Sunday, March 22, 2020

I Speak For The Dead

It's always a dangerous thing to attempt to speak for others, but sometimes the attempt must be made. Those who have a voice must speak out against the injustices perpetrated against those who have none. People need to speak out against problems even when the victims themselves are unaware. Just because someone does not have a voice does not mean they have nothing to say.

As for me, I feel I must speak for the dead.

I feel the need to give voice to those who have passed on, our elders who are no longer around to give us their wisdom.

It is risky, channeling the voices of those who raised us, those who guided us through our early years and shared with us their principles and beliefs. It is even harder to attempt to speak for those we have only heard about, those who passed out of existence before we were ever born. And yet there stories were passed on to us, at least parts of them. I can only approximate what they would say, but I feel they would want me to make the attempt. Their lives had meaning, their experiences can guide us even as we make our way through a world quite different than the one they knew. 

I see many of the things my parents tried to teach me differently now that I am approaching the age I knew them to be. Some of what they told me makes more sense now, some of it has not proven to be wisdom. I do not judge them, they did the best they could to point me in a positive direction. But they did a good enough job that I would dearly love to be able to talk to them now, to hear their opinions on the issues I am facing and the issues our society is facing. Most of us think we'd have a good idea of what our parents would say if they were around today, but I’m guessing for most of us our understanding of what our parents believed was fashioned by our younger selves, that if we were able to speak with them now our understanding of what they were trying to teach us would grow deeper and would better be able to guide us in the present.
And for me, at least, I would love to hear their opinions of the society in which we live now. I’m guessing it would be different than what we’d expect, because we are creatures of our current environment and they were creatures of theirs. I can’t help thinking that if we would show what we consider to be modern marvels to many of our ancestors, they would consider them abominations. If we were to show them our water parks, they would ask “But where are the open fields, where are the woods?”
We are in an era where the present is constantly with us, where we are unable to touch the timeless because the outside world has infiltrated our homes. Newsmen and advertisers, social media and video games are working from within our places of sanctuary, demanding our attention, and while we connect with these electronic devices, we are disconnecting from any link we once had with our past, with our ancestors, and with the perspective that those of another era might be able to give us.
I challenge you to step out of the present for a moment. Find an old magazine where the pictures look different, where the color scheme is not what you’re used to. Grab an old novel and really feel where the author was coming from in an era that once wrote letters and waited days and weeks for a reply. Seek to understand a different culture, which after all is really your culture, your heritage.
Watch an old movie, where most store managers were actually store owners, where people went shopping in a dress shirt and tie instead of pajama bottoms. You don’t have to agree with the way everything was back then but you should at least attempt to understand it. And don’t watch a new movie that takes place in another era, because it will be filled with the biases of our own age.
Visit an antique store or a museum, gaze upon the tools people once used. Gaze upon an old lamp and consider how not only the technology but the perspective on how things were made was so different.

Gaze at an old picture, and see what it can tell you. Who were they, what would they say to us, what did they know that we did not?
Get connected to those who came before you. Because it is only in knowing who they were, the good and the bad, that you will have any real understanding of who YOU are. Pour through your memories, reflect upon what you can remember of them, reappraise what you understood when you were young and permit yourself to see the past in light of the present. Do this until you feel you now understood them better than you ever did before. Then let them speak through you. Their voices deserve to be heard.

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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Random Thoughts Part 29

If people were aware of how fun thinking is, I’m convince they would do much more of it. I cannot begin to tell you how amusing it can be to pick apart an official narrative in order to have the absurdity reveal itself to you.

The cancer inside of us screams its warning at the threat of the scalpel that lies without.

When you are able to understand the complicated, you have become intelligent, but it is only when you can relate it to the simple that you have become wise.

To the degree that you wall yourself off from the common person, you cannot claim to be for the people. If you live in a gated community that keeps out the average Joe, you are not what most would consider an American. You are foreigners. You are occupiers.

We waste our precious resources creating things that don’t make us happy, and we waste the precious hours we are given working to pay for them.

