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    Wednesday
    Oct142015

    A Carnival of Militarism and the Enucleation of San Francisco

                    A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.

                                                                                                                                         Martin Luther King, Beyond Vietnam

              The annual Fleet Week event took place in San Francisco last weekend.  For this event six U.S Navy ships (a guided-missile destroyer, frigate, and cruiser, a Coast Guard Cutter, and two amphibious assault ships, whose collective costs exceeds $4 billion) were docked along the Embarcadero piers for civilians to climb aboard and tour the vessels which were constructed at tax-payer expense and presumably for their defense, while six Blue Angels fighter jets ($21 million apiece, unweaponized) tore through the skies above San Francisco.  Flying at over 650 miles per hour, the jets screamed over the city, setting off car alarms as they performed their synchronistic aerial acrobatics before soaring away over the Pacific Ocean only to curve back around toward the city and execute their maneuvers and stunts yet again.  (The planes fly in such close proximity to structures of the city that one is forced to imagine the disastrous scenario of a jet losing control and crashing through Financial District skyscrapers and bursting into flames and wreckage.)  The jets are a testament to the brilliance of human engineering and a demonstration of the incredible technological progress scientists have made in the in the fields of aviation, aeronautics, and rocketry since the Wright Brothers flew the first plane in Kitty Hawk, NC in 1903.

                Thousands of people came to San Francisco to watch the Blue Angels.  They were blown away by the amazing feats and superlative horsepower and speed exhibited by the jets wheeling overhead, but for tens of thousands of people in distant lands, the tremendous roar of U.S fighter jets means something totally different, something much less entertaining and auspicious, and much more terrifying.  We live in a country that is using its military aircraft and armed services not for defensive purposes, but aggressively in multiple theaters of war, bombing places we have no moral justification for bombing, places that most of our citizens are unable find on a map.   We are killing men who have never lifted a hand against us; sinfully, we are killing infants and children and mothers who should never had have died by the blast of a bomb or a missile strike launched by our fighter jets or naval ships (yet the horrible irony ((and quite possibly the plan from the very beginning of the War of Terror)) is that we have created true enemies throughout this ongoing war in which greed, arrogance, and lies have continually trumped diplomacy, negotiation, and compassion.  And so we have turned against each other as brothers and sisters in an accusatory realm of hatred, death, and suicide; the global commoners divided against each other ((even though we may have never met)) and willing to kill one another for actions the other supposedly has committed or ideologies they supposedly advocate or represent).  Currently, the immediate theaters of war that the United States is directly involved in include Iraq, Afghanistan (countries which we invaded and have occupied with ground troops), and Syria, where innocent men, women, and children residing in villages and townships are being killed by the same types of jets that we in America are so entertained by.  The scale and intensity of violence that the United States government and military have inflicted upon innocent people abroad is beyond anything that ISIS has ever dared to reach.  Since World War II, the CIA has been directly involved in overthrowing numerous democratically-elected foreign governments, and the United States has consistently offered military and financial support to authoritarian governments or regimes that have murdered their fellow citizens, often on mass scales (such as in Chile, Guatemala, Brazil, Iraq, Iran, the Congo, Ethiopia, South Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Turkmenistan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, etc.).  We have blood on our hands.

              So what does it mean when crowds gather in San Francisco to genuflect beneath the rise of the Blue Angels while hospitals in Afghanistan have been attacked by U.S gunships?  What does it say about our culture (we are the third most populous nation on Earth) if it is ardently obsessed about Sunday Night Football on the same day that massive explosions rip through a peace rally in Ankara?  What does it say about America (our government, our media, ourselves) if we care more about football and airplane stunts than about the fact that the anniversary of the longest running war in U.S history has just passed without protest?  What does it say about a city that cares more about hosting a carnival of militarism than about helping out its own homeless residents who are going hungry on the streets?  A substantial amount of double-think, ignorance, and nationalism (a notion much different from that of patriotism, for patriots have the courage to speak up when their government is doing something wrong) is required for us to arrive at this mental space of obliviousness and apathy where a mature adult can enjoy the thrills of the Blue Angels without feeling that there is something horribly bizarre, twisted, and backwards about being entertained by fighter jets at home while very similar fighter jets, armed with the most expensive and technologically advanced weapons in history, are at that very moment thousands of miles away launching airstrikes against people in the towns and villages of some the poorest countries on Earth.
     

