Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

Woe! Heavy Dude

April 27, 2006

No one should think of themselves as a victim. To be honest, victims are made when the victims give in to some cruel act against them. Bad things happen, sometimes very bad. The trick is to not give in. Hope gives inner strength where reason fails. To rise above being victimized is justice. No matter how oppressed, beaten, subjugated, stand tall and say, "I am and I will continue to be." Let the joy of overcoming obstacles feed your soul. Grow strong knowing no matter what bad is thrown your way, you may bend, but you will not break.

Now, as to duty. Duty is self-inflicted. Reconnaissance that fact. Embrace the knowledge that you do it to yourself. Got it? Good. Now stop saying Duty is bad. It is no worse than eating a bowl of ice cream. Sure you may not like the extra weight, but come on it tastes sweet doesn't it? Oh yeah, hmmmmmm, other people are made happy because of duty. That smile on their face is reward enough.

What happens to those who do not appreciate your efforts? Well, you should not worry about it. In order to trust someone, everyone must first give their trust freely and without measure. Trust is not a one-way street. Distrust is an inbred beast. Those who violate trust should be forgiven. Forgiven?!? Yes, what a wretched creature betrays those who care enough to be open to betrayal. As I said, distrust is an inbred beast bedding down with its sibling betrayal. Together they poison their parent. After all, who can trust if that same person is willing to betray others' trust?

The mountain weight of duty may not be really one of duty, but perhaps a sign pointing to lack of trust.

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Today’s Thought #1

April 24, 2006

Image by JC from Maldita, Bratinella site.

"Everyone is a victim of circumstance…"

"Duty is heavier than a mountain, Death is lighter than a feather"
– Robert Jordan*

One can see themselves as a victim, or as a person that did the best they could. To see duty as heavy as a mountain is failing to see the opportunities, and choices that are opened to them. To see death as relief to duty is inanity unto self and misses the point Living in the "now" are the triumphs, the failures, and life's lessons that are learned and shared with those who have touched us.

To see duty this way is self-centered at best, but certainly delusional at its worse.

The "living" moment is certainly the duty that we all share. To be with our friends, family, husband, wives, boyfriend, girlfriend, or simply a person we make a connection with 10,000 miles away on the Net are to be cherished. For good or ill life's duty is not the burdensome mountain but an oportunity to heralded.

To seek such solace to be lighter than a feather before the course of life has been fulfilled is another form egocentrism that is short sighted. It may be understandable, but it only signals that, one desire to shortens their role in the Universe and not wanting to touch those they can and to have those who can touch them is failing to fulfill the reciprocity of life's journey.

Today may be good to die, to be as light as a feather, but today is also good day to celebrate and pass on the treasure's of ones duty, honor, and knowledge to the next generation and beyond.
gks

* This quote I found on a weblog at Maldita, Bratinella (link) and the above commentary is my response that I left. After re-reading it, I thought I should post it here, to indicate where my train of thoughts my going in the next few weeks.

Bipolar America

February 25, 2006

Dateline: February 22, 2006. Yesterday, I was perusing my local newspaper, the Rocky Mountain News, here in Denver, when I came across two articles juxtapose from one another; perhaps due to a mischievous editor’s eye. Nonetheless, these two articles illustrated the state of education and the state of the American condition, or at the least, the state of education within my local community. One had to do with a junior, in a Littleton high school, a suburb of Denver metropolitan area, and the other, an elementary school in Bennett, Colorado—approximately 35 miles outside of Denver.

The latter story had to do with a teacher “on leave” due to showing the “highlights” of the video opera “Faust” to her 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade classes. Let’s begin here: Tresa Waggoner, 33, showed her students the allegorical drama, of sin, temptation, and of excessive pride. She did this in order to prepare her students from a visit from Opera Colorado, but as fate had it, she received a call from a parent who chastised her, saying “'I basically do not understand why do you not let the kids sing Christmas songs at their winter concert, but you would teach them about the devil. Are you not a Christian?'” She, a first year music teacher, naturally informed her principal, Mark Reinsbach and gave him the video, which she had found on the shelf in her music room, it was titled Who’s Afraid of Opera. He later instructed her to write apology letters to the parents.

