Election 2020

Election 2020
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Thursday, July 31, 2014

"The Best Story." - Mark Lewisohn

I've been re-reading essays from David Foster Wallace. Two different collections. "Consider the Lobster," and "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again." So good. I was doing this re-reading because I have been waiting for a new book, and I didn't order it right away, I had it on my wish list, and then, I finally ordered it, and while I waited, well, in the meantime, desperate for something to read, I gladly revisited the amazing and enlightening world of DFW.

There was one essay that I left for last, "Up Simba - Seven Days on the Trail of the Anti-Candidate." It's about John McCain and the Presidential campaign in 2000. I really dreaded reading it. I finally relented, got a few pages in, learned a couple interesting things, but then my new book arrived!

I have been saved by the Postal Service! Really I'd rather get a root canal, or a lobotomy, than have to read about the American Political scene in 2000.

The new book is "Tune In," by Mark Lewisohn. It's a major tome. The first volume (803 pages, minus the notes), of a three volume history of the Beatles. Really. Even if you think more than enough ink and video and ears and eyeballs have been devoted to the Beatles, it didn't take much to win me over. I was hooked by the first sentence of the book.

"Every once in awhile, life conjures up a genuine ultimate."

This is our Pop Culture origin story. And Lewisohn tackles it as history. No one has really taken his approach before, probably because it was way too daunting. But Lewisohn is uniquely the man for the job.  As Lewisohn tells us, the Beatles' story really is "the best story." I'm a few pages in, he is so right.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Stunning & Disappointing. People.

The easy answer. Too many people. Too few resources. And what is the question? Why are things so crazy?

But then you look back at history, and it turns out things have always been crazy. People are strange. And they do strange things. They excel at hurting each other.

So much bloodshed and mayhem.  Think World War I: 16 million dead, 20 million wounded. Think World War II: Over 60 million dead.

That was the "civilized" world using their brand-new technologies on each other. 

And the wars never really end, they just morph and roll onward. 

Today there all at least 45 wars around the globe. People killing each other for any old reason you can name. Maybe people actually enjoy war? Or enjoy killing other people? You hate to think so, but we are so easily compelled to wreak pain and death on each other.

Stunning & disappointing. People.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Weirdest Things!

From a conversation yesterday...

"Yes, but you worry me. You always get obsessed with the weirdest things."

Note: Yes, this sort of sums up my existence. It could be etched into my tombstone, if I planned on having a tombstone, which I don't...

Monday, July 28, 2014

Not. For. Every. One.

Went to the Theater yesterday to talk Theater things with Theater people. The Theater is a kind of temple. It's kind of a "holy" place. Theater things happen in there.

I was talking with the Head Theater Guy. He's kind of a Guru, or Holy Man of Theater. Sort of. You always must approach him with caution. He's a Theater Guy.  Never know what's on his mind. He can be friendly, or ornery as a Wild Dog. You never know. It's all so Theater.

Anyway we were talking about a Theater show. I asked if it was "Any good." Which in a way, is a really, really stupid question. I was super-tired. Stupid questions were all that I had in my head. The Theater Guy answered: "It's not for everyone."

Perfect. Answer. Kind of defines everything I love. And defines the Theater. And the best of Music. Movies. Etc. Not. For. Every. One.

If it was for everyone, it is most probably Pap. Crap. Of the worst, blandest, crappiest, kind. Product. Meant to move lots of units, fill lots of seats. Meant to lull your audience into a coma-like, sheep-like sleep, or into a hypnotic consumerist, dead-headed, frenzy.  

Not this place. Not this Theater. Not this Temple.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

"Everyman's an Angel." - A. Ginsberg

I'm pretty pleased with my r&r diary post this morning, so I'm cross-posting it here! Holy!

It turns out that you never really know what's gonna happen until it happens. At least, that's how it usually goes for us. Next show, what's gonna happen? There are always surprises along the way. Last night we performed at the Cake & Whiskey Club's "The Peat Goes On," at the Ugly Mug Cafe, hosted by the Actor, Producer, all around impresario and "Wunderkind" Carlo Lorenzo Garcia

It was a night dedicated to fine whiskey, tasty cake and "1960's beatnik stuff." There was a healthy smattering of perfectly out-fitted beatniks in the audience. How to describe the audience? Beautiful, cool, artistic, sexy & swanky.