                Meanwhile, we have turned a blind eye to those in desperate need of clinical help here in our own backyard.  Enormous penthouse apartment complexes are springing up throughout the Mission Bay and South Beach neighborhoods of San Francisco, and living in the shadows of these urban gated-community skyscrapers are thousands of homeless people who have pitched their tents on sidewalks and sleep in the streets.  Many are drug addicts and alcoholics that are not offered proactive care from the city, which is the richest in the country.  San Francisco, like many other cities, is home to extremely wealthy families and young adults whom are isolating themselves from those unable to afford to live or emulate their dangerously internet-dependent and “fashionable” lifestyles.  The economy is largely based on tourism and consumerism, and in the social race to consume the poor are being left behind to dig through the remnants of consumption discarded and regurgitated by the rich.  And although they walk and beg on the very same streets as the rich, the poor have become invisible, yet it is not they who have gone blind.  Immersed in both an interface-induced state of narcissistic delirium and an instant-gratification wonderland of texts and likes, compounded by televised touchdowns and fighter jet shows, our society has become enucleated (a surgical term referring to the removal of an eye).  And it is due to this enucleation that we are being driven apart as individuals and communities, and that our military is allowed to get away with murder.  So think about that next time the Blue Angels come to town.   

    Wednesday
    Oct072015

    Econ. 101* – By Alan Watts

              In a lecture titled The Veil of Thoughts, Alan Watts examines how ideological and economic abstractions impact humanity and the natural world.  I’ve transcribed the first part of the lecture, in which Watts talks about money, the Great Depression, and the stupidity of American congressmen.  I’ve also transcribed what he says around the thirty-nine minute point of the lecture, where he talks about how letting go can sometimes be the best way forward, the responsibility of the individual in the self-preservation of our species (as an example he cites a funny conversation he once had with Margaret Mead, which is also referenced here), and being tolerant of the fact that we a fallible creatures.

    (*This blog entry was initially going to be a single entry that included three or four different Watts lectures in which he touches upon economic principles, but I’m going to break them up so as to make them more easily digestible.)

                       Now there is another myth that still gets around: it is a kind of over reliance on the bootstrap philosophy. There are those who still feel that if the Negro is to rise out of poverty, if the Negro is to rise out of the slum conditions, if he is to rise out of discrimination and segregation, he must do it all by himself. And so they say the Negro must lift himself by his own bootstraps.  They never stop to realize that no other ethnic group has been a slave on American soil. The people who say this never stop to realize that the nation made the black man’s color a stigma. But beyond this they never stop to realize the debt that they owe a people who were kept in slavery two hundred and forty-four years…. It’s all right to tell a man to lift himself by his own bootstraps, but it is a cruel jest to say to a bootless man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps.

                                                                                              -Martin Luther King,  Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution

     

    Alan Watts, The Veil of Thoughts

              The subject of this seminar is The Veil of Thoughts, and following out the theme that somebody once suggested by saying that thought is a means of concealing truth, despite that fact that it’s an extraordinarily useful faculty.   But in quite recent weeks we’ve have an astounding example of the way mankind can be bamboozled by thoughts.  There was a crisis about gold, and the confusion of money in any form whatsoever with wealth is one of the major problems from which civilization is suffering.  Because way back in our development, when we first began to use symbols to represent the event of the physical world, we found this such an ingenious device that we became completely fascinated with it, and in ever so many different dimensions of life, we are living in state of total confusion between symbol and reality.  And the real reason why in our world today where there is no technical reason whatsoever why there should be any poverty at all; the reason it still exists is people keep asking the question, “Where’s the money going to come from?”  Not realizing that money doesn’t come from anywhere and never did, except if you thought it was gold.  And then of course if to increase the supply of gold and use that to finance all the world’s commerce – prosperity would depend not upon finding new processes for growing food in vast quantities, or getting nutrition out of the ocean, or getting water from atomic energy – no, it depends on discovering a new gold mine, and you can see what a nonsensical state of affairs that is, because when gold is used for money it becomes, in fact, useless. Gold is very useful metal if filling teeth, making jewelry, and maybe covering the dome of the capitol in Washington.  But the moment it is locked up in vaults in the form of ingots it becomes completely useless.  It becomes a false security; something that people cling to like and idol, like a belief in some kind of “Big Daddy Oh God” with whiskers who lives above the clouds.  And all that kind of thing diverts our attention from reality, and we go through all sorts of weird rituals; and the symbol, in other words, gets in the way of practical life…

    http://uploads2.wikiart.org/images/alma-tadema-lawrence/spring-1894.jpg
    Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Spring.  Image from: http://www.wikiart.org/en/sir-lawrence-alma-tadema/spring-1894

