Archive for March, 2010

The soul of brevity

My first post on this blog was an unintentional exercise in verbosity. I needed to get it all out of my system, to say the things I was thinking about, trying to frame the ideas that I want talk about in this blog. I think this process is my way of finding my way back to my own imagination, which I believe is at the root of possibility.

Brevity, the ability to actually be succinct and to the point is a gift. I look for clarity in the world around me, in the mythologies that are playing out in the world around us, and the dilemmas we are all facing. I look for leadership, and within that container I look for brevity and a certain kind of directness that speaks to a globalized truth. I am not diminishing individuality or unique perspective when I ask for unifying leadership that speaks to the core issues that we are all facing as a global culture. (Now I know what I say”global culture” it raises some ire because differentiation amongst various levels of sociological strata, based on finance or race or creed or opportunity, set up a specific scenario that does not actually appear to be unified at all.) So to use this idea of global culture I probably need to succinctly clarify that what I’m describing is the unifying field of humanity that we all share via our biological commonality and our shared environment.

The other day I went to see a screening of the new Michael Moore film “Capitalism: a love story.”, and was pleasantly surprised. Not only is it an excellent film by virtue of its clarity and succinctly delivered message, but what caught my attention was the initial premise that Mr. Moore presents. In my first blog I spoke about being a student of history and what I believe to be was a failed system of collective consensus based on the acquisition of material wealth that supports the idea of a corporate feudal society wherein we, meaning 99% of the world population, or the feudal serfs serving the corporate masters. The opening of Mr. Moore’s film is an overdubbed version of an old school history film about the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, and interestingly enough he uses that particular story and model as a way of demonstrating the parallels between what caused the decline of the Roman Empire and what’s currently happening in the American and actually Western world political systems. He goes on to explain that the very system that we are operating under is an extremely divisive state where the disproportionate distribution of wealth is at the root of the problem. I have to be honest and say I felt somewhat vindicated in my rant, as having never seen this film, I found it interesting that the meme shared in my blog, of history repeating itself, referncing the Roman empire, the initial ideas starting this blog, were in fact identical to Mr. Moore’s message. I was pleased to be in line with these memes as an agent of possible discourse and change.

I want solutions. I want to live in a culture that supports the idea that life is about imagining possibility and doing something about it. We are rushing headlong toward some invisible destiny based on this idea of acquisition and material wealth as if these things are somehow a cushion against the invisible pressing immediacy that our own mortality and fragility presents us, on a moment to moment basis. We are, after all, an incredibly tiny and fragile species living in a vast universe, we are the Who’s in Whoville, waiting to hear from Horton.

If imagination and soul are deeply connected, where is that in our social worldview? I know I personally spend a lot of time looking for deeper connections. In music that I make, in the words that I write, and with the people that I care about. This blog is my digital message in a bottle and I’m casting out into the Cyber-Sea in hopes of being found.

My hope is to participate in the dissemination of memes that actually help change the world for the better.


A “snow crash” world

This blog is about ideas. Looking at ideas that circulate through the social consensus on a global scale. Exploring Memes; Main Entry: meme
Pronunciation: \ˈmēm\ Function: noun
Etymology: alteration of mimeme, from mim- (as in mimesis) + -eme
Date: 1976 : an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture

Inherent in our culture are consensual ideas and forms that shape our world-view. Within the context of these conceptual ideas are inherent contradictions that I believe are the foundation of a sort of global hypocrisy that we all participate in. Hence the name of this blog.

So, I will be exploring ideas that we all seem to agree upon, that everyone seems to have an opinion about, and trying to get to the root of these ideas by examining the inconsistencies.

Consensus is not political, religious, philosophical or racial. There are large-scale consensus issues that occur at every moment of every day, that I believe are at the root of some of the major contradictions that we are facing at this time in history. In this age of digital information, so many ideas are being put forth in the digital sea of informational vomit, that it’s almost impossible to say what’s real and what’s not real. Hyper-polarization, this tendency towards extreme viewpoints, in my opinion, is a symptom of a global consensus breaking down. Deep core issues and fundamental viewpoints are being called into question and argued with religious fervor. The vehemence of this sort of rhetoric, is directly proportional to the fundamental schism between what is a true reality, something that actually makes sense to the moral collective unconscious, and the actual implementation and distorted reality that has occurred over time. As human beings, all subject to the exact same frailties, inherently we all share the same basic DNA, the same motivating forces, and the same ubiquitous drives. I believe that all human beings strive towards a vital sense of purpose, and the sheltering sense of community. Within that context the obvious drives towards shelter, food, service, purpose, and safety are consensual themes that connect every human being on this planet. Regardless of politics, race, creed, religious perspective, these ideals are obvious and self-evident throughout history. The great figures in history, the great teachers all spoke of this commonality and essential morality. Truth and morality are not the domain of any particular or specific viewpoint. To claim authority and/or ownership of a higher idealized state of moralism is in my opinion, completely deluded. No one, absolutely no one, knows the absolute truth! To assume otherwise, or to project and speak otherwise, is a sales pitch, someone is trying to sell something to someone else. What we are seeing, in the breakdown along lines of differing worldviews, polarized to the extreme, is this essential discontinuity between what every human being knows to be experientially and intuitively real, and this current, falsely created global consensus, that we are living under.

