Imagine that you are having an experience, for instance, the reading of these words. It is not possible to separate how you have the experience from the experience itself, because "experience" denotes, at least, what happened plus the way that it happened, as you remember it. It is not only possible but compelling, however, to imagine the elements of an experience as though they were separate, especially since they are variable. If you read this sitting down, for instance, it will always have been read seated, but you can imagine different ways of reading it, for instance, while standing.
If you imagine, in addition to reading while standing, that you are on an urban light rail car with a bunch of people around you, jostled by the car's movement, occasionally looking out the window, thinking alternatingly about what has just happened and what might happen next, you can see the tip of the proverbial iceberg of the myriad variables that are packed into "experience". All factors have an impact on the other variables, a few of which are recorded by your memory, which is far from comprehensive or exact. You will only ever be able to recall a few of the factors that you noticed and embodied as experience.
You are imagining every time you encounter anything, creating a fiction of inseparable thought, feeling, sense that becomes part of your "soma"--the biological and intangible complex that is You, and which cannot be recalled in a way that is identical with what happened, despite having been profoundly shaped by it. Precise representation is not possible, at least because comprehensive re-presentation of all relevant factors is not possible in a system as complex and dynamic as experience. Memory is notoriously unreliable and creatively dynamic, and assertions are always experimental proposals, no matter the authoritative terms in which they are couched. Just being conscious of something guarantees a selective frame through which experience will be filtered, in which meaning will be assigned and beliefs created, and on which behavior will then be based. Consciousness itself then, at least fundamentally, is a process of fictionalizing and embodying reality. Overlapping sub-categories of fictional consciousness emerge somatically, psychologically: fantasy, reasoning, narrative, and other ways of ordering experience becoming styles of selective imagining, meaning-making, and behavior.
Since experience becomes understood in particular styles, it may be difficult to parse when considered by being filtered through an unsympathetic narrative. It may cause confusion and dismay, for instance, when a group of people share an understanding that is very different from one's own, based on their imagination of shared narratives, and then believe what they imagine, perhaps even literally, and then behave and create a particular culture which presupposes that their narratives are authoritative. This dynamic is not only problematic in the religious and political realms. It colors all interactions shared by all participants in any system, because individuals are by definition both similar to and different from each other, and must make choices to navigate the pulls and pushes of resonance and dissonance.
The Scientific Method, for instance, emerges from a rational narrative in which theories (informed guesses) about reality are reduced by experimental elimination until only facts remain in the form of processes that others can verify. But no way of configuring experience can escape the system in which it operates and by which it is delimited. No matter how exhaustive, even the entire, tremendously powerful catalogue of facts derived and categorized by rational thought cannot approach the scope that consciousness as a whole encompasses: imagination turning experience into meaning by working through fictions to discern and creatively apply what is literally and metaphorically true to life.
It is helpful to think of the process of consciousness outlined above in terms of "mythology", and of "myth" as a narrative which configures consciousness as though a particular way of thinking were operational in the world to which the mythology applies. One of the essential benefits of mythological study is that it both questions and supports belief by explicitly promoting consciousness of fundamental fictionality, or mythicity. In this context, the phrase "The Myth Of Science", for instance, does not suggest that science is false, which is demonstrably not the case, but suggests that Science operates within fictions, an example of which might be the idea of its own supremacy in defining Truth. Working with Science mythically allows consciousness of a fundamental ambivalence in knowing anything, an epistemological humility which then makes the true mission of research, for instance, more likely to succeed. If one is aware just how powerfully framing a process as scientific makes all outcomes sound authoritative, then it becomes more straightforward to avoid plunging into the mire of scientism and thereby conduct scientific work authentically, dividing experience into helpful but non-ultimate categories, such as placing in opposition the reproducibly factual and the unreproducible and falsifiable, minimizing the chance of making what is unproven sound like fact.
When I began by suggesting that you imagine having an experience, I merely proposed that you become conscious of the way that you have always experienced everything. I make the proposal because the process has proved helpful to me, at least when I have been willing and able to uncover my beliefs and the ways in which they are extruded as behavior as I co-create the world of my daily life. Sometimes the narrative-belief-behavior vector is easy to uncover and influence. Most often some part of the process is more deeply complex than I can fully imagine, and requiring a more extensive frame, in this case the use of the idea "soul" or "psyche" on which "psychology" is based. Psyche-logic implies that making meaning of complexes requires the acknowledgment that "deepest" imagining is unconscious--cannot be uncovered, operates with autonomy--is a "realm" governed by its own powers, and exerts highly variable but universally extensive influence throughout humanity. This reasoning, and the behavior of writing and publishing it, reflects my belief in the mythology of depth psychology.
