Shaking the Foundations: Beyond the Rule of Law

The arrest, Thursday, of Chris Hedges along with fifteen other protesters in front of the Goldman Sachs offices in Manhattan, signals further exposure of the fangs of fascism lurking not-so-stealthily beneath the cover of our self-proclaimed democratic republic. The fraud, conspiracy, terrorism, and criminal belligerence engaged in by this and previous administrations should not go unpunished.  The repeated use of force to silence thoughtful and largely conscientious voices is itself criminal, no less so than the torture and murder of civilians across MENA.  What happened to the right of free speech in the homeland… or did it never really exist here?  Was that “right” merely allocated to the landed-aristocracy, the wealthy class, and more recently, to the corporations (or super-citizens), by our aristocratic founding fathers and their well-heeled progeny?

On the other hand, what, if anything, could materialize from a revolt of those citizens claiming to represent the 99%?  Could it ever lead to an ideal egalitarian society?  Is such a vision of the body politic even possible, given the complexion of social and political structures emerging so many generations ago, and refined over the millennia into an efficient propaganda machine of top-down management and control? How does a society groomed on hierarchy, on progress, on individual excellence and achievement completely reverse course, learning instead to focus on the welfare of the group, on relationships, on charity, on giving rather than taking, on protecting the planet, and on cooperation rather than competition?

It has been repeated often enough that the USA is a nation of laws, grounded upon the “rule of law.”  And even those who protest now in the streets of this nation, clamor that we need to recommit ourselves to that rule.  I hear claims from OWS crowds and supporters alike that we need to restore the rule of law in this land.  The fact is that the laws are crafted to protect the property and the vision of the elite, whether it concerns their vision of non-human nature, human relations, economic transactions, or the exercise of political power.  In brief, there is a hierarchy controlling what is lawful and what is not.  And while we can talk about natural law, or natural rights, this talk itself always presupposes a hierarchy of needs based upon unquestioned assumptions about the good or the proper ends of human life; it is always anthropocentric and, further, State-centric in its foundation.  Even the statement, “All men are created equal,” was formulated by elite white males with the pre-understanding that it excluded those who they considered non-human or not important, viz., people of color (slaves, indigenous populations) and women.  What is justice in such a formulation? And upon what basis, what foundation, do we make such determinations?

Chris Hedges argues at one point:

Our teachers, police, firefighters and public employees are losing their jobs so speculators like Blankfein can make an estimated $250,000 a day. Working men and women are losing their homes and going into personal bankruptcy because they cannot pay their medical bills. Our unemployed, far closer to 20 percent than the official 9 percent, are in deep distress all so a criminal class, a few blocks from where I speak, can wallow in luxury with mansions and yachts and swollen bank accounts.

But, how can we legitimately criticize?  Upon what basis do we claim that the oligarchs, the corporations, and their minions (the political class) have contravened the rule of law?  They create the laws, as well as the rules that govern the laws of commerce and the scales of justice.  It is their system, and they have the lawyers (or they own the lawyers) to validate its lawfulness and the legality of their actions.  In fact, they would argue that they are following the law (and the policies) as articulated by our leaders, the supposed representatives of the republic.  If we want to question their actions, we must not question their adherence to “the rule of law.”  After all, our very concept of lawfulness, as well as specific laws themselves, were crafted by these folks, their mentors and progenitors.  Instead, we must question the concept of the Law itself; what it means, and the assorted hierarchies according to which such laws are promulgated in the first place. We must question their underlying and largely unspoken presuppositions.

In short, we must question the principles of capitalism, their conception of economic relations; we must question the modern idea of individualism, we must question the idea of progress, we must question the systemic need to control and manipulate both non-human and human nature, we must question the presumption and role of hierarchy itself (which the OWS group seems to be attempting), and finally, we must question the legitimacy of political power as such, its aims and its raison d’etre.

Only such radical critique, only a “shaking of the foundations” (to borrow a phrase from Paul Tillich) can hope to expose the errors in those systems and institutions that have led us to this precipice of global failure.  Anything short of that critique can only lead to more of the same… eventually, if not immediately.  Just look to Egypt:

Egypt’s ruling generals are working to perpetuate their hold on power… causing a political furor, [and] threatening a second revolution…

Or perhaps Greece:

Greece was in turmoil and the world economy in limbo Thursday as a high-stakes game of political brinkmanship in Athens led Prime Minister George Papandreou to abandon his explosive plan to put a European rescue deal to a referendum…

Here it may be possible to visualize the potential future that awaits us after a revolution.  Certainly, those in charge can acquiesce to redistributing some of the wealth, improving the living conditions of those who have recently lost out, but the system, its institutions and hierarchies will remain intact and largely unaffected.

And while those calling for non-hierarchical organization may have an honest sense of the alienation and anonymity (not to mention the misrepresentation) inherent in any modern political or social hierarchy, the question remains as to how a country of over 300,000,000 people, let alone a planet of 7,000,000,000 (already well into overshoot), can possibly operate in a non-hierarchical, non-representative, egalitarian mode.  It is simply beyond my current comprehension, particularly where the “individual against the world” mentality is so thoroughly ingrained, as it is in the theoretical underpinnings of the Curriculum of the West. But this basic dichotomy (self vs. world) is only the surface reflection of a much more profound opposition that we must examine and overcome if we ever hope to inhibit its momentum, or reverse its ill effects.

As David Abram rightly points out in The Spell Of The Sensuous, when human communication made its dramatic transformation from the spoken to the written (particularly the alphabetic) word, non-human nature suddenly fell silent and men began speaking only amongst themselves, mesmerized by the magic of their own written discourses.  It is at this point that the fundamental dichotomy between human and non-human nature fully emerged, with a dead and now alien nature confronting humankind, simply waiting to be managed and controlled.  And, of course, this was validated by the written biblical word, while being executed almost flawlessly by missionaries, explorers, and developers ever since.

Furthermore, the written word gave way to the syllogism, the basis for our modern conception of the “rule of law.” Such laws — first emerging in the ancient Near East, in Ur and Sumer, gaining refinement and headway through the centuries until they became fully self-conscious in the hands of Aristotle — were always aimed at controlling the hordes and unwashed masses occupying these newly founded cities and States, the 99%, the citizenry. They were never meant to apply to kings, legislators and the other autocrats managing the parade or the menagerie. But, until we get back behind that magical event, to the establishment of these institutions erected to protect and control, we can never hope to outrun the hierarchies that would control us and our nonhuman brothers and sisters.

Worse yet, the syllogism (Major premise, minor premise, conclusion) not only committed Western civilization to control of the masses and nature; it also committed us to the principle of historical causality (If A=B, and B=C, therefore, A=C), and an unshakeable faith in unilinear temporality, leading ineluctably to the pursuit of progress and an intractable focus on the future.  It committed us, in short, to an emptied present, a life enslaved by their systems, dedicated to future dreams or dread over what our lives may never become.

To gain a concrete foothold on this, our present moment, before the precipice we are fast approaching, we must dig deeper and find a way behind this fundamental binary opposition that drives Western civilization and its hierarchies of command and control. We must find a new way onto that ancient footpath leading us beyond the nature/culture divide, rediscovering a perspective that recognizes human and nonhuman nature as one piece — my flesh, the flesh of the world.  Only then may we again comprehend the cycles according to which all of nature — human and nonhuman — operates, and respond accordingly.  If we cannot do this, I am afraid that any solution (political or economic) to our current dilema will simply maintain the institutional status quo, and continue to hold us hostage to the same systems of manipulation and control.

187 Responses to Shaking the Foundations: Beyond the Rule of Law

  1. B Miller says:

    You are digging deep this week, getting down to it. In a way, are you not talking of the classic “fall” that underlies most narratives in all cultures: the golden age, the loss of innocence, fall from grace, etc? A loss that profound, the pre-written human culture vs. the written, we cannot undue conciously. If we really wanted to… Does all hierarchy flow from that point? Me? I’ll settle for a somewhat egalitarian small community and hope for the best. The reality is we will get options a bit worse.

    But, human history (the written part) does offer plenty of inspiring models for the type of non-hierarchical society you write about. The problem, well, not a problem just an essential fact, is that history is not static, peoples are not static, primitive economies are not static. So, any future will not achieve any static society. But it may achieve many new cultures that come close to your vision (and many that do not).

    On another note you raise: The Greek people have raised one simple point. The “lords of the universe” have completely forgotten that people exist. These masterminds are formulating their plans for solving the debt woes of Greece and the Euro zone when the people rise up and begin smashing downtown Athens. This seems to genuinely catch them unawares. As if the idea of civic unrest or actual revolution was not part of their school curriculum.

    Who knows, “perhaps” there is reason for a glimmer of hope.

    Well, Sandy, thanks for another nice blog this week. Time to get moving, the rooster is crowing reminding me of farm chores and that I have turnips to harvest today.

    • Disaffected says:

      “The problem, well, not a problem just an essential fact, is that history is not static, peoples are not static, primitive economies are not static. So, any future will not achieve any static society. But it may achieve many new cultures that come close to your vision (and many that do not).”

      Trouble is, modern western hierarchical society cannot truly tolerate such cultures and/or economies for long. Perpetual exponential growth capitalism in particular, absent a steady diet of extra-terrestrial cultures and resources being imported to satiate it’s endless appetite for more, simply demands that every available terrestrial resource must eventually be available for it’s profit making consumption potential. That’s a mathematical certainty. Of course any reasonable person in their right mind has already done the mental calculus to know that such a system is in no way sustainable for more than the extremely short term, but whoever accused capitalists of being either reasonable or in their right mind in the first place? Exponential growth capitalism for the benefit of the few at the expanse of the many is nothing less than an exponential growth cancer of the mind and soul. It’s what every known religion purports to be the “ultimate evil” – the exaltation of man as an individual over “God” or his higher nature – although VERY FEW of course are actually able to escape it’s magical allure. It’s a malignancy that’s already infected the world at large, and at this point appears to be almost certainly fatal for its human hosts. Funny how the 20’th century incarnations of communism and socialism – certainly serious maladies in their own right – were perceived to be the existential threats facing human kind, when in fact is was the far more sinister and insidious parasite capitalism (End of History and the Last Man indeed!) that ended up sticking around to do the ultimate deed. Survival of the fittest indeed!


    • kulturcritic says:

      Well, B Miller – I don’t want to wax too romantic over pre-historic humanity; but, certainly there is something of a Fall implied in most of my analyses. I think the language of the Fall can be misleading, however; implying some former transcendent (or idealized) position, or perhaps a physical movement down to another (lesser) level of being. Obviously, I know you don’t think that way, nor do I. But, I do think we have lost the feeling for something that is fundamental to who we are as nature’s flesh, having forcibly removed ourselves as far as possible from the primal intertwining of our human and non human natures.

