Tag Archives: hypotheses

If Not the Heartland

Just a random question …

If you’re not living in the “Heartland,” what body part exactly is your home located in? Does that part have no “heart”? Does the “Heartland” have no brain, hands, feet, stomach, mouth, genitals?

Or is that just TOO EASY?

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On Discussing John Searle

The problem with your kind of thought, he said,
is that it often leads to idleness;
and what could be productive time, instead
is spent in useless ponder, more or less,

on how the world’s become the way it is,
to what degree which species is to blame,
the perils posed to culture by big cities,
or which phenomena are rightly named.

Where science may concern itself with how,
you spin your wheels in seeking after why;
resulting in the loss of here and now
exchanged for some perfected by-and-by.

Philosophy may the sport of kings,
but in the end, it means little or nothing.

08 JUN 2005

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Communication for a New Age

This is primarily an intro to several chains-of-thought that make up the bigger picture. They probably will not be chained together in this way once each of them has been fleshed out a bit more.

Each historical age is determined by the predominant societal position given to the individuals, groups, nations or empires that can produce or have the resources to acquire whatever substance that age equates to its varied definitions of power. The Bronze Age – whoever could make the most bronze weapons and tools was the predominant culture; The Iron Age – same scenario, different metal. Once societies ran out of harder or more workable metals, they had to pause and re-evaluate their priorities. As a result, we had the Dark Ages – whoever could keep the most people in the dark about their own potential and thereby utilize the brawn of the world without the cumbersome benefit of its brain; the Industrial Age – the period during which those who appeared to be the most industrious were valued, when how much you had really first became more important that what it was you had so much of; the Computer Age – that period of time after we figured out we could get someone else to do the thinking for us, and ending just before the period of time when we began to realize we couldn’t tell the difference; and finally, we are in the midst of what some are calling the Information Age. Of course, because there are so many of us in this world now, and each of us more or less autonomously by consensus creates, borrows, buys, steals, inherits, creates, is allowed, is deluded into, or avoids their own separate, unique and individual opinion on the subject, whether we are at the beginning, in the middle, or nearing the definite conclusion of the information age is highly subjective.

My belief is that we are near the end of the Information Age; and that means that a new age is on the imminent horizon. I will outline my reasons for this belief, both in its ceasing to exist and clearly waiting to exist aspects, in a while. For now, let me just skip forward to my conclusion: The next age we are about to enter is the Wisdom Age, and unless we start thinking about gathering some of it together now, you and I and a lot of people on this planet are going to be on the bottom of the food chain, socially speaking.

The first question I would put forward to anyone I encountered in this new age would not be, “Do you speak MY language, stranger,” but rather, “Can you sing in your OWN (language)?”

At the conclusion of my initial interrogative statement I would commence to demonstrate a song of my own devising, in my own language. If there was no reply in kind, then that person would be required to locate someone of his own kind who could in fact sing a few bars. If that individual was willing to teach the first “stranger” something of the way of singing, then improvement of that culture could continue. Of course, there would be attempts, in the beginning of the age, where some would try to get others to sing on their behalf (which would of course give credibility to the singer and only by association improve the standing of the employer in some respects, and lower their believability in other respects), or would learn, by rote, someone else’s songs and try to bluff their way through (of course, a true singer would know that the song was not of the singer’s creation, and would know something was false in the communication). But this would rapidly prove the exception.

After the first exchange of songs in each of the singer’s native languages, translation of ideas and other information could ensue. Without a meeting of equals, an individual or group, no matter how extensive or impressive or overwhelming their other assets, had no basis for transacting communication and no wise way of achieving that objective. Unless two individuals can understand,
through that shared experience of each other’s inner being that singing your own song weaves into reality, what really is important to the other person, there is no fair, equitable, honest, open, profitable or moral grounds for business, trade, marriage, treaty, alliance, division, disagreement, censorship, condemnation, ridicule, friendship, religion or warfare – in short, none of these partnership activities can occur. If you want any of those things but can not get your songs in order, you just have to wait. You’re obviously not ready for whatever it is you think you want. So you have time to work on your song and get it together.

