A Hyperanaphylaxis Universal Mean

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

ending tyrants

It will be equally forgotten that the vigor of government is essential to the security of liberty; that, in the contemplation of a sound and well-informed judgement, their interests can never be separated; and that a dangerous ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people than under the forbidding appearance of zeal for the firmness and efficiency of government. History will teach us that the former has been found a much more certain road to the introduction of despotism than the latter, and that of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people, commencing demagogues and ending tyrants.

-Alexander Hamilton, Federalist papers #1

Thursday, April 22, 2010


First comes knowledge,
then the doing of the job. And much later,
perhaps after you're dead, something grows
from what you've done.

This quote makes me smile:

Don't look for it outside yourself.
You are the source of milk. Don't milk others!

There is a milk fountain inside you.
Don't walk around with an empty bucket.

You have a channel into the ocean, and yet
you ask for water from a little pool.

Beg for that love expansion. Meditate only
on THAT.

I love the offbeat way he splits his phrasings at odd angles, jangled with the punctuation. His words remain powerful some 800 years after they were written. That (I'm going to go ahead and assume) is what he means by doing the job. It's not just a work-a-day make your money and get out kind of deal this work, this job worth doing. The job that we all should be doing. Creating something that lasts beyond our own selves and lives. That's what's worth striving for. The transformation of transcendant emanations. Or something. Anyway, I like Rumi. In the right frame of mind, he can really open up corridors of being that are quite lovely and wondrous.

Anyway again, this is a quote from the editors' description from a collection of R's stuff. It explains a kind of part of a sufi spiritual cosmology. It's a cool idea and one that fits well with my own (novel) project.

One sufi image of the lines of transmission (silsila) is a great branching rosebush that grows elegantly on many levels and within several worlds at once. Initiation and guidance come through the saints and keep the present moment dynamic and quivering with new growth. Majesty is that composite attention felt as a presence, dawn, a company of friends, a splendor that is prior to, and the source of, the universe. Rumi says it is a state of awareness best spoken of in terms of what it is not.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Sands of Iwo Jima

In any case, we were rip-roaring drunk, on top of which the speedometer was hitting fifty. What better reason for us to plow thorugh a park hedge, bulldoze over a patch of azaleas, and ram head on into a stone post? It was nothing short of sheer good fortune that neither of us was hurt.

When my head cleared from the shock, I kicked open the broken door and got out, only to find that the hood had been knocked clear off and landed thirty feet away in front of a monkey cage. the front of the car was indented neatly in the shape of the stone post, and the monkeys in the cage were most put out at having been so rudely awakened.

The Rat sat crumpled over, both hands on the wheel. Not hurt, just depositing the remains of the pizza he'd had an hour before onto the dashboard. I crawled up on top of the car and peered in through the sun roof over the driver's seat.
"You all right?"
"Uh-huh, a little bit too much to drink, though. Made me vomit."
"Man, Lady Luck's sure with us," said the Rat all of five minutes later. "I mean, look at us. Not a scratch. can you believe it?"
I nodded. "The car's a wreck, though."
"Hey, don't worry about it. you can buy another car, but you can't buy Lady Luck."
This put me off a little, and I gave the Rat a look.
"You that rich?"
"Seems so."
"Good for you."
The Rat didn't answer; he just kept shaking his head, dissatisfied. "Anyway, we're riding with Lady Luck."
"I guess so."
The Rat ground out his cigarette on the sole of his sneaker, then flicked the butt in the direction of the monkey cage.
"Hey, wouldn't we two make a team? Bet we could do great things."
"Like what for starters?"
"How about some beer?"
-Hear the Wind Sing, Haruki Marukami (Kodansha English edition translated by Alfred Birnbaum [my preferred translator of Maru's stuff])

It's been a while since I put on suit of my own clothes.
and even longer since I cast my shadow on a church house door
they say every sin is deadly, but I believe they may be wrong
I'm guilty of all seven and I don't feel too bad at all
I used to have wad of hundred dollar bills in the back pocket of my suit
I had a 45 underneath my coat, and another one in boot
Drove a big old Cadillac bought a new one everytime I please
And I put more lawmen in the ground, then Alabama put cottonseed
-The Drive-By Truckers, Cottonseed

Mike Cooley and Patterson Hood may be the greatest songwriters of our generation, and most certainly they're the most underrated. In my not-as-humble-as-it-probably-should-be opinion.

