The Civilization of Our Discontent…

and the Winter of Our Revolution


There is a point in every political rebellion, in every self-conscious effort to reign in hierarchy and rectify the wrongs of hegemony, when the forces of the State and the forces of the Revolution meet head to head on the battlefield of truth. That battlefield has become an increasingly public forum, where the greater body politic and even voyeuristic foreigners get to participate in a new spectator sport, virtually, if nothing else. This past two months on Wall Street has been one of those occasions.

The grievances or ideals that give rise to rebellion and revolution have varied little throughout the long and sordid history of civilization. Their underlying motivation seems to spring from a common source, grounded in a basic human experience, by now a distant and nearly forgotten memory trace.  It speaks to an intuition whose origin is primeval, an inspiration that even the rebels do not fully understand because it speaks to them in a “language older than words” (Jensen).

There remains, within our species, the faintest recollection of a feral autonomy – a primal freedom to dwell, and to engage the world spontaneously, outside the bonds of historical necessity, agricultural cycles, or work schedules – with little, if any, artifice or intervention.  It is, in this sense, clearly anarchic; not wanting enforced mediation of life through some coercive or controlling principle – a leader, representative, or designated institutional hierarchy. Yet, it seeks neither unrestrained license, nor the contemporary illusion of free choice. Rather, it strives to express a basic predisposition to participate artlessly, capriciously, in the game of life, filling its senses with the “earthly sensuous” (Abrams). Moreover, it seeks voluntary communion (sharing) within, and with the support of, a small community, band, or tribe.  Nations and States are not such communities. Empire is, quite simply, anathema to the unfettered and participatory energy of this primitive intentionality.

We have witnessed revolutionary movements and a concomitant escalation of belligerent Statist responses around the world recently, whether those States proclaim to be democracies, autocracies, or monarchies by constitution. We saw such escalation in Iran, in Egypt, and in Bahrain; we have seen it in Greece, Italy, Libya, Tunisia, Yemen, Syria, Israel, and now, in America.  Crackdowns in the USA are not uncommon, but the most recent ones began two weeks ago in Oakland, California, where an American veteran of the Iraq War had his skull fractured and sustained brain injury due to strong-armed police tactics aimed at silencing voices of dissent. Subsequently, the Mayor of Oakland, Jean Quan, gave the police chief orders to evict demonstrators from their occupation site. Shortly thereafter, the mayor’s deputy and legal counsel both tendered their resignations; clear indications that the incipient violence and belligerence of the State (the city) is making even some of its own power brokers uncomfortable.

Similar shows of force were coordinated in quasi-conspiratorial fashion as mayors of at least eighteen cities huddled on conference calls to coordinate their strategies.  Eviction of protestors has now been forcibly carried out in Portland Oregon, Albany NY, Denver, Salt Lake City, and of course, at Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan.  So now, those who had lost their homes through evictions, enforced by the financial violence of corrupt bankers, have also lost their rights to publicly protest the inequities and injustices of the corporate State at the hands of the State’s own security forces.

Riot Gear and Pepper Spray in Portland Oregon

What we must not lose sight of here is the foundation of this “all too human” (Nietzsche) response to the State, its hierarchies, its mediating boundaries, and its paid enforcers. Quoting St. Augustine in De Doctrina Christiana, “In a reach of arrogance so great, the soul of fallen man seeks to lord it even over those who are by nature its equal, its fellow man.”  It is this unrelenting (sometimes masked, sometimes overt) drive towards management or enslavement of the body politic – legally, economically, socially – that lays the muted foundations for rebellion and revolution.

Yet, why do revolutions never seem to work out as planned; whether it is the French variety, the American, the Russian, or the Egyptian? Those rebelling believe they want regime change, or fairness, or justice, or representation. They might even talk about democracy, equality, or freedom. Certainly, these are lofty enough sounding goals.  And, in a profound sense, they do seek freedom; but do they understand exactly what that term denotes, what constitutes real freedom? And this inability to define it may be the obscure intuition inhibiting our current batch of revolutionaries from voicing specific demands; their own sense of what is needed being ambiguous, even to themselves.

Our modern, democratic ideal of freedom emerged from a complex brew of industrialization, commercialization, commodification, and the State-enforced legislation of human experience.  We tend to think, today, in terms of free choice (from toothpastes to presidents), or free time – time off-the-clock, unscheduled time — in short, freedom from economic servitude; otherwise called financial freedom.  However, such concepts are only a distraction from the real nature of our enslavement.  And, it is not much brighter when you look at the other freedoms legislated through our bill of rights. What are these freedoms anyway, if at any time the State may forcibly remove you, incarcerate you, or even adjudicate your freedoms away?  Perhaps it is a legitimate question to ask: Is it better to live in a State like Syria or Libya, where an autocrat’s demise can be foretold by the stench of death at his doorstep?  Or do you prefer being where the mechanisms and subtle machinations of the State can continue to medicate and seduce like a Siren’s song, while legislating to keep you enthralled and enslaved?

Such freedoms (legal rights) only serve to highlight the nature of the scaffolding along with the chains that bind us, while they serve up tasty bones to placate hungry dogs.  Yet, the systems of hierarchy and institutions of control continue unmolested, monitoring and managing our daily lives. These so-called freedoms, together with the playpen of consumer choice, act as mere salve or medication to mask the pain associated with the symptoms of our disease – the institutionalization (or confinement) of our feral core. It is this disease that cripples our preconscious capacity to act (pouvoir), to participate, and to live life intertwined with an animate environment (Merleau-Ponty). But the freedom sought out, back behind the revolutionary act, hidden deep inside the shell of our legislated lives, and often unbeknownst to the revolutionary herself, is precisely that lost primal autonomy – a freedom that, once found, would allow us to dwell comfortably in honest egalitarian communities; social enclaves grounded in strong consanguine and affine relations, and in closest proximity to the nature that enlivens us.  This feral memory is a desire to be leaderless, but not rudderless; willingly taking direction from elders and more experienced colleagues. It is a primal urge to participate the world, and to share that participation with friends, family, and kinfolk, in the most generous sense of that word.

Yet, I say it again.  This is not what our demonstrators will demand.  As the Egyptians are demanding the right to vote, and to share in the wealth of nations, so too our demonstrators here in the USA will demand the right to a vote that means something, along with a more equitable share in the wealth of our nation.  Why?  Because that is all they have known, and that is what they have been led to cherish by those who still are calling the shots.

112 Responses to The Civilization of Our Discontent…

  1. Jack Flash says:

    “Empire is, quite simply, anathema to the unfettered and participatory energy of this primitive intentionality.”

    Empire has the ring of a machine. It might be fine for harvesting corn. But is a sore replacement for community. Yet–in our search for ease, to undo the curse of being thrown out of the Garden, we trade the work of community for the ease of machine?

  2. Jack Flash says:

    “…willingly taking direction from elders.”

    Who are the elders? Politicians? Celebrities? The CEO of GE? Grandma and Grandpa retiring on the golf course? I have often asked this of others, “where are the role models?”

    • kulturcritic says:

      They are from another world; one we no longer inhabit. And they are neither celebrated nor powerful in the coin of our current domain. But, you can find them sometimes without looking, and in the oddest of places.

      • Jack Flash says:

        True. Where you least expect it. A surprise. Something new.

        But I agree. The heros spoken about most are those of 200 years ago. Or ancient times. Respect for the ancient souls–yes. But we need something new, contemporary. Unfortunately, the real heros of today work quietly, unseen, with no need for medals. A father/mother raising a child. Where is the glory in that?

        • kulturcritic says:

          My father-in-law, Anatoly, is such an elder. If I am in the forest foraging or by the river fishing, or anywhere near the dacha, starting a fire, cutting wood, I take his advice.

      • javacat says:

        Well said, Sandy. Yes, you can find them. But you must listen. You must still the noise and chatter so you can listen to what your heart recognizes. And–this is important–you must be willing to step outside the current domain.

