Thursday, November 26, 2009

In the words of the masters on the day of thanksgiving

Do not attach yourself to any particular creed exlusively, so that you may disbelieve all the rest; otherwise you will lose much good, nay, you will fail to recognize the real truth of the matter. God, the omnipresent and omnipotenet, is not limited by any one creed, for, he says, "Wheresoever ye turn, there is the face of al-Lah" (koran 2:109). Everyone praises what he believes; his god is his own creature, and in praising it he praises himself. Consequently he blames the beliefs of others, which he would not do if he were just, but his dislike is based on ignorance.
-Ibn Al-Arabi, Futuhat al-Makkiyah (The Meccan Revolutions)

This organic, constitutional, sensory oddity, in which Albert Corde's soul had a lifelong freehold, must be grasped as knowledge. He wondered what reality was if it wasn't this, or what you were "losing" by death, if not this. If it was only the literal world that was taken from you the loss was not great. Literal! What you didn't pass through your soul didn't even exist, that was what made the literal literal. Thus he had taken it upon himself to pass Chicago through his own soul. A mass of data, terrible, murderous. It was no easy matter to put such things through. But there was no other way for realityto happen. Reality didn't exist "out there". It began to be real only when the soul found its underlying truth.
-Saul Bellow, The Dean's December

It seems there's a connection between the true subjectivity of the God concept and this notion that literality is in the surficial interpretations of reality or whatnot that are not taken into and then followed through the soul. That it is this process of soul searching, if you will, that transforms the superficiality of literalism created through some merely rational or maybe emotional process into true understanding. This is the process of subjectivification that might somehow go beyond subjectivity. Maybe. Or something.

Anyway, a day of thanks and praises to be sure, but let us not forget that the history of which this day marks the beginning of, the history of the founding of the American nation, is a history of oppression, forced removal, and the wholesale slaughter of the native peoples of this land. It is a history of slavery, disenfranchisement, and intolerance. If we are to move beyond these disastrous failings of moral being, then we must not ever forget. Forgetting the too painful truths of this history can and has and will only lead us back into the darknesses of immorality and ignorance.

But still, to thanks and happiness and blessings and good feelings and family and friends and good food and stiff drinks and all that good stuff. Go forth and be ye merry, for there is a time for all things under the sun.

Purity and impurity, sloth and diligence in worship,
These mean nothing to Me.
I am apart from all that.
Ways of worshipping are not to be ranked as better
or worse than one another

Hindus do Hindu things.
The Dravidian Muslims in India do what they do.
It's all praise, and it's all right.

It's not I that's glorified in acts of worship.
It's the worshippers! I don't hear the words
they say. I look inside at the humility.
That broken-open lowliness is the Reality,
not the langauge! Forget phraseology,
I want burning, burning
Be Friends
with your burning. Burn up your thinking
and your forms of expression!
-Jalal ad-Din Rumi, Masnawi

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The trinity

The trinity reminded Christians that the reality that we called "God" could not be grasped by the human intellect. The doctrine of the Incarnation, as expressed at Nicaea, was important but could lead to a simplistic idolatry. People might start thinking about God himself in too human away: it might even be possible to imagine "him" thinking, acting, and planning like us. From there, it was only a very short step to attributing all kinds of prejudiced opinions to God and thus making them absolute. The Trinity was an attempt to correct this tendency. Instead of seeing it as a statement of fact about God, it should, perhaps, be seen as a poem or a theological dance between what is believed and accepted by mere mortals about "God" and the tacit realization that any such statement or kerygma could only be provisional.
Karen Armstrong-A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

The idea of an all powerful, all knowing God becoming mortal, frail, and human is itself an incomprehensibility. It reflects the broader classic theosophical paradox of freewill (how does an all powerful being limit that power?), which has been struggled over without ever being fully answered successfully. And that's essentially why faith is the key to religion. The human mind is incapable of producing a logical or rational answer to the question that would be satisfying to someone whose attitude was not already receptive to the idea.

