor. He’s acted in Star Wars (no date needed!), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Blade Runner (1982), Witness (1985), The Mosquito Coast (1986), Working Girl (1988), Presumed Innocent (1990), Patriot Games (1992), The Fugitive (1993), Clear and Present Danger (1994), Air Force One (1997), and Marvel movies as the President of the United States, and more.
Harrison knows better than most why we like and need stories in our lives. He’s acted in a bunch of them after all where it is his job to depict Arches of Consciousness. That is what stories and movies are all about. And as Arches of Consciousness, every arch has a light side and a shadow side. Just as human beings do and this is because we get to decide what side of an archetype we act upon. Our super hero movies and modern stories, just like ancient myths, depict what happens to human beings when they choose to act on one side of an arch or the other in constantly changing situations, which is the position we all find ourselves in as conscious living beings throughout our lives.
Stories are short cuts to consequences, karma. And karma is nothing more than the consequences of conscious choices made by human beings. Stories show us what might happen when we choose to act using one side or another side of an Arch of Consciousness or if we only choose to act using a very narrow spectrum of our full conscious capabilities.
The Indoctrination Barrage
So let’s get back to the meat of consciousness and why we need to pay attention and use our minds critically every moment of every day. We need to do this work of critical thinking, which is how we work out our consciousness, to stay healthy and free. We need to work out our minds just like we need to work out our bodies to stay healthy and live a long life.
Here is the next section of Joost A. M. Meerloo’s landmark book The Rape of the Mind, Chapter 5: The Indoctrination Barrage, beginning on page 71.
The continual intrusion into our minds of the hammering noises of arguments an propaganda can lead to two kinds of reactions. It may lead to apathy and indifference, the I-don't-care reaction, or to a more intensified desire to study and to understand. Unfortunately, the first reaction is the more popular one. The flight from study and awareness is much too common in a world that throws too many confusing pictures to the individual. For the sake of our democracy, based on freedom and individualism, we have to bring ourselves back to study again and again. Otherwise, we can become easy victims of a well-planned verbal attack on our minds and consciences.
We cannot be enough aware of the continual coercion of our senses and minds, the continual suggestive attacks which may pass through the intellectual barriers of insight. Repetition and Pavlovian conditioningexhaust the individual and may seduce him ultimately to accept a truth he himself initially defied and scorned.
The totalitarians are very ingenious in arousing latent guilt in us by repeating over and over againhow criminally the Western World has acted toward innocent and peaceful people. The totalitarians may attack our identification with our leaders by ridiculing them, making use of every man's latent critical attitude toward all leaders. Sometimes they use the strategy of boredom to lull the people to sleep. They would like the entire Western world to fall into a hypnotic sleep under the illusion of peaceful coexistence. In a more refined strategy, they would like to have us cut all our ties of loyalty with the past, away from relatives and parents. The more you have forsaken them and their so-called outmoded concepts, the better you will cooperate with those who want to take mental possession of you.Every political strategy that aims toward arousing fear and suspicion tends to isolate the insecure individual until he surrenders to those forces that seem to him stronger than his former friends.
And last but not least, let us not forget that in the battle of arguments those with the best and most forceful strategy tend to win. The totalitarians organize intensive dialectical training for their subjects lest their doubts get the better of them. They try to do the same thing to the rest of the world in a less obtrusive way.
We have to learn to encounter the totalitarians' exhausting barrage of words with better training and better understanding. If we try to escape from these problems of mental defense or deny their complications, the cold war will gradually be lost to the slow encroachment of words -- and more words.
Resist, resist, resist the I-don’t-care reaction! Push yourself to learn, study, and understand. Run, don’t walk, towards the more intensified desire to study and to understand reaction that Joost A. M. Meerloo talks about. This is the only way we stay free. This is the only way we survive as a species on planet Earth because do you really think demigods like Trump, Putin, and the others really care about your freedoms, about your economic security, about the planet. If you really think they do, well, you’ve been successfully indoctrinated and are riding the barge to the end of the world
Images made on Genolve AI image generation options.
Feature Archetypal Animation
Music: The Baroque Ball (From “Cruella”) [Instrumental] — Roxane Genot
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
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
I was captivated by another Throughline that aired on January 19, 2023. This episode explores possible Extremist Futures as envisioned by Omar El Akkad in his novel American War.