      • B Miller says:

        I definitely agree. But, I do struggle with the language a bit, sorting out the metaphor from the program, which may be exactly your point.

        Geeze, once I get some coffee in me I’ll take a stroll down that “Ancient Path”. Now, where did I put that path?

        Thanks for the response and letting us piggyback on your thoughts each week. cheers.

        • kulturcritic says:

          You are welcome, Mr. Miller. Also, check out my reply below to javacat

        • Some of us still know where that Path is, hidden and over grown as it is. And, no 7 billion of us cannot walk it. I have heard we are in one of the “great die off” periods, and group of animals expands until it over fills the carrying capacity of its area, then dies off. Humans are not exempt from this, only that we can put the die off out into the future for a while. Then we catch up to it. Humanity caught up to the future a while ago. That there are now 7 billion of us more than guarantees the species is set for a die off. We have already fallen off the cliff. The question, to me is: will the survivors pay attention? I do feel that the few who can follow that ancient path, which runs parallel to our cultures of greed and grasping, our unnatural way of living may survive.

          • kulturcritic says:

            Marlena – thanks for speaking up here. You are right; 7 Billion is way over the carrying capacity of this earth, and this is why mother nature has been so active in these last few years. And, I am not being mystical here, friends. The earth has a way of handling predators who outgrow their own predators’ capacities to keep them in check. Both manmade and natural disasters, as well as wars, boh civil and those of greed and exploitation, are doing the job. Soon more starvation and civil unrest will complete the circle.

            I am pleased there are some here who understand that ancient path, and how to walk it. Please stay with us, Marlena. best, sandy

          • Disaffected says:


            It’s still possible. Hopefully, the future survivors are already living off the grid and are already still “feral.” But of course that’s just me. I won’t be around much longer and my opinion won’t much matter either way. In the end, that’s all most of us have to contribute anyway.

            What I DO KNOW is that I wouldn’t wish 21st century capitalism on the devil and his acolytes if I were JESUS CHRIST himself ascending to heaven! THAT MUCH, I DO KNOW!


  2. javacat says:

    Indeed, a deeply thoughtful post that transcends the political in a way that engulfs it: by moving from the society to the individual, by asking the individual to surrender all the structures and scaffolding upon which we’ve hung our beliefs, our self-image, our ways of making sense of the world. I think at least part of what you’re addressing, Sandy, is the need to yield the ego, the hyper-conscious censor and monitor, to reveal different, deeper ways of perceiving and interacting with the animate and non-animate world, the reciprocity of connection.

    Indulge my taste for Rumi here:

    Be crumbled.
    So wild flowers will come up
    Where you are.
    You have been stony for too many years.
    Try something different. Surrender.

    As I read this week’s post, I kept wondering how I would respond to a less hierarchical social system, trying to get to the nitty-gritty, how-would-it-play-out level of thinking. Sure, I want those above me to share power, but how do I really feel about rubbing greasy elbows with the unwashed masses? Even as a devalued public-school teacher, I have a lot more have than the average citizen in my state. What notions, habits, expectations would I–anyone–have to let go to allow a more egalitarian community to develop? What could I, and any of us, start practicing now to begin this change?

    The change strikes as one of overlapping parallels: the individual self moving in the larger society, the larger world, a duality that isn’t. As the previous reader commented, societies and cultures change, shift, reform; members change at different times and in different ways. Throughout all of that, we need to find a common language that allows us to connect, and that can be very, very challenging, even for those we’re close to.

    Written language as our undoing! What a strange thought that is–even more so as we use the medium to share here. Written language gives a false impression of fixture and permanence. It preserves masterpieces and fragments letting us look into the past, yet it almost immediately obsolete. As writers, we are changed by what we write, and when I read what you’ve written, you’ve most certainly moved on, changed by your own writing and by what you’ve read and lived since writing.

    The writing, even as if moves us, is still a remove from direct experience. Paul Shepard makes a similar case with painting: looking at a framed landscape, however beautiful, is not the same direct experience of being in that landscape. The same goes for photography. Yet we can be move to powerful emotions by both written and visual images–photographs, films, video games. Has that conditioning, the dwindling experience of direct perception, as well as the diminished value of direct perception stunted our ability to feel the real thing–”my flesh, the flesh of the world”? For most of us, our deep knowledge of the natural world has certainly atrophied. How many people notice the changing angles of the sun with the seasons? How many know darkness (and don’t fear it)?

    The binary way of thinking–an either-or trap–was addressed a week or so ago in the Archdruid Report. He encourages people first to recognize when they are presented binary thinking, then not to accept those terms, then to offer solutions that open up possibilities that free us from a more easily manipulated, limited-choice construction.

    I wandered pretty far from the political here. Just a note on the 99% that probably won’t surprise anyone: According to Paul Krugman in the NY Times, it’s not even 1%, it’s more like 0.1%:

    Your post this week encompassed many important ideas and ways of thinking, Sandy. Nice job, and thanks.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Surrender. This may be the best remedy of all for forgetfulness. Because our “fall” is metaphorical, in fact, the forgetfulness of a prior awareness (sensitivity or sensuousness), then recollection of what was forgotten is the best way forward (back). Remember the Greek word for truth ἀλήθεια (Aletheia) derives from the preSocratic mythic river of ‘forgetfulness,’ ‘oblivion’ or ‘concealment’ Ληθη (Lethe). Some believed that drinking from this river would make the soul forget its prior life. Truth then was recollection of what was previously forgotten or concealed; an event of “unconcealment.” Surrender might be the appropriate attitude for letting that which was formerly hidden, shine forth, or show itself… the event of unconcealment or disclosure. In fact, Martin Heidegger, a formative influence on Merleau-Ponty (“my flesh, the flesh of the world”) used the German word Gelassenheit, openness, letting-be, self-surrender, self-abandonment to describe this condition of openness to the truth, the unconcealedness of our primordial being-in-the-world (note the intertwining), and the very ‘throwness’ of finding ourselves being-there.

      • javacat says:

        Aletheia is a powerful word; I can hear it ring through the mountains of Crete!
        Another meaning of Lethe was the ‘river of unmindfulness,’ which seems especially appropriate. If an antonym of surrender is resist, then not to surrender means a choice of not revealing truth–or Truth. Surrender is a tough word in our culture–too tied to weakness and loss for most to consider it as a path. Yet, in nature, surrender is a necessity to life and death, a yielding that allows change.

        “Throwness” ?

    • Disaffected says:

      “Just a note on the 99% that probably won’t surprise anyone: According to Paul Krugman in the NY Times, it’s not even 1%, it’s more like 0.1%:”

      I read an article on “wealth as height” a few years back that I can’t seem to find now, but this video sums it up pretty well too:

      Wealth as height seems to be a very intuitive metaphor for comprehending the true wealth disparities that exist today. Not surprisingly the wealth curve as you move up it is shaped like what else? An exponential curve! Duh!


    • StrayCat says:

      Wanting, and self gratification are consistent themes here at Kulturecritic. They are always cited as evil, and they probably are. But some form of wanting is essential to being, so what distinguishes the self gratification and ego boosting foundation of economic and social predation with the desire for beauty, or the wanting of a place to live that resonates with the person? I have never been able to grasp the problem firmly enough to wrestle with it, only wandering around the surface.
      Surrender is good, as it releases the bonds of logic and history and allows the reinterpretation of language and context of our lives. Is that why surrender is so reviled by the hierarchy?

      • kulturcritic says:

        Surrender is the opposite of control and management, which are hallmarks of the Western curriculum, our sciences, politics, even our religions work towards control of the ‘flock’ for a good fleecing. LOL

  3. Pingback: Shoal Hope

  4. Sandy, this article rings so true for me. Real change requires motivation, intention, and attention. Mechanically or forcibly changing outer behaviors and systems will not prove to be lasting solutions without the inner work. Not only are we in conflict with others, human and non-human, but also with ourselves. Until the conflicts begin acquiring resolutions, can we hope to experience the happiness, peace, and self-fulfillment we long for? Instead of continuing the struggle to conquer and control others in the pursuit of self-gratification, comforts, convenience, certainty, and all the other ego enhancements, one can fearlessly choose to conquer the restless, deluded, limited self. Choosing this path takes daring–it takes heart. One motivation that will play an enormous role in awakening the “heart” is becoming totally FED UP with the results of the current competitve hiearchical paradigm.

  5. Disaffected says:

    State monopoly over the right to use deadly force is the stone-cold basis for modern society, plain ans simple. All the rest is just so much mental/philosophical gymnastics. Hierarchical systems are by definition the many doing the bidding of – and usually for the benefit of – the few. The few are mortally reliant on the perpetuation of the hierarchical myth, which if more than a handful of the many were able to summon the courage to see through it and actually act on that knowledge, would vanish in an instant. To borrow a metaphor, the kingdom of “heaven?” It lies before us as we speak, and yet we perceive it not. BUT, the current use of power against the OWSers and others of their ilk is a sure sign that for both the many and the few that the hierarchical myth has become increasingly threadbare. Both sides now know that the gig will soon be up, and that absent the current hierarchical organizing myth, we are all about to undergo some serious societal “reorganization,” which looks more and more like it’s going to be truly calamitous for nearly all involved. In other words, TS is about to HTF in a major way! And just in time for the holidays – peace, love, goodwill to all, and all the rest of that Christian bullshit too!

    On a lighter note, the single best explanation for the current financial mess I’ve ever read bar none!

    Charles Hugh Smith at Of Two Minds


    In modern finance, high-risk “investments” (wagers) with high returns can be taken on without worry because any and all risk can be hedged to zero, even in super high-risk wagers.

    And since even high-risk positions can be seamlessly hedged to zero, then there is no reason not to borrow money to increase the size of your wagers: since you can’t lose, then why not? Wagering in risk-free skimming with borrowed or leveraged money is simply rational.

    Put these together and we see how a system based on risk-free skimming eventually leverages itself to the point that the slightest disruption can bring down the entire over-leveraged, over-extended system.

    The entire global financial system is thus based on the equivalent of a perpetual motion machine: money can be borrowed or leveraged into existence in essentially unlimited quantities, and then deployed in risk-free skimming operations to harvest unlimited wealth.

    What does this promise of using leveraged capital to skim risk-free fortunes do to the “real economy” of production and investment in plant and technology? It guts it. The risk of industrial Capitalism is real and cannot be hedged away; high-risk investments may blow up or they may return high yields. It literally makes no sense to risk real capital in productive Capitalism when a zero-risk skimming operation can be developed that essentially needs near-zero capital.

    Thus financial capital has come to completely dominate industrial or productive capital. The pernicious consequences of this dominance have poisoned the economy and culture on multiple levels.

