Category Archives: philosophy

Random thoughts, Frank Herbert Quotes, taken from the science fiction series based on the “Dune” novels.

Quote- prequel to Dune: The Swordmaster said solemnly, “Bushido. Where does honor begin? Ancient samurai masters hung mirrors in each of their Shinto temples and asked adherents to look deeply into them to see their own hearts, the variegated reflections of their God. It is in the heart where honor is nurtured and flourishes.” With a meaningful glance over at Trin Kronos and the other Grumman students, he continued. “Remember this always: Dishonor is like a gash on a tree trunk — instead of disappearing with age, it enlarges.”  He made the class repeat this three times before he went on. “The code of honor was more valuable to a samurai than any treasure. A samurai’s word — his bushi no ichi-gon — was never doubted, nor is the word of any Swordmaster of Ginaz.”

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THOUGHT (from the above):  If you are not an honourable person yet insist on believing in God, then such a God is an evil construct of your own design.  Honour above all else must be the recognizable, recognized and trusted hallmark of the true believer.  False believers are many, and they are the ones who believe that their God loves them and will save them.  True believers do not entertain such foolish thoughts: they seek only to serve God without question, without excuses for failure and without expectation.

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New knowledge changes the past.

What is “democracy” but the tyranny of a minority cloaked in a mask of the majority?

Seek freedom and become captive of your desires. Seek discipline and find your liberty. – Frank Herbert (Chapterhouse)

Ultimately, all things are known because you want to believe you know.

Answers are a perilous grip on the universe. They can appear sensible yet explain nothing.

When you think to take determination of your fate into your own hands, that is the moment you can be crushed. Be cautious. Allow for surprises. When we create, there are always other forces at work.

Without a goal, a life is nothing. Sometimes the goal becomes a man’s entire life, an all-consuming passion. But once that goal is achieved, what then? Oh, poor man, what then?

Any path that narrows future possibilities may become a lethal trap. Humans do not thread their way through a maze; they scan a vast horizon filled with unique opportunities.  –The Spacing Guild Handbook

Hatred is as dangerous an emotion as love. The capacity for either one is the capacity for its opposite.  –Cautionary Instructions for the Sisterhood, Bene Gesserit Archives, Wallach IX  

What senses do we lack that we cannot see or hear another world all around us?  –The Orange Catholic Bible

Innovations seem to have a life and a sentience of their own. When conditions are right, a radical new idea — a paradigm shift — may appear simultaneously from many minds at once. Or it may remain secret in the thoughts of one man for years, decades, centuries . . . until someone else thinks of the same thing.   How many brilliant discoveries die stillborn, or lie dormant, never to be embraced by the Imperium as a whole?

When the center of the storm does not move, you are in its path. –Ancient Fremen Wisdom

Progress and profit require a substantial investment in personnel, equipment, and capital funding. However, the resource most often overlooked, yet which can often provide the greatest payoff, is an investment in time.  –DOMINIC VERNIUS, The Secret Workings of Ix

A requirement of creativity is that it contributes to change. Creativity keeps the creator alive. –FRANK HERBERT, unpublished notes

It is said that there is nothing firm, nothing balanced, nothing durable in all the universe — that nothing remains in its original state, that each day, each hour, each moment, there is change. — -Panoplia Propheticus of the Bene Gesserit

Nature commits no errors; right and wrong are human categories.

What is this Love that so many speak of with such apparent familiarity? Do they truly comprehend how unattainable it is? Are there not as many definitions of Love as there are stars in the universe? — -The Bene Gesserit Question Book

The purpose of argument is to change the nature of truth. — -Bene Gesserit Precept

Infinity attracts us like a floodlight in the night, blinding us to the excesses it can inflict upon the finite. —Meditations from Bifrost Eyrie

Freedom is an elusive concept. Some men hold themselves prisoner even when they have the power to do as they please and go where they choose, while others are free in their hearts, even as shackles restrain them. —Zensunni Wisdom from the Wandering

There is no such thing as a law of nature. There is only a series of laws relating to man’s practical experience with nature. These are laws of man’s activities. They change as man’s activities change.

The capacity to learn is a gift; The ability to learn is a skill; The willingness to learn is a choice.

