The White Nightgown Mindset (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 180)

William James warned his students that a certain kind of mindset was approaching the West—it could hardly be called a way of thought—in which no physical details are noticed. Fingernails are not noticed, trees in the plural are mentioned, but no particular tree is ever loved, nor where it stands; the hair of the ear is not noticed. We now see this mindset spread all over freshman English papers, which American students can now write quickly, on utterly generalized subjects; the nouns are usually plurals, and the feelings are all ones it would be nice to have. The same mindset turns up on the Watergate tapes, and working now with more elaborate generalizations, in graduate seminars in English, in which all the details in Yeats’s poems turn out to be archetypes or Irish Renaissance themes. It is the lingua franca, replacing Latin. The mindset could be described as the ability to talk of Africa without visualizing the hair in the baboon’s ear, or even a baboon. Instead the mindset reports “wild animals.” Since the immense range of color belongs to physical detail—the thatness—of the universe, it is the inability to see color. People with this mindset have minds that resemble white nightgowns. For people of this mindset, there’s not much difference between 3 and 742; the count of something is a detail. In fact the number they are most interested in, as James noted, is one. That’s a number without physical detail.

WIlliam James observed this approaching mindset and associated out from it sideways. He noticed the mindset resembled the upper class of Boston. They too disliked the sordid details—the hair in the ear of religion, the smells of the Irish entryway—and preferred the religion of the One. Naturally, they became Unitarians. If the “cultured people” move into this mindset, a curious thing happens; the upper (spiritual) half of life and the lower (sensual) half of life begin to part company. One part ascends; the other part, no longer connected to the high, sinks. The gaps between grom wider and wider. The educated class has the Pure One, the working class people are left with nothing but the crude physical details of their lives—the husband’s old pipe and the spit knocked out of it, the washing tub, the water and slush from the children’s boots on the entry floor, the corns on the feet, the mess of dishes in the sink, the secular love-making in the cold room. These physical details are now, in the twentieth century, not only unpenetrated by religion, but they somehow prove to the unconscious that “religion is a nullity.” James emphasized that perception, and Stevens grieved over the insight all his life. For the working class there’s nothing left but the Emperor of Ice Cream. The middle class is now the working class, and so the majority of people in the West are worse off than they were in the Middle Ages.

A Little Book on the Human Shadow

Robert Bly          1988

Back to the Future Fascism; 1935 to 2017 (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 163)

He used to surprise persons who were about to shake hands with him by suddenly bending their fingers back till they almost broke. Most people didn’t like it much.

Doremus Jessup could not explain his power of bewitching large audiences. The Senator was vulgar, almost illiterate, a public liar easily detected, and in his “ideas” almost idiotic, while his celebrated piety was that of a traveling salesman for church furniture, and his yet more celebrated humor the sly cynicism of a country store.

Certainly there was nothing exhilarating in the actual words of his speeches, nor anything convincing in his philosophy. His political platforms were only wings of a windmill.

He was an actor of genius. There was no more overwhelming actor on the stage, in motion pictures, nor even in the pulpit. He would whirl arms, bang tables, glare from mad eyes, vomit Biblical wrath  from a gaping mouth; but he would also coo like a nursing mother, beseech like an aching lover, and in between tricks would coldly and almost contemptuously jab his crowds with figures and facts—figures and facts that were inescapable even when, as often happened, they were entirely incorrect.

But below this surface stagecraft was his uncommon natural ability to be authentically excited by and with his audience, and they by and with him. He could dramatize his assertion that he was neither a Nazi nor a Fascist. . .

. . . make you see him veritably defending the Capitol against barbarian hordes, the while he innocently presented as his own warm-hearted Democratic inventions, every anti-libertarian, anti-racist (anti-foreigner) madness of Europe.

Aside from his dramatic glory, Buzz Windrip was a Professional Common Man.

Oh, he was common enough. He had every prejudice and aspiration of every American Common Man. He believed in the desirability and therefore the sanctity of . . .

. . . and the superiority of anyone who possessed a million dollars. He regarded spats, walking sticks, caviar, titles, tea-drinking, poetry not daily syndicated in newspapers, and all foreigners, possibly excepting the British, as degenerate.

But he was the Common Man twenty-times-magnified by his oratory, so that while the other Commoners could understand his every purpose, which was exactly the same as their own, they saw him towering among them, and they raised hands to him in worship.

And it was Buzz’s master stroke that, as warmly as he advocated everyone’s getting rich by just voting to be rich, he denounce all “Fascism” and “Nazism,” so that most of the Republicans who were afraid of Democratic Fascism, and all the Democrats who were afraid of Republican Fascism, were ready to vote for him.

Pushing in among this mob of camp followers who identified political virtue with money for their rent came a flying squad who suffered not from hunger but from congested idealism: Intellectuals and Reformers and even Rugged Individualists, who saw in Windrip, for all his clownish swindlerism, a free vigor which promised a rejuvenation of the crippled and senile capitalistic system.