Maybe this will help put things into a bit of perspective:

Imagine walking down the sidewalk on an early spring morning, a light mist still hanging in the air in the coolness of the day. You could be in a metropolitan area, or out in the middle of the desert (of course, the construction and very nature of your sidewalk will vary depending on that first choice). There could be thousands of other people involved in this selfsame activity, or you could be the only one. For the sake of this illustration, imagine yourself and at least one other person who will become aware of your presence at about the same time you gain awareness of them.

Now imagine that instead of having a set of headphones on your head that is fed from Sony Walkman, you are accompanied in the open air by a group of between two and six musicians, all accompanying themselves using whatever acoustic (that is, non-electrically powered) instruments, devices, accessories, tools best describe and reproduce the music that describes you. This may take a while to imagine, and of course, at different times, the group may be composed of different and perhaps interchangeable individuals and/or attachments. Chances are you’ll have several varying groups, but at least one or two. Now imagine the body of work that they might perform. It might be songs from the radio, ambient sounds, religious hymns, classical works, etc., etc. At least one of the songs must be an original work (exactly how original is always going to be a problem, it always has been, but I think the nature of the problem will probably change in the future), the performance of which you take an active part whenever it comes into rotation, or by request, whichever comes first. Since this discourse will get confusing unless we somehow divide its parts into recognizable segments, let’s call this first imaginary product in the course of this analogy “The Soundtrack of Your Life.”

Don’t worry if you think you might have left something out – there’s going to be ample opportunity in the future to expand your repertoire.

15 MAR 2005

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Random Thought

There is only one thought
that is scarier to the industrialist
than “Workers of the World Unite”.

It is “Want What You Have”.

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Rambling on Politics

Democracy is dependent upon a single, basic premise: that those with power as a result of wealth and social standing are willing to reject the advantage conferred by the possesion of this power and reject the use of any such advantage in the defense of their position against others with differing viewpoints and agendas who do not possess similar advantage. In short, democracy demands equality before the law. Despite the obvious fact that individuals are NOT equal with respect to environment, education, race, religion, intellect, physical prowess, social standing and/or graces, financial wherewithal, and so forth, the intention of a TRUE democracy is to ignore those factors and regard each person as legally interchangeable.

There are, of course, safeguards built into our legal system to ensure this. But unfortunately, they do not address the fact that there is in practice, if not in the theory upon which that practice is based, a great disparity between the resources available to some versus others. In our democracy, for example, a defendant is provided with legal counsel in matters of criminal court. In a true democracy, it would be either ensured that this legal counsel vouchsafed an indigent defendant is comparable (in education, experience, and expertise) to the counsel for the prosecution, or that the party prosecuting the case would be no better than the individual produced by the defense. Likewise, for a wealthy defendant, it should be ensured that the quality of their attorney should be correlative with the quality of the prosecuting attorney.

With respect to democracy by representation, true democracy requires that the agent, or representative, be truly of the people they represent. For example, a congressman should be of similar educational background, financial status, cultural milieu and so forth of their average constitutuent. That means no congressperson should being wearing suits that the majority of their district cannot afford. Likewise, the salaries of government officials should never exceed the average per capita income of their “flock”. In regard to campaign contributions, no political candidate should receive from ANY contributor (personal, or corporation — which legally is the corpus or body at the head of which is the representative of any number of stockholders who have chosen to invest their individual monies and/or opinions in the legal person thus incorporated) more than the equivalent of one week’s salary of their average voting bloc. That would eliminate the campaign finance issue altogether, perhaps — and salary increase issue as well — because the only way for a candidate or congressperson or president to get more money (either in salary or contributions) would be to actively improve the living wage of their constituency. Now of course, you might say that will increase the jostling over “prime districts”. Well, I think it only need be sorted out at the smaller district level. Larger districts, such as states or countries (i.e., senators and presidents) typically include a wide range of income, including much that is NOT wealthy. In California, for example, it is probably likely that the district that includes Beverly Hills would have a high median income, versus the district that includes Compton and Gardena. For a Senator, that would probably wash out at some level. For a Representative, however, Beverly Hills represents a cushier spot. However, the basic premise of democracy as defined above can be applied here. The point is that financial, social, etc., inequality MUST not influence legal equality. Therefore, the average amount of campaign contributions from the wealthiest quarters CANNOT exceed the average contribution amounts from the poorest quarters. That means that if Pickens County, Arkansas as a whole contributes only $500, then Los Angeles County, California can only contribute the equivalent per capita amount (for example if there are 500 contributors in Pickens County, Arkansas that roughly equates to $5 per contributor; to apply that to Los Angeles County assuming a population of 5,000,000 means that the most that could be used by that constituency is $5 each, or $25M. But that is a VERY wild theory that probably in five minutes will make no sense.