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My comments on some of the above: 

How does new knowledge change the past?  Mostly by forcing us to detach from superstitions, traditions, caveats, beliefs and assumptions that new knowledge exposes as false, or fraudulent. It also forces us to rethink our past, thus changing it.

In the current global upheaval due in large part to our facile acceptance of Western style political systems and our crass and ignorant belief that such systems are the best and should “rule” the word, we should pay heed to the statement made about democracy.  Never has it appeared as true as it does today.

Inevitably and inexorably, as we are learning from recent history, when we create, we do indeed create other forces and these will take on a life of their own as diametric opposites to our own.  The wars we fight to try to hang on to our creations, insisting that they should rule the world, are utterly useless.

“Hatred is as dangerous an emotion as love” – Indeed.  It amazes me that in the midst of rising waves of hatred on this world, so much effort is expended in opposing it with the call to love.  Can’t people see that what you resist, not only persists, but increases in intensity until both sides are locked in a death struggle from which more evil proceeds?  Yes, a great war may be fought to topple an evil regime (Nazi Germany and WWII as a prime example) but the hatred, now from both sides, is not diminished, just gone to ground, waiting for another opportunity to rise up and rule again.  Love is not the antidote to hate, only compassion has the sustaining power to accomplish such a task.  Love confronts hate, seeking to turn it into an image of itself (reciprocal action) whereas compassion destroys any force that would support and feed hatred.  It can do this because compassion is not an emotion  but an empowered personal choice. 

Re: the purpose of argument – is it wrong to seek to change the nature of truth?  Why should it when truth is nothing more than a chimera invented by mind controllers?  Truth is what is believed, therefore truth is based on numbers and force.  

 

Perhaps, why Romantic Love Fails

{a change of topic, though perhaps not so alien to my usual posts in meaning.  Think: self-empowerment… again or at least, serious choice.}

The title, then, is:  “Perhaps, why Romantic Love Fails”  and let’s be generous and add “most of the time, not always, not automatically.”  

Bracing myself here, this should, or could, bring “romantic love” experts out of the woodwork to offer their own experiences, or beliefs, to praise or castigate, and all of that is totally fine by me.

 “Oh love me, love me, love me, love me, love me, love me, love me, love me. I’ll be anybody you want me to be.” — Chuck Palahniuk, Invisible Monsters.

Imagine the amount of energy it takes to keep this up, to be “anything you want me to be” to someone, just for the fleeting sensual moment of feeling loved. Who then is really being loved when the ploy works? The pretender, the imitator, the parrot, the ghost: an elaborate illusion.  Not me, not the real me, just the character played by the actress. 

Any wonder romantic love so often fails?  

He isn’t loving me, he’s loving the pretence I serve him from morning ‘til night and the moment I can no longer sustain the illusion, he loses interest and perhaps rightfully, blames me for his disinterest.

“You’ve changed,” he’ll say. And right he is. Under the pressure of time and expectations, I gradually drop the illusion with which I ensnared him and I become myself, someone he’d never had a chance to get to know.

Perhaps if I hadn’t been so eager to “get him” and satisfy my longing by serving him with an illusion?

Perhaps if I had had the wisdom to look into the future to those times and event when I could see the illusion would be unsustainable; perhaps if I’d been courageous enough to show him who I really was, he may have loved me for myself, and we might have had something more than a staged performance…

Perhaps, and that’s the saddest realization of all, if he’d seen the real me he may have loved me for myself and never experienced disillusionment.  

Perhaps, like so many in my situation, I’ve been an idiot, turning myself out as a zip-lock bag of bait instead of the solid full meal deal I could have been; that I really was.

Perhaps, but perhaps is a lot like “if” and as Roger Whittaker sang, “No, I don’t believe in if anymore, if’s an illusion, if’s an illusion!”

So, I let the illusion go and live alone.  It’s not so bad once you get used to it and you have a few friends who don’t live in expectations of you pulling rabbits out of fancy hats.  Also, I must admit, love, however ephemeral, did have its compensations.  I had some really good times.  

I choose to remember the good loving times.  As to the separations, and I’ve known a few, the first was extremely bitter, then each one after that became easier, more natural, rather expected.  The thing about us is, we can get used to anything, even learning to enjoy experiences that at the outset appear unthinkable and disastrous.  

