Tag Archives: culture

The Jobs of a Lifetime

Steve Jobs & the Mac Plus

So we went to Atari and said, `Hey, we’ve got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or we’ll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary, we’ll come work for you.’ And they said, `No.’ So then we went to Hewlett-Packard, and they said, `Hey, we don’t need you. You haven’t got through college yet.’ Steve Jobs

My friend Pilch laid an original Macintosh on me in 1985. He had received the cube-shaped computer as a gift from his employer, Burroughs, taken it out of its box, played around with it, and then, upon giving it to me, pronounced it “a toy.”

I used my freebee Macintosh for seven years. In 1988 I met its designer, Jerry Manock. He was a customer of the high-end seating company I worked at. He tried to convince my boss to junk the office IBM PC. No dice. The only benefit from this episode was that I learned MS-DOS. I could always go home to my computer, the one you could just turn on and get to work/play.

Over the years I went back and forth this way, between the office PC and the home Mac. (Through the nineties I also kept up with Apple’s technology by using the computer center at Middlebury College stocked with up-to-date machines.) I cannot imagine anybody being in this situation and not favoring the easier-to-use Mac computer.

Still, ‘whatever floats your boat’ was my attitude. After returning to Cleveland, I used hand-me-down Macs supplied by mom, Macintosh Plus, LC, LC III; my partner’s PPC 638; a Powerbook 140 given to me by a friend. Finally, in 1998 I bought my first brand new Apple computer, a G3. My first recording was produced on it in 2000-2001. Next, in 2003, came a refurbished Mirrored Drawers dual-boot PPC. It was the platform for my second recording, and my first OSX machine. I used it until I bought my first Macbook in late 2009.

That Macbook died a horrid death last year when I plugged its charger into a shorted house circuit. Yet, I ran out and picked up a MacBook Pro laptop, upon which i am typing this recollection.

Except for the MacBook I slaughtered, and the G3 that I scavenged for drives, all my legacy computers remain in my personal Apple Museum, and, presumably each one of the six could be started up tomorrow.

I will always associate Steve Jobs with Apple Computers rather than with the revolutionary media appliances and vertical industries he helped bring forth. When he returned to Apple in 1997, he, soon enough, saved the company, and, in effect, saved it from itself. Given this personal association, the contemporary 12 core Mac Pro at $5,000, draws the line all the way back to the original Macintosh, with its 128k of memory, and 400k floppy discs.

Yet, revolutionizing computing while sitting won’t be the capstone on his legacy.

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Plankin’

Plankin'

My favorite planking picture, from Taiwan.

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Viewing Time

A History of the World in 100 Seconds from Gareth Lloyd on Vimeo.

MY AFRICAN MIND from BOFADACARA on Vimeo.

Two completely different approaches to making a concise videographic presentation of the sweep of “a” history. Gareth Lloyd explains his methodology, and, there is a bit of background for the second video by Nastio Mosquito at Africa Is a Country.

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The Untamed Monad in the Happy World

Scholem-Corbin-VirginiaStreet

extremely rare photo of Gershom Scholem & Henry Corbin loving time on Virginia Street, Lakewood, Ohio

But if the “root” and possibility of Declaration always goes back to the topology of Being itself, what fundamentally Declaration “sees” that authorizes its hazarding concrete steps toward the possibility field it originates and seeks to get underway, is in every case Being itself. The topological feature of Being that is relevant here, would be its propensity to take on appearances. …one can profess neither Thomism, Scotism, nor Augustinianism, and yet ‘valorize’ these theological universes positively, and, without taking up one’s abode in them, keep an abode for them in oneself…

The more perceptions and representations of the universe each monad integrates, the more it unfolds its own perfection and differs from every other. (Chuck Stein – Parimenides Project; Notes on some passages from Henry Corbin’s Avicenna and the Visionary Recital)

Sacrament of Heresy
The Sacrament of Heresy

The Village has set sail for the future, like all of unanchored America, set sail or set adrift, take your choice. A visit to the Village always provokes a crisis of nostalgia in those who have moved on but do not want the Village to move on. (Herbert Gold The Age of Happy Problems)

KW sends my way a deep feed. Miller hails from that great Wood shed of outsider genius. What Herbert Gold did for the outsider in the Wood with Birth of a Hero in 1951 Miller is doing now with Atrocity Parade. Michael A. Miller describes his work:

Atrocity Parade amplifies the sadistic trivia of day-to-day existence. It’s the hymnal and prayer book of society’s heretics. In its angst-riddled pages, post-goths, thrashing bohos, crumbly artqueens, liberal-arts grad students, and all other phyla of overly-ripe, choleric day-job hostages will find asylum.

Commentary. An iconoclastic notion of an active, and interactive urban anthropology could propose that the most determined modes of inquiry would both tease and dig out, first, the overt story, and, second, the covert story. Thirdly, in driving this inquiry beyond and beneath these promotional tales the goal, to borrow from Stein, would be to appear in the possibility field. So: the investigator arrives, body and soul, in the field where the possibilities, say–creative kinds, are unfolding in real time.

