March 1

A Capital Idea Part 59: Is Our Government an Open or Closed System?

As a trained scientist, I have a pretty good understanding of how science works, how it can only move forward to create more knowledge, never backwards, and how within the scientific method is nested a self-correcting process. That is, when theories or ideas prove to be incorrect, they are discarded and replaced by better ones. This is what I call an open system -- that is, a system which is open to outside influence, and therefore can grow and evolve as a self-impoving system rather than be stuck in a small, decaying mental box, unable to make changes to fix its problems due to its inability to account for new information. The only way to fix what's wrong in the stinking, decaying box is to throw it away and start over.

My understanding of democracy is that it is designed to be an open system, whether we are talking about the democracy that florished in Greek city states, or the democracy which more recently grew out of the period of intellectual enlightenment, which was scientifically driven. Thus, if we truly have a democracy, even a bit of of it, we have an open system, a system with self-correcting mechanisms built into it. Thus, the corrollary question to this post is: Do we truly have a democracy, and if so, how much democracy do we have?

The question of whether we have an open or closed system is an extremely important one, and one of increasing relevance, since the issue of how to change our corrupt political system hinges upon the answer. If the system remains open, it can be fixed by working within the system, but if it is closed, only a revolution overthrowing the government can fix these problems which result from the influence of money on the political system. Make no doubt about it, this is an economic issue and a matter of how we consider "capital," that is, resources. The political system in which we exist, creates the rules and parameters which define capital and regulate its use and distribution.

Evidence of a Closed System

It doesn't take any special powers of observation to discover that certain forces including financial and psychological ones, work to make our political system less amenable to change. Actually, any sentient person who halfway pays attention to what is going on can see what has been happening. Globalized corporatism has created a monster the likes of which the world has never seen before. The economic and political system in which we live seems like something that the rich have created exclusively for themselves, and surely there is much truth in that sentiment. Disparities of wealth are as huge as they have ever been, and continue to increase. Furthermore, people with tremendous amounts of money have become more sophisticated in using it to enhance their wealth, power and prestige. The wealthy have always gamed the rest of society, but now, they have gamed society in ways they never have before. They have learned how to influence public opinion through control of propaganda-spreading media, using means which were not available until the mid-1900s and which were not used in this way until recent years. They have learned to influence politics through lobbying, propaganda, dirty political tricks, and now, with the Citizens United decision here in the United States, through direct spending. They have tapped into socially conservative sentiments to help their cause largely through the use of religious organizations, thus reversing the historic trend of religious professionals supporting progressive causes. Of course, religions themselves tend to be closed systems, although with the mixture of messages seen in religious texts, and the variety of interpretations of religious texts, there is room for either progressive or conservative emphases among religions.

I have encountered many people, including posters, bloggers and professional journalists, who appear to have given up hope that our system remains open. At the same time, ironically, I have noticed that these same people tend to blame individuals within the system, such as the President or Congresspeople, for its problems. Perhaps they do hold hope after all, that if we just elect the "right people" or the left people, the system will be fixed, or at least we will start to fix it. If the system is truly closed, it doesn't matter who is elected or who runs our nation, because the system which the rich have created for themselves is the true problem. I do know some people who hold to that view as well, to be perfectly fair, and although I don't totally agree with that notion, I do agree in part.

An example of a famous journalist of gloom and doom (at least as I see it) who has argued that our system is closed, is Chris Hedges. I reviewed some of his work through the use of the internet over the past few days, as well as what some people had to say about it. Basically, Hedges argues that while liberals have been suckered into consent in order to look after their own personal interests, wealthy conservatives have created a totalitarian society run by big money, and thus are able to pull whichever political strings they wish to. Hedges latest book is called "Death of the Liberal Class," and it blames educators, religious professionals, media, unions, and of course politicians for this situation. I find Hedges to be a very skillful writer and an expert at engaging in hyperbole, consistent with his background as a minister's son and person who abandoned a potential career of following in his father's footsteps after abandoning his faith. There are parts of his argument that I agree with, but other parts that I do not. In general, his assertions that the large majority of religious professionals, media and politicians have forsaken their obligations to the public are true. However his nasty notions that unions and educators have done the same, are utter nonsense and needlessly insulting, I can say as an educator! As a psychologist, I don't believe I have ever personally met another psychologist who is a conservative, or who does not support progressive causes, at least in principle. My advisor at U.C. Riverside, Carolyn Murray, was very active in supporting progressive causes, and so radically progressive that she made me seem like a politically bland, noncommittal young man even though I was fomenting very progressive ideas and sentiments at that time. Another highly politically active progressive professor I worked with was Dr. Geraldine Stahly, who was a champion of women's issues. Not all professors are so politically aware or active, especially since most of them are too busy to pay much attention to politics, but as a whole, they tend to be very progressive. I wrote a post about this very topic a year or so ago, and found this to be the case, although economics and business professors tended to be less progressive than other disciplines, as a whole being rather neutral politically, with a mix of conservatives (who are often tapped as political advisors or commentators) and progressives (who are rarely used as political advisors or commentators). Social scientists tend to be the most progressive, although Dr. Phil is a Texas Republican, a rarity among psychologists. Regarding unions, the protests taking place in Wisconsin and other states speak for themselves. It seems to me that unions, and labor interests in general, have always been supportive of the public good, and now, they are finding issues which resonate with the broader public, as conservative Republicans escalate their assault on unions. Hedges wrote his most recent book prior to the eruption of these union-led protests, although his closed-minded approach, consistent with his religious upbringing would probably prevent him from admitting he was wrong about either the unions or educators being sell-outs.

Moreover, the idea of their even being a "liberal class" is a work of artifice. There can be a rich class, a middle class, and an impoverished class, because wealth or lack thereof is generally passed on to one's offspring, but there is no "liberal class" or "conservative class." To me this notion implies that political views are passed onto one's children, which is clearly not true. I think the great majority of us can look at our own families and see how there are widely varying views on politics. If not, just look at the Reagan family, or progressive talk show hosts such as Stephanie Miller or Thom Hartmann, who were raised by conservatives, or my brothers and myself, progressives who were raised by Eisenhower-type, pacifist, and now disaffected, Republicans, but Republicans nonetheless. There are liberal people (which I prefer to call "progressive"), conservative people, and people who are in-between; there are people with committed political views, and people whose political views are still evolving; there are high information voters who are very politically involved, and low information voters who don't pay much attention to politics; but there is no "liberal class" or "conservative class."

Nonetheless, there is a compelling case to be made that, metaphorically speaking, the edifice of our democratic society, which was built with a copious supply of windows in order to let the light in, has gradually seen more and more of its windows shuttered over the past few decades, by people with the money, motives and political means to shut out the light of day from the public, that we would not see the beauty outside and wish to be a part of it.

Regarding the politics of a closed system, I think the concept of "groupthink" applies rather well. Groupthink is a term for the leadership of organizations, when there is a lack of critical thinking and a denial of evidence which contradicts the prevailing group view. Additionally, when groupthink occurs, there is inevitably a sense of moral righteousness and entitlement among the leaders and consultants who make policy. Actually, this groupthink concept can apply both to government, and corporations -- anyplace where policies are made. Groupthink basically creates a closed system. Thus, the antidote for groupthink, is to open the system to new information, bringing in outside experts, or even ordinary citizens, for instance, and honestly and carefully listening to them, taking their suggestions and information seriously. Also, building in safeguards against groupthink help, such as requirements to have people from a variety of backgrounds or viewpoints be members of the policy making group.

Evidence of an Open System

Despite the evidence that our system is far less democratic or open than it was intended to be, I consider our system still open to a degree. No matter how the forces of plutocracy try to create a permanent state of power for themselves, as long as we maintain a semblance of democracy, as long as we continue to have elections, and open communications through means such as the internet, telephones or even letters, as long as peaceful assembly and protest is asserted as a right, the light of day will always find a way to enter the edifice of our society. It means asserting our rights, educating ourselves politically and civically, and making government our own, but the reality is that change is inevitable, and we collectively are the greatest agents of change. Perhaps many of us have fallen asleep at the wheel, so to speak, while rich conservatives reshaped society for their own purposes, and perhaps much of this happened before many of us were old enough to have much of an effect, or realize what was going on, but the collective "we" remains the primary mover and shaker of societal evolution. Even the plutocrats at Citibank, as revealed in their famous memo from a few years ago, acknowledged that. As one as each person has an equal vote, we have the ultimate power. Money doesn't vote, or protest, or write blog posts; people do.

The system that the founders of our nation set up was an open one, based upon the rationality and scientific approach of the Enlightenment. The only thing which can fundamentally negate that would be an anti-revolution, an overthrow of our government by corrupt, closed-system forces. However, this will never happen as long as we maintain our fundamental identity as a democratic nation. Plutocrats will use subterfuge and sophisticated propaganda techniques to deceive as many of the public as possible, but their deception becomes evident upon any intelligent inspection.


At this point, I think it may require a second blog post to describe my ideas for opening up our political system and encoding openess into law in such a way that the corporatocracy can never get a stranglehold over our, or hopefully any nation in the world's, political system. This may seem a bit trite, but it is up to us to retake our democracy from the forces which would deny it to us.

I am sure we will continue to have differing opinions regarding the state, and even the nature of, our political system. I do know that this world is changing as we speak. Will we need a revolution to "Fire the rich" (as one recent cleverly entitled blog post on the Hartmann site was entitled), or can we, the people, assert ourselves as the bosses, and "lower their salary," "put them in jail" (where some of the rich surely belong), and/or "demote them?" I think it is possible for the public to assert itself as "the boss," though it will take lots of work. What do you think? What are your ideas for opening up our system?


Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 8 years 47 weeks ago

Zenzoe, your cat situation reminds me of my parents and their last cat, who finally disappeared a few months ago while having a medical problem, presumably dead. My mother feared she had developed a cat allergy, so she wouldn't let "Gordon" inside. My wife is the opposite, not letting the cats in, despite the dangers. We have lost various cats, some mysterious disappearances, others explained, and their safety is always something I worry about. We have had 2 cats (both kittens) killed by dogs in the past few years, one run over by a car, and others that simply disappeared, most likely meals for coyotes. If it were up to me, the cats could at least go into the garage at night, but apparently, it's not up to me. The ones we have seem to be supersmart victors in the Darwinian struggle to adapt, cats who know to sleep on roofs, etc.

My parents are now into birds, much like Dhavid. They have bird feeders and books about birds, which they try to identify. They even try to attract specific species of birds. Last time, they wanted to lure a Blue Jay to live in our yard. I don't know how we can make such strong inferences about the consciousness of different animals, but I do have an intuition about it. Some cats even seem to be more cognizant than others. In general, intelligence and consciousness correlate, but consciousness might correlate with other phenomena as well.