Looking at the American political system, and current economic meltdown, I’m hard pressed to find any exacting or detailed reference that allows me to understand this specific and detailed sense of hyper-polarization that seems to be occurring. A good example: partisan politics is a complete fiction. It is a consensual political ideology that has evolved only in recent history. I’m not saying hyper-polarization and division in political arenas does not have an historical precedent, but this level of vituperative and divisive rhetoric seems to be a recent event based on economic agenda, and the ready availability of information and dissemination through Internet and other media-based propaganda systems.

We are living in an age of “Corporate feudalism”. Or actually more accurately we are living at the end of the age of corporate feudalism, and we, as the feudal serfs serving the corporate masters, are at the end of our ability to sustain the system. The driving corporate and political agenda of acquiring material wealth as a focus of the global purpose is failing. The division of wealth between those who have and those who do not have, is also obviously failing. The consensual agreement to agree to and support the economic agenda, is failing simply because the premise of acquisition of material wealth is a failed proposition in the long term.

Money is a consensual agreement. Economics is a consensual agreement. Money is, entirely consensually, an agreement amongst individuals and collectives, symbolizing the willingness to exchange energy. In fact one could say accurately than money is a symbol for caloric exchange. I have a certain number of units of willingness that I have acquired that I can exchange, or that allow me to achieve certain goals, or enable certain actions to occur. These units of measure are based on a false standard that is entirely consensual. Now, this sounds somewhat anarchistic, but the idea of a consensual reality based on agreements that have no real foundation makes no sense to me.

I believe in the commonality of humanity. I believe that we are, as a species, animals acting out on primordial instinctual behaviors on a social scale, that has not really evolved past the amoebic stage. We are all still struggling for survival based on an illusion of separation. An illusion that states that somehow we are, in fact, somehow separate from Life. Each individual human life has its own special needs, its own special purpose. But every single person who has ever lived and died, every act that has ever occurred that we know about, every thought, deed, home, song, painting, sculpture, piece of architecture, every civilized notion that has occurred, has occurred on this tiny blue marble in space. We are, an animal species living on a limited resource planet. Acknowledging those simple truths requires a brutal self-evaluation and a willingness to accept accountability.

Everything we look at has some symbol based behind it. Language is sound and symbol. Music is mathematics sound and symbol. Art, the play of light, imaging, field of vision, interpretation, all symbols and reflections of the world around us. Perhaps a more interesting question is; what is it about the human soul that requires this connection to the ineffable through the interpretation and dissemination of evolving symbols?

I would love to see a biologist or any scientists show me a biological predilection towards partisanship, or realistically any form of extreme polarized viewpoint. Survival is not based anymore on survival of the fittest. Diversity and overpopulation are a fact, and the collective wellbeing is imperative and requires  areal dialog and real change. Rhetoric is a dialog designed to keep things in place the way they are. The soul of imagination is a larger view of the greater whole. Imagination and re-awakening that is a key element in renewing vitality in the global perspective.

I believe that currently, at least within the political and religious arenas, most of this hyper-polarization is based entirely on fear. There is a groundless quality to life, in this current economic climate, actually in general. Globally I believe there is a shift occurring. A shift in consciousness, and a shift in the overall global consensus. I believe that this shift is absolutely necessary for species survival. Because as we are living in this age of corporate feudalism and as it winds to an end, we are also operating as a lemming species. We are blindly following leaders into a chasm simply by virtue of apathy and consensus.

How is it possible, I would ask, that over 6 billion people allow the entire global process of social interaction to be decided by a population of less than 5000 individuals? (this is obviously a very loose guesstimate of the global political leadership.) This is a huge disparity in representation. There is also a false assumption within the democratic process that representation is best served by pursuing the economic agenda. The acquisition of material wealth is a short-term goal and we are, as a species, a short-lived species. Therefore, within a short span of our lives, it seems to me it would behoove us to focus our attention on increasing not only the quality of our lives, but the potential quality of future generations and the collective. The Native Americans had an understanding about this particular issue. Looking forward seven generations does not seem like such a crazy idea to me. In this climate however, most of the global leaders are operating on extremely short-term agendas, based on fear, political strategy and positioning, and the well-being of the select small group of individuals and corporate leaders.

If we are really at the end of the age of corporate feudalism, the question is what will the next phase be? As a student of history, I know that during these boiling points historically huge changes occurred through revolution. At junctures in history where the disparity in wealth, station, power and representation are so large as to be unrealistic, in general the feudal serfs have risen up. I am not advocating revolution. I am simply pointing out that the reality of our species historically is sudden and dramatic change in the face of inequity.