Omar’s novel is about America’s second Civil War. He imagines 50 years into our future. A time when climate change has turned Florida into an underwater theme park and climate disasters devastate the world. His vision is very similar to mine in my novel Sapience: The Moment Is Now (not yet published).
In American War, the world finally understands that it has to stop burning fossil fuels and bands them–but it’s too little too late. The US is the last to band fossil fuels. All states agree to switch to more sustainable energy except Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. These three states take up arms, deciding they would rather secede than stop burning fossil fuels.
They lose, again, but what follows is a years-long insurgency. This is where his story is mostly centered.
Something Omar says in the beginning of this Throughline needs to be emphasized. He says, “We read to feel into another.”
This is how we come to know and understand each other. A country or a state (I’m thinking of you Florida) that bans books because they might be subversive… God Forbid… they might give children ideas… is a system that seeks to keep its citizens in ignorance.
Break down the word: ig — nor — ance. States and countries that ban books are teaching their people to ignore what they see with their very own eyes.
And, people who are kept in ignorance are a heck of a lot easier to manipulate too!
He also says, “Story is the final act of Resistance!“
The New York Time’s describes his novel: “Omar El Akkad’s “American War” is a disturbingly plausible case in point — a tale of a future America torn asunder by its own political and tribal affiliations.“
This is what caught my attention too.
Throughline plays some from the audio book of American War that includes sound effects. Had I not caught the beginning, I might have thought I was listening to real, on-the-ground reporting.
Omar’s story feels real, very real. It feels like it is already happening.
He grounds his story telling by his real life experiences as a boy in Lebanon where he was a witness to the devastation of war and what happens to people in refugee camps.
Omar says, “A society subjected by warfare is akin to moving backwards in time.”
Think of what Putin is doing to his people and to the beautiful people of Ukraine. Every image coming out of his sick ego trip is likened to images from WWI.
The Academy Award nominated movie All Quiet on the Western Front vividly paints the insanity of rich, powerful men who send other men to die for their personal power and glory. In this movie (and of course the book), Paul Bäumer and his classmates are just cannon fodder for a fatherland that has gone mad.
If you are having a hard time remembering the horror and senselessness of death of WWI, then watch All Quiet to remind yourself that quiet means dead. Watch as these young, gifted boys sign up for service and get pumped up by grumpy, old narcissistic men who stuff them full of overly romanticized, patriotic notions of war and how they are defending the fatherland. It’s on Netflix, so you have no excuse.
Omar describes this souped-up patriotic messaging as euphemistic fraudulence.
This article begins with the college admission scandal that caught up actress Lori Loughlin and fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli in acts of fraud to get their children into the best schools.
Robert writes, and this is important:
In an earlier blog post we suggested some reasons, grounded in behavioral ethics, that might help explain why reputable people and loving parents became involved in these frauds. The conformity bias, the self-serving bias, and incrementalism all may have contributed. The evidence disclosed in the indictment offers additional clues.
A euphemism, say’s Webster’s, is “the substitution of an agreeable or inoffensive expression for one that may offend or suggest something unpleasant.”
Famed Stanford psychologist Albert Bandura writes of “moral disengagement,” suggesting that people, such as Loughlin and Giannulli, who think of themselves as good people can do something bad so long as they can selectively suspend morality for their activities. One way people do this is by use of euphemisms. Bandura notes:
“Language shapes the perception of events and the thought patterns on which people base many of their actions. The personal and social acceptability of given activities, therefore, can differ markedly depending on what those activities are called. Euphemistic machinations are used widely to detach and depersonalize doers from harmful activities. Cloaking detrimental activities in euphemisms can be a powerful weapon.”
Examples of the “sanitizing and convoluted language” (Gambino) of euphemisms that have helped people make their peace with wrongdoing include the following:
Dead civilians = “collateral damage”
Mass firings = “right-sizing”
Lies = “alternative facts”
Burning down villages = “pacification”
Fraud = “creative accounting”
Genocide = “the final solution”
Empirical studies indicate that “euphemistic labels can psychologically sanitize unethical practices, facilitating our participation in them.” (Moore & Gino).
The World is Either Good or Evil
This is a lie. Every modern human being born today is told this lie.
Omar talks about how this idea is used to twist us into doing all sorts of evil things. It is a notion, an idea, a belief drilled into us since the day we are born until the day we are dead.