This is really to invoke anthropological inquiry as praxis, yet without carrying into the act of enjoining the field, any pretense of objectivity. Another way to put this is to suggest the observer is landed in the poetic Topos; is faced with the fleshy, pulsing, ‘outerward’ cast manifestation of the inner dealing. Asylum here is hideaway, shelter, and possesses both outer and inner wards.

To play with this forming projection would be to sit in a window seat, or on a public bench, or at the park’s picnic table, and intently watch the scurrying about of patients and personnel–as if sidewalk and street were hallway. Them you could ask, as Miller has done.

The, a, City’s deep creative life, in someway, always implicates a daring observer willing to participate. The Sacrament of Heresy seems to me to surface an inevitability, a necessary fluid–moist in the archetypal sense–turning of the conscious citizen.


hat tip to Ken Warren for the pointer to Herbert Gold. I sense with Gold a northcoast Lafcadio Hearn type.) I discovered, evidently, Gold is still alive and has turned or will turn eighty-seven this year. At the bottom of the brief Wikipedia article are links to recent writing on the web.

I love this:

“So I guess you haven’t read one of my actual texts.”

“Not personally. Like I explained, I’ve got a lot on my plate these days.”

That was okay with me; or at least okay enough while, like the gathering clouds of the thunderstorms of my Midwestern boyhood, rage accumulated in my vengeful heart—this is the typical inept poetic strophe of a confirmed author who doesn’t need precision anymore because he has already arrived in the marketplace. Bewitched, Bothered, Begoogled; November 2004; News From the Republic of Letters.

Gold is onto, here, one of the primary rationales for seeking stories in the hideaways.

The excerpt from Stein comes from an email Ken offered, January 5, 2006, about visionary knowledge platforms.

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The Big Uneasy

Harry Shearer’s The Big Uneasy is about bad engineering, mendacity, and future walls to nowhere.

Harry’s been busy. Harry’s videos occupy a channel over at My Damn Channel. He’s lucky because he can partner with his wife, the almost illegally talented singer/songwriter Judith Owen.

Judith Owen is obviously a good sport too.

The videos with a message she makes with her husband don’t showcase her main talents because she’s a astonishing vocal artist. I’ve posted a taste over at nogutsnoglory.

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Accounting for Antipathy

“I think that is the ultimate insensitivity, anyone looking at that with any common sense would say, ‘What in the world would we be doing, you know, fostering some type of system that allows this to happen.’ Everybody knows America’s built on the rights of free expression, the rights to practice your faith, but come on.”

Eric Cantor, R-Va, said this recently. This is my favorite bald, asshat quote of the year–so far. It’s palinesque in its appeal to (some version of) commonsense, and it’s not at all over-the-top, given the waves of grotesque rhetoric the Cordoba House project has evoked. Cantor’s opinion here doesn’t amuse me because it is of the tinfoil type. (There’s plenty of that of course, much of it subsisting on the belief President Obama is a Manchurian candidate and, maybe, the world’s most un-Muslim-like Muslim.) No, what I enjoy about this quote is how it encapsulates the falling away of a whole string of conservative pieties: First Amendment, for suckers; Local governance-fuhgetaboutit; God-centeredness-who needs it?While, out of nowhere, Cantor here seems to embrace political correctness–got to have it, and got to have it rotate around being sensitive.

This last play in favor of sensitivity captures, evidently, a new Republican move to embrace sensitivity! Who would have thunk it? But, sure, “being sensitive” should probably trump the Constitution if one is willing to flip flop on what used to be a longstanding, thorough-going principle of personal responsibility. (I chose this one, from among several delicious choices.) Isn’t the ideologically driven advice from Republicans almost always along the lines of: ‘suck it up!’ ‘take care of yourself’ ‘obey the Constitution and our Christian foundations’ etc.? Until now.

Another impressive feature of the Republican embrace of, this time, religious bigotry, is how sanctimonious Cantor, Gingrich, Palin, are about the composition of necessary exceptions to the First Amendment. So: ‘We’re tolerant, we’re pro-Constitution, but, let’s face it.’ I had thought the Constitution was more hallowed than the site of the 9-11 attack.

I’m sure I’ll know it when it happens: when any of these self-identified bright lights attach an argument favorable to the First Amendment to their politically-correct call for sensitivity about the sensitivities of religious bigots and their reactions to a project that has zero to do with Jihadi aspirations.

Meanwhile, Jeff Merkley, D-OR, framed the ‘cognitive’ issue, and other facts, succinctly:

“I appreciate the depth of emotions at play, but respectfully suggest that the presence of a mosque is only inappropriate near ground zero if we unfairly associate Muslim Americans with the atrocities of the foreign al-Qaida terrorists who attacked our nation. Such an association is a profound error. Muslim Americans are our fellow citizens, not our enemies. Muslim Americans were among the victims who died at the World Trade Center in the 9/11 attacks. Muslim American first responders risked their lives to save their fellow citizens that day. Many of our Muslim neighbors, including thousands of Oregon citizens, serve our country in war zones abroad and our communities at home with dedication and distinction.”

These facts of the matter go in one hand and the clear imperative of the 1st Amendment go in the other hand. Yet, this doesn’t settle the matter in a lot of people’s minds. Why this is so is of great interest to me. Opposition to the Cordoba project’s site location is not singular at all. It’s not simply only due to ignorance, or only due to practiced agendas, or only due to some politicized version of common sense.