When I was young I would throw a rock into the water to see what kind of splash I could make. Now I am content to admire the placidity of the surface that mirrors back to us all that is.

The argument “If you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich?” makes as much sense to me as a weightlifter saying “If you’re so smart why can’t you bench 400?” Both require a degree of knowledge, no doubt, but being intelligent usually precludes an obsession with such goals.

A nation of people who only care about their own rights will soon find that only they care about their own rights.

Have you ever had the feeling you were in an old-school video game? Where people wait until you approach before stepping in your way? And when you take the time to talk to them, they repeat the exact same lines no matter how many times you encounter them?

I think of when I feel happiest in life, and it is invariably when I hear leaves rustling or waves lapping or the crunching of snow, when I encounter the smell of flowers or the sea, when I feel the sun or a gentle breeze upon my skin. Only nature is capable of providing true contentedness, and yet we make ourselves miserable searching for contentment elsewhere, destroying nature as we go.

If people were aware of how fun thinking is, I’m convince they would do much more of it. I cannot begin to tell you how amusing it can be to pick apart an official narrative in order to have the absurdity reveal itself to you.

People don't die from lack of art, cultures do.

I think it was easier for country folk to appreciate city folk when they made tractors and trucks. It is increasingly difficult to say just what city dwellers do for those who provide their food.

I have noticed on special occasions such as Christmas, when we make a point of being nice to each other and feeling love for our fellow man, we for the most part succeed.

Anyone who sees the problem is in another and not in himself, is part of the problem. Anybody who believes himself to be part of a group immune to sin, error, and ignorance, draws a fictional dividing line.

In the battle between truth and power, truth will invariably triumph, but the casualties can be immense, the damage unhealable.

Within every aging person somewhere lies the reassuring notion that they well may be old enough to check out before the shit hits the fan.

To truly be an adult, it is not enough to be able to merely take care of yourself, you must take part in maintaining and furthering the society to which you belong.

Fools are in the majority, and they never lack confidence because a fool believes that the majority is always right.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Fake Steak Sucks

Sometimes I think of how nice it must feel to believe that one of the two major parties is actually on your side, fighting for issues that matter to you. To believe it arrogance to think that the future might ever depend upon anything you will ever think, believe, say, or do. To believe that the future we all need will be ushered in by individuals born to lead and to rule, people we need only give our approval to. To sit on the sideline and shout our encouragement to those who battle it out in the arena for our benefit. 

But I have experienced that delusion, and I know that it has never made me happy. Because while I can lie to my conscious self, I know that I can never lie to my true self, my real self, my soul. While I tell my thinking mind that everything is okay and a certain breed of supermen and superwomen are shaping humanity's destiny as God or destiny instructs them, some part of me knows it is merely a story I tell myself in order to avoid speaking up, acting up, rising up. Holding on to such illusions has only ever caused me pain.

I am reminded of the traitor from The Matrix, the one who regrets having been awakened to the truth and is willing to betray all his friends and comrades in order to retreat to the security and small pleasures to be found in the illusion of the matrix. But I know, as one who used to eat fake food in the matrix, that it is better to experience all the horrors reality can inflict upon us for a brief taste of something real.

Awakened, I taste the fruits that I have raised in my meager little garden, recognizing them for the little miracles they are. I cherish each genuine connection that I have with other humans, recognizing them as part of the miracle of existence. I drink in the poems and prose, the lyrics and the music, the paintings and the movies made by those in touch with something beyond the matrix—and in turn I am in touch with the miraculous. And I realize that what I call miracles are merely those moments where I am face to face with reality, the matrix no longer standing between me and the awesome universe. Once one has experienced miracles—which is to say, once one has opened oneself up to miracles, to reality—one need never again fear gazing into truth. And once one has done that, the matrix no longer has appeal, offers no joy, no temptation. Having stepped outside the illusions, life is nothing but miracles.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Random Thoughts Part 28

If you’ve been certain that Putin had pee tapes he was holding over Trump’s head but never once considered that Jeffrey Epstein might have something similar on him, your opinions are not your own but mere echoes of what the media has told you.