    In the political sphere, the aggregation of hundreds of billions of dollars in skimmed profits gave Wall Street and the banking sector unlimited budgets to buy political influence. This created a monstrously pathological feedback loop: the more political influence Wall Street bought, the higher their returns on financialization skimming.


    • Disaffected says:

      Let me just add something that’s been said before here many times already: the crisis we’re facing now and are about to face even more directly, is primarily one of belief and faith. Belief and faith in current hierarchical systems in all their current manifestations: political, military, economic, religious, financial, and social. In short, almost every human structure currently in existence – at least in the so-called “civilized world.” I doubt that any of us AT ALL have even the faintest idea of the disruption that the dissolution of these systems will cause over the next century or so. And make no mistake about it, the dissolution of these systems is now “baked in” to the mix either all or nearly all in part, and no amount of wishful thinking attempting to prop up the current status quo is going to be sustainable for even the near term future. In that sense, we’re all still collectively in the denial phase of our grief for what we know at a deeper level is surely doomed, with shades of anger among the poor (and thus “first doomed,” who can simply no longer deny the truth that’s staring them in the face) just beginning to appear. Just think, only FOUR MORE STAGES TO GO before we even get down to honestly assessing and getting to work on the problems that will by then have completely overwhelmed us. I think I need to rewrite my “Future Shock” scenario again. It ain’t gonna turn out NEARLY that rosy!


      • kulturcritic says:

        It may prove to be catastrophic!

        • Cliff says:

          it can only be catastrophic if one fears loss, dwells in loss, stuck only in the body. We have had another opportunity and made a few more steps to?? But may be ready to close the door and begin a new or an old?

          • Disaffected says:

            Indeed! Quite a few of us are about to “seek a new beginning.” THAT’S INDEED the upside to all this.


          • StrayCat says:

            Agreed. The idea of loss has fixated us on preserving the useless, the phony and the dross. There is a lot to lose that will benefit us greatly. I embrace this kind of loss as a way to freedom. But, alas, we are trapped by our own personal commitments to people and relatives. These commitments arose within the hierarchy, but are valued beyond it. People travel at varied speeds and directions.

  6. Martin says:

    “To gain a concrete foothold on this, our present moment, before the precipice we are fast approaching, we must dig deeper and find a way behind this fundamental binary opposition that drives Western civilization and its hierarchies of command and control. We must find a new way onto that ancient footpath leading us beyond the nature/culture divide, rediscovering a perspective that recognizes human and nonhuman nature as one piece — my flesh, the flesh of the world.”

    We will not ‘…find a new way onto that ancient footpath..’, in time; it’s too late and the juggernaut we’re riding apparently has no brakes.

    However, those who survive the leap over the precipice will be handed thereby a great opportunity to re-create the footpath and regain the needed perspective per “…my flesh, the flesh of the world”.

    I wish them well and more wise than we….

    • kulturcritic says:

      Martin – there may be time for those who will certainly remain behind, perhaps building a new form of engagement upon the remnants of the old. Recollection, and self-surrender will be requisite. Reengaging with one another and with non-human nature will require it.

      • Martin says:

        Precisely the point….

        • Cliff says:

          And when all that dust settles who will remain. That very distinction between subject and object is in fact the road to extinction to competition. There will be transcendent relationships that both subjects and objects feel eachothers equality of being. But who or what is existing?

  7. Disaffected says:

    “Here it may be possible to visualize the potential future that awaits us after a revolution. Certainly, those in charge can acquiesce to redistributing some of the wealth, improving the living conditions of those who have recently lost out, but the system, its institutions and hierarchies will remain intact and largely unaffected.”

    Thankfully, the current elite are so ideologically pure, that they won’t even countenance that! If they were merely half-smart they would have already proposed such measures as a means to extend and pretend. That fact that they haven’t (and won’t) is just another sign to my mind that we’ve entered the final phase of the game. Whether they believe they can actually win such a scenario in any meaningful way, or whether they merely realize that the end of the game is in sight regardless, and are merely taking what they can while they still can is anybody’s guess, but it does appear that the decision to stand and fight has now been firmly made once and for all. The battle of “all against all” could thus be much closer than any of us imagined. It’s not hard to imagine a Greek default triggering a whole chain of events with world-wide implications. And scarier still, Greece is just the first of a long line of progressively bigger and better fit candidates for the job of harbinger of change. It’s hard to imagine any of this going on much longer under any scenario, much less heading into a U.S. presidential election year that promises to be like no other in recent memory, and one that promises to harden class lines and institutional hierarchies even more, no matter which faux “party” gets elected. For example, can anyone out there possibly doubt that Obama will drop all pretense of serving anyone other than his Wall St. / MIC masters should he manage to get re-elected, given the fact that his act in his first term – with party loyalists to at least nominally “serve” in the interests of re-election – was already shamefully transparent? Never mind the Republican / Tea Party “alternatives.” We’re fucked.


  8. freeacre says:

    What an eloquent post. Thoughtful, articulate, challenging with some fascinating thoughts. Especially the concept of the written word separating us from the natural world. I’m going to be chewing on that one for awhile.

    I’m reading your essay and the erudite comments, trying to keep up. While I am reading, I realize that I have moved to a semi-rural area in anticipation of the collapse. How do I share with my neighbors, the analysis of political and economic thoughts contained within this missive? After all, these are the people with whom I share resources and space and to whom I will most likely need to turn in the event of the shit really hitting the fan, as it were. These are the ones with whom I will be helping to shape the coming world, the ones among whom the Great Conversation will have to take place.

    To these people The Rapture is far more familiar than zero hedges, derivatives, and leverage. “The flesh of the world”and our “non human brothers and sisters” is all about hunting around here. It’s probably the same for you when you talk to your average Mongolian. I was wondering what one would say…. in terms of explaining a new paradigm.

    But, happily, DA distilled the message down to something my neighbors and yours can identify with – namely, “We’re fucked.” I would add, “and we need to stick together because nobody is coming to help.” If we brought in the terms, ‘communism,” “socialism,” and “capitalism,” we would spend all our time just defining the terms. Very frustrating.

    Best to you. It was a very thought provoking post.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Thanks for stopping by again, Freeacre. How is the Trout Clan doing? And thank you for the complement… they are always appreciated.

      What to say to the Jones’s (neighbors)? Good question. Assuming they are a simple band of folk, just tell them the truth. “We (the civilized ones) decided ages ago to rape the shit out of the earth for the benefit of a few; now the bill is coming due. She (mother earth) is pissed; and the smart asses among us (pols, bankers, marketers) who invented this menagerie, have done their best to fuck all of us. So we got to get simpler, tighter (as a community), and enjoy each day, because tomorrow is a lie. How this all started… well that is a longer story!”

      How’s that? best, sandy

      • Martin says:

        How’d this all get started? My guess is that sometime back all the smart asses told each other to go fuck themselves – and so they did; they just don’t really grok that fact – yet….

    • Disaffected says:

      ” If we brought in the terms, ‘communism,” “socialism,” and “capitalism,” we would spend all our time just defining the terms. Very frustrating.”

      Agreed. That’s the very reason that discussions about religion are are almost always futile as well, even when engaging other non-believers. The very terms themselves have all become polluted and now mean certain things to certain people no matter how hard you try to define them. That’s why on the odd occasion I ever discuss “God” with anybody, but especially Christians, I always try to use unfamiliar terms. Even the term “Supreme Being” is no good, as that’s already been usurped. I usually use the term “All That Is,” as that usually elicits a “huh?”

      But yeah, using the terms communism, socialism, or capitalism with working class Americans is guaranteed to get you a heated discussion, if not physical violence. I only use those terms now specifically to elicit a strong response (as in blog commentaries). Consider that Americans (of a certain age at least) both embrace “their” Social Security and Medicare, even as they become enraged at the thought of “socialized medicine.” And they see no disconnect in their thinking, even when it is patiently explained to them and they obviously understand it! A better example of cognitive dissonance has never been shown!

      Equally funny will be the future thought patterns of today’s teens and twenty-somethings. Right now, they’re all for dismantling the great welfare generation’s social safety net in entirety, perhaps correctly assessing that it won’t be for them anyway. Imagine their surprise in ten or twenty years as they begin approaching middle age when they realize that the great capitalist miracle ain’t gonna provide for them either, and that they will be existing on the same terms as the rest of the third world, and that oh by the way, the world has about 5X too many people, and that the only solution for THAT is widespread elimination, a fact that the 1% had already long since considered and planned accordingly, and was already well into the implementation phase to boot. I can imagine hundreds of millions of slack jawed youngsters cum middle-agers who bought into the “capitalist miracle” with the same unquestioning faith that makes them such good little Christian “lambs of god” awakening en masse to their collective fate, and wondering when and by whom they were mislead so “tragically” and completely. And won’t that collective “man in the mirror moment” just be one for the ages? Cognitive dissonance “fo-a-motherfucker!”

  9. freeacre says:

    That;’s good, Sandy. Thanks.
    The Trout Clan is hanging in there. Some of us are a tad nervous considering we may be on the brink of a market crash, WWIII and a asteroid collision in the next few days. Situation normal, I guess…

    Glad to see you guys have a ready sense of humor. We are probably going to need it. lol

  10. murph says:


    What a broad and sweeping post. Great analysis from my point of view.

    Your last paragraph poses what I consider the essential question of how can populations organize themselves in a more egalitarian manner without the hierarchy where the few dictate to the many. The supposed fix we call democracy. But, we have ample evidence to the eventual outcome of that experiment, tried several times in different forms over recorded history.

    The major problem that I see is the nature of a complex society. As it becomes more complex, the ability of a few to corrupt the system becomes very available and its accompanied fragility to outside forces and also its march to unsustainable decisions. But, for large societies, how to cut out the complexity. For very small societies, around a 100 or so, it’s not that difficult but for 300 million a whole other problem. For small populations, an anarchistic organization works pretty well. Ideally, in such a group, decisions of what course the group will take has to have 100% support or it doesn’t take place or the dissenters leave, impossible to achieve within large populations.