Give up shock, "surely not", and "it's just politics." Believe the narrative and agenda being #Trumpeted with each twit. This administration is the opposite of American, uses tactics which are illegal and immoral, does not represent conservatives, and this phase in our civic life must end. Now. We must not build this darkest world, culture, and future.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/global-opinions/wp/2018/06/04/trumps-ambassador-to-germany-is-making-a-fool-out-of-himself-and-the-u-s/ - Anne Applebaum of the Washington Post
Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, just told Breitbart News. “There are a lot of conservatives throughout Europe who have contacted me to say they are feeling there is a resurgence going on,” he said. “I absolutely want to empower other conservatives throughout Europe, other leaders. I think there is a groundswell of conservative policies that are taking hold because of the failed policies of the left.” Note the context: Grenell was speaking to Breitbart, the website whose comment section was the original breeding ground for alt-right white nationalism. Grenell was very clear that the kinds of “conservatives” he admires are not the ones in Angela Merkel’s centrist Christian Democratic party, which is currently ruling Germany in a coalition with centrist social democrats (authors, presumably, of the “failed policies of the left,” the same policies that have made Germany the strongest economy in Europe). On the contrary, the one politician he named — “I’m a big fan” — is Sebastian Kurz, a center-right politician who has criticized Merkel, borrowed language from the radical right and currently rules Austria in coalition with the Freedom Party, a nativist, pro-Russian and anti-pluralist party.
* Photo: Bernd von Jutrczenka/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
The Short Version
Please contact me right away to schedule anything that needs to happen in June or July, including time together, so that I may attempt to follow up and make arrangements. There are many things with which we could use some help, given capacity and availability. If we don't make contact before August, I will also look forward to seeing you when next we meet, wherever that may be. If you’d like updates about Peace Practices, Conflict Done Well, and my other adventures in teamwork and social justice, please be sure to subscribe at http://abcglobal.net/Find_Us and follow https://www.facebook.com/brandonwilliamscraig/.
There is more to all of this, obviously. If you want to connect with me, move the work I do forward, or read more and deeply into what is happening now, I cannot ask sincerely enough that you stay within my circle of friends:
- I'll be writing more at Culturesmith.com, with the more detailed and personal material protected by signing-in. Please request an account via http://culturesmith.com/account/signup or sign in, if you already have an account. I will approve and welcome you, after which you will also have access to all kinds of fascinating materials for cultural study, should that interest you.
- I will use the newsletter here (Subscribe to my newsletter) for communicating the ways that this transition connects our inner lives with the wider world. There will be various gatherings to say goodbye, and I'll use that list to let you know about them.
Please re/subscribe now, during this time of profound transition, so we may stay connected, even if at a distance.
This probably won't surprise anybody...
SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) - "Forty-six percent of people living in the Bay Area say they plan to leave it in the next few years,...according to a survey from the Bay Area Council. Last year, that number was 40 percent. People say housing costs and traffic are the reasons they want to leave...24 percent said they would move within California, and 61 percent said they would leave the state altogether."
This is the door to the dystopian sci-fi soon-to-be reality (available on every screen around you) in which actual humans are reduced to irrelevance, the juice of life is electric and for sale at an increasing price, and attention is drawn only by habit to what is fake and flashing. Why would anyone want a shift that dramatically increases the influence of faux people, perhaps until they are the model of what everyone tries to be like? Those are the very traits that [are] so attractive to companies: “They’re much easier to control...It’s a more efficient way of controlling the message" and, I would argue, "their target audiences."
"[Those] of sense often learn from their enemies. It is from their [fauxs], not their friends, that cities learn the lesson of building high walls and ships." - Aristophanes
For more, sign in to check out FAUXS - Fake Human Influencers - Artificial Yes - Intelligence No.
Renewing Earth: From Anthropocentrism to Ecocentrism
The task of renewing Earth belongs to Earth, as the renewal of any organism [even the church] takes place from within. Yet we humans have our own special role, a leading role in the renewal, just as we had the dominant role in the devastation. We can fulfill this role, however, only if we move our basic life orientation from a dominant anthropocentrism to a dominant ecocentrism. In effecting this change, we need to listen to the voices of Earth and its multitude of living and non-living modes of expression.
We should be listening to the stars in the heavens and the sun and the moon, to the mountains and the plains, to the forests and rivers and seas that surround us, to the meadows and the flowering grasses, to the songbirds and the insects and to their music especially in the evening and the early hours of the night. We need to experience, to feel, and to see these myriad creatures all caught up in the celebration of life.
Extinction Is Forever
We especially need to hear the creatures of Earth before it is too late, before their voices are stilled forever through extinction occurring at such a rapid rate. Once gone they will never be heard again. Extinction is forever. The divine experience they communicate will never again be available to humans. A dimension of the human soul will never be activated as it might have been. None of the wonders of the human can replace what we are losing. . . . We have lost sight of the fact that these myriad creatures are revelations of the divine and inspirations to our spiritual life.
Wonder, Beauty, Intimacy
Our inner spiritual world cannot be activated without experience of the outer world of wonder for the mind, beauty for the imagination, and intimacy for the emotions.
Thomas Berry: Selected Writings on the Earth Community, ed. Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim (Orbis Books: 2014), 77-78.
There is always a struggle for control of shared identity. This is normal and entirely appropriate. A part of a whole body which feels insifficiently represented certainly has a right, and may have an obligation to demonstrate the change they require, resist practices and structures they believe to be ill-advised, and protest in a way that refrains from harming fellow-creatures.
Most change movements either do or do not receive suport from a group perceived to be "mainstream", after which significant culture-shift does or does not actually occur. As one of the markers of mainstream shift has frequently been the support of more "conservative" people who are both religious and comitted to democracy and the freedom of religion, I would like to ask that you propose to your congregation a move toward solidarity with those who explicitly and publicly object to racism in the cultural insitutions of the United States. Furthermore, I ask that you spcifically tie your faith to the demand to end racism, especially if you are Christian, as is required by the deeply understood and unwavering compassion that is the undisputed central tenant of our faith.