Looking back and thinking, if I were a few decades younger, would I fall in love again? Oh yes, definitely, for a great evening of being taken out to dinner, dancing, or the opera; for a night of pure heedless bliss with or without a full moon, and a sweet goodbye in the morning.  

Oh yes, I would fall in love… and fall in love… and fall in love… and make each fall redemptive.  In between, I would live alone in a world that is all mine. 

 

Listening in Time

(short story,  by Sha’Tara)

“I know you are keen, and willing.  Good traits in a researcher.  But you are missing the key ingredients.  You must sit quietly, by yourself, for hours, maybe days, and listen in time.  Listen to the voices of the dead, and the pre-incarnate.  They are in the voices of “others” and in the sounds of the earth: the wind, the cracking soil, the moving grains of sand, the patter of the rain on scrabbly hard-pan soil.  They come on the heat waves.  Sometimes they get playful and paint mirages which tell stories from within your own heart and soul which your tired and bleary eyes will translate into images of desires.  

If you do not learn to listen, all you will accomplish in these places as you sift through dirt and rubble is collect garbage.  It will be recognizable as works of the people but it will reveal no stories, no myths, no history.  These you will have to create from your own imagination and trust me on this, it will not be the same stories as what was, even if the entire world should buy your interpretations.  Honest archaeologists are a rare breed but there is nothing written, either in this desert or in mountains, that says you can not be one of that small group.  When you teach yourself the secret of time listening the people who made and used the objects you unearth, they will tell you their stories.  Some will seem strange and some will be, to your modern understanding, quite unbelievable, but just listen.  It is not your call to re-interpret the lives of others according to your current knowledge: that is sacrilege.  Let the ghosts speak; let them tell their story, and accept it at face value.  It may be that they lie to you, but let it be: do not add insult to injury by adding to the lies.  After all, as you will discover in time, all of your history is lies.  There is no truth to be found on this world, or in this universe.  We know, we’ve been looking for millions of your years and there is no such chimera.”

I was young then, and I’d been experimenting with the local flora under the auspices of a would-be witch doctor who called himself George but whose real name was an unpronounceable Mexican word that sounded like apple-cotle or aptly cotli.  This particular drug induced “time dreams” he had told me, and… “You should only smoke a small amount at sunset.  Sit against a rock, or a tree if you can find one, and set your mind free to roam.  Do not try anything, just let it all go.  It is the time of the spirits and sometimes one of them will notice you and approach you with a story, or some advice.  Just listen and do not try to make any judgment about what you hear, or think you hear.  Put your own thoughts aside and just absorb.” 

I smoked slowly, not eagerly, trying to practice “wisdom” in my folly.  How long I sat against the rock that dug into my back, feeling the sand getting cold beneath me, I don’t know.  Darkness came and the sky exploded with myriads of pin-points of lights: star, planets, meteors, even satellites and flashing lights of planes.  Time passed and I no longer felt the cold, nor the loneliness or that deep fear of the dark unknown.  I “slept” with eyes open, hearing and learning to listen.  I heard small animals squeaking to one-another, some unrecognizable insects repeating endless calls; owls, even one loud shriek of what could only be some wild cat, cougar perhaps.  It didn’t matter.

It seemed as if I’d become a part of the landscape, an extension of the rock I leaned against.  I felt a deep well-being; a thoroughly unfamiliar certainty.  I was “here” and “here” was where I belonged.  This was “home” like nothing had ever been.  “Here I sit, and here I remain,” I thought, against all common sense.  I felt the cold, hunger and thirst but it did not matter to this “me” that was being absorbed by the land, the air, the sky, the universe, the cosmos.  In that time I was no longer a body-centered, or physical being.  I was a member of the cosmic races, with a part of me resting upon a planet called earth – a very small, very strange planet. 

That’s when the voice came to my mind; when I heard the words I quoted above. 