Opponents’ antipathy surely can be understood in terms of psychology, yet, at the same time, understanding the nature of internalized distrust, false attribution, and, confirmation bias–to pick one constellation of behavioral features–doesn’t completely resolve that which constitutes behavioral explanations for upwelling of fear, anger, and, strong dislike, (ie.antipathy.)

The opposition is wide spread and encompasses a wide variety of people, and this surely includes persons who are highly educated, well-traveled, and, intelligent. The group of opponents also would have to include the opposite of this characterization, and, as well, include persons who believe all religions except for their own are members of a satanic opposition.

No simple explanation covers the entire group. But, Cantor’s prescriptive “come on” is simple. And, from this, it is apparent that a system of laws stands against very intense socially affective constructions. From my perspective, none of this yields to just supposing strong feelings based in counterfactual, socially-reinforced interpretations explains the, for example, commonsensical appeal to sensitivity, and fright about the strict ramifications of the 1st Amendment. Although, antipathy certainly isn’t, nor could it be, linked to opponents working through the salient facts. Those facts are also: simple.

But, the intense upwelling of affect, posed as it is by Cantor to literally trump the 1st Amendment, stands with all sorts of other propositions; propositions held by large groups of people with enthusiasm. Such enthusiasms do earn an account at least for reasons having to do with collective aspirations, which if realized, would subvert, if not overturn, all sorts of protective, often lawful, norms.

What and why and how people come to believe stuff has been one of the handful of my central interests for almost forty years. There is nothing surprising about the range of beliefs found at the extreme end of the continuum of antipathy about Muslims, and, similarly, about gays, Darwin, Democrats, elites, capitalists, banks and bankers, Dick Cheney, on and on.

In noting this, generally, it is optimal for people to internalize and be able to cope with factual, thus realistic, fears, sorrows and anger. Nevertheless, (I suggest,) a lot of energy and instinctual (or primary,) process potential attends to the status of our closely held beliefs–in the context of our each apprehending our various realistic and unrealistic interpretations of that which threatens those same beliefs. Antipathy may generally express primal fears oriented to not only having an Islamic cultural center set two blocks from where 9-11 unfolded, but also oriented to the very ideas that other believers, be they Muslims, metrosexuals, Harvard grads, Mexican laborers, progressive Democrats, (etc.,) have set themselves a bit too close to the home of belief–the self; and too close to: me and my own.

For me this antipathy spirals around the ‘low ordering’ of belief; about which I will riff in an ensuing post.

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Sheep In Sheep’s Clothing

Thinking modern day Fabians are dangerous plotters is akin to believing we’d be doomed should the YWCA and WMCA join forces.

(from the video) Communitarianism centers around the belief that individualism is to be relinquished for the “greater good” of the state. Such a system would be fascistic at its core and administered through a form of scientific socialism.

This can be seen especially with the United Nation’s Agenda 21 program, that would set international requirements for how people must live, learn, eat, travel, and communicate. This has nothing to do with the environment and everything to do with control.

The terrifying duo of “must” and “control” evoke–for some–the Fabians! Wow.

“And hereby thou wilt honour thy Father and thy Mother : Thy Father, which is the spirit of community, that made all and that dwells in all. Thy Mother, which is the Earth, that brought us all forth: That as a true Mother, loves all her children. Therefore do not hinder the Mother Earth from giving all her children suck, by thy Inclosing into particular hands, and holding up that cursed Bondage of Inclosure by thy Power.” Gerrard WInstanley

(If you ask me what my political persuasion is, I might tell you: “I’m a digger and a Fabian.” This is sort of a kiss-off answer in that I would be surprised were the questioner to then respond in a knowing manner. I would also be delighted.)

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Abstract Steel

Anish Kapoor’s London Tower is posed as the centerpiece of not only London’s Olympic Park, but of London itself.

From the Guardian.UK, is something about the artist’s inspiration in his own words,

Kapoor said one of his references was the Tower of Babel. “There is a kind of medieval sense to it of reaching up to the sky, building the impossible. A procession, if you like. It’s a long winding spiral: a folly that aspires to go even above the clouds and has something mythic about it.”

Thomas Keyes, writing at the useless-knowledge web site,

“And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called BABEL; because the Lord did there CONFOUND the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.”

and:

Here is a comment from a Christian apologist on Babylon: “With all the effrontery of our modern apostates, they called their city and tower Bab-El, the gate of God; but it was soon changed by divine judgment into Babel, Confusion.”

The only trouble with this statement is that BABEL (or BAVEL) does not mean “confusion” in Hebrew, except by someone making an allusion to the passage from Genesis. In fact, the word BABEL is an extremely unlikely word in Hebrew, which, like Arabic and other Semitic languages, uses triconsonantal roots. A typical Hebrew root, like KELEV (dog) or SEFER (book), has three consonants, which may be referred to as C1, C2 and C3, that is, K-L-V of S-F-R. Words with C2 and C3 the same are common: BALAL (to mix, confound, involve, embroil); SOVEV (revolving, spinning); KOMEM (rising). But words with C1 and C2 the same are very unusual. BAB can probably be explained as having lost a medial W. This can be seen in the Arabic word BAWABA (great gate) as against BAB (gate).

