What is an American?

What is an American?

An American isn’t well-educated.  Education, like everything else in America is related to money:  how much you have or don’t have.  Education in its true sense of the word, doesn’t matter to Americans; in fact, possessing a wide breadth of knowledge or being an intellectual of high caliber could be more of a detriment than a value.  An individual with a wonderfully rich mind could easily be overlooked or shunned if the wealth of knowledge isn’t somehow or another transformed into pocket wealth.

America is a monarchy and the Dollar sporting the all-seeing eye atop the pyramid is King.

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beauty and the beast

“Beloved I need to love you – every aspect, every pore.”

And this time God said,

“There is a hideous blemish on my body,
though it is such an infinitesimal part of my Being-
could you kiss that if it were revealed?”

“I will try, Lord, I will try.”

And then God said,
“That blemish is all the hatred and
cruelty in this
world.”

– fr. “Could You Embrace That”, Thomas Aquinas, c. 1245

I love literature, I love the written expression of thought!  I have loved innumerable books with  a quiet, tremendous passion which in many cases has eventually extended to the individual responsible for expressing his/herself so formidably in words!  I have loved stories!  I have loved the sustained expression of original idea.  I’ve loved and adored many writers and thinkers — and beyond that — Life itself, the mysterious ‘without which’, neither thinker nor thought would arise!  I love and have always loved just wondering and thinking about Life —  the Great Mystery that even Nikola Tesla (well, maybe Nikola Tesla) and even Dennis McKenna (well, maybe Dennis McKenna) haven’t, with all their original human brilliance, yet been able to solve.

When my kids were younger, I homeschooled them.  I had heard about homeschooling and had met and talked to a few homeschooling families.  The remarkable self-composure of homeschooled children made an immediate impression on me.  I reflected upon my own public school education for a few seconds and contrasted my own teenage insecurity and immaturity with what I saw in teenage homeschooled children, and decided to give homeschooling a try.  I didn’t have the wealth to pay for the kind of schools I wanted for my kids and I believed they’d be better off without the tutelage of semi-intelligent minds.  It isn’t that I believed myself to be a brilliant individual capable of educating my kids all by myself–no– in fact the enormity of the (unpaid, 24/7) job was daunting. When I looked back upon my own education in public school, all I saw was excruciating boredom, marked and defined by the interminable length of time one minute took to tick by on the ever-present black and white classroom clock.

My husband (now X) was agreeable.  So without further ado, I launched into home-education.

For the next ten years, I traveled a long and winding road of discovery.  In the process of home-educating my children, I became educated, for the first time.  I realized, little by little, how completely worthless my 13 childhood years from kindergarten through high school, spent locked in the confines of the school institution, had been for me and no doubt were for very many others, I believe the vast majority.  Not only did my 13 years at school produce an uneducated person, they produced a confused person; confused and ignorant about world history, American history, and science; essentially the world around me and the story of human beings through time.

Although I was always an “A” math student, I came to realize that all of the wonder, all of the beauty of discovery, all of the evolution and story of the development of math, from Pythagoras until Einstein were omitted from school math, which was introduced to children as a body of pre-fab, formulaic, increasingly complex knowledge to be memorized.

When I, a college graduate BA English Literature, began, at the age of 34, to teach my children science, I was confused about what “Science” is.  If somebody had said to me, “Define “Science”, I would have been confused, and probably would have mumbled an unintelligible guess.  I don’t know what my answer would have been, but surely I wouldn’t have known enough to say, “Science is looking at the mystery of everything around us, including ourselves, with curiosity, and trying to make sense of it.”

Science was presented, like math, as a pre-determined, given body of information to be memorized.  From the very beginning, in kindergarten or first grade, we were given textbooks with chapters about planets or plants or rocks or dinosaurs, with vocabulary words to be memorized and remembered, and fractured information to be tested upon, which then proceeded to determine where one registered on the omnipresent scale from very smart to incredibly dumb.

 

 

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good luck with dat y’all

the recent events, legislation and global government activity which, all taken and strung together make up the contemporary short history “Policing of the Internet”, make for a truly thought-provoking and new realm of philosophical speculation.

In our lifetime, just a hop, skip and a hip-hop step ago, we witnessed the dawning of a new age. There should be no question left in anybody’s mind, but that the rise of the World-Wide-Web marked the end of one long, tedious and material era of human history and the beginning of a brand new otherworldly, ultra-dimensional one.