    • javacat says:

      There are those out there who are wise, willing to give, and offer their guidance. i know a few, from disparate backgrounds.

      And, on a larger stage: http://www.grandmotherscouncil.org/

      A beginning, perhaps, to reclaim.

    • javacat says:

      A book to read: The Wayfinder: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World by Wade Davis.

      http://www.amazon.com/Wayfinders-Ancient-Wisdom-Matters-Lecture/dp/0887847668

      • john patrick says:

        Thanks, JC. I agree, there are others around us that truly model a sustainable/nurturing community. Like others here (Brutus, RG, DA, etc., sorry if i presume wrong) it seems we are surrounded by so much nonsense and disfunction, that it’s hard at times to see any glimmer of hope for what may be coming down the pike. That said, I don’t think we are doomed, per se, but I do think there will be some very uncomfortable adjustment. And, a lot of innocents suffering due to the foolishness of others. Has history been any different? Nope. But, it’d sure be nice to put some of this stuff behind us, like the constant state of war.

        One thing I’ve learned is that wisdom/knowledge are great, but their attainment does not grant immunity… There is a difference between seeking truth to escape harm, and seeking it to really understand what is going on.

        Time for a beer.

  3. murph says:

    I find it interesting that what humans normally refer to as heroes are almost always (not all) associated with war, battles and death.

    I do agree Sandy, that we truly have lost that desire and responsibility for true freedom, as a culture. I’m sure there is a few that have not. I think I’ve met a couple of them. They are usually quite disdainful of our culture and seldom if ever live among the greater society. I tried it, couldn’t make a go of it. But the experience of taking a shot at it was instructive. Values change as the disconnection from the greater society progresses. Part of those values is the taste of freedom and getting closer to truly living. That disconnection involves a lot of discomfort and yet I look back at the experience with longing and fondness.

    As you’ve outlined in the post, true freedom is not a matter of degree, you live it or you don’t. I also agree with you that people seemingly simply do not even have a concept of it. I have lived long enough now that I have communicated with 5 generations. As I go back and pose question about freedom, the older generation talk about it different than I do and the younger folks talk about it in what to me appears to be pure nonsense. It would seem that the erosion of freedom has been gradual enough that within a generation folks look at it completely different, usually in the manner that you described Sandy, free to consume, free to indulge in the latest fad, free to be a wage slave etc. Personally I see no hope for a reversal of this within modern society as a whole.

    I think that this could reverse, and we have the ability to proceed at that target you have called real freedom. I suspect there is the possibility it won’t take as long to get back to it as it did to get where we are now. I also figure it won’t be easy.

  4. Pēteris says:

    Humans are a mix of that primordial natural animal, that have no reason nor inner conflicts therefore, and the universal instrument that is called reason. Some argue that reason is an alien construct, an unnatural instrument, that is, nevertheless, very effective.
    Smaller, natural sized societies are organized around feelings; larger, and we can say, unnaturally large societies are driven by reason, at least this is the formal and announced intention of governance. Alas, not even the most reasonable men can be fully reasonable, less so the average politician. When systems of reason have been constructed and are in “production mode”, the animal in human consciousness sticks out his head in search of opportunity to achieve feelings of high hierarchy, power and fame. Or we can say, that subconscious motives lead to rational justifications, that are not rational in fact. For example: “State exists for common good. Therefore, if somebody encroaches upon it, he must be eliminated. Therefore, state will be safe and common good achieved”. Usually this ends in part of populace killed for “common good”, which is nonsense – the killed ones also were participants in state and receivers of “common good”. As we can see, this is simply the primordial urge for power and status in action.
    Protesters also have vague ideas, what should be done reasonably, all they have is the feeling of being taken advantage of.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Peteris – sounds to me as if you think our “primal” core (what you call the natural animal) is concerned with the creation of hierarchy and achievement of fame. I would have to disagree with you. And I would recommend you look at Morton Fried, The Evolution of Political Society. It is a classic work in political anthropology.

      • Pēteris says:

        While I have not read it yet, I will say, that the strive for higher order in hierarchy is seen in all societal animals; this privides for better mating and feeding. Even today, in an age of comparative reason, women tend to select men that are more highly placed in societal order (thus potentially more valuable for offspring rearing); likewise, men take similar value judgments about feminine bodies.
        The strive for hierarchical position does not need to be seen as something bad. In small societies, the most valued men are the most productive, in hunt or in war, and the most socially likable. In larger societies, this competition turns bad because not everybody, in fact almost nobody except for closer ones, can see the real man, the real truth in his actions.
        Fame and achievement does not necessary feel that “I” am better than others; it means, that “I” feel valuable to others, that others recognize the value provided.

        • kulturcritic says:

          Peteris, since you have not had the opportunity, I will provide you one quote from Fried:

          “The paramount invention that led to human society was sharing… Of almost equal importance was the concomitant reduction in the significance of individual dominance in a hierarchical arrangement within the community. In part the structural possibility for such a hierarchy was undermined by the demands of sharing.” (p.106, Random House, 1967, italics mine)

          That is about all I have to say on this issue. I am sure you would enjoy his book. sandy

  5. B Miller says:

    “From toothpastes to presidents” neatly states the dilemma. The average citizen’s notion of freedom is linked with needs. Those needs are articulated through the endless choices of a consumerist model. When that crashes they will be back to a level of concern for food, shelter and clothing.

    We are a long way from that concern to an older version of freedom; one where our desires haven’t been mediated by powerful images from a marketer. Those of us alive now are probably not capable of making that journey. Some of us may be able to transition part of the way more easily than others. To live more fully as part of a community, to offer or be willing to receive learned wisdom are lessons learned slowly and over generations.

    Wendell Berry said that it wasn’t enough to be a good farmer to be part of the community of the world, or a citizen of the US, or Kentucky, or his county, or his village. But to be a good farmer he must be a steward of his particular north facing hill farm. And he meant “farmer” as a thorough participant in all of the shared communities.

    Until we reduce that gaze to the path underfoot freedom and participation in community will be unobtainable. I think it was Bakunin who referred to it as seeing the infinity of freedom.

    Thanks for one of the best blog posts, yet.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Well, hello Mr Miller. I think you got it right when you spoke about desires being mediated through the images of the market. What that also tells me is that this ‘freedom’ of choice is just another dimension of our enslavement… viz., to the images of the marketer and the corporations.

      And here is a statement by Mikhail Bakunin on the point you make at the end.

      “I mean that freedom of the individual which, instead of stopping far from the freedom of others as before a frontier, sees on the contrary the extending and the expansion into the infinity of its own free will, the unlimited freedom of the individual through the freedom of all; freedom through solidarity, freedom in equality; the freedom which triumphs over brute force and over the principle of authoritarianism, the ideal expression of that force which, after the destruction of all terrestrial and heavenly idols, will find and organize a new world of undivided mankind upon the ruins of all churches and States…” [Bakunin’s Writings, Guy A. Aldred, Modern Publishers, Indore Kraus Reprint co. New York 1947]

      • Jack Flash says:

        Freedom to explore infinity… scary thought at times, eh. Better to go with two, if you can. Otherwise, the state-ship will protect oneself from the unknown/storms. As long as you don’t mind rowing. And going at a much slower speed.

  6. Hey KultureKritic (or even Sandy), finding me on Twitter, now alerted to your work. I have to say I really relate to your posts and enjoyed this one. I feel many of us understand and aspire to the points you raise. On some level, in my view, the real ‘revolution’ is in/of the mind, the un-slaving, unbinding.

    I like the references you’ve chosen – know Jensen/Abrams works.

    A couple of statements including: “We tend to think, today, in terms of free choice (from toothpastes to presidents), or free time – time off-the-clock, unscheduled time – in short, freedom from economic servitude; otherwise called financial freedom. brought”, really spoke to me. This one, has been a gripe of mine for many years, particularly when I hear things like “it’s a free country”, er no it’s not, and the word ‘freedom’ being bandied about, in a world where nothing is free – it’s seemed the most insidious of brainwashings.