I have been digging up history in this part of the world for almost fifty years now.  I’ve become old and bent.  My skin is like that of a lizard, dry and scaly, with brown spots.  I’ve loved being naked in the sun and it has left its marks on my body but I don’t care.  He was my lover and I cherish his touch still.  I haven’t become famous.  No best seller came from my notes; no following.  People came here to dig with me, and left to seek fame and fortune.  Some managed it, returning to tell me about it.  Some even provided funds so I could remain here, on my wind-swept plateaus digging up ghost stories; me, the crazy Canadian who should have been more at home on the snowy wilds of northern Canada, than here. 

To the local people, I am “loca perdida” or the crazy one, though many come just to be with me, or to listen to my stories.  They come to get me sometimes, either with a jeep, or even a donkey, and take me to a village feast so they can hear some of my stories about their ancient peoples.  They seem to have no difficulty believing me, and I have wondered about that.  Do they also listen in time? They “pay” me in food, or in new blankets for my tents or shelters.  Good people, all of them.  I’ve always felt safe here; not sure I could have managed that in cities where people crowd unhappily together, hardly ever getting to know each other though rubbing shoulders every day.  How sad is that life, I think.

Here I remain.  Here I belong for my body’s time being.  Here I taught myself to listen in time and it is here that I will die so another archaeologist, another time listener, can find bits and pieces of my presence in this place and unearth my own story – a story that will have meaning only to her and the few who carry our vision of living in time.  

How I wish I could express, in words, how blessed my life has been and how much I look forward to new digs out there in the stars, knowing that when I sit down and look up I will see more stars.

There Are Times…

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~   ]

There are times when, as I read stuff, I wish I was an Android with a hard drive instead of a leaky human brain so I could store all the information and have it “there” at my fingertips (so to speak) when I think about something, or quote something I’ve read, with full ability to regain the context of it.  “Sigh!” – it doesn’t seem to be happening.  Oh well, at least I have learned to speed things up in collecting information; to turn my email program (that wonderful Microsoft Outlook 2002 which nothing can touch for clarity and efficiency) into a library of congress sort of filing system…

Here are a few “odds ‘n ends” from my eclectic collection of thoughts and ideas and word imagery.

CRONY CAPITALISM is a term describing an economy in which success in business depends on close relationships between business people and government officials. It may be exhibited by favoritism in the distribution of legal permits, government grants, special tax breaks, or other forms of state interventionism.

THEREMIN:  electronic musical instrument played without touching, invented by a Russian physicist, Leon Theremin circa 1919 (patented in 1928).  Used in popular music of many movie soundtracks.

ANODYNE PHRASE is a weak statement intended to hide an ugly truth. Another name for that would be political correctness.

UTILITARIANISM: Doctrine that the useful is the good; especially as elaborated by Jeremy Bentham and James Mill; the aim was said to be the greatest happiness for the greatest number. (Imagine that!  The more you slave for your elites, the happier you will be!)

THE EASIEST WAY to solve a problem is to deny its existence (Isaac Asimov)

ELECTRICITY is NOT an energy SOURCE.

IF THE CIA ever told the truth, it would genetically implode (David Icke)

THE GREAT PYRAMID weighs 6 million tons; covers 13 acres; is 750’ per side; 481’ tall and contains over 2.5 million individual blocks of stone.  None of this answers my question: why was it built, and by whom?

AMERICAN EXEPTIONALISM:  the US’s power to make and break deals world-wide with no accountability to results.

I AM WRITING the book of human sins.  When I’m done I’ll cast it into the fire and all their sins will be gone. (The Island – Russian movie)

THE UNTIED NATIONS – once known as the United Nations…

BRICS nations: Brazil, Russia, India, China, S. Africa.

IDIOCRACY:  It’s hard to be smart with so many dopamine-producing distractions and so much online approval for our uneducated opinions. (from a Joel Stein article in Times magazine)

DONALD TRUMP, proud President of Saudi America.

EGREGIOUS:  conspicuously and outrageously bad or reprehensible (and didn’t I just mention Donald Trump?)

ECONOMICS is not a science, it’s a set of values pretending to be science.

IT’S DISCOURAGING to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit (Noel Coward)

IT IS MY OPINION, subject to change only under extreme duress, that mankind (Earthians as my Teachers call them) were genetically engineered and remain unnaturally so.  That tends to explain a few ridiculous things the species clings to as if its survival depended on them, like Religion, Politics and Money. 