(The holding interpretation stills wins the day, Thomas.)

So it shall be for me that Kapoor’s odd looking work will always be associated with his mythic enthusiasm. Kapoor’s web site is stellar.

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God Loves Gunn High School


Fred Phelps, the hateful and hate-mongering ‘pastor’ of infamousWestboro Baptist Church, Topeka, brought his tiny insane mob to a sidewalk across the street of Gunn High School, Palo Alto, California. Phelps is well beyond the pale, and, for example, has stated that military casualties in the current combat zones are the singular result of ‘his’ God’s hatred of America.

Gunn students and the community came up with an enlightened response.

Not In Our Town, working together for safe and inclusive communities, produced the video.

Perfect. Salon picked up the story.

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Kalinda CIS

Archie Pajabi, in character as Kalinda, on The Good Wife

The Good Wife is my favorite new tv show of the several candidates for my favor. It’s a variation on the legal procedural, yet it splits time between the legal case at the center of each episode, and, lawyer Alicia’s (played by Margulies) knotty domestic drama. The domestic portion of the plot is concerned with Alicia’s politician-husband’s infidelity and struggle to overturn a suspect conviction for corruption. The show has a smart ensemble cast and is an appealing, grown-up, entertainment.

The original hook for me was the return of Julia Margulies to a solid prime time opportunity. However, the show has consistently carved a surprising single pattern almost every week. It goes like this: sometime before the weekly case comes to have its stereotypical day in court, the starring law firm’s staff investigator has cracked the case through a combination of her pluck, street smarts, interpersonal savvy, and, forensic skills.

We’re talking week-after-week, investigator Kalinda brings the winning run across the plate. Kalinda’s character is the most mysterious, guarded, intriguing in the cast. Archie Pajabi really grabs the frame too, even on the rare occasions when she shares it with the mild scene chewer, the marvelous Christine Baranski.

The Good Wife risks spinning off into a new orbit around the uncanny Kalinda. It seems unlikely this was the plan, but this is no reason to complain–the show remains about as good as it gets in the minor league of old line big 3 broadcast tv. And Pajabi is the sleekest brainiac sleuth since Carla Guigino ran Karen Sisko through her paces.

more boob tube musings,,,
(more…)

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Is Bubba Really Gone?

I’ve been feeling my way around vampires because the Jung-Fire group has also been doing so.

Whilst descriptions of vampires varied widely, certain traits now accepted as universal were created by the film industry. Where did vampires originate? Well, nearly every culture has its own undead cretures which feed off of the life essence of the living but ancient Persian pottery shards specifically depict creatures drinking blood from the living in what may be the earliest representations of vampires. In the 1100s English historians and chroniclers Walter Map and William of Newburgh recorded accounts of various undead fauna. By the 1700s, an era often known as the Age of Enlightenment, fear of vampires reached it’s apex following a spate of vampire attacks in East Prussia in 1721 and the Hapsburg Monarchy from 1725 to 1734. Government positions were created for vampire hunters to once-and-for-all rid man of this unholy scourge.

Even Enlightenment writer Voltaire wrote about the vampire plague in his Philosophical Dictionary, “These vampires were corpses, who went out of their graves at night to suck the blood of the living, either at their throats or stomachs, after which they returned to their cemeteries. The persons so sucked waned, grew pale, and fell into consumption; while the sucking corpses grew fat, got rosy, and enjoyed an excellent appetite. It was in Poland, Hungary, Silesia, Moravia, Austria, and Lorraine, that the dead made this good cheer.” Movie Myths 101 – Vampires (Amoeblog)

Vampires occupy a class of folkloric beings termed revenant. In this class are all the varieties of beings believed to have returned from being dead. (Ghosts are revenants.) Revenants, as mythologem, have ancient origins. Their genealogy, (given by anthropology and literary history,) is woven in the folklore of almost every culture.

***

I was moved to do a little digging, in the phenomenological moonlight.

The vampire is one of the representatives of a phenomena part-and-parcel with any ‘folk’ skepticism a person would have when is believed the soul persists beyond bodily death. In Christian terms, a revenant is a work-around. The piper is paid, yet the rules are different than the normative rules for succession into the next life. Revenants are outliers in relation to the normal redemptive scheme. It’s important to understand the revenant is not a formalization, is not part of the strict cast of characters. The revenant–as work-around–is a strain of necessary superstition, is in a sense an archaic adjunct in the folk scheme of life and death.

A vampire lives forever under particular conditions, but our human night is their day. This inversion suggests also an inversion of the christological mythologem.

Yet, this can go beyond a Christian antithesis. It is possible, maybe likely, that wonderment over the finality of death. goes back beyond paganism, penetrates beyond proto-religion, goes back even before the organization of a spirit world. And, maybe even is among the most primitive of all social-existential phenomena; expressing as it does the base quandry, “Is Bubba really dead?”

I take this up in this way to highlight the archaic of a (kind of) archetype. Buried in this quasi-archetype is a very primitive, primeval layer.

From this, I wonder about the brute opposition in these same primal terms: here today, gone tomorrow, yet gone where? I can imagine how mysterious both would be if we, with modest imagination, consider how death was dealt with intrapsychically, long before the mystery was organized and concretized by proto-pagan artifice.