    Anyhow, the time/freedom point above brought to mind the wonderful works of Jay Griffiths, one of her books, Pip Pip(a sideways look at ‘time’), really unpacks/displays industrialised, modern time/enslavement, with a wonderfully intelligent, humorous and imaginative analysis.

    I also really resonated with:
    “a primal freedom to dwell, and to engage the world spontaneously, outside the bonds of historical necessity, agricultural cycles, or work schedules – with little, if any, artifice or intervention. It is, in this sense, clearly anarchic; not wanting enforced mediation of life through some coercive or controlling principle – a leader, representative, or designated institutional hierarchy.”

    I agree, indeed, it is anarchic ‘to not want enforced mediation of life’. And, in fact, to do and be the very opposite, in every way, with every cell is truly radical. I was delighted when I heard a talk by Tom Hodgkinson, (Idler Academy, http://www.idler.co.uk/about), at Uncivilisation 2010(http://uncivilisation.ning.com/video/uncivilisation-2010-the-dark), in Wales in not exactly the same, but a similar, vein. He read excerpts from books, ‘How to be Idle’ and ‘Hot Be Free’, with many great suggestions, thoughts and offerings, on the benefits of ‘idling’. Prefacing it with a backdrop of medieval history/ethics, and this in relation to his thoughts on idling.

    I remember having a good laugh and feeling my own thoughts expressed when he spoke of something(not verbatim) like this: “whiling away the hours as you lean back on a fence, whistling, watching the sky, as people pass you by”. And said that: “Spending a day lounging around in your dressing gown” was an act of anarchy.

    I love ‘idling’ anarchy. And adding magic, whimsy and a bit of humour makes it’s very enjoyable.

    Anyway, just a couple of, many, thoughts that came to mind while reading your post.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Ali – great of you to join us. I was hoping you would find your way here. Yes, whimsy, spontaneity, arbitrariness, being carefree, capriciousness. A wonderful addition to my thoughts.

  7. bart says:

    Ok Sandy now explain in working man language what it all means.

    • kulturcritic says:

      What it means, my good friend, Bart, is that humans seek to live without rulers, neither overlords nor time-clocks, so any revolution must take down the entire edifice, and it must reconstruct things on a more intimate, local level, based upon close knit communities. That is a partial summary, my friend.

  8. Cliff says:

    Wow! Allie… Yea! what has happened to that old saying “just wasting time”, idling.
    Somewhere along the line we fell out of the tree of awareness and decided that we couldn’t afford to, didn’t have the time to “smell the roses”. Here’s an interesting idea: Can you actually waste time? I think the issue is that we have artificially created “time” , another enslaving piece for the Lords of Control. As long as we watch the watch we are controlled. Can we completely let go?
    Eat only when we are hungry. Sit on the toilet and ssss for as long as we like?
    What’s the rush? Most of us are on the run avoiding(afraid) of the greatest relationship in our existence, that relationship with our self.

    So Now Freedom . When you have food in the belly, a place you call home and these things are always going to be there what more does one need? Certainly not a commercial TV telling you that you are not happy unless. Anyway it’s clear that we need to set a new course be it, whatever, Anarchistic existence. So where or how should we begin? What is freedom once you have food and shelter guaranteed? Can we brake free the habits of our own thoughts which tend to lead to repetitive behavior and continued complicity with existent modes of inter-relationship? Is there an escape route? How does one approach that infinite.. chasm within, and let go? Maybe that’s the level we need to address hierarchy at. Hum?

    • Jack Flash says:

      Hey Cliff, on time…

      I’ve found my perspective changes greatly when I approach daily choices/job/talent with the idea that I have a million years ahead of me (and many more). Much of what we do is cloaked with the idea that we only have 10-20-30 years to go so must get as much as possible from the day. It’s like going down the road and holding ones head out the car window to get more air, thinking that we are experiencing more life.

      It also makes it easier to accept self-governance, responsibility, and expected reward. Gov’t, and even community has its place, but I think we can explore much farther than the playpen boundaries. To break out of protective custody, when the time is right. And to learn the rules necessary outside of the castle walls.

  9. Cliff says:

    Hey Jack
    Glad you jumped in. From some interesting past experiences without the use of any apothecary of drugs I might add: When, I finally cleaned most of the external(really internal) noise- the personal ego-TV screen that keeps flashing (judgements/limitation) into my personal relationship with the environment, TIME for me slowed way dowwwwnnnn. This was a powerful experience
    and opened up a totally new way of being and inter – relationship. Anyone else care to shed some light on these thoughts and what relationship if any to concepts of freedom and free will,

    • Jack Flash says:

      Something I’ve noticed that affected my observation (and–that’s all it is), is the relativity of time on a personal level. I.e., when you are really focused on something, in the flow so to speak, an hour can seem like five minutes. So, how much time really occurred?

      The other thing, is the general concept of time is based on motion (planets, radioactive decay, etc..) If there is no motion, does time not exist?

  10. kulturcritic says:

    From The Recovery of Ecstasy, Marvin Bram’s foreword:

    “We in the West live inside our calendars, wearing our watches. What are the arguments for this recent and remarkable self-relegation to timekeeping being absolutely necessary? Merely a convenience? A full-fledged curse?

    We’re happy to make a to-us obvious distinction among the past, the present, and the future. We look at the present date on a calendar, and it’s a simple matter to find the month and day something happened in the past. It may have been a pleasant thing that happened, but it may have been an embarrassment we can’t get out of our mind, or something terrible, or something important that went undone. So it’s a mixed enterprise, looking back at the past.

    The future is more interesting. Its days and months are marked on the calendar too. It goes without saying that none of those days has happened yet, but we’re especially absorbed with them because our planning involves the future. On a particular future day, perhaps at a particular time on that day, we want something to happen. We’re probably making arrangements in the present for that future event; that’s one of our major activities. So it appears that planning for the future isn’t the mixed enterprise that looking back at the past probably is. We maximize our interests when we plan intelligently.

    That’s not quite true. 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.

    It appears that thinking about the past represents a low-intensity, mixed use of the mind, sometimes rather positive emotionally, sometimes rather negative. Thinking about the future, on the other hand, is high intensity itself. Yes, thank God, I’ve arranged for Buster to go to Harvard. Oh no, I’m going to die.

    Something more remains to be said about the middle term of the scheme. First, the present is the only place we are living, acting, thinking, feeling. We’re done with the past, and the future hasn’t happened. And the nature of that living? It may well be that our present is preoccupied, one way or another, with the past and the future! The only place we’re actually living has been made thin by two uses of the mind that are in fact recent mental habits taught us in civilizations like our own. The present, for more of us than we want to acknowledge, can thin out to near-emptiness in this way. “My life is empty,” means more than it seems to mean.

    If living in the past and future instead of the present is a recent phenomenon, and not, “the way things are and have always been,” then was there once another way to live? Indeed there was. In particular, was the curse of personal death-terror once non-existent? Even more to the point, can the curse of your and my death-terrors be lifted? We can handle the low-intensity features of thinking about the past, although it might be good if we could get something in the way of positive high intensity from the past.

    Sandy Krolick has worked out a way to do both of those things, rid ourselves of the suffering of death-terror and re-conceive the past so that the new conception fills rather than empties each present moment. From one direction, take away arguably the deepest source of human suffering; from the other direction bring back arguably the deepest source of human happiness.

    Krolick accomplishes both the removal of the one and the addition of the other in one move. Fulfilling the early promise of his groundbreaking work Recollective Resolve: A Phenomenological Understanding of Time and Myth (1987), he again takes up Martin Heidegger’s notion of “being-toward-death,” or anticipatory resolve. It’s an unsatisfactory notion, imprisoned in the calendar. Krolick rotates Heidegger 180 degrees and unearths the strikingly satisfactory “being-toward–the-beginning,” or recollective resolve. By looking back rather than forward, he 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…”

  11. Gweb says:

    I like your definition of true freedom. It’s a very difficult thing to describe, but you captured the flavor of it and that’s good enough.