It Can’t Happen Here

Sinclair Lewis          1935

The Kitsch Heart of both Communism and Capitalism (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 161)

“Kitsch” is a German word born in the middle of the sentimental nineteenth century, and from German it entered all Western languages. Repeated use, however, has obliterated its original metaphysical meaning: kitsch is the absolute denial of shit, in both the literal and the figurative senses of the word; kitsch excludes everything from its pureview which is essentially unacceptable in human existence.

Ten years later (by which time she was living in America), a friend of some friends, an American senator, took Sabina for a drive in his gigantic car, his four children bouncing up and down in the back. The senator stopped the car in front of a stadium with an artificial skating rink, and the children jumped out and started running along the large expanse of grass surrounding it. Sitting behind the wheel and gazing dreamily after the four little bounding figures, he said to Sabina, “Just look at them.” And describing a circle with his arm, a circle that was meant to take in stadium, grass, and children, he added, “Now, that’s what I call happiness.”

Behind his words there was more than joy at seeing children run and grass grow; there was a deep understanding of the plight of a refugee from a Communist country where, the senator was convinced, no grass grew or children ran.

At that moment an image of the senator standing on a reviewing stand in a Prague square flashed through Sabina’s mind. The smile of his face was the smile Communist statesmen beamed from the height of their reviewing stand to the identically smiling citizens in the parade below.

How did the senator know that children meant happiness? Could he see into their souls? What if, the moment they were out of sight, three of them jumped the fourth and began beating him up?

The senator had only one argument in his favor: his feeling. When the heart speaks, the mind finds it indecent to object. In the realm of kitsch, the dictatorship of the heart reigns supreme.

  The feeling induced by kitsch must be a kind the multitudes can share. Kitsch may not, therefore, depend on an unusual situation; it must derive from the basic images people have engraved in their memories: the ungrateful daughter, the neglected father, children running on the grass, the motherland betrayed, first love.

Kitsch causes two tears to flow in quick succession. The first tear says: How nice to see children running on the grass!

The second tear says: How nice to be moved, together with all mankind, by children running on the grass!

It is the second tear that makes kitsch kitsch.

The brotherhood of man on earth will be possible only on a base of kitsch.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Milan Kundera          1984

 

Bokonon’s Republic (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 159)

Bokonon had written a whole book about Utopias. The Seventh Book, which he called “Bokonon’s Republic.” In that book are these ghastly aphorisms:

The hand that stocks the drug stores rules the world.

Let us start our Republic with a chain of drug stores (prioritizing the protection of our own individual health, aches and pains, on our own demand via corporatism), a chain of grocery stores (our individual gluttony of the gullet supported by corporatism), a chain of gas chambers (prisons, a militarized and bullying police force, and any “indigenous” national scapegoat to take all the blame and be punished for being the enemies of public good and general welfare that they happen to be), and a national game (to obsess over and rewrite as our bullying team tries to destroy every other team in an over-dominating spectacle: the MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL, etc, etc, etc.). After that, we can write our Constitution (any way we want because everyone is too egocentric to care about anyone or anything else other than their own selfish distractions, excuses, and entertainment).

***forgive the added Cribb explanations in parentheses for those who get the original untainted and glorious satire of Vonnegut as it stands in its own succinct purity.

Cat’s Cradle

Kurt Vonnegut          1963

Rendering the Normal and the Abnormal against our Natural State (Love vs Sex 236)

It bears repeating that we are not attributing any particular nobility or, for that matter, ignobility to foragers. Some behaviors that seem normal to contemporary people would quickly destroy many small-scale foraging societies, rendering them dysfunctional. Unrestrained self-interest in particular, whether expressed as food-hoarding or excessive sexual possessiveness, is a direct threat to group cohesion and is therefore considered shameful and ridiculous.

Is there any doubt that societies can reshape such impulses?

Right now, girl’s necks are being elongated ring by brass ring in parts of Thailand and Burma to make them more appealing to men. Clitorises are being cut away and labia sewn together in villages all over North Africa to dampen female desire, while in glamorous California, reduction labioplasty and other cosmetic vaginal surgeries have recently become a booming business. Elsewhere, the penises of boys are being circumcised or split open in ritualistic subincision. You get the point.

From savoring saliva beer or cow blood milkshakes to wearing socks with sandals, there is little doubt that people are willing to think, feel, wear, do, and believe pretty much anything if their society assures them it’s normal.

Social forces that convince people to stretch their necks beyond the breaking point, schmush the heads of their infants, or sell their daughters into sacred prostitution are quite capable of reshaping or neutralizing sexual jealousy by rendering it silly and ridiculous. By rendering it abnormal.

Sex at Dawn

Ryan and Jethá          2010

  

Some Choose Instead to Vote the Other 364 Days (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 142)

Voting reminds me a lot of a person’s birthday or Valentines Day or even Christmas itself. It is a day in which we can loudly herald our passion and conviction; our ever vigilant effort and action, towards emphatically displaying our love for another or our commitment to making the world a better place for all…….or is it?

