Thoughts on the Election


(Marco V Morelli) #1

I would like to open a space here for thoughtful, focused, and considered perspectives on the U.S. elections of last week, i.e., the election of Donald Trump as President. I am interested specifically in the following questions:

  1. What is your understanding of what happened, and why?
  2. What is to be done?

I am most interested in promoting an open-minded and creative conversation, not merely personal rants or recriminations. If you have fears, concerns, hopes, or even positive ideas, these would be appropriate to share, so long as you are willing to entertain the views of others whose own feelings may be very different than your own.

Analysis on any level (social, economic, psychological, cultural, mythological, spiritual, etc.) is OK. Trans-rational (non-linear) perspectives are also welcome.

I would like, most of all, to avoid the rancor and (in my view) pointlessness of the kind of discourse that tends to dominate on social media such as Facebook. However, I have no objection to strong emotions or stark points of view, as long as you can articulate them mindfully and (ultimately) in a collaborative spirit.

Can we put our minds together to create clearer understanding, deeper resolve, a more powerful sense of direction? Can we use the moment, however distressing or uncertain it may seem, as a creative opportunity? I don’t just mean wishful thinking. I want to know what you really think, and what you really feel like you (or we…as a cooperative community) can really do.


Advice From Around the World in the Trump Age - Truthdig
Cosmos Café [1/22] - "Anger and the Road to Hell," a selection from Election 2016: The Great Divide, the Great Debate by Mark Jabbour
(Brigid Burke) #2

The outcome of the election made me physically ill; I had to get up in front of a class of students the next morning, and as a myth teacher, I felt obligated to say something, but didn’t really know what to say. I left for a preplanned trip to England that evening, and was glad to get out of the country to clear my head.

There has been a disturbing uptick in racial and misogynistic episodes since the election, which need to be kept in check. But what to do, really? We can sign petitions, donate to organizations, go to rallies. But what occurred to me while I was abroad is that we really don’t know what we’re in for yet. The most unsettling thing about Trump is our inability to know exactly where he stands. Appointing a conspiracy theorist as his chief advisor is not an encouraging start. But will he do all the things he’s threatened to do? Can he? Will the Republican dominated Congress allow it? Or will they stop him because he’s not “really” one of them?

My gut feeling is that there’s more to come with this–I want to wait until Inauguration Day to see if something weird doesn’t happen, like the Electoral College handing the election to Clinton or something. (Not that this is likely to happen, and not that this would calm things down if it did.) But in the meantime, I’m just resolved to treat people decently–even Trump supporters. Whatever happens, we should resist attempts to curtail our rights, but we are already too divided. A house divided won’t stand, and pouring gasoline on the fire won’t calm it down. We have to focus on what brings us together, not what separates us and divides us into false categories.


(John Dockus) #3

The alt-right have adopted this meme Pepe the frog to rally around for their trolling and to signal to each other. I think it’s very appropriate, in mind of the following humorous Aesopian fable inspired stop-motion animation entitled “The Frogs who wanted a King” done in 1922 by wonderful cinemagician Ladislaw Starewicz. The frogs, expecting things immediately done, or at least some animation and activity, quickly grow discontent with the Tree which Jupiter conjured to be their ruler because it doesn’t appear to do anything, just staying quietly planted and looking around. The frogs blow bubbles up to the throne of Jupiter, which pop in his ears, bothering him from his leisure with their pleas and complaints. Jupiter perturbed and annoyed, nonetheless complies and replaces their ruler with another. “Long live King Stork!” the frogs worshipfully cry, before they realize their new King only sees them as hors d’oeuvres.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wONKTobZgP8

(Note: the video quality is godawful. Much detail is washed out. You can’t make out on this video that when the bubbles blown by the frogs pop up near Jupiter’s head, little words hatch out of them, such as “Jupiter!” I have a Dvd of Starewicz’s animations and the quality of this piece on it is still quite bad, but the imagination and charm makes up for it. The original also has a more traditional silent movie soundtrack with violin, flute and piano. I rather like the soundtrack accompanying what I posted here with electric guitar utilized with notes extended and layered, sort of putting one into a dreamy trance state.)

