Wrong Turn

October 4, 2018

global warmingThoughts on  global warming and how we got to thinking nature is our toy or slave rather than our own vital substance.

“The Church at the start of the Christian era didn’t know whether to accept the ancient view that we share consciousness with nature, or to declare a new era. The Church Fathers were afraid to open the door to too many visions for fear the ancient world would simply flood the Church. As it happened, The Church … smashed the temples, destroyed the relating texts and the lost doctrines. One Jacob Boehme, founded his theology on the idea that there is a consciousness inside nature; he was driven out of town by the local Protestant priest.  The French priest, Bossuet,  (writing about the same time) expressed in this passage one of the more prevalent Christian attitudes toward nature:

May the earth be cursed … a thousand times, a thousand times be cursed
because from it the heavy fog and those black vapors continually rise … from
the dark passions and hide heaven and its light from us and draw down the             lightning of God’s justice against the corruption of the human race.

This attitude was acceptable to the Church Fathers and to developing capitalism. When we deny there is consciousness in nature, we also deny consciousness to the worlds we find by going through nature; we end with only one world, the world of McDonalds, and that one is exploitable.” —Robert Bly in: News of the Universe, Poems of Twofold Consciousness

As an American I was schooled in that attitude. And, being brought up in the ways of Church and catechism, I’ve been twice stoked and smoked. Unlearning’s been a sweat to say the least.


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Wrong Turn

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scoping maps of other worlds

I came upon a shiny gazetteer
so bright with arcane avenues
and archipelagos it kept me

lured and stupefied for years
.
Jim Culleny
October 2007

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Demographic Apoplexia

August 8, 2018

apoplexia
Why do we have an unapologetic,  racist, misogynist, sexist and (conveniently) xenophobic president as well as a ruling party of sexist, white supremacists (for all practical purposes) with an angry, frightened  band of supporters?  Probably because in the last few decades of the 20th century a demographic truth was finally realized by those with precisely those inclinations: that it would not be long before the United States would be a nation with a white European minority. Those with power then decided they must act to prevent that demographic surge from becoming real. Everything we see now, the lust for border walls, voter suppression, the political acceptance of racial animus, shameless public expressions of white and ethnic supremacy, the election of a president with obvious problems around women, who for the sake of power has manipulated the national dialogue into one of fear and hate. All of this flows from that (for many) clear demographic nightmare. But theirs is an impossible remedy, at least not without cruel political repression and is, in fact, transforming the nation into one with a quality of life far worse than a more humane and enlightened acceptance and approach to change would achieve.

Of course our white presumptions are as invisible to many as the water fish take for granted. Dominican-American  novelist Junot Diaz suggested as much is a statement about critical acclaim in his field:

“All I can tell you is that in 100 years I seriously doubt that the list of the 100 best writers from our time is going to be as white, as male, as straight, as monocultural as the lists we currently produce about the 100 best writers of our time.

“In all frankness, our present day evaluative criteria are so unfairly weighted towards whiteness, male, middle-classness, straightness, monoculturality— so rotted through with white supremacy—as to be utterly useless for really seeing or understanding what’s going on in the field, given how little we really see or value of the art we’re now producing because of our hegemonic scotoma. Who can doubt that the future will improve on that? No question that today, in the margins of what is considered Real Literature, there are unacknowledged Kafkas toiling away who are more likely women, colored, queer, poor.”

There are also thousands and thousands of other potential immigrants who would, as have those of the past, contribute to make the USA a better nation.

Jim Culleny
8/8/18

 

Reading again Joseph Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness (1890) I came to the following which, in the light of US politics of the early 21st century, may be seen as a late extension of our North American conquest as well as the consciousness by which it has run —and, cruelly reminiscent, still runs:

Trump DarknessConrad’s character, Marlowe is speaking of the history of Roman conquest in Britain:

“They were conquerors, and for that you want only brute force—nothing to boast of, when you have it, since your strength is just an accident arising from the weakness of others…. It was just robbery with violence, aggravated murder on a great scale, and men going at it blind… The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much. What redeems it is the idea only. An idea at the back of it…something you can set up, and bow down before, and offer sacrifice to…”

The idea is white supremacy, again. The idea is to keep certain peoples out to purify the nation —to be frank. The idea is to set authoritarians up to lead the dirty work of cleansing in the name of protecting, what, our greatness? …so we keep our personal hands clean.