Which is sort of the point. The experience of religion is meant to go beyond the intellect. This is why Eastern spiritual systems tend to include intellectually incomprehensible concepts such as everything is emptiness. Trying to understand sunyata in an intellectual way only leads so far. In the same way, trying to understand how a god could become a man could only lead so far. The symbolic power of this incomprehensible idea is clear in the enduring nature of Christianity as a religious force.

The word Kerygma is a Greek word that means a kind of public teaching. It was the apparent teachings of the church. Originally, this was contrasted with dogma, which meant the hidden teachings (the mysteries, sort of). The word dogma used to have this mystical connotation. The change really occurred during the late medieval period as Aristotelian ideas were being reintroduced to European Christians through new translations of Plato and Aristotle previous lost to the Latin world as Spain was reconquered from the Moors by European Christians (and subsequently all religious freedom that had existed under Moorish rule vanished in a flash, and death, torture, and forced conversion destroyed or displaced much of the Jewish and Muslim populations of the Iberian peninsula).

The introduction of Aristotle's metaphysics would turn the medieval conception of reality on its head. The reality of that period was what Paul Tillich calls mystical realism. The idea was that the world we experience was not the ultimate reality. The reality of the divinity (which theologically drew much from Plato's phenomenological ideas of form over substance) was the true reality. Aristotle argued that substance has primacy over form, and Thomas Aquinas took that into his own philosophy. William of Ockham would take this to it's logical conclusion, building the basis of later positivism that was then called nominalism. A belief that not only is substance first, but it is all there is. Abstractions and universals were merely mental constructs.

At the time, while nominalism had great value in the realm of science and math, what it meant for religion was the shifting of the locus of attention in church doctrinal dogma from a spiritual plain of what were essentially theological attempts to understand the incomprehensibility of God to the physical plain of the authority of the church. Dogma took on the connotation of edicts of the established Catholic church, which were more or less inviolable. The mystical world in which the reality of God's logos (word or law [the logos was a Greek idea {the actual word can be translated in many different ways} that had been fused with the concept of the holy spirit]) was in all things began to wash away, and, with the reformation and the enlightenment, the mystic nature of life and existence receded into the background.

One of the great dangers of the idea of a personal God is the anthropomorphic tendency to make God in the image of a man. The idea of God as a father, for example, should always be understood to be, at best, a metaphor for some inexpressible thing. Otherwise, as Armstrong points out, we attribute our own ways of thinking to God, which is always a kind of blasphemy.

It's probably kind of obvious where I'm going with this. Intolerance as divinely inspired is quite clearly a case of the loss of a mystical understanding of the incomprehensibility of the concept of God, and that's the prerogative of free peoples to be sure. Where we come into difficulty is when attempts are made and executed to translate personal beliefs that are intolerant into public policy.

In this way, the fundamental principle of liberty (as individual liberty bounded by constraints of sociality [my liberty should not infringe on your liberty and vice versa]) is then subverted.

The American founding, which was done through the displacement of the native populations of the continent through disease, debt, and warfare, is the classic example of this type of thinking. The European settlers believed that this land, already in the possession of various loose confederations of native tribes who had been living here for thousands of years, was their divine right, a kind of new Eden that God had bestowed upon them. One of the ways that God manifested his personal blessing for those settlers was through the deaths of the natives at the hands of diseases carried from fetid European cities. A personal God, when he's your personal God, can act in this way. And you see the things that you do, for example kill and exploit native populations, as the will of God.

But God's will can't be understood by humanity. God doesn't even have a will per se. It's a matter of speaking. One meant to attune the listener to the potentialites of the godhead; not create the sense that my own desires, be they base or even evil, are my destiny because they are the manifestation of the will of God.

You, we, I cannot comprehend what the idea of God even is. We can't comprehend it. God is an incomprehensibility. And not an incomprehensibility in that incomprehensibility. And further not comprehensible in the comprehension of that incomprehensibility. Such that faith becomes an acceptance of the not comprehensible nature of the comprehension of incomprehensibility. And the comprehension of the not comprehensible nature of the comprehension of incomprehensibility, and on ad infinitum (the infinite cycle of incomprehensibility). Faith is the mystical matter of the personal state of being in the attempted comprehension but the known incomprehension of whatever it is that we mean when we use the word God. A word that is empty of all real meaning, as no human signification could in truth represent God.

