"The trouble with self-delusion, either in a person or a society, is that reality doesn't care what anybody believes, or what story they put out. Reality doesn't "spin." Reality does not have a self-image problem. Reality does not yield its workings to self-esteem management." -J.H. Kunstler"The world does not reward honesty and independence, it rewards obedience and service. It’s a world of concentrated power, and those who have power are not going to reward people who question that power."-Chomsky"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."-Dylan
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Jack is quite a character. He is now in his early 60’s and is an aging old-school hippie with long curly, graying hair. He still wears typically ripped black (always-black) denim jeans, and is lucky if he weighs 140. He is from the east coast originally, and still talks with what I define as a New York accent complete with the New York attitude.
He was quite the activist, involved with SDS, before the split forming the Weather Underground, protesting things like Viet Nam until some Pennsylvania rednecks fired guns his way. He was also involved in the Civil Rights movement, and knew Hendrix, among others. Quite a remarkable history Jack has; great stories.
He describes the 60’s in two ways: Pre-'65, and post-’65. The “real 60’s”, he implies, happened before the "Peace, Love, Dope" era. He was involved in consciousness and says that aspect faded when it became a mass-movement; when the hippies became pop culture. Sound familiar, anyone?
Jack reminds me of the stereotypical troubled genius, and of Eric in a few ways, yet he also is NOTHING like him beyond the fact that he lives to talk social issues. And, Jack knows his shit. He knows politics, finance, and sociology with a depth & detail I have not seen since Michael Corbin. And, he can tie it together. I was a bit skeptical of him in September, until I realized that many of the predictions he made have actually since come to fruition. Our chats have also made me realize how hard of a “right turn” I have made ideologically.
His prediction for the future? Cataclysmic. The future is never bright for a docile, compliant, unquestioning population, and history bears that out. It’s quite disturbinging how many of these so-called liberals, who were howling about civil liberties not a year ago, have become “political chickenheads”, chanting, “Hope…Change...” in lockstep with their leftist handlers.
People get the government they deserve, and quite honestly I am beginning to believe that it is over for you. When the government is trying to outlaw growing YOUR OWN FOOD complete with the Adam Sutlarian scare tactics, and the hottest topic is American fuckin' Idol? You deserve your cage. So will this new generation of vassals being bred not to think. For the rest of us? Well, we hear a lot from the left about freedom FROM religion; what about freedom from government?
Although I suspect he would prefer another adjective, Jack is also a perfect case study in what has happened to the Baby Boomers and how some of them exist in social Limbo; borderline hypocrisy. He told about how he realized that living his ideals was not going to sustain him into old age. As with my sellout ex-landlord, Lawyer Bob, he talks lovingly about some aspects of the '60’s, but that has been co-opted & supplanted by a need & lust for money.
While Lawyer Bob openly flaunts his wealth (living in Christy Brinkley’s old home), Jack loves to try to impress with offhanded comments concerning how much he pays in rent, what he paid for his truck, what a certain collectors piece is worth, etc. He lives simply, but still loves verbally displaying his wealth as much as anyone driving a Lexus does visually. Half the fun of knowing Jack is noticing his contradictions. He is very health conscious about the chemicals he puts into his body, which is very “Santa Fe”, but also still smokes pot while deriding me for drinking Coke and smoking Pall Malls.
Unfortunately, this move did not end on a positive note, and I share some blame for this. Where Jack lacks people skills, I lack patience. I began to tire of his “interpersonal style” and at the end of Tuesday, after the move was completed, I told him that he “was getting on my fucking nerves” and I did not want to work more than 2-3 hours on Wednesday. This after a few rather loud displays of displeasure over the course of the day in response to his impatience and inability to convey direction.
Just like last year in the two weeks before I left, I have no tolerance for bullshit, real or perceived, and the fact that I was curious as to how Chris was coming getting on the road Tuesday made it worse. I tried to make it clear that I would still like to get together with him when Chris gets here, but I am not at all convinced that will happen!