As a result, she is now on “permanently paid administrative leave,” and according to the by-line reporter, Tillie Fong, a substitute teacher has been hired to finish teaching the semester at the elementary school, and for the fall 2006, a new teacher has been hired. So, in effect, the Tresa Waggoner has been boxed in. This is known as being caught between a rock and a hard place. Clichéd—yes, but aptly situated. The district is afraid to “terminate” her because of a potential lawsuit, which there had been mention of a possibility if she was, but they also decide to curry the favor of the hypersensitive parents, just because the “devil” was mentioned (ooh) in an operatic instruction of music appreciation. Admittedly, I myself am not a connoisseur of the music, but I do have an admiration of great classical music. Good music is good music. The universality of music is the tie that brings communities together, whether they are small town Americana, or a ritual tribal dance, or a classical opera using a metaphor for love, hate, temptation, and life. Music speaks to our narrative heart. But in this case, for this teacher, the impact of classical exposure for her students seemed to rear the ugly head of ignorance and fear, which resulted in the co-option of the better angels of understanding. The conservative nannyists have stepped in to save the children from the “lesbian, devil worshipper.” E-gads! And, now she has been sent to her own version of purgatory; her options for searching for other employment are shunted until there’s resolution with Bennett school district.

The late social critic of education, Neil Postman, felt that the state of public schools lacked the perspective of the instructive narrative. To teach through narrative, metaphor, and allegory made for a better rounded student; and also, the element to a critical thinking person. However, apparent this may not be a desired result for Bennett, Colorado schools.

As a person, Tresa Waggoner, who has made a couple Christian music albums, sang in her church more than her half life, and taught choir at the middle and high schools, and yet she was and is not Christian enough. So, now she sits awaiting her fate. But it is okay the non-judgmental, accepting, and loving Christians will come to her aid, won’t they?

On the other hand, there is the case where the ACLU (American Civil Liberty Union), defended successfully, under the threat of a lawsuit, of course, the rights of a 16 year old, a junior, at Littleton High School. The school and the district decided to suspend the young man, Brian Lopez, for making “mocking comments” of the school, the district resources, and acquaintances, on his Myspace.com website, on his personal computer. They were even tried to expel the student for “violating” the Student Code of Conduct (pdf page 4), according Tillie Fong, who filed the initial reporting of the student’s suspension. It basically states that, the students are required to follow school policies on and off school grounds are not discriminate, harass, or intimidate others, or disruptive of the “educational process of the school.” If the student has a committed a criminal act, suspension and expulsion can be allotted, obviously. But what is interesting, the school and district deems themselves guardian over all student behavior, and this includes student using their personal computer.

Apparently, Brian Lopez sin was lampooning, again, on his personal computer, his school and students in a “crude and inappropriate fashion.” The site, unfortunately, has been taken down, but according to reports, and observations that this was satirical “prank.” If not for the hypersensitivity of a parent (sounds familiar doesn’t it?) Brian would not have been suspended. In fact, both stories reflect the hypersensitivity of one parent (or minority number of parents), one from left, and other from the right. Some have made the case that these mirror the conservative perspective, but I disagree, if one is willing to see the dialogue of the school policy of zero tolerance. In the school system earnest to protect all, it has sacrificed the educational process of the student’s individual narrative.

In preparing for this story, I realized that America was and is in crisis. The inability of Americans to recognize cautionary tales such as the opera Faustus or the inability to respect the principalities of freedom of speech has my faith wondering if we are reverting to a time irreparable polarization. The hypersensitive schools are being plied by both the right and the left of the political extremes. And, although we live in a time of crisis, the “war on terror” has relegated us to an overwrought paranoia that is crippling this country’s sense of community and trust. As friend stated, “There use to be a time, when we respected each other ideological perspective, and did not question one’s loyalty, or for that matter the motive…now the parties, individuals are so split, polarized, that it is difficult to have a dissenting opinion without be called a traitor, unpatriotic, or worse yet a liberal.” In other words, if you do have a different ideology, your motives are suspected.

Such suspicion has created a bipolar America, where the political extremes find themselves meeting at the same place——authoritarianism; a place where freedom of expression, ideals, and beliefs are demoralized, demonized, and demeaned. The Littleton student learned that, if you are critical, or criticize (there is a difference), even satirically, the price one might have to pay is their own liberty. And as for the teacher, she learned that sometimes directing young souls is troublesome when trying to open a child’s mind to discovery, especially when their parent’s mind is narrow and closed.

Nevertheless, the nannyist’s closed minds from each side are tearing down our children, dissembling their ability to find themselves, and destroying their capability in finding their own personal narratives. In so doing, the future is being sabotaged by the political correct police extremes by limiting the opportunities, choices, and discovery of our kids in which our next generation of artists, poets, leaders, and heroes will come. And so it goes, the next generation will face the uncertainty of the story, let us hope they are able to complete tale.