Finally, as our Republic shines only insofar as it remains the land of the free, I ask that you place your hand over your heart and join me in upholding patriotism itself as an unwavering commitment, not to a party or leader, but to a Dream in which every person is lifted up by the restorative justice and determined compassion of their fellows so that no parent need fear for their child, officers of the peace may once again be celebrated for their daily heroism, immigrants may once again feel our shores to be sanctuary, and all those in leadership maybe judged solely on their selfless commitment to public service above their personal interests.
Thank you for planting the seed for having the church participate in taking a knee during the national anthem. M.O. and I have discussed this and have some thoughts to share. Neither of us like the idea of doing this inside the church. Both of us are uncomfortable, er, anti having anything to do with flags/nationalism/patriotism inside the sanctuary. For both of us that's a big no-no. We do think it is important for religious people to take a stand by taking a knee. Proposal: let's have an interfaith game. Soccer, flag football, softball, whatever. We open with the national anthem sung by a combined choir where everyone takes the knee. We get to play, sing, and take a stand/knee together in an appropriate context. Let me know what you think.
Totally legit response. These concerns are a big reason I asked for prayerful consideration. What you are proposing sounds awesome, and I'm all for it, and would take a while to organize, and mostly loses the power of the statement being made by significantly pink mainstream Christians. We might miss the moment when the larger culture-shift could use some religious people buy-in to expand the #takeaknee symbol from Sports to the nation. What if our video statement were shot on the stairs in front of the church, people coming out after worship and creating a choir all taking a knee and placing a hand over their hearts, or linking arms (if they prefer) to reclaim principled patriotism all the while obviously keeping it out of the sanctuary and on the street?
As often is the case for me, your eloquent way of expressing ideas requires my own "translation" before I can digest what you said. The way you spoke before church was much simpler, concrete and easy for me to follow. That said, I'd like to echo what someone else said on FB re keeping patriotism and flags out of sanctuary. I support doing an action on the steps. And, I don't like putting my hand on my heart when nationalism/patriotism is the issue. So that image is difficult for me. Just thoughts for the discussion.
With all this talk of #TakeTheKnee, I could not help and think about being in grade school.
I grew up in a rather conservative area for California, in eastern Kern County. I remember in school that the Jehovah's Witness classmates would not stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. Some of them would get crap for it but I admired them for being committed to their faith *and* practicing their Constitutional right to remain seated. In this country, they have the right to practice their conviction.
This protest within the NFL, and now in other professional sports leagues, is not about the flag. It never has been about the flag. It is about police brutality and racial inequality in this country. Some are offended because of the sacrifice the troops make, and you're right -- this is about the fact that our men and women in the service go out to protect the freedoms we claim to have while in reality they are compromised and undermined by the system to put POC in a disadvantage. These athletes, like the Jehovah's Witnesses, have the right to practice their conviction, remain seated, and bring awareness to the ugly reality.
And you know what? The Early Christians would be rolling in their graves to see Christians today exploding over this. Followers of the Way have no business in Nationalism through swearing allegiance to the empire or by displaying the flag in our houses of worship. And as we sung this morning at St. John's Cathedral, "In Christ there is no east or west, in him no south or north; but one great fellowship of Love throughout the whole wide world." Rant over.
- The anthem itself. Celebrating war, drenched in racism... I don't feel that I can in good conscious sing The Song of Peace (This is my song, O God of all the nations) in church, and then walk outside and sing the national anthem.
- I don't think the National Anthem should be played before games anyway. It's mostly empty, habitualized patriotism. So in regards to my previous email, and with more consideration, I'm a much bigger fan of taking a silent knee.
- Is a photo of people taking a knee just as powerful as a video with a song?
- I don't know what "pink mainstream Christians" means? Churches have been leaders in the NFL boycott already (see 'Blackout') link below.
- Kap first took a knee over a year ago. I'm slightly confused by what feels like sudden urgency. I'm also happy that people care and want to support/participate in taking a knee and fighting oppression.
- Messaging: clarity is needed on what the action/s are and why. What does it mean, and what are you/we trying to say or achieve?
- I strongly encourage you, if you haven't already, to visit Kap's website. The knee and off-field actions go hand and hand. Taking a knee and doing nothing else is an empty gesture.
- Another idea: use this moment as an opportunity to join together to take a silent knee as a kick-off to a call for some kind of action/s inspired by the blackout or Kap's mission statement.
Tracking the Kaepernick Effect:
- Boycott the NFL (no games, no fantasy football, no jerseys, no nothing).
- Commit one to two hours during the NFL season that you would have spent watching games to mentoring young black boys and girls.
- Spread the word to others.
- “Take a knee” in prayer at 6 a.m. each day.
Stated mission: "The mission of the Colin Kaepernick Foundation is to fight oppression of all kinds globally, through education and social activism."
Huston is now a star. This Berkeley City Ballet ad is truly compelling, and did you know that they are inviting boys to take their very high quality classes for free?
It is time for some everyday heroism! Perhaps you are a decision-maker who wants Oakland to be a place where small businesses can actually survive, and knows of a place they can and should move to have a shot at thriving again. Do you speak Korean and English and find yourself able to help with getting the facts straight in order to tell their story to English-only speakers? Are you a journalist , or do you know a journalist who would want to fit this story in the super-important larger narrative? Are you involved in property, law, or both, and able to help them pro bono to explore their options thoroughly? Do you know anybody who might fit the descriptions above or have some other gift to offer these good folks in crisis?