What is 60's beatnik music? We wrestled with that one. If you do a Google search you will find all kinds of jokey, hokey 60's tunes. Seems by the early-mid sixties, the beatnik thing was basically a fad of coolness. The mainstream culture didn't take it very seriously. It was right up there with hula hoops, Slinkys, and Silly Putty.  Think Maynard G. Krebs. Berets. Striped shirts. Bongos. Sort of a daffy, goofy coolness. No threat. A sort of "down-market" fashion statement.

We weren't really up for learning "Bongos, Bongos, Bongos," so our idea was to go back to the original beats.

GinsbergKerouacFerlinghetti. These were the voices, a sort of beat counter-culture before the big sixties counter-culture. The beats were kind of "dirty," they talked about sex & drugs, and spontaneity, and living in the moment, and risking it all for a poem, or a glimpse of some kind of transcendence. Street life & Eastern mysticism mashed up with crazy, mad, emotion and the daily muck of life.  Real stuff. An alternate vision of life in America. A mad, schizoid narrative - overflowing with life, and joy, and pain.

So Carla and I picked a handful of poems including "Footnote to Howl," and "Mexico City Blues," and then improvised some jazzy-type jams with the band. It was all sort of off the cuff and spontaneous, and it pretty much worked, it worked better than we thought it would work. The audience was loud and doing their own thing while we played, it was like we were in some mad ecstatic dance with the crowd, but afterwards, we found that some people really did listen, that some of the words really did penetrate. And detonate. It was cool. We gave the beats new life. For a night. It was mad and fun. Surprising. You never know what's gonna happen... until it happens... - Jammer

Footnote To Howl By Allen Ginsberg
The world is holy! The soul is holy! The skin is holy! The nose is holy! The tongue and cock and hand and asshole holy! Everything is holy! everybody's holy! everywhere is holy! everyday is eternity! Everyman's an angel!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Game Show Culture

One of the worst aspects of our internet-based pop culture, is the game show mind-set. Everything has been game-show-ized. Everything is a popularity contest. Everything is like high school. On steroids. I hate this aspect of our culture. Truly, truly hate it. Just like I hated high school too.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Pure Evil!

Last night I read David Foster Wallace writing about David Lynch, during filming of "Lost Highway," in the 1990's.  Wallace makes the case for Lynch as an essential filmmaker.

It's gets really interesting when DFW discusses Lynch's great subject: evil. In Lynch's universe, Evil is a state, a force, that sort of descends upon people, that inspires them, takes them over.

You can see this everywhere in our real world. Which is maybe Lynch's great insight. And it's so of the moment. Makes for disturbing movies. Makes us uncomfortable.  A great subject.

We look at the world,  and yes, it's disturbing, makes us uncomfortable too.  Terrible things are happening. Right now. People are dying, suffering at the hands of other people. The hate of the other is pervasive, corrosive.

I think of this great Spoon song.  "You have no fear of the Underdog, that's why you will not survive." People want to wipe out other people. That's an evil impulse.  Whatever reasons are concocted to explain or justify such barbarity are not persuasive, not adequate.  Pure Evil.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Different Times, Different Worlds

I don't long for the past. I lived there and sometimes remember.  I understand that it's significant that some of us remember a time before mp3s, video games, cell phones and internet. That the things we "grew up with" help define us, even if we don't want to go back.

Television and vinyl mean something different to me, because I come from a time when they ruled. Some things change rapidly; especially our toys, our technology. And some things change slowly; especially our human nature, the way humans treat each other.

So if you remember, you remember lots of things that don't really exist anymore, (people too), so in that way, change is tangible. Then there are the world events that kind of define a time. This war, this time, not that war, that time. This tragedy, this time. This catastrophe.  Etc.

There are these "generational" differences.  At first they seem sort of unimportant. But as time goes forward, as the trappings of a life change, you realize some of those differences actually define us, mark us out, color our thoughts. And you realize that many of us live in a different world from the others around us.  As we go along, the world stretches, lengthens, deepens, and becomes a very unique place, one that may have little in common with the world of the person sitting right next to you.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

We Get to Watch It!