How to segway from birds to Jung I don't know, but I must admit I am not a fan of Jung, either, although I don't hate him either. He had some good ideas, like androgyny and other types of psychological balance. He was the first to point out the significance of the introversion/extraversion dimension. He had some interesting ideas about synchronicity, collective unconscious, etc. but they get into some areas that I get skeptical about, although if Jung were correct, it might be possible to prove it. I have yet to see the proof but maybe nobody has seriously tried.

p.s. We have reached a milestone here with 100+ replies to a blog post. I think that is the most of any blog post on this site since its inception, unless there is some post I didn't pay attention to with more, such as the "meat thread." Gaga is also close to 100. Thanks for all your comments, people! (You know who you are.) I have noticed too that some people post, then disappear, or comment, then disappear. I have replied to a variety of blog posts only to never have the original author respond. Well, I obviously I am not in that post and run camp of authors.

dhavid 8 years 47 weeks ago

Natural Lefty wrote, "My parents are now into birds, much like Dhavid. They have bird feeders and books about birds, which they try to identify. They even try to attract specific species of birds. Last time, they wanted to lure a Blue Jay to live in our yard. I don't know how we can make such strong inferences about the consciousness of different animals, but I do have an intuition about it. Some cats even seem to be more cognizant than others. In general, intelligence and consciousness correlate, but consciousness might correlate with other phenomena as well."

It seems to me that essentially all things in the entire Universe spring from, and are related to, the One. Others see things as separate, individual, standing alone. To me human consciousness is a shared thing. Others see it as only individual. Huxley, in his Perrenial Philosophy, says that the human spirit and the Divine Spirit are of the same essence, and that it is therefore possible for some sort of communion there. To me this Divine Spirit fills, and is at the root of all things, human and otherwise.

In the high mountains here dwells the gray jay. When I first moved here and came upon them I was amazed. Actually, I still am. If you stay still, with a piece of bread on your hand, they will land on your hand, take the bread, and fly off. They aren't really afraid of you. When the food is gone, they leave.

nimblecivet 8 years 47 weeks ago
Quote dhavid:

It seems to me that essentially all things in the entire Universe spring from, and are related to, the One. Others see things as separate, individual, standing alone. To me human consciousness is a shared thing. Others see it as only individual. Huxley, in his Perrenial Philosophy, says that the human spirit and the Divine Spirit are of the same essence, and that it is therefore possible for some sort of communion there. To me this Divine Spirit fills, and is at the root of all things, human and otherwise. {Maybe we can agree on a "both yet neither" perspective on this subject!}

Animals definately have (a) soul! The anti-animal rights activists have put forth some astonishingly shameless arguments to try to base their perspective on the idea that animals are not "conscious". They can never explain why animals would have developed the expressive behavior which they so clearly demonstrate and communicate. I used to bicycle past a slaughterhouse. Regrettably, I am currently not sticking to a vegan diet as I had for some time. When I am more in control of my circumstances again I will. I rationalize it now that I partake of free food that it is already paid for so I am not responsible.

I've been having a real good time over at "neoliberalism". If you want people to comment on your blog it seems the best way to do it is to piss them off. Unethical in my opinion.

The only thing of Jung's I read is his translation and commentary on "The Secret of the Golden Flower", a Taoist alchemical text. He posits that a study of this document and others can reveal patterns of thinking that are applicable to psychoanalysis. Roughly, the search for immortality can be seen to reveal a pattern of thinking and dealing with the world while nurturing yourself which in our modern parlance would be conceptualized as reaching a state of being O.K. (the best we can do in substitute for immortality I guess).

Zenzoe 8 years 47 weeks ago

Dhavid, somehow the period at the end of my sentence got included in the link, so it wouldn't work—   though, perhaps you're not interested? Anyway, it's not that I "hate" the man; I just find it hard to put my trust in a man who sleeps with his patients, then, when one of those patients' parents objects, he refuses to stop sleeping with their daughter unless they pay him! Perhaps the mores and ethical sensibilities back then tolerated such egregiously unethical and sexist men, but my impression is that he was simply an arrogant bastard.

I'll be back time right now.

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 8 years 47 weeks ago

I was writing a reply a few minutes ago when my computer shut down and automatically restarted to install a windows update. I had forgotten about the update. Do you get those annoying things?

Anyway, I must have missed that day in school when it was revealed that Jung was having sex with some of his patients. I also missed the day when it was revealed that we was a misogynist, but I will take Zenzoe's word for it. I did know that he was a Nazi sympathizer, which I think led to his alienation from Freud. Some of this could be attributed to the times in which he lived, but not having sex with patients. That is a violation of professional ethics.

I do believe that all living things have a living spirit. As far as consciousness is concerned, it is difficult to know exactly what other animals experience, but I do think they have consciousness to one degree or another, some much more than others. I thought that Dhavid was implying that he didn't think that birds have consciousness, but I may have misunderstood. I have seen some very smart birds on television, such as African Grey Parrots which can speak, solve problems and answer questions. I can sense some sort of cognizance there. I think greater brain power correlates with greater consciousness though. Our brains and bodies exude electromagnetic fields which I think interact with those of others. We are all part of the same reality, all living creatures, like little beacons of light. I agree with Dhavid and I think, Nimblecivit that we all spring from and are related to, the same source, which we perceive as the divine.

I have noticed that the best way to generate a lot of interest is to be controversial and piss people off, but I also think that is unethical, so I don't intentionally try to do that. A lot of the activity on the message boards, for instance, happens when conservatives say something intentionally derogatory toward progressives to incite a response. There were threads I was tempted to participate in of that nature which I decided against. Most of those conservatives no longer seem to post on the boards, however, and they never did the blog thing from the beginning. I did see people calling each other completely wrong on the neoliberalism thread, although it wasn't quite the same thing as I used to see.

dhavid 8 years 47 weeks ago

Concerning the fact that Carl Jung was a racist, woman hating bigot - I will take Natural Lefty's word for it, as he takes Zenzoes word for it. And Zenzoe will take the word of Jeffrey Masson in his1997 book review in the LA Times. And Jeffrey Masson will take the word of Frank McLynn, who published a long biography in 1997. I didn't see any context for these slurs. I guess it is necessary to read the book, which I haven't. Perhaps context isn't important. Lucky for Jung he had already been dead for 46 years before all this came out, or he might have been looking for another job!

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 8 years 47 weeks ago

Well, for the sake of understanding her point of view, I took Zenzoe's word for it. I don't really know whether those allegations are true or not. That's why I say "I missed that day in school," either because there were no such events, or they happened but nobody where I went to school knew about them.

I did read an interesting article by Jeffrey Masson which discussed how Freud's patients were almost all victims of sexual abuse, and Freud initially believed them, but after being ostacised for suggesting such a thing, decided that their recollections of sexual abuse were actually fantasies in wihch they had wished as childen to have sex with their male elders. I found that article very credible and a good explanation of how Freud developed his fantasy theory, especially the "phallic stage" of "psychosexual development." I usually tell my classes that this is how he came up with his theory, in fact, and thus it was based on the non-acceptance of the existance of child molesters in polite Vienna society in the late 1800s.

Zenzoe 8 years 47 weeks ago

Typical, how Freud was apparently exposed to autopsies of physical and sexual abuse of children and yet was able to rationalize disbelief, then blame the child. Isn't this how it goes in this patriarchal world? Freud's "theory" —talk about fantasies!— on the "phallic stage," etc., on the notion that little girls want to have sex with their fathers, is pure crap, and it shows what little self-awareness he had. Topping that, though, was his penis envy theory. Only a man could come up with that one, since men lack a sense of the absurd, where their private parts are concerned. (I am so LOL.) That is, with the exception of Mister Rogers, who wrote the "Everybody's Fancy" song.

As for Jung, you will believe what you want to believe. If you want a hero/icon, nothing anyone says about him will matter. It seems to me, however, anybody with the conceit to postulate theories about the human psyche, and then present them to the world for acceptance as brilliant and original, probably has the conceit to take advantage of a patient sexually, and then propose the loss of that sexual toy as worthy of compensation. But he would not be the first "great" man to be corrupt. Imagine, though, if he were Carla Jung, instead. How far would she have gotten, no matter how full of fanciful inventions her mind was?

I'd rather talk about cats and dogs. I still don't know what consciousness means in this context. I do know that humans grossly underestimate the intelligence and capacity for feeling of other sentient creatures, including mudskippers. When Jazzy races past me into the kitchen and slides to a stop, facing the back door, I get the message— "Me want outside." And it's not that I've read her mind —which is probably the size of a large radish but smart enough for sign language— or that this exchange between us required any sort of special awareness. It's that she knows what she wants and knows how to show me; and I can read signs, believe it or not. There's no telepathy involved, not that dhavid was talking about telepathic powers.

My sister has an African Grey parrot. Once, when the bird was stationed in the kitchen, a friend of theirs came into the kitchen by himself, picked up a sandwich and sat down at the island counter to eat it. So Silver, the parrot, calls out to everybody in adjacent room, "George feeding his face, George feeding his face!"

I also think animals probably have special consciousness, by virtue of their highly developed senses. We just have no clue about so many things! I mean, you know, dogs that can tell when their human is about to go into diabetic shock, and other such amazing stuff. My cats all know when I'm about to wake up in the morning; I know this, because that's always when a cat appears in my dream, going, "Waa. Waa. Waa." It's also when I realize I'm not dreaming anymore.

dhavid 8 years 47 weeks ago

Zenzoe wrote, " It seems to me, however, anybody with the conceit to postulate theories about the human psyche, and then present them to the world for acceptance as brilliant and original, probably has the conceit to take advantage of a patient sexually, and then propose the loss of that sexual toy as worthy of compensation."

I think that is a very good and insightful point! A keen understanding of human nature. However, I am not sure this categorization applies to Jung. What I have read of him shows me the opposite, as he was quite well read, and he acknowledged his sources. He was very original, however, in his essay 'Syncronicity, the Acausal Connection Principle.'

My dogs also know when I am going to wake up, before I actually do. Reminds me of college and staying up all night with amphetamines to study for a test. My roomate on several occasions asked me to wake him early, at a certain time. I would go to where he was sleeping, find him in his sleep with my consciousness, help him wake to consciousness, and just before he woke up I would take my hand and touch him so he wouldn't know how I had actually woken him. I am sure your rationality will doubt this, nevertheless, such was my experience; a memory from 40 years ago.

Zenzoe 8 years 47 weeks ago

Dhavid, the more I read about Jung, the more I realize we have stumbled into an area close to your heart. I don’t know how much of a disciple of the man you are, but I can see, based on many things you have said about your life and experiences, how his ideas must have resonated with you. Thus, I want you to know, because of my discomfort whenever you and I are in disagreement, I mean no disrespect to you or your philosophies by my criticism of Jung. I always think the best of you, no matter what.

That is to say, on a lighter note, if you want to be a born-again, Jungian-pagan, that’s okay with me! (Again, I hope that doesn’t offend. I'm kidding you.)