Thanks for acting now! Please do any/all of the following:
- Add your name to the many at https://www.gofundme.com/henrysgallerycafe (with or without a donation) to let Jung know he is not isolated, then share with your networks asking that they act now.
- Like/share/RT/etc https://twitter.com/bdwc/status/888109817625157632 and https://www.facebook.com/lynettemcelhaney/posts/1364593910321149
- Go eat there, take friends, and tell them about the support they are getting but can't see/feel.
- Keep asking in public the questions (above) that will help them find the help they need.
San Francisco Chronicle columnist Otis R. Taylor Jr. appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Email: email@example.com Twitter: @otisrtaylorjr
Emailed via http://www.sfchronicle.com/author/otis-taylor/
I truly appreciate your decision to report on Luan's bookstore. The story is most helpful in that it provides evidence that Oakland decision-makers' support for "revitalization" is lackluster at best. In reading it, I wished that you had noted that their efforts are devoted mostly to big-dollar interests (like the new monster high-rise going up at 17th and Broadway), rather than increasing the traffic and financial infrastructure support that small businesses actually require to flourish. May I ask that you do a follow-up in that direction, and report about the perfect storm of crises that are about to kill another pillar of the community in Oakland? https://www.gofundme.com/henrysgallerycafe
Ripe: Ensemble With Juice
I am newly planted and just peeking through my own leaves. Though I have been following Ragged Wing Ensemble for years, I've always kept a distance, cultivating my own concerns. Now I am on the inside. As the new Communications Director, I am amazed at what I find, inundated with the juciest creative fruit possible, and not just the fruit but the secret making of that bounty, a creative community process that is ready to be shared with multitudes but is, for the time being, savored by only a local few. I go to sleep and wake up with the taste of it on my lips, knowing that a secret like this cannot keep, nor should it.
There are times when a group of people is ripe. When circumstances consipre to yield a bumper crop, a tipping point when conditions are perfect for growth, anticipating a harvest of creativity that is culture-changing, leaning like a fruitful branch bends toward a deeper grounding and more humane understanding of what living can be. Ragged Wing Ensemble in Downtown Oakland is beautifully ripe, and needs your hand to reach out and pluck and share the available bounty. It needs patrons in seats and small donations, but it is profoundly ready, in a way that even most insiders cannot know yet, for the deepest and most sutainable kind of support--big giving from the heart--the expressions of hope and appreciation that make institutional growth possible.
It almost doesn't matter how you reach out. Just bump the branch with a casual donation in the final days of the current campaign, or seed the fertile soil with a significant amount or money and time. Share with your friends and the world the power and generosity of passionate creativity in a world growing more mean and grasping. Whatever you decide: act now. Don't wait. The birds and bugs of Bills will be buzzing and binging. Don't assume that somebody else will put up what is so sweet. It cannot be preserved because it is Alive and must be shared now. The company is preparing the Fall season...seeds need water that only you can provide...to harvest even more original work that brings out the best by working creatively through the thorniest of issues. That is what our era seems to be starving for, and it is in your hands to support runaway creative integrity today and through the upcoming season.
It is my great pleasure to announce that i am now the Communications Director for an essential theater company, Ragged Wing Ensemble, which has established a flourishing creative community in Downtown Oakland, called The Flight Deck, that is home to several other theater companies and organizations. The Flight Deck is also home to Association Building Community, for instance, which continues to offer my Peace Practices curriculum in the heart of Oakland and in schools and professional environments around the SF Bay Area.
I call this creative community "essential" because their continued existence and work is a success story that can inspire anyone. They ignore the odds against them, and rely on creativity and solidarity to make the everyday world a more humane and generous place to live together. Any theater, all theater has unique potential to work this way in the world, but these people continually bring the potential of theater to life, and I'm in love with them, so please allow me to gush for a moment.
Someday, the powerful and rising alike will agree that the Ragged Wing - Flight Deck community has moved from hopeful experiment to institution, a jewel in Oakland's crown, like Chicago's Goodman, Houston's Alley, or the Dallas Theater Center. That transition to sustainability could happen something like this: more and more people from around the Bay Area open their hearts, wallets, and networks to Executive Diretor, Anna Shneiderman, and Artistic Director, Amy Sass, to ensure that the throngs who already launch their creative work at the Flight Deck will continue to do so. So many more people of every age, level of capability, and from every possible background and orientation will benefit from working with or near this innovative company. For many, they will find here the very first opportunity to unfurl their ragged wings, initiating creative and sympathetic explorations of human dilemmas and being. The companies at the Flight Deck do the impossible but essential work of waking us all to the world and skins we live in; and they do on a tiny and always tenuous budget. You know the story, and how it usually ends.
The next chapter in this story must be Lift Off. We are due for a cultural renaissance, a developmental transformation, a next step into flight, rising up from the deck of organizational birth, wings shaken dry in the sun so that everyone around can point to and participate in beauty nearby, local and mature artistry, name and proudly claim admirable friends, and invest time and treasure in building a city and people ready to be known for rising up and taking wing.