It is this very idea that the world can be cleaved into a good side and a bad side that allows us to be manipulated.
I would add it is precisely splitting the world into Good and Bad parts that lets us justify just about any abominable violence we can dream up.
It is also what allows ruthless rulers to turn plain, ordinary, decent human beings into killing machines and monsters.
Ruthless Rulers are already monsters and include men such as Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Ali Khamenei, Kim Jong-um, Denis Sassou Nguesso, Abdullah Aziz Al Saud, Bashar al-Assad, and there are many more (see the list of Current World Dictators).
We live with these monsters right here, right now on our planet. And they are pounding our world straight back to the Stone Age just as fast as they can.
What do you think? Are they winning? The Red countries that is… are there more red countries than yellow or green?
That is exactly what they want you to believe. But, perhaps you are beginning to sense out it is precisely this idea of division that is the problem.
One of Omar’s characters is an empathetic lair. He is the character that goes into the refugee camps and radicalizes the kids there.
Omar says there is no such thing as exotic suffering, but empathetic liars make you believe there is. Empathetic liars parse the fine threads of what we do and what is done to us. Empathetic liars play upon the lack of self-agency in a place like a refugee camp (or one of Putin’s prisons) and use it like a gleaming lure to hook their targets–kids (or Russian prisoners) whom they plan to turn into cannon fodder.
Omar says, “People go to bad place when their self-agency is taken away from them.” And the more damaged a person is, the more their circle of Trust closes in, making them extremely vulnerable to empathetic liars
And that is exactly what autocrats, dictators, and pretty much most of the Republican Party in the United States are doing. Whoever they are…all close ranks around their strong man, hype their followers up on FraudulentEuphemisms, and close the circle of Trust until only one man can be trusted.
And, there sure are a lot of want-a-bee dictators who desire to be the one and only man the entire human race can trust–Putin, Trump, Xi Jinping, Ali Khamenei, Kim Jong-um, Denis Sassou Nguesso, Abdullah Aziz Al Saud, Bashar al-Assad, or pick your poison.
Yes, Omar is very right to envision the coming of America’s Second Civil War! Heck, we might be staring down the path to WWIII.
I think Empathetic Liars is another name for Dark Empaths. Dark Empathy is not a good thing. Dr. Ramani does a very good job in this video explaining why all of us need to be on the look out for Dark Empaths and Empathetic Lairs.
Reality? What Reality!
Omar talks about when a group of people believeanything they want to believe is real… you’re living in a very dangerous place and time.
Add the element of violent insurrection being a central part of a country’s narrative, and you have a tinderbox waiting to explode.
He admits he’s been amazed how reality has out did his fiction.
He warns, “There is a particular Force that when it emerges within a group of people, it must be stared down directly.”
I would add that when this Force is encountered: You cannot blink. You cannot turn away. And, if you falter, it will destroy you.
I’m writing about such a force too. I was reminded of a prologue I was playing around with to describe my story. I realize it is exactly what Omar is warning us about.
Image from: Penguin Random House Audio | “Powerful . . . As haunting a postapocalyptic universe as Cormac McCarthy [created] in The Road, and as devastating a look as the fallout that national events have on an American family as Philip Roth did in The Plot Against America. . . . Omar El Akkad’s debut novel, American War, is an unlikely mash-up of unsparing war reporting and plot elements familiar to readers of the recent young-adult dystopian series The Hunger Games and Divergent.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
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 young people and beaten and/or tortured 1,110 others.
In each world outlined above, each man’s rigid, inflexible thinking and bullshit is camouflage for the shitty little men they really are. They lust after power and cluster together helping each other hold onto power and control in their stinking palaces riddled with long, long corridors of terror.
Maps of Hate
This is what the corruption is and this is what it does to human beings. It is a kind of moral bankruptcy. It takes root inside individuals who find each other and clump together in groups that try to take control in order to enforce their style and way of thinking. If they do get control, they quickly create systems that exclude diversity and impose their way of doing things in brutal ways meant to terrorize everyone else into compliance. When a government becomes populated by such individuals, it turns into a structural system of terror bent on brutalizing anyone who is not exactly like them.
There are three main mappable categories of this deadly psychic virus: Dictators, Terror Groups, and Hate Groups. But the corruption lives inside everyone and is readily expressed in every day transactions. You see it in families, in workplaces, in schools, between friends and lovers. It thrives in ignorance and lack of self-awareness. It particularly loves to reside inside narcissists!
