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S C R A T C H E R S




A “scratcher” is someone who scratches paper with ink, laying down words that evoke echoes of thoughts and feelings.
A writer fills-in the spaces of what he knows and what he would discover, those spaces where the light catches hold and where the words collide with truth. And he does it because he has to, because he has no choice, and because he doesn’t know how to do anything else. A “wrighter” is a worker with words on paper who discovers himself and others in his process of creation.

Writing is, first, therapeutic by occupying the writer’s mind with thoughts and feelings that he is in-charge of and that he can control, unlike most things in his life. He orders and makes sense out of otherwise fragmentary and fleeting ideas: he captures them and holds them in place until he understands them and they, him because words have a life of their own beyond the power with which the writer endows them.
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“Words alone are certain good,” and they exist in their own right with echoing energies that the writer is not fully aware of at the time he uses them. His balancing act
is to not let the words use him, not to be outwitted and led astray by the strings of words that are the symbols of the things they represent. A word is not the same as the “inside of its thing”: a “man kissing a woman” is not the same as a man’s actually engaged in the act of kissing a woman. One is reality; the other is a short-hand re-
presentation of that reality.

Sometimes, however, the re-creation of a reality in words can be more effective than the flesh-and-blood reality itself. A broken love-affair that one flees from faster and farther than “the speed of sound” reverberates with the desperation and the heartbeats of pain. Words radiate colors that are adjustable by the writer on the white canvas of his mind. The medium has its own motives and movements.
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Pure creative writing, the spinning of whole cloth from the thin air of the writer’s imagi-
nation is god-like for it “gives to airy nothing a local habitation and a name,” a mid-summer’s night dream come alive with mischievous spirits in enchanted forests.
The writer stands on the outside looking in and, then, steps into his fairytale kingdom, filling its sparkling branches with confused lovers chasing each other, fantastic animals with the heads of donkeys and the bodies of men, kings, queens, dukes, and bumbling country bumpkins. And you, the writer, is leading this fantastic parade through the magic glens of your visions. What absolute
fun and utter joy!

Now, to publish or not to publish or not being able to publish. Rather “publish” to your friends who know, like and understand
you. Show your writings to, at least, one other person to verify that you have, in fact, written and to keep you in reality. Otherwise, you could become a writer in
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your own mind. Ask for responses, the more detailed and specific, the better. Choose someone you trust, admire and re-spect for his critical acumen and show him everything that he is willing to read. Hide nothing, expose yourself, express your self’s most secret thoughts and deepest feelings. Only in this way will you get it out, all those things that you have inside of you and may not even realize. Writing is digging down to the bone, to inside the bone where the essence flows in the marrow of your soul. For only that part of you is worth writing about, worth the effort, the travail, and the anguish. Pain is the ink of creation, and it will hurt you as you let it flow. But that is the only way to exorcize your ghosts and your demons and, thus, help others, writing’s higher purpose: to aid others in living their lives by reading about yours. Otherwise, your best work is turned inwards upon your narcissistic self and wasted on you alone. In this ultimate sense, love is the energy that moves your pen across the pages of your mind.
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Will your writing make you immortal? Prob-ably not unless you are obsessive about it and are willing to compromise your integrity to capture the fickle tastes of the times. What is “popular” is fleeting and what is current, faddish, and saleable, not necessar-
ily worthy of print and distribution. In this situation, publishing becomes a dilemma that validates you as a writer that has earned recognition and exposure; at the same time and on the other hand, choosing
NOT to publish whether out of genuine frustration, insecurity and fear of failure conflicts with public acknowledgement and, most probably, with your having to compro-
mise your instincts for “fame and fortune,” no matter how trivial and transient they are.
One writes because one has to, has no choice, and must write to live fully or to hide one’s light and expire in the dark of silence. It is far easier not to write, not to cut into your brain and extract the electric flesh of your connections with reality. Writers have gone mad and died chasing
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their chimeras across pages of print, and they have been made sane again by re-
aligning the pieces of their broken puzzles into clear outlines and fleshed-out pictures of lasting beauty.


