Monday, March 29, 2010

The Antidote to the FOX Toxin

Prescription: Colbert

In my last post I highlighted the transition from greed to fear in those who seek to retain the status quo. My point was that since greed has stopped working, fear has become the next stop; the status quo needs you to be afraid in order to sustain itself.

There are very active supporters of the status quo, and they are fear-mongering regularly. Are there things "out there" that might be worrysome? Of course. Are they the ones the fear-mongers are pointing to? Mostly not.

How do we know this? Well, the old fashioned way - by picking apart their arguments and examining their basis.

Fortunately, we don't have to work too hard to accomplish this task. We have folks who will do this for us. Pre-eminent among them is Stephen Colbert. In case you haven't discovered him, Colbert has a 30-minute television show on Comedy Central that is a frightfully funny parody of the "Right Wing Agenda". It's especially useful in scrutinizing the tactics of the Right because it unapologetically and enthusiastically reiterates the talking points of the Right, under the spotlight. What emerges is a (painfully, tragically) funny illumination of the role of fear in the storyline of the the Right. (And if you watch it long enough, you'll see the waning influence of greed in that canon as well.)

Colbert takes the talking points (at 10:00 or so for a simple example, and again at 13:00) and extends them into absurdity. Unfortunately, he doesn't have to work very hard to get there. Often times he just needs to say them verbatim, back-to-back, and with an undisguised "patriotic" arrogance. He exposes the talking points as the worst form of propaganda, and shows how ordinary, less-educated Americans are hoodwinked into accepting this foul wind as Truth. Fear is easier to instill in those who haven't lived among diversity, those who haven't experienced a big slice of the breadth of human experience. Arrogance is the insulator that enables us to avoid looking carefully at our own perspectives, prejudices, and foibles.

If you look honestly at the agenda of the Right, it's heavy on Arrogance, a champion of Ignorance, and funded by the wealthy. Suddenly, the source of "The Ugly American" becomes clear: Ignorance and Arrogance, combined with wealth.

Colbert exposes both Ignorance and Arrogance as tools of the Right, and while at times I feel sick to my stomach by the revelation, I laugh. Hopefully, laughter is the best medicine.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The FOX Toxin

When Greed Fails, Turn to Fear

(Warning: Rant, no pictures.)

These are terrifying times. Particularly terrifying for "The Establishment", because the world that was built on the old foundations is passing away.


Because greed isn't working any more. Not like it used to. Greed used to feel good. Greed used to produce "growth". Greed used to help us raise our standard of living.

And make no mistake. It worked for a very, very long time. It worked throughout the vast history of western civilization (with brief interruptions where, it seemed, nothing worked very well at all - but that's another story). It was the fundamental force in the emergence of agriculture, domestication of animals, clearing of forests, etc., etc. Thom Hartmann makes this point in his tour de force, The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight.

And it was certainly the fundamental force behind the industrial revolution, mass production, and modern western capitalism. (Any arguments there from FOX?)

But the seeds of its destruction were sown at the very beginning, and we have The Epic of Gilgamesh as its seminal cautionary tale. The oldest (known) story set down in writing, it tells of Gilgamesh, a king in Mesopotamia, and Enkidu, a fierce and powerful "wild man" side-kick, who is seduced into abandoning his wild (primal) nature and power to join Gilgamesh's world. He becomes entangled with Gilgamesh's wild schemes, leading to tragedy and disaster.

It's a great read on its own, but here's the point: Gilgamesh decides that he needs more fulfillment, so he convinces Enkidu to go with him to the great cedar forest and chop down ALL the trees, bring them back, and enrich himself with fame and fortune.

The result is a brief period of fame for Gilgamesh and prosperity for his realm. But very shortly thereafter, Enkidu gets the shaft, and in the end curses the forces that tempted him away from his wild nature.

And Gilgamesh? He becomes filled with fear of death. His kingdom falls apart, and goes off looking for a way to become immortal.

Gilgamesh's greed is the source of all his troubles. It works for a while, but then fails.

When a culture strips its resources in the name of unsustainable growth (greed), the inevitable result is that the limits are reached, and the whole scheme stops working. What comes next is fear.

Here we are. The greed mongers are up against a wall of their own making. We've been operating unsustainably for a very very long time. But the planet has now gotten VERY small. There's no place left to rape and pillage. Or, perhaps more accurately, we're starting to feel the hangover despite the fact that we're still drinking heavily. The cedars are chopped down; the reckless partying is over.

We're all on one hellacious bender, and many of us are realizing we have to stop. That next drink just doesn't satisfy. We're getting (in every way imaginable) sick of it. But the FOX-aligned take their addiction very seriously. They would rather black out, because the alternative is too frightening. Their way of life might have to die.

So to make sure they can keep drinking, they're trying to fill the rest of us with fear. If we STOP drinking, everything we know will pass away. "We can't stop or we'll all DIE!"