Dictators of the World
This is a comprehensive, up-to-date list of the world's current dictators and authoritarian regimes. In 2022, there are 57 dictatorships in the world. We define a dictator as the ruler of a land rated “Not Free” by the Freedom House in their annual survey of freedom. See the interactive map and photos below or click to visit the current dictators category.
Of course, the dictators of the world will point to all the yellow areas of this map and claim, “There! There is the evil capitalists who are draining the world of resources and polluting our planet!”
They are not entirely wrong, expect they think in black and white, good and evil,right and wrong. They split the world into opposite halves. Then, they step inside the Good Bubble, created entirely inside their mind and spew out their pent-up boiling hate, vengeance, and destructive tendencies on everyone else. They never take responsibility for themselves. They are the consummate victim, and always the hero in their narcissistic story. And so, it is in this way that we (the human race) will split the planet into two unreconcilable halves and all die together in a seething puddle of hate.
One step behind dictators and authoritarian rulers of the world are terror groups such as Boko Haram, ISIS, and Taliban (which actually managed to retake control of Afghanistan bumping them back up to the dictator map above). The map below shows terror groups around the world and provides a list of largest terrorist groups worldwide.
These are groups of people who twist words and religions to bolster their brutal causes. They are mostly stateless centers of terror who are trying to grab some land and people who they can crush and ruin.
Overall Terrorism Index Score: GTI is a composite measure made up of four indicators: incidents, fatalities, injuries and property damage. To measure the impact of terrorism, a five year weighted average is applied.
One step behind terror groups are hate groups. Rather than centering their brutal activities in one spot or country, hate groups operate like a distributed network that hock, sell, and propagate hate. It is easier than ever to breed hate with the advent of the Internet and people who live their lives online.
Hate groups traffick outrage and outlandish accusations designed to divide the world into Us and Them, into people you can trust and people you can’t trust. Hate groups are insidious and invade peoples minds like a drug. Once you become addicted to hate, it is an addiction that is harder to kick than heroin. It is a poison to your mind that is more destructive than Meth. Hate literally changes the neural pathways of your brain.
The following images are from Jigsaw, an incredible website that helps you visualize hate.
Another excellent mapping project is the Hate-Map using real time data of hate events to create a map that shows hotspots and how hate is growing worldwide.
The Hate Map is populated with data submitted both by our internal researchers, the public and our network of volunteers. This data largely stems from publicly available news-sources and consolidations of information from other public data-sets and records. Existing records are however often limited in scope and fail to give a comprehensive picture of the global activities of the far right ranging from spread of propaganda and low-level activities through major terrorist incidents.
All data in the Hate Map is verified and quality controlled by internal researchers who are experts on far right extremism and experienced in the field of open source intelligence (OSINT) building on public sources and providing verifiable documentation before it is made available in our public-facing database and dashboard. Our researchers take great care to verify sources where there might exist any doubt. Links to external sources are provided for all our database entries in order to ensure that the public further can verify any incident independently.
Our dataset is cross referenced against the work of other institutions and organizations mapping the far right in order to ensure as comprehensive a picture of the global situation of the far right as possible, in keeping with the highest academic standards.
The Hate Map is a living document and both recent and historic events are added and verified on a daily basis. -- The Hate-Map
Regardless of if you are a dictator; an authoritarian ruler; a leader or member of a terror group; a leader or member of a hate group; a narcissistic boss, sibling, friend, or parent, you play from the same dirty handbook. That book repeats one mantra over and over, which is to inflict as much pain, terror, and suffering on your enemy (which is anyone who does not agree with you) while constantly claiming to be the victim. And if you can’t win that way, then you have the right to destroy everything.
This attitude, belief system, behavior is all a big cover up of who you really are. It is a smoke screen and distraction because deep, deep down inside yourself you feel inferior, impotent, dithering, confused, frighten, and like a limp Weiner. That’s why you run around the world hurting everyone else. If you can’t have it your way, then you want to be the first to destroy it!
Looking at these map, it is pretty clear we are not doing very well as species. No wonder we are not paying attention to Climate Change. Perhaps we won’t need to after all. The way things are going we will blow ourselves up before nature cleans us off the surface of the planet with climate disasters that are only getting bigger and more deadlier by the year… and this trend is only going bigger and badder not the other way.
