24 December 2010

Poets and Connectivity

Victor Jara
Theater director and folk singer
murdered during 1973 coup in Chile
For his communist beliefs
Artists get it. Musicians get it. Poets and writers get it. Societies that value art, music, poetry and literature get it. Progressives of all shapes and colors get it. We are all connected.

It seems like it is such a no-brainer. Yet, there are so many who do not get it, who do not believe in empathy as life’s primary principle, as more important that personal happiness, salvation, or bliss. They see the world as a battleground, where everyone must fight for limited resources. Everyone is a potential enemy. What’s mine is mine, or my family is inherently entitled, or my spiritual self is separate from the suffering of others.

This is what Connectivity is. Intuiting that my iPod and my clothes and my child’s toys and my out-of-season fruits are themselves the fruits of the labor of people in far away places who are struggling just to feed their families, whose humble dreams are that their children will not have to struggle this hard.

Connectivity is the Continuum of Time and Space and Meaning. It is the joining of All That Is into One – all thoughts, all memories, all experiences, all emotions, all motions, all energies, all occurrences, all forces, all knowledge, all expressions, all processes, all things. Connectivity is Engagement with all of the world, the entire universe, the universe of multiple universes, and beyond.

Connectivity “widens the boundaries of our being,” as Pablo Neruda said of empathy. He said that empathy “unites all living things.” I am saying that Connectivity is what many think of as God, and that Empathy is the Meaning of Life. I am saying that the reproductive drive of all living things is not a selfish act, but an empathetic passion, a desire to create, the need to share, to love – to connect.

Connectivity has no beginning or end, and no divisive dichotomy. Darkness and light are not in opposition, rather, they are a dance of light energy, absorbencies and reflections and refractions, as miraculous as a sun shower’s rainbow or a fireworks display. Night and day are not symbolic of evil and good, but daily stages of a larger process of a spinning earth’s motion in relation to its sun. Male and female are how we humans try to understand ourselves, but even this dichotomy is by no means universal.
Connectivity as applied to politics means that there is no defined “right” and “left.” There is conservative ideology and progressive ideology, but they are not polar opposites, as conservatives would like everyone to believe. And this is was the whole point of the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Keep Fear Alive, the whole point of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, the Colbert Report, and the whole point of Barack Obama’s presidency. The whole point is that Empathy has no Boundaries. The problem is that progressive ideology is essentially the breaking down of boundaries, of barriers, of division, and to conservatives who live behind their walls of separation, be it religious, economic, or cultural seclusion, this is a frightening thing.

What conservatives want to conserve are such institutions as the division that entitlement imposes, the secrecy that power uses as a crutch, the righteousness that religion often assumes, the selfishness that Randian capitalism upholds. What progressives want is to change the system to allow access to power, to engage in real dialogue and real diplomacy, to ensure real freedom of religion and expression, to have government work for everyone in society, and of course, to give peace a chance. One set of principles are based on exclusion, while the other is based on connectivity.

As so often happens in life, it all boils down to Pink Floyd. “Us and Them.” “The Wall.” “Breathe.” Roger Waters’ “Amused to Death.” And so many others. These songs are beloved throughout the world, in all languages, and not just because they have a good beat and you can dance to them. It is because they are connective. They express ideas that are so much larger than what their titles proclaim. There is no “Us and Them.” “The Wall” is just a mental construct, built for protection, but its protection only brings dehumanizing isolation and insanity. To breathe is to care. And the idea of the human race amusing itself to death is so astute, in these times when overstimulation drives extreme living that also seeks to break down boundaries, yet, it is a kind of mental blockage that keeps people from connecting and being truly engaged.

Connectivity is complicated. It is expansive. It is inclusive. It is expansive and inclusive music and art and poetry and literature. And societies that move more slowly, whose internet connections don’t always work, whose daily lives function at a slower pace, whose art and music and poetry and literature are treasured, and appreciated, and they lay as a foundation for the appreciation of other art and music and poetry and literature that is expansive and inclusive, like Pink Floyd, and the Beatles – these societies pay close attention to art and music and poetry and literature. They take to heart the love for those who they don’t even know that Pablo Neruda was expressing in his writings. They are engaged, not in simple dichotomies, not in simple thinking, not always peacefully, but they do not let pain and fear and a past where artists and musicians and poets and writers were persecuted for their expansive and inclusive politics stop them from caring.