SOME WORDS that need re-defining:  salacious means lust or moral looseness whereas pulchritude means a physically beautiful woman.  I would turn those definitions around.  Salacious sounds so much nicer than pulchritude, I mean, really…

PRECARIAT: the growing majority population whose lives are marked by precariousness, lack, anxiety and fear.

USSA, acronym for United Slave States of America.  Another acronym that needs no interpretation: UKKKA.

PSYCHIATRY is the science of lies. (Thomas Szaz)

FEDERAL RESERVES is a parasite.

THE SUREST SIGN that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that it has never tried to contact us. (Bill Waterson)

WHY THE MILITARY needs so much money to accomplish so little is explained by this military description of a screwdriver – “rotational torque-adjustable fastener applicator.” 

WHEN FACTS don’t fit preconceptions, deny the facts.

US DIPLOMACY can be fully explained in three words: Convert, Co-opt, Conquer.  

A FORTNIGHT is 14 consecutive days, or two weeks.  (Go figure that one out!)

DEMOCRACY is a chimera invented to keep the bottom dwellers in their place without having to resort to police state brutality or chancing violent revolutions.  Democracy and Capitalism are diametrical opposites, but who notices these little things?

PEOPLE in general have an innate need to find something larger than themselves to be a part of. (Matthew Quirk)

CANT: stock phrases become nonsense through endless repetition.

AD HOMINEM: appealing to personal considerations rather than to facts or reason.

TUGAREZ VRAS means “Thank you” in Breton.  (That should be my mother tongue but my parents didn’t use it so defaulted to French.  Life can be so unfair…)

… and finally, let’s give full credit to computerization when it is due.  In looking up the word “eclectic” in my Wordweb dictionary using the control-right click sequence, this was the result: word not found:  “Lrzlililfiwlectiifrzlfilnrs”  – I couldn’t make that up!  (Maybe I should re-think that android brain?) 

 

The Dance of Death – article by Chris Hedges – from “Truthdig”

My short intro to the article, “The Dance of Death”

Have we entered into another “millennium madness” when the powers that be have destroyed society and we are about to plunge headlong into the terror that immediately precedes and follows the inadmissible truth: that society has lost it’s raison d’être and needs to destroy itself in order to begin again with a new modus operandi?  As the article below describes vividly, have we entered into the spirit of Thanatos, the death instinct of a global civilization?

If that is the case, what does one do, here and now? If society is going to commit suicide and nothing can stop it, is there any point in struggling against the elites’ madness which can only give them more time to enjoy their immoral pursuits purchased through every sort of illegal shenanigan and millions of deaths?

What would a truly wise person do, knowing this is indeed the case; having admitted that global society is in exponential decline and once again dancing the dance of death?

{Posting the entire article here to save you having to jump through the “link hoops” of web surfing…}

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The Dance of Death | Truthdig

“…Sigmund Freud wrote that societies, along with individuals, are driven by two primary instincts. One is the instinct for life, Eros, the quest to love, nurture, protect and preserve. The second is the death instinct. The death instinct, called Thanatos by post-Freudians, is driven by fear, hatred and violence. It seeks the dissolution of all living things, including our own beings. One of these two forces, Freud wrote, is always ascendant. Societies in decline enthusiastically embrace the death instinct, as Freud observed in “Civilization and Its Discontents,” written on the eve of the rise of European fascism and World War II. …”


Chris Hedges

The Dance of Death  (Chris Hedges)

Posted on Mar 12, 2017

Mr. Fish / Truthdig

The ruling corporate elites no longer seek to build. They seek to destroy. They are agents of death. They crave the unimpeded power to cannibalize the country and pollute and degrade the ecosystem to feed an insatiable lust for wealth, power and hedonism. Wars and military “virtues” are celebrated. Intelligence, empathy and the common good are banished. Culture is degraded to patriotic kitsch. Education is designed only to instill technical proficiency to serve the poisonous engine of corporate capitalism. Historical amnesia shuts us off from the past, the present and the future. Those branded as unproductive or redundant are discarded and left to struggle in poverty or locked away in cages. State repression is indiscriminate and brutal. And, presiding over the tawdry Grand Guignol is a deranged ringmaster tweeting absurdities from the White House.

