Sunday, September 21, 2003

I think this is a very important paper:
from Aletheia Forum: "Going Beyond Good and Evil"
My basic premise, in sync with "discourse ethics", is that there are two basic modes of being with others: in one, the aim is to project and solidify one's conceptualization, with others' collaboration or without (collaboration indicates something like joint interest and gives rise to "in-group / out-group" dynamics) while, in the other, the ongoing project of reality testing and inquisitiveness gives rise to an authentic interest in and appreciation of the other's sense of reality. This essay puts the emphasis somewhat differently, but I've found no substantial contradiction.
"... Hannah Arendt once described totalitarianism as an "experiment against reality" that grew out of a society in which people thought "that everything was possible and nothing was true." In this, Arendt described more than just totalitarianism, accurately portraying a wide array of 19th and 20th Century movements loosely held together with the term postmodern. In fact, others have pointed out that it is in the undercutting of reality that "the deep affinity, the holding hands under the table," between postmodern intellectuals and totalitarian regimes becomes apparent. But, experimenting against reality, replacing "Life" with an illusion, is a dangerous thing to do. G.K. Chesterton said that men "who cannot believe their senses . . . are . . . insane, but their insanity is proved not by any error in their argument, but by the manifest mistake of their whole lives." As was his style, Chesterton put his finger on the essence of the thing -- men ignore reality at their own peril.
Citing the German scholar Ernst Robert Curtius in his introductory essay, Kimball notes that the basic tenet of Western tradition is that "know[ing] owes a perpetual debt to reality." Or, as Kimball puts it: "It is reality that speaks to us, not we who lecture it." It is this premise-that the pursuit of knowledge has an Object-upon which "the preservation of Western culture" rests. Western thought has, for centuries, striven to the standard of "judging 'according to right reason,' in Aristotle's famous formula." Moreover, it has traditionally been understood that the habit of judging according to right reason is a matter of both character and intelligence. It exists within the balance between an understanding of man as noble, yet fallen; capable, yet finite. While "[s]aying yes to the truth involve[s] ascent as much as assent"; saying no involves both the refusal of assent that comes with hubris and the refusal of ascent that comes with cowardice. True knowing, right reason, requires both a certain kind of thought and a certain kind of life. Therefore, "culture is in some deep sense inseparable from conduct." To follow Aristotle into the real world has always been both humbling and strenuous."
[emphasis added; see my "CityZen.]

Monday, September 15, 2003

A Community of Attention - Green Gulch Farm, a Zen Buddhist community and retreat center, embodies a deeply ecological and humane way of life.

"Communitas, communis - the Latin root for "community" means common or what is held in common, shared by many. At Green Gulch Farm and Zen Center, where I lived for three years, what is held in common is the place, the time together, and the teachings of Zen Buddhism. The community is mutually created by those who stay in this place for a period of time, whether for a few hundred years (as a redwood might) or a single day.
The focus of Zen practice is to develop attention or mindfulness in relation to all beings and all activity. Over and over again we ask: Where am I? What am I doing right now? What is guiding my actions? Most of our decisions reflect personal preferences and an orientation to ourselves as enduring entities. Buddhist practice, however, is the constant stripping away of false references to the self to reveal the larger patterns of interconnection and interdependence. One finds one's bearings through temporal and spatial reference points beyond the false sense of self. Thus the schedule and the landscape provide the structure of both community and practice.
A Zen practice center is distinct from other country retreat spots because of the shared intention to practice certain guidelines and teachings. Here community is sustained not just by external spatial and temporal reference points, but by cultivation of internal reference points for choices of action. The central Buddhist teachings naturally encourage an ecological awareness and thus serve as ethical criteria for community practices. "An ethical life is one that is mindful, mannerly, and has style." In Soto Zen tradition, the emphasis is very much on ethical or mindful acts in everyday practice. The simple, repetitive acts of eating, breathing, walking, and greeting others become opportunities for deepening a sense of interdependence and community. Each moment in place reflects myriad causes and conditions that all contribute to the particular experience of community at that instant for that person.
This being, that becomes;
   from the arising of this, that arises;
This not being, that becomes not;
   from the ceasing of this, that ceases.
see also The Joy of Community; an interview with M. Scott Peck - "Do organizations ever need to be ''exorcised''? The author of The Different Drum and The Road Less Traveled says yes - and that a ''technology of community'' could become the heart of a new global culture." From In Context Quarterly #29.
(Back issues and "Guides to global trends, challenges, and opportunities")