This development would suppose the development of a chain of being as a response to the mystery of mortality. Moreover, this would be a response given by skepticism: ‘is Bubba gone-where did Bubba go?’ This is all prior to the conceptions of salvation, purgatorial penance, damnation. Also, in supposing that the dead could manifest a near semblance of ‘the living,’ or otherwise manifest a phantasmal form, the particulars of types of revenants fit in culturally distinct ways into Preternatural–worlds behind worlds–cosmic, vertical schemes.


Edvard Munch – Vampire

The pagan layer is persistent. Belief in the work-around of the revenant is inflected with the revenant’s mercurial nature, and this seems to be an important aspect of their alternative myth of resurrection. Vampires are worrisome, unpredictable, and, the vampire’s activities could be glossed as: bugging, tormenting, fooling, tricking, gaming, messing around with, the living. After all, vampire and ghost and spectral phantasm, are also kin.

The revenant provides a kind of gnawing reminder: the ‘vertical’ world itself isn’t in the thrall of the light-bearing beings, ‘the angels.’ Revenants are profane. They exemplify in different ways, negative models.

Archetype is darkened, manifest in human enactment of a particular feeling tone, in precise ways, from specific contexts. Vampire, in the imagination, is an archetype of evil, but only from specific perspectives. The Benedictine Calmet sharpened his axe in antipathy to revenant denizens in accordance with his Catholic perspective. Three centuries earlier, the infections of plague, came to be understood in terms committed to explain the spread of death to be a damnation. At that time, the idea was: the dead were able to cause havoc even though ‘they appeared dead.’ Again, in the context of communities dealing with vast contagion, this response is in accordance with the timely intrapsychic ground. The contagion’s agents of punishment were the ubiquitous dead.

Archaic prototypes may infuse attempts at explaining what had befallen the community. Calmet leaned on, railed against(!) the archaic precedent.

So, why the fascination with vampires today? I don’t know anything about the cultural details. I enjoy the tv serial, True Blood, but this isn’t because I get a charge from vampires. I can’t analyze the trend in any Jungian way because I’m not a proponent of Jung’s collective unconscious.

I do note several rough features of today’s, in effect, multi-media vampire. One, he or she is often a very energized erotic figure. Two, often vampires are sorted out into good vampires, bad vampires, and ‘tweener’ vampires. Taking True Blood as an example, it seems to offer ambiguous morality tales. These take place within a decidedly supernatural cosmos, but much of the primitive vampire is not appropriated.

However, the focal point of the ongoing narrative seems to be how living and undead refract one another’s light and dark. Supernatural conceits don’t matter. In this drama, human and vampire are much closer to being two sides of the same coin. There is then, in at least this example, a humanization of the vampire. This would stand against demonization. Humanity inflects profanity.

The contemporary vampire may even be–all too human. This vampire is often a libertine, with sex* subsuming blood lust. Sometimes, as is the case with Bill from True Blood, he is ambivalent, conflicted, a tweener vampire between worlds, yet not able to transcend the vampire rules. Here is the post-modern turn: vampire as loose, identity mashup, This vamp reflects the chancy play of cosmopolitan identity. And, he or she may be more at home in the intoxicating nights’ cape, than in the tightening days’ cape.

Short of any fascination with vampires, the most common way the idea is entertained is when people speak of having their energy glommed onto and sucked by vampire-like pests. In this what’s left of either the token of the irredeemably fallen or the magical explanation for contagion, is: energy-sapping neediness.

The mercurial-work around able to defeat bodily death and enlightened eternal being is a more subtle layer of the undead.

Dr. Jung wrotes in the chapter Paracelsus as a Spiritual Phenomenon, (in Alchemical Studies.)

Paracelsus, like many others, was unable to make use of Christian symbolism because the Christian formula inevitably suggested the Christian solution and would have conduced to the very thing that had to be avoided. It was nature and her particular “light” that had to be acknowledged and lived with in the face of an attitude that assiduously avoided them.

(Jung earlier in the chapter speaks of the limits of the adept’s “daymind.”)

Archetype possesses the mechanics of refraction in the splitting of dominants and subordinate into further aspects. I’m going to recombine my rough intuitions and suggest the vampire is a subaltern figure–so the contemporary vampire imago stands “outside,” even when the currency of our day’s edgy, camp Vamp, is more the lip-sucking idol, is more sensitive, is more bourgeois. Remember, the contrast between primitive instrumentality and modern character is as stark as that between night and day.

As a practical matter, the attraction to the vampire at least seems to be a worthwhile anecdote to religious neuroticism; does not, as Jung put it, ‘conduce to the very thing that has to be avoided.’

It was nature and her particular NIGHT that had to be acknowledged and lived with in the face of an attitude that assiduously avoided them.