What wonders have writers wrought across the wonders of the world and what knowledge, joys and pains have we wit-
nessed in their words. Art raises brutish reality to sublime heights where meaning can be seen and where feeling can be burned out of agony and aptheosized into eternity. All humans since the dawn of time have felt the movements of time in their heart’s core, and all have left messages scratched on cave walls of what they have seen and heard and imagined as their record of having really been here, alive for the blink of the cosmic eye.

“In the beginning was the word...”

And it still is.



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AMERICA: MORALLY BANKRUPT




America is not only undergoing a Great Recession, but it is also losing any values that it has left.

Following WWII, there was an upsurge in our economy and its attendant opportuni-
ties for all who wanted them. You could go to college, buy a house, a car, and raise a family in relative security. Our nation pro-
duced things and our personal progress proceded in equitable steps. There was still racism, bigotry, and prejudice all during the booming ‘50’s; but in the ‘60’s our national conscience was awakened by the activists of the Civil Rights Movement. And by the end of the ‘60’s, significant gains had been made in voting rights, school desegregation
and affirmative action. It was possible to make an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work.



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Our country turned inwards in the ‘70’s through a new focus on the “me’ generation and with our withdrawal from a corrupt war in Vietnam. During the ‘80’s, the advance-
guard of the armies of greed appeared with a series of savings-and-loan scandals.
Presidents of banks were caught red-handed with their sticky fingers in the till. A few banks went under (Lincoln S & L) and some bankers even went to jail (Charles Keating). The government, then, started down its long and slippery slope to bailing out those bank customers who had been swindled. Following the S & L debacle, large corporations began to get into the act with newer, bigger and better schemes, namely Enron and Worldcom. Despite these aberrational blips on our radar, the country was doing well: people had good jobs and our government even ran a signi-
ficant surplus. Then, the sale began.



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George W. Bush stole the election and proved unequal to the theft. We were attacked on our own soil for the first time since Pearl Harbor some 60 years earlier and with a traumatic violence surpassing that sneak attack. Our confidence and swagger were knocked out from under us
and crumbled with the Twin Towers. We realized that we were not invincible, and we went into a survival mode. Only this new kind of survival was for the very fittest at the expense of all the others.

The survivors of that national tragedy reali-
zed that it was every bank and brokerage for itself. And so began the rape of the indi-
vidual investor by the institutions that held the purse-strings. Now, anyone could qua-
lify for a house loan without any real assets whatsoever, like a steady job, some savings, and a feasible plan to pay off one of the new-fangled “sub-prime” loans, that is, far, far below anyprime interest rates, as in no money down and starting at 0%, then,
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rising meteorically to the point of mass de-
faults. The houses sold hot off the fixed shelves, and the money gushed in torrents that were tempting enough to be packaged and sold in new and esoteric financial
“instruments” known as “derivatives,” which few money-managers much less the decieved borrowers understood or really wanted to understand. Boom times were here again, and everyone wanted more.
The largest Wall Street firms were on the rolls of their life where money begat money with no tangible collateral behind it.

Then, the time of reckoning came and leg-
endary firms like Bank of America, Goldman
Sachs, and AIG, along with mortgage giants
Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, were about to go belly-up, draggin down the whole global infrastructure with it in a collapsing house-of-cards effect. Stark panic erupted for one do-or-die weekend in September of 2008, and our government had “no choice” but to subsidize those institutions that were
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“too big to fail, along with the driving engines of our American way of life, the car companies--GM, Ford, and Chrysler. American manufacturing and family mobility rode on the wheels of these auto giants and, so too, they were bailed out for a grand total of $756 billion in TARP funds for “very troubled assets.” Then, the economy nose-dived into a great recession, narrowly avoiding another great depression.

Then, the tide turned and during 2009, cor-
porations and banks rebounded to even greater earnings--using the bail-out funds that the taxpayers had provided--and their mindset also changed: no new loans, only obscene bonuses to managers, just hoarding of new-found capital instead of pumping it into the mainstream and, thus, helping the country out of the mess that they had caused. Truly reprehensible be-
havior. Meanwhile, businesses down-sized their workforces, and the economy went into a tailspin with the workers’ holding on
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and still holding on for dear life. Mass greed and insecurity galvanized the loan industry into inertia and making a bad econ-
omy even worse. Consequently, unem-
ployment hit upwards of 10% with no relief
in sight. Finally, the President and Congress passed stricter regulations that, hopefully, will reign in such irresponsible and destructive risk-taking. Meanwhile, credit card companies charged near 30% on their usurious exploitation.