Flint drinking water: Obama didn’t fix it. Trump Didn’t fix it. The next president isn’t going to fix it. Don’t even try to voter shame people. Why would anybody in Flint vote for a candidate that can even provide water?

In the transition from words in physical form to words we read on electronic devices, we lose two very important aspects of reading: 1. A book does not offer you a world of cheap distractions the way anything connected to the internet does and 2. Words on paper cannot be changed, whereas news articles etc. are constantly rewritten as soon as the words and ideas prove the writer a liar or a moron.

What did we intend to do differently in Syria than we did in Libya, which left that country a smoldering wreck and a haven for terrorists where open-air slave markets thrived?

In the relationship between humans and cell phones, I’m fairly certain which is the master.

Anybody who would pay $1.50 for a bottle of water is a moron and anybody who would sell it at that price is evil.

The problem with capitalism is that it is run by capitalists.

My expectations of the world are so low it would not surprise me to hear that Adam Sandler was making a sequel to Jack And Jill.

A lot of time we see the packaging and assume there must be an actual product. We look at the politician and automatically think he must stand for something. We think with so many words and such passion in their voices that there must be some importance and meaning somewhere, and that the problem lies with us for not understanding them. We seem to have forgotten that marketing was once able to make Pet Rocks a fad.

The atheist has a way of blaming God for allowing evil to exist while absolving man.

The Earth is you mother, not your whore.

From here on out, I’m totally okay with giving every U.S. President who doesn’t get us involved in a nuclear war a Nobel Peace Prize.

When the media says they looked into Biden’s son’s business deals in Ukraine and found no wrongdoing, who is “they”? Who decided that profiteering in a country where your dad helped overthrow a democratically elected government and install their own puppets is okay?

It costs a lot to live in our society even if you’re poor, because our society was not created with the poor in mind. No one can live a simple life, even if that is their preference. We don’t have a freedom to live as we choose, we only have the freedom to live as a rich person would choose.

The heart is capable of understanding what the intellect cannot, but it requires patience. Wisdom breathes deeply, slowly. But we live in a world where we only have time to understand with our minds, and even then we are fed information so quickly we don’t have time to sift through the information. So it is not even our intellect that is in charge of our decisions but the 5-second response aspect of our consciousness. This is the most primitive part of our psyche, and the most easily manipulated. It is not an accident our society has come to be shaped in this way.

Numbers don’t lie and guns don’t kill, but put numbers in the hands of a liar or a gun in the hands of a killer, and you have a bad situation on your hands.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

An Excerpt From Seven Stones Book Three: Stolen Soul

Stolen Soul

A Magic Show In 1923 Germany

A large box sat upon the dais, front doors opened to show it empty. Doug closed the doors and began placing items into the box from an open door in the top. Springs, cogs, vacuum tubes, all the building blocks of the dawning civilization. They clanked as they dropped into the box. When he was done, he closed the top of the box, stepped down from the dais, and approached a board of dials, gauges, and levers. He pulled a lever and the electrical pylons on either side of the box sprang once more to life, snapping their energy menacingly. The stage, the entire theater, pulsated in the flashing light, so that the audience could both see and feel what was going on. The result was an audience that felt both threatened and helpless. They were mere spectators of an event that could at any moment overwhelm them.

The lightning throbbed and arced, each pylon reaching out to the other. They met at the box in the middle, the one that contained the cogs and tubes. The very air seemed to fry as it carried along the electrical charge. Behind the box, vast cogs began to spin, unstoppable wheels of industry coming to life, energized by the pylons.

Something immense was being born. Something beyond the comprehension let alone control of mere humans. The man who had pulled the lever, who was now busily adjusting dials and gazing at gauges, was in the grip of the energy as much as any of the cogs. Strobing blue light revealed him lost in ecstasy. He was part of something larger, and it did not matter that it had taken control of him. His posture, his movements, the manic look on his face made it appear as though he was no longer a man at all but a part of the machine.

