A young friend of mine just committed suicide. I felt I hadn’t done enough to help him. Made me depressed. I’m still depressed. But that’s what killed my young friend–that and, I suspect, the vicious circle of heavy self medication. I do suffer from intermittent bouts of depression. Sometimes it’s quite grim. Depression is like the barbarian hordes attacking the more civilized empire, Rome if you like. One drives the attackers back. The dark hordes recede for a time. But they never give up completely. They chew away at the outer walls, siege after siege, before retreating into their hills. One can reduce their force through an offense, but it’s like entropy, it’s like “rust never sleeps”, it never completely gives up. And as one gets older, and seems more vulnerable–”Rome’s walls are crumbling!”–the hordes get more allies. Aging and ageism, the deaths of friends, physical limitations, all ally with the dark army of depression. But I will never surrender. Once more unto the breach, dear friends!
I was accosted yesterday, trapped. Small creatures they were, with bright eyes and golden hair. They bore a strange device, a kind of vest with cryptic badges upon it. They gazed upon me and asked if I would like to buy some of their “Girl Scout Cookies”. I patted my stomach and said, “Do I look like I need cookies?” The smallest one nodded gravely and said yes. I sighed, and feeling myself completely under the spell of these imps, these creatures of faery, my will crumbled and I said, “Which ones do you recommend I get?” The small golden haired imp excitedly pointed to the row of cookie boxes and said, “THis one! And this one! And this one over here! And this one! Four times five is twenty!” Helpless, I gave her a twenty dollar bill and took the four kinds of cookies recommended. I was able to leave, then, and walked away, in a trance.
My wife ate several of the cookies last night. Me, I ate only ONE COOKIE. I will not eat more. I will not. I’ve already been supernaturally dominated by these creatures. Why should I submit to their “Thin Mints” and their “Samoas”? And yet I seem to hear a soft singing, from the kitchen…
It’s both useful to not be able to think about particular things, and dangerous…It’s important to be able to NOT think about things. Not only are there times when what we suppose to be active thinking (it’s actually just making associations, mostly in a kneejerk reactive way) be placed on hold so we can have purer perceptions of the moment…but we do need the *skill* of being able to NOT think about a disturbing thing, at times. If I agonize about some nightmarish news story about the abuse of children as much as I might be emotionally inclined to, I’m going to become fairly paralytic, unable to move on with what I really need to do in life. I’ll become irresponsible toward my family and my work…Last night I was thinking about two instances when I was able to confirm that someone stole ideas and material from me which ended up on television–I know this from meetings at studios I had with these or related people, scripts I wrote which they had, other clues–and how it was stuff I couldn’t sue over for various reasons…and it tortured me to think about it. Just made me miserable. I had to go to bed. Today I’ve engaged the mental device that allows me to *mostly* NOT think about something I can’t do anything about…you can see that it still comes up a little…and this is important. Still, I learned from that theft of my intellectual property. And in the case of nightmarish news stories, I file it away as part of my desire to help children in the world (I’m going to be taking up a certain mentoring volunteer program soon), yet I still need to be able to put such things out of my mind. But the PROBLEM is…the DANGER is…that this same useful ability to edit what one is thinking about, to change mental “directions”, to distract oneself or simply turn away, within the mind…can be really harmful, too. We can ignore harm we’re doing to our own family; industrialists, say, can turn away from truly looking at damage that their herbicide, their fracking, their exploitation is doing to people. They can rationalize it–or, more often, simply ignore it. They use the very same skill that I use to edit my stream of thought. They can sometimes use that skill in legitimate ways–but they also use it in destructive ways. The skills that help us survive can be destructive, and ultimately can harm us. Because when we blot out responsibility, we damage ourselves, too…
This “I accept the information at that website because it looks professionally put together and someone who has or says he or she has a PhD is associated with it” stuff is a big stumbling block. And some people are constantly stumbling. Also, if the site mixes a little truth with a lot of speculation and a great deal of made-up stuff–the bits of confirmable truth make the website look legit. That’s one of the most pernicious parts. So you have a website on, say, “chemtrails” claiming US gov is experimenting on or chemically harming people with mysterious sprays from jets, and some guy who has or appears to have scientific credentials or a military background is cited a lot–they don’t mention that he has been diagnosed bipolar–and they have some truth, eg going way back the US military and CIA were involved in medical/psy ops experiments on unwitting citizens, and that seems to give weight to the photos of “chemtrails” coming from jets, whereas the “chemtrails” are actually ordinary con trails from jet engine emissions. They cite the fact that these aerial trails are sometimes not visible and then all of a sudden you see a lot in an area. True–because of meteorological factors and angle of viewing that make them more visible. But they don’t mention the actual “it’s because” information. And they “cherrypick” information, selecting bits of material out of context that *seems* to support their thesis.