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Freakin' cosmic coincidence!
On a whim, to find out if the domain is free, I type into the location and find myself looking at this:

And the site's creator, this other "ben" (complete with l/c "b", like your's truly), writes the following with regards his "ethical projects":
"My ethical project is to be in the room to offer the alternative when the powers that be make the decision. That is all.

Now... what does that ridiculous statement mean? What force of belief does it have behind it? What will that "alternative view" look like?

Here are some random thoughts. Think of them as tiles creating a metaphorical mosaic of my ethical project.

On the whole my politics rather closely mirror that of the early American Jeffersonian thinkers.

I favor decentralization of power and direct democracy, when practical. I favor individualism over collectivism. I favor institutions that create opportunity for success and failure, as each is as important as the other. I believe decisions are made by those who show up.

I think creativity, ingenuity, and hard work should be rewarded and greed, mobaucracy, and mediocrity should be discouraged. I fear equally the oppression of the state, the private sector, and the mob. I favor progress over sustainability. I think it is more likely that we will colonize other planets than live sustainable on this one. I fear those who destroy out of laziness and greed.

I find organized religion to be a lie. I despise liars. I think there is nothing more dangerous and simultaneously more rewarding than the collective experience. I think playing baseball on artificial turf is just plain wrong. I find enforcing equality is merely a polite way of oppressing the spirit and tyrannizing the mind. I believe the act of creating by using resources to better the human condition is the most noble of all acts. I believe the hording or amassing is the most depraved of all acts. I believe in nobility and degeneracy.

I believe their will always be tyrants, despots, and thieves. And I believe they will always fail. I fear politicians with clean records, doctors who won't look you in the eye, and environmentalists that can't grow their own food. I think as long as we produce enough food, everyone should have enough to eat. I believe that knowledge will forever govern ignorance so we should study more than we do. I think humanity's greatest act to date is leaving this Earth for the moon. I feel our most destitute act is war. I believe in greatness and in destitution.

I believe in leaders. I believe in the ability for a man to rise above his circumstances and take us with him. I believe in frauds who stand on the shoulders of giants just long enough to fool us. I feel that all the thinking in the world won't plow a single field and all the plowing in the world won't quiet a single mind. I think the cosmic religious pursuit is the finest of all human instincts. I believe the human notion of morality is both a curse and blessing. I fear bullies, braggarts, and the overly ambitious.

I have always enjoyed Franklin's statement, "In all my born days, I have never heard of a good war or a bad peace..." but not as much as Patrick

Henry's, "Is life so dear or peace so sweat as to be purchased by the price of chains and slavery. For give me God for I know not what course others may take. But as for me, give me liberty or give me death."

Most of all, I think I would have enjoyed being a carpenter, but I'm quite sure I would have been a poor one.

If we let things get to us ... the being made to look foolish, the petty abuses and trivial exploitations ... we're likely to be spiteful in little things.

Here's what's on my mind: after having attended this study intensive with Prof. Herbert Guenther at Gampo Abbey (google is our friend, yes? *grin*) I came away with a very different appreciation of the 1st precept, "Do not kill". In depth, at a vajrayana level, this becomes something like, "Do not aggress against the life force."
If we are even minimally resentful or spiteful in our mundane activities, we sabotage little things ... but those little things aren't just the tendrils of the social (like a plant's rootlets), they're also the branches of synchronicity ... very subtle stuff, and very powerful ... but fragile, biological.