Their fear of loss has become a fear of death, and they want you to feel it too. Nobody that tortured and afraid faces death with equanimity. And once the collective hallucination - the illusion - is broken, they can't pretend that their addiction is "normal". They'll have to change.

So they will keep trying to make the rest of us afraid. Greed, their former currency, has lost its value. Fear is the new coin of the modern realm, and Gilgamesh walks among us, rending his clothes and seeking immortality.

Me, I'm trying to resuscitate Enkidnu, and see if I can get him to remember how magical his life was in the woods.

Next: The Antidote

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Practicing One's Craft for the Sheer Joy of It

Ready...Set...OK, GO!

I'm neck-deep in a project, so I'll (try to) be brief.

I'm working really hard to learn Final Cut Pro because I want to produce some video shorts and expand my efforts at self-expression to include film. As with any worthwhile endeavor, there's a learning curve. And with any passion, there's a willingness to commit long hours.

I pulled an all-nighter last night trying to master FCP. I want to create a finished-looking DVD of Romeo & Juliet from the multi-camera filming we did on consecutive nights last week of the performances. Broken Box Theatre Company did an AMAZING job. Kudos to the players and their fantastic director, Ms. Nancy Moran.

I know what I'm doing, but I don't really know what I'm doing -- yet. It's been quite a challenge to master the complexity and power of FCP, but I'm really in to it. It's cool, even though it's painful. There's an old French saying:
Pain is the craft entering the apprentice...


But the payoff is quite joyful. To wit, here's a music video. I defy you to watch this video and not be both fascinated and tickled.

It's an absolute certainty that these folks worked hard on this product. Its, what, four minutes long? But I bet they loved every hour of the days and weeks it must have taken, and the four minutes of finished product, along with the joy of practicing their craft to create it, makes it all worthwhile. We should all be so lucky (or so committed to our passions to pursue them con brio).

Back to the editing station, because it's a labor of love. There's no better kind.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Of Cards and Bridges...

King of Hearts beats Jack of Diamonds Every Time

Jack, Jack
I can't go back
To riches
from pain.

King, King,
My heart must sing,
My Destiny
to gain.
It appears that this is resolve testing week. And not a moment too soon.

I have received several indicators (not exactly offers; let's call them invitations) to walk back into my previous life. A friend sent me an email regarding his newly established high-tech company, and he asked me to lunch "if you'd like to talk about it."

I also received an email from an outfit that has invited me to be an "expert resource" for their clients to call and discuss high-tech stuff in my areas of expertise. Paid by the hour, name your rate.

Both of these offers play to my long and established record. I could bring value, and I could be compensated.

So what's the problem? I thought at first that it was because they played to my ego. I looked at the "application form" for the consulting gig for about 20 minutes yesterday, considering how I would characterize myself.

But last night, as I went to bed, I was unsettled. Something was still bothering me. And then the little ditty popped into my head.

"Jack, Jack, you can't go back..."

One of the problems with a bridge is that it works in both directions.

In past attempts at striking out on my own, I always new that if I wasn't successful, I could fall back on the demand for my skills in high-tech. And in some way, that option sabotaged my efforts. It allowed me to be lazy and unfocused. Undisciplined. I watched it happen. My resources were spent, often with little to show for it. My attitude seemed to be, "Eh. Easy come, easy go. When it's gone, it's gone."

But it wasn't "Easy come..." It was just "Easy to go back."

This time feels different. The bridge is still there, but when I look back over it, I get sick.

The Norse rune Kano, reversed, counsels "gladly giving up the old and being prepared to live for a time empty. Develop inner stability and do not be seduced by the momentum of old ways while waiting for the new to become illuminated in their proper time."*
Much as been said of the King of Hearts. He's supposedly "The Suicide King", because it looks like he's plunged the sword into his head.

Is it suicide we're seeing? Or is he silencing his rational ego, his internal critic, so that he can listen more closely to his heart and his intuition?

I know that burning bridges behind you is not supposed to be smart. But right now I'm looking for gasoline and some dynamite.

*From The Book of Runes by Ralph H. Blum

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Everyday Choices

To Pie, or Not to Pie...

Every day I'm confronted with choices. Sometimes a few, sometimes hundreds.

I say that I want to do "the right thing". And if I listen honestly to myself, usually the right thing is pretty easy to figure out - I'm talking about on the most basic level.

And yet it's so easy to ignore the messages.

My lungs say, "I need you to take us out for a run." And all the other parts say, "Yeah, great idea, but...later."

My muse says, "Write!"; my mind says, "Sure, after you do a virus scan on this laptop. It sure is running slow."

Somehow, things seem to sneak in to make "the right choice" just a little bit harder. In the end, it really is my choice, and there are no excuses.

Not that I have anything against pie, mind you -- in fact, quite the contrary.
I just wonder, why is it that the choice always seems to sneak around to become, "Lemon pie, or cherry pie?",

when it starts out as "Pie, or no pie?"