    So it would appear to me, autonomous small groups are the only way out of this mess. Of course this would also assume a rather vast reduction in the worlds population which I also suspect is going to happen down the road. Barring extermination of our species, the folks that are left will have to have a different idea about how to organize themselves rather than dependence on a hierarchic system. I have seen research that indicates that in any group of people about 2% of them will have strong tendencies toward anti social/ sociopathic tendencies. If true, then how does the group protect themselves against this? Historically, various methods have been used; killing them, shunning them, forced to leave, ridicule etc. by the group. If those of sociopathic tendencies are not stopped or eliminated then a hierarchic system will emerge and the whole cycle will start over again. It sure appears to me that a re-examination of small indigenous organization needs to be made.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Hey Murph – I love hearing from you guys at the clan!! While I would not doubt the presence of sociopathic behavior in small indigenous tribes, I would also suggest that the 2% number provided by our civilized research associate is most likely based upon experience within complex civilized societies. And you are right about how smaller tribes handled such behaviors. You are also correct that small is the only sustainable way. However, I am not sure we can (or should) hope to return to the sort of pre-critical anarchy characteristic of pre-civilized tribes. There is just too much that has transpired in the history of civilization and our sense of self to accept easily, and with relatively little questioning, the advice of our experienced elders. And, at this juncture we probably shouldn’t.

  11. Maybe communism, socialism, capitalism, and other systems are like branches on the tree of life in this world. If the branch gets rotten or infected, one can hack it off without much harm to the tree. And you are right DA that the perceived (conditioned) beauty of the different branches can be argued about with all the clashing opinions and beliefs to be championed, but to what great purpose? It is the roots that reveal the more primary state of the tree’s health. I would say, when one gets down to it, it is a matter of selflessness versus selfishness, ompetition versus cooperation, or needs versus greeds.

    What is more appealing a benevolent dictator or a corrupted democracy? A generous capitalist or a power-hungry socialist?

    • Disaffected says:

      EXCELLENT POINTS(!) Ron, and perhaps you and I are speaking on “other” terms? For the EXACT SAME question appeared to me while out walking yesterday as thus: in a society of utter irrationality, who is the fool? The irrational fool who seeks merely to fit in, while occasionally admitting to minor fits of rationality when absolutely necessary; OR, the rational intellectual, who constantly tries to convert the world to his way of thinking (however approximately), all the while realizing that his is a mere fool’s game in a world of fools?

      As to your primary point: Most would prefer (and history has proven) a benign (or otherwise) dictator for two reasons: a dictator is INFINITELY easier to depose (under most circumstances), and a dictator’s intentions are likewise almost INFINITELY easier to discern ahead of time, and thus “head off at the pass.” Can ANY serious student of 20th century history assert otherwise?

      YEAH, I know that last paragraph flies TOTALLY in the face of “popular experience” here in the west, but nonetheless…

      Corrupted democracy? We’re about to find out the effects for the first time on a truly global scale.


  12. john patrick says:

    After traveling through Hell at least 4-5 times I can say a sense of humor is the most important tool in the bag. Sometimes you just have to eat a shit-sandwiche and laugh about it. It doesn’t do any good to cry or throw a tantrum.

    Thank you for the writeup, Sandy. Very nicely done. And to the board for all the interesting and thought provoking commentary.

    Couple things I noticed (after reading it a day late) is the A=B, B=C, therefore A=C. In reality, when does anything totally equal another thing. Even two apples do not equal two other apples. Time and space make all things unequal. Thank god. Which leads to another observation (thank you DA).

    The “All that Is” is soon to become the “All that Was”.

    On language–it has served us well on many things. But also contributed to separating anything identified with a name from the sensual whole. I think it was RG who stated in a past post, that “we do not comprehend to consequences of what we create.” And so it is with language. Somehow, because we speak, we are separate from the natural world because it doesn’t speak. Is the Tower of Babel representative of man vs. man, or man vs. nature. And the loss of understanding our place in the natural world. Just wondering…

    Thanks again everyone for providing bread for the day.

    • Disaffected says:


      Yes, even “All that Is” is just a pitiful little slice of it, isn’t it? For starters, you’d at least have to expand that to All that Is, All that Was, and All that Will Be (shades of Christianity’s Alpha and Omega, or perhaps the Holy Trinity?), but unless you’re a determinist, you’d have to quickly exchange “Will Be” for “Could Be”, which opens up a whole ‘nother can of worms if you’re – say for example – a simple minded Christian looking for a nice tidy ending with Jesus flying in to save the day while the credits roll. For “could be” surely implies unlimited (read: infinite) free will being exercised not just by humans, but by ALL sentient elements of the universe, and for all we know EVERYTHING is sentient, and with that, perhaps (as the theoretical physicists already assert) an infinite number of universes springing from each and every infinitesimally small point in time for each and every infinitesimally small speck of sentient “stuff.” In other words: infinity raised to the infinite power multiplied by infinity raised to the infinite power an infinite number of times. In short: INFINITY writ INFINITELY LARGE! Just try plugging THAT one into your desktop computer and see how far you get! Sorta makes notions of a kindly (but wrathful!) old guy sitting up in the clouds waiting for judgment day seem a bit simplistic, eh? And yet, the “true believers” persist…

      By the way, the very concept of infinity has driven at least a few of extreme mathematical bent completely insane, so please don’t think about it for too long.

      Infinity and Insanity

      Georg Cantor



    • kulturcritic says:

      Perhaps it speaks, but we have forgotten its language, and how to sense it.

  13. Disaffected says:

    Speaking of shaking the foundations…

    It looks like Oklahoma is the latest strange place for a stronger than normal earthquake to occur. Just got word from a friend in KC MO that they felt it QUITE strongly there. Enough to make you wonder if the planet itself isn’t attuned to the forces causing our social upheaval, or more likely, we to it. I’m no spiritualist (although I guess I may be fairly called a pantheist of sorts, although I never claim that title myself), but I do try to keep an open mind about such things. And the mathematical certainty that in an infinite universe the amount of knowledge yet to be gained is ALWAYS infinite, no matter how “intelligent” we may think we have become along the way.

  14. leavergirl says:

    Can’t believe that ranter Kunstler is urging the OWSers to “occupy” the conventions. Oh sure — keep your eyes glued to the Spectacle, go and get arrested for the privilege of “protesting the Spectacle” — yeah, that’s the ticket! God forbid we should start looking to one another for solutions!

    Bah humbug.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Well, Leavergirl, I do think James is hopeful for a political solution, at least something which in the near term can deliver us a softer landing on the other side of energy decline. But, in his hopefulness there is possible delusion, thinking perhaps that our relationship with the world is not so far from normal. But, you are right, why would anyone want to participate in the continued deception of the hegemony, as if it really mattered. It is far too late, and the consciousness of progress and competition, is far too great to significantly alter this trajectory.

    • Disaffected says:

      My take on the OWSers, so far at least, is this:

      1. At least they’re SOMETHING standing in the path of the Leviathan that seems determined to squash us all. Will they be the final solution? Absolutely not, and I don’t think anyone of them believes that they will. But at least they’re a start.

      2. Their numbers are almost certainly going to grow exponentially (there’s that word again!) over the next few years, simply because an exponential debt-based society is now imploding, and the implosion will THUS be exponentially based as well. Think about that one for a moment if you will. Then think about it some more.

      3. JHK? He’s a professional writer/blogger making a (good) living within a capitalist system. I have great respect for the guy as far as it goes, but in the end, he’s a captive of his income streams. As are we all. Including me. We EACH have our little “sell-out moment” that we all must acquiesce to in order to keep the manna flowing, no matter how hard we try to hide it. That is TRULY the beauty of the capitalist – INDEED! ANY hierarchical system worth its salt! – is it not?


  15. Frank Kling says:

    Allow me to provide a real world example of how vile the system has become. I recently returned from a wildlife conservation excursion to Colombia. Colombia is what I describe as a hyper-capitalistic system where it’s every man for himself and only the strong prevail. Now the Chinese are purchasing large tracts of land with a common modus operandi. First, they send in “biological extraction teams” to trap and export to China every living organism for either consumption or the faux medicinal market. There is not a sound to be heard after they finish. Then all the timber is removed followed by gold/silver mining or agriculture. There is no, and I mean none, regard for the environmental implications of their projects. It’s all about making as much money as possible as quickly as possible. Thoroughly revolting and pathetic commentary on the present mindset, which will force the extinction of mankind and in the process most other life forms.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Frank, welcome. I won’t say that I cannot believe, because I can. That only shows you that the great experiment in State (communal) Capitalism is every bit as evil as the “free market,” if not more so. As, I have argued all along, this is not a political issue, and there is no political fraternity that is immune to the disease that infects our civilization. The Chinese are as committed to the Curriculum as we are. In my last post on the Russian Soul, I spoke about this phenomenon. The entire civilized globe is now engaged in a race to the end… Katie bar the door!!! It is a sad commentary on the nature of this beast. And we are all trapped onboard, like a run away train.

    • Disaffected says:

      Capitalism is NOTHING if not efficient. That’s it’s main “feature.” Efficient at WHAT you might ask? That is INDEED the question for current and future generations to ask (and ask…).

      • kulturcritic says:

        Efficient at turning resources, human and natural, into commodities. Of course there were no “resources” prior to their creation by the various sciences (human and natural)!!

  16. rg the lg says:

    2 cents worth …
    I spent the weekend away from my computer … it was just as well. I spent the time between my granddaughter (who makes me happy until I think about her future) and reading: Montaigne and Guy McPherson. Quite a combination.

    If you folks have not read ‘Walking away from empire,’ you need to.

    Sandy has read it I suspect …

    Back, long ago (well actually only long ago in terms of my miniscule participation on this planet) I recall when Jimmy Carter stated the middle east policy that we follow so religiously today … it stated that the oil their was ours. It began the serious resource wars that have plagued the region … but it was NOT the first. Resource wars are endemic to capitalism … and we fought World Resource War I and World Resource War II during the 20th century to assure that we were in on the kill … in on being on the side of the fascist states that won … . We were … but it goes all the way back to the resource wars we fought with the native Americans when we (those fear encrusted Europeans most of us are descended from) came across the pond.

    We have passed global Peak Oil … and as McPherson makes clear, that is when some people began to actually understand the futility of our collective delusion …

    Sandy is calling for something my generation (boomers) failed to actually do anything about. In the 60’s there were discussions of what should be done … and then Ronnie became President and said it was morning in America … he made two errors, or those quoting him did, because his reliance on the so-called conservative agenda (which states effectively that the US is god’s exception to reality) should have been stated as MOURNING IN AMERIKA …

    Once I thought about being a goat rancher … living off of the grid … but I didn’t do it. I was caught up in in AMERIKKKAN (wet-)dream. I am a recovering ass-hole AmeriKKKan … and I owe the few future generations my deep apologies for not fighting the system …

    Yes … I know I am complicit in the whole damned mess …


    • Disaffected says:

      Yep. WE are. Everyone of us. That will be our legacy, should we actually HAVE one more than a hundred years out or so.

      A new take on an old conundrum: if a human laments his plight (whines) in the forest and there’s no one around to hear him, does he make a sound?