The New Human History is a story that takes place in “Cyberspace”.  Cyberspace is a realm that didn’t even exist in pre-network computing human history.  We can think of the short history of cyberspace as the birth, growth and limitless expansion of a new dimension of space, like the space that humans have inhabited and thoroughly polluted on the globe, with their feet on the ground and their swords and guns and bombs in their hands or falling down from their airplanes.  Palaces, prisons, ships, airplanes, factories, cathedrals, kings, princesses, knights…animals, flowers and trees, forests, mountains and meadows, oceans, lakes, rivers…..kings, popes, presidents, dictators…. housing, feeding… poverty and wealth… the struggle of the people against over-controlling domination…

Looking back over what we know of mankind’s habitation of the globe, we can isolate the history of man’s war-making and policing efforts and think of it as the history of man’s attempt to gain or maintain Control.  When we are talking about activity on the firmament, we can relate to and understand that humans want stuff for themselves. Beyond food and shelter, they (or at least a segment of the human population and I will add (without malice) that by-and-large they tend to be male) always appear to want concentrated wealth — not for the purpose of survival and not for survival’s haughty cousin comfort, but for something more abstract and something that wouldn’t even be desirable if not for the vast and generally thereupon impoverished audience.  We refer to this abstraction as ‘Power’.

A few days ago, there was what we now refer to as a ‘glitch’ in the Chinese (and that would mean most-heavily censored) internet.  A ‘glitch’ is like an opening in cyberspace that allows people to go somewhere or do something that they normally wouldn’t be allowed or able to do.  Taking advantage of the portal, the Chinese gained momentary access to the President of the United States’ Google+ social networking page.  Hundreds of Chinese grabbed the unusual opportunity (seized the moment) and posted messages on Obama’s page.  These messages were cries for help.  The Chinese want freedom of expression on the computer because their leadership imposes more restrictions and censorship than any other currently on the globe.  For heaven’s sake, the Chinese cannot even Tweet!!

Lately (and not in mainstream media) but thanks to internet and global news sources, we read more and more about our own United States government and other national governments around the world scheming on and enacting legislation regarding ‘policing’ and censorship of the internet, of cyberspace.  We are now witness to one story after the next, of people being arrested, interrogated, imprisoned (tortured … by US as well as Them)… for cyberspace-related behaviors, activities, misbehaviors and violence.  There are the child pornographers and the Facebook slanderers; and there are the Wikileaks adventurers and exposure-provocateurs (whom I think we should bow down before but who are now being indefinitely detained… and tortured)…

 

 

 

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abusive individuals, groups, and nations all mentally ill

ok, here it is, my theory:

Individuals who abuse others:  bullies, household tyrants, wife-beaters, child-abusers;

Groups & organizations who abuse others (individuals or groups):  this includes not only KKK, for example, but organizations whose modus operandi is deliberately taking unfair advantage of others;

and Nations who abuse other nations, groups or individuals; Germany under Hitler, of course, but also US, because like it or not, admit it to yourself or don’t, our unnecessary, repeat, unnecessary violence, killing, and threatening presence on this globe is unmatched;

all abusive individuals, groups, and nations suffer from similar mental illness.  The two most in-your-face symptoms of this pathology are:  1) absence of empathy  2) self-aggrandizement  (The act or practice of enhancing or exaggerating one’s own importance, power, or reputation.)

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response to Henry Giroux’s clear-eyed take on today’s American far-right-ism

index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=7086:the-scorchedearth-politics-of-americas-four-fundamentalisms

June 5, 2012:  lilyfield says:

I read this article and liked it very much.  I think ‘fundamentalism’ is a good description of the extremist mentality of America’s government and society these days.  It is so strange to be in the midst of a society that seems so needlessly cruel in so many different areas — in particular the prison system (and children are being incarcerated at a vastly accelerated rate, also being held in solitary confinement, also put into adult prisons), and the “wars” (quotes because if you ask any American why we are in Iraq, Afghanistan… they are confused and stutter helplessly!!)

Maybe we were always very cruel – but these days, school are like little prisons (not the schools of the privileged) with kids being searched, watched, drug-tested, harrassed by police at school, taken off from school to junior prisons for any little infraction.  Young people are arrested and put in prison for “suspicion of belonging to a gang”.  Lately there were 2 separate incidents of 6-year-olds being handcuffed in kindergarten class and taken off to the the police station!!   people accept this!!  is that strange????

In his many books and articles, Henry Giroux addresses today’s social realities regarding American children with a great deal of insight, including the idea that America considers entire groups of people, “disposable” — mostly the poor black population (witness apathetic government response to Hurricane Katrina’s human wreckage) which comprise large urban ghettoes in every city, but also working class kids!!  Large groups of these populations live their lives within the ever-expanding prison/probation system (& for-profit prison is now a rising industry!)