I’m sure my unease is, in part, based on my experience with a niece who banned me from her good graces and life, because I said, “I love you, but I can’t be a Catholic.” I mean, it’s darn scary. I know you aren’t like that, dhavid, but I’ve learned the hard way— “Hell hath no fury like a [true believer] scorned.”

Anyway, to return to the subject itself, with trepidation, while I see the positives in some of Jung’s theories (those I know about, only superficially), I remain convinced, based on several things I have read, that Jung took advantage of his female patients. What I’m learning, though, is that he wasn’t an "honest" dirty old man in later life, during the time he was formulating his theories, but, rather, he rationalized his sexual exploitation of female patients as being “mystic marriages,” and part of the practice of neo-occultish, mystical yoga nonsense (in my opinion). Thus, he was “taking advantage,” in the sense of unequal power dynamics, which we now understand as exploitive, even as rape, because the notion of “consent” is meaningless there, while he was making a pretense at "healthy" paganism.

However, before his ventures into the occult and paganism, as a young man, he was just your garden-variety womanizer (my opinion). In 1903, at age 28, he not only married, but began having sexual relations with another woman, his mentally-ill patient, Sabina Spielrein, age 19, who became his long-time mistress, among many. He wrote in a letter to Freud, “Spielrein is the person I wrote you about. … She was, of course, systematically planning my seduction, which I considered inopportune. Now she is seeking revenge.”   Ha! “planning my seduction!” The notion of understanding the natural attachment of a female patient to a handsome, male authority figure, what you professionals now refer to as “transference, (Freud)” never occurred to him; that is, he never considered putting her care first, and preferred to blame her, then take advantage. Jung’s view of her as an evil seductress was classic sexism, the old theme of woman as evil temptress, an evil trap for innocent males.

Sorry, Dhavid, I can’t get on board with the guy. It doesn't matter to me that he synthesized from a number of traditions a quasi-religious, psychoanalytic theory; his behavior discredits his character and life, for me. He used people. One can forgive him for being human, but one does not go ahead and join his cult, not that you have done that. Obviously, I could still be wrong about him, it goes without saying.

What follows are from some of my readings, just so you have an idea of my sources:

“Neither was Carl Gustav the man of principle that most would have hoped. There is undeniable evidence of both intellectual and academic dishonesty on Jung’s part, as well as sexual involvement with his clients. He was an overpowering and coercive figure, utterly prepared to use people to advance his cause, more than helping them when they came seeking healing—the way he got his fingers into the pockets of the McCormicks and Rockefellers is an example of this. History and facts were of limited importance to him; he seemed not to want to be “bogged down” by them.”

“This reassessment of Carl Jung and the present-day applications of his theories will please few followers of Jungian thought. Noll argues that Jungian analysis has evolved to a cult of personality around its founder, to the point of becoming a religion--with Jung as its prophet, and today's analysts its priesthood. If it's a religious movement, Noll argues, there's too much focus on economic and personal promotion. As a way to explain the workings of the human mind, Noll asserts, Jungian theory contains little that is truly new, borrowing as it does from nineteenth-century occultism, social Darwinism, and neopaganism. Noll further takes to task many cornerstones of Jungian thought, such as the collective unconscious.” The Jung Cult : Origins of a Charismatic Movement [Paperback]
“The original occult initiation process envisioned and propagated by Jung and perhaps actually experienced by him and by some of his inner core of disciples has for the most part disappeared. This is certainly true of that process as it may have been acted out concretely, and not just symbolically-a rising tide of undue familiarity cases (to which other mental health professions have been similarly subject) has all but eliminated the possibility that "mystic marriages" could be safely consummated in bed.”

“...Much of what we now see happening in the domains of religion and spirituality and culture can be laid at Jung's doorstep-the modern amalgam of goddess worship and polytheism; the replacement of morality- oriented Jewish and Christian worship with ancient pagan initiation rituals; resurgent pantheism in scientific and pseudo-scientific guise; and above all a brutal moral relativism.”

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 8 years 47 weeks ago

I do have to wonder just how relevant to the openness of our political/economic system this conversation has become, but it remains extraordinarily interesting. I think in a general sense, we are talking about the openness of nature when we talk about the abilities of animals, or theories such as Jung's which propose an open system is behind it all, and the closedness of the culture humans have created when we talk about things like Freud's fantasy theory regarding sexual molestation.

I agree with Zenzoe about Freud and men's private parts (LOL) but we can blame Freud all we want and that doesn't change the fact (according to Masson) that he initially thought that molestation was a huge problem, mostly for females since most of his patients were female, but his "colleagues" convinced him to think otherwise. It was only after that, according to Masson, that Freud deluded himself into believing that the sexual molestation was only a fantasy, along with all the concommittant, bizarre aspects of his theory which that implied. By the way, it was Geraldine Stahley who gave me the article by Masson about Freud. I suppose that article helped shape her feminine perspective on Freud, a perspective I agree with. Personally, I don't know all that much about Jung, but I do know a lot about Freud and feel I have a handle on what went wrong in his theory, which is a lot.

The talk about the fantastic sensory or possible mind reading abilities of animals is supportive in my view of my observations that 1. We only are endowed with certain senses which give us knowledge of a limited amount of what is "out there;" 2. We are little beacons of electromagnetic energy, and much else which remains to be discovered, for all we know, which leads to possibilities such as Dhavid perhaps using his thought processes to wake up his roommate.

Pets such as dogs and cats are very good at not only sensing our states, but also at communicating their emotions, wishes and even "thoughts" such as they are, to us. Perhaps the communication abilities of dogs and cats are what made them a good match for humans in the first place, or perhaps they have evolved these abilities to a greater degree over the millienia through their association with humans. I think it would be interesting to have an African Grey Parrot, though. Gotta go now. "Robert feeding his face" (Lunchtime).

nimblecivet 8 years 47 weeks ago

One of the message board posts today was about a Supreme Court ruling having something to do with requiring records pertaining to the bailout money being open to public scrutiny. If I remember correctly, basically what it was is that the Supreme Court denied an appeal of the ruling that Bernie Sanders' bill is legal. That is, Bernie had legislation passed that opened the Fed to partial auditing, in respect to the bailout funds, etc.

But about dogs, here is a Greek rhetoritician describing the hurried evacuation of a Greek city during one of the Persian invasions:

"...And there are stories of how the dogs howled at being left behind, and, with other pet animals, followed people down to the shore, causing great distress."

The author of the book where this quotation appears continues:

"Plutarch (Them.10), in a generally similar picture, says that the very old had to be left; and adds the story of one dog (remembered because it belonged to the boy Perikles' family). Xanthippos, back from exile, embarked on a ship of war; and his dog plunged into the sea and swam across the strait to Salamis, only to die exhausted after dragging itself ashore; a landmark on a headland of Salamis was said to be a memorial to it: Kynos-sema, the Dog's Monument."

I can't comment on the Jung thing because I tend to be suspicious of the motives of accusers. I don't want to risk implying that Zenzoe (you) is not being fair or has been duped in some way because I would tend to trust her (your) perspective and judgment. Nevertheless I have come away skeptical about people's ability to render final judgement on subjects like this because the actual events are obscured by history. It's hard to imaging how certain evidence can be "explained", though so maybe if I had time to read those articles I would be more confident in believing the accusations.

One story I would like to share, though it may seem tangential, is that there was a teacher here in the Bay Area who was accused of child porn. He was being a thorn in the side of the system by demanding that funds be properly allocated to schools in low-income areas. The funds had been improperly diverted. He was acquited after it was revealed that the porn had been downloaded all at once while the computer it was found on was in the classroom while he was not there (after hours). Who downloaded that porn? Where did they get it and why did they have it? Do you remember that during the Bush administration the head of Operation Predator (an anti-child porn operation) was convicted of child-porn charges? I am also sceptical of the charges against that liberal talk show host (can't remember his name) and those against that Idaho Senator Larry Craig. He was probably reaching under the stall to take a bribe; how could his homosexuality gone unknown all that time if he, a major U.S. Senator, was into risky public sex?

Zenzoe 8 years 47 weeks ago

The only thing I would add in my defense re the Jung bit, is that Jung's womanizing and sexual affairs with clients is pretty well documented, via letters, etc. I say this, even though I agree with Nimblecivet, in general, about the difficulty of judging the personal lives of persons from the past. I would also say I am not judging Jung from a position of superiority. We all have our weaknesses and flaws, including me. I was just explaining why I don't find his theories to be worthy of worshipful respect.

Normally, I too prefer to take most scandals with a grain of salt. I am most outraged when whole communities go wild with hysterical accusations at some teacher, on the word of children who have been manipulated to remember things that didn't happen. Very scary stuff.

Why does this darn program switch to page 1 on "preview." Now I can't read over again what you guys said.

Anyway, those dog stories Nimblecivet posted are unforgetable. I love dogs too. Wish I could have one.


dhavid 8 years 47 weeks ago

The great philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti used to often say "the speaker is not important," that is, the truth of the matter is the only importance. In retrospect his deflection of any attention to himself may have had something to do with the fact that he had an affair with his assistant's wife for many years, only to be brought out in a book by her daughter, after his death. Nevertheless, I would still agree with the basic tenet, and would approach Jung the same way.

I would credit Jung with his pioneering work describing the process of individuation, as he defined it. It was helpful and consoling to me when I was younger as he pointed out that the individuation process implies "isolation, and there is no more comforting word for it." That is, in fact, true. His understanding of that process was very helpful to me.

I take no offence at all from this exchange, at all. In fact, I am always glad to be allowed to see the details of Jung, or Freud, or Krishnamurti, or anyone else. Thanks for the information! It seems there are no perfect people. I am not invested in people, but rather in truth. I see my life as a constant surrender to that which is, and in my own silence, I revell in life. And that life, which is all around and in us, is beyond perfect (and also beyond words). It is also personal, and beyond personal.

One Eastern saying is "Thou art That."

Zenzoe 8 years 47 weeks ago

Then there is this: Alfred Adler: "Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement." I think it could also be said that truth happens at the level of events, not of words, and so, trust only movement. It is what people do that reveals their highest values. Sure, a male chauvinist psychiatrist is capable of formulating a truism, but as soon as he violates the principle of care for patients above that of himself, his "truth" becomes suspect.

Regardless, the good thing is that we've come a long way toward neutralizing the ugly face of sexual predation by authority figures. At least now we see how damaging it is. At least now we see it's not a matter of boys being boys.

Anyway, dhavid, I never cease to admire your consistency of spirit. And I do not doubt the notion of "individuation" was helpful to you. On the other hand, that notion is understood by parents the world over, if they truly care for their children. It may not come with a fancy word to describe it, but we know it, don't we? I understood, when my sons were becoming adult men, they would have to separate from me in ways that were sometimes painful for me. A mother accepts this, however, even if it hurts, because she knows it's a necessary step toward maturation. The nice thing is that they return, eventually, but as stronger individuals. Not that I always appreciate being told to go sit in the corner until I'm ready to behave myself.

dhavid 8 years 47 weeks ago

Zenzoe wrote, " And I do not doubt the notion of "individuation" was helpful to you. On the other hand, that notion is understood by parents the world over, if they truly care for their children." Perhaps generically so, but the individuation Jung was referring to was not that which many if not most people experience in the emancipation from the authority of the parents, but rather the individuation from society, national identity, unconscious religion, groupthink, and even the narrow ego identity most of us call 'the real.'