So yes, it's pretty obvious that my totally cool YouTube channel (see previous post) looks nothing like yours. And that's the big difference in the old world TV world and the new YouTube internet world. We all get to control what we decide to watch and when. It's such a little thing, but it's everything.

We no longer are manipulated by the major networks.  We manipulate ourselves. We can delve into the vast archive, the always expanding pool and decide what we want to spend our time rolling our eyeballs over.

We unplug from the "great leveler" which was network TV and kind of customize our own experience. Watching is a much more personal, customized experience.  It's not a shared thing, but very much a solitary project.

Maybe it isolates us, or insulates us, or just serves us in a much more fulfilling entertaining way. Maybe it does all three things simultaneously. I see it as a positive thing. I can decide what's important, what's thrilling, what's cool. And I get to watch it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

An Ever-Expanding Historical Archive!

No links today, because, well, because I just don't want to... but I must say You Tube is better than MTV ever was, or ever could be. There is a vast archive of material that people all over the world gladly upload. Armed with a Blu-Ray player and a big screen TV, I can stream You Tube to our "entertainment center" in the living room, equipped with a real-deal stereo system, with nice, full-throated speakers.

And what do I stream to my entertainment center? Music. Concerts. Some amazing things. The Beatles in a rollicking, messy concert in West Germany in 1965. The Jimi Hendrix Experience on TV in Stockholm in 1969. Big Star in Missouri in the 90's. Delaney & Bonnie & Friends (with George Harrison & Eric Clapton) in England 1969. The National live at the Sydney Opera House in 2013. Radiohead in the studio playing songs from "In Rainbows," and "King of Limbs." Atoms for Peace at Austin City Limits. The Faces (with Rod Stewart) in their prime, in glorious black & white at the Marquee Club. The Rolling Stones at Hyde Park (Keith is playing a Flying V, badly out of tune!). The Stones at the Marquee Club in their "Sticky Fingers" era. The Who at Woodstock and Isle of Wight. The Patti Smith Group on their "Horses" tour. Andrew Bird playing, singing and whistling at his home studio.  Blind Faith in Hyde Park (a revelation, Clapton plays a Telecaster! Supposedly Clapton wasn't happy with the performance but it's superb!). Led Zeppelin at the Royal Albert Hall in 1970.  P.J. Harvey playing a dulcimer! Morrissey in "Who Put the 'M' in Manchester." The Grateful Dead live at Winterland 1975. The Smiths on various British TV shows in the 80's. Nick Cave and Grinderman kicking up a fuss in a foreign land. The Peter Green era Fleetwood Mac on British and US TV! Stevie Ray Vaughn live in concert in Texas. Cream blasting through "Sunshine of Your Love" in a little theater in England. Joe Cocker and Leon Russell on the "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" tour.  Fairport Convention on French TV in 1968. Nirvana at the Paramount Theater in Seattle fresh off of "Nevermind." The Beatles in their swan-song performance on the roof at Abbey Road. Nirvana "Unplugged in New York." Neil Young in Canada at Massey Hall in the early 70's. U2 on their totally, delirious, over the top Pop-Mart tour in Mexico. Pink Floyd with Syd Barrett at the UFO club in London (yes, you can see Syd playing that mirrored Fender Esquire - astonishing!). The Band playing "The Weight" at Woodstock (lost footage that didn't make the movie). Dylan in his Rolling Thunder glory (Idiot Wind!) . Buffalo Springfield on TV in the late sixties.

An amazing, ever-expanding archive. Videos uploaded from all corners of the globe. I love the concerts, the TV appearances, the odd bits, the historical stuff.  It's all a few keyboards strokes away.  Pretty phenomenal, if you go in for that kind of thing. And I do, I really do.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Usually Stupid Wins!

I have been re-reading two different David Foster Wallace non-fiction books; collected essays and articles. Is it possible that just reading DFW makes you smarter? It's like having a really, really intelligent friend, a friend who takes you deep into a topic, takes you deeper than you've ever gone before. There are speculations, and facts, and footnotes, and little epiphanies on almost every page.

It all gets me thinking, sets my mind a reeling. And it doesn't really matter what the subject is, it could be David Lynch movies, or the Porn industry, or Lobsters, or Tennis, or sports Biographies, or Dostoyevsky, or Kafka, or Television, Irony, or Politics.  You will learn something just by traveling with DFW. You will find that subjects that you don't really think you are interested in, are interesting, maybe even fascinating.