Meanwhile, still no word from Chris about his departure since Sunday. We had a long conversation Sunday about the “departure philosophy” and how oftentimes the hardest thing to do on a voyage is...leave.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
The last line in this little story is particularly thought provoking. How many people are full of disjointed "information", and confuse (or advertise) this as "wisdom"? In reality, most are nothing simply well- trained parrots. Polly can squawk "E=MC2!" all month, that doesn't mean she knows a thing about relativity...
Enjoy a classic- comments welcome.
Source: Technopoly by Neil Postman, New York: Vintage Books, 1993, pp3-4.
You will find in Plato's Phaedrus a story about Thamus, the king of a great city of Upper Egypt. For people such as ourselves, who are inclined (in Thoreau's phrase) to be tools of our tools, few legends are more instructive than his. The story, as Socrates tells it to his friend Phaedrus, unfolds in the following way: Thamus once entertained the god Theuth, who was the inventor of many things, including number, calculation, geometry, astronomy, and writing. Theuth exhibited his inventions to King Thamus, claiming that they should be made widely known and available to Egyptians. Socrates continues:
Thamus inquired into the use of each of them, and as Theuth went through them expressed approval or disapproval, accordingly as he judged Theuth's claims to be well or ill- founded. It would take too long to go through all that Thamus is reported to have said for and against each of Theuth's inventions. But when it came to writing, Theuth declared, "Here is an accomplishment. my lord the king, which will improve both the wisdom and the memory of the Egyptians. I have discovered a sure receipt for memory and wisdom." To this, Thamus replied, "Theuth, my paragon of inventors, the discoverer of an art is not the best judge of the good or harm which will accrue to those who practice it. So it is in this; you, who are the father of writing, have out of fondness for your offspring attributed to it quite the opposite of its real function. Those who acquire it will cease to exercise their memory and become forgetful; they will rely on writing to bring things to their remembrance by external signs instead of by their own internal resources. What you have discovered is a receipt for recollection, not for memory. And as for wisdom, your pupils will have the reputation for it without the reality: they will receive a quantity of information without proper instruction, and in consequence be thought very knowledgeable when they are, for the most part, quite ignorant. And because they are filled with the conceit of wisdom instead of real wisdom they will be a burden to society.
Monday, March 9, 2009
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Friday, March 6, 2009
This would fall into the “back-story” file, if there were such a thing. I wrote this back in 2007 after exploring the idea over a long period in my personal journal. As Chris and I begin to seriously gear up it seems to merit publication now, with some additions and many edits, because it seems to be a recurring theme when I try to explain my ideas behind this “radical lifestyle” and where they have come from.
These are just some of my thoughts on the foundation of the battle that we inevitably rage with fear, expectation, and the fundamental concept of living “our own” lives, and the source of such an insane conflict. The Hydra I have termed The Ministry of Standards and Practices. The Ministry does include the institutions we’ve come to “know & love” of course, but it also includes our families, friends… anyone with whom approval and praise comes a sense of identity. One of the first questions people always ask when they meet you is “What do you do?” as if that’s who you are! People often feel either pride or shame when they answer that question; the Ministry at work. That belief that your identity depends on your job, car, house, bank account or a person's approval other than your own is delusional since no one can “make you" feel anything. Last time I checked, all of these things emanated from within. The Ministry can only function when we believe in that externalization of identity, happiness, and success.
The majority of this was written a couple of years ago, and some ideas have expanded, but this is a good start, if you can stomach the poor writing!
A funny thing keeps happening. I keep seeing what I thought were my ideas pop up in other places; conclusions I've come to, alone, through my personal writing and meditations, that I find later have already been written. Thoreau and his views on government & self- reliance. Rousseau on higher 'education' (indoctrination). Chomsky and the media.
I'm tooting my own horn a bit, but it would appear that I'm on the right track toward something if minds infinitely greater than mine have already drawn the same conclusions. I can’t stress enough how important I believe it is to come to OUR OWN regardless of what someone else thinks, writes, or preaches. If all we are doing is taking in and nodding, what does that make us? A follower of someone else's dogma; a solitary sheep in one of a thousand related herds.