    Your main point seems to be that we remain enslaved to “the system” because we don’t know how to articulate what real freedom is or how to describe our need for it. But I don’t agree that this is why “the system” (whatever form it takes) continues and that we continue to feel enslaved.

    I think it continues because every human being is fundamentally at war with their simultaneous need for autonomy and community. You spoke of the desire to “dwell comfortably in honest egalitarian communities”, in “social enclaves grounded in strong consanguine and affine relations”. Has an “honest” egalitarian community ever even existed? Can you give an example?

    Every community has hierarchy. There’s always SOMEBODY with preferred status, no matter how trivial, and eventually those somebodies always use that status for their own interests at the expense of the community.

    I think the only real difference between the current “system” and any other previous system is simply one of scale. That and the ability to take down the entire ecosystem instead of just the local part of it.

    The irony is that even if the Wall Street protesters got everything they wanted (assuming they knew what it was), their “leaders” would immediately set about recreating the same system they’re currently protesting their servitude of.

    Maybe it really comes down to this: human beings cannot exist without community, and community cannot exist without hierarchy, and hierarchy by definition implies the abuse of power. Maybe that’s why “revolutions never seem to work out as planned”. The revolutionaries themselves are the next generation of oppressors. Is it because they’re bad people? No. Perhaps just because they ARE people.

    • Jack Flash says:

      Hey Gweb,
      reminds me of the three “perfect” laws by Asimov for I Robot… and the end result: Revolution.

    • Disaffected says:

      Hardly. The difference between this system and everything that came before it is that it is PATHOLOGICAL, in that it is fundamentally EXPONENTIALLY based, and that its said exponential basis is both ECONOMIC and SOCIAL!

      In other words, both exponential economic AND social gains must be attained MERELY to sustain it. THE BEAST! THE BEAST! THE BEAST!

      DA

    • kulturcritic says:

      Gweb – Thanks for weighing in on the discussion.

      Example: Any number of pre-literate tribes scattered throughout the world are non-hierarchically structured. Hierarchy is not a necessary outcome of human sociability. Please read Morton Fried, The Evolution of Political Society. I have cited this work numerous times here and elsewhere on the blog. Homo sapiens is not naturally an oppressor. They are “sharers” – this is what distinguishes us from our primate cousins: sharing and the concomitant reduction in the role of hierarchy. But, given our historical transformation, beginning with agriculture, hoarding, cities, hierarchy, etc., the likelihood of constituting a non-hierarchical social group, on a large scale is somewhat unimaginable. sandy

      • Gweb says:

        I’ll definitely check out Fried. Thanks for the tip and the opportunity to expand.

        • BobGeldof says:

          Check out a book called “Ishmael” by Daniel Quinn. It explores the idea that modern civilization has its own myth – that myth being a story that we are taught to tell ourselves about why we’re here and what we’re doing.

          When you wrote there is always somebody with preferred status, I think you were right, but its an incorrect leap to say that this somebody must be a politician or a revolutionary, or that they must have status bestowed on them simply by their position in a formal structure.

          The comment struck me as being part of this story that we tell ourselves. It goes like this: Without a formal structure of power that we all respect, people would scramble over each other to snatch that power chaotically, and this would result in bloodshed, oppression and death. So we hand power over to the machine, in exchange for protection from violent harm.

          Sometimes it’s said explicitly, sometimes its implied, but either way – most people accept the story without asking the questions: Is this an accurate representation of the past? Can human history be summed up as a steady progressive rise from the inferno of hell, in which good and peaceful men were crushed? Is the purpose of civilization to tame the horrific animal inside each of us, desperate to escape and cause pain and misery on the world?

          The answers to those questions I believe can be partially found in how we interact within the artificial tribes that we create to act as substitutes for our lost kin. Sure there are dysfunctional elements, but it seems that the majority of human beings are capable of deciding who is a good leader and who is not, without that decision being forced on them. These clubs, groups of friends, night classes, sports teams, work mates, extended family – are the closest things we have to real tribes.

          Despite what we are taught about ourselves through our story, we seem to really enjoy building and being a part of these semi-formal tribes.

          There is also evidence that we were generally pretty nice people in the past (at least within our own tribes), and had fantastically good teeth to boot due to the lack of concentrated processed sugars… but I am too tired and lazy to cite.

          • kulturcritic says:

            BobGeldof – you are absolutely correct about the story we’ve been told, which you nicely summarize:
            “Without a formal structure of power that we all respect, people would scramble over each other to snatch that power chaotically, and this would result in bloodshed, oppression and death.”
            And of course, that is the story begun formally with Thucydides, and then re-articulated by Thomas Hobbes in his Leviathan. And it has been used as a bat to beat humans on the head with ever since. It is the myth that justifies the origins of the State and its many hierarchies and mechanisms of control.

    • VyseLegend says:

      I agree that the primary difference in today’s world is the extreme scale of it all – its like we took relatively young and undeveloped societies and just pumped them full of fossil fuels which resulted in an extremely lavish veneer on a still immature social fabric.

      I think its also true that the social values enforced by our government play off of the poor values in our own families – things like patriarchy and blind obedience – and thusly societies are essentially suffering from mass psychosis in how we fail, at least quite often, realize our own need to self-regulate in smaller, more anarchic communities.

      This is an ironic point since philosophy and reason are the path to understanding ourselves, yet the entire scientific revolution and the age of reason have resulted in the complete handing over of our sovereignty to what essentially amounts to a more sophisticated oligarchy of antiquity.

      It makes me wonder if we are going to end up losing the progress of the age of reason if we undergo a major collapse, and relapse into a medievalistic society of dog eat dog bare survival, but my hope is that we can build more egalitarian local communities and tribes than we’ve had in the past, given our experience in these last few centuries.

      • Gweb says:

        “its like we took relatively young and undeveloped societies and just pumped them full of fossil fuels which resulted in an extremely lavish veneer on a still immature social fabric.”

        Wow, VERY well put. I think that’s exactly what happened. Our species acquired a resource that led to technology that we are psychologically too unskilled to handle. Like giving a loaded pistol to a five year old…

        I also hope that we can “build more egalitarian local communities and tribes than we’ve had in the past”. I think we will eventually, but that’s based completely on my sort of wistful optimism. Empires have collapsed before, and the results aren’t usually very pretty. And no system has ever had this far to fall before, or been so big or so totally dependent on one resource.

        If we do manage to create some more or less egalitarian societies in the future, it’ll only be after surviving one hell of an ugly mess.

        • VyseLegend says:

          “If we do manage to create some more or less egalitarian societies in the future, it’ll only be after surviving one hell of an ugly mess.”

          Yea I agree, and this is the kind of thing that keeps me awake at night, but I guess its some solace to say that we can never really predict the future with all that much accuracy, and to keep in mind that all doomsday scenarios have inevitably been proven wrong, so it probably won’t be as catastrophic a downfall as we’ve been conditioned to feel.

          This is also the type of thing you have to dance around when talking to people in real life because it just wells up the springs of fear and grief in everyone. In fact I find it hard to find almost anyone outside of the net who has sort of meta-historical comprehension, almost like they’re living in a self-imposed prison of denial.

          • Gweb says:

            “In fact I find it hard to find almost anyone outside of the net who has sort of meta-historical comprehension, almost like they’re living in a self-imposed prison of denial.”

            With a voice like this, you should have your own blog.

          • Brutus says:

            VyseLegend sez:

            I guess its some solace to say that we can never really predict the future with all that much accuracy, and to keep in mind that all doomsday scenarios have inevitably been proven wrong, so it probably won’t be as catastrophic a downfall as we’ve been conditioned to feel.

            This is also the type of thing you have to dance around when talking to people in real life because it just wells up the springs of fear and grief in everyone.

