Summation 1

Between the approx. 60+ blog posts here, and the references to my book,”see my book” I think the issues herein have been given a clear and thorough examination. Thus it seems to me it is a time to wrap these topics up and conclude this particular blog. A new theme for the future is in order. But to wind this theme up, I would like to write this one final post on the issues themselves, and then use the next five to ten posts to do a summation of the threads we have examined here.

This last post on the idea of life as theater and all that surrounds are scripts by others, could not be complete without observing this most recent example.

Donald Trump was in San Diego on Friday May 27. His tour of speaking engagements have been haunted by demonstrators and some mayhem. The local San Diego paper, the Union Tribune, wrote this front page headline on that day. “SOME ARRESTS AT RALLIES MAY BE SCRIPTED” Then the article that follows begins, “If arrests are made at today’s Donald Trump rally, watch carefully. What looks like chaos may be choreography. Getting arrested can be a powerful demonstration of commitment….some are the results of advance negotiations. Police and protestors often confer before marches and rallies, discussing everything from the time and location of the protest to….how and when people will be arrested. They come to us and say, “These individuals are going to do this, and we understand when they do this you are going to arrest them”, said San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman. “A lot of times, they designate a person or persons to be arrested.”

Life as Theater, dear readers. Scripted events for television digestion. As we already know, many if not most of these demonstrators are paid. They are “actors” for hire. Street Theater as political advertisements. There are “aggregators” who will hire and perform a demonstration of your desired object complete with posters from either side of the political spectrum.

The regular readers of this blog can see and understand the simulacrum, the reality that isn’t, at work here. We can see the script. We know the reasons why. That is why I think it time to move to some concluding blogs. The lessons are learned. The readers educated. But I couldn’t help but post this one last narrative that so aptly demonstrates what we have been talking of for these now many months in these now many postings. Thank you for reading.

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Bernie’s Illusional Gift to the Young

Bernie Sanders galvanizes the young. This seems amazing to many. I will explore one thread here that may make his appeal clearer.

I share one biographical fact to help persuade on the point I make. I taught for many years and at one point in a major university. I was rather shocked in my first year there to find that many of the faculty and the authors of various textbooks were admitted Marxists. We generally accept that the faculties of most colleges and universities are liberal and left leaning in their politics. But living within that environment, attending department meetings and university inspired colloquiums, it soon became apparent that the left leaning was commonly at the very far left of the spectrum.

These are the cadres that have educated your young.

Now back to Bernie. He inspires the young with his antagonism to the wealthy and powerful, and his promise to breach that citadel and level the playing field making opportunity and wealth equally shared by all. His brand of socialism is not far off from communism. This is the same kind of social promise that was sold to the oppressed innocents in the 1900’s.

Back to the professors. Communism under the theories of Marx and Engels began as a promise to end class distinctions and warfare. It got a bad name under Stalin and the Cold War. After it crumbled, it was resurrected under the name Marxism to purge it of its awful realities in the Soviet Union and other oppressive regimes around the world. This Utopian version was once again taught in the universities as the new dream. Our young, our recent grads were taught Marxism and Socialism as the dream solution the same way that energized the disenfranchised when first proffered by Marx and Lenin. At that time no one conceived of the oppressive version, the version that simply didn’t work and couldn’t deliver the promises in the history that was about to unfold.

Bernie sells this same dreamy version of socialism/communism to the young who by virtue of their education by Marxist professors are ready-made for the moment. They’re too young to have lived through and seen the vicious tyrannical days of Communism…..the purges, the genocides, the millions of dead sacrificed to an idea that didn’t work. They equally don’t seem to notice that the great socialistic experiment in most European countries is no longer working there either.

That doesn’t stop Bernie. The American Great Recession plus all of the above has made our young population a ready embracer of the utopian dream that the older crowd knows doesn’t work. Bernie thrives on this innocence. Bernie thrives on this learned naiveté.

The sins of greed and capitalism were all too revealed in the mortgage crisis of 2008. That is a history the young lived. They deserve some slack for their revolutionary love of the Sanders’ solution. Subtleties do not prevail in presidential campaigns.