The point is this, I guess. To me, it’s like televangelism. There are no circumstances when a preacher should be wearing a Rolex unless the majority of the constituency to which they preach ALSO not only can afford Rolexes, but chooses to spend their monies on such things. By the same token, under no circumstances should an elected official be wearing a suit, driving a car, living in a home, that the majority of their constituents could not afford. Not on the distribution of wealth, but the distribution of numbers. Because, you’ll remember, democracy is about legal equality. Which is a numeric base. 1 = 1.

Of course, military service should be determined on the same basis. Particularly in a draft. There is no legal way, in a true democracy, for a wealthy child to get a deferment when a poor child does not. As far as the law of democracy goes, they are absolutely equal. Anyone who bends that system does not believe in democracy. And should NEVER be elected mayor, governor, senator, congressperson, president or even head of a homeowner’s association in so-called democratic nation. Or something like that.

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An “A” Theory of American Politics Since the 60s

Guaranteed to offend everyone … but only intended half seriously.

Kennedy proved that the rich are assholes.
Johnson proved that politicians are assholes.
Nixon proved that Presidents are assholes.
Ford proved that Senators are assholes.
Carter proved that the media are assholes.
Reagan proved that Republicans are assholes.
G.H.W. Bush proved that Vice Presidents are assholes.
Clinton proved that Democrats are assholes.
G.W. Bush is trying to prove that Americans are assholes.

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The School of Osmosis

OK, so I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about knowledge, its accumulation, and how application of that acquired or accumulated knowledge can best be used to affect change in society. And here’s the thing — one of my father’s favorite catch-all phrases and concepts was osmosis. Of course, he was a civil/sanitary/environmental engineer, so a lot of his work had to do with the purification and/or modification of one substance via the introduction or removal of another substance.

And reflecting on that very thing got me thinking. Any knowledge that I have gained throughout the years is largely due to osmosis. In biologic terms, osmosis refers to the passage of a solvent through a semipermeable membrane from a less concentrated to a more concentrated solution until both solutions are of the same concentration. In another sense, osmosis refers to gradual or unconscious assimilation or adoption (as of ideas). In other words, to learn French by osmosis means that rather than study it directly, or formally, you acquire the language due to immersion in that culture, or by being surrounded by French speakers.

Applying that same logic to the arts – our culture is the semi-permeable membrane. In many ways, it is rigid — there are certain, direct actions that when taken against the culture, result in the equivalent of rejection at a brick wall. But there are more subtle ways to overcome the obstacle, getting to the other side, so to speak, that eventually will result in the ideas being so promulgated being integrated into the mainstream, almost without the mainstream even knowing it.

Religion has known about osmosis for quite some time. And most revolutionary leaders, if they are effective in the least, employ it to some degree. It was Malcolm X who said (and I paraphrase, as he ultimately was paraphrasing a much older Sufi truism) … “When I try to convince someone that my ideas are right, I don’t just come out and say their way is wrong, or that mine is so much better. That’s like telling someone that the glass they’re drinking from is filled with dirty water. It’s the only water they know, and they’re going to have accustomed themselves to that dirty, cloudy glass. No, I don’t confront their wrongness. I simply stand there, holding a clean glass filled with crystal clear water, and sip slowly – and wait for them to ask me where I got it. And then, I tell them.” One of the most common bits of advice that holy persons (of any stripe or conviction) tell their would-be followers is this: if you want to become holy, hang out with holy people (or at least, others who are trying to be holy). As you think you are, so you will become. You gain insight into being, into thinking, into understanding the perspective, by the process of osmosis.