              Do you remember the Great Depression?  When one day everybody was doing business and things were going along pretty well, and the next day there were breadlines.  It was like someone came to work and they said to him, “Sorry, chum, but you can’t build today.  No building can go on, we don’t have enough inches.”   He said, “What do mean we don’t have enough inches?  We’ve got wood haven’t we?  We’ve got metal, we’ve even got tape measures!”  He said, “Yeah, but you don’t’ understand the business world, we just haven’t got enough inches – just plain inches – we’ve used too much of them.”  And that’s exactly what happened when we had the depression, because money is something of the same order of reality as inches, grams, meters, pounds, or lines of latitude or longitude.  It is an abstraction.  It is a method of bookkeeping to obviate the cumbersome procedures of barter.  But our culture, our civilization is entirely hung up on the notion that money has an independent reality of its own.  And this is a very striking, concrete example of what I’m going to talk about.  Of the way we are bamboozled by our thoughts, which are symbols, and what we can do to become unbamboozled, because it’s a very serious state of affairs.  Most of our political squabbles are entirely the result of being bamboozled by thinking, and it is to be noted that as time goes on the matters about which we fight with each other are increasingly abstract.  The wars fought about abstract problems get worse and worse.  We are thinking about vast abstractions – ideologies called communism, capitalism, all these systems, and paying less and less attention to the world of physical reality, to the world of Earth and trees and waters and people, and so are, in the name of all sorts of abstractions, busy destroying our natural environment.  Wildlife for example is having a terrible problem continuing to exist alongside human beings.  Another example of this fantastic confusion is that not so long ago the Congress voted a law imposing stern penalties upon anyone who should presume to burn the American flag.  And they put this law through with a great amount of patriot oratory and the quoting of poems and so on about Old Glory, ignoring the fact entirely that these same Congressmen, by acts commission or omission, are burning up that for which the flag stands.  They are allowing the utter pollution of our waters, of our atmosphere, the devastation of our forests and the increasing power of the bulldozer to bring about a ghastly fulfillment of the biblical prophecy that every valley should be exalted, every mountain laid low and the rough places plain.  But you see, they don’t see, they don’t notice the difference between the flag and the country, or as Korzybski pointed out, “the difference between the map and the territory.”

     http://www.learnnc.org/lp/media/uploads/2009/11/800px-dust_bowl_-_dallas_south_dakota_1936.jpg
    Image from: http://www.learnnc.org/lp/editions/nchist-worldwar/5955

              There was a Russian philosopher who accused the communists in their various five-year plans and progressive notions wherein people were always preparing for tomorrow as converting all human beings in caryatids – now you know a caryatid is pillar shaped in the human which supports a roof – and he said, “You are turning all men into caryatids to support a stage upon which others will dance.”  But of course, you know they never will.  You have one row of caryatids supporting a floor, and very soon your children are the new row of caryatids supporting another floor, so that it get higher and higher, but we don’t really know where we began and we’re always in the same place.  Always hoping, always thinking that they next time will be it, and this of course is an eternal illusion.  It’s much better, actually, one would be much happier to think that the future is deteriorating.

              I can explain that very simply: human beings are largely engaged in wasting enormous amounts of psychic energy in attempting to do things that are quite impossible.  You know, as the proverb says, “You can’t lift yourself up by your own bootstraps.”   But recently, I’ve heard a lot of references in just general reading and listening where people say, “We’ve got to lift ourselves up by our own bootstraps.”  And you can’t, and you can struggle and tug and pull til’ you’re blue in the face, and nothing happens except that you’ve exhausted yourself. 