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Natural Lefty 8 years 47 weeks ago

Openness, this is good. It's hard to believe that's the same Supreme Court that gave us the Citizen's United ruling. Now we can partially audit the fed. Is that where the information that the Banksters were given 9 trillion dollars instead of 1 trillion came from? (It's still good to have something directly related to the original topic. Thanks Nimblecivit).

I really am not very impressed with psychodynamic theories as a whole, in case one cannot see that as being readily evident. I do think they hit on some good ideas, along with the bad ones, though. Adler's or Erickson's would be the ones I relate to the best among psychodynamic people. I used to teach at CSPP (California School of Professional Psychology) and recall that a lot of people there were into Jung. I think the points made here by others are all valid. Like Zenzoe, I have a respect problem when I find out that some prominant person has apparently been abusing others or the system. People such as Jung seem to be held up as the best society has to offer, by some at least, but in reality, these prominant people often seem closer to being the worst society has to offer. As far as theoretical contributions of psychologists are concerned, as I point out to my classes, a lot of the valid ones are actually grounded in common sense. We all know about individuation on a personal level, for instance. Such topics as operant conditioning and observational learning are other examples from the behavioral and social cognitive perspectives, respectively. However, these researchers and theoreticians delve into these topics in far more detail than any observant parent would ever be likely to, and find out much more about them, such as the generalization of individuation noted by Dhavid. It is not just about being able to overcome a dependence on one's family to provide an identity, but also, overcoming dependence on nationality, job, religion, ego, or the comforts of groupthink in understanding who we are.

As an intrepid truth seeker, I also agree that it fundamentally doesn't matter where the truth we find comes from on this journey, although one has to wonder just how much a person who selfishly abuses others or the system really understands while espousing seemingly enlightened ideologies.

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johnmckinney 8 years 47 weeks ago


Zenzoe 8 years 47 weeks ago

Dhavid said, "Perhaps generically so, but the individuation Jung was referring to was not that which many if not most people experience in the emancipation from the authority of the parents, but rather the individuation from society, national identity, unconscious religion, groupthink, and even the narrow ego identity most of us call 'the real.'"

Thanks for enlightening me on that one. As I've said, I don't claim to know everything about Jung's theories.

So, what happened to “All differences in this world are of degree, and not of kind, because oneness is the secret of everything.” (Swami Vivekananda, whoever that is.) Are we to be individuated, or one with all? I am so confused... ;-)

Btw, is it possible our collective unconscious is manifesting in violent uprisings and protests in various parts of the world; that is, the civil disobedience is inspired not only by conscious needs and wants but also by an unconscious awareness that the world is about to go catastrophic in all sorts of ways?

As for Freud, it's clear he was Woody Allen without the humor—"Death instinct" theory, sex obsession, thinking that girls want to have sex with their fathers...

I don't know about you, but I'd like one of those Pink Freud t-shirts.

It's a good thing John stopped by to get us back on the subject. Poor gorilla.

dhavid 8 years 47 weeks ago

Zenzoe, I am afraid I must correct myself. Jung said individuation, separating from the unconscious herd (as he called it) was like one being called to a vocation, from latin vocatus, lit. to be called by a voice. When I wrote, " but rather the individuation from society, national identity, unconscious religion, groupthink, and even the narrow ego identity most of us call 'the real," I was describing my own individuation/vocation as a philosopher and sometimes mystic. Jung in the next paragraph uses Goethe and Napoleon as examples of this process.

Relating to the original topic, at least on a microcosm this blog is an open system, as it is self-correcting, and we are part of America (the progressive part). Trying to decide if the American political system is open or closed is too close to call for me, but if I were put in a corner I would say it is still open. What I can't understand is how a "no fly zone" really means killing all the pilots and destroying all the airplanes, along with tanks, and troops, and Khadafi's residence itself. I always thought a "no fly zone" was where you kept airplanes from flying in a certain airspace.

Vivekananda was the intellectual disciple of Ramakrishna, a 19th century Indian mystic who is still deeply loved by the Indian people. His story is an interesting story. He worshiped the feminine, in the form of the Goddess Kali, and lived at a temple dedicated to her. He was often entranced and couldn't even stand up, caught in ecstasy. Your question is a great question. Perhaps individuation ultimately is the experience of "Thou art That." Then oneness and individuation would be basically the same.

Zenzoe 8 years 47 weeks ago

I don't know what it is about you, dhavid, but your writing style always has such a calm aura, metaphorically speaking, regardless of the content, that I am unable to disagree— you must be a philosopher and a mystic! My moods are all over the place, so I tend to admire such consistency in others, even though we both remember what [somebody] said about consistency, which doesn't apply to you.

However, when I read, " Perhaps individuation ultimately is the experience of 'Thou art That,'" I go, "Huh?" That's because it's been a long time since I have read Huxley's Perennial Philosophy, where he talks about such in the first chapter, "That Art Thou." I guess you can state it backwards, if you wish, though I'm not sure That wants Thou to come first... Anyway, I always have a hard time with such concepts, including the one that has all humans as brothers and sisters. Even though I realize we're all human, some of us are more human than others, and some others yet hardly even qualify as human, to say nothing of qualifying as my brother or sister. I struggle with this. I'd like to be a saint, or even a tolerant liberal through and through, but I'm not. I think of the bastards who are torturing Bradley Manning, or those American soldiers who posed happily with the corpses of Afghan's they'd mutilated for the fun of it, and I think, "These are not my brothers!" I am definitely not "one" with them! Even though I understand the social and psychological terrain that creates such corruption, I cannot embrace them. I am no Jesus Christ, and I know it.

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Natural Lefty 8 years 47 weeks ago

Frankly, I like you better than Jesus, Zenzoe. I like Dhavid and Nimblecivit better than I like Jesus too. I don't really know who Jesus was, other than a mythologized, ancient Rorschach test of a person who was tragically crucified in the days when that sort of thing was common. At least you people are genuine. I also have that "you are not my brother" response at times, as when church people call me brother.

I think Thou Art That means everything is One, in a roundabout way, but it does elict sort of a Huh? response in me too. I think the answer is that we are all special parts of the larger One, as we individuate, much like cells in a body. If individuation was about separateness, it would only indicate isolation, which is not a good thing.

Freud would be unintentionally hilarious were his theory not such a tragically misleading one. In fact, teaching his theory can be hilarious at times. "So this Freud dude believed that girls thought they used to be boys but had been tragically castrated and turned into girls. Was this guy a crazy, woman hating nut, or what?"

I had the same impression as Dhavid about no fly zones, and then we are told it means an air war against some other nation. Hmm, how is it that things keep getting reinterpreted to favor war-like actions?

There were some recent attempts by Nimblecivit and myself to relate to the original topic, albeit overwhelmed by our psychological discussions. I have to agree with Dhavid that I would vote that our system is still open in a close call, unlike the new kid on the block. It's difficult to deal with one-word answers, since that leaves no explanation for the answer, but at least he weighed in. I would also agree that this thread is a good example of an open system, with self-correcting free-thinking features. Our government could use more of that.

dhavid 8 years 47 weeks ago

Zenzoe, your post above reminds me of Krishnamurti talking about the ideal and the actual. I am this, but I aspire to be that. Perhaps I work toward it. And so the tension goes on, for a lifetime, with the belief in psychological evolution. K argued "there is no psychological evolution," rather, there is only the ending (of becoming). Then one dwells only with the actual, giving up the ideal, which is only another concept. Ironically, it seems that it is only here that the possibility of transformation exists. I think abandoning the ideal and living with full acceptance of who you are, what actually is, is a form of freedom in itself. This relates to, and is parallel with, the rejection of all authority, as I have argued previously. Then, one experiences, and draws life and wisdom from the richness of their own unique depths.

nimblecivet 8 years 47 weeks ago

I have started in on Hannah Arendt's On Revolution and even though I am only a few pages into it I have already found a wealth of succinct expostulations of political philosophy. Her discussion of the Greek polis contains some insights which I think are relevant here and could help us reconnect the discussion to the topic possibly.

The Greek notion of freedom and equality rested upon the creation of a distinct political space where equals met. Freedom was the political condition of those who met the qualifications for participation, usually ownership of property though in some cases a vote was extended to greater segments of the population. As Arendt explains, for the Greeks freedom did not exist for each person in a relationship of inequality. Thus both the master and the slave did not experience freedom in their respective (albeit very different) statuses, they were each bound by a form of necessity. Only when the master-class dealt amongst themselves did they conceptualize their relationship as founded upon a basis of freedom and equality.

Today we view the concepts of freedom and equality as expressive of inalienable rights, part of the natural human condition; we are all born equal and with "freedom". But what does this mean in a society which is dominated by a ruling class?

One of the reasons we see the lack of resolution between concepts such as "individuation" and "individuality" is that individualism is a term which Western philosophy has failed to salvage from the effects of our dystopic modern conditioning. I retain a prejudice towards the notion of individuality, but the term individual in our culture has lost its philosophical value due to the conditioning of the concept as a result of the mass-psychological conditioning of the market.

The cross-cultural aspects of this discussion are interesting. Is there an irony in that non-Western cultures are offering a philosophical rescue so to speak of the individual? I would argue that perspectives such as Krishnamurti's (not that I have the right to offer an opinion having read nothing of his work directly myself) and others represent what is actually an international culture. There are many examples of cultural and philosophical production, I think I mentioned Arundhati Roi once, that reflect an awareness of the producer of multiple traditions. Gradually, a world culture could emerge from this.

But anyway, my criticism/question regarding the value of mysticism(?) is this: the original social context of the Vedantic philosophy was different from the context of modern life. It developed in a context where authority was a very real and unquestioned factor of day-to-day life. The reverence for saints was greater perhaps than that of warlords, tribal leaders, but no less an attitude of what I would call submission. Perhaps not to "authority", but I still ask, given that humans are social creatures, what is the relevance of this type of perspective not only to a given person seeking enlightenment but to all of us insofar as we seek to manifest a certain vision of the future, of the world we leave our children? What way of life does it entail insofar as it must reflect in some way the interaction of persons as the means to deliberate ends? How can we be "open" to each other? What type of system(s), if any, will we construct?

By the way, I wore out my welcome pretty quick at "neoliberalism". Oh well. If I were a better man...

Zenzoe 8 years 46 weeks ago

When I refer to Jesus Christ, I’m thinking of the Jesus found in the Beatitudes, especially, with all due apologies to NL for taking him to church—

"Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake."


"Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: but I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.
And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy.
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?"

Really, “love your enemies?” I don’t know how to do that. But, can you imagine how the world would be, if government policies were informed by such teachings? (You do have to wonder if right-wing, Christian fundamentalist politicians have ever read Jesus' teachings.)