The Western world seems to have long since forgotten this essential mystic element of religious symbology. God is a real person, a father who loves his children and punishes their enemies. Or he is dead. That literal father is such a ridiculous and so clearly a blasphemous idea that many walk away into cynicism. When in truth the value of the idea of God was in that mystic experience of the incomprehensibility of God.

I know I said I was done with the God talk for awhile, but I just can't leave it alone. The history is too brutal. I've been watching PBS's recreation of the displacement of native Americans by European settlers, We Shall Remain, and it's just such a God damned shame. I can't even begin.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Some Socrates and some thoughts

This is from Plato's Theaetetus. I've had his complete works sitting on the mantle of the (non-working) fireplace right in front the rest just waiting for a free moment.

SOCRATES: The art of the greatest representatives of wisdom-the men called orators and lawyers [my note (and politicians)]. These men, I take it, use their art to produce conviction not by teaching people, but by making them judge whatever they themselves choose. Or do you think there are any teachers so clever that within the short time allowed by the clock they can teach adequately to people who were not eye-witnesses the truth of what happened to people who have been robbed or assaulted?
THEAETETUS: No, I don't think they possibly could; but they might be able to
persuade them.
SOCRATES: And by 'persuading them', you mean 'causing them to judge', don't you?

THEAETETUS: Of course.

SOCRATES: Then suppose a jury has been justly persuaded of some matter which only an eye-witness could know, and which cannot otherwise be known; suppose they come to their decision upon hearsay, forming a true judgment: then they have decided the case without knowledge, but, granted they did their job well, being correctly persuaded?

THEAETETUS: Yes, certainly.

SOCRATES: But, my dear lad, they couldn't have done that if true judgment is the same thing as knowledge; in that case the best juryman in the world couldn't form a correct judgment without knowledge. So it seems they must be different things.

Now assume this jury is the American people. And assume that the current structures are failing or, at the very, very least, not anywhere near approaching optimal, and that that becomes a kind of generational robbery, as those structures not only allow for substantial environmental degradation but also fail to prepare and educate the next generation to continue the systemic optimization project (the infinite chain of being [in which immortality is glimpsed perhaps]). Wouldn't it also be in the best immediate interests of those lawyers (as per the time limits of human life), who in reality do make up the largest percentage of professional politicians and have since the end of feudal times here in the Occident (an idea from Max Weber's Politics as a Vocation), wouldn't it be in their rational interests to try to persuade people and also to persuade people to persuade people to decide based on hearsay to continue to tacitly support a verdict that was incorrect in order to maintain the same Ouroborian cipher of the waxing and waning of the human irrationality of true self interest (an approach that will by it's very definition limit the movement towards true knowledge [objectivity {the true self in it's proper relation to the true other}]). The maintenance of that pendulum of flailing humanity is a great source of personal power and wealth for such demagogues (and one of the points Socrates makes in Gorgias is that even further, if the persuaders themselves are not experts in anything other than persuading, while they may be able to persuade, they are highly unlikely to actually know or have any real valid answers) but is just really the status quo of a world of exploitation, inequality, and ignorance for us all.

And really democracy doesn't work when the American people don't have true knowledge, or at least are moving in the direction of true knowledge. And when the structures of that society are encouraging those people to in fact simply make decisions without thinking, which, this thinking, it takes education (it's one helluva process learning how to think. I don't feel like I'm even halfway there myself) and cultural commitment to the core process of seeking out true knowledge. We need to find the social will to search out the political and economic truths, which we must seek and maybe find in the forests of philosophy.

The map of that forest is hidden in the human mind. And hopefully in that map is the key to unlocking continually deeper objectivity, moving closer to true knowledge and understanding. That's what education is all about. And our education system is failing. And our public education system is rapidly becoming the worst in the western world, even as our private education continues to be the best. And this inequality is a clear indicator of a friction in the fabric of the structure, and relieving that tension in the bio-psycho-social web through the instruments of society ( businesses, governments, schools, etc.) requires conscious attention and coordination. We cannot be stupid about these problems, and we cannot in reality ignore them or pretend they are otherwise. They will not go away just because we wish on a star and believe the con games of the pols or the media persuaders or the corprocrats or their cadres of lawyers.