Makes me think about how so much of our culture values "the stupid." How so much of our entertainment and pop culture machine actually celebrates the stupid, the dumb, the mind-numbing. We willingly seek out the stupid. We have been told by Pop and Advertising and the Hype machine that stupid is good, stupid is fun, stupid isn't really stupid. We have been sold on the idea that we can't really have fun unless it is stupid fun.

It's not so much that we are "amusing ourselves to death," but that we are "making ourselves stupid to death." We are stupefying ourselves all the time. As in "benumbing," or putting ourselves in a pop culture "stupor."

There are books worth seeking out that can open our heads. There are movies and records that do the same. Maybe it's a little bit elitist to think that there are cultural artifacts that make us better, smarter, more intelligent. But I think it's true. Seeking out work that makes us think, makes us work a little bit, makes us focus, opens our heads, challenges our assumptions is really better work than the stuff that renders us stupid.

Look around, stupid wins. But we lose. Seek out the smart stuff. It's out there. It's all around us. And it can make you smarter, and smart can be fun too.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

In Praise of Silence

Let us praise silence. Let us take a moment, a moment of silence, to honor silence. Let's speak up for those who don't speak, don't say every last thing on their mind.

There is something admirable about not speaking, of sitting quietly, letting the world pass by without comment.

Sometimes it is better to leave things left unsaid. Maybe better to reflect, take it in, let it settle, let it go. We don't always need to have an opinion, or to express one.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Not a Damn Thing!

You want to keep up on what's happening in the world.  But sometimes the front page stories are so sad, and horrifying, and incomprehensible.  So you page through the Sports section first, then you go to the Arts section, you even spend some time on the Business section.

Finally, you get to the headline stories. You pause, you see the pictures, you kind of get the gist of what happened, and what is happening and you just put the newspaper down. You move on.  Somehow you think the details are not going to help you understand one damn thing... 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Bubbles of Thought

Unfortunately, or not...

All the cliches are true. 


There is no "getting back to normal," because there is no going back, and there is no normal.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Energy and it's Uses - It Can Blow Your Mind!

There are many types of energy. I believe in energy. I believe that everything is, and holds, energy. All living things. All things. Animate and inanimate.

I think that energy is sometimes also called spirit.  I would define spirit as "non-corporeal energy." Anyway, I do think a person, or group of persons exude an energy, a spirit, at all times. And can they use this energy; they can direct it, they can change the energy, the spirit, of a room, or a situation. I think they can color a room, change the character of it.

Maybe they do this intentionally, if they are trained, or experienced in that way, or they can do it unintentionally, if they are not. Anyway we witnessed this phenomena last night.  A small group of people totally transformed a room. In the blink of an eye. It was quite impressive.

You might think this is kind of spooky, or voodoo-like, or maybe major mojo kind of stuff. And in a way, it is, but it's also very natural. It happens all the time. Sometimes we notice it, sometimes not. When you do notice, when it is done so intentionally, so forcefully, so expertly, it can blow your mind!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Choose Your Weapon!

Musicians follow musicians. And gear is a big part of the whole thing. The tools you choose to create your sounds already sort of defines you, sets up expectations, and carries on a tradition without you even playing a note.  There are always new instruments, outliers, but most of us end up with some of the old standbys.  The tools that have a history.

Yes, so if you play a Rickenbacker guitar you evoke the early Beatles, the Byrds, Tom Petty. I mean, even before you plug the thing in, and strum a chord, you are making an aesthetic choice that kind of colors whatever you are gonna do.

Same thing if you pick up a Les Paul. You are carrying on a tradition. Think (of course) Les Paul, Jimmy Page, Duane Allman, Neil Young. If you strap on a Telecaster you are following in the steps of Roy Buchanan, Bruce Springsteen, Steve Cropper, Keith Richards.

If it's a Stratocaster, well, you set the bar pretty damn high with Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Eric Clapton, and this guy (hat tip to Broken Hearted Toy)... some of you know him as Rich Cotovsky, some know him as Skid Marks... the Strat looks very comfortable in his capable hands...