Now, the government is caught between those who would further stimulate the economy with more capital infusion and the disloyal opposition (the just-say-no Repub-
licans) who, now, are maintaining fiscal re-
sponsibility and deficit reduction. When your car is stalling up a steep hill is not the time to ease up on the gas pedal but to step on it even further. Disgracefully, Republi-
cans almost blocked extending unemploy-
ment benefits in the name of deficit reduction, otherwise known as perverse
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obstructionism. Meanwhile, our security-
minded Democrats push on with two wars that have no tenable victory in sight, further wasting our treasure and our young people’s blood.

America is now split in two, more so than it has ever been before: on one side, the organized crime of finance and, on the other, the ineffectual stimulators of the economy. Also, this unethical philosophy of greed and virtual gain has gone global in
a world-wide monopoly game that is rigged on the backs of the workers. And these elite corps of entrepreneurs will not admit any ordinary workers into their exclusive clubs where the scam is to get all you can anyway you can.

Our social order wreaks of medieval master and serf where the serfs did all the work and the masters reaped all the rewards, and the underlings could never get ahead. Only, now the enclosed lands and the tools
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of production have metamorphosed into
algorithmically programmed trading models
that can manipulate and exploit a stock be-
fore it even hits the board. High-tech thieves are creating wealth for themselves while the common people starve in the streets. Revolution anyone?

America has lost its way more so than any time in its history to the point where there is no longer any general welfare but only mass deprivation. Fear and insecurity have
replaced confidence and fairness; now, a cloying and metastasizing greed has infect-
ed our needs and distorted our wants. Too
many among us are misdirected by exces-
sive and exaggerated wants rather than modest basic needs. Homes, cars, tv’s,
gadgets all have to be bigger, better and
more than our neighbors’ to somehow prove our superior worth in our own and others’ eyes. We have been so brain-
washed into a consumer mentality imprinted
on us by corporate advertisers that we
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have lost sight of reality. We are bombar-
ded by media images of rich, famous, and thin celebrities to the absurd belief that
“everyone’s got talent” and that “everyone can dance.” We live vicariously through
”American idols” on glitzy stages and glam-
orously plumed costumes, and we aspire to be them. And when we wake each grey morning to our dingy existences, we call-in
sick and turn our tv’s back on. We have bankrupted our former values and have turned ourselves into a nation of dissatis-
fied, disaffected, and disillusioned debtors who will sell out for a job, any kind of job, no matter how demeaning and humiliating it is.

Now is the worst of times, and we have
forgotten the best of times and sold our-
selves for less than our worth. We are
trapped on a gluttonous and frustrated tread- mill and we can’t keep up.


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In the past, we have always fought back from our depressed economies and emerged from our moral funk to regain our
balance and to achieve new heights. This present low promises to linger, and no one
knows for how long. Long enough to use
up all our reserves of mind, spirit, and sub-
stance? We cannot declare moral bank-
ruptcy and start over again with a clean
slate. We must endure and earn our way out of our current insolvent morass with some genuine leadership and strong direction. There must be limits on wealth so that the few cannot live off the many.

The meek shall NOT inherit the earth: they shall die trying.




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T I M E







Where did it all go?

Once, we were eighteen. We turned around and we were eighty. And we can remember the details in graphic clarity: from the confusion and heartbreak of finding out that that special someone didn’t feel quite the same as we did to the anxious insecurity of going away to college to that night, alone in our room, when we realized that we are all abandoned here on this spinning earth and that we were going to die without our parents there to help us. We grew up much too quickly, grasping at awareness as the years flew by.