Regardless of who's lying to whom (and I suspect that anyone lying to the world is then also lying to themselves in probably not totally conscious ways, and also anyone believing the lies then also was firstly lying to themselves about some other maybe seemingly unrelated problem), it's a reinforcing cycle of compulsions, apathy, and helplessnesses that keeps us as a people from our own heroic efforts in service of the goals of knowledge and the understanding of objective reality.

Or something. It might just be me on that one (that sentence originally read: I might just be me on that one. Which I thought was amusing [I might indeed]). I don't entirely know about the heroic part for myself (but, course, my own megalomania keeps hope alive). Just the attributes of numbness. A common response to the insanities of modernity; a thing for which the human animal may have been intended (it was our destiny, right?), but for which it was not entirely designed.

How much do we entrust to human redesign? In moral and political minefields of, really, what should be philosophical leading (as where the hell else do you go for true knowledge? Am I right? Can I get a hell ya' we need to let the philosophers come to the fore? They couldn't be any worse than the lawyers [Oh. Wait. We don't have any damn philosophers anymore, just really semanticists rehashing ancient esoteric arguments in the languages of more modern analytics {Ya get whatcha pay for, America}]), in those fields, if it was really not just formulated by an elite but truly publicly formulated (if the whole population had some basic level philosophic ability), if you did have those democratic formulations in more direct or participatory ways, as really the more people working on these problems the better, the better directed our social resources and the development of those social resources might just be. All the research points in that direction. The average of a larger population's estimate is more likely to be correct than any one single estimate. But without something approximating true knowledge for all, there can be no likely redesign.

Actualizing and transforming the structures, from the businesses, to the partnerships, to the corporations, to the political bodies, with knowledge that hews more towards objective truth (an absolutely illusive and possibly asymptotic ideal for sure), that's really the trick. And it's an outside the box kind of thing, because you really have to be able to see beyond the current structurality. To the potentiality of future structure. (Everybody, say it with me: OR SOMETHING.)

And this is why seeing Ann Coulter talk about Sarah Palin being a true or a real American makes me so upset (not really upset so much as sends me off on a tangent all week about how dangerous this particular dualistic concept is). Because the very principle of the constitutional democratic movement, this whole western thing (which has always been half hearted and imperial), is about more voices, more cultures, not homogenization but the hetrogenization of the democratizing force of expanded consciousness (more knowledge). That's what the great political philosophers have been talking about in essence. And it's what's going to give us our best shot at a bright and sunny future. And the divisive, demagogic language of enthnocentrism and us versus them duality is just gonna slow us down. It is and will always be unproductive. Even as it might be personally lucrative to trade on this reinforcement of small mindedness and narrowly defined interests (a call to put the blinders of bigotry and hatred back on [Give in to the dark side]).

Now, course, translating philosophy into action is surely difficult, but if ever the basic structures of what might be useful in that process were in place it would be in a bureaucratic and technocratic structure of both a public and private sector as currently formulated. The physical structures are quite close, although clearly our energy infrastructures are all ridiculously outmoded. One might say antiquated. But in a realignment of the moral plain on which our political, public, and private structures are enacted maybe, there might be some leverage.

Okay then, I know that's not really a completed thought there about the potential of the current structure to be regenerated and not just chucked and we'll just start over. Still, I've gone about as far as I'm gonna go here on Sunday morn. I might just try for a run. Hadn't been able because of a winged scapula (alignment problem of the shoulder) that still causes some pain and a lot of discomfort even after doing physical therapy and all kinds of stretches for several months now. But I'm thinking it's a good day to give it a whirl. I've been getting down with the power walk, and, besides feeling like a yupmaster dork-a-tron, it's been good for the shoulder and the mental health and all that, but there's still nothing like a flat out run to get the ole' engine started.

Enough then.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

music etc.