P.S. Pleasure to meet you, sororbrigid. I too felt something akin to a physical sickness when we learned the election result for President of the United States. That, and pissed off. I’m still trying to process what the heck happened, and no doubt we will be doing so for quite a while. I dedicate the posting of this video to you, hoping it brings a hearty chuckle to your heart.


(Brian George) #4

The Trump victory took just about all of the media and pollsters and the DNC mandarins and perhaps even the Trump campaign by surprise. I suspect that many Europeans may have felt something similar in the week after the Archduke Ferdinand was shot. Tensions had been brewing under the surface for several decades. England, Germany, and France were armed to the teeth, and weapons want to be used. Many yearned for a dark catharsis, yet no one predicted this one absurd event, or sensed how quickly things would spin out of control, or would have believed that an act so random could have such world shaking consequences. In retrospect, we can sense that some archetypal force was perhaps demanding to be recognized. If events did not have to happen exactly as they did, there is nonetheless a certain inevitability to the pattern.

I was not in any way surprised by the rising tide of populist discontent, only by the total unsuitability of its figurehead. Large swaths of country have a bone-deep sense that their way of life has been pulled out from underneath them, that the lives of their children will almost certainly be worse, and that neither of the entrenched parties are genuinely concerned about their welfare or answerable to their demands. While Trump did activate many of the ugliest aspects of the American shadow—racism, xenophobia, misogyny, homophobia, love of violence, etc.—it is a mistake, I think, to tar all of his supporters with this brush. As in Germany in the 1930s, economic anxiety greatly magnifies this urge to demonize the other. In attempting to escape from the tyranny of the common wisdom, citizens potentially open themselves to even more surreal forms of manipulation. As with Brexit, the election of Trump is beyond all else a way of shouting “Fuck You!” at the established order.

The election of Obama in 2008 and the massive and unexpected surge of support for Sanders in this year’s Democratic primary were, in their very different ways, also expressions of a desire for a new beginning. This is far more easily imagined than accomplished. Trump will almost certainly betray his followers just as quickly as Obama did. Already, in spite of his promise to “drain the swamp,” he is in the process of filling his key posts with long-time Washington insiders, corporate lobbyists, science-deniers, literal Neo-Nazis, religious cranks, global warming skeptics, and billionaire behind-the-scenes manipulators, with not a serious thinker among them. I find myself in the very odd position of agreeing with Trump about such things as NAFTA, the outsourcing of US jobs, the Transpacific Partnership, the corruption of elites, the need for infrastructure projects and the rebuilding of communities, etc., even as I condemn him as a sociopathic conman. Quite ironically, you would be hard-pressed to find someone who better embodies all of the pathologies of the current neo-liberal system. By some blind instinct, he has correctly identified the mood of massive discontent that others took to be apathy. Like all good conmen, he has managed to play on people’s fantasies, yet there is no evidence in all of his 70-year history that he has ever been concerned about anything or anyone other than himself.

My deepest intuitions tell me that we are moving into a period of converging global crises. The left/right opposition is a kind of dog and pony show that takes place within a burning theatre, which serves to distract both the performers and the audience from the roof that is just about to collapse. We do not realize how fragile a construct our modern industrial civilization is. We cannot deal effectively with even one Fukushima, let alone the several dozen that might occur in a time of rising oceans and tidal waves and increasingly violent storms. One large enough solar flare could wipe out the internet and our banking system and our power grid overnight. We bicker over exactly where we are on the downslope of peak oil. Will the reserves be depleted in 15 or 50 years? That these reserves will be depleted is 100 percent certain, yet we entertain ourselves with dreams of self-driving cars. So far as I am concerned, all political parties, as they are currently constituted, represent a catastrophic failure of the imagination. I do believe that new visions will arise, and that we will somehow be able to improvise our way out of the dead ends that now exist. The price will be heavy; it seems quite unlikely that we will make any of the necessary changes by choice, and the path will be nothing if not unpredictable.


(John Dockus) #5

Happy Thanksgiving. Spice for bland stuffing, or take it with a side of cranberry sauce. There’s the Norman Rockwell version of America, which is a kind of social realist propaganda, the good ole’ fashioned “American Dream”, and then there’s the dark underbelly expressed with dry, biting satire by William Burroughs.