After taking a nice walk with the moms along a small section of Olmsted's Emerald Necklace and seeing the banks of Jamaica pond way overflowed, I headed home to head for the bed-e-bye, when I got a call from an old friend a mine from the 'phis (mem'phis), my friend Art.

The last time I saw Art he was part of the horn section for JJ Grey, who I happened to go see at the last minute, and there was Art, wailin' on the sax. We caught up after the show, and I told him to hit me up the next time he rolled through town.

Well, he rolled into town this past day as part of Lucero's horn section, and he told me if I was up for it to come down to the House of Blues cause he'd leave me a ticket at willcall. Course, I'm supposed to be at work, now in just about 2 hours, but I can tell you that's not happening.

Cause, course, I told Art, hellz rizza. Art and Lucero were opening for The Drive-By Truckers, and there was no way I was gonna let a little thing like work get in the way of the serious get down.

I can't remember the last time I saw a show. Okay, I do, actually. It was three days after my grandfather passed, and it was intense (w/Thao w/The Get Down Stay Down w/ The Portland Cello Project). But I've been dealing with this messed up shoulder for so long, which ironically was the result of a muscle imbalance in the back body and the side body (as the yogis have told me [or not really told me, but what I've put together from Yoga, physical therapy, and conscious attention to my physical being [Am I the only one who finds the paradox of the idea that the only way to truly transcend the illusion of reality is to become truly inter-physically mindful to be a hilarious tragedy?]).

So, while my shoulder's still tight, with a L of knots that traces the boundaries of left shoulder blade, I couldn't pass up free tickets to Langhorn Slim, Lucero, and The Drive-By Truckers. Or seeing Art, and Brian, and Ben again. I used to get blitzkrieged with Brain Venable on Sunday afternoons regularly when he played in a the uptown Jazz band down at The Map Room, and Art and I spent more than a few moments in the haze of craziness before, after, and during his shows with The Gamble Brothers; one of the first times I really found this thing, this crazed ecstatic flow in which I lost myself in the music and discovered the human bodies inherent ability to instantly translated spontaneously created sound into movement. The first time I realized that dancing was it, was all, was the thing for which I was placed on this earth to do (or the thing that for me is the ultimate in peak experiences [seriously, if I had to choose between dancing and sex, I'd probably choose dancing]).

And I can give you the whole thing. About how there are direct connections between the auditory cortex and the sensori-motor cortex, so, that if you develop and facilitate this (spiritual) practice, you can by-pass the neo-cortical rational processes and tap directly into the pure gleaned flow of life and existence thru that translation of sound into movement.

I could do that, but I, well, I just did, in the abbreviated form. Regardless, I knew, I felt, I sensed in the bark of my bones, that I needed to dance and find my way into the gruff growling purity of the dance. So, I told Art to go ahead and leave me a ticket.

And I went off to the HOB, blowing off work, and knowing that that was the right, nay, the only choice I had. I needed to get back to that place, that wildness of knowing that is the state of true wilderness in dance.

And Lucero were tight, great openers, and I started to really find my form, my lasting and never left connection between the music and my body; started to get myself back for wherever it is/was that I'd been gone to with all this with the intensity of purely non-stop research.

So, I had a drink with Art and Ben, and then the Truckers finally got underway. I wandered up towards the front and found a small place to move that was soon overrun, so I moved off, got a Jack and Ginger and then found a spot towards the back under the spotlight where there was room to move.