I've got about eight different blog posts in various states of disrepair on various topics ranging the whole wide universe of ideas and experiences. Or something. I'll maybe finish the recent spate of unfinished posts though, maybe. It's like that. I roll on posting for a time, and then I want to work in a different format. Usually I want something longer. I'm not naturally anywhere near as brief as I am here. They say that thing about brevity though so, you know. I'll maybe try ta work on that sometime.

I will get back to Khanna's The Second World though because that man has got the geopolitical scholarship tied down tight. He does seem to miss how incredibly dangerous the endgame on the imperial expansions of current energy infrastructures is. Whether it's climate craziness or peak oil, that shit could very well go nuclear on us sometime in the not to distant if we're not careful with our future. And shit.

He is much too blithe about the oil problem for my taste. If we're at 100 million barrels a day, which is about right (his figure was 120 million by 2030, which is a 35% increase from now, so it's close if you average it out over that period), that's 36.5 billion barrels a year. He gives some general reserve estimates, which admittedly have almost without fail had to be revised up multiple times pretty much everywhere, and the largest reserves are in the several hundred billion range. My intuitive calculation on peak oil from these general numbers would be around 80 to 100 years (depending on the expansion of use and the accuracy of current reserve estimates). Honestly, I think it'd probably be better if there was less and we were being forced to be more serious about energy transition, but such is life. Nor does he acknowledge the concern over the improper use of groundwater that's leading to the serious problem of shrinking water tables or other of the serious environmental concerns of globalization. It is a book on politics though, but the proper and sustainable use of resources is a main political question, so in truth my assessment has to be that he ultimately misses the boat.

Anyway, I went to see some live music for like the first time in eons the other night and holy god is there something so, just, therapeutic and awesome about live music. It really does the soul good. One of the opening bands was this group called The Portland Cello Project, which is exactly what it sounds like, a group of cellists (?). I dig the idea of trying to bring different styles of music to different types of venues and all that, and they were pretty cool, turning songs from the video game Halo, Pantera, and Outkast into all cello pieces, but mostly the room just talks drunkenly over music that mellow in the more bar-like music venues, so the music it gets overshadowed by the cacophony of drunken conversations.

Still the main act, Thao w/ the get down stay down, was wond-a-ball, a lot of fun, and great, bubbly danceable music with lyrical darkness there under the surface, which is right up my alley.

So, good and much needed release of steam. I've been sort of trying to organize myself a little better with regards to scholastic and creative work, and it's an on-going process for sure. The true facts of our world though can be disconcerting to say the least. So it's always important to reground the self in the spirit and so forth, and live music and ecstatic dancing is the best way I know of to achieve that goal (though clearly there are many roads to the top of that mountain).

Still, I'll admit the question of subjective and intersubjective existence has been existentially weighing me down a bit lately and has been contributing to various difficulties with the necessaries of health and well being. Things to work on. Always more things to work on. Hmm. Sigh.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Returning from Amsterdam/Dynamic Structures/Life is life is life is life is

I'd been trying to organize my thoughts on the nature of living and what have you for some few days now since returning from Amsterdam Saturday. One of those thoughts was to play up potential confusions about what that statement might mean. A metaphoric Amsterdam that's more in line with what's in people's heads about Amsterdam. Course, the Amsterdam I'm talking about is an economically depressed former manufacturing town in upstate New York, and I can't really find my way to complex metaphorical intercombinations of conceptuality and actuality or any such things just in this particular moment right now.

It's been probably almost a month since my grandfather was shown across, but the reality of that fact was mostly lost to me until we finally placed his cremated remains in a hole in the ground this Saturday just gone.

The fact in now upon me and has taken hold in a seemingly unrelenting way. Even a whole day of playing with my nieces has only provided a momentary respite from a deep and endearing sadness that fills the very pores of my soul with a melancholic haze that refuses to lift. I spent the night Saturday at home drinking PBR and alternating between a sense of the radical impermanence of all and every thing and the full realization of the very real fact that some fine day that will be me that goes into the ground.