10 December 2010

Ann Woolner on the Indecency of the Culture War

Jim Morrison Memorial in Berlin-Baumschulen
photo by Jürgen Schuschkeweg
What’s this I hear about Jim Morrison being posthumously pardoned by the Florida clemency board, at the behest of Florida Governor Charlie Crist? It’s been 40 years since Morrison was convicted of two misdemeanors, indecent exposure and open profanity, stemming from his drunken antics on a stage in Miami on 1 March 1969. When he died at the tender age of 27, his case was pending appeal. So the point would be moot, at least to those who act like they are but in reality are not actually interested in justice.

04 December 2010

Secrecy, Democracy, and WikiLeaks

Julian Assange
Adapted from flickr image by Espen Moe
used under a Creative Commons licence 

In the aftermath of the WikiLeaks document dump, the most important thing to realize is that it is not the leaks, nor the leakers, that are the problem, here. The problem is the secrecy and the US State Department’s haughty attitude, which is only encouraged by the institutionalized system of spies and infiltrators in the ranks of the US “diplomatic” corps.

21 November 2010

Dreaming of Mole

Today’s illustration of connectivity might make you hungry. It’s about mole. Mmm – mole.
McClatchy News ran a story about this amazing sauce about a week ago, where they were unable to resist the temptation to use the title, Holy mole!, then this week, they report that United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has designated Mexican cuisine to be an “intangible cultural heritage of humanity in an article titled, Move over France: Mexican food now a world-class cuisine. And to that, I say ¡Órale!

14 November 2010

On Lies That Divide Us

Excerpt from
No Stranger To Strange Lands:
A Journey Through Strange Coincidences, Connective Thoughts, And Far Flung Places

Part I: Movements About the Northern Hemisphere
Strange Coincidences
My birthday had come and gone in unspectacular fashion. I almost forgot about it. My husband, Jamie, and I were in a holding pattern in the early part of that summer of 2006, holding on to what little funds we had, holed up with our two dogs in the air conditioning of a tiny apartment north of Tampa, Florida, along the Pithlachascotee River, spending money only on the basic necessities – food and beer. I was depressed. The Iraq Occupation was tragically dragging on, and the rumblings of an attack on Iran were beginning to grow in amplitude, as reported by the amazing Seymour M. Hersh in an article in The New Yorker, titled, “The Iran Plans,” rumblings which were following an alarmingly similar pattern, with whisper campaigns and unsubstantiated rumors of nuclear mushroom clouds and evil demagogues all over again. So I picked up the Kurt Vonnegut book I had seen in our book bin to cheer myself up. That always works. There are a few things in life that pick me up when I am down: moving art, music, dance, encountering really interesting people and places, my dogs, Jamie’s grasp of the bigger picture, and a Kurt Vonnegut or Tom Robbins book. A Tom Robbins book once literally – and I mean literally – saved my life. I had come to a point where I felt that the human race was doomed to continue to commit acts of war, environmental destruction, and horrible injustice, and I was on the verge of suicide because I thought that we should know better – that being “civilized” actually entails being civil. But then Mr. Robbins’ Skinny Legs and All gave me hope through comedy and unique perspective, and I decided to stick around and try to counteract all those forces that I felt were so barbaric. And now this Vonnegut book, Hocus Pocus, didn’t fail, either. In fact, something amazing happened while I was reading it. In it, the protagonist reads a science fiction story in a porno magazine, a fun little literary device through which Vonnegut injects a bit of science fiction into an otherwise only slightly futuristic setting. It is an outrageously satirical commentary about how full of ourselves human beings tend to be. Very clever – I enjoyed the story very much.

07 November 2010

Restore Sanity vs Keep Fear Alive: Brazil

Well, this is interesting. Check this article by Mark Weisbrot in the Guardian, titled Brazil wins with Dilma Rousseff. Here is how he begins:
"Like the rally led by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert of Comedy Central that brought hundreds of thousands of people into the streets of Washington, DC on Saturday, Brazil's election on Sunday was a contest of "Restore Sanity" versus "Keep Fear Alive" – but with the fate of millions of Brazilians seriously at stake."
Good stuff, coming from a Brit. But for more on the significance of this election, here is some commentary coming from closer to the action. This is a translation of an article by the Uruguayan researcher of social movements, Raúl Zibechi: Toward the Continuation of Lulismo.

The world will be watching Brazil very carefully, and hopefully, learning a thing or two.