“To John Dillinger and hope he is still alive.
Thanksgiving Day November 28 1986”

Thanks for the wild turkey and
the passenger pigeons, destined
to be shat out through wholesome
American guts.

Thanks for a continent to despoil
and poison.

Thanks for Indians to provide a
modicum of challenge and
danger.

Thanks for vast herds of bison to
kill and skin leaving the
carcasses to rot.

Thanks for bounties on wolves
and coyotes.

Thanks for the American dream,
To vulgarize and to falsify until
the bare lies shine through.

Thanks for the KKK.

For nigger-killin’ lawmen,
feelin’ their notches.

For decent church-goin’ women,
with their mean, pinched, bitter,
evil faces.

Thanks for “Kill a Queer for
Christ” stickers.

Thanks for laboratory AIDS.

Thanks for Prohibition and the
war against drugs.

Thanks for a country where
nobody’s allowed to mind the
own business.

Thanks for a nation of finks.

Yes, thanks for all the
memories-- all right let’s see
your arms!

You always were a headache and
you always were a bore.

Thanks for the last and greatest
betrayal of the last and greatest
of human dreams.


(Marco V Morelli) #6

Ouch, Willy! Thanks for that. A nation of finks, indeed.

It stirs the heart; it stirs the heart… :poultry_leg:


(John Dockus) #7

Hey Morelli: I’m over at my parents’ place. Around 2 pm I’m sittin’ in the family room and chattin’ with my Mom. My Dad was in the kitchen preparing the gravy for the turkey and stepped out, and said, “Hey John, catch!” And he tossed me this thing I first thought was an odd rubber ball or nut of some kind, and it turns out it was the turkey’s heart. I felt like an Aztec warrior.


(Marco V Morelli) #8

Your father is clearly a master poet, @JDockus—more potent and to the point than I!

I tried writing something this morning with the image central—Wherefore the turkey heart, digesting in your hand?

It failed, though.

I suppose there’s nothing like being there.

Well anyway, here was the beginning of my whatever, which at first was just meant to be a sort of fun holiday missive, then became a ‘poem’ and lost its way…


Happy post-Thanksgiving-day, @everybody
AKA the ‘holy day’ of Black Friday—
when sacrificial lambs are on firesale for 33.333% off

Oil is down at $47.13 a gallon
the Dollar is rallying against the Euro & the Yen
& the water cannons are let loose again

Homo economicus exhales…
It’s a good time to remember everything we resent.
All we spent (w/ free shipping) in our exile….

Such as: God is hate —and— Trust your fear.
And— If you see something, say something.

You may register your resistance with
the picture of a cat

ETC. & so on & so forth…


We need more substantial thoughts on the election. I mean, global crisis. If the shit’s really about to hit the fan, what’s not yet being understood or seen or revealed?


(John Dockus) #9

My Dad a master poet? Ha ha! I see where you’re going with the morbid humor: he bypassed all metaphors, mimesis and representation, and went straight to the source of life, plucking it out of the body, drying it off, and tossing it to me. Call us a couple of savages. Maybe he and I will come back reincarnated as a couple of turkeys.

You’re right about the need for more substantive thought about the coming Trump presidency, Marco, what the probabilities are in the coming years, and what one might do on a personal level to resist mob impulses and giving in to the fascist within. One way or another this is going to weave its way into many discussions, whether pushed underground or brought into the open. It’s unavoidable. I agree with Brian George’s remarkable analysis here. A Seer such as he is an illuminating source in these dark times. I’m so glad for his presence in the world. I myself have been reading articles from various places, soaking up different viewpoints and analyses, behaving somewhat like a chipmunk gathering acorns. Maybe there’s a hangover period being gone through now. Many may not be ready to begin speaking head on and more substantially about the Political landscape. I personally feel on Trump overload, close to burnt out with the initial shock of his election to U.S. president. Without completely veering off topic, this is why I added a little dark and satiric humor here to decorate this comment board. I myself am still trying to absorb and process the shock of what is happening, to shake myself out of stupefaction. I think of the idea of the filibuster, where one must keep talking to obstruct entrance of something bad. Something of this is in my present attitude. It’s important to remind each other that we’re here, alive and kicking in our sloppy and mysterious humanity, non-deducible, and not give in to despair. Any offering - even dark humor - is welcome. I think really disturbing content is often more successfully approached and gained entrance to indirectly.