In that alternation of the sudden and on-rushing great anxieties of the imagination of my own last moments on this earth and this sense that nothing not even the deepest of meaning and profundity is anything but the fleetingest of momentary passing, everything seemed worn and shabby. The world was so dull and lusterless I thought it might drain of all color and that that might be an improvement, if not a lasting one, as what can last? What I ask?

And of course the megalomaniacal nature of the feelings released from this truly downcast occasion makes me dislike myself more than is normal, for being so concerned for my own death, for my own end. And that common transfixion (if perhaps heightened, if not so uncommonly so) of self that played or prayed upon my imagination for much of the night Saturday as I put myself in that final place of rest and watched as the horror of the realization of the end seized and made everything else insignificant, that base vanity of self love was just yet another weight in the balancing of the scale. The karmic balance of maybe just the interior of my skull, maybe just the turn of the screw, maybe just the chance of a peaceful final moment in life, maybe really in reality the difference between the gates of heaven and the depths of hell.

This would be the place where I derail into tangents on heaven and hell, James Baldwin's dictum that we pay for our sins by the lives we lead, the Hindu and Buddhist ideas about death, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Not so today. No, just this once I'm staying with the concrete and not tailing off into abstractive digressions, if also maintaining an all too sentimental tone.

My grandfather, my grampy, was, in his person, the kind of person that I would like very much to be. He was self-possessed and measured in everything. There was a level of attention, of concentration paid to the most minute detail of existence. And the thing that I will never forget and that draws from me still heaps upon heaps of tears is the light that was in his eyes, and of his soul.

There was a light that few possess, a light, an intensity, a great force of being that was not lightly earned.

After the funeral, as the family was all gathering ourselves to eat and then go our separate ways, my father passed around photocopies of these lists that my grandfather had made. He and his fellow prisoners of war had written out on tiny scraps of paper these long and intricate lists, and that had been in his bedside drawer until the last. They were lists of food. Different restaurants, recipes, all the different ways to cook potatoes. Lists of food.

In reality though they were lists of hope. And not the callow hope of political sloganeering. The hope that these young men themselves would not die in a German prison camp and would have the chance to see their loved ones and to break bread with those loved ones again in the everyday celebration of living. And he did get that chance. Six months after being captured at a forward position, the Russian army liberated the camp where my grandfather was held, and soon after that he was returned to the US army and on his way back to the bosom of his family.

I imagine he kept those notes to remind himself that every moment, every second of life is precious. Not one should be wasted or taken as a given. And the presence within himself of that constant reminder was what, I imagine, gave him such a light. I will always remember those eyes that shown as steady as a lighthouse, those eyes that revealed untold depths of being. I will remember the last time I looked into the depths of those eyes. The joy of living had not faded one bit at that time, that last time I saw my grandfather, even as his body was then already failing just back in early June.

The strangeness of burying a loved one on Halloween kind of occurred to me in the week leading up to the service. But it never really sunk in until I got home and people were all out dressed in all kinds of costumes and whatnot. In my neighborhood, because it's mostly apartments, people sit out on their front stoops with baskets of candy, and it's this really communal thing. And usually I do think that's top flight, but this night it just made me feel lonely.

It's been some fifteen years since I spent Halloween in a psychiatric facility. For many reasons, it was singly perhaps the most intense and indeed the craziest night of my life. (Actually, now that I think about it, being in a near riot on Halloween in a mental institution at 16 only really ranks as a crazy thing, not the craziest, which says a lot about the amount of crazy shiite I've done or that's happened since that time.) I've been variously diagnosed with major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder at various times by various different doctors, therapists, psychiatrists, what have you. And I've struggled with the dual weights of emotional turmoil and the stigma of mental illness and the imprint of adolescent institutionalization for all of the intervening years, never really able to talk honestly or openly about the neurologic storms that cast my mind high on the crests of hypomanic euphoria or low into the troughs of despondency and despair.

There has always been a concordant shame that comes with the lows, an idea of how idiotic I am for dwelling in the trough, for not fighting harder against the storm. But today I realized in what the idiocy was. It was not in not fighting but in the fighting itself.