And it goes on and on, at UFO websites, truther websites, conspiracy websites of all kinds, libertarian sites. And extreme-right wingnut websites. Same thing. A little truth, a lot of falsehood, a superficial appearance of professionalism. And something else working for these bogus “alternative” sites is that many conventional news organizations have in fact been sloppy or lazy or sometimes guilty of ignoring important stories or having a corporate agenda. Not as much as people think–and some news organizations are fairly straightforward, and most are more reliable than “alternative” sites.
Some alternative news sites are good: Mother Jones is good. But most are just flat out unreliable. And the more outrageous their claims, a la Alex Jones or chemtrails sites, the more unreliable they are.
Ted Nugent would normally be of no interest, except as a minor curiosity. Only, he’s being welcomed into the GOP political fold as a supporter to a Republican candidate in Texas. The point is that even Wolf Blitzer noticed that Nugent’s language, in the astounding offensive quote, is closely related to language used by Nazis in describing Jews. In fact, it’s identical, as translation from German. But the GOP still embraces him. He’s also threatened the President’s life. And Nugent has admitted having sex with underage girls–he could’ve done 50 years in jail for that, if he’d been prosecuted. And he got out of the draft by crapping his pants, on purpose, at the induction center. And yet still the GOP embraces him. Note the phrase ‘subhuman mongrel’… Nugent: “if not shame enough Americans to be ever vigilant not to let a Chicago communist-raised, communist-educated, communist-nurtured subhuman mongrel like the ACORN community organizer gangster Barack Hussein Obama” …this isn’t subtle racism.
It has been suggested that the GOP in Texas likes the fact that Nugent used racist phrases discussing the President, because of the Dog Whistle effect. There are Certain Voters they want to attract.
TRUE DETECTIVE–the outlines of the HBO show is not unfamiliar. Kinda James lee Burke stuff crossed with Silence of the Lambs, some conspiracy theory material…Cop drama stuff too. Fine acting and direction…The character of Cole is the most original part–but what’s dazzling and unusual about this thing is the writer/creator’s ability to weave bits of outre philosophy, Nietzsche (possible even Ouspensky, ie recurrence), references to classic dark fantasy (The King in Yellow), depth psychology, and sheer existential surface texture seamlessly into one story. The writer guy is terminally hip–like the show, and its music. Certainly he knows his Jim Thompson, his Richard Stark, his Dylan, his Nick Cave, probably Tim Powers and Harlan Ellison…
Nic Pizzolatto is the guy who created and writes the show. His novel GALVESTON will probably end up a movie because the guy’s so hot now. He’s been hot almost right out of the publishing box: “The first two short stories he submitted sold simultaneously to the Atlantic Monthly. His collection of short fiction Between Here and the Yellow Sea was long-listed for the 2006 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and named one of the top five fiction debuts of the year by Poets & Writers Magazine.… his story “Wanted Man” is included in Best American Mystery Stories 2009. Galvestonwon the 2011 Spur Award for Best First Novel from the Western Writers of America. (Looks to be actually a modern western.)”