              All sensible people therefore begin in life with two fundamental presuppositions: You are not going to improve the world, and you are not going to improve yourself.  You are just what you are, and once you have accepted that situation, you have an enormous amount of energy available to do things that can be done.  And everybody else looking at you from an external point of view will say, “My God, how much so-and-so has improved.”

    http://www.viejospuertos.com/web/imagenes/FA_267_112b.jpg
    Baldung Grien, Las Edades Y La Muerte.  Image from: http://www.viejospuertos.com/web/imagenes/FA_267_112b.jpg

               But I know, I mean, hundreds of my friends are at work on enterprises to improve themselves by one religion or another, one therapy or another, this system, that system, and I desperately trying to free people from this.  And I suppose that makes me a messiah of some kind.  But the thing is you can’t do it for one very simple reason which I think most of you are by now familiar with is that part of you which is supposed to improve you is the exactly the same as that part of you which needs to be improved.  In other words, there isn’t any real distinction between bad me and good I, between the higher-self, which is spiritual, and the lower-self, which is animal.  It’s all of a piece, you are this organism, this integrated, fascinating energy pattern.  And as Archimedes said, “Give me a fulcrum and I will move the Earth,” but there isn’t one.  It’s like, you know, betting on the future of the human race.  If I were really smart I would lay a bet that the human race will destroy itself because, in practical politics one realizes that nothing is going to work out right, no candidate I’ve ever vote for has ever won the election, but the trouble is there’s nowhere to place the bet.  And so I can’t place the bet anywhere, I’m involved in the world and must perforce try to see that it doesn’t blow itself to pieces.

    http://i.imgur.com/xTKfNDM.jpg
    Image from: http://i.imgur.com/xTKfNDM.jpg   (Right-click to view in full).

              I once had a terrible argument with Margaret Mead.  She was holding forth one evening on the absolute horror of the atomic bomb, and how everybody should immediately spring into action and abolish it, but she was getting so furious about it that I said to her: “You know, you scare me because I think you are the kind of person who will push the button in order to get rid of the other people who were going to push it first.”  And she told me that I had no love for my future generations, no responsibility for my children, that I was a phony swami who believed in retreating from facts.  But I maintained my position. Robert Oppenheimer, a little while before he died, said that, “It’s perfectly obvious that the whole world is going to hell.  The only possible chance that it might not is that we do not attempt to prevent it from doing so.”  Because you see, all the troubles going on in the world now are being supervised by people with very good intentions’ their attempts to keep things in order, to clean things up, to forbid this, and prevent that possible horrendous damage.  And the more we try, you see, to put everything to rights, the more we make fantastic messes.  And it gets worse, and maybe that’s the way it’s got to be.  Maybe I shouldn’t say anything at all about the folly of trying to put things to right but simply, on the principle of Blake, let the fool persist in his folly so that he will become wise.

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3d/IvyMike2.jpg
    Image from: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3d/IvyMike2.jpg

    Thursday
    Oct012015

    Regarding the Pain of Others, Decontextualization in the Media, and the American Penchant for Apathy

    The radio program To the Best of Our Knowledge recently aired several interviews as part of their Regarding the Pain of Others broadcast.  The episode featured interviews the war photographer Susan Sontag (1933 – 2004), author of Regarding the Pain of Others, and Chilean artist Alfredo Jaar, creator of “The Rwanda Project” and who traveled to Rwanda during the immediate aftermath of the 1994 genocide there.  Susan and Alfredo make numerous significant points, and transcribed below are some of the points that hit home for me.   (Sidenote:  if you’re interested in reading an excellent book on the Rwandan Genocide, as wells the roots of several other conflicts in Africa, I would highly recommend Bill Berkeley’s The Graves Are Not Yet Full.)


    Interview
    with Alfredo Jaar:

    Steve Paulson: What did you come away understanding?

    Alfredo Jaar:  I felt that human beings can do terrible things to each other.  This is something I knew of course from history but I had never experience this in such a vivid and personal way.  I went away feeling ashamed of being a human being. I went away want to commit suicide because I couldn’t believe that, as a human being living in the world today, I had allowed this to happen.  I felt guilty.

    Steve Paulson:  Because there were news reports that this was going on while it was going on, and in fact there were plenty of reports that something terrible was going to happen even before it did.