If openness is a good thing on the governmental level, it is probably good thing on the personal level. That’s why I would question dhavid’s comments here: “This relates to, and is parallel with, the rejection of all authority, as I have argued previously. Then, one experiences, and draws life and wisdom from the richness of their own unique depths.” What worries me about that is the implication that one would become closed to the influence of others who may have more experience, or insight, or perhaps just a different slant on things that might be helpful in some way. I’m not sure one can ever become so “complete” that one can entirely trust one’s “own unique depths” as a fount of all “life and wisdom” and richness. I’m not convinced that wouldn’t be folly, or arrogance, or some sort of excuse for feeling superior, especially since most “holy” men and women have been discovered to be not altogether perfect. Anyway, let’s just say I wouldn’t want to go there myself, despite my advanced humanity and richly appointed mental facilities.... ;-) For one thing, nobody but me would believe it. And for me to believe it, I'd have to have bats in my belfry, and we all know how difficult it is to ring one's bell, when there are bats hanging off it.

I do agree, though, it is a good idea not to put too much trust in authority, just to contradict myself here. Very good idea! Einstein (my authority quote of the moment) said, “A foolish faith in authority is the worst enemy of truth,” and, man o man I do agree with that!

As for the ideal and the actual, the ideal much is forever being betrayed by the actual little.* Which reminds me— have I ever told you that little feminist joke that answers the question, "Why are women so bad at judging distance and measuring things, in general?" Well, it's because they are forever being told this [——————————————————] (when telling the joke in person, you gesture 3 inches between your thumb and forefinger ) is eight inches.

* correction.

dhavid 8 years 46 weeks ago

Good ol Al Einstein. Full time scientist, part time philosopher. I have always liked this quote, "You can see life in one of two ways, that either nothing is a miracle, or everything is a miracle." I have never heard anything he said that I disagreed with, including "A foolish faith in authority is the worst enemy of truth.” Sounds like he may have read Emerson with his use of foolish (as in, A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.) So one thing we know from these gentlemen is that fools are losers; they have that insight in common. Zenzoe wrote, "That’s why I would question dhavid’s comments here: “This relates to, and is parallel with, the rejection of all authority, as I have argued previously. Then, one experiences, and draws life and wisdom from the richness of their own unique depths.” What worries me about that is the implication that one would become closed to the influence of others who may have more experience, or insight, or perhaps just a different slant on things that might be helpful in some way. I’m not sure one can ever become so “complete” that one can entirely trust one’s “own unique depths” as a fount of all “life and wisdom” and richness." ...I can see how my approach might appear foolish, at first glance.

Here is my idea, which may appear foolish to some: When your body dies, you don't. That which continues, that which you 'take with you' is exactly who you are at the time of death. Your essential character (attachments and all) and that which you know to be true also remain, continue. However, theories, speculations, someone else's truth - these things vanish, as with the wind. It may seem that I am selfishly preparing for death but in fact this is not true, it's just the way I roll. Further, as an explanatory note, the 'unique depth' of each person to me is not a closed system. It is, rather, an open system, unfettered by time or place, with unlimited potential. The depths that Einstein, or Jesus, or Shakespeare touched are equally available to all.

Concerning selfless love, 'agape' in Greek, a love seemingly impossible to live from the self's perspective: I understand that this love is not personal, but rather extends to all, equally. It is the same with goodness. I wrote a quote on my bedroom wall years ago (which is still there): "The wise are good to people that are good. She is also good to people who are not good. This is the true good." A few years later I added a line: "Actually, the true good goes to all, equally." This goodness,this giving, this love simply is - and lucky are those who have a friend, or friends, who live this. Lucky more still are those who, by a grace they can only be thankful for, live this.

That is a very funny joke. I had never heard it. From the male perspective it might go something like this: Why do men think women are frail, and incapable of doing a man's work? Because they always have headaches, and they are always 'too tired.'

Zenzoe 8 years 46 weeks ago

LOL, dhavid, and touché. Well, maybe they always have headaches and are always too tired for you-know-what, because they're confused and befuddled by the disconnect between reality and the promises they're forever being told. Or, maybe it’s because it’s so tiring to have their questions and commentaries continually answered with a long pause, then, “What?” “Huh?” “Did you say something?” Btw, I’ve heard, though I won’t verify it personally, that the more housework the man shares with his wife, the more sex they’ll be having. That’s because the sight of a man hauling out the trash says “I love you” much more than the sight of a dude slopped across the couch watching sports with a Burgemeister balanced atop his beer gut. And we all know “I love you” does it for most women. That’s because we’re genetically wired to make sure he’ll stick around, once the progeny arrive. That’s why William Congreve (670-1729) said, "Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned," though many thought it before him. Of course they didn’t know it had anything to do with the perpetuation of feminine genes and the survival of the species, or that it wasn’t a matter of petty spite.

As for selfless “love,” there seems to be a contradiction there, when you say, “I understand that this love is not personal,” and then go on to say, “and lucky are those who have a friend, or friends, who live this.” Seems pretty personal to me.

Anyway, it reminds me of the time my mother chided me for avoiding a person who had been mean to me over many years. She reminded me, as was her habit, to remember “unconditional love.” So I wrote a response to her (I don’t think I’ve shared this here before, but sorry, if I have), to say the following:

“I agree with Erich Fromme’s definition of love, that is, love exists when your relationship involves care, respect, responsibility, and knowledge. Each one of these aspects is essential to the whole of love, for love to be love. Care without respect, for example, is domination. These, for me, are the conditions of love.
Forgiveness is an essential condition of love, and one must not have perfection as a condition of relationship; however, while we forgive each other as human beings for most failings, we must be ready to recognize when a person’s intentions and spirit are not loving toward us, when the balance of their behavior weighs in on the side of contempt or malice. If, after one has tried to be understanding, when one has tried to communicate, to express one’s pain and hope for a better relationship, and one continues to receive cruel and disrespectful treatment with no apologies extended, then one must recognize reality. Yes, it is possible to forgive, but we must forgive while protecting and honoring ourselves. To ignore continuing assaults on one’s personhood and feelings —or to see, over and over again, that you are not even especially liked by the other, and yet you continue to remain loving toward them and put yourself at risk— this is to abandon yourself. It is not an act of “unconditional love,” but an act of fear and submission—or stupidity.”

I like to think of relationships not as one-way streets, but as two-way streets, where mutuality exists. Where there is no mutuality of values or love, there is not relationship. I suppose, where abuse is taking place, one could withdraw, then “love” and forgive that person from afar, but I’m not sure we’re on the same page with this subject, so I’ll leave it at that.

dhavid 8 years 46 weeks ago

When I said love is not personal, I was saying that instead love goes to all people, like the bible idea of the rain falling on the just and unjust equally. In this sense love, goodness, kindness, respect are more a state of being than an act, although in action they would be true and consistent, but effortlessly so.

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Natural Lefty 8 years 46 weeks ago

I knew that this thread would continue to run without me. I have never seen anything like it on this blog. I was working on my lengthy and unusual new post, among other things.

I just wanted to clarify some of my observations about Jesus and the Bible. Remember that our only source of "information" about Jesus is the Bible, which is far from being "fair and balanced." In fact, I would say it is worse than having a television which only gets Faux News. Thus, I feel that we for the most part do not know the real Jesus, although I suspect he was a good man and a philosopher who was ahead of his time. Thom has mentioned that there is a book which has scholars' decisions regarding which parts of the Bible are accurate or not. I suspect that parts quoted by Zenzoe are more or less accountings of real speeches by Jesus, which represented high points in his career. A lot of other stuff, I am very skeptical about. As my mother says, it's really a shame about the crucifixion and all that. Jesus should have lived a good long life, in which case we wouldn't be saddled with all this resurrection and endlessly impending return of Jesus nonsense. Jesus has way too many fans in his club already, as I see it. I would much rather honor all the good women and men who have contributed to humanity throughout history.

As a lowly little Mudskipper, the 3 inches measure would thrill me. LOL, not really. As a fisherperson, I know very well about men's tendency to exaggerate the size of their valuables, though. That William Congreve must have been the longest lived person in history. Zenzoe, you wrote that he was born in 670 and died in 1729. I assume he was actually born in 1670. I like your letter to your mother, Zenzoe. It goes well with some of the things that we and others have been discussing about love and the limits or role of unconditionality in love. When people continue to mistreat you, unconditionality unfortunately allows for continued abuse. There must be reciprocity if love is to be unconditional, unless it's the agape thing that applies to all.

Dhavid, thanks for another Einstein quote that I don't recall seeing before: "You can see life in one of two ways, that either nothing is a miracle, or everything is a miracle." I believe that everything is a miracle rather than the converse, and I am sure you feel the same way. By the way, Einstein turned out to be wrong about some things in physics, so nobody is perfect, but he did advance our knowledge. I actually included a couple of short quotes in my new blog post -- very unusual for me -- from a favorite author of mine, Loren Eiseley. In reading a bunch of Eiseley quotes yesterday, I realized that my writing style actually has much in common with his, not a coincidence, I am sure. It also gave me a greater appeciation of his work and a realization of his lasting impact on society, although I have never heard him mentioned here before. There was a recent Eiseley quote by one of my friends on Facebook, though. You know the story about the person throwing the starfish back into the ocean -- "because It matters to them" -- that was by Eiseley. The one I was specifically looking for, I did not find, but I paraphrased it in my post. There is even a Loren Eiseley foundation dedicated to his work -- which was based in Anthropology -- and it is run by a guy with a Chinese name.

Well, it's early bedtime coming up for me. Wan An (Goodnight).

Zenzoe 8 years 46 weeks ago

Oops, yeah—1670-1729. Thanks for noticing, NL.

If the notion of god has any appeal for me at all, it's for the notion that God's love is like the rain and falls "on the just and unjust equally." That this god loves everyone, even the worst among us, makes God wholly appealing and hard to resist. But see, that's a god's job, an all-powerful, all-knowing god that cannot be destroyed. I'm not so big as that, so I tend to be a wee bit more selective about the objects of my love.

And that's the truthh-pph-phtt.

nimblecivet 8 years 46 weeks ago
Quote Zenzoe:

Oops, yeah—1670-1729. Thanks for noticing, NL.

If the notion of god has any appeal for me at all, it's for the notion that God's love is like the rain and falls "on the just and unjust equally." That this god loves everyone, even the worst among us, makes God wholly appealing and hard to resist. But see, that's a god's job, an all-powerful, all-knowing god that cannot be destroyed. I'm not so big as that, so I tend to be a wee bit more selective about the objects of my love.

And that's the truthh-pph-phtt.

tongue in cheek "scientific" reformulation:

The inclusive nature intrinsic to social functions validates the persistence of constrained ranges of variations of outcome peruant to individuals regardless of relative valuations derived from divergant perspectives, however objective or subjective the standards of judgement may be said to be in the instance of each judgement which has been at least tentativelly rendered by any given individual or set of individuals in relation to another. Not that I would necessarily want to hang out with someone to who is availing themselves of the "social safety net".