The graveyard of world empires—Sumerian, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Mayan, Khmer, Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian—followed the same trajectory of moral and physical collapse. Those who rule at the end of empire are psychopaths, imbeciles, narcissists and deviants, the equivalents of the depraved Roman emperors Caligula, Nero, Tiberius and Commodus. The ecosystem that sustains the empire is degraded and exhausted. Economic growth, concentrated in the hands of corrupt elites, is dependent on a crippling debt peonage imposed on the population. The bloated ruling class of oligarchs, priests, courtiers, mandarins, eunuchs, professional warriors, financial speculators and corporate managers sucks the marrow out of society.

The elites’ myopic response to the looming collapse of the natural world and the civilization is to make subservient populations work harder for less, squander capital in grandiose projects such as pyramids, palaces, border walls and fracking, and wage war. President Trump’s decision to increase military spending by $54 billion and take the needed funds out of the flesh of domestic programs typifies the behavior of terminally ill civilizations. When the Roman Empire fell, it was trying to sustain an army of half a million soldiers that had become a parasitic drain on state resources.

The complex bureaucratic mechanisms that are created by all civilizations ultimately doom them. The difference now, as Joseph Tainter points out in “The Collapse of Complex Societies,” is that “collapse, if and when it comes again, will this time be global. No longer can any individual nation collapse. World civilization will disintegrate as a whole.”

Civilizations in decline, despite the palpable signs of decay around them, remain fixated on restoring their “greatness.” Their illusions condemn them. They cannot see that the forces that gave rise to modern civilization, namely technology, industrial violence and fossil fuels, are the same forces that are extinguishing it. Their leaders are trained only to serve the system, slavishly worshipping the old gods long after these gods begin to demand millions of sacrificial victims.

“Hope drives us to invent new fixes for old messes, which in turn create even more dangerous messes,” Ronald Wright writes in “A Short History of Progress.” “Hope elects the politician with the biggest empty promise; and as any stockbroker or lottery seller knows, most of us will take a slim hope over prudent and predictable frugality. Hope, like greed, fuels the engine of capitalism.”

The Trump appointees—Steve Bannon, Jeff Sessions, Rex Tillerson, Steve Mnuchin, Betsy DeVos, Wilbur Ross, Rick Perry, Alex Acosta and others—do not advocate innovation or reform. They are Pavlovian dogs that salivate before piles of money. They are hard-wired to steal from the poor and loot federal budgets. Their single-minded obsession with personal enrichment drives them to dismantle any institution or abolish any law or regulation that gets in the way of their greed. Capitalism, Karl Marx wrote, is “a machine for demolishing limits.” There is no internal sense of proportion or scale. Once all external impediments are lifted, global capitalism ruthlessly commodifies human beings and the natural world to extract profit until exhaustion or collapse. And when the last moments of a civilization arrive, the degenerate edifices of power appear to crumble overnight.

Sigmund Freud wrote that societies, along with individuals, are driven by two primary instincts. One is the instinct for life, Eros, the quest to love, nurture, protect and preserve. The second is the death instinct. The death instinct, called Thanatos by post-Freudians, is driven by fear, hatred and violence. It seeks the dissolution of all living things, including our own beings. One of these two forces, Freud wrote, is always ascendant. Societies in decline enthusiastically embrace the death instinct, as Freud observed in “Civilization and Its Discontents,” written on the eve of the rise of European fascism and World War II.

“It is in sadism, where the death instinct twists the erotic aim in its own sense and yet at the same time fully satisfies the erotic urge, that we succeed in obtaining the clearest insight into its nature and its relation to Eros,” Freud wrote. “But even where it emerges without any sexual purpose, in the blindest fury of destructiveness, we cannot fail to recognize that the satisfaction of the instinct is accompanied by an extraordinary high degree of narcissistic enjoyment, owing to its presenting the ego with a fulfillment of the latter’s old wishes for omnipotence.”

The lust for death, as Freud understood, is not, at first, morbid. It is exciting and seductive. I saw this in the wars I covered. A god-like power and adrenaline-driven fury, even euphoria, sweep over armed units and ethnic or religious groups given the license to destroy anything and anyone around them. Ernst Juenger captured this “monstrous desire for annihilation” in his World War I memoir, “Storm of Steel.”