And so there I was, a blur of movement, a righteousness of intensity and spirit, a moment of pure transcendence that seemed to last beyond the bounds of infinity well farther beyond into the ranging bliss of sanyama/sunyata. If only for a second, if also within that second, if then actually immanating long drawn breaths of transcendence. If only for a second, or what felt like less than the time it takes for a second to pass. Yoking immanence and tanscendence within the bodily moving dancing melodic rythm of rumpus riffs and pure rock'n'roll (call it indie if you care to). Blurring into a bursting, following the curse of blessed takenness. Lost in guitar riffs, dissonance, and beauty. Lost in the dance. For the first time in much too long.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


I'd just remembered that there was a link to some of David Foster Wallace's writings for Harper's, and I went over there and was reading Brief Interviews with Hideous Men. Holy Krakatau, that second little interview, that is the funniest thing I think I've ever read in my entire life.


I'll be shouting that at inappropriate times, probably for the rest of my life now. Speaking of inappropriate, what the what is going on in this country? Yo, it's time to chill back with the rhetoric, Republicans. See, the way this process works is we have elections, and after those elections the elected officials do this thing we call governing. Maybe you remember that your version of that included ramming through two massive tax cuts via the reconciliation process (yes, both of the Bush tax cuts were passed using this process and were substantially more expensive than this bill as well as sold with numbers way flimsier than the CBO's on this) and starting a war with Iraq against the wishes of a whole shitload more in the streets protesters than the tea party movement even has members.

Now, you'll also remember a lot of overheated rhetoric about Bush being Hitler and stuff like that. But, and here's the difference, while there was some vandalism related to the protests, there were no shots fired at the offices of representatives, no death threats, no fake anthrax, no Christian militias planning to kill law enforcement officials. There were mostly orderly protests that numbered in the hundreds of thousands of people in any given place or time. And there were thoughtful articles about how apparently protesting had lost it's efficacy because it was no longer so novel. As it turns out, that's not entirely true. It's just progressive (wait, isn't that a code word for baby killing mother raping nazi zombie warlords from the 5th dimension?!!?) protesting that's no longer novel.

The tea party protests, although numerically not even in the realm of a 1/10th of the sheer numbers that went out to protest the Iraq war, because of the novelty of conservative protesters and the blunt force trauma that is Fox news's effect on television news more widely, were quite effective last year in taking a hugely popular issue such as health care reform and making it only marginally popular. Just so we're clear, the numbers, given the margin of error in national polling, were never any worse than about fifty/fifty.

So, this notion that health care reform was rammed through, all I can say is you get what you give. You want to work in a Bi-partisan manor, well, as the minority party, you need to come to the table first and make a few concessions. Otherwise get the fuck out the way cause we're coming through. The Obama express has left the station.


Okay, taking it down a notch here. It's been some biblical rain here in the northeast. We're about to set a record today for rainfall both for the day and for the month. Flooding everywhere. It's not good. Usually, I'm kind of a rainy day guy, but apparently even I can have too much rain. Good to know.

So, let's see. We're setting records for rain this spring. Last year we had an ice storm that killed like 200 hundred people (I pulled that number out of my arse, so...) and left about a million without power for up to three or four weeks, and the year before that we set the record for most snow in a single month for the month of december (and can I tell you how shitty it is trying to park in a city that has 8 hundred gazillion pounds of snow piled up everywhere).

Alright, no more harping on my progressive (nazi surf zombie) agenda. I'm working on some interesting things academically. I've developed a theory about dissonance reduction strategies and the efficacy of meditation or spiritual practices more widely and there facilitation of creativity, which is part of a more broad idea about how implicit philosophies (beliefs, attitudes, behaviors, etc.) effect the potentialites of peak spiritual experience, which, of course, fits also in a theory I have about how those philosophies can in fact affect an emotional experience that gets misinterpreted as a spiritual experience. So, I'll be running a pilot study on dissonance reduction strategies. And just assuming I'm right about all the rest.