This is remarkable. The following prediction in 1997 by philosopher Richard Rorty is making the rounds.


(T J Williams) #10

I cannot agree more with Brian George’s excellent op-ed piece here, especially with his “deepest intuitions” which I share. Au fond, the election campaign taken as a whole indicates that business-as-usual cannot resonate with the American public if it doesn’t generate a certain level of economic security (its own can of “how sustainable is growth” worms). Beyond this, however, American political theater itself has essentially been a very expensive distraction for a very long time and I don’t see this changing anytime soon.
What to do? ‘Think globally, act locally.’ A cliché to be sure, but one no less true for its banality. A single individual can only do so much, but that should not stay one’s hand when a drop of positive energy can be added to the bucket. Researching and donating to charities is only part of what I mean here. Turn off a light not being used - for that matter even better turn off the TV! After a controlled daily dose of information, reduce the carbon footprint and get out amongst people for a reminder that demonic others are actually quite rare. Hold a door for some stranger with eye-contact and a hearty wish for a good day. Not advocating a sand-bath for the head here, because there are times which demand speaking out, but it can be so easy to forget to act in the everyday when submerged in a media-fueled climate of fear and despair.

Indeed! “Only a fool fights in a burning house.” Even Klingons get it. LOL


(John Dockus) #11

Great pleasure to meet you here, T J Williams. In relation to the charismatically narcissistic and sociopathic power now looming over us, masquerading as genuinely concerned and good for the American People (a crock of shit), I think one of the greatest dangers on a personal level is being pulled under, into muteness of despair, which through time, under the radar, if one doesn’t resist by random acts of kindness as you suggest, or by robust displays of satire directed at dehumanizing targets, or by any genuine creative activity, will slowly but surely erode one within to the point of lethargic resignation. It’s in that zombie state that one is in real danger of finally giving in and becoming an irrational worshipper and unquestioning agent of the conman who would have everyone believe he’s an incarnation of God come to lead us out of darkness and poverty to a new golden age of prosperity.

This is a time for artists to get busy. The fascist tendency wants to eradicate all difference and complexity, to boil it all down, purging what it considers “impurities”, concocting something utterly simplistic and hatefully narrow, an Army of the Dead rallying behind stupefying slogans and occult banners. Art produced to counter this and challenge it doesn’t need to be overtly political. There just needs to be a productive use of energy which pushes back toward our humanity, in all of its wonderful difference and complexity, and doesn’t let us forget it.

P.S. I speak of actual concrete individualism, not to the blending-to-mud ideology of multiculturalism. There is something to be said for all the criticism floating around presently of liberal elitism. There are many traps in identity politics, actually feeding right into the fascist tendency. This could be an entire discussion.


(Marco V Morelli) #12

Our “information diet” (“us,” generally speaking—but of course the “us” is generally problematic)—seems to be a big part of the problem. I know it is for me; something I struggle with and against. I don’t know who or what to trust: what’s “nutritious” and what’s poison. I’ve come to feel that entire dimensions of the noosphere are toxic, laced with deliriants, tranquilizers, nerve gas. Social media is some kind of date rape drug. We wander around dazed in the nuclear blast zone, nibbling hungrily on irradiated rations. It’s all search engine optimized.

This is a deliberate effect, I’m coming to believe. At the very least, it’s a useful one. It’s not a matter of ‘fake news’ vs ‘real news.’ (It’s funny how occult a word for ‘the plural new’ might be.) It’s utter disorientation regarding fundamental ontological distinctions. A state of stupefaction. Psy-ops reality. The invasion is already well-underway.

What antidotes do we have? What good, healthy victuals might embolden us to create the future again? Or, is it the case, as it’s been said: the poison is the gift? To this, I would only reply, dosage is everything.

At the same time, no one said ‘waking up’ wouldn’t hurt.

