Hi and thanks for your article - which for me is far too long to read.
I am wondering why we all are so much concerned with topics like “who is the president” and “how the power in the state is doing and how it could be different” - while nobody seems to talk about those entities who hold the real power behind the scenes.
Those who refuse to the president or the congress to get informed about super secret things and who decide what to do with the Trillions of dollars which are missing from the budget.
“Unacknowledged Secret Access Programs” which collude in very malignant way and don’t hesitate to attack the own people for their own interest (like the twin towers as excuse for beginning a war).
This is no conspiracy theory, it is very well researched and documented, but nobody seems to really want to know, Probably because of fear of the consequences. Because when you understand the extend to what we are manipulated - and that we as single humans have little chance to change the situation - then we wake up to a reality which we never have believed it could exist - and our life changes radically.
We need the courage to face the real power structures in USA - and from there in the world - and together stand up and end their secrecy…
If you want to know more, I am happy to send you to the books and videos with undeniable documentations. But be aware, it is more than shocking, and talking about Trump seems like kindergarden.
I recommend the entire series highly. It should be noted that taken as a whole it is far beyond a rant against the current occupant of the Oval Office, who emerges, rightly in my humble opinion, only as symptom rather than cause of the malaise. Our writer identifies the deep “memetic” understandings and unchallenged assumptions behind the power structures behind the scenes. There is a sense in which this is not secret at all but simply the recurring historical pattern by which an internal oligarchy is always the most dangerous opponent faced by a democracy (and with a distressingly winning track record at that). But along with that comes the realization that it takes more than pulling a lever in a voting booth every four years (to use the American example) to hold one’s elected representatives accountable for their decisions. That kind of involvement in and ownership of the political process, and the courage that would come with it, is indeed rare. This is the counterpart failing which undermines democracy from below as the winds of struggle for power and prestige storm across the top.
In short, the writer’s call to action is first an invitation to examine one’s own thinking and motivations, then to link up with others of like mind and heart, and then to stand up. Agree or not, that is an avenue worth exploring.
Thanks, @patanswer and @Adelheid_Hornlein! Yes, Trump is very much a symptom and a phenomenon tied to the subtle winds of power I try to unpack throughout the essay series. To dig in the dirt to try to find the roots of these issues, I appreciate anything that helpfully shines light on our common reality. That probably includes what you want to call attention to, Adelheid, which is “shadow” elements and cohorts that are unseen by the naked eye yet exert strategic power in influencing world affairs through the transparent structures of political institutions.
I agree that we are heavily manipulated. What I want to explore is how to break out of that historical and psychosocial rut and into more autonomous territory–which I believe begins at the individual level, with one’s mind, through tweaking how one relates to one’s experience of truth and reality. If each of us starts with ourselves and moves to intensify the combinations of our power in small, distributed groups… what then? Clearly the installment of Trump as president and the reemergence of nationalistic sentiment embodies a perennial pattern of which there are many other precedents, and which is a recipe produced by certain economic, psychosocial and cultural conditions. Therefore, to attack the problem at the level of “Trump” will not produce a new path out of this situation. We need to attack the problem at the level of patterns.
Had a little trouble with the connection last night; I’m pretty sure it’s my browser - and then some family drama needing a soothing denouement (LOL)… so I missed what I’m sure was a great conversation.
Yet more eloquence here on the interconnected subjects of meme control, deficient nationalism, and the ever-present need to maintain a mix of voices (calling out victimization of any kind, for example) from Elif Shafak:
Thanks for your answer. I would be tempted to join the live conversations, but they are in my night time. I wish you a good progress in what you are doing together!