    • kulturcritic says:

      RG – You are right, we are all complicit. But, it was a sting operation from the very beginning, and the sting was set up many generations before. So complicity was not intentional. And the possibility of seeing through the charade and changing direction, even in the heady days of free love and marijuana, would have been quite a task. There is an inertia to systems and institutions as they accrete to themselves more and more of the surrounding energy that they generate. And no one here was more complicit than me. I held senior executive positions in some of the biggest corporate bastards around… GE, Computer Science Corp, Ernst&Young… So don’t beat yourself up. Ain’t worth it. And, yes, I did read Guy’s latest book. Did you not see my review? A Life Of Excellence. sandy

  17. Jack Waddington says:

    Western civilization in general and American’s in particular have rallied to the so called genius of the American Constitution, but it was another Thomas; Pain, that was the real genius and was perhaps the forerunner to Carl Marx. Where Lenin and ‘his after thoughts’ all went wrong was that it was meant to put the power in the hands of the workers (then called trade unions), but this never happened and we are left with that mis-applied legacy ever since. However, more importantly not until recently were we able (as humans) to know the difference between human nature and human behavior. Mankind’s intrinsic nature is to feel, NOT to think; and it is this mis-reading of our human evolution that has stymied us ever since.

    Yes, Law was written to control the masses (not the elites that wrote this stuff) which was the means for perpetuating the main control though government. The technical means they used was money. If we were to see this tri-whatever, for what it is, then we could easily abolish Law, Government and Money. Yes, the engrained notion that the hierarchy must and has to exist, is the fallacy, which we humans are reluctant to ‘let-go-of’.

    The real revolution is to dispense with hierarchy, (a hard sell because we are afraid of the ‘other guy’, little realizing; we are the other guy). What is potentially brilliant about the OWS is that it is WITHOUT leadership and it ought to remain that way. When you use the phrase dichotomy between human and non-human why don’t you state it simply between humans and all other creatures (what is “non-human” supposed to mean). Then we could state:- Human and all other life forms and their nature and see that the abolition of hierarchy is not only possible, but advantageous.

    Jack Waddington

    • Disaffected says:


      “Mankind’s intrinsic nature is to feel, NOT to think; and it is this mis-reading of our human evolution that has stymied us ever since.”

      I like that intuitively. Let me give it some more thought before my rational mind let’s go of its obsessive need to decide.

      “Yes, the engrained notion that the hierarchy must and has to exist, is the fallacy, which we humans are reluctant to ‘let-go-of’.”

      Indeed it is.


    • Cliff says:

      Good points jack. There does appear to be many advantages of No heirarchy. However I cannot help but wonder how many of us will be able to accept the fact that there is nobody(everybody) really in charge or no one(everyone) really present. To follow this trail is to really walk down a pathless path and discover that everything and nothing lies ahead for all.
      What da ya think? How many are willing to make that total surrender?

      Anyway while I pondered the absolutely great potential of human social order minus heirarchy I just got back from the DC occupation around the White House\. with 12,000 of mees(us) and not mees(us)
      We were trying to convince another one of us’s(Obama) to not sign off on the XLTar Sands pipeline which would further pollute our lands and water.

      • Disaffected says:



        We need to talk…

        Total surrender? Rest assured, WE’RE ALL headed there one way or another very soon. For most of us, MUCH SOONER than we ever imagined!

        “At the moment of your death, will you be “out of your mind shocked,” or will you be merely a concerned but beneficial onlooker/participant? Have you given it any thought? Do you EVER give it any thought? Is not the END of your life AT LEAST as important as any other? Are you AFRAID of it? If so, WHY? Is that not a question worth considering? Is that not perhaps the ONLY question worth considering? If you could answer that question in whatever small way, would your remaining life not be INFINITELY better from this moment forward? Would you consider anything less than THE ANSWER to that question if you could attain it, no matter how many charlatans appeared to you offering PURE BULLSHIT for an answer in the meantime? WHAT THEN, PRAY TELL, IS ANY ONE OF US WAITING FOR?”


        • Cliff says:

          The journey ahead is an inner one. Our thoughts- Sense impressions/ habits of the brain, not to be confused with our consciousness, tend to act as a filter and regularly obscure from view our essential being= atomic, energetic, intimately entwined with all existence both as a part and as the whole. Is there life after death of our thinking self – our thoughts? Would it even be possible to CHALLENGE that haze and push open the door to new possibilities and begin to experience a more conscious existence, re-emerge more in tune with all existence. I imagine that here is the challenge for all: letting go of our thinking mind. So experiencing the world almost a new, maybe not completely but minus many of our brain impressions/ judgements. This way of being could require us to question our 1st impressions,letting them go, then to take new action (to create). Likely we’d soon discover that we must create almost constantly for much of our waking hours in order to overcome the pervasive influence of our mental habits obstructing a clearer more conscious view. Certainly this creation is not necessarily in the physical sense of the word.

          • john patrick says:

            A state of creating, or “flow” …

            When you step back and look at most/all of the doomer/prep thing (which is fascinating to some degree–I agree!) the situation distills down to a fear of death. Period. The greatest hurdle of all. Not death. But the fear of it. I cannot think of a single thing created with fear as the source of energy. A “thing” that can withstand the test of time/space.

            So, fear cannot create. It can huncker down, build walls, hoard beans, bullets, and vogue magazines. But it cannot create. Which brings us to an ancient writing. Fear not. The apocalypse happens in the mind… All physical matter fears ascension. Leaving the lowest state of being, behind.

            • kulturcritic says:

              Fear of death does not merely withstand the test of time/space; that fear was born with the modern conception (6,000 years old) of time/space. Without a concrete sense of non-repeatable, unilinear time and history, anticipation (of death) lacks any foundation. As Marvin Bram wrote in the foreword to my book, The Recovery of Ecstasy,

              The selfsame future in which we plan our next and better job, or arrange for a wedding or for college, is the only site on the temporal scheme past/present/future in which we will cease to live. We die in the future. Here is a hypothesis: the more absorbed with planning a person is, the more likely that fear of death will become a continuous presence for that person…

              As Bram concludes:

              By looking back rather than forward, [Sandy] exposes the trick looking forward plays on us: we must look at death, Heidegger says; no we needn’t, Krolick rejoinders. The future is dissolved in thin air, where it belongs. As for looking into the past: the calendar-and-clock past doesn’t deserve our attention. It’s trivial. If instead we overleap the trivial past to land on “the beginning,” again, not a calendrical beginning but an ahistorical kairotic moment, a Big Bang containing the energy of life itself, then we can bring that energy forward into each of our present moments. Krolick gives us an intensely positive “past” at the same time he relieves us of a future that contains our death.

            • Cliff says:

              Precisely and well put. Now who’s up for the challenge? And what might be the rewards? What would it look like on the other side…beyond the monotony, the hoarding,quantifying,calculating of our thinking selves. What role if any could this creative interaction play in social structures?

            • Disaffected says:


              Which is EXACTLY what I was driving at, however drunkenly and obscurely. Death is a given. As sure as your next breath… AND your last.

              FEAR OF DEATH! Now THAT’S another matter altogether, isn’t it. In fact, it’s pretty much the VERY DEFINITION of a “primal fear.”

              “So, fear cannot create. It can huncker down, build walls, hoard beans, bullets, and vogue magazines. But it cannot create. Which brings us to an ancient writing. Fear not. The apocalypse happens in the mind… All physical matter fears ascension. Leaving the lowest state of being, behind.”

              YES, INDEED!


          • javacat says:

            “Is there life after death of our thinking self – our thoughts?” I think this is a tantalizing question, Cliff. When I’ve thought about this question–which is its own irony–I wondered whether it would mean a return to a ‘primal animal’ state–like that in my cats, for example, or would it have to be a blend of a more open, primitive connection that you describe so well in your post, and our existing self-conscious mind. Would we be able, and would we want to yield completely our rational mind? Would we lose along with it our abilities to create, whether in art, science or technology? Perhaps it would be more being without the internal divisions and dividers we create now.

            • Cliff says:

              Hey Javacat
              A returning to somewhat more conscious state is probably nothing related to our thinking brain. So to speculate is just a repetition/ being complicit with existing notions. Creative actions in place of thought will likely begin to yield some interesting discoveries. We are seemingly on automatic pilot, constantly complicit. So the challenge really is to break-a-way from same old same old. Does this mean we must re-create the world around us? And give it a wider deeper connection: actualate make it an internalized experience, as if it is part of us rather then separate and divided? The only way that I can comprehend interrupting the thoughts and be in the moment is to be constantly creating new relationship: a unifying relationship of subject to object. And I wonder if it is possible to have this self-effort evolve into an effortless experience. Back to your ideas: perhaps then we would not be manipulated any further by the internal divisions and dividers that keep us away from creation. However it is likely that we do not create these divisions. They are likely left over historical impressions, complicity placed upon us. The trick is to become aware, conscious of these dividers then confront them as aggressively as we might choose.

              • javacat says:

                I go back and forth between trying to blow up the dividers/divisions and recognizing that they’re nothing but illusion that I may simply let drop away like scales. Yet we do confront them again and again. I think that self-effort can move toward effortless–another habit of being, if you will–Thanks for your response and thoughts–It’s good to have an exchange that doesn’t require a lot of translation.

          • javacat says:

            Cliff, let me know if I’m off track here, but it sounds like you’re talking about a dissolution of the false duality of the self/not self, especially when one considers the essential being (atomic & energetic). My intuition is that there is a greater unity (or Unity) that exists that allows both collective connection and individual being without contradiction, if that makes sense. I think we can experience glimpses of that experience, sometimes fleeting, sometimes more lasting. How to continue being in that way, to live it as lasting experience of the kind you describe is the trick. Thoughts?

            • Cliff says:

              You’re right on target. I posted to your comment last night. Check it out.
              Maybe this will offer you some further insight.

              Do not accept your initial thoughts, try replacing(creating ) with what your intuition understands of the universe and energy. When we remain complicit we are merely repeating. We must create.

              • javacat says:

                Thanks! I will go check it out. I really like your used of the word ‘create’. The action becomes much more animate, active, and alive.

                • Cliff says:

                  Creating it’s the challenge for all of us. We must remind ourselves continually not to accept our first impressions but replace them with something new, something complete, something more encompassing and whole, not divided, not quantified, etc,etc.
                  Ponder this: Even little things like breathing are taken for granted and are on automatic pilot, probably a good one to be on automatic, but we could appreciate it more by paying attention to it and realizing that we do choose to hold our breath as we might when going under water and we also choose to breath, it isn’t as automatic as we may believe.

                  • javacat says:

                    This sounds a lot like the mindfulness of Buddhism…heightening one’s awareness of each action, whether eating, breathing, walking, scrubbing vegetables–until the distinction between self and other is diminished, and one is fully present in the moment. Our breath is an especially good focus because we can understand so much of our emotions, our fears, by paying attention to how our breath is moving.