@JDockus and @patanswer, I think you’re right to point to art and the primacy of immediate experience (i.e., everyday human reality, in the analog mode) as good medicine. At some point, we just have to snap out it. Get back to ourselves. Get out!

“Only a fool fights in a burning house.”

But then, in my view, we need to regroup—realize what’s hit us, study the situation with due sobriety, and take appropriate action.

This is a time for artists to get busy. […] There just needs to be a productive use of energy which pushes back toward our humanity […] I speak of actual concrete individualism…

Indeed, this could be an entire discussion. ‘Who am I?’ is still a darn good inquiry. Regarding the politics, I would say it’s not identities that are ever threatened, or that need to be protected, or that need promotion. It’s actual people, both individuals and groups of people, their cultural knowledge and social practices, art and ritual, the wholeness and integrity of the human. For example, at Standing Rock, it’s not ‘identities’ that are opposing the pipeline: the battle lines go so much deeper…to the very nature of our relations.

Oddly enough, ‘actual concrete individualism’ may require a new tribalism of anti-identityism, lest we allow ourselves to be atomized into a thousand narrow conceptual categories.

Marketers are very interested in our identity. Political operatives want to know our every belief and predilection. The state is especially interested in questions of identification. (We are likely already, most of us, ridiculously detailed in various centralized databases, involving highly accurate facial recognition, etc.) This is all said and done; well and good. It just tells me we need new ways of encoding our communications and constituting culture.

Me here at my computer on a Sunday morning, before dawn, spitting into the hurricane.


(Brad Sayers) #13

Regarding left and right, there was an article in the Economist before the election with this graphic (markup mine).

The binary for me that I’ve been focussing on over the past couple years has been:

0 - closed to protect
1 - open to learn

From a quick google search this idea might have originated with the Course in Miracles. Whatever its source, I think it covers a lot of ground and I use it often when faced with daily challenges.


About Cosmos (rough draft)
(Philippa Rees) #14

Following on from Brian’s suggestion that something deeper than facile reasons or explicable tendencies, reactions or resentments are adequate to explain this extraordinary collapse of rationality, I do share his view of the deeper tide that takes all with it.

I sense some contributing elements:

The polarization post sixties between the love-in, new agey, know where it’s at society that has imposed a laissez faire morality, laissez faire acceptance of injustices that ignored real injury and the death of hope, and sought to suggest that everything could be cured by right thought. Increasingly right thought wore boots, and the gait of the stormtrooper.

That tramp is now incessant, it governs every aspect of acceptable conduct and acceptable opinion. One can hardly risk recognition that Muslims were responsible for the whole scale grooming of under-age rape victims in Rotherham, England; even the police turned a blind eye to the need to publicize this, because once accused of insttutionalised racism.

If Trump expressed anything it was his contempt for this, and that echoed long and loud in his followers. The hypocrisy of political correctness has become an incessant itch. He scratched it, and satisfied. The fact that whole arenas, women, Latinos, who should have been outraged, cheered, must indicate that a deeper need had been fed- to escape the pretense that had stifled for so long.

There is something of pantomime dame about Trump, anyone attending a pantomime is expected to hiss and boo, it is part of the performance. Whether he understands that is hard to decipher. But there is a kind of catharsis in drawing out the hissing painlessly.

In this week’s Spectator there is an article by Rod Liddle in response to the overweaning appeal that Britain must do more to make its prisons better. Instead he suggests they should be made much worse. The 85%? recidivism would be cut instantly if the relatively luxury recently exposed ( steak and chips on order by mobile and drugs delivered by drone) were replaced by hard labour and tedium. He quotes Carlyle’s descriptions of the worst inmates of a reformed prison, as being beyond reclaim " Miserable distorted blockheads, the generality: ape faces, imp faces, angry dog faces, heavy sullen ox faces, degraded underfoot perverse creatures, sons of indocility, greedy mutinous darkness and in one word, of stupidity, which is the general mother of such. Stupidity intellectual, and stupidity moral…had borne this progeny’

This now seems shocking for we have been innoculated against such uncompromising clarity. We run from admitting that we rejoice that someone can still express such views. Whether we admit to sharing them is not the point, but another humane prison doctor Theodore Dalrymple said much the same kind of thing after a lifetime saving the lives or treating those who simply exploited every kindness offered.