*Most psychoanalytic criticism related to vampires focuses on Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Maurice Richardson, in “The Psychoanalysis of Ghost Stories,” says: “From a Freudian standpoint—and from no other does the story really make any sense—it is seen as a kind of incestuous, necrophilous, oral-anal-sadistic all-in wrestling match”. Phyllis A. Roth finds Bram Stoker’s neurotic fear of sex and women to be the clue to his novel’s popularity; it allows readers “to act out” their own “essentially threatening, even horrifying wishes,” based in the “lustful anticipation of an oral fusion with the mother”. Judith Weissman concurs: “The vampire, an ancient figure of horror in folk tales, undoubtedly represents in any story some kind of sexual terror . . .”. Others, like Christopher Craft and Andrew Schopp, regard vampire literature as a disguised opportunity, as Schopp says, “for acting out socially prohibited roles, and for reconfiguring desire”. p54:Vampire God. The Allure of the Undead in Western Culture, Mary Y. Hallab, SUNY Press 2009 Amazon

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Secrets Revealed

I noted recently via a google alert that lectures of Idries Shah, taken from a series of hard-to-obtain cassettes, have been made available on the web site, The Institute for the Study of Human Knowledge. Ishk.net is ostensibly the web of home of all things ‘Shah.’

The wikipedia article on I. Shah seems to me fair enough; and, I’ve been tracking his work for 20+ years. Shah, who departed the worldly coil at 72 years-of-age in 1996, was a controversial figure. His effort to promote in the west an accessible and cosmopolitan Sufi-inflected regimen for self-development and spiritual growth was the most notable among the several such original efforts which unfolded in the mid-sixties.

The controversies are many, yet I won’t go into them. This isn’t my purpose today. It’s enough to mention that Shah could be termed a neo-Sufi, whose project unhooked Sufism proper from it’s narrow traditions, and, whose own bona-fides remain murky. Still, during a time when Sufism itself was an exotic arrival on the nascent counter-cultural scene, Shah enjoyed patronage, was an entrepreneur, and, was a prolific writer. Any notoriety he gathered in didn’t prevent him from, for a time, becoming the face of Sufism–the foremost Sufi.

Sometime in the late eighties I worked part-time at a group home for the mentally disadvantaged. My boss, Jim, was surprised I had heard of Shah. Shah was Jim’s main man. He told me he had some tapes he wanted to loan me. He brought them in, a set in a box entitled if memory serves, Wisdom of the Secret. Shah reminded me of Alan Watts: great voice, humorous, compelling.

I must have listened to those eight tapes twenty times. I took to enjoying Shah’s books, especially favoring the many that contained teaching stories, including the series of books with the tales of Nasruddin. To this day, these materials penetrate my own sense of experiential learning. I have learned even the surface of some of the so-called story-based applications may provide surprising reconfigurations away from habit, cognitive error, blind spots, etc..

(Later, I became very interested in Shah’s career and its notorious moment as cultural ripple in a specific historical moment.)

Four of Shah’s lectures may be streamed or downloaded as mp3s. I’m familiar with them already because they first appeared as single cassettes. I recommend all of them. My favorite is Overcoming Assumptions That Inhibit Spiritual Development. From the intro,

So one must learn to be flexible, one must learn to question assumptions, one must learn to put up other assumptions than one’s customary ones to study things…some of the things are, for example, our narrative materials which I have published… Now various points of view on these produce a certain kind of flexibility. Trying too hard doesn’t work, trying to make out what they mean doesn’t work because this material is instrumental not indoctrination.

There’s also an interview in four parts on youtube.

Here’s Part One.

Part Two
Part Three
Part Four

A year ago I put together the ten parts of other videos and posted it. I wrote then,

He was a walking library of Sufic esoteric material, yet, he also brought these traditional secrets to proto-new age stages in the sixties. He walked a weird razor’s edge in maintaining that these materials could retain their power even when stripped of their context, as long as the context of the user was precisely calibrated to these bare-of-context materials!

Video 48m Happy Nous Year

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District 9


“Sorry, but you’re one too many payments behind.”

District 9 provided the most rewarding movie-going experience of the year. I have to chuckle when I reflect upon how the allegory is worked through in the gritty shoestring indy District 9, versus the hollow treatment a very similar story line receives in the gorgeous Avatar blockbuster. Yup, something about less is more holds, yet, it’s the superiority of the half inversion of the colonialist conceit that helps root District 9 in actual historical similitude. Besides, it seems obvious that Pandora will end up meeting the full brunt of a vindictive mankind in a sequel not to be made.

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Sabbatic Goat Reviews Avatar


Click for review

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The Bottom Petal


Claude Lévi-Strauss at Machado in Brazil.

While purging my active RSS opml, I noted a feed from the Mind & Culture blog (@Mind&Culture.Net.) “This is a blog for students who are taking the course in Mind and Culture at the Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology, in the University of Oxford.” From there, it’s a skip via the link roll to Cognition & Culture Net. On the blog there is a memory of Claude Lévi-Strauss by Scott Atran. Lévi-Strauss passed away October 30, a month short of birthday 101. The brief memory is diamond-like. Read the whole piece.