Three hundred and sixty-five or one? The awareness, the contemplation, and sincere effort, of three hundred and sixty-five or the same for just one? It’s a great marketing day and the approval stamp of the applauding and all too well compliant herd is all over it. It is a one that can supposedly wash away all the sins, apathy, and hypocrisy of the other three hundred and sixty-four. See how I love my wife…..I bought her some wilting picked over-roses, some discounted hum-drum chocolates, and a fabulous Hallmark card imprinted with a unique and exquisite message from the core of my being? How many people gloriously celebrate the Christ child’s birth by drinking themselves into oblivion on his namesake day as he requested in his eleventh commandment? I voted. I voted. I voted. Look at my sticker!…..I voted! and if you did not, you don’t have the right to say anything…anything, about our leadership or this country. People died for your right to vote, don’t you get that, how could you give up or discount such a privilege?

I don’t believe those people died or gave their lives, energy, and effort, to establish and support a deceptive and beguiling system where voting is in part, or perhaps in complete entirety, only a satiating illusion. That would be silly and suggest less of them, demeaning their character, awareness, and contribution. The Electoral College is deliberately complicated and deceptive to the general public. The frequent references to our form of government by our bipartisan leadership as a democracy is intentionally deceptive and misleading. Representation is not proportional, nor truly representative of the people. The blackout, smearing, misdirection, and propaganda of the mass media significantly sabotages Third-Party considerations and candidates. Political discourse is progressively dumbed down by our governing elite and their puppets to default the public into a perpetual state of destabilized fear, ignorance, and willful submission. And conversely, laws, public policy, and other matters of debate are also willfully over-complicated and bogged down with misleading minutia to hoodwink public perception and understanding. When such doublespeak, marketing, propaganda, inundation, limitation, complication, and multitiered over-organization is thrust upon the people and the process, I find it impossible to believe that a ballot can truly even be what it is suppose to be or that the powers of authority have any sincere concern or obligation towards protecting, defending, and preserving the viable merit, input, and ultimate consequence of the common man’s opinion and the legitimacy of his vote.

But I wonder how many of the sticker voters also voted the day before, and the other three hundred and sixty three days before that. How many voted profoundly for their family on all of those days; for the love, stability, peace, and nurturing of their spouse, and their children, and even themselves? How many voted for their clients and customers by being forthright and sincere, and offering the best product and service possible to them in a fair exchange of currency? How many voted for their employees by truly rewarding them fairly and appropriately with compensation and praise and encouragement? By being a positive and honorable role model who keeps his word to everyone even when he can get away without doing so? How many voted for the true universal freedom of all…..all people, all races, all religions, and all nations, versus their own egocentric version of freedom and acceptability?  How many voted to remove the plausible excuses and jealousy from their applied perceptions and assumptions relating to every one of their relationships? How many voted to forgive as opposed to crucify? For empathy versus condescension and scapegoating? How many voted for respect and stability and union with their fellow man and all life on this planet versus yielding to the temptable demons of overriding internal and interactive fear, destabilization, and isolation? How many voted against their own doublespeak and doublethink? How many live their vote in their life every single moment of every single day in hopes that that vote, that choice, that statement of  opinion and record, will make a difference in this world and how we all interact with one another?

If you believe voting at the ballot box really does makes a difference, I support you in that action. I’m not sure that I can agree with such an assumption and I worry that a vote of that nature is more about distraction and misdirection; having an excuse to feel as though you have done enough in regards to American society, as well as our foreign policy; that the rest of all of it is out of your control and that you can only do so much to contribute to the changes that the world needs to experience, at least for the next four years. You get the right to brag or complain or feel content for a short while, but most often that leads to a person to less awareness, less contemplation, and less actual implementation of the real difference that they can make in the world.

A ballot may or may not produce significant change, but such a national or centralizing vote is far-removed from direct interaction and the comprehensive ability to truly assess its genuine effectiveness. There is too much misdirection and separation and plausible excuse in such a system to allow for the definitive assessment of the reality, impact, and consequences yielded on a personal level. As a result, the “truth” of that experience gets to be rewritten by our psyche outside of our sensational existence. Levels of separation via a pyramid of centralization create that dangerous and tragic dynamic of a perceived or subjective reality outside of immediate and direct experience.

If you make a genuinely uplifting and stabilizing difference in the lives of the people within your direct contact, you will change the world for the better, and the world will in turn, bless you with the same nurturing and stabilizing energy. That becomes a union of change, direct impact, and direct experience. It is undeniable, unmistakable, and irrefutable. Nothing can stand against such, not even a real or an imaginary ballot box.

Cribb

Election Day 2016

A Glorious Life of Trinkets (WPMY 140)

Like so many Americans, she was trying to construct a life that made sense from the things she found in gift shops.

Slaughterhouse-Five
Kurt Vonnegut 1969 and true to this day…

We lost a big part of America when they successfully convinced the lower and middle classes to love trinkets over a simple existence. We lost more of America when we were taught Willy Loman’s golden carrot dream was more noble and righteous than being a blue collar worker of integrity and pride and stability in loving and providing for our families basic needs. The blame is almost never completely unilateral, but those who entice have motive beyond mutual respect and that motive almost always involves the destabilization and plundering of others.

Cribb          2016