            Really? Never? I agree that our predictive accuracy is pretty low in many ways, but the failure of stupid doomsday scenarios to come to pass does not reflect poorly on lucid, reasonable expectations that industrial civilization is in its last century and that we may well not survive as a species. This isn’t a prophecy based on hand-wringing over our sorry, debased, corrupt global culture but a scientific extrapolation of observable trends (even now barreling forward like a runaway train) in the biosphere upon which we depend for our lives.

            I’m in total agreement with your second statement, although I think in terms of a bottomless well of grief experienced by those who still feel empathy for others in the world, including nonhumans, rather than those who merely fear for their own lives.

            • VyseLegend says:

              I should have been a bit more clear…I think you’re right that we can make these accurate judgements, but we should be careful not to start predicting mass dieoff events or cataclysms, as they tend to bring about a deceptive self-importance about our particular place in history and our power over the world.

              About grief, I definitely get your sense of it and thats part of where I’m coming from, but I think people can’t help but feel afraid for their survival at a visceral level, and there is a sense of disorientation and uncertainty when your worldview suddenly gets turned upside down, or when you glass house is shattered by us stone throwers.

              I know it might be easy to constantly remind people of how screwed we are making our species with industrial activity, but there is just a good a chance that ‘mother’ earth will simply shrug us off like the insects that we are, if she so desires. That is what I mean that we should not feel too self-important about how place in history, in a myopic sense.

              • kulturcritic says:

                Brutus, Gweb, VsyeLegend – This is a great discussion about the likely outcome of incredible cultural hubris, together with some of its important global consequences – climate change, peak oil, financial collapse, social ennui and personal anomie leading to impending political chaos. And, I would agree, that the majority are still living in that prison of denial.

            • Cliff says:

              More like a self fulfilling prophesy syndrome. Shall we do some more wallowing

  12. John T says:

    I truly get the connection to a sort of base freedom. However, not to be too much in a Marxist mold, I present the claim of the working class; we create the wealth that the OWS’er want a larger slice of.
    Consumerism has placated the masses and blinded us to the slow pillage of our comfort. We are creatures of now, our feral core placed on the back burner waiting to emerge in flight or fight and on the death bed.
    In a sense, all we know is what we feel and for now, we feel ripped off. And I believe rightly so.
    The struggle continues, the masses hopefully have shaken off their complacency.
    Peace, my brothers and sisters.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Hey John, I think it’s great that you are making the rally cry… we desperately need it. But, just remember, when the song ends, and we all take our seats, at what price have we bought back comfort? What are the global community and the earth, and the indigenous peoples of the earth, paying for our comforts, lost or found? And what personal sacrifice does each individual make in seeking to rectify this inequity. But, given where we are, probably any fight is a noble one. Good to hear from you. Stick around. sandy

      • John T says:

        Sandy, The average working stiffs that I for better or worse must associate, have little concern about the world outside of their comfort zones. As you well know,the global community and the indigenous people of the world have been beat back by the ravages of our industrial society. This same group of pampered (mostly white folk) have grown to expect these comforts because of the great challenges we have overcome, and the demons we have slayed ala American Exceptionalism. It’s a tough nut to crack trying to convince most of these associates to see beyond their immediate realm. But I have been finding common cause in the struggle against the banksters, OWS style. Much more compassion is necessary if the world stands a chance of surviving for much longer for sure. I just don’t see a lot of it around central FLA.
        Aw, I ramble too much me thinks. I’m going to bed.
        I enjoy your posts and the thoughtful responses of your readers. Take care. John

        • kulturcritic says:

          John – I completely understand your situation. Now they just want what they believe they were cheated out of, vis a vis the “dream” Can’t say I blame them. But you are right, much more compassion is needed if we are to survive the long term. All will have to give alot. BTW – some of my friends both here in Siberia and back in the States are going to require a complete overhaul. LOL Thanks for sticking with me. sandy ps. I think many of us can find common cause in OWS>

  13. Sandy, I realized last Sunday that you have the new post up in the morning. Well my morning, so I can have a wonderful breakfast of thought and feeling. Several of the commenters have much to add too. Isn’t this blog a community with out hierarchy? Yes Sandy is the facilitator and main writer, but we can all participate. Anyway, when Cliff said “Most of us are on the run avoiding(afraid) of the greatest relationship in our existence, that relationship with our self” really struck a chord, that most societies are set up to get us to forget, even run from ourselves. Clocks schedules, calendars do that. Rather than being away to help us in our community, they are used as ways to enslave us. I prefer Navajo time, or Bushman time, or even Bohemian time. I have spent many days with Bushmen, out on the veld, or gauchos on the pampas of Patagonia, the flow of time feels different, unfettered, in harmony with reality. I have often wondered at people who go on “safaris” that are planned, carefully ordered, in vehicles to look at the animals, not grasping that their experience in the wild is as false as their lives in the cities. Once the trucks leave, the creatures return to heir reality. The Navajo joke that their “time” is not chained and broken like “white people’s time” There is even “black people’s time’ in the US. Different ways of living with the same reality. Many of us live being convinced our wants, for toothpaste, a presidential candidate, a new car, are really needs,and if those false needs are not met we will be..umm..what? We get convinced that something outside us will somehow cause us to be us? I often hear something like “people today are no longer taught how to think” I would say that people are no longer taught how to be? Anyway, time to feed the body.
    Thanks Sandy

    • kulturcritic says:

      Hello Marlena – I am pleased the writing helps you through breakfast. Anyway, the issue of time is one of the central issues in recovering the feral self, as well as being the primary tool for hierarchy in subjugating the populace. In fact, the distillation of all temporal experience to a strictly unidirectional linearity (history) was one of the crucial elements accruing from the move to domesticated, urban life and its developing hierarchies, including the controlling logistics (laws of causality and liability) that rested upon writing and in particular on the linear, alphabetic text. I have thought about the issue of time frequently, and written of it on many of these blogs, as well as in two of my published writings: The Recovery of Ecstasy, and Recollective Resolve. I am glad you have joined our conversations. sandy

      • Yes that darn sloppy feral nature, which has been good enough on the planet for several billion years. Can’t control or subjugate ferals, and make them work for the benefit of the few. Daniel Quinn gets into that in Ishmael I prefer the ideas that time is not linear, but more a spiral, though something like a Mandelbrot set is even more appropriate.. The West seems especially invested in the linear measurement and chopping of time, mistaking the measurements and chops for a reality which it then ruthlessly imposes on nature. So much is lost adhering to a notion of the straight and narrow, while feral nature, in fact the entire universe, outside the remorsefully restricted minds of humans, manifests in the crooked and wide. Isn’t it strange that so much of modern culture involves ignoring entire realms of reality because it just refuses to fit in the narrow and linear our “leaders” have been imposing for ages?

  14. Cliff says:

    Hi Marlena and Sandy and all
    So what does a change in how one experiences time have to offer social order in general?
    I’d like try to keep relating my/ our ideas to a more tangible connection to our topic. Not that we have not been doing this but maybe a little more in a practical sense. So what could happen to social order if our sense of time as a group began to shift?

    One thing we know has happened since primal time and that is obvious to most but not all, is that we are in a rush moving way to fast. The key here is moving. I think that Jack flash mentioned time and space may be dependent on movement.
    From time to time we get totally absorbed in a project, in the flow,or another way of looking at this, is when we are doing an act of creation (art/ etc. ) . Mostly we see this in physical terms. But are there not other acts of creation that are not necessarily art or physically observed? Is not all creative acts coming from ones imagination(self) anyway? Can anyone give an example of a creative act that you cannot see?

    Humans in general are movers, in other terms usually have a reaction(stimulus/response)as if almost on automatic pilot, and almost always based on sense(s) impressions. If you interrupt or have a totally (creative) response to the motion/reaction to outside stimuli you now have changed the internal function of your “time” clock, because just as when you’re in the flow making a physical creation and hours or days slip by, you are now making a mental creation which acts the same way, and changes ones sense of time.