By the way, I am playing a white Stratocaster on this whitewolfsonicprincess track... check out the instrumental break... I hear a little bit of Nile Rodgers... but I could be wrong...

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

What is a Ramone?

If you read Chuck Klosterman, like I read Chuck Klosterman, then you know that when you are talking about a band, you should ask yourself not just "What do they sound like?" but also, "What do they mean?"

So how about the The Ramones? They were a little gang. They all dressed the same - torn jeans, sneakers, leather jackets. They all had the same last name (even if this was a "put-on."). They were unified. A pack. A group of guys who all were on the same mission. And the mission was simple: They wanted to rock. They wanted to bop. They wanted to sniff glue. They wanted a girlfriend, they wanted to be sedated, they wanted the airwaves, they didn't want to go into the basement.

They were kind of innocent. Kind of stupid. Kind of street smart. Kind of likable. Not pretentious in the least. 3 or 4 chords at most. Played at a blazing, but musical, speed. Catchy. Trashy. Short. To the point.

You wanted to buy their T-shirt. It was a way to claim that you were in the gang too.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Essence. Distilled. Ramones.

The last Ramone is gone. I did a r&r diary about the Ramones awhile back over here. The Ramones are an essential band. Primitive, fun, funny too. They played short songs really, really fast. They looked like brothers, but they weren't. Or maybe really they were -  brothers in r&r.  They kind of kicked open the door to the whole Punk thing.

I saw as many Ramones shows (3 shows!) as I have seen Rolling Stones shows. I do think you had to really see the Ramones live to really "get them."  The records were good, but they didn't capture the live thing. I play my Stones records more often that I play any of the Ramones records (I own nearly all the original Ramones releases on vinyl!), their records were a part of their thing, just a small part.

I loved the idea of the Ramones as much as their music. Four goofballs who liked to sniff glue and rock out. Joey was a long-string bean; kind of girlish, soft, and you could kind of relate to his shy awkwardness. And the band was just an incredible pile-driving, buzz-saw. Their shows were raucous fun. Glorious, raucous, unbridled fun. The essence. Distilled.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Music and Musical Influences

Our band whitewolfsonicprincess played a set outdoors yesterday, on a big stage in a parking lot. It was a cloudy, rainy day, but it didn't rain during our set.  We played with energy and got lots of positive feedback after the show. It felt good. The sound onstage was excellent, we could all hear each other.  That's probably the most important thing.

Lots of folks told us we have a "60's vibe," that we are somehow channeling the late 60's thing.  I can't deny that we have absorbed lots of those musical influences - people brought up other artists like Fairport Convention, Bob Dylan, Buffalo Springfield, Jefferson Airplane. 

Still you hope that you are not just the sum of your musical influences, that you can incorporate them, and then transcend them. At least, that's how I think it should work.  But then again, maybe you should just be whatever you are, as much as you can be, and then damn the torpedoes. We aren't trying to sound like anyone else.  But the way people experience music is by drawing upon all the other things they've heard, and then putting you in some kind of context.

It's just the way people listen to, and try to understand music.

People do want to put you in a musical category, even if you are trying to create something that transcends categories.  Maybe totally incorporating, totally absorbing your influences is the best way to transcend. Maybe it's not our job to think about where we fit within the musical spectrum, just do what we do, and then let others draw their own conclusions.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

DFW, Chuck Klosterman, Eric Clapton, Leo Fender...

This morning I ramble, and don't really connect the dots...

David Foster Wallace and Chuck Klosterman. Do they belong in the same sentence? Both are writers, both are funny. Both wear glasses. Both write insightfully about Pop Culture. Both are two of my absolute favorite writers. One is dead. One is living. The dead one is (in my estimation) a genius. This is based on one mammoth, amazing, insightful, beautifully sad and funny book. Both have provided me with hours and hours of thought-provoking insights, laughter and maddening detours.

The living one might be a genius too. Especially if you are one of those people who lightly throw the word around. I might be one of those people. I do think if you want to be considered a serious thinker, and entertaining too, you should write about Pop Culture. Anyone born after 1955 should have Pop Culture on the brain.  It's that big and that important, and that interesting. If you don't think about it, or write about it, well, you are living in an alternate reality that just isn't as colorful or interesting.