On responding to intuition; something I wrote for CityZen:
What Goes 'Round Comes 'Round ("Salience")
That little urge, the slight impetus, the idea of responding, that premonition of activity ... that's the fact of co-emergence and interdependent awareness: your world and you have signaled that your conscious intervention is being sought by something.
By what? For what, and with what reason? The "just-so" of what you do next is your contribution to the world. You'll encounter a certain internal resistance, a whole lot of tension or a vague reluctance ... the just-so of what you experience is the fact of your encountering your karma. Will you adjust your action in a principled manner? Will you just shrug it off?
Will you explore the obstacles? Will you be inquisitive about your internal process and the external dynamics that affect you so personally?
_Willing_ ... to be willing to respond, to be willingly present to the situation, to excercise will-power ... or not. If you've felt what the in-spiration of situation, then something has come 'round to you; what you make go 'round is up to you ... will you?

Friday, September 12, 2003

There are so many things we can't do ... and so many of the things we can do are just little.
What can we say of those who don't even do the little they can?
"In democratic communities,
knowledge of how to combine
is the mother of all other forms of knowledge;
on its progress depends that of all others."

                 Alexis de Tocqueville

ask me about it

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Nuclear family, privacy, neurosis, isolation, self-loathing, consumption ...
If we came together in small groups to live and collaborate (like we're built to), that'd crack the oligarchs' armour.

What's the first product of this perverse need for nuclear families? Palaces for the oligarchs and the priests ... and then castles.

What's the primary product of nuclear family-style housing? Isolation and loneliness ... the antidote to which is /consumption/.

If anybody has opinions concerning communalism, let me know ... just visit CityZen.
(If you're in Canada, I can start working with you as early as October 1.)

A reader of LiveJournal Threads of Change replied:
> But what stops the power-hungry from 'conquering' these
> small, defenseless collaborative tribes?

The first thought is invincability?!

I was talking about the pleasure of collaboration, and friendship, and sustainability

The terror we've taken in to ourselves, that's definitly part of the problem, and thoughts of conquer or be conquered are likely to undermine any sane and healthy alternatives. (Nothing like notions of absolute security to give rise to more conflict!)

Another (kytty) had commented on the reply:
> How is it any safer to be separated still further into
> nuclear families?

There really is something to the thought that "preception is reality"; having been raised in a situation that's empoverished socially, I'm likely to see people as being in one of two groups: those who are trying to conquer me, and those who are there for me to conquer. That's basically unworkable, but if I withdraw from the community and create my own space ("A man's home is his castle"!) then I can get an impression of being lord and master ... safely distanced from those who should really be and, for most of our history, have really been as though members of my extended family.
When a thirsty person starts drinking salt water, they end up thirstier and wanting to drink more ... it's madness. IMHO "splendid isolation" is like that.

Kytty replied again:
> Yeah, a stratified mentality leads to brutality for the sake
> of maintaining or gaining status in the system, but a
> cooperative mentality leads to a sense of satisfaction in > having supported the self by supporting the "other"
> since all are viewed as a cooperative whole.
> Conversely, hurting the "other" is the same as hurting
> the self in a cooperative mentality.

I think knee-jerk "to be conquered / trying to conquer me" think is a sadly reduced version of very normal mammalian rank relations ... who's in charge?
IMHO socialization is learning the traditional methods for working with this stuff ... like listening more than talking, like not bragging about one's advantages ... how to get along with others. (Would a nation of people who were really, truly, actually /nice/ be a global bully? I can't but help that foreign policy of what some feel deeply and what most of the rest are willing to put up with as "normal", or even inevitable.)

You're right about that satisfaction ... I'd like to think that most everyone has an experience of having "done good" ... that inexplicable flush of, ummmm, feeling well!
Who would chose acquisition of material goods by over-work rather than feeling good, and well, by co-operation. But the fact is, pessimism is like the drop of ink in a vase of otherwise clear water. (I think we can deal with concern and worry easily enough, but fear that pessimism concerning human nature has become epidemic ... the stuff of self-fulfilling prophecy.