    Alfredo Jaar:   Absolutely, but unfortunately it was on one hand played down; second, most media did not use the word genocide so we would not intervene because, as you know, there’s a convention that forces countries to intervene if it is officially a genocide, so the State Department asked not to use that word and most media complied.  The way the media works today – everything is decontextualized.  You open a paper, you might find a couple of photographs about this horror, but next week you have the new model from Toyota, and the next page you are invited to take vacations in Hawaii at a great price by this airline, and then you move on.  So, everything is decontextualized, so an image of pain, of suffering, is drown in a sea of consumption in the media today.  So it’s very difficult to affect change through the media in the way it’s built now.

     


    Image from: The Graves Are Not Yet Full

    Interview with Susan Sontag:

    Susan Sontag:  There are two pivotal moments in the history of war photography.  One is the Spanish Civil War, where for the first time a war was covered by photojournalists, most famously Robert Kappa, who had cameras that were portable.  Before that photography was basically the camera on a tripod, so the photographer was not going into the thick of battle.  But once the portable Leica and film that could shoot thirty-six images before reloading was developed, you had the photographer going into battle and producing images which really set the standard for what war photography could be.  That was on the whole very partisan photography – the famous images from the Spanish Civil War are all from photojournalists who were on one side, namely the Republican side; they were against  the fascist rebellion lead by Franco which did in fact triumph.  And the Vietnam War, that was the second turning point where again, most all the photography was taken by partisan people who sympathized with the suffering of the Vietnamese and of the American soldiers – and they were not for the war.  And a lesson was learned from the Vietnam War by governments making war: that was that one must not let photojournalists have free reign.

    Steve Paulson:  And you don’t see that anymore.  I mean, in the first Persian Gulf War there are very few pictures of actual combat.

    Susan Sontag: Actually, the model for that was in an even earlier war.  A small war waged by Prime Minister Thatcher; and when the British expeditionary force was dispatched to Argentina to recapture some islands off of Argentina that the British owned, Thatcher essentially forbade journalistic coverage or controlled it so thoroughly that virtually no battle scenes or scenes of the carnage and the deaths were caused in that war [sic]…

    Susan Sontag:  It’s absolutely true that there is voyeuristic impulse in many people, in most people, and they will slow down to look at the car wreck and then say, “Wasn’t that terrible?”  We are attracted in some way to these images; the basis on which we’re attracted is rather complicated.  Maybe it’s that we want to experience that we are safe.  You see, if I can go back to the idea of the whole book, Regarding the Pain of Others, what does the title mean?  It means that we are safe, and we’re looking at something happening to other people, but we’re not there, we’re here.  We’re here looking at a magazine or a newspaper, we’re in front our television sets, we’re looking at images on our computer, and the terrible things are happening somewhere else.  So why do we do want to look at them?  First of all we think that we ought to look at them maybe, we have an obligation to look at them, to know what the world is really like, maybe we have a particular identification with the struggle or particular interest in it, maybe we’re testing ourselves to see if we really can look at terrible things, like a kind of ordeal.  But I think in all of these expereinces something is happening which I think is real and at the same time very questionable, that it’s there and its’ not here, and if you’re not looking at it, you’re not responsible.   

    Steve Paulson:  In a sense it removes us from the suffering, and I don’t want to overplay this, but we can perhaps feel a little more virtuious by going through the pain of looking at these, but also in the back of our minds we know that’s not us, we’re safe, we’re innocent.

    Susan Sontag:  One, it’s not happening to us, and two, we’re not doing it.  Now the second assertion may be a little questionable.  If you’re country has gone to war with another country, do you have a responsibility to oppose that war?  I think that the images tend to make us feel passive, but I don’t think, as I used to think, that they necessarily desensitize us.  I think they only desensitize us when we’re told, “This is a, age old conflict, there’s absolutely nothing to be done about it, it’s hopeless,” then I think you say, “Oh that again,” and you switch the channel.  But if you have been told that something can happen, something can be different; if you have another political context, I think these images can be very mobilizing and I don’t think you get used to them.

    Steve Paulson:  Well, also, I think we tend to feel these days that given the reach of the modern media, that we see everything, that we see all the horrors, but that’s actually not true, we don’t see the worst of it.  Going back to the September Eleventh attacks.  We saw repeatedly the planes smashing into the World Trade Center, we saw almost no images of the dead bodies, and clearly they were there, but people choose not to show those.