And Chuck is obsessed with Pop Culture, and he will try to convince you that KISS is an essential band, and that Guns N' Roses made the greatest record of the 80's. Not saying I'm convinced, but he makes a great case. But Chuck always surprises me. He's so funny, so insightful, and always seems to be coming from an "out of the box" frame, that he shows some kind of Pop Culture genius credibility. Really!?!

I've lately had Eric Clapton on the brain. I don't know why. Probably because he's a really good guitar player, and I own and admire lots of his early work with Cream, Blind Faith, Delaney & Bonnie and Derek and the Dominos. He was famously declared to be a "god" at a young age, and then well, he has had a long career where he pretty much squandered that reputation.  It's obviously hard to maintain Godhood. 

Check out this blog post from Charles Matthews - it's funny, corrosive and totally eviscerates Eric Clapton's later career. Some people hate Clapton, and think he ruined the Stratocaster all on his own. Funny. And maybe sort of true.

Anyway, I came across a passage (again) last night, and this blog post of mine is just long-winded way of getting to Chuck K. comparing Eric Clapton to Eddie Van Halen... so good, so funny, so true, so Chuck...

"Eddie and Eric are certainly among the greatest rock guitarists who ever lived, but for totally different reasons. Listening to Clapton is like getting a sensual massage from a woman you've loved for the past ten years, listening to Van Halen is like having the best sex of your life with three foxy nursing students you met at a Tastee Freeze. This is why rock historians and intellectuals feel comfortable lionizing Eric Clapton, even though every credible guy in the world will play Van Halen tapes when his wife isn't around." - Chuck K.

So great. A good example of why I love Chuck's writing.

But I think I'll give Eric Clapton the last word.  Yes, I love his early work, and his later work not so much, but you can't deny that he's a great and influential guitar player.  He almost exclusively plays a Fender Stratocaster, although earlier in his career he played a Les Paul, for guitarists this is an important and significant thing. I mean I'm obsessed with guitars and one of the great, fundamental questions is always: Fender or Gibson? It's a very important, existential question.  I came across Eric's great tribute to the Stratocaster and it's creator Leo Fender... it's beautiful, worth a read for sure. And really like him or not, Eric must be an expert on guitars.

"I come back to the fact that I don't think that there's anything that doesn't come from pure logic. I would challenge anyone to come up with a better guitar. The Stratocaster is as good as it gets, isn't it?" - Eric Clapton

Friday, July 11, 2014

It's Easy to Get Derailed!

It's easy to get derailed. It's so easy to lose your way. It's kind of stunning how easy it really can be to get knocked off course. It can be a stray line of conversation. It can be a random comment. It can be a baseless accusation.

Maybe that's the best weapon for major derailment. A baseless accusation. Being accused of something you didn't do, or don't believe,  and never intended to do or believe. This can send you into a tailspin for two reasons: 1. You are misunderstood. 2. You realize that what you think and do can be perceived in a completely different, and maybe a totally contrary manner.

So in this way, you realize you are alone. And communication and understanding are not solid things, but subject to subtle interpretation. And sometimes the interpretations can undermine everything you think and do.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Quotable Wallace Shawn!

I remember reading a quote from the actor and playwright Wallace Shawn that went something like this, but probably not exactly like this, (I couldn't find it on a Google search), "Nothing is ever what you think it is, or think it's going to be."

I always thought that was the height of wisdom. And makes you realize that what we think and fear can often be pointless and contrary to what actually happens in our lives.

Anyway, looking for a quote that either really exists, or not, led me to this article about Shawn and his playwriting.  Other great quotes in the article.

"I mean I don't know anything about the real world, and as an actor I'm part of pop culture, but I'm not really part of pop culture."

And this too:

"Sex always comes as some kind of unexpected element that jostles our way about thinking about ourselves. The fact that we are part of nature comes as a complete shock about 500 times a day."

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Strange Kind of Slavery!

Stumbling around this internet this morning, I came across this quote from the great, mind-stimulating  David Foster Wallace and I am renewed, alive, again...

"That feeling of having to obey every impulse and gratify every desire seems to me to be a strange kind of slavery. Nobody talks about it as such, though." -  DFW

Monday, July 07, 2014

Doing Okay?!?

Are you doing okay? Here are some questions to ask yourself...