The Spectator is probably the most liberal right wing journal, allowing as it always does totally conflicting opinions about everything.

Another inclusion is an article by Melanie Philips suggesting that left wingers demonise Donald Trump despite sharing his views on almost everything from anti globalisation, protectionism, outsourcing jobs, re-nationalisation, isolationism, anti-Nato. and pro Putin. Perhaps the dark and the self styled light ( a la Corbyn and extreme left wing neo- sovietism) can no longer distinguish themselves from one another? THAT is a frightening truth. Could it mark the beginning of recognising that fascism wears only one face: Thought control? Language control? Words? The tramp of the storm trooper sounds the same whoever is wearing those boots.

I should have added that surely the purpose of communication is to tailor language to be appropriate to the listener. No good threatening Jihadis with death when martyrdom is the ultimate goal, or with publicity when the afflatus of publicity is their raison d’etre! No baby rapist (posting a video of the act) will be persuaded to steady employment and education. What I was inching towards was perhaps the use of intelligence rather than ‘ought’ thinking masquerading as morality!


(Philippa Rees) #15

A most appropriate myth, visualised with huge humour and accuracy John. How DO you file such apposite offerings? I recall but never find!.


(Marco V Morelli) #16

Open to learn; closed to protect.

I like this a lot. It’s simple tao. Middle way. Not too hard, not too soft; just right.

Also, it’s life-based, reality-based. Common sense. With this one thought, it seems to me, you could heal the so-called political divide.

In the meantime, however, it appears we have the opposite principle in ascendency, something more like, ‘open to exploit / closed to forget.’

Can this change? IMO, as we said re: Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s about hearts and minds.

But I also think “open to learn; closed to protect” points to a general design principle. It’s something a healthy organism (including a social organism), which is interdependent with other organisms, and is constantly interacting with its environment, must do—failing which it will cease to exist.

Perhaps ‘open to learn; closed to protect’ could be a social meditation of sorts. A heuristic koan, sublingual, suggesting common ground for how boundary-level decisions are arrived at.


(Uel Aramchek) #17

One curious thing about the psychology of Trump is that it is known that Norman Vincent Peale was a major influence on him- the Trump family regularly attended his church services during his upbringing. I’ve wondered if this is why, whenever he was criticized about something on the campaign trail, we would see him doubling down instead of backing down. Even when people would joke about something like the small size of his hands, he would fire back about how his hands were actually quite large, steady, etc. I’ve wondered if, beyond his typically-cited masculine insecurity, he was also applying positive thinking to a toxic degree, twisting any and all criticism into personal affirmation. His lies, embellishments, and braggings have the hallmarks of someone trying to command reality to obey them.


(John Dockus) #18

Good to see more voices. Pleased to meet you, Brad Sayers. I was gonna reply to your comment for more explanation of what you mean, then Marco breathed life into it. He did a helluva job. Pleased to meet you too, Uel. I think what you write is true. Trump’s is “positive thinking” on steroids. If he were a professional athlete, he’d fail a test for doping. You know something shadowy is going on. He has his legal team working every angle and loophole to keep him in the game, even though he cheats and plays dirty, anything to have an edge on anyone who challenges him. Anything to win. That’s what appears to be most important to him. He gets up on stage in his posing strap, flexing, every muscle of his machismo rippling.

Joseph Goebbels: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”


Marco, I’m deeply impressed by the consideration, human feeling and good sense of all your responses. I find your words nourishing. I wonder how or if you’ll be able to keep it up. I know you’re first and foremost, in your creative desire, a poet. It’s very important for you to set aside some time for working on your own poetry. I can see you devoting so much of yourself to trying to make this community creative project gain traction and finally take on a life of its own. At any rate, please keep spitting into the hurricane! I’ll certainly join you. Wearing baggy flag-pants or superhero capes which are flags, we can each catch hold of a flagpole, hanging on for dear life in the hurricane winds, and while our legs flop around horizontally, our shoes flying off while straining to hold on, race each other to the top!