After all, it’s just another day in paradise, even if they succeed or …..

I Have Been I Chinged

September 18, 2005

Introduction:

As you some of you might know, I am student at my local community college for the past few years. I am required to take is Humanities to complete my associate in anthropology, which will be completed this spring. Anyway, I thought I would share some of my thoughts, regarding my assignments for class….

I tossed the coins on the professor’s desk as he explained the various aspects of how to construct an I Ching hexagram. As I listened, it struck me, what we were doing as we performed the act of divination, that we were practicing Chinese mysticism. I tried to create within my mind, the elements, and the process, of the magical act[1]. This brought a faded recollection of days long gone by, a memory of a friend, fond of tarot and the I Ching. She told me, “Now remember to ask a question as you toss the coins…” Yes, I realized, I was performing the same ritual with my professor now. It was a queer feeling of familiarity.

So I asked myself, a series of questions: Will I be able to add another class? Will I able to find the focus to complete my degree? Will be able to buy a home before I finish school? And will I be able to go to China next year? And so on. I did this each time as I tossed the coins on the desk of the professor. I did notice that, however, the professor did not instruct me to do this, to ask questions, so I did it silently. I added this part of the ritual to the performance, which seemed to bring a state of confusion, analysis, creation, and finally completion to the “magical act,” which for me seemed to transform the experience.

The final copper ting sounded against the desk as the coins bounced one last time, I had tossed them a total of six times. My professor had drawn six lines on a piece of blank white copier paper as he had described the process of drawing an I Ching hexagram. Each line was either solid, or broken, depending on the toss: if two heads, and one tail—solid. If you toss two tails, and one head—a broken line, if three heads or three tails—also a broken line. So only a solid line can be drawn, if one had tossed two heads, and one tail. The lines are drawn from the bottom up, think of this act as building a foundation; an allegory, if you will, a metaphor for life, in which a person constructs a future: to act or not to act[2].

Let me clarify what I mean, by “to act or not to act,” when a person participates or performs in a ritual act, the process of creation does not necessarily have to be physically apparent in the perception of “reality.” The first step of creation whether it comes from the instinctual, intuitive, logical, or the rational are belied in thought—displaced[3] thought. Simply, that act of creation, divination, or what have you, need not be observable to the outside human experience of another. Furthermore, this process is belied in the initialization of thought of when an idea comes into being. In other words, we place those perceptions directly outside of ourselves in order to validate them. So, what does this have to do with to act or not act?

In order to take an action, one must first believe in the ritual experience, and second, that experienced ritual becomes eventually transmitted outside of ourselves to another. This process may not necessarily recognize, or better yet is “cognizant,” of that displacement taking place; but I simply refer you to the words of Rene Descartes, Cogito ergo sum, or “I think, therefore I am.” Some would say what Descartes really meant was “I doubt, therefore I exist.”[4] Therefore, our doubted existence embellished the egos’ confirmation of “reality.”

Consequently, our own egos were satisfied, when the professor and I had completed the “magical act,” what is referred to by anthropologist Stanley Jeyaraja Tambiah, as a “performative illocutionary act,”[5] our experience had transformed the mystical divination with a completed design—a hexagram. We had drawn from the bottom, three set of broken lines, and second set of three which had two solid lines from the bottom, and one broken. In the book of I Ching, and one other tool, which was a set of spinning wheels assisted in assigning a number value to the I Ching hexagram; in total, there are 64 hexagrams attached to a cryptic revelation. My particular hexagram number was 45 also known as “shui” (water, or fluid in Chinese), defined as “congregation, or gathering”[6]. The interpretative message, which offered the sage advice from book of I Ching, was:

“Above the earth a pool is gathering. The superior person, accordingly, makes ready the weapons, and is forearmed against the unexpected.”[7]

Obviously, the above message was an allegory for the person to wait, to standby, and let one gain more knowledge before taking action. Or, to put another way, “forewarned is forearmed” against the unexpected. Nevertheless, if one was to procrastinate too long, the aforementioned advice was also warning to know when to act. Thus, the confusion of my previous questions, if one was so inclined to believe, to attach meaning to my tossed coins was that a “outside” force, or an ancestor, or a divine being provided a solution, and the sage instruction to standby. In essence, the divination by the mystical force aided my coins to follow an arbitrary path to the provided the answer.