"Hurting the other" is similarly subtle: I bet we all have the sour experience of having been hurtful, and the edgy neurotic twitchiness that comes with cobbling together some BS set of excuses.
Imagine this: a situation where I could lose it, acknowledge that, and be greeted with appreciation for my honesty and frankness!! In that sort of situation, we'd end up talking about fear, and wounds, and pride ... about how we share our humanity. Oh my, talk about the stuff of sanity and well-being ... and who would dare say we are /not/ capable of such wholesome behaviour, except someone who is intent on proving a wicked lie about our species?

View the discussion
See what happenes when a pro tech_docs type gets busy?! (Gawwwd! I'm on a roll!!)

Again, from EcoMagic: "Beyond Illusion: An Ecological Approach to Value"

What I'd call a "five-step sequence for eco-awareness" ... closely related to my "4 steps for linking back to authentic presence" (which I'd be developing if I had secure lodging).

"(1) become more aware of how we are being and what we are doing; (2) imagine alternatives; (3) critically evaluate consequences of our current ways and of other possibilities before us; (4) choose what we prefer; (5) cultivate the being we intend. Near the outset, participants may respond in writing to questions formulated to elicit some of the basic ideas from which each of us generates a self and a way of living. With this writing we establish benchmarks against which to measure change."

see also: EcoMagic Programs, and the 1 Meg PDF "Live in Community? Can We Afford Not To?"
Survival & Love from EcoMagic
(a small piece of a long essay)

Old Ideals for New Realities
"For centuries, there have been those who devote attention to philosophical, religious, or mystical contemplation aimed at extending human experience beyond the sensate, material realm of everyday life. Some such people, termed moral philosophers, undertake a search for the "good". In their explorations, they inevitably consider the positive and negative qualities of various attitudes and behaviors towards other people, and frequently they speculate on the nature of loving. Within both the secular and religious philosophical traditions of East and West, are exultations of a loving "oneness" tantamount to complete identity of self and others. Both Christ and Buddha taught such loving as a path to personal realization, happiness, and enlightenment.

The seeming incompatibility of such a sense of self with the day-to-day behaviors by which some of us cling to luxuries while allowing others to perish has long been a source of conflict for thinking people. How often do the actions which promote our own welfare and those which protect and nourish others seem to lie on divergent paths? The compartmentalization of charity is evidence of our failure to reconcile these two goals. Despite the proliferation of service organizations, most of us continue to devote the majority of our life and other resources to insuring our own survival, admitting and even touting our gains at the expense of others.


Failure of Narrow Self-Interest
The actions by which we express fear are often the same as those by which we elicit it from others. They range from design and manufacture of weapons of mass destruction to isolated murders, from buying food away from the lands of the starving to burning gasoline for pleasure trips while the peasants of the Himalayan foothills deforest a subcontinent in search of cooking fuel. So long as we persist in our collective failure to make the security of all the goal of all, can any of us escape fear or find enlightenment?

By devoting resources to maintaining unequal access to satisfaction and survival, we reduce the amount of need-fulfilling goods and services which we collectively share. By our refusal to live as equals, we unnecessarily deplete all that can satisfy our needs. With our stubborn persistence in old ways we waste human life, land, minerals, and energy. Those of us who insist that we are entitled to something more than 1/nth of the world's resources (where n is the world population) are left to enforce our claim with threat and violence.