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A population alienated and beset by despair and hopelessness finds empowerment and pleasure in an orgy of annihilation that soon morphs into self-annihilation. It has no interest in nurturing a world that has betrayed it and thwarted its dreams. It seeks to eradicate this world and replace it with a mythical landscape. It turns against institutions, as well as ethnic and religious groups, that are scapegoated for its misery. It plunders diminishing natural resources with abandon. It is seduced by the fantastic promises of demagogues and the magical solutions characteristic of the Christian right or what anthropologists call “crisis cults.”

Norman Cohn, in “The Pursuit of the Millennium: Revolutionary Messianism in Medieval and Reformation Europe and Its Bearing on Modern Totalitarian Movements,” draws a link between that turbulent period and our own. Millennial movements are a peculiar, collective psychological response to profound societal despair. They recur throughout human history. We are not immune.

“These movements have varied in tone from the most violent aggressiveness to the mildest pacifism and in aim from the most ethereal spirituality to the most earth-bound materialism; there is no counting the possible ways of imagining the Millennium and the route to it,” Cohen wrote. “But similarities can present themselves as well as differences; and the more carefully one compares the outbreaks of militant social chiliasm during the later Middle Ages with modern totalitarian movements the more remarkable the similarities appear. The old symbols and the old slogans have indeed disappeared, to be replaced by new ones; but the structure of the basic phantasies seems to have changed scarcely at all.”

These movements, Cohen wrote, offered “a coherent social myth which was capable of taking entire possession of those who believed in it. It explained their suffering, it promised them recompense, it held their anxieties at bay, it gave them an illusion of security—even while it drove them, held together by a common enthusiasm, on a quest which was always vain and often suicidal.

“So it came about that multitudes of people acted out with fierce energy a shared phantasy which though delusional yet brought them such intense emotional relief that they could live only through it and were perfectly willing to die for it. It is a phenomenon which was to recur many times between the eleventh century and the sixteenth century, now in one area, now in another, and which, despite the obvious differences in cultural context and in scale, is not irrelevant to the growth of totalitarian movements, with their messianic leaders, their millennial mirages and their demon-scapegoats, in the present century.”

The severance of a society from reality, as ours has been severed from collective recognition of the severity of climate change and the fatal consequences of empire and deindustrialization, leaves it without the intellectual and institutional mechanisms to confront its impending mortality. It exists in a state of self-induced hypnosis and self-delusion. It seeks momentary euphoria and meaning in tawdry entertainment and acts of violence and destruction, including against people who are demonized and blamed for society’s demise. It hastens its self-immolation while holding up the supposed inevitability of a glorious national resurgence. Idiots and charlatans, the handmaidens of death, lure us into the abyss.

 

Quotes to Live by (from a friend)

Maybe the reason nothing seems to be ‘fixing you’
is because you’re not broken.
Let today be the day
you stop living within the confines
of how others define or judge you.
You have a unique beauty and purpose; live accordingly.”
~ Steve Maraboli

“Don’t be pushed by your problems,
be led by your dreams.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Stay committed to your decisions,
but stay flexible in your approach.”
~ Tom Robbins

“When you forgive,
you in no way change the past
but you sure do change the future.”
~  Bernard Meltzer

“The power of the people is greater
than the people in power.”
~ Cory Booker

“Work for a cause, not for applause.
Live your life to express, not to impress,
don’t strive to make your presence noticed,
just make your absence felt.”
~ Author Unknown

“Let go of the idea of winning or losing.
In the game of life,
the most important thing
is just showing up and doing your best.”
~ Domonique Bertolucci

“Don’t give up now.
Chances are, 
your best kiss,
your hardest laugh,
and your greatest day
are still yet to come.”
~ Author Unkown

“I cannot let the fear of the past color the future.”
~ Julie Kagawa

“Everyone is different and everyone has a talent.
And if we put all those talents together,
it can make something
that no one’s ever thought of before.”
~ Sasha Etheredge

“I don’t really mind being
a “tree hugger”.
Trees give us oxygen,
and that might actually warrant a hug,
or even two.”
~ Jerrell Goodpaster

