Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Rudimentary Musings in Madness

I sometimes feel like I'm going crazy. Crazy from the city, crazy from my life, crazy from my relationship, crazy from my friends. In general I would say that I tend towards general levity with regard to life, but lately I've become so disenchanted with the prospects for a "successful" life. What is a successful life? I have no ambitions toward excess wealth, and yet find myself in an awkward position where my genuine ambition to help the poor has unfortunately put me in the ranks of them. Maybe it's the nature of New York City that creates a certain maladjustment of priorities with regard to ones life goals, but I find myself desiring (let me restate that I have no ambition toward excess wealth) to write a book just to be able to support my pragmatic endeavors to help the world's downtrodden and oppressed. In reality, I think that I will just have end up supplementing my meager income with a second job while I attempt in my feeble way to save the world one obese child at a time.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Soundtrack

I know that I've talked about this many times before, but it's amazing how certain songs become part of the soundtracks of our lives. It's especially interesting living in New York City, how so many songs seem to reflect the speed and bustle of the city perfectly. I'm not saying other songs don't represent other speeds and cities as well, but I think the prevalence of the Ipod as a standard of city life adds to the sync. Walking down the street wearing an ipod, everyone's steps seem to merge into a grand clatter that buttresses the idea of the unity of all things. However, it's also an interesting contrast that in a city where everything is loud and in your face, you can have a sense of your own personal respite down the cords or your headphones. Back to the original point about the soundtrack however; I got to thinking about my old commute on the Metro North, and how I was often mesmermized looking out the window watching the scenery move swiftly past, and how when a song like Simon and Garfunkel's America comes on, or something even more philosophically stimulating like Enigma's Return to Innocense, that I all of the sudden realize that songs are written deliberately for that cause, because they usually come from the life experiences of the individual writing them. Certainly this doesn't necessarily hold true for pop songs, but real music artists (like visual or written artists) write what they know - personal experiences; love, heartbreak, lust, beauty, splendor, death, they're all perfect topics because as humans we can relate and make those songs ours if we're not lucky enough to be blessed with the lyrical talent to write a poem or a ballad. In the end we realize that music is a unification tool used by individuals who wish to express themselves to the rest of us in the best way they know how......and you know what, we love it.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Blah......

What is it that gives one that sort of blah....(dots necessary) feeling at different points during their day, week, year, life, etc.? Is it the weather.....couldn't be, I've been terribly happy in the worst weather. Is it money...I could concede that money can be a factor in making one unhappy, but I don't think that's exactly the type of unhappy I'm talking about. Could it be love.....yeah, it could be, but I think we both know it's not. I really think that that blah.... feeling we get throughout our lives is a direct result of our knowledge of our own demise. The imminent fear of death that we all live with from the time we're born to the time we cease. And to accompany that fear is the added fear (ironically opposite of the known fear of death) of the uknown circumstances that await us upon our ultimate demise. I don't particularly fear death, and because of my religious beliefs (or lack thereof) I'm not too concerned with my soul simply ceasing to be, but I will add that if possible I think it would be my desire to live forever. There has been and forever will be more things that I would have liked to do - either now I'm too old, or too poor, or the thing doesn't exist anymore. I think the bottom line is that we'd all feel a lot better if goddamn scientists would get off their asses and figure out a way for humans to live forever. Come on, I know that there's someone out there with an incredibly complex mind that understands what makes the human body break down, and how we can stop if not reverse this process from occurring. I think that will be my new goal in life, to champion the scientific discovery of that long cherished idea of immortality. See you in a few millenia.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The Absence of the Artist

I heard a funny story the other day, one which I'm sure has been told repeatedly amongst friends in the New England are. A few friends of friends decided that they were going to make the trek to remote areas of upstate New York in search of the prolific hermit J.D. Salinger (yes he's still alive). Salinger has made it his business to stay out of the public eye, almost literally in his house for the last few decades. Many a young intellectual have gone in search of the mysterious writer, but few come back with anything but disappointment. Anyway, these friends of friends decide that they are the individuals who are going to break Salinger's malingering hermitic ways. So they locate Salinger's home (how this is done I have no clue) and they leave a note that introduces themselves and tells him to meet them at so and so spot at so and so time. Their anxiousness builds all night and the next morning they wake up with the idea that they are finally going to meet the amazing author. They arrive at the spot and to their surprise Salinger is not waiting to pontificate the meaning of the universe, but instead two officers are waiting to ask them what their intentions are with the reclusive author. They make the trek back to the city with their tails between their legs, but with a funny story to make up for the gas money they wasted on the trip upstate.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Humidity