06 November 2010

Opposite Directions

Springtime Flowers in Patagonia
In my recent post at Because the World is Round..., while reporting on two big news stories that might have been drown out by the histrionic midterm elections in the States, I marvel at how reversed the directions of movement are between the northern and southern hemispheres of America. While the death of Ex-President Néstor Kirchner opens up all kinds of speculation about Argentina’s future, the most likely path will continue toward the breaking down of cultural barriers in favor of human rights, following in the footsteps of the recent legalization of same-sex marriage – and this, in a nation that not so long ago was constitutionally linked to the Pope. Whatever opportunistic political games the Kirchners might have played, both Néstor and his wife and presidential successor, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, they have undoubtedly been responsible for decreasing the power of both the military and the Catholic Church in Argentina.

31 October 2010

The Real Mythbusters

Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart debate reasonableness. Photograph: Kris Connor/Getty Images

So the mystery has been solved: What are Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert going to do at their big rally?

Unlike Glen Beck’s rally, where the tax-exempt co-sponsor of the event, the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, required all speakers to sign an agreement promising not to talk politics, yet the politically polarizing Sarah Palin was one of the main speakers, the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Keep Fear Alive was not in the least bit political. That’s right – no left-wing bias on stage, unless one considers diversity, the patriotic call to come together as a nation and stop allowing ourselves to be painted as opposing forces, and comedy itself to be left-wing biases.

19 October 2010

Fragmented Reality

My most recent post at Because the World is Round... is the tale of how I could note make sense out of a Tehuelche legend that I was trying to translate from Castellano to English. It turned out that the version I had of the legend was just fragments of the complete story that had been posted on a tourism website, feigning interest in the indigenous culture that had been nearly wiped out in order to build the resort there. I was in some ways relieved, and in others, incensed. Relief came from knowing that my understanding of Castellano was not insufficient, that the problem was not due to a horrible translation from the original Tehuelche language into Castellano, although how accurate it is remains unknown to me; and that the Tehuelches were not simply horrible storytellers. My outrage sprang from the irony of the tourism industry utilizing what I would call a crude caricature of the Tehuelche culture to market their product amidst land disputes and the larger struggle of the indigenous Mapuche and Tehuelche people for not only justice but also to regain their dignity.

09 October 2010

Social Networking Put To Good Use

One of the goals of this blog is to utilize the connective power of the internet. Here is this amazing access we all have to the whole world. The potential that it holds in bringing diverse people and groups of people together is immense. Facebook serves as an example of this potential. Yet, the purpose of Facebook is, above all, to sell advertising. So even though it can be used to spread good ideas and bring people together, it is not set up to do any more than invite individuals to go on the site, post their 400-character blurb of the moment, see what else is going on within their individual and separated group of friends, perhaps push a button that announces that they like something, perhaps even engage in some meaningful conversation... but, in the end, it is all entertainment. Real sharing of ideas, I find, is stunted by the structure and the amount of banter that's overwhelming nature rises exponentially the bigger one's list of friends grows.

06 October 2010

F*** The Rules

“Living by the rules is another way of hoping the future will be like the past.” - Adam Phillips

I didn't know who Adam Phillips was until I just now looked him up on Wikipedia, but I sure do like this quote. According to them: “He has been described as the 'Martin Amis of psychoanalysis' [?] ...and by John Banville as 'one of the finest prose stylists in the language, an Emerson [Lake and Palmer or Ralph Waldo?] of our time.' ” Hmm – seems like an interesting fellow, even though I don't have a clue who Martin Amis or John Banville are – something to look into.

The quote didn't persuade the publisher I sent a proposal to explaining why I was not following their rule that required all potential authors to purchase, read, and write a short review to prove that we had actually purchased and read one of the books that they publish before they would deign to consider the proposal.

18 September 2010

No Stranger To Strange Lands

* * * * *
No Stranger To Stranger Lands:
A Journey Through Strange Coincidences, Connective Thoughts,
And Far Flung Places
* * * * *
What do Naomi Klein, Switzerland, and the Beatles have in common? Where do Jack Kerouac, Homer, and the Australian Aborigines walk the same path? What links Kurt Vonnegut, Alice in Wonderland, and Synchronicity? Promoting Democracy and Freedom; narratives as spiritual mappings; strange coincidences – these are a few of the themes touched upon in this combination of travelogue with thought journal that amounts to one woman’s attempt to achieve a General Theory of Everything through literary non-fiction.

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