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Die Antwoord — A South African upper-class lookdown

salt-of-the-middleclass

June 7, 2012 at 3:15 am: lilyfield says:

your sense of class superiority is almost frightening!! I am a 50-year-old American.  Die Antwoord has an formidable appeal that is totally foreign, totally breaks boundaries!! They perform harmoniously… the two rap together in a very unusual complimentary and in-tune-with-one-another way. Both ninja and yolandi appear to Americans as strikingly original, strikingly different, and most of all, willing to be themselves, in spite of the rest of the world, an attractive quality.  In America, people tend to emulate celebrities and tend to unthinkingly and consistently compromise themselves for $$$$.

I liken your sense of superiority to the sense of superiority that privileged (white — goes without saying) people here feel to the “ghetto” (poor black “inner-city”) culture, and to rap, (“real rap”, not “pop rap”). They exhibit a tendency to be socially over-conditioned and judgmental, to recoil from the urgent energy of rap.

Another reaction Americans must have to Die Antwoord, is visceral shock over their extraordinarily carefree and bountiful foul language, evil-associated imagery, and Yolandi’s frank sexual behavior. Americans soak up porn on the internet like there’s no tomorrow, but when it comes to celebrities and stars, there is an aura of vast privilege, not to mention $$$$$, so that frank sexuality, frank self-expression, and true originality, give way to pleasing and teasing.

Die Antwoord seems totally original, totally harmonious, shockingly willing, no doubt and blatantly, a product of a class-oppressive culture, as well as an uncaring world. They are a wonderful mesmerizing embodiment of our extraordinary global time and place in history.  One has to wonder what could possibly follow up Die Antwoord.

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thinkin’ bout elitism and the Great Civilization Pretense

elitism:
masking your own fear of life in a life-long pretense of so-called
“civilization”
while passively endorsing the suffering, despoiling, torture and killing of
whoever and whatever threatens the illusion of being a game-player rather than a
game being played
– being in “control” rather than being out-of-control — being a ‘master
of the universe’ rather than another piece of dust — pretending you are
“something” rather than just a fleeting imcomprehensible interval between the
abyss of before birth and the abyss of after death — basically constructing a
pretend structure for the sake of protecting yourself against the terrifying
unknown…the abyss
running away from your own fear, running away when the people who love you
need you the very most…… by preoccupying yourself with playing a meaningless
meaningless game, the nature of which perpetuates both the pretense and the cost
of the pretense — extraordinary human and planetary suffering…. because you
are afraid of the abyss!!!!!!!!
How is this OK?????????
And of course sooner or later we will all realize….. the abyss is the way….. the only way….. the abyss is the terrifying bottomless pit….. a seemingly endless pitch-black tunnel….. Jump in, Fall in, Let go…… the way out, is the way through
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thinkin’ bout elitism and the Great Civilization Pretense

elitism:
masking your own fear of life in a life-long pretense of so-called
“civilization”
while passively endorsing the suffering, despoiling, torture and killing of
whoever and whatever threatens the illusion of being a game-player rather than a
game being played
– being in “control” rather than being out-of-control — being a ‘master
of the universe’ rather than another piece of dust — pretending you are
“something” rather than just a fleeting imcomprehensible interval between the
abyss of before birth and the abyss of after death — basically constructing a
pretend structure for the sake of protecting yourself against the terrifying
unknown…
running away from your own fear, running away when the people who love you
need you the very most…… by preoccupying yourself with playing a meaningless
meaningless game, the nature of which perpetuates both the pretense and the cost
of the pretense — extraordinary human and planetary suffering…. because you
are afraid of the abyss!!!!!!!!
How is this OK?????????
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beauty and the beast

“Beloved I need to love you – every aspect, every pore.”

And this time God said,

“There is a hideous blemish on my body,
though it is such an infinitesimal part of my Being-
could you kiss that if it were revealed?”

“I will try, Lord, I will try.”

And then God said,
“That blemish is all the hatred and
cruelty in this
world.”

– fr. “Could You Embrace That”, Thomas Aquinas, c. 1245

I love literature, I love the written expression of thought!  I have loved innumerable books with  a quiet, tremendous passion which in many cases has eventually extended to the individual responsible for expressing his/herself so formidably in words!  I have loved stories!  I have loved the sustained expression of original idea.  I’ve loved and adored many writers and thinkers — and beyond that — Life itself, the mysterious ‘without which’, neither thinker nor thought would arise!  I love and have always loved just wondering and thinking about Life —  the Great Mystery that even Nikola Tesla (well, maybe Nikola Tesla) and even Dennis McKenna (well, maybe Dennis McKenna) haven’t, with all their original human brilliance, yet been able to solve.