Perhaps we all better stop, take a deep breathe, and listen to the Whale Songs again. The ones Vermont biologist Roger Payne captured and brought to us in the 1970s!
I realized this thing Lin said in the second episode of Shantaram is part of the puzzle of the Yetzer Harah.
I first heard about the Yetzer Harah while listening to Alan Watts lectures who describes it like this:
So, in Hebrew theology incidentally. That there is a thing called the yetzer harah. And in the beginning of time when God created Adam he implanted in him the yetzer hara and the yetzer hara means that wayward spirit. He put something funny in man so that man would be a little odd and it was a result of the yetzer hara that Adam was tempted by Eve who was tempted by the serpent to eat that famous fruit. And, but the Hebrew believes that everything that God created is good. Including the Yetzer Hara. Because if it hadn’t been for the yetzer hara, there would have nothing ever happened. Everybody would have obeyed God and God would have said well this is kind of a bore.
Now that you see, you can’t you can’t just get up to someone and say disobey me, because if they do there are varying you. See that’s a double bind. Say to somebody disobey me but God is much more subtle than that. He didn’t tell Adam to disobey he told him to obey.
But suddenly he put this yetzer hara thing in like that so that, God would say well I’m not responsible. For this thing’s going to happen on its own because what everybody wants is something to happen on its own. And everybody wants that.
Because you see, this sensation of being you. This curious lonely center of awkward sensitivity, subject to the most peculiar feelings and pains and anxieties and all that sort of thing all that. Is an essential prerequisite for feeling something else. These two experiences go together. -- 2.4.9 Way Beyond Seeking Part 2; Alan Watts Organization
In short, the Yetzer Harah is why we do evil things, why we fear people we don’t know, why we wage wars, why we cheat each other… pretty much why we are living in the mess we made of the world today.
Shantaram tells the story of how Lin made a mess of his life (surely guided by his inner Yetzer Harah that tempted him into making a lot of bad choices that landed him in prison). Then, Lin makes a courageous choice, escapes from prison, and gets a second chance to live his life, which he is messing up again–gosh darn it!
I’m only on episode 2…so Lin is probably going to embark on different mistakes. And I bet he is going to grow from these mistakes because Lin demonstrates the capacity to reflect on his new situation and past mistakes, which pushing open the door of the prison cell inside your head, just a little bit, but if you look…there is vast and beautiful field of wisdom beyond your prison cell behind your wall of ignorance.
Is wisdom perhaps the reason God implanted the Yetzer Harah into man at the very beginning?
I suppose we will never know because clearly we are going to kill each other long before we can collectively learn how to embrace diversity and celebrate life in all its many facets and ways of being in the world.
Images For Archetypal Animations
Feature Archetypal Animation
Music: Down the Rabbit Hole: Emma Wallace  Rabbit Hole 2:02
Second Archetypal Animation
I was searching for exactly what Lin said to himself when he woke up the first morning in his friends tent in the Bombay slum. I could not find it, but I found a lot of other great quotes from Gregory David Roberts who is the author of Shantarm. So, I have sprinkled these in between the credits of where I found the images for this animation.