Marxist Socialism was sold as a dream in the early 1900’s. It is being sold again as a utopian dream to the young today. We must all work to bring the naiveté of the young up to a more mature currency. We must continue their education beyond their professors. This upcoming election is a chance to do just that.

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Legacy Scripts

As readers of this blog and my book,”see my book“, you know that narratives and scripts are the lynchpins of both. Watching someone create their own narrative should be instructive. To that end I encourage you, with your critical insights, to watch President Obama write his legacy script during his last year in office.

He has already begun. At this point, he is more interested in cementing his legacy than he is in legislation or international diplomacy. His primary avenue will be the granted “interview”. Although this will seem forthright and unrehearsed, it will be delicately crafted and controlled. What may seem spontaneous and sincere questions, are most certainly pre-written and imposed upon the interviewer. His thoughtful and almost agonized answer is a portrait in fine acting.

His speeches equally will seem spontaneous and unrehearsed in the “off the cuff” portions. But there too it is carefully planned and rehearsed. He only has a few months to control his narrative, and surprising events across the world will intervene this careful narrative.

Most Presidents come into office as egos in pursuit of history. To endure the punishment of running for offices over the decades and then the most severe of all campaigns is to show the deep determination it entails. To that extent, the final year is crucial to securing the ego part in history.

As an aside, I might suggest that our greatest Presidents in history, might well be those that were forced into office by circumstance. I think of Harry Truman. Forced into office in the midst of a world war and its aftermath, he had no wish for it, and no time to ponder his place in history. He found in himself capacities and wisdom he knew not he had. His post presidential life would confirm his ego-less humility. Humility generally does not get you elected to the highest office in the land.

Obama came into the Presidency fully afloat on his persona. He had no experience. He had no resume. A first term senator, a community organizer, an acolyte of Alinsky, he had a narrow vocal range within which to sing.

He could have learned on the job better than he did. Instead, he lingered in his ego. His Armani suit and Air Force One were VERY important to him. With so little history of his own, the trappings were critically important to his narrative. I do believe he never got outside his skin in this job. And still being so, completing and sharpening his exit narrative is more important to Obama than it has been to most Presidents before him. That is why the composition of his final narrative will prove so instructive to us as we watch his exit narrative co-exist with the other eight aspiring narratives that evolve in those who now seek his vacating office.

Postscript: Equally here, we have studied scripts and narratives for their authenticity and their opposite, the dreaded simulacrum. Because he has so lived within himself during his Presidency, I think it likely, that Obama’s exit narrative will be false and inflated and in denial of much of his actual Presidential history and events. To that extent, it will be in-authentic and a delusional simulacrum that he hopes will stand the test of time and history. With Ego, in-authenticity and the simulacrum as the three legs of his stool, I think it will not, in fact, bear the weight of time and history.

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Epiphenomenon

This blog has focused on simulacra which are false alternative realities that are difficult to discern as false. There is another alternative reality that may not be false, but simply disconnected.

An epiphenomenon is a separate but included reality that has its own integrity and is not false. We can be engaged in an epiphenomenon and mistake it for a false sim. Such a moment may seem like a dream, a psychic disconnect.

Since this blog is also about the search for authenticity, I believe there is a revealing connection here. If one looks at art historically, it seems to often exist apart from or in the midst of destructive or unsupportive times. Whether the caves of Lascaux, or the Renaissance, or individual histories of artists, the creative moment and the resultant “art” is immune to the prevailing and often negative surroundings of the “artist”. I think the moment of personal creativity is a divorced, but authentic moment within an individual’s life that is a detached and isolated epiphenomenon.

There is no telling from where or when a creative moment may come. It is suddenly just there. Most artists or “creators” in science or mediums of various kinds will tell you that such moments exist out of time and place. It is a magical transformation. One exists outside of one’s everyday. But I would make the case that it is still connected to one’s own integrity and not a false simulacrum. It may be the very refuge from the false simulacra that this blog so reviles. It emerges wholly from within. It may be influenced by unconscious flows or lost memories, but it is integral. It is the fullest flower of personal authenticity, though it seems to exist in dislocated time and place. It would be well described as an epiphenomenon.