I have to tell you first and foremost that humidity sucks. Despite the fact that you can get used to it, and some people love the heat, it sucks. Yeah, hanging out on the beach or in the park makes it suck less, but the air sticks to you like a leach that hangs around for the better part of three months. Once we finally feel some respite in the month of September the damned humidity decides to peak his head out for a few more days just to piss you off before the beautiful Autumn in the city. Going to work becomes a true pain in the ass during the summer, as the daily grind of taking the subway leaves me a sopping mess by the time I arrive at my destination. Isn't that nice, not only do we have balmy weather outside, but the city in all their infinite wisdom decide to do nothing about the temperature below ground, so we end up with dead air in the subway station that is about 15-20 degrees warmer than it is outside with about 110% humidity. So now as Fall approaches, I welcome it with open arms, and even smile at the idea of an early winter.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Misanthrope becomes an Optimist

It's funny how your perspective changes the more and more exposure you have to the same thing. For months - a couple of years even - I had sat on the subway, and when chance came I found myself on the subway car with a man of amazing heart but limited ability. This not-so-genteel gentleman carries his amplifier with him and he strums on his guitar with almost inaudible words and scratches from the tool at his side. However, I've recently found his music to be quite soothing, and have even found myself handing over money to this man who I had previously found ridiculous. I think in a city like New York, it becomes a necessity to have extra faith in humanity, otherwise you lose faith in everything, and watch before you the downfall of society. I think I can hang on for a little bit longer, now that I at least have the faith to have some faith.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Unemployed

I must say that being unemployed during the summer is amazing. I guess it's because I have worked over the past three summers while I've watched my friends have a nice relaxing summer that has given me so much pleasure in essentially "taking it easy". I go to the park, I have lunch with friends, I take vacations when I want to. It's interesting that I spend much less now that I have no job than I ever thought of when I did (not that I have any now that I'm unemployed). Although I begin a new job soon, I feel as though this time has been a catharsis of the past three years. It hasn't only been the job however that I've needed a break from - although it negatively permeated ever aspect of my life - New York City can be very trying to one's spiritual and emotional well being. Taking a few weeks off from work, and from the city was exactly what I have needed this summer. I think that after August I will be rejuvenated and ready to cope in the city that I both love to hate and hate to love. I feel that his sounded like a column by Carrie Bradshaw from "Sex in the City", just a thought.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Collateral Damage

Collateral Damage

"Collateral Damage". Such a sad, unkind, non-feeling term that trivializes the lives of one, tens, hundreds, or thousands of people. Donald Rumsfeld felt comfortable coining the civilian lives lost during this Iraqi conflict in the name of spreading "freedom" and "democracy" collateral damage. Research has revealed that during all conflicts between WWII and today, 90% of the casualties have been civilians, in addition to the countless injured that will never be recorded, and lost to the inattentiveness of history. If these civilians are collateral damage, then what is the real goal of this conflict? The phony assertion regarding WMD's that it turns out were nowhere to be found - and were never there - could no longer hold water. So George W Bush decided to reinvent his focus as being on the outing of the despotic regime of Saddam Hussein, and all of the death, poverty, and inhumanity he was raining on his people. While it's true that Saddam Hussein's ruling style was a far cry from the Noblesse Oblige of France in the 19th century, it turns out the war from democracy in Iraq is against the people instead of on their behalf. It's a sad state of affairs when a population that supposedly "welcomed us as liberators", and was to be a bastion of democracy in the "evil" Muslim Middle East, must pay for the sins of their ousted leader with the lives of 650,000. On a side note, it is interesting to recognize the correlations between present-day United States and Germany under the Third Reich. Both regimes use fear as their motivational tool to create nationalism and revolutionary apathy. Also borne of this fear is the retraction of individual rights and freedoms in the name of necessity and national security. Another characterization of Nazi Germany that the United States espouses is the idea that we are "right" and that those against us are "wrong"; and we will triumph in the end because of this fact. Much of the world - especially the Islamic world - views the present-day United States in much the same way as the world views Nazi Germany; imperialistic, nationalistic, close-minded, and hungry to expand their empire in an attempt at global domination. Although the means are quite different - the United States using clandestine methods while Germany used genocide and open conquest - the ends are eerily similar.