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 8 years 46 weeks ago

NC, you are really good at scientific jargon. As I understand it, that is a jargon filled way of referring to unconditional love.

It's interesting that the ancient Greeks had a relatively open system, but only for free, adult males. We have a not so open system, but it is far more inclusive, which gives us the impression of being more democratic. Unfortunately, that is somewhat of an illusion.

Try as we might, we are compelled as mere mortals to be selective about who we love, but part of that is good, because it does mean that our actions have consequences, and that mutuality is important.

nimblecivet 8 years 46 weeks ago

definition of "respect": esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability: I have great respect for her judgment.

I would argue that the basis of "love" we have been talking about enables the furtherance of respect, perhaps more importantly than the promulgation of love itself. That is, when we come upon the limits of love as something that can apply generally, we turn to the idea of "respect". We believe that there are many possible types of relationships which can be developed which are not solely "loving" relationships but which recognize the value and potential of each party. Much of the work we do or seek to do as progressives relies on respecting the poeple we work with, that is finding common ground and developing a strategy.

Zenzoe's Gaga post and also your latest one both seem to have involved this question of how to recognize and promote certain attitudes as being intrinsic to the overall progressive perspective. The Gaga post, in my opinion, contained a lot of discussion that is relevant to the concept of respect. It pointed out that in our sick society, respect is limited to a very narrow set of considerations which are generally what we as progressives would call dysfunctional in a certain sense, therefore "unhealthy" and not progressive in nature.

I believe respect can be fostered not when we all try to pretend that we love each other equally, but when we develop a "mutuality" that reflects the characteristics and behaviors which we see as being essential to a healthy society. These should generally be the more pacifistic types of attitudes, but should also include a respect for hard work, study, intellectual and spiritual development, contribution of work towards community projects of various sorts, etc. In a perfect world, everybody would have at least a minimum level of respect which is more than enough to be happy with, because everybody would have a sense of pride and self-esteem.

By the way, I deleted by "Can Love be Trusted?" thread because it was so poorly written and framed. Hannah Arendt is schooling me on the subject, so I may try to get back to the theme. The most important point I made though, which I think is valid, is that in a macho-fascist culture, themes of respect and love get subsumed under a patriotic rubric which undermines the particular forms of expression which are purported to be the root of their existence. I used a little-know facet of the Nazi "Lebensraum" program as an example, where the supreme "love" of the fatherland required individuals selected for breeding programs to forfeit the very same loyalty to the nuclear family as the exclusive mode of social propogation which had formed the basis of their original patriotic fervor. Maybe that's too trivial of an example to make such a point however.

I'm glad that you are busy and don't worry about responding to my comments. Unless you want to take a look at "Towards a Blue Island Confederacy" and give me some thoughts! <shameless plug

Zenzoe 8 years 46 weeks ago

I must confess, Nimblecivet, I saw your post, Towards a Blue Island Confederacy, and meant to get back to it to give it a proper read, but didn't, after all. Perhaps I was leaving it up to Natural Lefty, since you and he seem to have more to say on all these subjects. However, I'm sure it deserved as much attention as anybody else's, so, sorry 'bout that. Not that you're devastated by my inattention... ;-)

NC, is your occasional use of pedagogabble more a manifestation of your particular brand of humor, or are you trying to hurt my head? Whatever, I have to object—I don't think your translation fits what I said at all. For example, "The inclusive nature intrinsic to social functions..." Right there, you start out with a mistranslation. I wasn't talking about "social functions," I was talking about the "inclusive nature" of god. That's quite a different thing, no? The rest of that sentence is entirely incomprehensible, so I will drop to the last part, where you say, "Not that I would necessarily want to hang out with someone to who is availing themselves of the "social safety net," which is also not what I said either. What I said is that I am not god, so I am limited in my ability to love in an all-inclusive manner. I said nothing whatsoever about a social safety net, or is the social safety net what you invision as how "god" manifests in the human realm?

I did appreciate what you said here: "It pointed out that in our sick society, respect is limited to a very narrow set of considerations which are generally what we as progressives would call dysfunctional in a certain sense, therefore "unhealthy" and not progressive in nature," which puts it well... and the rest, with regard to respect.

nimblecivet 8 years 46 weeks ago

Zenzoe: The pedagobable was just an attempt at humor, nonetheless an interesting excercise in interpretation. I get your corrections.

I call myself an agnostic because atheist is such an ugly term. For me "social functions" have to take the place of "god", because god is what the philosopher Immanuel Kant called "noumenon"; no positive statement can be made about "it" (if that in itself does not appear too paradoxical). Jesus said something to the effect "You can sin against me, and you can sin against God, but if you sin against the Holy Spirit you will not be forgiven in either this world or in the next." So we rationalists look at that and say, "O.K., let's take a look at the metaphor (or whatever the proper term would be) of 'Judgement Day'. According to this idea, when someone has fallen prey to error and failed to accept Jesus, Jesus and God may let him/her into heaven anyway by virtue of the Holy Spirit." Which is a good thing for all the people in China and before Jesus was around and could not hear the gospel. Notice how this works in someone's favor even if they have heard the gospel; they may fall prey to error or false witness (which may itself be an 'innocent' error) in regards to the gospel itself and yet the "Holy Spirit" lives in them.

To me the "Holy Spirit" concept is important here because "social functions" are what we look at when we wish to see the manifestation of the "Holy Spirit", which Christians hope will augment itself through a rectilinear historic process (sorry). This is an interpretation which came about after the "second coming" failed to materialize as soon as the early Christians expected. Paul talked about how soon "the serpent" would be "tread under" the feet of true Christians and Revelation would come soon. When this did not happen, philosophers went to work constructing an interpretation which salvaged the basic conceptual framework of the religion. As worldly affairs came to involve Christians vs. Christians, the focus turned to the internal transformation of Christian society to rid itself of its hypocricy. I would argue that the basic pattern was reiterated through the advent of secularism and gave rise to the phenomenon of the Terror after the French Revolution; a process of "purging" which, according to Hannah Arendt, was adopted deliberately by the communists (Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol-Pot, Hitler, etc.).

So the ideas of religion are of definate interest because they express necessities of human psychology which manifest themselves in the same basic manner even if they are dressed up in different language.

As far as my post being neglected, I was just hoping to be the one to start a thread which actually developed a discussion about defining what a "progressive" is in terms of political theory, and sharing information about campaigns and issues in that context, where maybe even some kind of activist collaboration occurred. Good on you for keeping the (solar) heat on your Rep. I think what I'll do is start leaving blog posts where I give out websites and discuss my understanding of things in reference to the issues and concerns of the campaigns and organizations I give the websites for. I told NL that I was going to create some kind of a "matrix" to help facilitate the same kind of thing, but I don't think that's practicable. Also, I wanted to have such a discussion continue not only between myself, you, NL, and Dhavid, but if we collaborate in some way maybe we can get something going that will involve other people in the "community". Supposing their egos are not as delicate as "antifascist" and .ren. I offered them insults and ideas and they responded with only insults. Their "discussion" consists of a morass of hazy concepts in relation to which they pose as the heroic philosopher-king liberators who will once and for all define the logical axis of 'benevolent' vs. 'sadistic'. You want academic-speak gobbledeyguck? I don't even know if those clowns are being serious or not. Maybe you can talk to them.

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Natural Lefty 8 years 46 weeks ago

NC, I did reply to your Can Love be Trusted post, but I don't think anyone else did and something very important is going on here (as in my life). I think you have seen a little bit about it. My wife and I spent this afternoon pretty much filling out official forms so hopefully we wll have more financial security and ability to support causes we believe in, while pointing proudly to "our" solar energy plant west of Blythe. It appears to be a reality; everything is approved by both sides, signed, sealed and delivered.

I think the pseudointellectual stuff you write is funny, maybe funnier than Zenzoe thinks. Anyway, there is a place for it. Having spent so many years trying to explain concepts both easy and difficult to community college students, sounding hyperintellectual doesn't come easily for me. I don't think it's my natural inclination anyway, but with some practice, I could probably come up with some long, hyperintellectual ways of saying something simple.

Actually, Ren is a friend of mine. People such as him, Polycarp, Antifascist, and DRC are very intelligent people, but they do have the hyperintellectual approach. I was good friends with a highly intelligent former student of mine who eventually got his Ph.D. in Social Psychology just like me, but he was one of those people who couldn't come down to the level of others even if he tried. I think that has become a problem for him as an instructor. Still, I have to say that you are "catching on" to what goes on in some of these discussions. It eventually goes in ever tightening, accelerating circles that no one else can follow, and loses its significance as far as I am concerned. When I have more time, I like to comment some on the message boards, but I am more of a blogger. Still, I have noticed that most people on this site are either blog people, or message board people, rarely both. I like the people who are some of both as I am, and I have noticed you, Zenzoe, Dhavid, and Makuck doing that too, for instance. Actually, it used to be difficult to get many comments at all on the blogs, and not that many were written (remembering the previous incarnation of this site, especially), but now, there are tons of blog posts and lots of comments, which is great, but it does occupy more of my time with the blogs. Involving more people would be great, and I have seen that happen over time. I just hope the trend continues. I think it happens pretty much organically, especially as Thom's fame and fan base continues to expand, as more and more people begin to see the sense in his and our progressive themes.

My impression about people who hadn't heard of or accepted Jesus as their savior was that true believers usually condemned all of them to eternal damnation, except my wife and some of the other more tolerant Christians, who find some sort of explanation for how people will manage to evade hell. I have even seen that some Christian scholars have concluded that babies who die in infancy are destined to spend the rest of eternity in hell, since they never accepted Jesus as their savior. Talk about a perverted religion! As far as the afterlife concept is concerned, I have to remain agnostic. I believe there is some spiritual essence to the universe which makes it all a miracle as Einstein implied, but I certainly don't believe in eternal damnation. If anything, we are changlings who are constantly evolving, as any halfway decent universe would have us do.

Zenzoe has an activist streak which is good. I consider myself not very good at activism. I am certainly not a joiner, but actually, I am more activist than it may appear. Yesterday, I was telling my classes about the class warfare that is going on in our society, for example, and I think they were receptive, too. Zenzoe, don't underestimate the effects of your efforts, as we have discussed elsewhere. That Cunningham character probably received lots of letters around that time, and I am guessing they had a positive effect, yours included. Go ahead and express yourself to Bilbray. He may have a change of heart. I have seen the San Onofre nuclear plant a few times, and it is right there in Tsunami territory, plus you say it is by a faultline, and, it is probably deteriorating as it ages.

Nimblecivit, I was wondering, since you often mention China and even some Chinese words such as "wu wei," are you Chinese American? You know my wife is Chinese (from Taiwan), although I am an anglo guy.