This adds a new component to our search for truth, self and authenticity. The very sense of detachment within an epiphenomenon may be the immunity we seek from false scripts imposed by others. This may be our internal refuge from “lifeastheater”. These “creative moments” should not be solely seen as moments of genius by select visionaries. They may reach to those heights. But they also exist for us all as truthful moments of self-inspection and honesty wherein we see ourselves and reveal ourselves with insights heretofore unseen.

The avenues to these moments are unpredictable and often surprising. They can occur in night dreams, day dreams, staring at clouds or seascapes, meditating or eating a Madeline. But they are treasures to be found and nurtured. Beware the dreaded simulacrum, but watch for and embrace the fecund epiphenomenon. It’s the epiphenomena in your life that may be the reservoirs of your authentic Self. Watch for them; live them; collect them; embrace them!

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The Brain and Self

Throughout his life and writings, Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis and “the talking cure”, believed and wrote that chemistry would most likely be the ultimate and eventual cure for mental illness. And so it has evolved. Drugs have replaced psychiatry in large part in the treatment of mental diseases.

Equally now, the brain itself is the landscape wherein we seek the epicenters of our mind and emotions. This blog has focused on the Self, an elusive composite of ingredients that add up to our sense of existence and being. A recent study on the brains of young adolescents, seems to point to the existence of Self in a particular part of the brain. When adolescents were put into various experimental situations that made them self-conscious and embarrassed, the part of the brain known as the medial pre-frontal cortex showed extensive excitation and flared up in hyper-activity on the various monitors that showed the brain’s topography. Like Freud anticipating chemistry as his replacement, do we now have to assume that the fleeting figment we call Self is in fact to be found physically in a certain region of the brain?

If so, does that take out of the equation, all of the effort and social practice that we have traditionally acceded to improving our Self and our character? This same new knowledge of the brain would suggest not. While there well may be a portion of the brain, a piece of physiology that corresponds to the sense of Self, that same research also testifies to the surprising plasticity of the brain, i.e., the capacity of the brain to change itself physically in response to need and stimuli.

Just as we can train the brain to recompose itself in the face of a stroke or an injury to the body, so apparently can we change the circuitry and synapses of the brain in response to emotional and social patterns that are improvements in those important areas. This would suggest that the very premise of this blog, that life is a series of scripts, and if we change them, we can change as well, has sound footing. The added beauty is that this change is not just some ephemeral modification in the psycho-sphere, but may in fact be a change effected upon the brain itself, that circuitry and synapses have altered and adjusted. I take comfort in that possible permanence.

The plasticity of the brain, to be able to change and adjust its neural physicality, is encouragement for those who would not just overcome a new physical challenge, but also for those who would overcome and change a social or psychological challenge. Much like having the confidence as we exercise that we are changing and improving a muscle or muscle group, so we can now have similar confidence that the physical organ of the brain, too, is able to grasp and incorporate the psychological and emotional changes that we wish to press into our existence.

It may take repetition and dedication just as any exercise does, but its results may prove to become natural and intrinsic.

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Life as Theater vs Life is Theater

I have chosen Lifeastheater vs Lifeistheater as the title for my blog for particular purpose. I have chosen the simile over the metaphor for a particular focus.

“Life is theater”, implies that is it. Life is a dumb show, a Punch and Judy show, an existential nihilistic theater of the absurd. Whereas, “life as theater” implies that there is that, but there is also something else. The “as” suggests that there is something beyond the theatrical version of life. That life is not just a series of “performances” that we enact over days, weeks, months, years and decades. Rather, there is something beyond or beneath the surface of “life as theater”. For those of you who have been reading this blog or my book “see my book“, you know that that other life is one of “authenticity”. Life as theater and authentic life are the two opposed levels of living, elaborately discussed and analyzed here.

The Authentic Life is the one to which one should aspire. The inauthentic life is the one commonly given to us as a variety of “scripts” that are written for us by family, friends and society as large, both current and historical. To be able to discern the difference between the simulacra of false narratives and scripts that others would have us live, and the true script of our own authentic self is the purpose of my book
see my book” and blog. To achieve that clear-eyed status is no easy endeavor. To maintain it, if found, is equally hard. Everything, and most everybody, conspires against you. First, one has to achieve the clarity of mind to see the difference. And once having that, one must work diligently to maintain that clarity and use it to transform oneself into someone who is true and authentic.