P.S. These words of yours really jump out at me - so well put and extremely relevant: "Regarding the politics, I would say it’s not identities that are ever threatened, or that need to be protected, or that need promotion. It’s actual people, both individuals and groups of people, their cultural knowledge and social practices, art and ritual, the wholeness and integrity of the human. For example, at Standing Rock, it’s not ‘identities’ that are opposing the pipeline: the battle lines go so much deeper…to the very nature of our relations.” My own attention is riveted by what’s going on at Standing Rock. I was going to mention it before you did. What’s happening there, that David versus Goliath showdown, is a glimpse of what’s in store in the coming years with Trump at the helm.


(Brad Sayers) #19

Nice to meet you John and I agree, Marco’s contributions are key to this community project.

I completely track with what Marco pointed out regarding the binary being a general design principle that applies to our boundaried experience.

The open / closed dynamic is happening all the time - the mix / ratio has been different at various stages of development. In 2016, with our present level of technology putting us into a planetary level of experience, it becomes harder than ever to know when to be open and when to be closed. There are 7 billion people living in a ‘single information space’. This is one key reality most of us contend with on a daily basis. Anthony Giddens from LSE coined that phrase probably 20 years ago when almost every academic saw only the good side of globalization.

The entire globalization project is now being freshly criticized for all the right reasons and mostly because of its lopsidedness. For example, from a recent article:

As French political philosopher Pierre Manent explains in an important interview translated in First Things, European elite culture is committed to a view of the world that abstracts from particular attachments — national attachments, ethnic attachments, religious attachments — and treats individuals as perfectly equal and interchangeable exemplars of capital-H Humanity. A Catholic Frenchman is just a human being. A secular German is just a human being. A devout Muslim refugee from the Syrian civil war is just a human being. Place of origin is politically irrelevant. So is religious affiliation. And age. And gender. The only form of belonging that matters is to the placeless human species.

Because of modern technology, we must all navigate many local and global realities all the time. Knowing the appropriateness of when to open and when to close requires real eyes to see and ears to hear, which is always a challenge! A good principle to always have in mind is the fact that we are all connected and share the same planet, then work backwards from that truth as we collectively try to make the boundary level decisions. It’s very messy and difficult, and that’s exactly what politics is - this search for authoritative values. An open / free speech mechanism and mindset is absolutely essential here.


(john davis) #20

I have a bit of trouble with the open to learn, close to protect. If you are in a simple, stable system, with clear operational closure, that might be an adequate principle to follow. It seems to presuppose a clear subject /object arrangement. Seems too simple, however, if you are in complex, unstable system, to regulate anything that way.

We can experience openness for a variety of reasons and we can be closed for a variety of reasons. Without constraints of traffic signals I would not be able to travel safely. Without rules of grammar I could not form a communicable sentence. If we keep all our options open we will miss opportunities to learn anything at all. If the singer want to sing the song as it was written the singer’s artistry may develop, if the singer sings behind the music, not in front of it. Or she improvise, you may not know if it is any good unless you pay attention to the field.

… If we step on the brake and push the gas pedal to the floor we will burn out the vehicle real fast so I believe we need to figure out how to accelerate and slow down at the same time as we watch the rear view mirror and have a sense of what other drivers are up to. Then we stop the car, when we have reached our destination, and lock the door. We are engaged in hugely complex behaviors that have less to do with on/off and more to do with thresholds. When we cross certain thresholds we are no longer certain of boundaries at all, and this can be ecstatic and terrifying at the same time.

If you are protecting those you love you appreciate that you may need to let them go for their on going development. Love is not just a feel good feeling but a skill. Seems life is a lot like that. Politics, as life itself, pivots around gesture, affect, tone, momentum and we need to add intensity when we sense we are moving towards a threshold. We are starting to wobble before the big crash and burn. But the phoenix wont rise from the ashes if we try to stop the dynamic while it is happening. We need motifs from the old setup in order to endure the pressure as we morph into the new cosmology. Chaos if we embrace it will re-arrange us. We can look back when it is over and be grateful. Not too loose, not too tight, just the way you hold a little bird.