Ragged Wing Ensemble is proud to welcome to The Flight Deck a new Communications Director, Brandon Williamscraig. In 2015, he brought his Peace Practices project and non-pofit, Association Building Community, to live at The Flight Deck, and has stepped into the rather difficult to fill shoes of Lisa Drostova, who will continue to be a beloved part of our creative community. Brandon brings a twenty year career in the professional regional theater, a Ph.D. in psychology and mythology, many years of leadership, communications, and development work in the nonprofit sector, as well as an internationally recognized, all-ages communication curriculum, called Peace Practices, that teaches children and adults Conflict Done Well through aikido, improvisation, and facilitation. Please welcome and help him spread the good word about our work together!
A thought experiment and creative fiction/ritual of resistance to "That's Just The Way Things Are"
What if a well-known design team, known professionally as The Creator"™, contacted you and asked you to join them for an interview? What if, surprising you with an offer of full partnership, they recommended that you study some of their work and influences while making your decision, at least a collection of ancient stories and current tropes, significant images and songs, earlier relationships and projects that changed their way of working together?
As you look into it, you discover that they have been asking a huge number of other people across the globe to work together for years following a hidden agenda to morph daily life as we know it to fit their social change agenda. Faced by you with this information, they present results from hundreds of years of study: neither giving in to nor fighting popular obsessions seems to work, simply causing compulsions to become more entrenched. Few people seem to take the team up on their offer, because the only way to keep up with them is to identify as Creative and collaborate to make truly and deeply beautiful changes, both individually and collectively, so that that way of doing things becomes a new habit.
If you decide to go the distance, how will you stay relevant alongside your new colleagues as the design team continually innovates? What would your daily creative rituals look like, if all of this were true?
"Emotions are not something that happen to people, but rather, emotions are constructed in our brains" seems to dodge the autonomy of soul, the work of metaphorical gods, but "often with much more nuance than we readily acknowledge" opens the door again to multiplicity in this very interesting recording. You may be interested, in particular, in the sense of certainty about brain as network--no function belonging exclusively to any particular region, but almost always tracing the interaction of several. - Brandon WilliamsCraig
Emotions Are a Construct of the Brain, Says Psychologist Lisa Feldman Barrett
Imagine that you’re driving South on 101 when you see blue and red highway patrol lights flashing behind you. Do you feel worried? How about anxious, horrified or scared? According to psychologist Lisa Feldman Barrett, emotions are not something that happen to people, but rather, emotions are constructed in our brains, often with much more nuance than we readily acknowledge. Feldman Barrett joins us to talk about how emotions are made, the link between language and feelings and why assigning emotion to facial expressions has negative effects on everything from childcare to the justice system.
Lisa Feldman Barrett, distinguished professor of psychology, Northeastern University; author, "How Emotions are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain"
In the rich imaginal ground that is the winter holidays, I give you one of my favorite and most lucid senior colleagues, Dr. @Mary Watkins:
"[Knowledge] picks an argument where there is no need. Myth speaks about an imaginal reality using aspects of his material reality. Her statements are not meant to be mere literal, concrete descriptions and opinions about this world. She wants to convey her reality. When he takes some aspects away from her, she must chose others. The more he denies her expressions the more she must use his own words. Though he can discredit her means of expression and make her look foolish to his friends he cannot destroy that which she seeks to express. His inability to distinguish between the concrete level of the symbol and what the symbol refers to leaves him open to her use. It leaves her totally misunderstood. She hides in what and how he studies and her reality begins to come from his own mouth, although he does not hear her inclination.
In our confusion we, as students of Knowledge, have tried to separate the scientific from the metaphorical, matter from spirit, behavior from psyche, the real from the imaginal. They pretend to yield, and in so doing trick us. They have not separated at all, these lovers. What we find flowing down our sinks is our awareness of our participation in myth at every moment of our being in reality, of psyche in our every action. We mistake our confusion for straightforwardness and clarity. What we have packed away in those boxes is not the imagination and the mythical but our recognition, acceptance and conscious valuing of it."
She has most generously provided access to her book, Waking Dreams (where this quote appears on page six) here:
The 45th precedent is an extremist, but not in the way the term is usually meant, as this implies idealism of some kind. He has taken to the extreme the cynical position that the President need not be interested or even relevant in any of the ways usually associated with presidency - care for constituents, policy success, coordination of allies, leadership, inspiration, vision, etc. The #DistractionInChief has only one real purpose, unrelated to delivering on any promises made to members of the public that supported him. By his fruits ye shall know him, and there ain't been none beyond #RazzleDazzle. He is a child in a break-away adult suit who isn't enough in contact with reality to realize he is incompetent, especially at the things he thinks are his unique gifts. As a result, he spins on whatever axis he finds himself, desperately in need of and spouting superlatives about himself, and desperately determined to externalize and prop up his internal monologue, because there is nothing else there.(1)
As long as 45 can #KeepEmSpinning, the individuals around the world who worked to put him in place are well served by his service to increase their private power and wealth. The cycle is: bluster cynically/incoherently (it only takes 140 characters or less), vacation/golf and spend, threaten something sacred/essential to those who need government to function in some way, fail publicly and egregiously so that The Opposition will at least try to continue holding things together and the pattern can continue, shift target so the abused will treat themselves briefly to a sense of relief, repeat.