When my kids were younger, I homeschooled them.  I had heard about homeschooling and had met and talked to a few homeschooling families.  The remarkable self-composure of homeschooled children made an immediate impression on me.  I reflected upon my own public school education for a few seconds and contrasted my own teenage insecurity and immaturity with what I saw in teenage homeschooled children, and decided to give homeschooling a try.  I didn’t have the wealth to pay for the kind of schools I wanted for my kids and I believed they’d be better off without the tutelage of unintelligent, mediocre minds.  It isn’t that I believed myself to be a brilliant individual capable of educating my kids all by myself–no, in fact the enormity of the (unpaid, 24/7) job was daunting. When I looked back upon my own education in public school, all I saw was excruciating boredom, marked and defined by the interminable length of time one minute took to tick by on the ever-present black and white classroom clock.

My husband, now x, was agreeable.  So without further ado, I launched into home education.

For the next ten years, I traveled a long and winding road of discovery.  In the process of home-educating my children, I became educated, for the first time.  I realized, little by little, how completely worthless my 13 childhood years from kindergarten through high school, spent in the school institution, had been for me and no doubt were for very many others, I believe the vast majority.  Not only did my 13 years at school produce an uneducated person, they produced a confused person, confused and ignorant about world history, American history, and science; essentially the world around me and the story of human beings through time.

Although I was always an “A” math student, I came to realize that all of the wonder, all of the beauty of discovery, all of the evolution and story of the development of math, from Pythagoras until Einstein were omitted from school math, which was introduced to children as a body of pre-fab, formulaic, increasingly complex knowledge to be memorized.

When I, a college graduate BA English Literature, began, at the age of 34, to teach my children science, I was confused about what “Science” is.  If somebody had said to me, “Define “Science”, I would have been confused, and probably would have mumbled an unintelligible guess.  I don’t know what my answer would have been, but surely I wouldn’t have known enough to say, “Science is looking at the mystery of everything around us, including us, with curiosity, and trying to make sense of it.”

Science was presented, like math, as a pre-determined, given body of information to be memorized.  From the very beginning, in kindergarten or first grade, we were given textbooks with chapters about planets or plants or rocks or dinosaurs, with vocabulary words to be memorized and remembered, and fractured information to be tested upon, which then proceeded to determine where one registered on the omnipresent scale from very smart to incredibly dumb.

 

 

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French Intellectuals

“He is always becoming, and if it were not for the contingency of death, he would never end.”
― Jean-Paul SartreNausea

What is it about French Intellectuals?

When I read even a random sentence of JP Sartre’s I am filled with a particular expansive thrilled feeling only he can bring.  I don’t know why this should be, but I will hazard a guess.

I was young, but not very very young, when my deeper intellect was first awakened.  I was 18 and I was in Salt Lake City, attending college at U of U, University of Utah, where already, many hitherto unknown feelings, thoughts and vistas were arising and blossoming inside of me.

Philosophy wasn’t something I’d learned about in my earlier education.  My earlier education lacked intellectuality and it pretty much also lacked education altogether. Public school, unintelligent teachers, excruciating boredom in class.  My education came from my own personal reading; I devoured fiction.  In high school, among many many others, I loved Taylor Caldwell’s books, historical fiction, and I read them all.  I loved all kinds of fiction, but even from a young age, I liked horror stories… I liked to lie outside (at the tennis club, where my mother forced us to spend our entire summer) on clear blue, sunshiny summer days; the kind of day when the world seems perfectly well-adjusted and reasonable, children splashing and screaming in the pool, parents in their tennis whites, still behaving like teenagers with their flirtations and cocktails, and immerse myself in Alfred Hitchcock’s, “Stories to Read Late at Night”, and later Stephen King novels.  Possibly my only thrilling memory from elementary school, is sitting in the corner of the school library, hidden, reading and looking at Roald Dahl’s “The Magic Finger”, which I came back for time and again.  I’ll never forget lying upstairs in my bedroom at my grandparents’ house, reading Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”.  Yes, my best childhood memories were the one’s elicited by and shared with, the book in my hands.

I digress, but who cares?  I certainly don’t.

