In 1961, he saw what we had already become.

Just as early industrial capitalism moved the focus of existence from being to having, post-industrial culture has moved that focus from having to appearing.

This society eliminates geographical distance only to produce a new internal separation…The reigning economic system is a vicious circle of isolation. Its technologies are based on isolation, and they contribute to that same isolation. From automobiles to television [to Facebook to Zoom], the goods that the spectacular system chooses to produce also serve it as weapons for constantly reinforcing the conditions that engender “lonely crowds.”
_______________________________________________ Guy Debord

The same formidable question that has been haunting the world for two centuries is about to be posed again everywhere: How can the poor be made to work once their illusions have been shattered? 

Artless Artist

What appeals to me about Rilke’s writing is his mystical message stripped of any effort to “create art”. He seems to be reaching inside to find words to express his experience. His almost desperate need to connect with us buries any aspiation he might have to be a poet.

All the modern translations I’ve seen capture this artless sincerity, but they do it in blank verse. They make no effort to reproduce the rhytmic or rhyme structures that were in the original German. Contrast this with his contemporary translator, Jessie Lemont, who worked brilliantly original English rhymes into her translations.

In honor of Rilke’s birthday (1875), I have sought to continue in Lemont’s tradition, translating a poem that she never tackled.

That Which Has Never Been Spoken

My faith abides all that has not been said.
I set my yearnings free to overspill
Ideals for which men’s sacred blood was shed,
To germinate some day, outside my will.

For this immodesty, I beg my God excuse
These innocent ambitions that seem wild.
An energy that permeates my thews
Has rendered me an unselfconscious child,
Incapable of enmity or ruse.

This flowing in and out which I partake,
Like river rushing to the ocean’s shore
Sweeps through my breast to breathe my soul awake,
Then bursting outward from my inmost core,
Where none has gone before.

If this be hope, then let me hopeful be
I tend this prayer,
From best sincerity
Before Thy presence rare.

— JJM 4Dec20

On the Creation of Giant Voiceprint Databases | American Civil Liberties  Union

Alles noch nie Gesagte

Ich glaube an Alles noch nie Gesagte.
Ich will meine frömmsten Gefühle befrein.
Was noch keiner zu wollen wagte,
wird mir einmal unwillkürlich sein.

Ist das vermeßen, mein Gott, vergieb.
Aber ich will dir damit nur sagen:
Meine beste Kraft soll sein wie ein Trieb,
so ohne Zürnen und ohne Zagen;
so haben dich ja die Kinder lieb.

Mit diesem Hinfluten, mit diesem Münden
in breiten Armen ins offene Meer,
mit dieser wachsenden Wiederkehr
will ich dich bekennen, will ich dich verkünden
wie keiner vorher.

Und ist das Hoffahrt, so laß mich hoffährtig sein
für mein Gebet,
das so ernst und allein
vor deiner wolkigen Stirne steht.

— from the Book of Hours by Rainer Maria Rilke (1905)

If I told you the name the author applies to this political philosophy, you wouldn’t read it.

There was a time, not so many years ago, when we could look at a system of captured democratic institutions that no longer represent us, a system of imperialist wars to protect mega-corporations, we could look at this and say, “It would be nice to change this. We can do better.”

large conference table at which world leaders are seated, surrounded by press and their minions, a summitt meeting with greek columns of marble and a traditional fresco in the dome above

Now the systems that have asked for our consent to their authority are demanding greater deference, and what they are doing with their authority seems to be less supportable.  Now change seems not to be an option but an urgency. Despite the increasing secrecy that shrouds the corporate state, we can see wars against nature, wars for global dominance, cold wars threatening to become hot. We will have to do better, or face tyranny and global ecosystem collapse.

My relationship with my family is built on trust. My relationship with my government is built on authority. One is rich with meaning and possibility built on cooperation; the other offers a mirage of security in return for obedience.

History has progressed from tribes to villages to city-states to nations to global governance. At each step, we have more relationships of authority, less of trust.

Freedom is not a tiny bubble of personal rights. We cannot be distinguished from each other so easily. Yawning and laughter are contagious; so are enthusiasm and despair. …When I drive a car, it releases pollution into the atmosphere you breathe; when you use pharmaceuticals, they filter into the water everyone drinks. The system everyone else accepts is the one you have to live under—but when other people challenge it, you get a chance to renegotiate your reality as well. Freedom is relationship, and we create it together, mine and yours.

Language serves to communicate only because we hold it in common. The same goes for ideas and desires: we can communicate them because they are greater than us. Each of us is composed of a chaos of contrary forces, all of which extend beyond us through time and space. In choosing which of these to cultivate, we determine what we will foster in everyone we encounter.

Growing up in this society, not even our passions are our own; they are cultivated by advertising and other forms of propaganda to keep us running on the treadmills of the marketplace. Thanks to indoctrination, people can be quite pleased with themselves for doing things that are bound to make them miserable in the long run. We are locked into our suffering and our pleasures are the seal.

Don’t cling to the old world

When we see what all the different institutions and mechanisms of domination have in common, it becomes clear that our individual struggles are also part of something greater than us, something that could connect us. When we come together on the basis of this connection, everything changes: not only our struggles, but also our sense of agency, our capacity for joy, the sense that our lives have meaning. All it takes to find each other is to begin acting according to a different logic.

kid hugging tree in forest, looking up into the canopy

The web site is ToChangeEverything.com.  The name is “anarchism”.

Meet the new normal. Same as the ancient normal.

This is our mythic prehistory. Some medicine man told us peons what the Spirits demand from us in exchange for breaking the dry spell or leading the caribou back into the hunting grounds, and it seemed to work often enough to keep us believing and obeying.  We paid no attention to the fact that the thing the Spirits needed so often coincided with the glorification of the medicine man himself.