    Susan Sontag:   Yes there was a great deal of largely self-censorship, which of course is the most powerful form of censorship, of the images of World Trade Center and the Pentagon – there are virtually no images of the destruction of the Pentagon and of the people who were killed there – and there were a lot of photographs that were taken, this is well known, of very gruesome things at the World Trade Center.  And what was the reason that the people who control the media gave about this?  “This isn’t helpful,” or something you hear very often, “This isn’t good taste.”  Now I’m very suspicious when people talk about good taste as a reason for not showing something.  It’s felt to be unpatriotic, it’s felt to be demoralizing, there are all sorts of reasons…

    Steve Paulson:  Well, the other reason that’s often given is that it would be disrespectful to the families of the dead, that somehow it would be dishonoring the memory.

    Susan Sontag:  Yes, but that’s because Americans have the rather obscene habit of thinking that American lives are worth more than anybody else’s lives and American lives have an entirely different value than other people’s lives.  We don’t have a problem about showing a foreign dead, we have a problem showing American dead.* 

    http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/coldharbor.jpg
    African-American Civil War Soldiers Burying the Battlefield Dead, Library of Congress.


    *I disagree with her last point.  If U.S news media regularly showed the foreign civilians massacred abroad by tax-payer-funded weapons; if the American public had to contend with an onslaught of images of manifold dismembered bodies of women and children destroyed by the bombs and bullets we’ve manufactured and launched, then many of our nation’s problems would be solved.  The American people would demand an end to these wars, we’d bring the troops home, close foreign military bases, save hundreds of billions of dollars, and no longer would be washing our collective, figurative hands in blood.  But instead of doing the smart and moral thing, we’re wading neck-deep in ignorance and consumerism, and shall one day drown in it all wondering what we did to deserve this.

    Saturday
    Sep262015

    Irish Hunger Memorial – Part I*

           Illuminated on the interior tunnel and exterior walls of the Irish Hunger Memorial in Manhattan are a multitude of quotes and excerpts pertaining to the Great Famine which haunted Ireland between 1845 and 1852.   During this famine, approximately one million people died and another million emigrated from Ireland, thus reducing the country’s population by 20 – 25%.  The quotes and excerpts portray the grief and horror that Irish suffered during this sweeping famine, and are glimpse into the suffering that millions of people presently endure for want of food.   (If you want to read an amazing novel on the Irish Famine, I would highly recommend Famine, by Liam O’Flaherty.)

    Here are some of the quotes, mostly written by Irishmen, who comprise a disproportionately high number of incredible writers:

    In a country that is called civilized, under the protection of the mightiest monarchy upon the Earth, and almost within a day’s communication of the capital of the greatest empire in the world, thousands of our fellow creatures are each day dying of starvation, and the wasted corpses of many left unburied in their miserable hovels, to be devoured by the hungry swine, or to escape this profanation, only to diffuse among the living the malaria of pestilence and death.

    -Isaac Butt, The Famine in the Land, Dublin University Magazine, 1847

    Fever and dysentery and dropsy have already recommended the work of death, and the solemn and sober conviction on my on my mind is that unless prompt and adequate means are adopted to arrest this terrible calamity not hundreds, not thousands, but the great population will be swept, as with the besom of destruction, off the face of this land.

    -Samuel Stock, Rector of Kilcommon, To Prime Minister John Russel, 1847

    Eviction notice and evictions [1846 – 1854]: 188,346 families, approximately 974,930 persons.

    -Tim O’Neil, Famine Evictions, 2000

    In some cases, it is well known, when all other members of a family have perished, the last survivor has earthed up the door of his miserable cabin to prevent the ingress of pigs and dogs, and then laid himself down to die in this fearful family vault.

    -James Hack Tuke, A Visit to the Connaught in the Autumn of 1847

    A brooding stillness, too, lay over all nature.  Cheefulness had disappeared, even the groves and hedges were silent, for the very birds had ceased to sing, and the earth seemed as if it mourned for the approaching calamity, as well as for that which had been already felt.

    -William Carleton, The Black Prophet, 1847

    The habit of pilfering potatoes and cabbage, and even plucking wool from the backs of the sheep in the fields, is common, but it is induced by destitution; a constant struggle is proceeding between humanity on one side and hunger and nakedness on the other.

    -Father Lyons, Parish Priest, Kimore Eris, Co. Mayo 1835

    God shares with the person who is generous.