Are you looking forward to the day? Do you think things can be better? Are you open to new experiences? Do you think you can learn something? Do you still experience joy and wonder? Do you laugh? Often? 

If you answer yes to any of these, I think you are on the right track!

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Based on a Glimmer!

"He doesn't believe in anything. He's an atheist. It is hard to console the inconsolable."

This came up in conversation yesterday, a friend talking about a friend.  I think it's important to believe in something.  It's helps us get along, to get by in this life.  But I think it's also important to choose your beliefs very carefully. It's best not to believe in grand things. 

You probably shouldn't believe in God. Or Country. Or Religion. Or Political Ideologies. These beliefs blind us, and cause lots of grief. For proof, just look at the history of the human experiment.

I do think you should believe in less grand things.  Things like Love, Forgiveness, Humility, Healing, Epiphany, Spiritual Enlightenment. Now you probably need to experience these things to actually believe in them. So maybe instead of believing, you should really just open yourself, to give yourself a chance to experience these things.

There are moments of transcendence in all of our lives. We just need to recognize them. And if we do recognize them, then we can have a reason to believe. And that's all you really need. All you need is something, one thing, a little thing.  A glimmer. You can base a whole life on just a glimmer.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Strangely Enlightening!

"Do you believe in Magic?" It was a Lovin Spoonful song. I think it's a loaded question. Loaded in the right way. It's chock full of contradictory potential.

I do think there is Magic in the world. Especially in the sense of unexplained and maybe unexplainable "strange and mysterious forces," that have some kind of power over us. I suppose Science could explain these forces, but something tells me that even the explanations would leave a door open to mystery.

I also think Magic is a trick, a trick of the mind. And we like to be tricked and astonished. So we willingly engage in the magic game. I think music and poetry are branches of magic. These arts have a power that isn't totally comprehensible. But there is a real power there. And it can be evoked. And when it works it's very, very exciting and rewarding.

Astonishment and wonder - it makes the world, and the things in it, more bearable and more entertaining, and strangely enlightening too.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Sneaking Suspicion...

You don't want to believe that life is all just an elaborate game of brute power. You don't want to believe that this brute power game is sort of sublimated into a million different varieties. You think of other values, values like love, creativity, play, and you want to believe that you can fill your life with those things, and ignore the underlying brute power game.  But you have a sneaking suspicion...

Thursday, July 03, 2014

The Iraq Stain - Paul Krugman

Yes, many of us may want to forget.  Lots of pain and death and torture. For no good reason. But Krugman nails it: The Iraq Stain.

And we should not forget. And we should remember those who lied us into it, and carried it out, and those who now pretend that it wasn't all a terrible, easily avoided, debacle and tragedy...

"No, Iraq was also a moral cesspit. Not only were we taken to war on false pretenses, it was clear that this was done in part for domestic political gain. The occupation was treated not as a solemn task on which the nation’s honor depended, but as an opportunity to reward cronies. And don’t forget the torture." - P. K.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

What is Philosophy?

Yes. Philosophy. What is Philosophy?  Sometimes it seems that we are just a collection of opinions. And we hit each other over the head with our competing opinions. How we actually arrived at our opinions is subject to opinion.

It sometimes seems like this is all an elaborate Clown Show. And our opinions are like balloons, and we bop each other on the noggin with the balloons.  It's like really bad entertainment. And doesn't really entertain anyone.

So you'd like to reach for some greater wisdom. Some framework. Some underlying system of thought that you could draw upon.  You'd like to.  You read the great books. You try on the great thoughts. You delve into an intensive study of lofty things.

And then you come up with opinions on all that... just another collection of balloons... and you wield them like they are something different... but really they are just more balloons... balloons filled with a little more hot air.  And you act like no one has ever wielded balloons like that before.  But you are most assuredly wrong...

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Tales of Power & Corruption

Why is it that Power & Corruption seem to be married at the hip to each other? Maybe it's just that the tales of power, corruption and lies are the tales that make the news, make the world go round?

If you assume that power will be misused, you will be rewarded. You will think that you are smarter than the rest of the herd. That would be a well-earned cynicism.  

Maybe that's what it means to grow older. You remember. You make assumptions. And then you watch Human Beings do what you expected them to do.

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