    As humans we keep trying to rule our “physical worlds” and are stuck in the fast lane.
    But if we were to look WITHIN and begin the willful and arduous task of silencing the monotony, the constant internal TV screen telling us that we are separate from and not really part of the whole, “Part Of The Whole”, we might have a fighting chance to reclaim our sense of free will /freedom, and at the same instant be slowing down time…maybe aging??? Its this constant sense of difference/separation that pulls us all apart and leads to the nasties.

    In actuality, I wonder whether we are stepping OUT OF TIME when we are creatively engaged?
    So if you had a group, society, all engaged with this out of time clock- based on no separations what would relationship and communication between its members look like?

    • Jack Flash says:

      Hey Cliff, like you, I’ve noticed that when one is engaged in a “creative” activity, time seems to be skewed/non-existent according to our normal-base perception. My observation is that this occurs because when we create, the process itself exists outside of time/matter/space. We often pull ideas from the unknown which is, frankly, not bound or obligated to follow our notions of time/motion/space. Just an observation, something i’ve pondered myself.

      That said, I think it’s possible for all entities to experience time in a unique way on their own front-al lobe, so to speak. It can overlap with other’s perception, as we force it to do so with work/job/mortgage, etc.. But–this dislocated experience of time may add to conflict, as well as nurture individual creativity, because much of what we do is impossible for another to understand/experience in the moment. The alternate realities of time “may” explain our inability to have lasting peace. But also, why the creative process will trump everything else, including dissolution and decay.

      I don’t expect to find an answer, but rather three more doors to open and explore.

  15. Cliff says:

    Sounds about right Jack. We are on the same lens. However, I’m certain that with most if not all of the overlap with others perceptions of time – at work,etc, once that THE NEXT door that you mentioned opens, the possibility of a clash between you and the others is non existent. This ONE (door), cannot be forced. After a while of willful effort and when the moment is right, the next door opens and what used to be a forceful willful action begins to fade away and effortlessly as if on auto pilot you arrive in the present. No longer is there an effort to create, you have arrived. Of course, as you said so joyfully, another door appears…after a couple of years of free will in the present I finally had just a peek in at #3? , But soon after, those human instincts took over and it was slowly back to the physical world of attachment. I haven’t forgotten though.
    There may be many more doors then just three Jack.

    • I have often experienced being deep within time, while being creative, to me it is living by the measurement of time, that is the disconnect? When performing. I am not aware of the passage of time, I am within the performance. We are supposed to do the same things at the same clock time every day, no matter what the planetary time is? No thought to the seasons, the ebb and flow of light and darkness. No thought to the cycles of our bodies. That to me is stepping out of time, modern society itself had stepped out of time. That so many of us feel “out of time” when we are intact deep within it shows the disconnect most cultures live with.

      • kulturcritic says:

        Just curious, Marlena, why you would call that creative experience as “being deep within time” rather than being outside-of-time or timeless. Or are you suggesting another concept of time, a “Deep Time,” much like others have used the terms “Deep History” or “Deep Ecology” to refer to a discussion beyond the traditional usage of the terms history or ecology. Of course there has been use of that term “deep time” in reference to the Geologic timescale and the prehistory of the Earth. It refers to a linear timescale so grand that we cannot easily imagine it. Of course, even that scientific concept of “deep or geologic” time presupposes that the measurement of geologic time, beyond standard historical experience, may be calculated in terms of our ordinary sense of linear, historical time.

        On the other hand, I would endorse the idea of “deep time” or, perhaps, “deep temporality” as a way of describing (in part) the temporal experience of preliterate humans, for the simple reason that a strictly unilinear sense of time cannot be presumed to have existed for our pre-historical progenitors. I guess the question that Jack Flash and Cliff both raise is the following. Can this primal experience of “deep temporality,” what I have elsewhere referred to as kairotic time – where the preliterate gatherer is so absorbed in a power-filled present that he becomes fused with his environment; or where she is at once herself and not-herself, so identified with her totem as to become identical with it, feeling the presence of the clan animal within her — can this deep temporality be recovered in a world where the unidirectional flow of historical time has come to dominate our lives so much so that we inhale it with every breath we take?

        I would have to agree with Cliff’s assessment (and what seems to be his prior personal experience) that we can indeed recover such an experience of “deep temporality” and, through it, achieve a state of communion (or new integration) with the environment in which we dwell. But, I would wager that such an act of recovery could be stimulated almost accidentally or arbitrarily (capriciously), rather than through some supernatural exercise of the will. I would wager furthermore that there is nothing mysterious or mystical in such an experience, and that while it provides a bridge between my flesh and the flesh of the world – intertwining me with the raven, the cave bear, or the river – it does not do anything to deny the experience of the flesh, the senses or the earthly sensuous, but serves rather only to heighten that experience. In this regard, I would refer others to David Abrams discussions in The Spell of the Sensuous.

        And I must raise issue with Cliff when he suggests that something called “human instinct” dragged him back to the “physical world of attachment” thus eclipsing that experience of deep temporality. I think he is mistaken, or simply using sloppy language to describe his experience, because he elsewhere clearly suggests that it is our culture that eclipses the possibility of this deep temporal experience. He writes above: “I think the issue is that we have artificially created ‘time’, another enslaving piece for the Lords of Control.” Or as he writes below: “time as social order has defined it has really nothing to do with time as the universe defines it… I prefer to see it as living outside of the effects of the artificial illusion that humans have come to accept as time…”

        In fact, I believe that the experience of deep temporality is not an infrequent experience among individuals; but it is fleeting, and disorienting, and so often frightening to those of us whose lives are defined by our culture’s historical commitment to autobiography. So, it is usually ignored in the interests of linear autobiographical time and the exigencies of life in our culture.

        What could precipitate such an experience of “deep temporality”? Well, I imagine that, if our culture defines our basic orientation to reality, with hardened prejudices protecting us from any extra-historical experience, then surely there must be certain limit situations pushing at the edges of this civilized scaffolding — temporally, spatially, and psychically — where such a lingering genetic memory might burst through.

        Whether the source of such an event be rooted in moments of great loneliness, despair, suffering, pain, trauma, terror, euphoria, intense joy, love or perhaps creativity, the necessary condition would seem to be an experience of marginality or strangeness, an incipient feeling of difference, otherness, or alterity. It is in this respect that self-estrangement may itself become the protagonist in an event of deep temporality, returning us to a new beginning, a primal (non-autobiographical) ground.

        I want to thank Cliff, and others, for raising this discussion.

  16. Cliff says:

    Marlena

    Yes, it is a matter of semantics. I see it the act of creation as being in the present- out of time
    and in the natural flow of the universe. As you have noted, time as social order has defined it has really nothing to do with time as the universe defines it. Living by human definition of time is a disconnect. I prefer to see it as living outside of the effects of the artificial illusion that humans have come to accept as time. In universal terms timelessness for me feels more appropriate.

    Other then in the performance, the dance. artwork, when you loose that awareness of time,
    can you think of a non physical way that you can create and loose your sense of time. Can you imagine,( as you would doing a performance), seeing(creating your outer world in new terms-connected,unified a part of yourself, no separations, and taking full responsibility?

    No pressure here Just curious

    • Lets see. I see time as moving spirals, with very little that us linear? I would guess that te best visual I have sen is a Mandelbrot set, you can get Fractal eXtreme, free and take a look? Another idea would be the people who go on African “safaris” in big groups, staying at resort lodges, venturing out in large chattering groups. Or one can go with a professional guide, on foot, with a few bearers, and stay in local housing. Walking, we get the reality of the velt, the smells and sounds, the rhythmic that are often missing from the
      cruise ship variety safari. To me the one group are observers in their own lives, while the other group is immersed in life. Both are in the same place, at the same time, yet the realities are totally different. Or one can go, in the US to a native american sweat lodge, again with a cruise ship type group, or be invited by native americans. Its like the one bunch is serving up ersatz reality, which further separates us form the oceans of time, while the others are immersed in those oceans. I have experienced while walking in a city, a smell will transport me to another place, so that I am experiencing the now and the former at the same time? It is like the smell has done a quantum leap across the spiral to the same place on a different arc. Using quantum leap in the sense that an electron changes energy state to the next higher or lower, leaping to a different orbit without crossing the space between orbits; so that one’s consciouness is both in the here and now, and immersed withing the spiraling fractal oceans of time.