I've also got this idea in my head which is gonna be kind of a driving force in my mathematical studies (which have been going backward for the most part for the past few months), which is this idea of somehow using statistical tools such as significance and meta- and regression analyses to develop a means to push beyond the simplistic cause/effect that is the heart of psychological study. I have three basic ideas in my head, causal clusters, causal chains, and multi-layered causality. The third is more about explaining causality at multiple levels of abstraction, which at some stage has to become the standard, neuro-psyiologically, psychologically, sociologically, etc. and has been my mantra for some many years now. The first two are about looking at causal activations inter-temporally as well as, potentially, how at any given temporal moment any number of causal factors come together to cause action, reaction, emotion, thought, what have you. It's not clear yet how this all works, but somehow, well, sometimes I have some ideas, other times I think I'm just tilting at windmills again. Always tilting.

Also, my other mantras:
Respect the principle of progressive overload
Soften, straighten, and run through the middle (my running mantra [yo, it works, I ran like seven or eight miles the other day and barely broke a sweat {but as per mantra #1, I was feelin' it the next day}])
The harried man works three times as hard, and remembers only about half of it.

I try and repeat these when I'm pushing to hard, getting impatient, or losing the good running form that takes a whole lot more concentration than you might think (or than you might need if you weren't, like, so slouch-a-daisical).

Okay, then.
Currently reading:
The Second Sex- Simone De Beauvoir
The sociology of Philosophies- Randall Collins
Cognitive Dissonance- Leon Festinger
Freefall: America, Free Markets, and the sinking of the World Economy -Joseph Stiglitz
The Big Picture: Money and Power in Hollywood- Edward Jay Epstein
Mind Wide Open: The Neuroscience of Everyday Life- Steven Johnson
Parzival- Wolfram Von Essenbach
Spiritual Genius- Winifred Gallagher
1776- David McCoullough
Just finished- Merchant of Dreams by Charles Hingham, an autobio of Louis B. Mayer (fascinating character, really horribly written book [I don't know what the deal is, but pretty much all of the autobios on early movie studio execs have been both fascinating and really badly written])


Monday, March 29, 2010

Cognitive dissonance, post-modernism and the cultural zeitgeist

Chuck Closterman has a theory that the reason that he's been successful with women is because of Woody Allen. And it's not that the women he's dated necessarily like Woody Allen movies or find Woody attractive, which, let's face it, today most people think Woody's a little pervy for marrying his formerly adopted daughter. That's pretty effin' weird. For myself, I really like some of his more dramatic movies and think the rest of them are insufferably stupid.

Regardless, the point Chuck makes is that Woody became this kind of archetype of the smart, witty, goofy looking guy who can make you laugh and think (if you so choose), and because that became cool then smart, witty, goofy-looking guys like Chuck Closterman can now get laid.

I would argue the same is true for modern conservatism and post-modernism. Post-modernism came into it's own as a philosophy in the French intellectual movements of the 1950's and 1960's. The trends that we've identified as post-modern started long before that, and certainly questioning reality and the nature of subjectivity is not exactly a new phenomenon. But the French intellectuals of that time really started to question the structuralist project that suggested, a la Saussure, that the structure of the products of human consciousness were essentially related to the structure of the human brain (that's not actually how he conceptualized the process, but I'd say it's the best way of expressing of the structuralist idea).

While they called themselves or were called (I'm not sure if the moniker was self applied) post-structuralists, they were what I think of when I think of the philosophic component of post-modernism. Literary post-modernism was in effect since the turn of the 20th century, and apparently the term was coined in relation to the drabness of what was called modern architecture in around about the 1870's. And sociologists like Max Weber have been questioning what we mean when we talk about the rational since about that same turn as well.

Regardless, these post-structuralists or post-modernists were classic bullshit artists. The truth is there is no truth is only true in the mystical sense. In the sense that everything is illusion and nothingness. It's not true in any pragmatic way. It's not true that there is no underlying objective reality, of which our subjective consciousness only gleans some small part. And I would hasten that that objective reality is itself an illusion that must be transcended. But that does not negate the intermediate stage at which objective reality is indeed, for all intents and purposes, objective reality.