I have a son whom I love unconditionally. I have a son who’s about to go off to college. I have a very very deep desire to do everything I can to leave this world in such a way that my son and his children will benefit from my having been here. I am deeply troubled that this may not be a realistic possibility. It’s true that change can occur at the individual level. That change can occur via individual choice. That choice can only come when we drop our fixed perspectives and engage in open dialogue based on truthful examination of reality without bias.

It’s true that for me, at least at this juncture in my life, my political leanings are more towards a democratic process that is focused on human rights and accurate representation for the individual. To be really honest I don’t understand partisan politics. As a secular humanist I believe in the well-being of human beings by virtue of our connection to biology and planetary occupation. We have, at this point in time, no real option regarding leaving this planet to explore other possibilities. If that’s true, which unfortunately it is at this moment, then how do we actually engage in actions that benefit the global well-being of individuals and the collective social consensus? Now I know, at least I project, that readers of this blog will label my thinking “socialist”. Again, from my perspective, yet another artificial meme. In my mind all this politically divisive language is entirely self-serving. And the self that it’s serving is the agenda of maintaining the status quo. Maintaining the status quo makes no sense to me. This stuck quality, this sense of lack of novelty, ennui, even impotency, lies at the heart of the degenerating social consensus.

Real change can and will begin when we actually engage in a dialogue that addresses the real issues that affect us all collectively. Political agendas based on economic agendas are no longer serving the global purpose. In order for us to effect change I believe that we are going to have to begin engaging in dialogues where the heart of the discussion is re-imagining the global consensus. Ideally, from my point of view I would like to re-imagine the global consensus as a communal work of art. I would like to ideally imagine a global consensus where the foundations are based on the well-being of the individual within the collective well-being. The well-being of the individual being defined as the ubiquitous health, physical and mental and spiritual health, safety, education, and empowerment of the individual. I am not speaking in Pollyanna terms, I am not speaking in New Age terms. 6 billion individuals are being ruled by an agenda that makes no sense. The feudal masters are realizing this and scrambling to protect themselves. I personally no longer wish to be a feudal serf serving the corporate baronies.

Remember, it’s a social consensus. Everyone, everyone is guessing. Religious leaders, political leaders, economists, lawyers, artists, everyone, is guessing, and its not really working. As part of this consensus we all agree to follow the rules of the game. We all agree to pay taxes, to pay our bills on time, to pay for our mortgages, to support a system that focuses on rewarding the fiscally imprudent and ethically impaired corporate masters, and paying for that with the blood, sweat and tears of the masses.

What if the consensus changed overnight? I don’t see the difference between a collective willingness to agree to do all of these things, and a sudden reversal collective change in opinion and/or action that says we aren’t going to do this anymore. What if the American people decided to go on a consumer strike? What if we all agreed for one week to suspend consumption behaviors? No purchases except for absolute necessities like food. No purchases of gas, no bills paid, no restaurants, no entertainment, no movies, no sports events, nothing. What if we sent a message to the powers that be, that we’ve had enough? I can guarantee even a 24-hour period where this choice was made would result in extreme and sudden change. There’s an old joke, I think it was Jackie Mason who said it, but he posed the question; “What if we put the government, and all of our representatives, on a commission-based pay?”. I think a lot of things would happen differently if the way that our representatives got paid was not by the corporate propagandists, or the lobbyists, or our tac dollars, but by the way they actually functioned in their role as representatives of the social democracy and true advocates of the collective will of the people. Of course the immediate problem is the contentious and divisive state that we have arrived at along partisan lines.

In the 1980s author Neal Stephenson wrote a fantastic book called “Snow crash”, where he depicted a society based on easily accessible virtual realities within the collective corporate community. The idealized state within the virtual reality was not reflected in the social fabric of the fictional physical reality. We are, I believe, at the inception of this sort of a social universe. Watch people engaging with technology and media. George Orwell knew he was talking about when he wrote 1984. We are becoming anesthetized by the distraction that technology and media, and social networking are offering us. Lenin talked about religion being the opiate of the masses. I believe that information, the overwhelming glut that has become the digital sea of vomit that we are all swimming in, has become the opiate of the masses and we have become an apathetic and numbed species. If we wish to continue down this road, as lemmings, then we need do nothing. I believe that many individuals especially through this process of blogging, digital voices crying out, digital messages in a bottle cast out upon the digital sea, searching for answers within the collective, is the collective voice crying out for real change. Maybe if enough voices cry out reciprocal voices with acknowledgement and effort. Until then we dance to the mathematical melodies of an indifferent universe.

“The quality of your life is dependent upon the focus of your attention.” We need to shift the focus of our attention away from distraction and indifference, and focus on re-designing the global consensus.

This blog, weekly, we’ll look at various subjects and ideas/memes, where the inconsistencies arise by virtue of consensus, and the possibility for change. I welcome your comments and criticisms..