Then, in historic times, kings ruled by divine right. Egypt had its Pharaohs. In Japan, the emperor was a Shinto Tenno. Southeast Asia was ruled by Khmers, and the Subcontinent had Rajas. Christian and Muslim armies both fought holy wars, and, through the Middle Ages, the King’s closest advisors moonlighted as Cardinals or Caliphs.

Separation of church and state was supposed to put an end to all that. Gone for good was the divine authority of kings, replaced by rule of the democratic majority. The Enlightenment was about human rights, freedom and emerging democracy. But above all, the Enlightenment was a triumph of clear-eyed scientific thinking over superstition. Most enlightened of all were the people who realized that religion is no different from superstition.

But a funny thing has happened on our way to the end times of history. Science has developed an annointed priesthood, a fixed dogma, daily rituals—all the trappings of a religion. Today, we cover our faces in public and cross the street when someone approaches on the sidewalk, signaling to one another, “My religion is science.”

This is not the science that Doctor Mirabilis bequeathed us in the 13th Century. Bacon’s science is a process, not an outcome. The discipline is adherence to logical thought based on clear-eyed perceptions.

True science is not obedience to a man in a labcoat. True science is a cacophony of voices vying to offer competitive narratives about the available observations. It is a common agreement about criteria of evidence and logic that enable some tentative truths to emerge from this jumble of independent thinkers.

When you hear someone say the words, “settled science,” question first whether he has a pecuniary interest in your accepting his version of the truth. Then begin the hard work of gathering your own evidence and forming your own conclusions.

atheists | Religious Forums

Theory of everything? Nah–I don’t think so

Sabine Hossenfelder argues that fundamental physics has lost its way, and that the deepest and most intricate theories of our time are not guided by experiment but rather by subjective notions of symmetry and mathematical beauty. String theory is the worst offender, and it is eating up computational cycles of some of the smartest brains on the planet, as well as research dollars that could be channeled to more promising pursuits. Hossenfelder asks, who are we to think that our aesthetic tastes should have anything to do with the way Nature runs her show? She has written that physicists have become Lost in Math.

Josh Responds to his Internal Critic

I’m often hard on those I love, I know.
It is not kind to them, and (what is more)
This attitude degrades my sacred core
And hinders my ability to grow.

It seems to you that I’m fore’er at war,
My invitation, beating down your door.
Please recognize from whence my passions flow
Conformity is all that I abhor.
When friends repeat what they have heard before
They spurn the loving ear that I bestow.

My quest is for your individual light
And I lament when those I love take flight.
I wish not to disrupt or gather storms,
But liberate from strict, confining norms.

— JJM

Radical Faeries

Allowing ourselves to feel tragedy

The Soviet Arts Council leaned heavily on Prokofiev to create music that was accessible to the proletariat. Fortunately, the Russian people have a sophisticated appreciation of music. And, as far as I can tell, this dicta hardly cramped Prokofiev’s style.

Сергей Прокофьев was born this day in 1891.

The Myth of Mental Illness

Thomas Szasz came to America from Hungary for medical training and residency as a psychiatrist, only to decide as a young doctor that he did not believe the medical model, or that “psychiatric illness” is a helpful concept. He set to work on a book, which evolved over the ensuing decade, and set in motion his mission as a reformer of psychiatric practice.

At root, he argued for respect of the patient. He argued against coercive treatment, against confinement, against drugs and electric shocks. He saw the psychiatrist as a listener, a friend, a helper, a guide. Empathy, not objective analysis, is at the heart of every relationship that relieves suffering and helps a huan individual to grow.

In the end, his legacy was to forge thousands of unique, individual relationships with thousands of unique, individual clients—and to light the way for others to do the same

Thomas Szasz, who died in 2012, would have been 100 years old today.

The self is not something that one finds, it is something that one creates. — TS

Choice point

When the confining routines of normality waver or dissolve, when there’s an earthquake or a flood or some natural disaster that sweeps away the structures of society, it’s not what one might expect: dog eat dog, looting and chaos and the strong preying on the weak. Uh uh—It’s people getting together to take care of each other. It’s altruism rising to the fore. This natural community and solidarity emerges, and you realize that it’s been there all along, repressed by our systems and ideologies of separation, but it’s been waiting for an opportunity to come back. It’s showing us a future that’s available to us individually and collectively. It’s showing that health and happiness and even real wealth cannot exist in isolation but only in community. So we are at a choice point. We can double down on the science of control, stamping out the virus, surviving to meet the next crisis. Or we can say, ENOUGH! Enough of this separation. Now is the time to rejoin the community of life. That’s the crossroads where we find ourselves right now.

Charles Eisenstein talks to Rich Roll,
citing Rebecca Solnit, A Paradise Built in Hell

image-alternative

Science is a rich and fruitful source of helpful insights. It has its proper domain. But there are other domains, values and choices that science can’t properly evaluate. How do we make decisions that don’t ignore science, but give it just one seat in a larger circle? That’s a question I don’t have a ready answer for, but I do know that it is the right question to ask in these times. — CE

Conflict

We innocently choose the side of “good”
Against outrageous evil we protest
It seems so clear, we side with what is best
And take the stand we manifestly should.

All morals are charade, a cosmic jest
That turns our pliant twigs to hardened wood.
Conflict and strife invade the neighborhood
As conscience turns each tribe against the rest.

And so when on life’s stage it comes to pass,
Sucked into strife by mutual disdain,
Good souls create a passionate morass
That culminates in grief, despair and pain.

If struggle is for you a source of pride,
Give thanks for those who take the other side.

— JJM = #6 in the I Ching Sonnet project