And just when the noise of machinery and crackling electricity had reached its crescendo, it accelerated. This was no show for humans, it was a spectacle they were forced to participate in. They were witnesses to the dawn of a world that was indifferent and hostile to them. Their only choices were to surrender or perish.

In the midst of the madness, a sudden final climaxing throb arose. Then suddenly there was silence and darkness. The effect was even more shocking than the chaos it followed. It left the audience without anything to hold onto, as if they had been carried up into the sky and then left to fall. But the figure at the control board flipped a switch, and two lights cast their illumination upon him and the box upon the dais.

After a moment, the small sound of an opening door could be heard. The front of the box was opening, slowly, almost painfully. The hinges of the front doors seemed to shriek in pain as they gave way, as if the lightning had fused the metal. The audience peered inside the box in anticipation, waiting in fear for what would emerge from the shadows within the box. Amid the darkness inside, sharp light glinted on something shiny and silver. As it emerged it became obvious that it was a woman and yet not so. She was beautiful and bright, and yet she was not human. She was a machine, and yet something more. She was a goddess. Untouchable. Inhuman.

Upon her was an air of imperiousness. The man who had created her was enthralled with what he saw. Here was a thing of beauty to be worshipped, though it was the work of his own hands.

It could not be denied she was beautiful, despite her unworldliness. She was austere and pure, unblemished by the world, not of it. Untouched by mortality or imperfection. She was everything humanity had attained to, and yet she was not human. She was physically ideal, and yet within her gaze and within her movement, one could see that she had no soul.

Her movements were slow and stiff, but majestic. Upon her diaphanous clothing, light shown like the aftereffects of the electricity that had given her life. And all the while the man at the control board look on, transfixed.

She made her way slowly towards him, and as she neared he fell to his knees in obeisance, in worship. He bowed his head to the floor in front of her. And yet, though he did not cast his eyes upon her, he rose when she commanded him to do so with a wave of her inhuman hand. He got to his feet, head still bowed, and followed her as she walked slowly towards the box. They both entered, then the doors shut of their own accord. Once more, the machinery sprang to life, no longer requiring a human operator. Once more, lightning flashed, puffs of smoke arising from the pylons. A smell of burnt flesh, sulfur, and oil hung in the air. And when at last the machinery was silenced, when the lights died to a single circle focused on the box upon the dais, the doors slowly opened to reveal nothing but darkness.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Conspiracy Theories: True, False, And Perhaps

There are two equally dangerous reactions to conspiracy theories: 1. Ceasing to even consider the arguments behind an idea the moment the conspiracy label is applied and 2. the tendency to believe all of them are likely true once the evidence for one becomes overwhelming. A conspiracy theory is, after all, merely a theory that two or more people conspired for a purpose. People do that all the time. To call something a conspiracy theory should not carry with it negative connotations.

It comes down to which type of conspiracy you are first introduced to, I suppose. If you are first introduced to a conspiracy theory that, after probing deeply, either is proven false or seems to be false, you will afterwards tend to dismiss whatever conspiracy you come across. You will have been inoculated.

Similarly, if you are introduced to a conspiracy theory that seems to hold true after extended investigation, you will be tempted to believe whatever conspiracy theory that is floated about must have some validity. You will have become infected.

The appeal of both is to our intellectual laziness. It is being exacerbated by the information overload that is unavoidable in this age. We are overwhelmed by both theories and propaganda from official sources, and we are left to ourselves to decide which side we tend to believe. And with the endless amount of leads to follow, it is not only convenient but necessary to dismiss facts in bulk, to cling to a mindset, opinion, or group of authorities in order to avoid ambiguity and the pain of not knowing.
The answer to this problem is in letting go of a need to have a definite opinion. Between yes and no, we can add the option of “I don’t know.” Egoically, this is an unsatisfactory answer. But ego has never been our friend.

Just think of what a boon to our society it would be for people to say “I don’t know” when engaging in an argument. True, too often “I don’t know” has been followed up with “and I don’t care”. This is a third form of intellectual laziness, I suppose. But more often failing to engage in debate stems not from disinterest so much as the idea that a debate must have a winner. That’s where “I don’t know” comes in handy. “I don’t know” is you admitting you don’t have the answers, and therefore don’t feel the need to win an argument.