I've been paying attention for the last couple of years at how and why people are kept inside the norms of thought and behavior, and who reaps the benefits. How we're kept with the flock. Where do these 'norms' and accepted codes of behavior and thought come from? It would seem that there is an insidious little sub- system to keep us in line and protect itself from those who would question its legitimacy. The Ministry of Standards and Practices.
I had a conversation with Brian Hardgroove of Public Enemy the other day, and we touched on, what I believe, is the most despicable of these 'checks and balances': “education” In particular, the way schools teach us to only obey authority; never question it … deserved it or not. To accept whatever ‘authority’ disseminates as empirical truth, rather it is or not. It shows us, from the most impressionable age, how the system works and places us where “it” has decided we belong: as subordinates striving to be well- adjusted cogs in the machine. We needed to 'do well' so we could get 'good jobs' which is, of course, how they defined “success” for us. To school by , a mid- day break, home when they tell us. Sound familiar?
Think about that for a second. Is that “education” or “engineering”? If your goal is to engineer obedient workers who are not intellectually equipped to challenge your authority… well, that would explain lower testing requirements wouldn’t it? Would explain a lot actually!
The purpose of this REQUIRED education program is to make us more useful to the entrenched economic system, and to keep the agreed upon dialogue in place. Questions will NOT be tolerated! We are programmed to believe that our entire motivation in life should be striving to become the bigger, better, more useful (and better-rewarded) cog. Obedient, unquestioning workers whose reward depends on how well you play their game. Then, our kids are sent home to play video games, or watch TV, which further cements these images of contrived success… never even hinting that there may be more, or that their idea of happiness may have nothing to do with being that cog. It’s Jack Nicholson in “One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest”: lobotomized for convenience.
This… is simple mental slavery.
The vast majority of people, while sensing a deep- seeded twinge of recognition, have now short- circuited. Like a computer whose current programming can’t run new software, that sort of thinking runs counter to the indoctrination. It WILL cause internal conflict and ultimately require a redefinition of these fundamentals that we have long- ago accepted as “truth”.
That’s not easy. It’s daunting, uncomfortable… frightening. It requires stepping out of comfort zones, trusting ourselves, and embracing the uncertain. The alternative? The lobotomy of Escapism. Allowing television and the rest of the media reinforce these false, transient images of success and happiness, telling you that careerism and consumerism will make everything all better… “Don’t worry about that deep- thinking stuff; this is EASIER and more comfortable! All you need is MORE! Just commit your life to us, and we PROMISE will make you happy… eventually!” Sounds a lot like religion, and that’s no coincidence.
As religion requires blind faith, mental slavery requires blind acceptance. A total belief that there is NOTHING beyond the metaphorical city walls; beyond The Matrix. Simple questioning and challenging the Party Line will create doubt, encourage critical thought, and in the end corrupt the system. The indoctrination process begun in school and enforced in the media and at the dinner table is in place to prevent that. If you question the Ministry's legitimacy, you are a 'radical', or a 'subversive'. These critical thoughts are to be squashed at conception. This creates self- doubt. Self- doubt turns to fear. Fear to submission. What if you were encouraged to explore the possibility that maybe--- just maybe--- you were right? To free your mind?
Why is asking, "Is there something more?" then pursuing it so dangerous? The Ministry has associated it with being a subversive, lazy, anti- social, or in its extreme… criminal. It also tells us that everything “out there” is frightening, harmful, and wants to kill us! “Stay in your cages for your own protection! Watch TV, you’ll see! Thank God we have these electronic eyes to tell us how bad everything out there is! Bring me another bag of Chee-tos!” Fear breeds need, and they love to remind us why we need them. And we eat it up. It’s easier. It is cancerous.
Inside each one of us, there is a voice. It's your common sense, destiny, God, the universe. Call it whatever you like, but its there-- no matter how deeply you have buried it. It is scratching and clawing to get out. I'm convinced that this is the major cause of anxiety and depression. KNOWING something's wrong, but just cannot quite grasp it or understand it, and have no road map to follow. The Splinter in the Mind that causes the mental infections flare.