Some might considered this, the book of I Ching, nothing but cryptic, random, meaningless, subjective and scripted lines, to create, a fantastical, magical, and mystical act; in order, to instill set of rules, beliefs, values, and ideals. To others, the I Ching was set to establish teachings taught by Confucius. The founding Father of Humanistic ideals, in which, secularization of religious mysticism were transformed, yet this illocutionary moment, within the Chinese culture competed against another ethical system—Daoism.

Daoism dealt with the abstract, whereas I Ching and Confucianism dealt with instruction and structure. Daoism was and is mystically ephemeral, whereas Confucianism insisted and insists on permanence. Daoism was and is romanticism, whereas Confucianism was and is dependent on the rational. And, although Daoism has been bounded to nature, Confucianism was and is rooted in the antiquity of the environment. Meaning that, even the book of the I Ching used the symbols of nature to convey allegorical meanings and forms. Thus, the difference, of course, and I return to the anthropologist Tambiah, Daoism and Confucianism are both vehicles of “imperative and performative illocutionary acts”; nonetheless, they are separated in form of the perlocutionary acts[8]; that was the latter, the vehicle of Confucianism, took responsibility for both intended and unintended acts of a cultural and individual’s transformation. This was and is, of course, one of the first civil and social contracts for the ancient civilization and humanity. Simply put, Confucianism and Confucius provided the equivalence of the golden rule, and the question, “What would Jesus do?”, in this case; however, question was and is, “What would Confucius do?”

Endnotes

[1] See the work of Stanley Jeyaraja Tambiah, “Form and Meanings of Magical Acts” in A Reader in the Anthropology of Religion, edited by Michael Lambek (341-357). He, Tambiah, discourses on certain rituals being “performative acts,” in that, they create illusory symbols of beliefs, ideals, and values. He says this can be accomplished by physical or emotive transformations. For instance, the tossing of coins provides the performers the vehicle of displacement, that is, the tools to set aside the perception of reality in order to facilitate the act of transformation. In the case of the I Ching, the ritual of divination is a function as an apparatus to bring order through metaphor of compliance and action.

[2] From class notes, Humanities professor Kurt Pond, defines the ritual of the I Ching as a set of instructions to either act or not to act on particular situation.

[3] In my thesis, “Just Another Day in Paradise: Science Fiction America—The Signs and Symbols of the American Life Mythology,” I define “displacement” as a setting aside, a dislocation, a projection of reality. In the sense that, we place outside of ourselves the perceptions we conceive, thereby “validating or invalidating” the perception of reality. Then, later “narrate,” telling a story of the experience, in which we then, finally (re)Deploy for diffusion from within ourselves or through and among the community: family, kinships, society and/or culture. The vehicle is known as DVND to divine our existence.

[4] David Eller, from the Metro State College of Denver, in a discussion in the nature of sentient and existence felt that what Rene Descartes really meant to say this, in describing empirical nature of the human condition.

[5] See Tambiah’s discourse in “Form and Meaning of Magical Acts,” that we as humans create and use ritual, or what have you, as a vehicle to validate a performance. Think of it this way, you are kneeling before Queen Elizabeth as Pulitzer prize writer or Nobel laureate and taps you with her scepter on both shoulder, and says, “You shall now be referred to as Sir Kurt Pond of Denver,” if the previous accolades had not already brought heir of respectability, this clinches your transformation. The act of transformation from doctor, master, or mister falls away to your “crowning” of your person to the title of Sir. The public, your friends, and family see you in a new light, a new birth, if you will; you are nee to them in how they perceive you. You are transformed by your knighthood and respect, hopefully, can not be torn down. It was a ritual, a performance, which has made you “magical,” even “mystical.”

[6] The Chinese spinning discs imparted the symbolic reference as congregation, or gathering, but I took these words as to mean to “collect,” to “accumulate” like a valley bowl amasses water to create a pond or a lake. These are a metaphor to have patience, to gather knowledge and information.

[7] This is a reference that can be translated, Sir Francis Bacon stated, “Knowledge is power.” But I also think of this as, “forewarned is forearmed.”

[8] Tambiah refers to perlocutionary act as being the spoken act of “connotation,” “persuasion” and transformation for the “hearer” to be transformed by the “intended and unintended consequences.” This is the final act of a performance vehicle. See Tambiah’s essay, the “Form and Meanings of Magical Acts” in the: A Reader in the Anthropology of Religion, edited by Michael Lambek, p. 352.