People often say they don’t like social media because of all the arguments. That is precisely why I enjoy social media, so that I might argue with others, many of whom I do not know. It really is an unprecedented tool for communication and education. And despite the missteps many have taken in figuring out the unwritten rules of online communication, I truly believe humans are working their way towards understanding how communication with family/friends/strangers can work. We merely have to let go of rigid opinions in order to allow more facts to help us form a more sophisticated view of things.

In short, we should not hold rigid opinions so much as theories. Theories can be modified whenever new knowledge is introduced, whereas rigid opinions necessitate the molding of new knowledge to conform to biases. The braver course is always in laying out the information you possess and offering it to others. The smarter course is in listening to valid criticism and defending your position when it is legitimate, admitting flaws and incorporating new information when it is not. Not only will you convert more people to your position with this approach, you will make those around you more accepting of spirited debate. And I'm firmly convinced the world will be made better by the collective mind than by a few know-it-alls.

P.S. I'm pretty sure JFK was not killed by Oswald, Russian election interference is a laughable argument, and reptile aliens are NOT running our planet. I'd be pleased to have a friendly argument on the first two, not so much on the third.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Random Thoughts Part 27

Time and again they brag about how shiny their machine is and how fast it goes. But never do they bother to answer when you ask them where it’s going.

The difference between driving your car up a curb in order to run over a bunny rabbit and flying to Africa to shoot an animal is merely the degree of commitment required.

As insightful as The Matrix is, they got it wrong. It is the illusion that is always the painful place to live in, though it can appear to provide comfort or at least refuge. It is ALWAYS better to know the truth, because when you know the truth, the subtle lie does not weigh on your conscience, poisoning the sweetest joys that are available to even the poorest and most set-upon of us. 

Here is the paradox of life: if you want to stay young, you have to keep taking chances, but if you want to grow old, you will have to stop.

You really can’t blame people for making bad choices until you make sure they have good ones available.

When most non-Christians reject Christianity they concentrate on the mystical aspects while ignoring the revolutionary teachings of Christ. When most Christians embrace Christianity, they too concentrate on the mystical aspect while ignoring the revolutionary teachings of Christ. Both sides give lip service to such notions of non-violence, forgiveness of others, loving others as oneself, and a desire for peace. But somehow the message that Christ delivered not only in word but in example seems to be the elephant in the room.

Is it weird that I should be nostalgic for a past that was spent dreaming of the future?

As I grow older I come to regard all that is natural as miraculous and all that is manmade as suspect if not outright corrupting. Awe is to be found in nature, distraction is all one can find in the world made by humans. I despise the use of the word “awesome” being applied to anything created by humans with the exceptions of Notre Dame Cathedral and Anglagard’s first album.

Truth without power is a dangerous possession.

You ever get the feeling humans have fallen a little too in love with their technology? It is not too different from the story of Narcissus falling in love with his own reflection.

I sometimes get the feeling that the 17th Century will eventually wake up and realize human flight and the internet were just a crazy dream brought on by something they had eaten. After all what a silly notion it is to believe that at this moment there are people sitting comfortably in the middle of the sky accessing information instantaneously from all over the world. Wondrous stuff for a fantasy novel, though.

We all want to shape the world in our own image, and we all envision a world where people such as ourselves sit a bit above others and are revered. 

I’d rather be the quiet than the noise.

Science not in the service of nature is an abomination.

Man: A creature strong enough to destroy the earth, but not strong enough to save it.

It is best to treat everyone you know as an equal, because everyone you look up to will eventually disappoint you, and everyone you look down on will sooner or later humble you.

Numbers don’t lie and guns don’t kill, but put numbers in the hands of a liar or a gun in the hands of a killer, and you have a bad situation on your hands.

Sure, they call it a restroom, but you try taking a nap on the floor in one at a Barnes And Noble and people get all weird about it.