His every tweet points at the sky and screams "#LOOKTheHindenburg!" We throw our hands in the air, and then onto our keyboards; we waste the life energy we could be using to work together for our children. Every time we follow the media into the serial orgy of hot-air disasters the bar is lowered and the real work behind the scenes is successfully submerged. Legislation is being passed without consultation, and often without any attention at all beyond a small circle of wonks, democratically essential institutions are being gutted as skilled staff are being jettisoned or replaced by unqualified partisans, and ecocidal projects are being pushed through without review or oversight. We help to make this the new normal because it is a culture-making ritual, each repetition of which re-writes a part of our brains, resetting expectations so that we will expect the process of government to be corrupt, exploitative, and worthy of ridicule, a loss, in short, and not worth protecting from those who are inconvenienced by the needs of the individually less powerful.
This is death, literally. Thousands of cuts to government protections make even more vulnerable those who must work to satisfy the needs they share with all humans. The "middle class" many people believed they were in is gone, if it ever truly existed. We pay life blood into a system which fails to regulate bottom(line)-feeders who scoop up public resources for private enrichment without return on our civic investment. Where is the humane concern for fellow creatures without which public service is a lethal fantasy?
We are expected to die from lack of adequate/preventative health care. We are expected to die from indirect conscription ("given the system, it's really my best/only chance for a better life") into wars for political control of other nations. We are expected to die from lack of education, which provides the tools for critical thinking and an imagination which can recognize how a system of stories works. We are expected to die early from polluted air and water force fed by The Way Things Are to each next generation, children whose only fault was to be born into families who have been raised to believe that abundance is something that only a Few can have. The truth that 45 brings is this: we are expected to die. A president doesn't even have to pretend to be a public servant anymore. All he has to do is #KeepEmSpinning.
Senators Kamala D. Harris and Dianne Feinstein,
I have not had the opportunity to make the acquaintance of Neil Gorsuch, so I must speak only to his record and the circumstances at the time of his nomination as I urge you to oppose his nomination with all the powers at your disposal.
His avowed statutory "textualism" and "originalism" are literalism in disguise, abandoning the full meaning and consequences of an idea in order to forward only the part that matches the agenda one wishes to dominate. This cherry-picking instead of harvesting understanding is not only the opposite of the discipline required to be an adequate jurist, but also abandons the equanimity that is the most central pre-requisite for public service, the lack of which leaves the dream of our United States rotting in a mire of partisanship.
I know you know that it is a perversion of the people's government, for instance, to re-interpret Free Speech to facilitate billionaires buying megaphones of unlimited size to effectively push elections in the directions that reinforce their grip on power. Likewise, corporations do not require advocacy from the very institutions established to check precisely the level of power they alone can wield.
We cannot know, but must fear that Gorsuch will be the tipping point in the movement toward ending a woman's right to choose, casting aside what remains of the Voting Rights Act, pretending clean water and clean air laws are not essential to our survival as a species, and multiplying the gerrymandering that allows those who do not represent the people to continue to pretend that they do.
The bar of what is commonplace has been re-set by the scope to which the agenda known as "Trump" is willing to wield power for its own sake, but a "ya gotta pick yer fights" approach does not work in a climate of media blitzkrieg designed to make long-view existential threats seem benign enough to accept. Please hold the line until their lightning offensive crumbles under the weight of its own unreality. We, your constituents, admire your resolve as we pray in one voice that you will struggle to make honest disagreement possible once more.
We profoundly misunderstand what is happening at the White House. Politics previously referred to as presidential have now become entirely precedential. Before this administration, there was some expectation that a chief executive would at least appear to be watching out for the interests of citizens in a way that befits a president, head-of-stately by definition, attempting to be worthy of respect, deliberate, unhurried, or in some way dignified. Even the appearance of presidentiality is no longer required.
Some would say that the power of the office is now, for the first time explicitly, entirely, publicly devoted to retaining power for its own sake. But even this is a diversion, pulling a cloak of the appearance of individual hubris, as with G.W. Bush before, over the cultural reformation happening. The office has been stripped even of its own definition in service to curating the mythology that allows a faction of the most powerful to control The People even more deeply by setting new precedents, controlling narratives that will be persuasive when making decisions about subsequent issues. The "president" is now only the Distraction-In-Chief. There is now not even a need to pretend that he has an interest in policy or service.
There were things Obama wouldn't do, purportedly because he found them distasteful. He was publicly admired by his opponents for applying with some frequency an archetypally coherent (appropriate to the role he was playing), conservative, public service code of ethics. The Current Occupant of the House That Is White, on the other hand, insists that every interaction is a game of high stakes, life and death deal-making, endlessly playing the one Card That Always Wins: he will go to any length to get what he wants. This will continue to cloak the destruction of the people's government as long as he is allowed to game with impunity the choices that make up what once was called Civil Society. Simply "fact-checking" or commenting on him does way too little, way too late, and supports his strategy in so far as it pretends that the ongoing media blitz resembles a civil discussion.
Flinging our hands over our heads and running about in dismay will not make us less desirable targets for manipulation. It is all well and good to point out that the person striking you in the face is being unfair, but this does little to make an epic beat-down less likely. Even if we can admit that we are in the mythological equivalent of a bar fight, we must admit to ourselves that stock outrage at opprobrium is as predictable as other Deary Me, What Have You Done operatics.