Jim Culleny
7/7/18

The Story Tellers

May 4, 2018

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excerpt from Homo Deus, by Yuval Noah Harari

12,000 years ago, at the start of the Agricultural Revolution, “Farmers believed in stories about great gods. They built temples to their favorite god, held festivals in his honor, offered him sacrifices, and gave him lands, tithes and presents. In the first cities of ancient Sumer, about 6,000 years ago, the temples were not just centers of worship, but also the most important political and economic hubs. the Sumerian gods fulfilled a function analogous to modern brands and corporations. Today corporations are fictional legal entities that own property, lend money, hire employees and initiate economic enterprises. In the ancient cities of Uruk, Lagash and Shurupak the gods functioned as legal entities that could own fields and slaves, give and receive loans, pay salaries and build dams and canals.”

Posted by Jim Culleny
5/4/18

 

Living on Paper

May 3, 2018

—excerpt from Homo Deus, by Yuval Noah Harari

quill pen

“Hunter-gatherers spent their days climbing trees, looking for mushrooms, and chasing boars and rabbits. Their daily reality consisted of trees, mushrooms, boars and rabbits. Peasants worked all day in fields…their daily reality was the feeling of muddy earth under bare feet, the smell of oxen…and the taste of warm bread fresh from the oven. In contrast, scribes in ancient Egypt devoted most of their time the reading, writing and calculating. Their daily reality consisted of ink marks on papyrus scrolls, which determined who owned which field, how much an ox cost and what yearly taxes the peasants had to pay. A scribe could decide the fate of an entire village with the stroke of a stylus.”

Related: Before the Ink Dries

Web of Stories

April 30, 2018

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From Homo Deus -A Brief History of Tomorrow:

“Animals such as wolves an chimpanzees live in a dual reality. On the one hand they are familiar with objective entities outside them, such as trees, rocks and rivers. On the other hand they are aware of subjective experiences within them, such as fear, joy and desire. Sapiens, in contrast, live in triple-layered reality… The sapiens world also contains stories about money, gods, nations and corporations. As history unfolded, the impact of gods, nations and corporations grew at the expense of rivers, fears and desires. There are still many rivers in the world, and people are still motivated by their fears and wishes, but Jesus Christ, The French Republic and Apple, Inc. have dammed and harnessed the rivers, and have learned to shape our deepest anxieties and yearnings.

“Since new twenty-first century realities are likely to make such fictions even more powerful, to understand our future we have to understand how stories about Christ, France and Apple have gained so much power. Humans think they make history, but history actually revolves around the web of stories. The basic abilities of individual humans have not changed much since the stone age.. But the web of stories has grown from strength to strength, thereby pushing history from the Stone Age to the Silicon age.”

Excerpt from Homo Deus – A brief history of tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari

Posted by Jim Culleny
4/29/18

trump gotti 4

Giving Donald Trump credit for the apparent deal between North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un and South Korea’s Moon Jai-In (no doubt a good thing if it turns out to be a thing) would have been like giving the late mafia boss, John Gotti, credit for threatening a neighborhood hot head that he’d better clean up his act, or else. While there might have been an immediate positive change Gotti would still have been Gotti and every one of his ongoing ruthless, crooked enterprises would have continued unchecked.

It would be big-picture wise for us not to forget that Gotti had dedicated his life to having his own way no matter what.  If that’s the kind of leadership we want we’ll deserve the certain outcome(s). Gotti did not shy from disappearing those within his own organization who crossed him while Trump, so far, just fires them or throws them under the bus. By all apparent digitally recorded evidence Trump, while probably not filled with literal blood-lust as was Gotti, has been and still is filled with lusts of other deadly sins of which he is in no way ashamed and which he will ratchet up as his needs be.

Believe me.

If you don’t want to believe me at least believe what Trump’s been telling you throughout his life, campaign and presidency to date. Bone up on it.