      • Cliff says:

        Yes I do believe that we are talking of the same experiences around time just explaining in different but not dis-similar frames. Yes the interchange of past and present often can occur as for example as you said your sense of smell transports you to past experience
        although you are currently in the city. You thinking impressions take you away momentarily or maybe longer. This is precisely the challenge to the understanding of time. Why DO the impressed senses draw us away from the present moment. Intellectually we may understand that we are simultaneously both walking,enjoying the sites/sounds of the city and all of a sudden a smell draws us away,maybe unconsciously from those sites and sounds for a period of time. So my preposition is did we chose to follow along with that sense, be it smell or anger or did we slowly realize that we were now somewhere in the past unconsciously drawn. Is it possible to note only for a short second that a smell revived something in our past but let it go immediately and stay focussed creating or consumed in the whole experience.?

  17. Brutus says:

    There is always so much to consider in each new post and subsequent comments. I usually only get around to commenting once or twice per post. I’m glad to see you (Sandy) didn’t whore your blog as usual over at Clusterfuck Nation this week. I learned of you there, but it’s always bothered me that JHK’s comments are filled with trolls and hustlers. That may be the inevitable downside of having acquired a mass following as he has and you are currently doing.

    Everyone has their version of what the Occupy (Everywhere) movement is about, isn’t about, ought to be about, and/or may grow into. The movement itself is fractured, fragmented, rudderless, leaderless, without clear demands, but nonetheless clear that they don’t want to adopt a hierarchical structure or accede to the demand to formulate demands and thus risk cooptation. My suspicion is that at a deeper psychic level, they reflect the emptiness and soullessness of the modern world by having no true identify themselves and frankly no way to form one. But that’s a long analysis I’ll defer.

    B. Miller sez:

    We are a long way from that concern to an older version of freedom; one where our desires haven’t been mediated by powerful images from a marketer. Those of us alive now are probably not capable of making that journey. Some of us may be able to transition part of the way more easily than others.

    I’m always careful about prognoses and timelines, but I can get behind this one. Disaffected chimes in, too, to remind us that we have constructed the beast that devours all, to which I add that we have also become the beast. Almost all of us are participants in and contributors to the problems we now recognize unmistakably, though that participation is mostly by the accident of birth (time and place). Our unconscious programming, developed and refined through many generations, disallows real, full recovery of Sandy’s feral core or anarchic freedom and embrace of nonlinear time. We can conceptualize and discuss such things, but we’re ruined people in a sense, and raining ruin upon the remainder of the world before we go tits up.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Brutus – well stated. I believe Miller also is correct. The journey cannot be undertaken by most of us living today, if it were to happen in the next few years (the psychic and physical dislocation would be challenging). But, the inability of our society to make the transition to an experience of unmediated freedom is what is really unthinkable, from my perspective, without first demolishing the entire superstructure of culture, and rebuilding from scratch. And, I do think that will happen of its own accord (peak oil, climate change, etc). But, I do think that on a personal level anyone can partially recover that sense of (feral) freedom, deep temporality and spontaneity, if only in brief and sporadic events. (see my comments above regarding ‘deep temporality’ in response to Marlena and Cliff). And I believe that your observations about the emptiness of modern life are an excellent point of departure for a personal experience of this sort. I think the ennui and anomie characterizing much of life today creates a rich ground for experiencing oneself as not-of-the-culture-but-intertwined-with-the-earth, and and that may provide a glimpse of that deep temporality that takes us out of the unilinear flow of historical narrative and autobiography. And then, as you say, “we go tits up.” LOL

    • kulturcritic says:

      Brutus – well stated. I believe Miller also is correct. The journey cannot be undertaken by most of us living today, if it were to happen in the next few years (the psychic and physical dislocation would be challenging). But, the inability of our society to make the transition to an experience of unmediated freedom is what is really unthinkable, from my perspective, without first demolishing the entire superstructure of culture, and rebuilding from scratch. And, I do think that will happen of its own accord (peak oil, climate change, etc). But, I do think that on a personal level anyone can partially recover that sense of (feral) freedom, deep temporality and spontaneity, if only in brief and sporadic events. (see my comments above regarding ‘deep temporality’ in response to Marlena and Cliff). And I believe that your observations about the emptiness of modern life are an excellent point of departure for a personal experience of this sort. I think the ennui and anomie characterizing much of life today creates a rich ground for experiencing oneself as not-of-the-culture-but-intertwined-with-the-earth, and and that may provide a glimpse of that deep temporality that takes us out of the unilinear flow of historical narrative and autobiography. And then, as you say, “we go tits up.” LOL

  18. Cliff says:

    Such a positive..Not… but expected outlook. As a large grouping yes it is possible that we may always be ruined, never awaken, but as ONE is it possible to hold up in a cave(only partially metaphorically) and have something totally unexpected happen ? And is it possible to venture out of the cave after a recuperative stay and see differently. If we created the beast that’s devouring us. Is it not possible to devour the beast that we set the chair at our table for. Where’s Marlena?Javacat?

    • Jk_Flsh says:

      What is the beast to a rock? the mountain? the sky?

        • Jack Flash says:

          If the rock fears not the beast, then perhaps it is an illusion. The trees do not bend when we utter words in their direction…

          • kulturcritic says:

            The beast does not speak or hear in the language of the rock or the trees, so why should they respond or fear?

          • Cliff says:

            OR Do THEY?
            At the very least we just may not see them bend. Does a flower not really bloom because we cannot detect the exact moment of bloom. Again we are walking back to our impressions our disassociation with the universal concept of time. Slow everything DOWWWWN like time lapse photo and there you have it..just maybe a tree wink?

            • Jack Flash says:

              Or a leaf drop. We assume (me, too) that everything is on our timeline. How could we possibly connect/communicate when we are out-of-phase with the subject. I suggest we move toward the inverse of C. The slowest frame observable in the physical verse.

              • kulturcritic says:

                I vote for moving toward the inverse of C. Can I tag along?

                • Jack Flash says:

                  Sure. It’ll be just like slogging through Siberian slush! Infinite slow is just as important as infinite fast. I think at some point, they even meet!

                • Cliff says:

                  May as well jump in too at least then I’ll be face on with the rest of the universe.
                  When one does really slow I mean really slow way down can we notice individual
                  atoms that are making up the actual screens that we see through the senses? I wonder: the same way we would look at a TV screen and begin to notice those thousands of little dots. I wonder if our perception may change something akin to that? Just ideas not judgements. or declarations.

                  • john patrick says:

                    I’m thinking that when we change, for whatever reason, we change our entire existence, and likely our relationship to time. We literally step out of one river and into another. The mind seems more of an “interface” between defined time, and infinity.

                    But hell, I’m just guessing. Deep down, I do not think time exists. But I’m at a lack of words/experience to describe it.

                    • Cliff says:

                      Changing our entire existence sounds exciting and quite an adventure. Your metaphor from “one river to the next” seems to strike a chord as well. I also believe that our imagination is much more of a useful experience and is more then we often credit it. I also share a similar intuition/ bent towards time. It would be nice to know if time was.. just an illusion. Any imagination on how one might go beyond the intellectul understanding of time possibly being non- existent to actually having a personal experience of it ?

                    • kulturcritic says:

                      I trust the new post is helping you think through this one, my friend.

  19. Disaffected says:

    Mood, and youth, and timeliness, and greatness, and whatever. These guys seemed to have captured it better than anyone I’ve heard since. Sorry Justin Bieber, you’re kinda cute ‘en all, but you’ve still got some work to do yet…

    DA

  20. Cliff says:

    Ah But don’t we all have work / play to………..?