  18. rg the lg says:

    Sr. Juanito,
    Your point is well taken.
    I am a victim of BOTH culture and hierarchy. It takes a while to be weaned away.

  19. john patrick says:

    Ours truly is featured on ClubOrlov:

    Nicely done, Sandy.

  20. rg the lg says:

    Complicity … being complicit.

    My view is that complicity … being complicit … is encrypted in the DNA … and it is truly up to each of us to overcome our genes. Alas, to truly understand that role it is essential to recognize that our tendency is always to be greedy, destructive, and heartless when it comes to our own interests.

    Thus we need to constantly remind ourselves of our real tendencies. I am NOT beating myself up … so much as wondering. Having been deeply involved in the tail end of the late 60’s / early 70’s, the mythology of free love and marijuana was mostly generated by some of the very bastards we BOTH worked for. While you were doing your thing in corporate AmeriKKKA, I was up to my ears / eyeballs in generating MORE of you through the aegis of education / academics … where we teach fear of failure, envy of success and absurdity. There was, aside from the concept of free love and marijuana, much in the counter-culture movement that was in fact counter-cultural. We deemed our doom, but we were up against a society that (from its inception) was dedicated to ever expanding markets, control and magnificent doses of hubris. If you have not read William Appleman Williams, you should. He was a historian who not only took on the traditions of the AmeriKKKan oligarchs version of history … but that of the rising new left and the sop of the so-called progressives. Another historian worth the read is Howard Zinn … but Williams was one of the first to take on the BS of American exceptionalism as promulgated by most historians. Even the Beards were a pale by comparison …

    Finally, I see much of that long discredited counter-culture in what you say.

  21. john patrick says:

    RG… care to recommend one of William Appleman Williams works?

    On complicity, I would say that once a certain amount of ignorance is thrown off, complicity is the other side of the enlightenment coin. It may be the biggest factor in preventing inner growth. To be invited into the universal wedding hall, one instantly becomes aware of their ragged clothes.

    Complicit. yes. But then, there must be something further in, farther on…

    • Cliff says:

      Complicity could be viewed as nothing more then a repetition of existing actions. Taken to the “further in” place, our individual selves, it is accepting the notions(impressions) that are constantly telling us that this is this and that is that. So why not interrupt this complicity and monotony we experience in relationship with the physical world. And how does one interrupt such a pervasive filter.

      • javacat says:

        I agree with the notion of repetition of existing actions, and would add that often these are default actions and habits, not ones that we do deliberately to keep ourselves disconnected, but more done unconsciously. Social, political, and personal norms, too, are often ingrained well before our language allows us ways to name them, which makes them even more difficult to identify and question. There is great force in maintaining the ‘habits’ as well. How does one interrupt such a pervasive filter? Self-challenge. Paying attention to those ‘gut feelings’ and intuition, other senses that have been devalued by this culture. Deliberately reconnecting with the natural world. Finding like minds to share the path with for awhile–as long as we keep challenging each other! 🙂

      • rg the lg says:

        Ah, yes, Cliff … and that is why I have come to the idea that our behaviors are NOT easily adjustable. I aver that it is less enculturation / acculturation than genetics. If it was a simple matter of culture, there would be the opportunity for substantive change in the self-interest behaviors.

        Interrupting this complicity and monotony is a severe act of will … a conscious effort … and is difficult because (in my view) it is almost hard-wired into us as humans. When JavaCat says below: “not ones that we do deliberately to keep ourselves disconnected, but more done unconsciously. Social, political, and personal norms, too, are often ingrained well before our language allows us ways to name them” he hits the nail square on the thumb … and this results is, in my view, from something far deeper than mere culture, mere language.

        In earlier posts you may see that I am of the opinion that language may be our savior … in the limited sense that through language we are able to adjust / change / modify the way we see / perceive / respond to the world. Again, it takes a willingness to suspend the natural tendencies through thought and action.

        But, I ramble … the point, I hope, has been made. I am certain that in the great grand scheme of things, I may well be wrong … but this is where I am now. Saying we are all complicit is my way of forcing the dialogue toward an acknowledgement that we are not ‘just’ up against our culture (et al) but against our very genetics and evolutionary selves.

        • kulturcritic says:

          Rg- you seem to wish to remain willingly ignorant of 2 million years of human pre-history, before the emergence of civilized cultures and historical documentation. All indications from numerous sources strongly support the opposite of your view. There is nothing genetic about our current relations to the world or our “worldview.” You are a smart and well read guy; plese do some reading. sandy

    • javacat says:

      “The Tragedy of American Diplomacy” (1959) is one I read years ago, and may be the best known work. A more recent one (1980) has an inviting title of “Empire as a Way of Life: An Essay on the Causes and Character of America’s Present Predicament, Along With a Few Thoughts About an Alternative”.

  22. rg the lg says:

    Henry W. Berger edited “A William Appleman Williams Reader: Selections From His Major Historical Writings” in the 1990s after Williams death from cancer. It is in paperback, and thus not too expensive. You can get it from most of the on-line criminals for less than $20. I suggest this because Berger is fair in his assessment of Williams, and the selections give a good taste of Williams perspective on history.

    The book description from the cover and repeated at Amazon reads: “William Appleman Williams, who died in 1990, was arguably the most influential and controversial historian of his generation. His revisionist writings, especially in American diplomatic history, forced historians and others to abandon old clichés and confront disturbing questions about America’s behavior in the world. Williams defined America’s social, moral, constitutional, and economic development in uncompromising, iconoclastic, and original terms. He saw history as “a way of learning;” and applied the principle brilliantly in books and essays which have altered our vision of the American past and present. In this rich collection, Henry Berger has drawn from Williams’s most important writings—including “The Tragedy of American Diplomacy,” “The Contours of American History,” and “The Roots of the Modern American Empire” to present his key arguments. There are twenty-one selections in all, from books, essays, and articles, including two never before published. Mr. Berger has added notes to the selections and an enlightening introduction which explores Williams’s career and ideas.”

    An excerpt from library journal review by Susan E. Parker, Harvard Law Sch. Lib., states: “The dean of American revisionist historians, Williams produced three decades ago path-breaking, controversial historical analysis that is as fresh and pointed today as at its inception. A heavy influence on modern historians, Williams was among the first to articulate a view of American history as a record of self-serving economic and imperialistic activity and to explain U.S.-Soviet relations within that framework. Williams challenged the traditional explanation of the Cold War as a product of Soviet aggression and was a strident contemporary critic of the United States’s policy of containment as espoused by George Frost Kennan. These 19 selections include two previously unpublished essays. Together they form a valuable summary of the thinking of one of our most potent intellectuals. A most appropriate acquisition for libraries serving undergraduate as well as graduate students.”

    I have an original, rather dog-eared and heavily annotated copy, purchased when the book first came out. I revisit Williams writings there rather than in some of his own, and longer works (of which I have some signed copies), because Berger did a good job.

    Glad you asked.

    • Disaffected says:


      LOL, and I speak from experience, ain’t NO NEED at passing on literary references in THIS DAY AND AGE. If it ain’t got a link, ain’t NO ONE gonna give it a second thought, and even then…

      You’ve got three (brief, MAYBE) paragraphs to make your case (including links, preferably visual) these days. And they BETTER BE GOOD! Absent that, you might as well check it at the door.

      And THEN there’s the thirty-somethings and below!




  23. rg the lg says:

    Speaking of books …

    I am waiting for a book to be released … the URL: is a book review from The Nation. If nothing else, the review touches on some subjects that may be of interest to the habitués of this blog.

    • john patrick says:

      habitues… I like it.


      Was thinking today, everyone at some point in time, at multiple times, suffers the loss of an illusion. Career goals for the kids, investment strategy, fairness, justice, etc.. We are usually lucky enough to have a role model nearby who is unaffected, to receive guidance. But now–what strange beast will arise when an entire culture suffers the dissolution of their favorite dream.

      • Disaffected says:

        “Strange beast” indeed. Nice analogy.

        Probably best to look no further than the lower rungs, since they were always the first – and thus the one’s who have suffered the most – to have taken it on the chin.

        Just coincidentally – there’s THAT word again- HBO’s The Wire is coming on the telly here where I live. WONDERFUL commentary on big city/national/world politics. If you’ve got the time, the means, and it’s available, you could certainly do worse in “entertainment” choices.


  24. rg the lg says:

    OMG … you said “Was thinking today” …
    Call out the Homeland Security buggers and perverts!
    He admits to a terrorist act … he thinks!

    Sorry … couldn’t resist!

    Yes … and that raises the issue of community … being able to create a post-collapse environment in which there are others who can share and discuss stuff needing discussion. In general we have lost any form of community … and while blogs like this are satisfying, in a post-collapse world, blogs will be quickly forgotten … both because there are no ‘resources’ to create the electrical impulses … and because each of those survivors will be hard pressed to stay alive in the early stages of the collapse. After the collapse and the attendant anarchy, then life will hopefully settle down somewhat … unless I am correct that our impulses are genetic … then we will fight over scraps until there is only rubble left.

    Thus, for those who threaten the empire by actually thinking thoughts that are verboten, finding people to talk to … to share with … to suffer the loss of the imperial overshoot amongst … will be a burden. Hopefully my demise will predate such a world.

    Maybe not … it could be as soon as next year … (this year? I doubt it mainly because we are in the 11/12th of the year …


    Yes. There is hope that what outlasts us will evolve a less greedy means of existence …

    • Disaffected says:


      Good points all. Me thinks that you are correct in assuming that “the collapse” will mostly/all encompass the electronic realm as well (indeed, many would assert that it’s just the opposite that will occur).

      The relocalization will indeed be fun, and it’s DAMN SURE hard to know how it’s going to turn out.

      I think there’s a WHOLE LOT more to this story yet to be told; but I, like you, doubt very much that it’s the likes of you or I who are going to be telling it. Just a hunch.


    • john patrick says:

      Yeah. Thinking. Sometimes it hurts 🙂

      It’s anybody’s guess as to the timeframe. For some, it’ll be never. For others, many, it’s already begin. It won’t be homogenous.

      I think electricity will be around for a long time. I mean, a magnet, motion, and a conductor are not hard to find. But–we’re used to buying a new laptop when it crashes and the future may have many more cyber cafes within ones neighborhood. A lot of sharing.

      But then, I could certainly be wrong. I hope I am. But it seems, put ten people in a room and they can’t agree to any concerted action. Unless the building is on fire–then it’s all run for the exit. Can’t say that’s community building…

      • Cliff says:

        But put 10 people in a room all focussing on the moment, their breathing, the wind, blowing thru the window and there is just one person present. All of like being, few to agree or disagree just many to be present.