Zenzoe 8 years 46 weeks ago

Nimblecivet, I do now get your sense of humor and admire that you can express yourself in pedagogobabble. Maybe I'll try that sometime, but it would take some work. ;) My eldest son has a very dry sense of humor that people don't always get, such that they think he's being serious, when he's not. My sense of humor is more crass and obvious, which does get me into trouble, even though it hardly ever goes over anybody's head.

NL, thanks for your advice re Bilbray. This morning I had a dream about composing my letter to him. I liked the way it started, something about admitting my doubts about the usefulness of writing to him, having been warned not to do so, because "he's lost," but saying I decided to give it a try. The thing one has to remember is that a staff member to the Congressman will be the one to read the letter first; so, probably only a few make it into his very own amygdalistic paws. Btw, I once sent a contribution to Dennis Kucinich, which his dunderhead of a staff member returned to me, because I'd sent it to a regional office and not the office where they process contributions. Oye vey...

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 8 years 46 weeks ago

Zenzoe, I didn't know you were Jewish, and a speechwriter for Kucinich too! You have said that I have a dry sense of humor, but you seem to "get it." I think my wife or my students sometimes don't know that I am not being serious when I am doing my subtle humor thing. I say utterly stupid things to my wife sometimes to see how she reacts, and sometimes she thinks I am being serious. Oh well -- I think there is a translation problem sometimes. Actually, I get in trouble with my radical honesty and truth telling more than my sense of humor. That's why my parents always wanted me to be careful about what I said and to whom, but by now I know pretty much how to manage it. However, my parents' attitude which they instilled in me, and their relative lack of activism probably is something that holds me back in terms of activism, at least compared to what I think I should be doing, or maybe it's that I am not retired yet and have work to do, or maybe it's genetic although I seem more activist oriented than the rest of my family. Anyway, I feel I am intellectually blessed with giftedness and the ability to conceptualize and think outside the box, so at least I try to do what I am really good at in order to communicate truths and ideas to others.

nimblecivet 8 years 46 weeks ago

No, I'm not of Chinese ancestry. I did not realise that I mentioned China so much. One of the works which have had a profound effect on me however is the "Tao Te Ching", although I have not read the I-Ching or many other Taoist texts. I have also read some other "Eastern" philosophy such as an out of print translation of "Swampland Flowers" (Ta Hui) I might still have somewhere. Also, a book called The Wandering Taoist was interesting and could be read alongside Orwell's Homage to Catalonia. It is autobiographical in nature and describes the son of a Toaist feudal warlord fighting the Japanese, working alone niether in conjunction with the nationalist nor the communist forces. The author, Deng Ming Tao, later moved to the U.S. and helped contribute to the development of the New Age paradigm. I have also watched a lot of Kung-Fu movies because a repertory theatre near where I lived would sell ticket books for double-features so the price was about $2.50 per movie and every Thursday night was "Kung-Fu" night. I hope that does not come across as stereotyping because I have found that even the most lowbrow of entertainment can often offer insights to society and culture and broaden ones understanding of the human condition. Plus, I was a lot younger and I was took martial arts classes (Wu-Shu) for a few months and those movies actually do show you a lot of moves even though the fighting is about as realistic as professional wrestling (which I never watch, in my own defense).

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 8 years 46 weeks ago

You probably notice that I mention China a lot too, with very good reason. Yes, I know a lot about China too, and am basically a Chinophile. Lots of my good friends as well as my wife have been Chinese, also Japanese and Vietnamese, and I have actually studied Chinese culture, including a sociology course about China in college. I have studied Chinese philosophy and religion too, such as Taoism, but less formally. I love Taiwan especially. i obviously don't like the autocracy of the PRC government, but i think it is often vilified more than it should be, given that it has given women basic equality with men, eliminated polygamy, reduced prostitution and other abuse of women, educated and empowered them, and has forward looking policies which are the envy of us progressives such as their infrastructure building and solar program (programs which Thom has mentioned on his show to his credit). They have also gotten their population growth under control, albeit by draconian means (but also by the empowering of women as Thom always suggests), and they have different views of human rights, being a more collective society, than we do in the U.S. Still, there is a lot wrong with the PRC, and they will probably have some sort of democratic revolt such as those currently occuring in the middle east, sooner or later. Whether the revolt in the U.S. happens before than in the PRC, I can't predict, but a case could easily be made that our government is worse than the PRC's. Taiwan has evolved into the true Chinese democracy. They do still rely too much on capitalism, as does the U.S. though. My wife's stepson from Taiwan was just here recently, and he was saying that economically they are having similar problems to us such as pay cuts, loss of work, and a long term recession. That's what happens when you let rich people run the show and let them increase wealth disparities. However, Taiwan is much more on the "we society" democratic socialist side than the U.S.

My wife and I used to watch 1 dollar movies here in Moreno Valley, then it was 2 dollar movies, then those theaters went out of business, and the only ones which did any good in town were the ones in the mall or the mall shopping complex. Some of our shopping centers are pitiful with their chronically unoccupied stores, but there are many new stores near where we live.

Zenzoe and I had a discussion about fortune cookies on Facebook. It seems we both are big fans of fortune cookies and find their wisdom underrated. Zenzoe has even written some fortunes, and considered starting a fortune cookie business with her own funny fortunes, if I didn't misunderstand her. (Maybe she was just kidding.). I certainly find more wisdom in fortune cookies than in the average church sermon by a true believer, banging people over the head with that Jesus hammer, if you know what I mean, or a speech by a conservative politician.

dhavid 8 years 46 weeks ago

Speaking of Christianity, I recently read an article on the New Testament and they were saying that approximately half of the books attributed to Paul were not from him, but from people writing in his name after he was already dead. Not that Paul's stuff was that good to begin with, but, well lying about stuff right there in the Bible, who woulda guessed?

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 8 years 46 weeks ago

Seriously, Dhavid? Actually I am not surprised. I read that there were other books by Judas and Mary, or about them, which were excluded from the Bible by the people who put it together, the one by Judas, because he was the fall guy in the crucifixion story, and Mary, because of course, she was of the wrong gender. As a psychologist and person who knows about memory and other psychological processes, even were we to discount the likelihood of outright deception, the fact that many of these documents were written long after the crucifixion of Jesus calls into question their accuracy in my mind.

Zenzoe 8 years 46 weeks ago

Given that the entire Bible is full of myths and historical inaccuracies, as opposed to being the word of God, I’m not surprised, dhavid; but then, I think you’re being funny with your “well lying about stuff right there in the Bible, who woulda guessed?” Talk about tongue in cheek.

But, back to my favorite subject, moi—no, NL, I am not Jewish, though I used to wish I were, in part because my favorite comedian was Woody Allen, back when he was funny, that is. Remember how he once said that there are two kinds of people, The Horribles and The Miserables? I loved that. But then I had to admit to myself he wasn’t entirely correct—the Horribles and Miserables are but sub-sets of the main category of human being, namely, Pack Animals. (I may have discussed this before. It’s one of my pet theories, besides the one about big heads.) So, when you’re a pack animal, you’re naturally going to be either horrible or miserable, either the horrible Alpha Dog, or the lowly miserables among the rest of the pack. Of course, this leaves out the Free Spirits, which is a separate category of human being, and they are the ones who are more like cats, where there’s no such thing as the Alpha Cat, only “Be Nice to Me, or I’m Outta Here” cats.

I like a lot of Jewish stuff, like Yiddish slang words, such as putz, bubkis, klutz, schlep, chutzpuh, cockamamie, kvetsh, and a new one I just learned, petseleh, which means “little penis.” Which reminds me, I once dated (after my divorce) a Jewish guy who reminded me of Woody Allen, so for awhile I deluded myself into thinking I was having an Annie Hall sort of romance, when I was actually involved with a Miserable and a Horrible, all in the same person. Oi.

But now my favorite sit-com is Curb Your Enthusiasm with Larry David, who also reminds me of Woody Allen. I like that he’s always getting into trouble with everybody and the pathetic, bewildered look he gets on his face over it. I can totally identify with that. I also like his relationship with his buddy Richard Lewis, where they have this easy, back-&-forth expression of mock-hostility between them, that is, the anger between them has an undercurrent of solid friendship, so that they always make up and all is forgotten, until it gets brought up at a later date when convenient. I don’t know, it’s so different from my anglo/Episcopalian/gentile experience, where the hostility is never all that much fun, or funny.

As far as the fortune cookie thing, no again, I’m not especially impressed with commercial fortune cookie fortunes and wasn’t going to start my own fortune cookie business. I just like writing my own fortune cookie fortunes, which all will recognize as having a Woody Allen influence:

• The journey of a thousand miles begins with a huge sigh.

• Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you may be groin-groped at the airport.

• You will soon meet an insurance agent and a putz, all in one person. (More crass version edited out, thanks to Natural Lefty)

• You deserve to be shrink-wrapped and shipped to Liberia for what you did to you-know-who.

• You are a constant source of entertainment for your office-mates who think you’re an idiot.

• You will soon grow an inch, but not where you’d like it.

• There, but for the grace of God, goes our President, dumb as a post.

• Little did you know your mother was a born-again wall-eyed pike.

• He who limps is still walking but looks like a gimp.

• All you need is love, or at least to collect a nice settlement.

• If you can’t get an actual human for customer service, hang up and dial 9-1-1.

Actually, I should give myself more credit—I must have a dry sense of humor, because sometimes I write stuff that is taken seriously by actual smart people. For example, my fake news piece at my blog, the one entitled, Breaking News: 9-11 Truth Revealed . I mean, several people have actually asked if it was true! OMG. Well, I suppose maybe the subject is still so sensitive, it’s just too soon to spoof about it, so the “humor” just doesn’t work. Either that, or we’re so used to extreme reality, it seems almost plausible? Or maybe it's just dumb. Oh well. At least I entertained myself, and that's good enough for me...

dhavid 8 years 46 weeks ago

Here is the source I try to not give the bible any more respect than I do Mark Twain, or Charles Bukowski. Truth is where you see it, and not in some specific holy book. Talk about magical thinking.

nimblecivet 8 years 46 weeks ago

You guys should check out "New Salvo in War with Monsanto and GMO Roundup Ready Seed". What a mind-blowing abuse of power and our justice system! I wonder if any Sarah Palin fans are as outraged as I am that Monsanto is suing organic farmers because the organic farmers' field are being contaminated with genetically engineered plants whose seeds are blown into the organic farmers' field against the will of the organic farmer. I caught a little bit of the Norman Goldman show the other day and he was talking about how this guy got exonerated a month before he was to executed. He successfully sued for damages but the award was appealed all the way up to the Supreme Court. The majority ruling came up with some rationalization for limiting the damages (if not denying them entirely, I can't remember now, I was only able to hear part of the broadcast). The limitation on damages works well for the neo-fascists because they know they can pay it, so there is no disincentive for them to break the law. Once they have totally stacked the courts however, the maximum limit is still sufficient to break the back of someone like a family farmer. I don't know how people who do the noble and awesome work of taking on these corporate giants in court can keep their cool.