“Civilisation, after all, is defined by what we forbid, more than what we permit.” ― Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram
“Fear dries a man’s mouth, and hate strangles him. That’s why hate has no great literature: real fear and real hate have no words.” ― Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram
“For this is what we do. Put one foot forward and then the other. Lift our eyes to the snarl and smile of the world once more. Think. Act. feel. Add our little consequence to the tides of good and evil that flood and drain the world. Drag our shadowed crosses into the hope of another night. Push our brave hearts into the promise of a new day. With love; the passionate search for truth other than our own. With longing; the pure, ineffable yearning to be saved. For so long as fate keeps waiting, we live on.” ― Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram
“The past reflects eternally between two mirrors -the bright mirror of words and deeds, and the dark one, full of things we didn’t do or say.” ― Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram
“While I was chained to a wall and being tortured, I realized, through the screaming of my mind, that even in that shackled, bloody helplessness, I was still free: free to hate the men who were torturing me, or to forgive them. It doesn’t sound like much, I know. But in the flinch and bite of the chain, when it’s all you’ve got, that freedom is a universe of possibility. And the choice you make between hating and forgiving, can become the story of your life.” ~ Gregory David Roberts
“The truth is that there are no good men, or bad men,’ he said. ‘It is the deeds that have goodness or badness in them. There are good deeds, and bad deeds. Men are just men – it is what they do, or refuse to do, that links them to good and evil. The truth is that an instant of real love, in the heart of anyone – the noblest man alive or the most wicked – has the whole purpose and process and meaning of life within the lotus-folds of its passion. The truth is that we are all, every one of us, every atom, every galaxy, and every particle of matter in the universe, moving toward God.” ~ Gregory David Roberts
“It’s forgiveness that makes us what we are. Without forgiveness, our species would’ve annihilated itself in endless retributions. Without forgiveness, there would be no history. Without that hope, there would be no art, for every work of art is in some way an act of forgiveness. Without that dream, there would be no love, for every act of love is in some way a promise to forgive. We live on because we can love, and we love because we can forgive.” ~ Gregory David Roberts
“There’s a truth deeper than experience. It’s beyond what we see, or even what we feel. It’s an order of truth that separates the profound from the merely clever, and the reality from the perception. We’re helpless, usually, in the face of it; and the cost of knowing it, like the cost of knowing love, is sometimes greater than any heart would willingly pay. It doesn’t always help us to love the world, but it does prevent us from hating the world. And the only way to know that truth is to share it, from heart to heart, just as Prabhakar told it to me, just as I’m telling it to you now.” ~ Gregory David Roberts
“Love is the passionate search for a truth other than your own; and once you feel it, honestly and completely, love is forever.” ~ Gregory David Roberts
“Some feelings sink so deep into the heart that only loneliness can help you find them again. Some truths are so painful that only shame can help you live with them. Some things are so sad that only your soul can do the crying for them.” ~ Gregory David Roberts
Music: Shantaram (Chapter Four)Various Artists  Aeternum 9:16  Inner Fire – Yuriy from Russia Remix 9:15
The Tao is like an empty container: it can never be emptied and can never be filled. Infinitely deep, it is the source of all things. It dulls the sharp, unties the knotted, shades the lighted, and unites all of creation with dust.
It is hidden but always present. I don’t know who gave birth to it . It is older than the concept of God.
Conservatives have long invoked the specter of the 1857 Supreme Court decision in Dred Scott vs. Sandford in their fight against abortion rights, likening embryos and fetuses to slaves with no due process. Progressives now, too, are drawing parallels between the stripping of rights from people who may get pregnant and the infamous majority opinion penned by then-Chief Justice Roger Taney, who wrote, "a Black man has no rights which the white man was bound to respect."
Missing from this historic analogy, however, are the experiences of Black women, whose enslavement and forced reproduction was fundamental to America's rise. We speak with Dr. Deborah Gray White, Distinguished Professor of History and Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University, about this not-so-distant history and the possibilities it holds for all American women.
My take away: In the wake of Roe vs Wade being overturned by the Supreme Court, Deborah Gray White was watching the dystopian story the Handmaid’s Tale with her daughter who said, “Oh my God, we’re becoming this!” Deborah replied, “We already are this. America has used black and brown women as reproductive commodities since its founding. What’s changing is now white women are getting closer to becoming commodities again.”
Alok Vaid-Menonis a gender non-conforming writer and performer who grew up in Texas to Indian immigrant parents. They use their creativity and platform to explore themes of gender, race, trauma and belonging, advocating and bringing visibility to the trans community. We speak with Alok about their work and advocacy, and what they learned from their aunt, Urvashi Vaid, the beloved LGBTQ rights activist who spent more than a decade working for equality at the National LGBTQ Task Force.
My take away from this amazing interview: The gender non-conforming community is showing the world how to love during a time of great division, growing hate, tremendous suffering, and huge oceans of human anxiety.
We talk about changing the Constitution and what comes next after the reversal of Roe.
This conversation is part of our Remaking America collaboration with six public radio stations around the country. Remaking America is funded in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
My take away: I loved listening to Olatunde Johnson, professor at Columbia University School of Law | The United States Constitution was made by a bunch of slave owning, patriarchal, misogynistic pale males. It is ludicrous to think we cannot update or change it as our society changes and grows. This is what overturning Roe vs Wade is about. This is what Jan. 6, 2021 is about. It is about a bunch of people who want to live 18th Century lives in the 21st Century.