Now the modern conservative movement, call it neoliberalism if you wish (but the appellation is so clearly disingenuous) or neoconservatism (which has essential oxymoronic elements [if you're dedicated to conserving the status quo, how can you're movement be new, and if you're not then what are you conserving?]) or whatever, would almost certainly rather be collectively mauled by bears than admit to having intellectual roots in a French philosophic movement, but the truth is that this idea that there is no truth so whatever truth you can make sound plausible enough is as good as any other is quite clearly possible because of the intellectual post-modern movement. That Fox news, for example, can call themselves fair and balanced in a non-ironic manor is almost surely a result of this same cultural process that gets Klosterman laid.

Course the supreme irony is that post-modernism's progressive element is so jaded about 'truth' and reality that they take nothing seriously, while the result of post-modernism for the conservative movement is that they take a mostly fabricated reality very, very seriously. As a result, conservatives are generally more organized. (Also better funded cause the whole world view is a means toward the concentration and intergenerational maintenance of power and money [I would suggest this is more a kind of processural memeticism {even, somewhat ironically, structuralist in nature} than necessarily the result of some vast conspiracy {although Paully Krug isn't necessarily wrong when he calls out the really well funded right wing think tanks as a kind of vast right wing conspiracy (If I wanted to make a living just thinking [which of course I do], I'd do much better if I'd take on a post-modernist stance and say fuck truth)}]).

I often think the reason prominent proponents of the conservative ideology are so angry is because of how fragile their world is. I mean, Rush Limbuagh is full of shit. He really is. His entire world view is the result of the selective use of information coupled with outright fabrication. He really is a kind of poster boy for post-modernism. Because ultimately, much like Rush himself, the movement is intellectually bankrupt.

Now none of this is to say that I myself have transcended subjectivity. None of us can. That's the point. Anyone who claims to know completely truth is a liar and probably a con artist as well. But post-modernism is incredibly unsettling. Knowing that you can't know, if it doesn't lead you to a spiritual place or result in the kind of ironic or blase attitude, will probably just make you feel afraid of the unknown.

Which explains the rise of evangelical Christianity and the success of Fox news. These movements ultimately have to be anti-intellectual because this is where philosophy has gotten. We haven't transcended post-modernism, nor is it even really possible. That's the cheap gimmick of the movement. It's in the finite structure of the human mind, which is not capable of attaining perfect or true knowledge. Not really.

And, essentially, that's been the thrust of the neoconservative movement from it's earliest days back in the 1960's. If you read Friedman (or a modern variant would be Amity Schleas or the Wall St. Journal op-ed or, again, Fox news), you find a selective process. As if you can just take the successes of your ideas without ever acknowledging any flaws or failures as a way to minimize cognitive dissonance without actually aligning yourself closer to reality. We saw how bankrupt that process was with the initial stages of the Iraq war. (and just as a quick addendum, this idea that Obama is somehow a dictator because he hasn't bent to the will of some small collective of very active protestors who get substantial media coverage when George Bush ignored literally millions who took to the streets in protest of the prospect of an invasion of Iraq is quite frankly a bit offensive and just plainly ignorant. You cannot have your cake and eat it too. If you want to work by consensus then that principle has to be applied consistently.)

For myself, I could never be sure of any of my knowledge. That's why I always continue to search, and I don't limit myself at all. In fact, I actively seek out information that contradicts what I think I know, and then try to figure out how to work out those contradictions. It's not easy, and it creates a lot of dissonance, which is not fun. Cognitive dissonances sucks, but relieving it by lying to yourself and others is not really a long term solution to the problem.

Okay, so that turned into a complete rant, and there's much more to say. Always more to say, but I'll leave off for the time being. I've got journal articles on cognitive dissonance to read. Let me just say this quick. It's not a mistake that every single mystic movement of every religious tradition, who almost without fail all acknowledge the problem of illusion of reality, all of them have very strong moral per and proscriptions. The only way to transcend the illusion is through goodness and, as the Buddhists say, mindfulness and right action. I guess that leave's me out, but still...the point remains salient.