Our Place in History

Our Place in History

Ernest Hemingway once wrote “The world is a great place, and worth fighting for”. It is difficult to believe that less than 50 years later is seems manipulative or na├»ve to utter such a phrase. However, thinking about the quote in a broad historical sense, it seems like maybe this type of thinking is more pertinent today that ever before in history.
Considering the fact that history is simply the cycle in shifts of wealth, and that the oppressor’s have always been the oppressor’s, and the oppressed have always been the oppressed, it’s possible that people who are active in the struggle against oppression, and who appear to be making little progress, are possibly the last barrier in the defense of the poor by the ruling class. If people of conscience and goodwill believe they are making no difference, and give in to the pessimism of greedy men, then its possible that the whole house of cards will crumble and the poor will be left with no services whatsoever. It is disheartening that while the unstable house still stands many cards are being removed one at a time to build up the mansions of cards occupied by the upper strata of our derisive class society. Most people on the right or left – or wherever on the political spectrum – with any moral character whatsoever do not want to leave economically disabled individuals and families at the mercy of the brutal economic and employment markets. However, they do use the guise of “personal responsibility” to only help those who have fall so far that the only services hoped for are the most basic necessities – food, water, shelter, clothing, etc. What this thought process fails to recognize is that, while those who show little “personal responsibility” fall father down the economic and social ladder, society is degraded as a whole due to the debased function of the moral responsibility of the state. Therefore, we in essence are left with a society devoid of moral responsibility to individuals, but expect individuals to display moral responsibility for society. This is a major example of “do as I say, not as I do”; or simply taking the cart before the horse. To ask the question of why individuals don’t display a personal “moral responsibility” without first asking the question of where both societal and individual moral norms come from, is a moot question. So which has the effect, individuals promote societal moral responsibility, or society promotes individual moral responsibility (which came first, the chicken or the egg)? History, and the development of moral character [or morals period] seem to have been codified with the development of society. This simply helps the argument of evolution, and the idea that as humans multiplied and began to come into contact with each other, the interactions expand understanding and problem solving; therefore, developing (evolving) the brain as well as society as a whole. It’s important for me to make a distinction here between biological and physiological evolution, and the evolution of the mind – creating higher thinking processes, i.e. critical thinking, problem solving, and the ability to create new ideas. In primitive society every problem was taken at face value, and therefore the options in solving such problems usually involved brute force or simply ignoring the issue.

The Management of Tyranny

The Management of Tyranny


Government by definition is tyrannical. Many forms of government use the presence of numerous individuals, and the process of elections, to deceive the citizens into believing that the government acts on their behalf, and in a relatively fair and just manner.
In the modern world, most individuals actually acknowledge the fact that most governments and government officials are at least minimally corrupt, and more apt to act on self-interest than for the public good. While it could be argued that governments have always done this, the advent of capitalism and the industrial revolution have made it somewhat more ubiquitous. Form however has little to do with corruption and greed; this is more of a human nature issue than that of structure. We have seen, and history has proven, that government tyranny is pervasive throughout every ideology, regardless of their otherwise altruistic or humanist precepts. However, with an ever-increasing global economic market, and increased globalization of media and pop culture, major governments have been able to manipulate information and trade to benefit themselves in the world power market. The system then in essence creates a very complicated and unhealthy trickle-down power structure. Major world players, both in and out of the United Nations, exert considerable power over poorer, less populated, less educated, less resource-rich, and less industrialized nations. This power has very detrimental effects on these nations by affecting the nations’ health, trade, international debt, defense, and ultimately the future of the unstable nation. In turn, government officials in these volatile countries are constantly fighting to retain both legitimacy and power, often using violence as their source of both; and because in our modern world, a new axiom tends to contend that the poorer the country the more corrupt the government. Therefore, the power struggle again trickles down from the economic elite, exploiting the already disenfranchised poor. Here, at the bottom level of the power structure comes domestic abuse, violence, and other crime. People in helpless and desperate situations are left with few alternatives but to react to the situation around them (often aggressively), or perish in the face of it.
The development of government was most likely caused by a large number of factors. Lack of communication over large land areas, the development of the city (city-state), and the need to make laws and create ways of assuring the city both protected and preserved its inhabitants. From its very inception however, the problem arises as to who is to make these rules and other decisions. Obviously there were those who considered themselves to be more worthy of the duty of “governing” (and possibly were), but then this leaves the rest of the population at the mercy of the beginning of what we would call today the “elite class”. This class is usually not only better educated, but has a greater leadership capacity, and think in more abstract ways. These qualities however, do not necessarily assure a public official with the good of society as their goal. Therefore, with the rise of the ruling class, we can see the beginning of the manipulation of power, and the precursor to the aristocracy that was created by the monarchy.
The “tyranny” of the monarchy was a difficult power to challenge, considering both the monarchs “divine right”, and the unwavering power kings used in presiding over their armies. Also, because of the divination of the king, power was passed between generations, and stayed in the royal family. These passing of power and wealth (and title) between generations created a new right as well, the monarchical tradition. The ruling class was now entitled by money, by might, by title, by tradition, and not least of all by God.