Survival and Love
Some ask, "Can humans be different?" North Americans have long recognized the common interest in providing through government for the basic needs of the indigent. Private groups like corporations, unions, mutual insurance companies, and cooperatives may offer even more comprehensive benefits to members limited in capacity by illness, injury, or old age. Some families, communal groups, and monastic orders extend such protection to its practical limit, sharing resources on the basis of need and contributing to group welfare on the basis of ability. In this they are much like a number of non-Western, non-industrialized cultures which have existed in the past and endure in remote areas even today."
"Explorations in Common Sense and Common Nonsense"

Check out some of his "Bumper Sticker Statements":
What you get is more than what you see
Don't bite my finger, look where I am pointing
People don't want to be evil
People don't want to be neurotic
Reason and emotion aren't opposites
Reason isn't superior to emotion

HTML version of chapter 9 - "Therapy, for the Person and Society"
Recall God And Fake Orgasms - Screw the whiny CA politicos and their PR machines. Let's recall things that really matter, by Mark Morford
"[R]ecall the idea that patriotism somehow means if you don't sneer at the very idea of foreigners, if you don't somehow wish hot steaming death upon each and every detractor of America, if you don't wave the flag at least as high as your TV antenna and believe everything Rumsfeld & Co. hisses your way, you must be an impious fag traitor communist tree-hugger.
This is all within your power. This is all within your purview. They want you to think it's not, that you are weak and trembly and that terrorism is ever ready to swoop in and eat your children and rearrange all the stations on your car stereo. They want you to believe you are powerless and small. This is, of course, utter BS. Your vote counts, perhaps more than it ever has."
Recall fear. Vote now to kiss with everything you've got, love deep, fuck with full intent, feel the divine's hot breath on your skin at every possible moment, buy the best wine you can afford, read your ass off, hunker down, grit your teeth, scream your joy.
There. See? Politics isn't so bad, after all."

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Gadzooks! More sentience!
"Having brought history to a point where nearly everything is possible, at least of a material nature—and having left behind a past that was permeated ideologically by mystical and religious elements produced by the human imagination—we are faced with a new challenge, one that has never before confronted humanity. We must consciously create our own world, not according to demonic fantasies, mindless customs, and destructive prejudices, but according to the canons of reason, reflection, and discourse that uniquely belong to our own species.
"The Communalist Project" by Murray Bookchin

" Social ecology is based on the conviction that nearly all of our present ecological problems originate in deep-seated social problems. It follows, from this view, that these ecological problems cannot be understood, let alone solved, without a careful understanding of our existing society and the irrationalities that dominate it. To make this point more concrete: economic, ethnic, cultural, and gender conflicts, among many others, lie at the core of the most serious ecological dislocations we face today – apart, to be sure, from those that are produced by natural catastrophes."
"What is Social Ecology?" by Murray Bookchin, at, the International Journal for Rational Society.
Yumpin' yimminy! There's sentient life on this planet ayup ayup!

Against the Corpse Machine; Defining a post-Leftist critique of violence.

"As long as anarchy remains reactionary, there is little hope that we will have a chance of creating a society much different from the one in which we already live (throw in a little worker’s control here, a few neighborhood assemblies there, federate, federate, federate – industrial democracy, bourgeois democracy). Refusing to confront and reconcile the effect anarchism’s modern industrial origins has had on its vision (likewise the Bohemian middle class current gaining popularity), as well as failing to appreciate the opportunities presented by taking a serious look at the Primitivist critique, will surely spell failure just as quickly as joining the government did in Spain ’36 (anarcho-syndicalists, are you still listening?)."
A lovely synchronicity: just a while ago I was wondering where I might access a set of "core values and beliefs" ... and then I found this (note that it's precisely because I'd want to quibble with the wording that I find this interesting):

The CSMonitor pegs me as a Liberal. *Surprise?!* According to the article, this is the Liberal platform:
     * Wary of American arrogance and hypocrisy
     * Trace much of today's anti-American hatred to previous US foreign policies.
     * Believe political solutions are inherently superior to military solutions
     * Believe the US is morally bound to intervene in humanitarian crises
     * Oppose American imperialism
     * Support international law, alliances, and agreements
     * Encourage US participation in the UN
     * Believe US economic policies must help lift up the world's poor