Thanks for sharing this video, @patanswer. Elif’s words about staying silent when the container for communicating is inadequate for the complexity of what is needing to be communicated resonated so much with my own life experience. I’m aware that I’ve adopted a learned pose of ennervated silence, and in the face of ideological or interpersonal confusion, I tend to outwardly express only silence that looks like detached “vacancy,” even when I may have incisive feedback or analysis that I could offer. This is a learned reaction to how often I encounter the arising of elaborate but complex assessments internally, regarding a given subject, but am continuously pained to also know that it would cost significant time and energy to get across my thoughts to another who doesn’t have the same critical reference points and logical strata to support it. Which wouldn’t in and of itself be a problem whatsover–I personally adore having deep and long discourses with other human beings willing to meet me on that plane! Regrettably, our cultural norms do not foster meaningful connection and dialogue, but instead promote tedious, status-distinguishing norms like “one-upping,” mocking/distancing, using persuasion as a means of ego-extension, etc. Met with these dilemmas in the course of normal daily conversation, I default to a depressed hopelessness (which looks outwardly like reticence). Any insight I might want to offer is halted at the gates of my mouth, on the cynical premise that says: “What’s the use in expending such effort? It won’t be helpful to you in any way (it’ll only extend your differentness in the eyes of this other), and it probably won’t be helpful to them either (what are the chances they will actually hear and make sense of what I have to say)?”
Frankly, publishing the “Trump pieces” was a deliberate effort to override and overcome that cynicism; even as I might perceive that that posture protects me, on a holistic level, I know it absolutely doesn’t. I genuniely feel that the world can’t afford self-indulgent, self-separating cynicism at this critical time. We need to integrate. And that will mean: me sharing my perspective to anyone who will listen, without self-censorship.
Very interesting how those opening comments of hers tie-in with her comments about demogogues who capitalize intentionally on moments of collective anxiety and who hijack the minds and hearts of people who seek relief from dissonance through palliating narratives advocating sameness and adherence to unambiguous tribal belonging. I do feel a sense of urgency and of being seriously challenged to speak about the complexity that we are enmeshed in a way that is clear, patient and enthusiastic, and thus attractive. The attractiveness of such alternative narratives is important if they are to counteract the appealing effects of tribalist/xenophobic narratives in the sociopolitical sphere. Whereas the latter has demonstrably repressive outcomes attached to its historical pattern… what would the outcomes of embracing complexity, dialogue processes, perpetual-“moving sands under the feet,” and the beauty of struggle look as a cultural intervention and transformation?
Are there any historical precedents for that kind of social response to conflict and bewilderment? Or is it an emergent, novel possibility? (These open-ended ponderings are lobbed your way, @patanswer!)
(Lobbed my way… like tennis balls over the net of my own hesitant reticence… (LOL). In my case it is the nagging feeling that I lack particularly useful or helpful insight to share which stays my words rather than cynical premises, but of course the result is depressed hopelessness just the same, isn’t it? My shell is thick and comfortable… yet the tide recedes with alarming swiftness in these days of fear, fake news, and alternative facts. I can either stay within and wither away or poke out head and limbs in an undignified scramble to the life-giving sea. Bear with me, then, as sand flies…)
The Achaemenid Persians built a universal state over tactfully preserved local communities and were widely admired for that (though you’d never hear that from the Greeks… LOL). Of course, the Assyrians weren’t a tough act to follow, but there seemed to have been a genuine attempt to respect and leave space for cultural differences within the framework. Mere tolerance, however, does not necessarily breed loyalty, which fact Alexander exploited.
The Romans eventually arrived at universal citizenship, the idea that being born human within the borders of the empire made one part of the inclusive “us”. But this was as that empire was dying, in hindsight an example of how ‘too late’ can make even a great idea ‘too little’.
Unfortunately, I cannot think of one major example where prolonged social turmoil did not prompt national leaders to seek external military adventure or where “conflict and bewilderment” did not lead – also after the shedding of buckets of blood – to a weary resignation under the benevolent protection of the Big Brother. How well did the myth-makers of old understand the ambivalent polarities of our nature! We are driven to seek stability (who wants to live in constant fear for their children, after all?) and yet, as John Ralston Saul writes in Voltaire’s Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West (1993) “…stability is the most fragile element in the human condition. Nothing seems more permanent than a long-established government about to lose power, nothing more invincible than a grand army on the morning of its annihilation.”