    • Disaffected says:

      “Thus, for those who threaten the empire by actually thinking thoughts that are verboten, finding people to talk to … to share with … to suffer the loss of the imperial overshoot amongst … will be a burden. Hopefully my demise will predate such a world.”

      Actually, I think it will be just the opposite. Finding people to openly commiserate with won’t be hard (certainly) or verboten (surprisingly), it will just be futile. In the end, I imagine that mere futility of resistance will be the empire’s last true revenge, just as it should be.

      And who, in the end, will be our one and only true captor(s)? Test question. One word answer, pass or fail.


  25. kulturcritic says:

    @ the Board:

    One of our new contributors, Claude from above our northern border, sent me a comment offline and a link he wished to publish here. I am publishing it on Claude’s behalf. The link deserves special attention!! Here are Claude’s remarks and link:

    “This article is another way of saying what you have presented…
    ‘To gain a concrete foothold on this, our present moment, before the precipice we are fast approaching, we must dig deeper and find a way behind this fundamental binary opposition that drives Western civilization and its hierarchies of command and control. We must find a new way onto that ancient footpath leading us beyond the nature/culture divide, rediscovering a perspective that recognizes human and nonhuman nature as one piece — my flesh, the flesh of the world. Only then may we again comprehend the cycles according to which all of nature — human and nonhuman — operates, and respond accordingly. If we cannot do this, I am afraid that any solution (political or economic) to our current dilema will simply maintain the institutional status quo, and continue to hold us hostage to the same systems of manipulation and control.’
    … yes !!”

  26. I so enjoyed reading the conversation between Cliff, JC, and others that raised the excellent questions about the conditioned mind, the veiled or “filtered” consciousness, the unconscious addictions to various patterns of thinking/feeling, and the “gut feelings”,” intuition, insights, etc that serve to unbind and unwind the limiting ego-mind.

    Even though JC mentions the idea of finding like minded souls with which to share the path and challenging one another (so dear to my heart), it may seem, and is to some extent, a pursuit for the individual and not the collective. I feel, though, that any step forward one can manage, has an impact on all the individual’s connections. All are served and helped throught the effort whether one thinks about it or not. Thus, conquering one’s self is the very way to conquer the world.

    To share a few things that I have found helpful in this pursuit/practice/path:

    –Already mentioned was appreciation, which carries with it a powerful energy for transformation. Appreciating what I value most helps to weaken the attitudes and behaviors that conflict and strengthen those that foster.

    –As Cliff mentions, questioning mechanical, habitual thoughts and seeing things as they are upon inner and outer examination, I can take my stand on the truth as I see it, abide in it, no matter what others think about it. Yet always remain open to expanding or correcting errors in this seeing.

    –Abiding in the Will of a benevolent Creator, the True Self in all, has allowed worrying to lose its grip for many years. I have so appreciated using the mind, while not at work on the details of worldly duties, to serve as an amusement center rather than as a torture chamber.

    –Receptivity to the lessons of life as they unfold and via my experimentation with the concepts I get introduced to is essential, as is the love, grace and guidance that support and give lasting significance to life.

    JC: “I think we can experience glimpses of that experience, sometimes fleeting, sometimes more lasting. How to continue being in that way, to live it as lasting experience of the kind you describe is the trick. Thoughts?”

    The “trick”: Practice, experiment, be bold and determined. See what happens, Brother.

    • javacat says:

      Ron, thanks so much for the close read and thoughtful reply. So many good ideas here. One of the dangers of like minds, as well as the benefit, is that we reinforce each others vi perceptions because we agree with them–as often happens here–which may keep us from examining them closely, freshly, creating them new, as Cliff suggests. So it’s good that we call each other out, as we call ourselves out as well. I’ve found that gratitude–probably your appreciation–heightens my awareness and allows me to be more receptive to whatever life, the world, the Universe offers me. Yes, be bold. Step off the edge and go into free fall. See what happens.

  27. rg the lg says:

    Interesting … and something worthy a reread and maybe some thought … assuming that the descendants of j edgar are reading as well … [I presume they are … hi folks … ]

    A friend, one of those rare birds who tolerate my constant criticism of everything … sent this: (THE QUESTIONS ARE HIS … but they could have been mine … I suppose … maybe … )

    Watch this — it’s just over 11 minutes — and see what you think.
    Does it really say anything new?
    Do you buy into the message? “

    • rg the lg says:

      This is the response to my friend mentioned above …

      Your question …
      … is answered with an article …
      … answered with another … but my answer is an entire article …
      You wanted to know what I thought about the video … we have been flailing at the spectre for a long time. Maybe someone recalls a dream time as explained in the article. Had we been THERE instead of in the abyss of our current situation, the question would need no answer.
      That, my friend IS my answer …

      Now for the read …

      … and that is often the way to answer any question … so thanks to Sandy-man and Claude the anonymous … and it will no doubt be thoroughly unsatisfactory … which may cause thinking … ? A not altogether bad outcome …

    • Disaffected says:


      Thanks for that! Best thing I’ve viewed in a LONG, LONG, time.

      Question? Why would ANYONE think this is the least bit controversial? Pretty much common sense, isn’t it?


      • john patrick says:

        Well… Dorothy could’ve clicked her heals at the beginning of her Oz adventure. But she didn’t. Simple doesn’t mean no-work is involved. Once the mountain is climbed, it’s not a big deal to rise back up.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Saw it months ago. Some excellent points, Rg/Lg. Thanks for bringing it back.

  28. Disaffected says:

    Now then, with regard to a rather long-winded thread began by the infamous RG the LG concerning generally “community and collapse” and ending (generally) with John Patrick asserting that “love is not lost, we’re swimming it,” I might add, nothing at first.

    First of all, very nice “new-agey” sentiments expressed there JP. Rest assured, I was accused of such many times once upon a time as well. Yeah right! We’re literally swimming in a sea of capitalist love. Try taking THAT sentiment to the bank and cashing it (Fuck! Do the banks even HAVE tellers anymore?).

    BE THE PATH? Um hum. Try, BE THE TARGET! Bullet poof vests? Definitely available. Corporate Visa accepted.


    • john patrick says:

      I didn’t say you wouldn’t have to duck from bullets! 🙂

      New-agey…nah. But after all the bitching and complaining (count me in that, too), eventually we have to find a good place to navigate from. Otherwise, we’re just swept up in the storm.

    • john patrick says:

      Inline with many of the comments, above… (thank you), we can prep and store beans/bullets and refrigerators ’till the whole damn system collapses. But in “your” final hour, it won’t matter.

      Same with trying to create a perfect system/ism. In the end, what have you gained. It’s not like we’re gonna’ carry democracy cards with us (think ACLU) to the next dimension, whatever it is.

      What we do take with us, is who we are. Our attitude toward life in general. That’s why focusing on the nuts/bolts just doesn’t make any difference (in my opinion–just that). Not saying we shouldn’t rise to the occasion in front of us, but making that occasion a perfect reality to go on, and on, and on, just doesn’t seem part of the bigger picture.

      I don’t think the universe/Gaia/whatever is interested in our ability to create infinite ponzi schemes. Or things/machines that last forever.

      Time for some RU vodka.

      • kulturcritic says:

        Anytime is a good time for a shot of vodka on the table!!

        • john patrick says:

          I’m having to settle for cheap red Napa. But–after the first sip, it all tastes the same to me.

          • kulturcritic says:

            That’s what the siberians say about vodka. Buy the cheapest, its all the same.

            • john patrick says:

              Might as well have another while we’re waiting for DA to chime in. He’s probably making a rootbeer float!

              • Cliff says:

                So the bigger question that few have approached yet is: Energy cannot be destroyed
                So in our drunken stupors and final physical deaths. What of us remains?
                Where does that vibration(energy) go? Or maybe it doesn’t really go anywhere else and actually remains here but where. Maybe reborn into a new sole / newborn(new consciousness. And isn’t it interesting that at birth / rebirth its all a new creation to the newborn consciousness and then slowly the structure, culture control, differentiation from the whole is dropped on us. Any other thoughts about this

                • john patrick says:

                  started a new thread…

                • kulturcritic says:

                  much too far out for me to comment… i focus strictly on the stickiness of embodiment, the senses and the earthly sensuous!

                  • javacat says:

                    Don’t over think this one, Sandy. 🙂 In fact, don’t think it at all. The energy, the vibration that Cliff mentions I think is one in the same with sticky earthy sensuousness, different aspects of the same cloth. This may seem too far out there, too, but here we go: Recall a time when you were completely in the moment, time didn’t exist, your senses were wide open, receptive, and energy flowed through you from everything that was around you. When I recall such moments, I literally feel space not only between my cells, but between the very atoms that comprise my being, and I sense a resonance with the plants, the trees, the Earth, the people around me. We are all still individuals, but there are no boundaries. The energy flows between us, through us, around us. Just as the matter that makes us up persists after our current version is gone, so the energy must as well.

  29. john patrick says:

    As with many questions, we assume the incomplete posture on posing it. (no offense–just a fact demonstrated with all ancient teachings). Which is why a direct answer is seldom given.

    We tend to think of ourselves in “one” place, so want to know where we go when we go somewhere else. I think the truth of the matter is, that we are multi-dimensional with aspects of our nature outside of time/space as we understand it. So, to answer you question, we don’t “go” anywhere. We just inhabit other realms that our current spirit resonates with. I think the universe is kind, benevolent, though violent (according to our anthro-centric bias) when it comes to serving our best needs.

    The rules of thermodynamics apply to a closed universe, i.e. a zero-sum equation. The spirit realm (or whatever you want to call it), is not bound by the rules of time/space/matter. But, rather intent/desire and resonating with the underlying essence of creation. Let’s call it love. When an idea/desire is at resonant frequency with the construct of the universe (so to speak), a very small force can create exponential consequences. Knowing this, and learning to use it in a caring way is an infinite spectrum. And even the greatest saints, are guilty of equally great mistakes…

    Just as the spirit is the source of our physical being (and not the other way around), light is the source of matter. And we’ve been taught the speed of light is constant… it is. But it can be slowed down. This is why no-thing can go faster than the speed of light. Because all matter/things originate from it.

    • john patrick says:

      More… while I’m here sipping cheap Napa.

      The physical realm has a beginning. I.e., it was created. And knowing this, it also senses/knows it has an end. This is why anything in the physical realm fears dissolution/death. It cannot comprehend anything before/beyond its inception. The brain/mind/intellect is subject to this. The response is to prep, prepare, for the end of the world/apocalypse. As the physical realm understands it.