Today I went to the grocery store. Even though the weight of unhappiness made my legs feel leaden, my mind numb, and my body electrostatically charged. Even as the verge of tears was like a swell behind my eyes. I went grocery shopping.

I didn't force myself as I've done so often to just do some little symbolic gesture of infulility even in the face of the blinding futileness I've felt. That sense that nothing has any real meaning. I didn't fight against the tide. I just made a list of foods to buy. A list of food. And I went. And I was okay. Everything was okay.

That's not to say that the feelings abated. I still feel charged with sadness, but that's okay too. It shall pass. I don't have to fight against it to get past it. But I do need to be willing to accept it, if you will allow me a moment of cheesy self-helpitude. I need to be present in my self, to remember the value of each moment, even the ones that wrench and seem to cast me out of my humanness. Or to cast me back into my humanness and out of my abstract self. Staying in the presence of a faith in the grace of life. Or something.

It is what is. In many ways it's a blessing not an illness. For me, at least. That's not to say that it doesn't make things difficult at times or that remaining unmedicated is the right or even a very safe answer (and there are all kinds of complications involved in this choice, which is just that, a personal choice, not some universal prescription, and there have been a few close calls for myself on both sides of that fence, so..), but it does make me acutely aware of the need for balance.

Life is a high wire act, even without genetic/neurologic/psychologic/sociologic complications (of which what life might not have at least one or two of those?). But it's too short to fool around with bullshit delusions about who or what we are. Too short to make false pretenses of some bland normalcy. And much too short not to do and be what makes you happy.

Cause when it all comes down to it, that may very well be all we get. We get now. Best enjoy it.

I get the sense from that light that my grandfather had that he did. He honored those lists and the men whose favorite foods were on those lists that never again got to eat them with their friends and families. The men and women who died on the forced marches. In the prison camps. In the gas chambers.

And at his grave side, as the marine in his dress blues played taps, the funeral director placed a small flag with a round plastic plaque that read US veteran into the ground. And I looked around, and I realized the cemetery was full of those same flags. We are burying the American generation that knows for true the horrors of war.

In the same way that my grandfather's death was not real to me until his ashen remains were there before me, these wars we are fighting are not real to us unless we know those who've died and see the grief and devastation for ourselves. 150 dead. 200 dead. (All adding up to thousands and thousands who continue to die in the horrors of war.) It's just numbers. It's not real.

And so we forget. We forget the charred remains of Europe. We forget the mushroom clouds over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The burning jungles of Vietnam. The scorched deserts and cities of Iraq. The scorched earth of Pakistan and Afghanistan. We forget what most of us never really knew.

We forget how perilous is the balance of this world. For myself and those like me, we will never forget the primacy of balance. How delicate is that scale. It is the very fact of our lives. None of us, sane or otherwise, can ignore the realities of death and destruction, otherwise they have no weight to bear on the face of change.

Regeneration is a kind of watchword of mine. It's just something you have to do after a bout of depression, as the trappings of life, be they material, physical, philosophic, whatever, as they fall away like sand through an hourglass. But regeneration is not merely the domain of the depressive or the bipolar. It is the cycle of life both human and otherwise, and the structures of society must reflect that. Our structures should be dynamic and regenerative. Not static and degenerative. Only really changing after some problem is so bad it can't be ignored any longer. And then mostly in a hyper reactive expression of emotional outrage, not in some considered structural adjustments (in fact the nature of structure tends to be downplayed, especially here in the US but also throughout the west, because of the liberal philosophic tradition of individualist paradigms of personal freedom [as extended to corporate entities as well]).

Those words, dynamic structures, have been kind of stuck in my head all day. The idea of structural dynamism is one that, I feel, has to really seep into the structure of global society for there to be any chance for this project to work. As we begin to build one integrated planet our national structures must grow and, dare I say it, progress beyond there current forms of hopelessly compulsive self-interested action. The global society cannot be a selfish one. Otherwise, well otherwise, (as I've said just maybe once or twice here and there) it's Thunderdome.

The Thunderdome dilemma is real. It's not just me. I may be crazy, but I'm not a fool (in this particular way).