In 1974, when I was a graduate student in anthropology at Columbia University, I wanted to organize a discussion of universals with people whose ideas I wished to know more about than I thought I could get from their writings. At the time, I was working for Margaret Mead as one of her assistants at the American Museum of Natural History, so I asked her how I might go about getting my wish. She said “talk to these people and see if they’ll meet.” So I went to see Noam Chomsky in Cambridge, Jean Piaget in Geneva, and Jacques Monod in Paris, and they agreed; but I wondered if Levi-Strauss would because he seemed so aloof . Margaret licked her lips and laughed: “Well, that’s his look, aloof and frail, but he’s more playful than he lets on and he’ll outlive me by thirty years if a day. Just tell him I sent you.” Scott Atran: A memory of Lévi-Strauss (Cognition & Culture Net)

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In Praise of Betty Draper

About half way through Mad Men‘s third season, I decided the show had joined my slim TV pantheon. Mad Men joins: Homicide: Life In the Streets; The Sopranos; The West Wing; NYPD-Blue; ER, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine; Firefly; True Love; MI-5. All but the last two, are sadly missed. Shows have their runs, sometimes falling slowly downward, like NYPD-Blue, ER, and DS9 did. One came to a sudden halt–like Firefly. (As did a candidate for highest honors, The Sarah Connor Chronicles; idiots!) The West Wing fizzled out like a dying sparkler. And, another tried to wrap itself up: Homicide. Homicide remains the most enjoyable viewing experience of a serial ‘drama hour’ I’ve had in front of a TV, since I started watching TV as an adult in 1993.

Yet, with my praises noted here, Mad Men is second-to-none for one reason: the Sally Draper character is about the same age I was in 1963. I was nine. Not only that, my mother was a Bryn Mawr graduate (’48,) as is Betty Draper. And, might as well admit my father had Hollywood good looks, was not in anyway introspective, and, about at Don Draper’s level of non-mastery of relationships. So, I’m part of the particular cohort of Mad Men fans who can resonate with the show on a personal, historical level; say of those fans born before 1956.

Given this fact of memory, it is the story arc of Betty and Don that grips me the most. Betty, is the ambivalent, lonely, stern child-woman, who yearns to be fathered, but cannot also name this same yearning. Where her estranged husband’s self-deceptions serve a purpose, Betty Draper’s are threaded in an inaccessible-to-her weave of her personality. For me, she’s the most complicated and saddest character in the story.

At the same time, Betty Draper is the character who could find her way to her full self in surprising, intriguing ways. She’s the most self-estranged at the same time her possible aspirations are the most undefined. Obviously, Betty has yet to figure out what she’s cut out to master. I hope we get to see.

Betty is not like my own mom, who was a college professor in 1963, and was in the vanguard of self-realized women of her generation. Betty Draper is not very popular among the show’s fans. I note how much of this negative view is inflected by prejudices about mothers that seems to me to issue from a contemporary conflict between idealization of the nuclear family, and, the benefits of being insightful about one’s self. The latter strikes me as a recent psychological development to which the dull workmanlike housewife is the problematic predicate.

That Mad Men inches toward, first, the cusp, and later, realization of cultural evolution that will mightily impact the generation of the Draper’s children—yes, Sally—will be especially, and eventually poignant. That is, if Mad Men can carry on through the late sixties. I hope it does, because the differentiation between the parents of the greatest generation and their kids, was dramatic, and would make for great TV drama.

All the Madison Avenue striving in Mad Men, to me, seems secondary to the subtext of family. And, it’s the family that will be shook up by the coming cultural tremors and quakes of the late sixties. We’ll hopefully see if Mad Men’s auteur, Matthew Weiner also sees it this way.

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Dooz Age, Unstoppable

Another flare from Integral Life.

The Integral movement is based upon principles of compassion, clarity, and inclusiveness. A willingness to step beyond our personal and cultural points of view while remaining true to our own unique perspective; to sanctify the common ground between different sciences and different spiritual traditions while fully honoring and celebrating the differences between them; to hold all the contradictions and paradoxes of knowledge gently in one hand while cutting through the confusion and fragmentation with the other—these are precisely the sorts of qualities that define the Integral movement as a whole.

The Integral movement is already beginning to sweep across the world. Though it is no longer just a revolution of the mind (ours is a revolution of the “body, mind, and spirit in self, culture, and nature”) and though it is still in its very early stages of emergence, its influence is rapidly beginning to gain traction, right now at this very second. The very same currents of growth and development that set the initial stage for the sixties revolution—vertical and horizontal growth through stages and states of consciousness—have begun to flow together once again, creating an upswell of consciousness, care, and creative novelty that has not been seen in decades.

The Integral Revolution: the result of an unstoppable force meeting an unmovable subject.

When do you think the Integral movement will reach its “tipping point”?

Forced choice poll. I selected: Centuries, if at all.

This kind of marketing pitch doesn’t move me at all. I’m not much of a joiner, and, feverish and grand appeals never inspire me. But, that’s just due to my own disposition. On the other hand, appeals which thread incoherent stuff together fascinate me!

The very same currents of growth and development that set the initial stage for the sixties revolution—vertical and horizontal growth through stages and states of consciousness—have begun to flow together once again, creating an upswell of consciousness, care, and creative novelty that has not been seen in decades.

is a doozy. No, it’s a double doozy. Talk about a personal and cultural point of view… But, what stopped the flow? Why is it flowing again?

As it turns out, over the past weeks I’ve been reflecting upon the cultural history that was the context for Ken Wilber’s first appearance as a thinker, writer, and cultural critic. This refers to the late seventies and eighties. If I ponder just the thin slice of my closest cohort, and briefly unpack where this small sample was, say, in 1982, ten years after graduating from high school, my conclusion would be: revolution over, making a life—toggled on.