The KQED radio Forum program of March 16, 2017, for instance, worked to put in context the federal budget put forward by the White House, which proposed redirecting the majority of funding devoted to public service toward hostilities both foreign and domestic. A deputy director for external affairs at the California Department of Finance, H.D. Palmer, put the process in the context of theater, as "the opening act of a multi-act play". It is time to acknowledge that our politics are no longer like theater. They have become theater but without qualification, non-stop vaudeville, Vegas vagueries, burlesque from sea to shining sea.
Honest theater requires voluntary participation in pretending. When pretending becomes pretense, suspension of disbelief becomes both unnatural and required, insisted upon on pain of media assault and the removal of federal money. Is some sense of reality required to move from the Reality TV metaphors of the campaign into the literal Oval Office? Now the players entirely lacking relevant qualifications must insist on being treated like The Real Thing, stuffing the derisive art form that mocks by imitation into the suit of actual governance wherein the parody bares real teeth at anyone who doesn't join the pretense. A royal family of paid and unpaid federal "employee" consultants is setting up camp on ground made secularly holy by the sacrifice of generations who struggled to keep us a constitutional democracy.
The adult entertainment show continues to titillate through news-cycle infotainment, stripteasing the public with alt-facts: how far will He go today? When he moves next toward more expansive War President Powers, will he drop his literal pants, having been metaphorically pantsed so frequently already, and wave his actual genitals toward the cameras, so the ensuing tabloidal orgasm will be big enough to dominate the "news" cycle for long enough to thrust legislation through? When the metaphors of the ludicrous imitation campaign are forced into being literal policy, the caricature, travesty, and gross perversion is of the office, and then of justice. Thus is the boundary crossed into the overt manufacture of propaganda, grinding up the bones of good governance to feed the rooting feral pig of kleptocracy.
On the libertarian website Reason.com, Ira Stoll asked "This question—is it ritualistic theater, a kind of performance art, or is it real?—is one worth keeping in mind for all of [his] initiatives, not just his budget. Is, say, the effort to repeal ObamaCare real? Or is it, like the budget cuts, an elaborate show?" Our current political situation makes sense, if you've got the right stories (interpretive metaphors) in mind. Let's quit acting surprised, especially when the political weapons customarily used for stage combat are sharpened and turned on the most vulnerable. We knew they were weapons all along, but hoped we'd get to remain in The Audience. No more. Precedent Rump's Feral Government is rooting out the last truffles of hope.
Hitchhiking into the galaxy of cultural mythology, looking for guidance from a metaphorical world that relished being a parody, and thereby honest, when someone tries to knock your house down it may seem like courage to lie down in front of a bulldozer. This may seem, for a while, to have been an ironic choice, or at least beside the point, if the world continues to appear beyond saving and doomed by an always criminally expedient status quo that is Just Following Orders and Doing Its Job. But it is not too late if there is more to the story.
It is never too late to acknowledge that the positive possible future is as complex as the negative possible future, and equally beyond comprehensive predictive understanding. Despite the danger of looking pathetic, the Hero knows that humane and courageous individual action is not only its own soul-healing reward, but is also absolutely required to make a brighter tomorrow possible, along with organizing and strategic planning without certainty about outcome. Getting down into the mud and reclining in front of a bulldozer has been and can be a genius move that brings specific madness to a halt so that the story of the isolated and vulnerable may continue into tomorrow.
Returning to our climate of denial, however, bulldozer blocking is a less advisable tactic if the aim was to kill you outright or, at least if you live above the poverty line at the moment, roll over any bodies in the way of knocking down the People's house, the ownership of which was once the middle class bellwether of a free/civil society. The White Occupant published his plans for the Western Spiral Arm of the Milky Way Galaxy with every tweet and campaign tactic. If you didn't check the local planning office at Alpha Centauri for details of demolition plans in your sector, then that is not his fault. If you buy the idea that there never was/will be a government obligated to serve The People, then the Occupant is archetypally coherent--doing what he promised--as he is fond of tweeting. His poetry doesn't get better. He is known the universe over for enjoying torture of just this kind.
Promise-keeping, he made very clear, has very little to do with the content of what he says, and everything to do with the context, how and what he does, his every behavior up to this point. He has taught us carefully and made crystal clear through endless repetition that his words are entirely changeable in order to control what people expect and believe, while his behavior remains rigidly consistent. He forces high-speed news cycle-based change-ups to point attention away from substantive changes taking place, and instead on the latest outrage, while his team eliminates with bold strokes the parts of our system of government that check rather than facilitate the accumulation and deployment of power by the powerful and exploitative, especially as they sign-on with his team.
The gloves came off in the era of Dubbya, and are now not only off but have been tossed over the shoulder of the grinning gamesman who has managed to occupy the mightiest position from which to truly be himself, the Randiest individual unfettered and unrestrained. Each time we rend our garments on Facebook decrying his duplicity, we enter a net designed to catch us with the prerequisite that the Emperor if Fully Clothed. He showed us what he would do and be, campaigned explicitly on a history of naked ambition, and now is Trumphantly true to himself. Admirable! It is a most American of triumphs, over which many will not be able to help but swoon. Raw power is ravishing, even as one is being devoured.
The problem, as always, is in the deadly consequences for everybody attempting to live in the fact-based world that will not see the importance of mythological study and expertise. What happens when you elect to head the government someone who has promised to destroy it? If he is a man of his word and a man of action, then he destroys it. All he needs for Mission Accomplished is enough conflict-averse people to depend on invisibility or his approval for their livelihood, or believe that he wouldn't really go as far as he is obviously ready to go, or react to his provocations instead of responding by organizing themselves to enact and insist on the myth of civil society.