“Don’t become preoccupied with
your child’s academic ability.
But instead,
Teach them to sit with those sitting alone.
Teach them to be kind.
Teach them to offer help.
Teach them to be a friend to the lonely.
Teach them to encourage others.
Teach them to think about other people.
Teach them to share.
Teach them to look for the good.
This is how they will change the world.”
~ Author Unknown

 

Experiencing Wearing Down

   [thoughts from   ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara]

When we’re young it’s basically impossible to consider life past, say, the age of 50.  Now so many of us live in what was then called “old age” in better or worse financial and health conditions.  I just watched “The Notebook” movie again – probably for the 5th time at least.  I’ll never get tired of that story, it’s so well told.  You’d think that a love relationship with such stormy and crazy beginnings wouldn’t have any hope of succeeding.  But in this story, it does, and it’s ending is wonderful and perfect.

I like a line James Garner says in the movie: “I’m experiencing wearing down.”  Many people feel that way in my age bracket.  We are indeed wearing down.  A whole gamut of emotions follows this wearing down.  For some it’s a blessing, for most, I’d say it’s never acknowledged, and for others, it is feared and fought to the end.  It does mean that we are approaching our rendezvous with death.  However poetically one phrases that, it is not a pleasant thought – honestly.

I am of those, perhaps having been raised quite strictly religious, who not only believes that life goes on beyond the body, but that it does so in full consciousness and “I” continue to live my life, replete with choices and destiny.  Later, when I overcame the need for religion, and the need to be totally dependent upon the caprices of some god, the inner knowing that life is eternal and infinite did not go away with my religion.  It was, in fact, the one thing from my religion(s) that remained true, if only for me.  (I think that in the realm of eternity, such choice to believe or not is entirely up to an individual, a sacred belief that no one has the right to either deny anyone, or force on anyone.)

Does that awareness make it easier to face the reality of death?  Not for me.  I don’t like the idea at all, even if, being of those who remembers past lives, I’ve gone through the process before.  It is the place where one, alone and helpless, faces the ultimate stripping of attachments to this life.  

For those who cannot believe in continuance, death is the end.  The termination of all awareness.  That, to me, would be unbearable.  I think one has to be incredibly courageous to meet death with such stoicism.  

For those, like myself, who “know” (as in some sort of unshakeable awareness) that life continues, the passage nevertheless is fraught with questions and trepidation.  I know, for example, of the many things I did (in this one life) that makes me a poor candidate for any sort of, shall we say, graduation to something better.  Countless thoughts, words and deeds must be there, ready to accuse me.  Is there some balance, some way that thoughts, words and deeds of the non-selfish variety can outweigh the others?  I honestly do not know.  There must be justice, that I know.

So as I inevitably wear down; as I come closer and closer to death (of the body) I ponder such things.  I don’t know what to expect, not exactly.  I have some ideas, some thoughts, on the matter but where are the facts? 

There aren’t any.  So what do I have to offer, if indeed some sort of judgment is in the offing?  Very little.  I can offer a changed life, from selfishness to detachment and self-empowerment in order to practice compassion and develop empathy.  I can offer forgiveness, certainly, that having been one of the easiest lessons to learn.  I can offer my personal commitment to my chosen purpose of a life lived to serve others – however much that effort remains wanting.  Beyond that, I have nothing to give in exchange for some sort of pass.  Perhaps that “nothingness” is what is needed?

Life is truly short and throughout its meteoric passage it never stops from asking us to make meaningful and life-affirming choices in all things.  If only we weren’t so spiritually and mentally deaf to the teachings we are given so freely, and all the time.  If only such would suffice to turn us from our baseless fears and selfishness that make us such bad stewards of our world and of those who need our compassion now more than ever just to survive.  If only… 

Quotes: 

“Throughout history, empires and civilizations have collapsed once they degrade the environment below its capacity to carry the human footprint imposed on the environment.” – Paul Craig Roberts

“When you are small, if you reach out, and nobody takes your hand, you stop reaching out, and reach inside, instead.” — Amanda Eyre Ward

“Nothingness is a sigh of eternity, a casual avowal of the infinite.” —  Edmond Jabès, The Book of Resemblances.