In this personal respect, I really have no idea what current of growth and development in days of yore this pitch is referring to. It would make more sense if names were named. “The very same currents of growth and development” implies precision (via the word ‘same,’) about precedents. Which same currents?

(Let me leap to an idea: in other schools of self-realization, might one discover that their properly applied experiential applications strip away sentimentality–completely?)

By the time the Reagan era rolled into the village, cocaine-fueled hedonic nihilism was the cosmopolitan rage, and the self-realization movement struggled to restore itself after lots of revolutionary bad psychedelic mojo had gone down. Oddly enough, politically, the southern strategy had yet to morph into the southern baptist strategy, yet, a religious call-to-arms emerged at the time to—the dour religionists hoped—beat back the coming ‘new age.’ Think of this as the reaction to Marilyn Ferguson’s The Aquarian Conspiracy (1980) and John Naisbett’s Megatrends (1982), both books were more lucrative and widely distributed annunciations of revolutionary hope and transformation than anything published in the sixties.

But, I get why, as a marketing position, it’s better to channel nostalgia back to the sixties, rather than back to the more contradictory eighties. Still, the actually “same” currents are to be found circa 1980, not circa 1968.

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The Health of Money


The God In the Machine, Lewis H. Lapham, Lapham’s Quarterly, V.II,No.3

President Barack Obama during his first months in office seldom has missed a chance to liken the country’s healthcare system to an unburied corpse, which, if left lying around in the sun by the 111th Congress, threatens to foul the sweet summer air of the American dream. The prognosis doesn’t admit of a second or third opinion. Whether on call to the Democratic left or the Republican right, the attending politicians and consulting economists concur in their assessment of the risk posed by the morbid emissions. The country now pays an annual fee of $2.4 trillion for its medical treatments (16 percent of GDP); the costs continue to lead nowhere but up. Fail to embalm or entomb the putrefying debt, and it’s only a matter of time—ten years, maybe twenty—before the pulse disappears from the monitors tracking the heartbeat on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

So say the clinicians in Washington, and I don’t quarrel with the consensus. If I can’t make sense of some of the diagnoses or most of the prescriptions, at least I can understand that what is being discussed is the health of America’s money, not the well-being of its people. The symptoms present as vividly as the manifestations of plague listed in Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War, but they show up as an infection of the body politic caused by the referral of the country’s medical care to the empathy of accountants and the wisdom of drug dealers.

If I can’t make sense of some of the diagnoses or most of the prescriptions, at least I can understand that what is being discussed is the health of America’s money, not the well-being of its people.

This is the most cogent comment about the current debate over reform of the health care system I’ve encountered.

Thank goodness for Lewis Lapham. More:

The medieval church marketed its healthcare product as the forgiveness of sin, in the form of Papal indulgences intended to preserve the vitality of the immortal soul. In an age that places a higher value on the flesh than it does on the spirit, the guarantees on the label promise to restore the blooms of eternal youth. To the extent that we construe physical well-being as the most cherished commodity sold in the supermarkets of human happiness, we stand willing to spend more money on the warrants of longevity than we spend on lottery tickets and cocaine. Our consumption of medical goods and services constitutes the performance of what Thorstein Veblen in The Theory of the Leisure Class characterized as a devout observance—the futility and superfluous expense of the exercise testifying to its value as an act of worship. The more health product that we conspicuously consume, the more of us feel conspicuously ill. To express our devotion we magnify every “riddling distemper” the flesh is heir to, deprive ourselves of food and blood, discover diseases where none exist, incise ourselves with liposuction and the angiogram. The pharmaceutical companies step up the dosages of terror in their print and television advertising; volunteer committees of vigilance gather in city parks to keep a sharp watch for obese wastrels who neglect their aerobic exercises, smoke cigarettes, fail to ingest their antioxidants, refuse to drink their pomegranate juice. We learn to think, as do the characters in a Woody Allen movie, that we become commendable, or at least interesting, by virtue of the stigmata verifying our status as victims and attesting to our worth as patients.

My only gripe with the Medicine issue is that for whatever reason, Ivan Illich, (author of the classic Medical Nemesis,) wasn’t included.


The Lapham Quarterly is the single most edifying and provocative publication now being produced in the sphere of the ‘public intellect.’ Of course, Lapham himself is a terrific essayist. As it turns out he’s also a visionary assembler of ideas, given the brilliant collections organized around themes he’s issued in the form of his journal. Above all, The Lapham Quarterly honors the intellect of the reader by juxtaposing classical and modern thinking around the themes, and then allowing the reader to reason through a robust clash of historical and contemporary perspectives. It’s not all words. Each edition includes graphic evidence and images aimed to do what 1,000 words cannot.

The web site for The Lapham Quarterly has evolved to offer content not in the journal. Highly recommended. At the web site are Lapham’s introductions for each issue and its centering theme. Right now, Lapham is second-to-none as a commentator on current events.

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Blog: Africa Is A Country

Sean Jacobs authors the excellent Africa Is a Country blog.

His blog sets the bar high for any area-interest blog: diverse, well written, very smart, and, oft Sean bears down on a subject with laser focus.

hat tip to Sean, for this:

Sean Jacob’s summary-bio at the Graduate Program in International Affairs, New School.

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