We have a massive developmental leap before us, which The Occupant's team counts on The People failing to make. To survive we must now become mythologists, liberal artists (freely and expertly metaphor-proficient) working with mythologies, the way narrative shapes belief and thereby controls action, so that we will be less controlled by media we consume. We must behave like adults, able to put aside products, both media and industrial, which we have come to depend on consuming uncritically and in great quantity.
Even beyond this, we must become martial artists of nonviolence, expecting and practicing conflict on our way to an honorable peace, opting out of violence, systemic oppression, retribution, and even revolution, all of which take too much time and don't satisfy the requirements of civilization. Insted, it is time for coordinated enaction of a truly civil order in which our primary goal and success metric is humane treatment at every level of decision-making and in every connection we make. We can't simply object or resist; we must make Politics As Usual obsolete, an historical artifact like slavery will be someday.
America has always only ever been Great when it has responded to inhumanity at home and abroad by enacting change that works toward the humane light of compassion and dignity shining on every one alike. Lesser goals will stink of Business As Usual. We won't enact this change perfectly, because that is not how human beings have ever worked, but we must set about it and do our very best. It is now, quite literally, a survival necessity. Let us quit acting surprised that the adversary is up in our face, especially when he jumped out of the back alley of street-fight deal-making, promised the world that he was coming for our children, and then ran 83 blocks toward us shouting epithets all the way.
Brandon WilliamsCraig Ph.D.
This sends a message of desperation and mercenary political interest, rather than good leadership and conservative management of public funds. The humane choice will always be better to both draw support against extremism and demonstrate capable political sense. Please consider signing the petition.
From The Care2 Petition Site
Natacha Bouchart, the mayor of Calais, is on a rampage against refugees fleeing persecution, political turmoil, and civil war. She will do almost anything to prevent migrants from finding a safe haven in Calais.
In October, Mayor Bouchart ordered the demolition of the local refugee camp, displacing hundreds of people from shelter, food, clean water, and safety as winter approached.
Now, as refugees are returning and rebuilding the camp, Bouchart has issued a mayoral decree forbidding any charitable organization or agency from distributing food to migrants and their families.
Immediately before the decree was issued on 2 March, one charity -- Utopia56 -- was distributing 250 hot meals a night. Another agency -- Refugee Community Kitchen and Help Refugees -- were making about 400 meals a day, up from about 50 in February. Now, Mayor Bouchart is digging in her heels and ordering these organisations and others to stop providing food to starving people. Officials are also preventing charities from providing showers for the hundreds of desperate refugees seeking shelter.
The goal of the policy is to drive out refugees in need by denying the basics for human survival -- shelter, food, clean water, safety. Policies like these will not help address the refugee crisis, it will only leave more people starving and desperate for a safe place to call home.
Please take a moment to sign our petition and protest the inhumane actions of Natacha Bouchart, mayor of Calais. Her despicable decree is a blight on the good name of France.
Learn to work through conflict while staying in balance with family, friends, co-workers, others.
On Earth Day 2017, Brandon WilliamsCraig Ph.D., 5th dan, will offer a seminar as the aikido world prepares to celebrates the life of the founder, Morihei Ueshiba, on the anniversary of his death. In an adult class from 10-11:30, participants will practice Aikido 2.0, which begins with traditional aikido body movement but incorporates language and thought explicitly, on the mat, as soon as the basic movements are clear.
After an half hour to take a break, ask more questions, or experiment / integrate informally, adults and children will work together from 12-1 PM. This integration is also a rarity, but what else does our world require, especially on Earth Day, than to bring our mindful bodies and communication into balance, across generations, to learn and practice Conflict Done Well?
Fee: $40. If you are able to pay more, please do so, and help us reach out to those who cannot afford this essential training.
Children attend with a free will donation. Those in need of scholarships should ask right away without hesitation.
Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a PayPal request and a link to our waiver. Complete the waiver and payment immediately to secure your place, as space is limited. Your registration is complete when you receive our email confirmation.
This morning was cold (50 F), dark, and I felt irrationally vulnerable and unequal to my challenges. After teaching an entirely servicable 7AM class at the dojo, while the sun got on with its rising, and having breakfast with Martin for the first time in many weeks, today now feels a bit like the first day of spring! It is now 65 F outside, the sun is illuminating everything with the kind of literal warmth that makes metaphorical/emotional warmth easier to believe in.
Springs of this kind are a meeting of "me/inside" and "that/outside" that makes meaning between two points of view often imagined as estranged. Re-connecting through sympathy, feeling renewal rather than the shock of disjunction, THAT is Spring for the whole being. Feeling the "inner" and "outer" come into sympathetic relationship is not "magical thinking" (expecting to exert literal control through hidden power) but thinking with "magic" in "mind", a felt participation that deepens daily realities like "Spring". In the presence of happenings so much larger than I, it feels reassuring to be reminded that power can feel not only overwhelming but also beneficent and moving.
Please sign up/in (top right of the page) to participate. Irrelevant material will be removed. You may also want to click on the gear at the upper right edge of this card. When the menu appears, look to its last option and click "follow" to be notified of changes and new content.