      The spirit knows otherwise. It has no beginning or end, so death/dissolution is not an obstacle, but only a phase change, so to speak. But–we have chosen to inhabit the physical realm, and like any good movie, suspended disbelief makes it more enjoyable and us–capable of learning from it. (am just jabbering from my own observations)

      It all comes down to the painter and the painting. The painter loves the creation of his/her brush. So much so that the painter inhabits the painting. The connection is so strong/real, suspended disbelief, that the painter risks being captured by the rules of the painting realm. We do awake, from time to time, (those with ears to hear, whatever) and realize that we are in the painting, but not “of” the painting. I.e., the painting did not create us.

      Any good painter wants/loves the painting to become real. So much so, that the painting is given the ability to become self-sentient. And then things get real confusing…

    • kulturcritic says:

      How does one begin to speculate on such things? Am I missing out on the pharmaceuticals?

  30. Cliff says:

    So it appears that it is a journey that has no end or beginning and that we might give more attention to this assumption. It is the journey…only the journey. I wonder if the concept of journey can only occur in the present tense of the word. The tools thus far available in order To rise above pain, war, death, have not been adequate. I might be missing something but cause, effect, outcome. have little relationship or place in present time? On the road to find out
    with no expectation or of outcome…just on the road… Or is” just on the road” an outcome all its own? No attachments Just being

    • john patrick says:

      Hey Cliff, the way I look at some of these issues is to take it to an extreme. I.e., after we find happiness, peace, a girl/boyfriend, whatever, then what do we do? If one can imagine fulfillment, then the next step is? Doing this, I’ve realized that finding “something” is not the answer. Sure–things can be enjoyed and learned from. But anything, or any state we arrive at, is not the end of the road. Or, as a book I read many years ago said, “When you reach the peak and enjoy the view, you notice a much higher peak off in the distance.” As much as I hate climbing hills/mountains, the view is always better, and there is always something to look forward to.

      Life is the journey, to put it in new-agey DA-terms (where is that guy?) Attachments are fine, part of committing oneself to a situation. But the painter should remember the difference between themself and the painting. An example that comes to mind (forgive my Jud-Chri influence–was steeped in it years ago so tend to draw often from it), is the story about some guy gaining entrance to the mansion in the sky. And–being able to enter and leave. I think that when we encounter an experience (enlightening or otherwise) we are free to enter, leave, and re-enter if we please. Sometimes we re-enter it for the benefit of those under our care.

      I do not think we will ever be rid of war, avarice, and poverty. And, even if we did–then what? How is courage and honor displayed? Is happiness 100 enlightened souls smiling at each other and telling clean jokes. The more we learn/grow, so does the shadow behind us and the ability to re-enter it. I don’t like it–would rather just arrive at a peaceful place where I can screw off, drink wine, smoke a cigarette, and hang out with friends. But my observation has been that it doesn’t work like that… The greatness of it ALL, is that we will not figure it out with our language, or knowing a hundred more.

      • john patrick says:

        p.s. I struggle and muddle through this “stuff” like everyone else. Same concerns. I’ve learned it’s possible to be a fool and do something great, all in the same day! Some days my little family is a state of bliss. Then five minutes later WWIII breaks out. Over someone sticking their finger in the vaseline jar. Gettin’ ready to run into town and do some things with my girlfriends daughter. Enter the childish world… of color, and puzzles, and mechanical horsey rides. I intend to have fun. No–Sandy, I won’t be riding the horse! Well, I don’t think I will be…

  31. Dave Jones says:

    Wierd, I had two separate unrelated conversations yesterday about psychedelics or the psychotropic experience. Not to go all sixties here but a lot of people did “turn on” and do a lot of deep remembering.

  32. rg the lg says:

    Spirit … ?
    Sorry folks … but I am totally irreligious and consequently a-spiritual.

    I will readily admit that there is a spark of something created by the mind (probably in all beings that are what we call life), but this spiritual stuff is, in my mind, anathema. To assume that it is some sort of forever-thing not only goes against the grain, it is something my science encrusted mind can find absolutely no evidence for. Not that continuation is not enticing … but I have a serious problem with the whole belief racket. As a fundamentalist skeptic, I accept some things as possible … accept that amongst the possible are the plausible … and amongst the plausible, the probable. Spirit, is possible, but not plausible because the evidence seems to be something I can not measure EXCEPT within myself. That I consider suspect, recognizing that the mind is a very susceptible organ within our organism. Therefore I find the probability so low as to be almost zero. (Since NOTHING is ever truly zero, then possible is still there, but ever so remotely.)

    Therefore, I think the above bits going back at least as far as my last post are supercilious … if not simply wrong headed.

    But, believe what you want … I simply find all of this not merely speculative but wrong headed.

    I will suggest that you google this: Nihil curo de ista tua stulta superstitione

    Maybe too much alcohol …

    • javacat says:

      rg, thanks for your forthrightness. Even as I don’t hold the same thoughts, your words made me re-examine what I think is true. I distinguish between religious and spiritual in the common way, and may expound on that elsewhere. What do you make of perceived spirituality–whether it’s described as an energy, another realm, something beyond the mind and flesh? Is it another construct of the human mind? How or where do the indigenous shaman fit into your views? Do you view all these experiences are extensions of the physical body?

      • rg the lg says:

        A mind construct ./.. the interactions of what we think we perceive with the neurons that are.

        Religion is the system for explaining the gaps in what is known.

        The shaman played, as the medicine-man plays, a role in the reassurance that there is hope. The religious practitioner also serves the role of reassurance for the fearful.

        I figure that when I die it will be much as it was before I was born … and that is as far as I can go. The rest of it is the same as seeing letters on a giraffe … we are pattern seeking animals … and if we can name a pattern we assume that is what we are actually seeing … the named pattern … but without the name is there a pattern? I would suggest that IF you have no name for the shape of the letter A, there is no A … just a shape. In the same manner, I see the notion of god / gods / spirits / etc. If we have a name for something then we may be able to see it .. if it is unnamed it does not yet exist. Some things can be validated as being there with or without a name, but others go poof in spite of the name when it turns out there is really nothing there.

        To me, what I have written makes sense … is not only possible, but plausible … has not only plausibility but a certain probability that is greater than other probabilities for things less probable. less plausible but none the less not impossible.

        I am not sure this makes sense to anyone aside from me … just as gods / spirits make no sense to me despite the assumptions / beliefs of others.

  33. john patrick says:

    We don’t know where we came from. Nor do we know where we are going. With that in mind, seems to me everything in-between is up for skepticism. I don’t like the word, believe. It means, “I don’t know.” I don’t tell people I believe I have a body. I know it. At least, I think I do. The word, spirit, carries the same emptiness as the word, Russian, to capture the full meaning of what we intend to convey to another.

    Vino. It can be measured. And enjoyed. And the effects are often unknown… Words have no power of their own. Why do we use them to form the basis of what we know. They are only clothes.

  34. rg the lg says:

    Words … maybe they are part of an illusion. But even as illusion they do appear to have power. You could not exist for me without them; nor I for you. Plus, they are descriptive … and consequently have the capacity to illustrate our thoughts for others.

    Where we came from … it is beyond knowing in the final sense … . But, we strive to balance what we perceive as possible in terms of plausible with a dose of probability. Beyond that there is the realm of not bothering and, I would suggest, not caring.

    Alcohol … an aid for oblivion … and yes, I do drink an occasional (single) beer … never wine unless I know certainly that it has no sulfites … a shot of whiskey, or vodka, now and then … genetic tendency to alcoholism … no morals involved …

    Everything is a function of skepticism … without it we would all believe some bs …

  35. Cliff says:

    Skepticism is merely an urge toward infinity. if I were to question something I could be doubting somethings existence or non existence. In either case we are left with the search with a non limiting construct.

  36. Cliff says:

    On words: Language is a limiting experience. It’s function is to carve out a particular space/time/construct. The fewer the words the more powerful the vibration, intent. Is it possible to communicate without language of the spoken word and without hand signals?

    • javacat says:

      Yes, language limits. It fixes experience. The meaning of its words, no matter how carefully defined, always carries varying nuances to each who speaks it. Is it possible to communicate without language of the spoken word? Of course. Without hand signals? Yes. The easy ways are through expression and eye contact–which many avoid these days. But even in darkness, when two people cannot see each other, and are not touching, they can communicate. Do you disagree, or were you taking these thoughts somewhere else?

  37. Cliff says:

    I do agree. It’s our inflections and the vast use of language that will continue to divide and conquer. Tis no doubt that all conflict and disagreements arise from fear or misinterpretation. I think we could probably question which comes first. Misinterpretation or fear. In either case language or excessive use does not assist in human relations. In silence we should find common
    ground and accept that emotions/thoughts of mistrust and fear arise only from ourselves and do not originate outside of the self. I have experienced that lack of fear with long periods of silence and few words spoken for extended periods of time and discovered that my communications skills
    which by the way require both a listener and a speaker improved greatly. Listening is a powerful communicator and must be explored more fully to understand communication.

    • kulturcritic says:

      I agree, wholeheartedly

    • javacat says:

      Practicing silence is a challenge, for sure, but it stills mental chatter and does seem to get our egos out of the way. Our culture fears silence as…as what? Weakness? Isolation? Acquiescence? Defeat? When we are bombarded with sound from so many sources, and seek simultaneous stimulation and disconnect by constantly plugging into some device, silence makes us uncomfortable and uneasy, much like darkness, true forest darkness, makes us edgy because we now see ourselves as separate from it. Yet, as you mention, silence, active silence, cultivates the listener, to hear not only the words of another, but behind and beyond the words, allowing us to communicate at different levels. Thanks for reminding us of this power.

  38. Cliff says:

    Above rg the lg spoke MANY thoughts of language and skepticism. I do not see skepticism as the means to filter out the BS. I submit that skepticism appears to be rather a frustrated urge toward the unknown / Skeptics tend to wallow in this, find solace in belief or disbelief as if stuck in glue. The practice of listening WITHIN requires an observer of the thinker, so within ourself it seems to mean a disassociation from and not identifying ourselves with judgements/skepticisms, both within and without. The cultivation- a real growing of SILENCE( as one would grow bacteria in a jar) has the potential to catapult the listener / THE PARTICIPANT to a place that has little relationship to belief or dis-belief. Persistent and continued cultivation of “silencing the mind” offers the courageous, willfull traveler the potential to pull back the layers of all that is believed or not believed(mind known) to experience what is the unknown. I submit that where we came from and where we are going is in this realm….The Unknown. So do we have any will-full courageous participants? After all, social order as we know it and for future generations must look to the unknown for something new and hence a new outcome. It has been clearly displayed over the eons that what we know hasn’t worked. I and all of us do exist and can be known to each other quite deeply WITHOUT THE SPOKEN WORD. Nice points above javacat. Hope to have more entertain these ideas in further discussion.

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