A word here about selfishness. Much of this search for personal authenticity and the battle against others for your own selfhood might seem a trip toward and final residence in selfishness. That is the beginning of the search, but not the end. Having fought the battle for your own identity, the next level is to find within that authentic identity where you now belong in the world around you. Sans scripts, you now need to find where you belong and how you interact with your friends, your family and your society. This is the final task. Once free of scripts, your value is enhanced. Your contributions are more vital and honest. There is less subterfuge. There is more truth. This is the opposite of selfishness. This is where you want to be, and this is from where you can be a more successful and useful member of the world around you.

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America 2.0 / Trump and Beyond

America is in despair over the direction of the country.  Vast numbers of voters are looking for the person to answer those perceived needs.  With the very best intentions, however, they are faced with several flawed candidates: Sanders, Trump and Carson.  Each reflects the concerns and outrage that disaffected voters are looking to cure.  But is it a search too early?

America is tired of the professional politician…….the person who runs for and wins class president, and then the local municipals, and then state and finally federal office.  They learn how to campaign and how to function within the game of political survival.  It’s become an inbred breed prone to caricature.

The voters are looking beyond the professional politician to cure the DC malaise.  Can any of these three be elected, and if elected govern?  Without deciding here who gets what, I conjecture that these three are only the beginning of a longer and hopeful trend.  In the founding of the republic our political leaders came from all walks of life.  There was no incubator of politics to hatch them.  We may be on our way to replicating that.  Maybe now and in the new future, someone comes out of commerce, medicine or science to serve in Washington for a term or two then moves on.  They are there to serve and execute, not to seek endless re-elections and create a fiefdom till cushy retirement.

There was a brief time in more recent history when this was tried.  JFK tried to bring to Washington “the best and the brightest”.  It was to some extent hype, but it did bring businessmen, McNamara for example, and other non bureaucrats to JFK’s administration.  It began with high hope for freshness and execution.  It probably did not last long enough to prove its mettle.  We may see this tried again not at the behest of the president-elect but the voters themselves.

Will the voters first bring in a Trump, for example. Then as subsequent elections, state and national, proceed in successive years, they again vote out the incumbent “professionals” that accomplish little but feathering their own nests, and elect men and women who vow to accomplish something and then leave, and let others come with yet new ideas and goals.

Can this incipient process transform America?  Can we replace the professional politician who plays at seeming to govern, with real people who go to Washington and come together to get things done for the sake of the country and not the party and vested interests?  That evolution may take several elections.  And in that process we may also get even better candidates.  But right now, we have only a few who seem to be willing to stand outside the Washington Beltway and promise to serve the greater public.  It may be a rough early ride, but the impetus and direction is a healthy one.  The current and old system seems obsolete and sclerotic.  The new is energized but rough around the edges. 

Maybe we have to tolerate the first stumbling steps of non-political newcomers.  Maybe if you don’t know the “rules” of Washington and political parties, a group of fresh minds can coalesce around simple and sensible goals that are then passed into functioning laws forthwith.  We need some practical alacrity.  There is too much “perceived” process that is assumed to be incumbent upon politicians and the political process.  Enough of all that!  Let’s get beyond the simulacrum of governing and get to actually real governing with real ends in mind.  Current politicians love “the process”.  All the time it takes is only a favor to them.  In business, taking all that time is often fatal.  The moment passes and you are obsolete.  If what you try doesn’t work, trash it and try something else.  Get on with it.

The population is not looking for mistake free, perfect government.  We want well intended effort and action.  Change the tax code, build the pipelines, fix the banks, fix the roads, get government out of the way of the people, stop the Medicare and SS fraud (and all the other fraudulence) that steals money from the people.  Just do it!  Get it done!  Act on it!  Cooperate for the good of all!  If the first choice doesn’t fix it, enhance it or try something else.

Sometimes you have to send someone into the game who doesn’t know the rules, or chooses not to obey the rules, in order to freshen the process.  Science does it all the time.  Outside the box is often where the solution lies.  Politics, Washington needs that injection of outsiders.  We have a few now.  More to come I hope.  The current crop have ample time to hone their ideas, their message and their style.  This is the beginning of a new source pool.  I am hopeful.

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