  21. Gweb says:

    What do you mean by “tell it like it is”? How is “it”?

  22. Gweb says:

    OH, and BTW, I think dogs generally behave better than most people.

  23. Cliff says:

    Since we are into the subject of dogs squire.
    Hey we do not disagree about dogs one bit. Most dogs do behave better then most people. Maybe we could learn from them. What do you think? I wonder if most dogs carry as much anger as some people do? I wonder if dogs have compassion toward fellow dogs? They probably do not share the same pain and suffering. what think you?

    • Brutus says:

      I can’t speak for Squire, but I can provide a quote that’s pretty clearly on point, which I have used at my blog. This is from John Gray’s book Straw Dogs:

      The mass of mankind is ruled not by its own intermittent moral sensations, still less by self-interest, but by the needs of the moment. It seems fated to wreck the balance of life on Earth — and thereby to be the agent of its own destruction …. Humans use what they know to meet their most urgent needs — even if the result is ruin. When times are desperate they act to protect their offspring, to revenge themselves on enemies, or simply to give vent to their feelings. These are not flaws that can be remedied. Science cannot be used to reshape humankind in a more rational mold. The upshot of scientific inquiry is that humans cannot be other than irrational.

      • Cliff says:

        Brutus.
        You seem to be joined at the hip with this view of all? humans. A grim view of human
        relationship. I do not see ALL humans as flawed and fated to wreck the balance
        So why such a painful suffering view of YOUR LIFE too. For certain one cannot hold to these views without carrying an extra weight around ones neck. Any compassion or forgiveness available for our fated condition?

        • Brutus says:

          I have all sorts of pain and suffering and enjoyment and compassion and forgiveness, but it’s a stew of things not easily or succinctly described. Whereas I’m disposed to accept and forgive individual frailty, the remorseless effect of our aggregate behaviors makes me a misanthrope. That’s the realist in me, and it’s rooted in our present circumstances rather than some hoped-for future.

          • Cliff says:

            I certainly can understand the stew of emotion around us
            But I constantly have this issue with time as a linear tool. A hopeful future,a questionable past and a painful vision in the present. Any thoughts about time being only a virtual , concept not really at all present,past or future. Not really real? Just an uncomfortable illusion developed by civilizations. I wonder how many small tribes or groupings didn’t buy into this disconnect AND HELD A TOTAL DIFFERENT REALITY. I wonder if there are any small groupings even today.

            • javacat says:

              On this first snowstorm of the season, let me step lightly into this conversation about time.

              The term linear time caught me up, and I had to pursue it, try to unravel it, to find out what makes it tick, if you will. My first thoughts went to science, the parse of measured time into unimaginably small intervals then stretching it wide and far to encompass scales we are again unable to apprehend. Science, acting in the search of understanding, moving to extremes, reductio ad absurdum reductionism.

              Pan out. Put science aside. When did humans start measuring time and why did it start to matter? (Historians out there, help me out) Other ‘time’ pieces, like sunrise and sunset, were natural cycles of change. In earlier societies, time wasn’t used to measure age–no parties for the 1-year-old or sweet 16–but milestones of change were marked by ritual.

              Clocks, hourglasses, sundials. So-called linear time seems both an instrument and a possession. My time, your time, class time, company time. Off the clock, on the clock. “Let me take just a few minutes of your time.” “This will just take a sec.” Did we lose our place in the world and then used time to try to find it, but got farther lost instead? Consider time as a possession. We want to hold onto time. Don’t want to lose time or waste time. By being constantly aware of it, we can control time! And if we control time, we control our fate and destiny. Is that the underlying myth of time?

              Is it ecstasy when we step out of time? We all know moments when time flies by and when it drags on forever. We experience instances when time seems to expand, to open sideways because the living is so rich and deep. There are times, especially during travel to new places, where the living accelerates because we are so wonderfully aware, and return home to find things woefully slow. Perhaps time keeps us at the center of our universe.

              Two small notes & then I’ll be done. Today, I asked my son what he thought life would be like if there were no time. “No one would be bored” was his reply, and I think he’s right. And, if you want to see time expand, watch the video of the chancellor of UC-Davis walking through a line of students silently protesting:

              • john patrick says:

                The measure of time may have been the first “internet.” It allowed people to meet and plan activities. It also harnessed them to an idea.

  24. kulturcritic says:

    Squire – A wise man can learn from a fool; but a fool can learn from no one. sandy

  25. john patrick says:

    <>

    I think certain stories/movies delve into the topic, well. The Matrix, or the episode on Star Trek with the Nexus. Slaughterhouse 5. Many, many more, but these stick in my memory. I think most/much of what we experience is an illusion of sorts. But not with the intent of mis-leading or deception. It’s just the way we learn one experience from another. I do think we are able to “bend” the laws, so to speak, but–unless one learns to climb/fly/master the experience, it can be very unpleasant. And, if one can climb to the top of Mt. Everest, is it wise to drag your friends (yeah, you too Grandma) to the top when they are not acclimated to it?

    My cat doesn’t like riding in the car.

    • john patrick says:

      Cliff, the above was in response to your post:

      Cliff says:
      November 22, 2011 at 11:03 pm

      Changing our entire existence sounds exciting and quite an adventure. Your metaphor from “one river to the next” seems to strike a chord as well. I also believe that our imagination is much more of a useful experience and is more then we often credit it. I also share a similar intuition/ bent towards time. It would be nice to know if time was.. just an illusion. Any imagination on how one might go beyond the intellectul understanding of time possibly being non- existent to actually having a personal experience of it ?

  26. troutsky says:

    Just spin in a tight circle for about five minutes! But until a magic pill comes along ( less stomach upsetting) we can imagine different arrangements which create less anxiety about time. In Sandy-Terms : When the kairos gets out of joint, an affective and/or rational sense of dislocation incites subjects of resistance and revolution. We may never be able to describe a perfect justice but we sure as hell know injustice when we see it. And the “Wall” in Wall Street is a pretty good clue of “what is to be done”.

    Alienation takes a lot of forms but lets tackle the one at the point of production, shall we? Then we can move on to existentialism or beyond.

    • kulturcritic says:

      You lost me Trout. What is to be done? If you want you can keep looking at changing partners for the dance or you can blow up the fricking dance floor. I say, blow up the floor.

    • kulturcritic says:

      You cannot solve the problem at the point of production; if production itself IS the problem.

      • john patrick says:

        A certain amount of production dysfunction can be tolerated by all, but when it’s stored, and depended on for retirement, future growth? Just curious.

    • Cliff says:

      Well, here we go again: “What comes first the chicken or the egg? Until both move in lock step together we will not realize either. No I’m not a religious fanatic but Jesus had one foot in the atom and the other in the belly of compassion. Likely there were many others. Ghandi, etc, etc, etc

      • john patrick says:

        Not sure they’re intended to move lock-step… The painting cannot produce a painter. But, both can be enjoyed in the same moment once completion occurs. I think any part of the painting has the opportunity to evolve into self-awareness. If we claim, it’s all here and now, cannot the rocks claim the same thing.

        On the one hand, we disdain being associated with the other “dead” parts of creation. And yet, we are totally helpless to go beyond on our own. Does the dead help the dead. Or, does life help life. Depends on how you wish to look at it. Eh? I prefer to acknowledge that the glue that holds it all together is sentient. A force that binds and releases. Covalent, ionic, and… free radicals. Thank god yeast is in there somewhere.

  27. Brutus says:

    Lest I be accused (further) of being entirely joyless and humorless by those of you determined to find a silver lining in those thunderheads forming on the horizon, here’s a story about Occupy New Jersey.

  28. Bret Simpson says:

    Go live in the woods…….as I did,and come back to this BS.Lived with the native peoples…lived for awhile the way.Can’t handle this insanity.

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