He seems to be mining a lot of his stuff from a variety of ores but the amalgam is dark, fascinating metal …
Wikipedia: “Original sin, also called ancestral sin, is the Christian doctrine of humanity’s state of sin resulting from the fall of man, stemming from Adam’s rebellion in Eden.” Was there ever a more unjust or absurd belief? Oh I think our descendents will indeed suffer from a kind of original sin–the sin being carbon pollution, general indifference to the biosphere, our over breeding and sprawl…As mismanagement of the land led to the dust bowl in the past, we’ll see the “curse” of our environmental original sin afflict our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Nothing supernatural about it–it’s just the closest thing to real original sin around, unless you want to explore themes akin to Greek tragedy, father committing murder ruining lives of his offspring…
The real collective guilt is not because a primordial woman ate an apple from the Tree of Knowledge but because men and women lost their knowledge of trees…
Walking the dogs in the winter sunshine we pass roofers working on a nearby house, several rugged guys, one of them stout and bearded, with a radio on the roof with them, constantly playing a country music station as they bend and call for more roofing. They’re up there listening to country music, and humming, whistling along, as they power-staple roofing in place, and there’s something comforting about it. I am not a fan of most country music, but the combination seems to speak of a cheery acceptance of the working life, of their own culture. Yes it’s a bit like a beer commercial. But they smile and wave to everyone in the neighborhood who passes; saw one of them chatting amiably with a dark Sikh fellow in a turban…A little further down the street someone has parked a small Hyundai sedan which is very much a mild mannered mom and pop car, *except* it has those new flattish tires that look like dragster slicks, and where the hubcap used to be they have one of the faddish spiky chrome wheels, this one looking like a circle of steely fangs all inward pointing like the mouth of a lamprey, four identical such wheels, too large for this modest family car, very sharkish and spikey, and the effect is startling, as if you saw a bland soccer mom who suddenly grins wolfishly at you to show filed teeth and fangs…Then I pass a yard with a decorative little red-barked tree overflowing with plum blossoms. And on one of the barer lower fork of branches is a bird’s nest, quite close to me, a somewhat oversized nest for small birds–it’s chaotic around the edges but almost ostentatiously constructed and like all bird’s nests seems to advertise the enormous, focused work that went into it. That very small bird with its tiny brain like a slightly sentient chip in a timepiece fitting one twig after another into this almost spontaneous architecture. It makes me think of a crown of thorns, from some angles, in the red blossoms–it’s like something you’d seen in a rather too florid Japanese painting. If it was a painting by an American artist it’d probably be kitsch. But I can’t stop looking at it till the dogs insist we go on…
The universe plays itself out. What seems relatively evil to us must play out. We must strive in another direction, because that’s our orientation. Everything must play out. Why bother to strive in the other direction, if it all must play out? Because that’s our part in the play. And who knows? Perhaps what we know as good will not play out if we don’t play our part. So we mustn’t despair. We must play our part and push for what we know is good. It’s our element of the mandala.
The President’s logic, leading to many of his decisions–including a few I think are a mistake in the long run–may be as follows: 1) the economy is the issue nearest and dearest to the heart of the American people, because it is about survival; 2) While supply-side trickledown et al is mostly a false premise, the economy as it’s set up now is reliant on players at the top, like banks and oil companies, for hiring and stimulating hiring, and generally stimulating a growing economy; 3) Nearly anything that encourages the economy in a time of emerging from The Great Recession is politically good for the Democratic Party and necessary for America; 4) Without the election of a sufficient number of Democrats to congress the *other* goals Democrats have, like cutting Pentagon spending, cutting carbon emissions, helping the middle class, increasing regulations on banks etc, will not be doable; 5) In order to get people to re-elect these Democrats (and Independents like Sanders) and elect MORE Democrats, so Congress can move ahead with a more progressive agenda, compromises must be made to keep the economy’s “head” above water.
Anyway, that’s my theory.