    -Irish Proverb

    The land in Ireland is infinitely more peopled than in England; and to give full effect to the national resources of the country, a great part of the population should be swept from the soil.

    -Thomas Malthus, An Essay of the Principle of Population, 1798

    Here I found a company of would-be intelligent Irish and English aristocrats who were professed enemies of the poor Irish, calling them a company of low, vulgar, lazy wretches who prefer beggary to work, and filth to cleanliness…it is an established law of our nature to hate those we oppress.

    Asenath Nicholson, Ireland’s Welcome to the Stranger, 1847

    1996: More than 25% of the world population lives in poverty.  1.3 Billion live on less than $1 per day.  160 million children are moderately or severely malnourished.

    -UNDP Report, 1997

    The Irish Famine, a litany of death, suffering and emigration, left an indelible mark on our psychological landscape.  It resonates profoundly in Ireland and the throughout the global Irish family.  Famine has long ceased to haunt Irish homes, but for millions of our fellow human beings, its deadly march continues.  In commentating victims of the Irish Famine, we must renew our pledge to feed the hungry and to end the scourge of famine and poverty worldwide.  We all live in each other’s shadows.

    -Mary McAleese, President of Ireland

     

    *I did not transcribe the quotes on the exterior walls, but will send Divided Core’s brightest and most peripatetic contributor back to NYC for this purpose next March. 

    Friday
    Sep252015

    Dr. Andrew Wile on Human Chauvinism and Consciousness

           This year, I received some bad news, the specifics of which are irrelevant (nothing that affects my physical state of health, only personal career goals).  After telling me the bad news, the Indian man, seeing me on the brink of tears, said an amazing Freudian slip which fit my life perspective precisely.  He said, in broken English, “Aaron, everything happens for no reason.”  I smiled and shook my head because I couldn’t agree more, for I have always reminded myself that good things seems to emerge from the worst of circumstances (and vice versa), that even in death there shall spring life. 

            On Wednesday I heard a 1998 speech from holistic health hippie, Dr. Andrew Wile, broadcast on KPFA as part of their fall fundraising drive.  Wile seemed to have had a similar “everything is going to be okay” perspective insofar as humanity’s  fate on Earth.  I would highly encourage you to listen to the whole speech (start at the 35 min. point of this video).

     

    Dr. Andrew Wile:

                It’s nice to be among friends.  I wish I could tell you, I wish I could join in all the warmth of this occasion to tell you that the revolution in consciousness is moving right ahead, and that we are about the transform government and external reality as a result of that, but, know you, it ain’t so.  And I say that as somebody who goes through the Iron Range of Minnesota and passes through airports and looks around me, and I have to tell you that I feel that the majority of human beings that I encounter operate mostly out of fear, guilt, and when people operate from those emotions, they are dangerous to themselves and to others.  We are very small minority, a very small minority – and have no illusions about that –  and whether our minority will grow fast enough and be able to influence humanity fast enough to avoid the catastrophe that is certain to come if we persist in the ways that we now persist, I don’t know. 

              And if we can’t, if it may be, as it appears – that our ability to manipulate the environment – our technological ability – is disparate with our ability to control our own emotions, that may be a fatal flaw in our species, it may be.  If it is that has to be alright too because I feel, and this is based on a lot of my experiences with substances that we all know and love, that deep down everything is all right and it’s the way it’s supposed to be, and there may be a lot of drama in between, but it’s all alright.  I upset people a lot when I say – but this is true – that I am not a human chauvinist.  If our species destroys itself, which is a possibility – I don’t think there’s any way that we can destroy life, by the way, or the life process, or consciousness, which I think preceded life and preceded the human organism and the human brain – if that happens, it’s okay with me if something else gets a chance, and if the life force experiments with a another form; that’s fine, that’s okay, too. 

                    I hope that doesn’t happen, I will work to try to keep it from happening, but either way it’s alright.  Now, if there’s any hope of keeping that from happening, it has to involve basic change at the level of consciousness.  And particularly it has to involved basic change in the nature of science and technology, which has become the religion of our society…

     

    http://i00.i.aliimg.com/wsphoto/v0/2050558638/-font-b-Alex-b-font-font-b-Grey-b-font-Tool-10000-Days-In-Colour.jpgPainting by Alex Grey