Such thoughts lay behind my recognition of the need to continually uphold the ideal of our immigrant nation’s democratic experiments. But ultimately we are talking about an emergent, novel possibility. That has been my theme in several threads here: we need a new language, an understanding of history that informs avoidance of self-destructive patterns, a mythos that reconnects our conceptions of civilization and biosphere (the point I didn’t quite come to last week in response to Alexei’s well-stated concerns). I’m increasingly of the opinion that a new consciousness is as much about getting out of our own way as achieving mastery over our memes.
A wonderful metaphor for a double bind…thick and comfortable…how comfortable?..and the tide recedes…I can either stay within and wither and poke out head and limbs…and when poke out head…what happens right before you poke out head? …and is there anything else about the life-giving sea? Does that life giving sea have a size or a shape?
Sorry if I intrude upon the privacy of your Bat cave…another metaphor you offered for us in the café…but as a modeler I find myself drawn to metaphors as moth to a flame…oops!..that may not be a good idea!
And also in that café conversation you mention your reading habits, that were established around third grade? What kind of reading habits?
Once again I want to create a safe enough container around our self reflexive capacities as new identities are developed, new language games are invented and our sense of agency is nourished in these fragmented times.
We did a workshop last summer about Writing at our best. I would love to do another workshop on Reading at our best.
When you are reading at your best that’s like what?
Out of our shared self generated metaphors…new ways of languaging emerges…and new ways of historicizing…
And sharing my perspective and to anyone who will listen…without self-censorship…and has that happened. Carolyn? Or can it happen again?
After viewing our recent group conversation, which I viewed twice, I listened for language patterns, self-reflexivity…
You mention, Caroline, a tension between creating a structure and having a sense of a relaxed self…I am misquoting you badly and will have to return to the video to get your exact language…but I felt as I participated in that conversation that you were displaying an emerging meta-reflexing capacity…and I was curious about that tension…where did it come from?
And when writing at your best you experienced a sense of pleasure when writing that you located in the torso, between pelvis and heart…
That is I believe an example of embodied self awareness,that gives rise to a meta-reflexive stance
My metaphor of identity in all of this is much like what I would describe as a dramaturg…an old fashioned idea…
The dramaturg was the guy who took notes at rehearsals and interacted with the director and staff, acting as a consultant, bringing forward some of the cultural history of the of the theatre company, and making connections with other cultural and social happenings.
I do believe becoming aware of our metaphors of identity is crucial…and then we can engage in the process of using that identification for creating a sense of group identity…or releasing that identification for another purpose…
Please forgive my habitual use of ellipsis…I think I’m trying to create a sense of a pause to let something like an overtone or an undertone to be heard…
I believe- (and I try to make my beliefs explicit so that I can change them if I must) I believe that it is out of these kinds of high quality exchanges that a the momentum for change can be acted upon collectively…
A personal story. Many years ago at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic a hundred or so gay men gathered in a church in the West Village. We were horrified by the threats to our culture and our way of life, built up out of millions of unspoken and unacknowledged acts of courage and faith. Here we were in the middle of a major existential threat.
I remember a small group of gay men holding up a banner with LA written on it. A spokesperson from that small cluster announced in a ringing voice that echoed through out the church-A MESSAGE FROM LA TO NEW YORK. WE LOVE YOU!!!
Decades later I still feel that feeling of solidarity that feeling in my torso, the heart opening, the buzz at top of my head, a deep connection felt between persons invisible and absent and present at the same time. A very great resource to embody and I am forever grateful that man ( a perfect stranger?) expressed our mutual affection publically. We had so much to overcome, impossible obstacles.
There are many perfect strangers that we meet on our journeys.
And I do hope Alexis is getting the support he needs in this turbulent time…
Blessings and deep bows. We shall overcome.
Not at all. Alfred will be down with the coffee in just a minute.