How osmosis has affected my education is largely through books. Like Henry Miller talks about, each book you read that mentions other books leads you on an ever-increasing journey. One author leads to ten others, who lead to ten others each. Eventually, your house is filled with books by people who most folks would have trouble connecting to each other. It’s like seven degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon … LOL. Miller leads to Hamsun leads to Kierkegaard leads to … you get the picture.

A lot of what I see as earth-based, pagan spirituality operates on this same wavelength. Ultimately, at its core, the casting of spells is a form of osmosis. You change the universe by changing yourself – and in that process, because you are PART of the universe, when you change, the universe has no option but to be changed. The easiest spell in the world? Smile when you walk into a room. You’d be surprised at how the energy changes, and how quickly. But of course, intent and responsibility are lying in wait for you there. In order for it to work effectively, you’ve not only got to smile, but you have to WANT to smile. And on top of that, you’ve got to take responsibility for being thought of as someone who is smiling (and is therefore, imminently approachable — don’t try this if you’re trying to get in and out of the Department of Motor Vehicles in a hurry, without being chatted up by every other bored person in the waiting room).

How does this relate to art, and in specific, the arts which I practice – Poetry and Music? Well, as any observant reader can tell, my poetic style runs the gamut from traditionalist to modern to post-modern. It’s all over the place. And that, to me, is how it should be. We are each a product of a myriad of forces that combines to create a unique instance of energy in a limitless field of shared energy. The question that needs to be answered is: how to return that energy; how to ultimately disprove entropy (which avers that energy systems constantly lose energy) by illustrating that energy does not grow or ebb, but merely change form. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there. One of the strange things about a lot of religions is that they forget that if God (or god, or goddess, or what have you) is infinite, without limit, and omnipresent, it is NOT possible to avoid Him. You can pretend not to see Him, but that doesn’t mean he’s not there. Likewise, and this is main reason, IMHO, that there is so much contention about religion in the world – all religions pretty much posit that man is incapable of perceiving the entirety of the Divine. At the same time, they fail to acknowledge that perhaps every other spiritual path that is not theirs sees a part that they do not. It’s like the Sufi story about the blind men and the elephant. Each one’s got a different part – the trunk, the tail, the tusk, the belly, and they each define “elephant” based on that isolated section underneath their small, and sightless hands. To suggest that there is enough elephant, or God, to encompass every possible human interpretation ever made, and that ever will be made, without exhausting the possiblities of what encompasses the Divine, is to speak heresy against almost every major religion out there. And yet, that’s what all the texts teach us. That our interpretation, this fumbling in a cloud of unknowing between what we think there is, and what really IS, is SO small. That’s the Fall. That we assumed that we knew what the Gods knew; and that what we could hold in our pea-sized brains was enough to run the world with. Well, just because you can’t see the ground doesn’t mean you’re flying. Most likely, you’re in free-fall, and sooner than you think, the canyon floor’s gonna catch up with you.

Anyway — Here’s my proposal. The School of Osmosis. Gathering information by lying in the stream bed of inspiration, to borrow a Celtic metaphor. And dissemination of that information by acting upon it, in the world as it is, until the world is converted, not by the sword, or by propaganda, but by example. Example wrought out of direct, personal experience with the universe, and not translated, but demonstrated. Of course, filled with error and overstepping and inconsistency and blurring of the lines between traditions, modernisms and schools of thought. Because that’s what the world REALLY is. That’s what makes it whole. Everything. And not a jot or tittle less. For better or worse. It’s ultimately an egalitarian society. Because if you’ve got the skills needed at the time, you lead. If someone else has the skills required at a different time, you follow. A circle has no head, remember.

Or something like that. Any takers?

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