Zenzoe, your blogspot is awesome. Britney Spears for president!

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 8 years 46 weeks ago

I like Mark Twain, but he wasn't God. None of us are. Twain had some interesting ideas about religion, especially later in his life. I think the fact that the churches his parents took him to while growing up in Hannibal, Missouri, used the Bible to justify slavery had something to do with his animosity toward organized religion.

So you brought out the Fortune Cookie fillers, Zenzoe. We just keep throwing everything under the sun into this thread. It's loads of fun. I think some threads are just ideal for that sort of thing. Actually, people keep mistaking me for a Jewish person (probably something to do with my humongous shnozzola) and I wish they wouldn't, even though they compare me to fairly good looking Jewish people (I guess) such as the actor whose resemblance to me I have mentioned before. It's just that I am not Jewish, so it sort of feels like a case of mistaken identity, not anything against Jewish people. Being a doctor's son in a town with lots of Jewish doctors while growing up, I knew a lot of Jewish people and was good friends with some of them, but that didn't make me Jewish. People keep guessing my wife is Korean for some reason instead of Chinese, though, although to me she looks more Chinese. I have this amazing ability to look at asians and determine their ethnicity with about 95% accuracy, for most nationalities we are famliar with -- Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Filipino. You probably don't believe that, but it's true. The smaller nations have their own genotypes pretty much, although admittedly the differences are subtle. Chinese have a much more varied genotype, but as a person who is more or less centered in Taiwanese/Chinese culture in addition to my garden variety Anglo-American birth culture, I pretty much know Chinese when I see it. (Now, Y'all probably think I'm kidding and using that dry sense of humor in some way, but I'm not.) For example, Eunice is watching a Korean drama at this time which is with Chinese subtitles. I immediately knew it was Korean when I first saw it, even without listening to the language. Admittedly, style of dress, mannerisms, etc., even personality can help in guessing ethnicity. But the Korean complexion is a shade lighter than Chinese, and their faces are relatively flat and less featured (not as attractive as Chinese or Japanese typically are, sorry Koreans. Frankly, I prefer looking at the Chinese actresses, or if not Chinese, Japanese, although there are some very pretty Korean ones too). I learned to distinguish among asian ethnic groups mostly while in grad. school when I was a T.A. for large numbers of asian-americans of various ethnicities at U.C. Riverside. Of course, we can also see that there are "Jewish", "Nordic", "Mediterranean" etc. looking people among caucazoids, as well, or those angular looking east Africans as compared to west Africans, etc. It's all part of our culrural/ethnic/genetic mosaic as human beings, which is interesting and I celebrate in politically correct ways.

I haven't seen Curb Your Enthusiasm but I keep seeing ads for it. I really don't know when it's on, though. I mostly watch public stations these days but I would be willing to check it out.

I better stop babbling before I make a total fool of myself, and like one of those purported Coca Cola experts who couldn't tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi, somebody gives me an ethnicity identification exam and I fail it.

By the way, what is this great truth you revealed about 9/11, Zenzoe? Not that I would take it seriously. At least I am entertaining myself here, and hopefully some other people as well, but like your big head hypothesis, I think we are also sensitive, often at a subconscious level, to subtle ethnic differences. I was wrong about Nimblecivit being Chinese, for example, but I definitely could tell he was a fellow Chinophile.

Zenzoe 8 years 46 weeks ago
Quote nimblecivet:

Zenzoe, your blogspot is awesome. Britney Spears for president!

I don't know who Britney Spears is, but I appreciate your "compliment." Perhaps the supercilious, bloviating omophagist has facultative necessitation to advance to eonian, conflagrative, eschatological finalization.

NL, Curb Your Enthusiasm is on HBO. However, I don't get HBO, so I watched it via Netflix.

Yesterday, I went with family to see Cirque du Soleil's Quidam. Who needs, when you've got art?

nimblecivet 8 years 46 weeks ago
Quote Zenzoe:

...bloviating omophagist...

Gaia is a cannibal?

Quote Zenzoe:

...eonian, conflagrative, eschatological finalization.

Perhaps you are familiar with Nietzche's idea of the "eternal return"? Not, as some would have it, the perpetual recurrence of all possiblities. Rather, as there is neither a heaven or a hell, all minds are distinct unto themselves through eternity, and each mind has its own purview of itself within a place of situatedness within eternity.

I have to confess I have not been able to reconcile my own beliefs to either Nietzche or Christianity. As far as Christianity goes we are confronted with the dilemna that Jesus is God, but also that God is God, and that therefore Jesus was only partly successfull in liberating sentient beings from hell. We must assume that if Jesus had his way, hell would not exist. But he seems to take some responsibility for its existence in that he claims identity with the Supreme Being. A scientific-spiritual view of the type espoused by Nietzche could perhaps offer a context within which to understand human diversity in light of the fact that human judgment (to which Jesus limited himself being in the form of a man?) cannot judge individuals through simple categories of "heaven bound" and "hell bound". But Nietzche overestimated the creative faculty of 'man' in that he posited an unlimited potential for future forms of 'man'. He never succeeded in his ultimate project of creating a "revaluation of all values" or a "new language"; his philosophy has been passed on to us in the degenerate form of a philosophy of "Will to Power" (one of history's most tragic misrepresentations of a great thinker on the part of those who inherited his estate). We are limited and simple creatures; our propensity to deceive ourselves has been the source of our imagination and our tragedy. I do believe in the power of Eastern philosophy to deliver the means to a greater form of self-realization and potential.

By the way, so there is no confusion, I meant the compliment sincerely. The Britney Spears thing was a jest. You could think of her as the "nice girl" version of Lady Gaga. Some of her videos are on YouTube, and she has been the focus of attention for those who seek drama in the pages of grocery-store magazine racks. I'm not suggesting that you watch them necessarilly, as I would not want to draw you away from the obviously edifying productions of Cirque du Soleil and the like. Or leaving comments on my blog "What Does It Mean to be a "Progressive?". {smiley face emoticon}

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Natural Lefty 8 years 46 weeks ago

Seriously Zenzoe, you don't know who Brittney Spears is? I wouldn't characterize her as a more wholesome version of Lady Gaga as Nimblecivit sees to. She is a singer in her 20s I think who became famous as a teenager. Since then, she has been known mostly for letting photographers take photos of her private parts that she "accidentally" exposes, and for her impulsive, failed relationships with men. I think she married one of them and had a couple of kids before getting divorced. I would put her in the train wreck category with people such as Lindsey Lohan and the now deceased Anna Nicole Smith.

Opening this post was strange this time. It listed 3 new comments today, but I only see 2, and it took a long time to open. I think the number of posts in this thread increased by 3 officially, too, yet I only see 2 new ones. Whatever, this thread just keeps on going, even when I reveal my idiot savant, eccentric side.

If art always trumped politics as a topic of interest, you wouldn't need There is plenty of art on the internet, I am sure. But art is good to engage yourself in sometimes. Actually, I think there is too much art in politics and too little science, if you know what I mean.

I would recommend Nimblecivit's post that he mentioned, too. I plan to reply again, in fact.

"Perhaps the supercilious, bloviating omophagist has facultative necessitation to advance to eonian, conflagrative, eschatological finalization." Frankly, this is more difficult to understand than anything I have seen Nimblecivit write, perhaps because it contains 3 words I never saw or heard before and 3 more whose meaning I am not sure of. Did you flip through a dictionary as you were writing that, Zenzoe.

Nimblecivit, I don't know that much about Nietzche, but from what I know, I don't think I would really find his arguments that compelling. As far as "reconciling" my beliefs with any major, old religion, that is out of the question. I don't think one should even try to, in fact. Nonsense is nonsense. One good thing about Nietzche you mention is the notion of scientific spirituality, although I think I would differ with him on the particulars, but he lived and died quite a long time ago, correct? There is much more scientific evidence now. A caller was mentioning that the documentary movie "I Am" which "stars" Thom Hartmann, includes a lot of that. I plan to write more about spirituality in the future. I think the scientific spirituality term might fit my appoach, although I have come up with acronyms such as PLEURIST (Peaceful Loving Evolving Universe -- or alternatively Peace, Love, Evolution and Understanding -- Rational Intuitive Spritiual Thinker) and jokingly refer to myself as an invader from the planet Pluton, where everyone has a ton of Peace, Love and Understanding.

I am with you about the usefulness of eastern philosophy in helping people reach self-realization and actualization, although there are aspects of religions such as Bhuddism or Hinduism which make my BSometer soar as with the traditional monotheistic religions.

nimblecivet 8 years 45 weeks ago

Nietzche went insane before he died in the early twentieth century. His mother took care of him, but he had problems with his family for reasons including the fact that his sister married an anti-Semite who tried to found a Germans-only colony in South America. I am going to read "Thus Spoke Zarathustra" soon. Some of his attitudes are rather opaque, and he certainly was no progressive. But he did revolutionize philosophy and lay the ground for interdisciplinary studies as much of his work centered on historical interpretation and the relevance of science to philosophy. His work is somewhat outdated in that he was without the advantage of the scientific breakthroughs of the early 20th century, such as the advent of genetics, quantum physics, and neuroscience. His greatest contribution is the idea that we can as individuals develop an understanding ourselves and the world which is "Beyond Good and Evil". That is, one which helps us to create a world free of the terrors of organized religion (the "failure" of Christianity), and which frees the individual to develop a "healthy" and "good conscience", to enjoy the "gay science" (coincidentally there is some speculation that he was a homosexual, and I wonder if sexual relations with his student(s) may have precipitated his resignation from his teaching post).

Zoroastrainism, as you probably already know, marks the historic advent of monotheism. It is still practiced in some parts of what is now modern day Iran. When the Persians conquered Egypt, they imposed a version of Zoroastrianism and purged the cults of "daevas" inconsistant with "Good Thought". This was well before the Greeks arrived, but I don't know how effective or durable these events were. I read about this in Burns' "Persia and the Greeks", where he discusses archeological evidence and the historical background of the Pelloponesian Wars. A quote:

"The Delpic priesthood was an ecclesiastical corporation, grown very influential and very rich. Of such it is not always vain to expect heroic courses; but the temptation to 'play safe' is severe. Delphi used its influence now for peace, which meant for surrender. The priests knew that Apollo in some of his other sanctuaries...had won the favor of the Persians. ... Now, in the response given to the Athenians...were the priests, for they were well informed about affairs abroad, preparing for Xerxes to treat the Greek gods as accursed {italic: daevas}? As intellegent and, surely at least some of them, genuinely religious men, in that age of the dawn of philosophies and higher religions, they must have known something of the Persian religion. Did they realise that, if Apollo was to continue to 'speak all truth to the Persians' he must dissociate himself from {italic: daevas} and find a place, perhaps as an expression and mouthpiece of Good Thought...within the 'Catholic Zoroastrianism' favoured by Xerxes?- Persia and the Greeks, A.R. Burns, Stanford, '84 pg 348-9

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