It’s like enjoying a flow of words, comprehending several potential layers of their meaning, and holding suggested links in mind without distracting from the other two… processes - all at the same time. It is alignment with the message(s) and meta-message I’m encountering. I seem to have an instinctive tendency (born no doubt of a still vibrant streak of conflict avoidance) to seek points of agreement first, to enter into the argument from the perspective of the writer - absorb, listen, reflect. The synthesis comes later, once I pull out the notebooks and decide what resonates and at what levels. Admittedly, this is a fairly easy overall approach when the subjects are predominantly large-scale, almost clinical approaches to social theory and patterns of history. The rule-proving exceptions would be works of monomaniacal hatred like Mein Kampf where it is just impossible to even try to be “neutral”. And where valuations of culture (art, ideas, expectations of consciousness) are concerned, well, some roads lead to open and creative places and some do not.
The big picture has fascinated me since I fell in love with maps and atlases in the third grade.
Writing at my best, by the way, is some of that same sense of alignment of the message which must proceed and my ability to be a conduit of that message rather than my more normal flailing for expression.
I suppose the life-giving sea is where flailing for expression still propels you somewhere and it’s OK not to always have a map handy…
There is a lot to unpack here! I can take the first sentence you offer and slow down and pick out a word or phrase and ask about qualities…
It’s like enjoying a flow of words…is there anything else about that flow?
Does that flow have a size or shape or color?
Can you put your hand on that flow?
Whereabouts is flow of words when enjoying flow of words…
And comprehending several layers…and holding suggested links in mind…and holding…and when holding suggested links in mind…is there anything else about holding…whereabouts holding… those links in mind…do those links have a size or shape?
The speaker on the video is a writer and she speaks about taste of words…and synesthesias…
I am very interested in this kind of social phenomena. Focusing attention on qualities is very important for inviting these more subtle kinds of phenomenal experience to emerge.
I believe we can feedback these phenomenological investigations into our writing, reading, listening, collaborative processes, developing more sensory acuity, which strengthens our abstract reasoning skills and help us to better articulate possible shared realities.
This is nothing that hasn’t already been done many times through out our complex cultural history but I sense that we are now in a rare moment when we might be able to do it better than it has been done before.
We have more access to more information than any generation in history. How we chunk this information into something that we can concretize is the million dollar question.
I am open to exploring further as we find the right time and place for this experimenting with language and consciousness. Perhaps at the meeting on the 14th we can open this up this possibity.
And the big picture…and fell in love with maps and atlases in the third grade…
And is there anything else about fell in love?
And whereabouts is that love?
And does that love have a size or shape?
And is there anything else about third grade?
What kind of third grade was that third grade when you fell in love with maps and atlases?
And did that third grade TJ have a size or shape?
And what was that third grade TJ wearing?
And what does that third grade TJ who fell in love with maps and atlases want to have happen?
I cannot agree more with this. The (efficient/proficient!) mental-structure perspective - which includes the useful portion of postmodern thought that acknowledges the existence of many actual and possible perspectives - coupled with the amount of information the digital age places within reach could potentially lead to a veritable explosion of understanding. To paraphrase Gandhi: we just need to go ahead and model it. If the larger (macro) concretization takes a while, so be it, and if it never happens, at least it won’t be our fault! (LOL)
That TJ wanted to be able to point to a place on a map or a page in a book and be magically transported to when/where ever, in the garb and speaking the language of when/where ever, and sit at someone’s feet and listen to his/her stories. As I pondered your question, I was heartened to realize that kid was still very much alive.
I call that regression in the service of transcendence. We can use our minds to touch the memory, to touch alternate futures, to enjoy the fullness of the present moment, knowing that we are connected to a vast intelligence
I feel that veritable explosion is happening everyday. When I consider how I struggled in the old days before digital arrived to get materials together. It took months to assemble at the libraries and bookstores what I can zip now through in a few days. Some of this may be superficial but some of it pretty deep. We are being exposed to so much more odd juxtapositions that novel configurations are being made that have never been possible. I visit YouTube every evening and am amazed by all the mind bending creativity