"How NeoCon are you?" | CSMonitor special on Neo-Con

Monday, September 08, 2003

I get graphomaniacal when disaster looms (I'm staring down potential homelessness right now) and so have a collection of blogs; this is from my .sig:

my newest blog:
The Cool Discipline of Freedom |

Beyond Greed |
Basic Bliss |
MozDawg on DAV & docs |

In order for a world-around democracy to prosper,
world society must learn how to prosper.
Buckminster Fuller

"If the overall pie can grow, so be it, but when
it can't then elites start taking a bigger piece
of whatever pie there is. Societies are managed
so as to satisfy this imperative."
Richard K. Moore
Citizens for a Democratic Renaissance
Ooh. This "freedom to obtain and ability to broadcast information" thing is startin' to tick bigtime:
"Was 9/11 a Hoax?" hosted by (I wish they hadn't used the word "hoax" but HeyHo, it's a decent article. )
And moving from hoax to "This war on terrorism is bogus" - The 9/11 attacks gave the US an ideal pretext to use force to secure its global domination"

zhurn repliles:

Yeah.. that about sums it up. But the real question is "how many times do we have to see someone write up a nice little summary of where things are headed before we rise up and do anything about it?"

Good one. I hope you weren't being rhetorical. Even if you /were/, here's my answer:
I, personally, didn't need it even once ... I figured it out from the inside, and trash-canned my career ... and every career after. ("We can change it better from within" deserves to be talked through, disassembled, and thoroughly discredited!)

I've failed to locate a source of income that I could transmit to my friends. (Yaa shurr, I can make a few bucks writing theatre and book reviews, or playing djembe on the street, or bla-bla-blah ... but none of that translates to my comrades, so *bzzzzzzt* it fails. I'll pass on anything that smacks of "exceptional" ... when my comrades can get off the treadmill, then I'll go play the djembe!) This has been a major downer for me ... a major problem. The biggest single chunk I can identify in this problem is that everyone I would have and should have collaborated with are hooked into the rat race ... Babylonian thralls ... guards and Human Resource Specialists in Global Gulag.

Have a peek at the rant I wrote 1.275 minutes ago, just before I downloaded the email notification of your reply.

What I used to say after giving a presentation, whether to the audience or to an individual, when I got the ineviatble "I want to help, what do I do?" was what I call my "11th hour" answer ... kinda Zen, and kinda post-modern: "The biggest thing you can do is to create your own answer to that very important question ... one that fits your situation, your interests, your resources ... one that inspires and can sustain you."

Now? As of about a week ago (see CityZen) I've cut the crap about militant spirituality and boiled it down to a frontal attack on bourgeois sensibilities: find comrades and peers to live with ... that'll mean economizing, which can translate to more gear, or fewer dumb-ass hours, or taking that good job at low pay ... and it'll mean challenging consummer capitalism where it's at its most insidious: the kitchen and living room.

My reply in to someone saying the state of the economy "doesn't matter, because the next election's already been bought":

"The election's been bought" I might buy into ... but the whole "it doesn't matter" thing seems to me a greater caustic agent than any political event. If it doesn't matter because the election has been bought, then you can be sure they're going to use that as a reason for buying the next election!

Imagine if the oligarch's have the sense to pay attention: they will notice people rolling over in the face of what should give rise to indignation.

Know what? I care if I'm the only person with spine around ... because I'm lonely, I'm old, I'm broken, I'm poor, I'm on the verge of homelessness, I'm disheartened and I'm tired. But what really bothers me is that those with the opportunity and resources are conning themselves into thinking that they can survive their own cynicism ... how sadly mistaken!
The whatever attitude makes me gag.

Thanks, satchmet, for finding my LJ a place to be frank ... I appreciate that, truly truly. (Do me the
honour of not presuming sarcasm ... I'm sarcastic only rarely, and try to signal it whent that's the

I'm /dieing/ for the lack of someone with a bit of courage ... and if people don't care that I'm dieing, well ... they shouldn't be surprised when the world becomes a colder place.

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