Until a few years ago, I was prone to bouts of depression that would at times last for months, for NO reason, even when everything seemed that they “should” be GREAT. It finally got to the point that I could go no further down that road, and gave in. I finally surrendered to REALLY looking into myself; trying to discover where that alarm was coming from. Nothing heroic, the status quo had simply become unbearable. It was in fact blessing.
I discovered that my conflict came from doing what “they” expected me to do, rather than what I was meant to do. I had no idea what that was yet, but I was quite certain that getting a “job” I hated just to pay bills because I was expected to was NEVER going to make me happy. I had tried to fit my square ass in that round hole long enough, and I was done. “They” could go straight to Hell. All of them. It was a profound leap of faith to accept that, but not in something external; faith in myself.
Each of us have a voice. Call it whatever you want. God, consciousness, the universe, intuition... Casper... But it's there for a reason. It's the only authority that ultimately matters, and the only opinion that counts. Quit silencing yourself in favor of the expectations and demands of others... and see what happens. If you feel even a twinge of familiarity, you owe it to yourself -- it is your DUTY as a conscious human being to explore it.
It's there for a reason....
Since then, there have been a couple trips to Denver, and probably a dozen long conversations about where and how we're going. As it turned out, the ideas of December were actually the product of not having a clear vision. That vision didn't take long to come, and yes... obliterated those of Indiana Jones.
I'll let Chris explain his end for himself his specifics, but our ideas and individual focus seem to dovetail nicely.
For me, this seems to be a continuation and expansion of last year. As I go back and re- read some of my posts from "Running With the Wind", and then reconcile them with what's happened over the last six months, it seems apparent that my focus hasn't changed much while certain aspects have intensified; particularly my interest in synchronicity, and the ability to sort of tune in to that personal "mechanical resonance" (apologies to Tesla!) that we all seem to posses if we can only eliminate the static. The last four months have been pretty powerful in that regard, as Chris can attest.
So, here's the updated "plan", and trust me... that's a very loose term. We have four destinations in mind. Nashville (hi Kim!), North Carolina, Massachusetts, and Michigan. Then? West. Probably toward Seattle via the U.P of Michigan, and the northern tier of states. From there maybe Oregon and California. Maybe India! We had batted around the ideas of New Orleans, Florida, and the entire eastern seaboard to New England... but neither can think of a good reason to bother with Florida, plus North Carolina's enough "Southern Hospitality" for me. If I never see Mississippi again, I'll be fine.
We had set a target date of April 1st to leave, but that appears to be on the verge of being pushed back due to DENTAL WORK, of all things. I need two root canals and four fillings, after having a tooth pulled in January. If I can get my appointments expedited, it'll be sooner, but there's a possibility that the start, for me at least, could be pushed back into May... just like '08. To be continued...
Personally, the rest of the winter has been spent selling stuff like the rest of my bike gear, my computer, a fancy cell phone and also struggling to find a backpack and shoes. This sounds an awful lot like LAST March, except that this year, I've had success selling this stuff! It's pathetic how little I own now.
I've also been connecting with a sister I've never met, and reconnecting with two that I haven't seen in 12-years. That's all been over the last couple of weeks and has been one of the most intense, rewarding times that I can remember. This is the foundation of the Michigan leg of the trip. Plus my 20-year reunion is this year. How is that possible? I'm only 29.
After a long, drawn out drama trying to buy a backpack on eBay, I decided to just go new and picked up a Gregory Baltoro 70L @ REI this week and have also settled on some boots (Asolo). In the end I would just rather not worry about a pack after I leave and if anything goes wrong I can have it replaced, even a year from now. Seems worth the investment. If anyone needs a Kelty Red Cloud 5,600 with a HOLE IN THE BOTTOM, I know where you can get one real cheap...
It appears that I'm Denver bound one more time, this weekend, so we can go on a test run, perhaps Monday, make some final decisions on gear, and also initiate some other ideas. Look for those soon.
Every winter, I hibernate to some degree and this year has been no exception. However, things have really accelerated over the last few weeks. Right on cue. There should be lots to talk about this month...