Spring quarter of my freshman year at U of U, I found myself in a philosophy class called, “Existentialism”.  I signed up for this class because there was a boy at U of U, who I’d happened to meet my very first night in Salt Lake City, at a house party.  This boy inspired the deepest feelings of love and longing in me.  He was totally unlike any boy I’d ever even imagined, much less met.  He seemed radically free.  He was breathtakingly beautiful.  His eyes, which were clear and green, steady and unique, expressed human beauty and wisdom.  His walk was unlike anybody else’s; he walked smoothly and gracefully — like a deer somehow. He recited his own poetry to me.  He lived in the foothills — among the deer.  He loved philosophy.  He was from Boston.  He didn’t pay for school.  The intellectual teachers liked him so much, they always welcomed him.  He helped himself to food from the dorm cafeteria; nobody seemed to mind that either.

I met many other kids from all over the country.  But there was nobody like David Collins.  By spring quarter I’d signed up for Existentialism because I’d heard that David had a particularly close relationship with a frighteningly intellectual professor named Dr. Hagen and frequently sat in on his classes.

I had taken an Intro. to Philosophy class the previous quarter, but I’d been confused by the lofty unfamiliar material, by the theories, the complexity.  What did make an impression on me in ‘Intro. to Philosophy’, was a curly-haired fair-skinned fiercely intelligent boy who seemed familiar with, and interested in, the works and thinkers we discussed and who was the first boy I’d ever known who often prefaced his contributions to classroom discussions with the word,”perhaps”.

I’d heard that, beyond being Intellectual, Professor Hagen was Frightening.  My first day in Existentialism class marked the first day of a new era of my life.  Up until that day, almost all of the adults in my life were unremarkable to me, including my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, my parents’ friends and all of my teachers.  Adults, simply put, were boring, fake, didn’t really like children or teens and were very threatened.  The thing that seemed most threatening of all to adults was young people; teenagers, with their burgeoning, deep sexuality, their free-spiritedness, their wild longings and impulsions, their unlimited creativity, their willingness and desire to explore expanded consciousness and their dissatisfaction with the status quo.  I had no desire to become an adult, in fact, I didn’t truly believe that that was the fate that lay in store for me.  Only one teacher in my entire childhood stood out, not for his brilliance, but because he was the only one (I believe) who cared deeply about people, children and others. He was an active member of Amnesty International.  He made all the children in his high school geography class feel likeable and liked.  He had a genuinely warm smile and was kind and funny.  Although my parents were very social, only one couple of all their friends stood out to me as ‘real’; a Jewish couple.  Marion was an artist and she gave me a gift one time.  She had made the wrapping paper herself and the gift was a book about dinosaurs.  I don’t remember my parents ever giving me educational things or taking me on educational outings.  These were my dad’s as opposed to my mom’s friends.  They lived in Chicago, as opposed to the suburbs, and were my parents’ only Jewish friends.  Irwin worked with my dad at Argonne National Laboratories.  He was a physicist who later became a doctor.  They were the only friends of my parents who we called by their first names, Irwin and Marion.

Professor Hagen made an immediate strong vital impression.  He was middle-aged, wearing a purple velvet blazer.  He was smoking a long thin dark cigarette whose ash was impossibly long and surely about to drop onto the floor.  In firmly enunciated and punctuated words he told us that we were allowed to smoke in class.  This was a surprising first. It felt as if we were considered grown-up.  There was passion in his manner of speaking, passion and ferocity.  He was imperious and commanding and informed us, and we were a small group of maybe 10, that although we could smoke, we could not walk in late, even by a minute.  If we were going to walk in late and interrupt his lecture…. well just don’t do it or else.   A tall blond ordinary-looking boy raised his hand and Professor Hagen glanced his way with a hint of contempt.  Professor Hagen continued to dictate his expectations ignoring the boy.  Finally, he acknowledged him.

“I have a job and I have to hurry across town to get over here on time for class.  I’m concerned that I might be a little late sometimes.  Can you make an exception for me?”

Professor Hagen gave him a withering look.  His lip seemed to curl in a snarl.  ”No.”

David Collins, behind me and to the right was lolling in a very relaxed, incredibly natural and perfectly at-ease position.  Even in the discomfort of a cramped classroom desk and in the tension of the first day of class, he looked uniquely at home in the universe.  Only a few minutes into Existentialism class, I had already perceived a natural division of humanity.  The blond boy, who’d raised his hand impertinently, it seemed, to ask a bumbling personal favor after Dr. Hagen had made a definite point about his demands and expectations fell into one category of humanity, ‘most of them’ — David, David’s friend Jim, glorious-looking, but blatantly human in comparison to David, and Dr. Hagen, already represented a much higher strata of humanity; Intellectuals.

 

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