Yet and at the time, things passed so very slowly: we wanted to be finished with school and out in the world on our own, but school was endless. What has changed now that we are finally “finished school” is that we have a new perspective, a looking back in a poignant nostalgia instead of a looking forward in an anxious expectancy.
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Our lives flash on a screen in a kaleido-
scopically dissolving slide-show, and we can’t press the back-button or slow down the carousel of vibrant images. Your life has automatically advanced, one frame at a time, and now you are nearing the end of the show and you wish that you could re-wind and start all over again from the very beginning. Knowing what we know now would make all the difference, and we could be fully aware of what was happening to us, instead of just letting it happen to us--all those missteps that make us remember so clearly now, all those imprinted memories etched in pain that made up our life then; all the joys are much more hazy because they passed more quickly and evaporated easily.

So, why do we still yearn after the pain and not lust after the joy? Because pain is more intense than joy and the fact that these feelings have passed and are now gone forever makes them all the more vivid in our consciousness. Even today in our
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shrinking present, we still register the failures and the losses more indelibly than the successes because once a success is over, the next problem rushes in to take its place. And these new and more stubborn problems that will not go away so easily stay on to occupy our active imaginings, sometimes to never fade from view just as they did when we were young.

Do we brood over our frustrating battles and take our good fortune for granted?
Absolutely. But why? Perhaps, because we expect daily pain (having gone through so much of it) more than we anticipate happiness, and when it comes our way we know that it won’t last and that the slogging parade of our new woes will keep marching
on us and they will linger longer than they are welcome.

Or do we have it backward? That is, it is the pain that makes our life meaningful because it is the pain that makes us strive,
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not the easy pleasures that take no effort
at all but only wilful indulgence and which, after awhile, become not as special anymore because they cannot top one another; whereas, pain and struggle are always new, challenging and draining--and memorable. We have an attitude problem, one of accepting and prioritizing. What if we could look forward with bemused antici-
pation to our daily battles with reality and realize that they are what fill our days and our lives with purpose? Is the good life the good fight?

Would time, then, slow down enough for us to notice as it happens and not as a sudden flashback when it is almost all over? A little --and a bit more tediously because we eschew work of any kind and seek only easy happiness. We are by nature lazy creatures, slothful and indifferent that prefer drifting over steering since it takes concen-
tration and energy to steer. We would rather just lie back and let the warm parts of
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our lives wash over us with no resistance
from us at all. We would much rather eat, sleep, emit and fornicate with the least amount of “work” on our part. That’s why most of us dread Monday mornings and “going back to work” when we would stretch out our weekends endlessly.

Unless we could redefine work as play. But, then, it wouldn’t be “work” anymore which is supposed to be hard, require effort and demand endurance. Who said so?
History and tradition: man gave up Eden and was cast out to “work by the sweat of his brow to his dying day.” But what if our social Darwinism has evolved in the wrong direction so that the right way would be to look forward to pain, anticipate it and even welcome it every morning when we wake?
Then, life would be bliss again, and we would soon tire of that. Man is easily bored and disengages from anything that does not compel him to pay attention because his gifted intellect and aspiring spirit are
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designed to meet challenges with alacrity, enthusiasm, and motivation. “Look, you
have a problem here. What are you going to do about it?” And we have no choice but to go up against it, to engage, to live, to overcome.

So, what is the “perfect life”? The imperfect
life that changes enough every day to main-
tain our need for sustained interest in our actions, whether it be with the light or the dark, the joy or the pain. Each can feed the other symbiotically to the point where there is no more pain or joy but only change, de-
lightful, renewing and fulfilling change. But as we age, we become more resistent to change versus the constant changes that we were forced to encounter on our way up. And we tire out over prolonged time in spite of our shouts for more and more time
--to do what? Wait around for happiness to finally come and save the days that we have left? We must, rather, try to keep up with time and its attendant changes; we
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cannot stop the clock and expect time to stop and wait for us to catch up. And we
must banish the word “retire” from our vocabulary and from our lives whether we work or not because “to retire” is to get un-dressed, ready for bed, and ready for death.

The cliche is true: “Time waits for no man.”
So, try to keep up by renewing your past interests and passions into your present life.
Try to live your life now as if you were eighteen all over again and you got your “second chance.” Only this time, savor all those problems and joys that you were in such a hurry to get through and that you now know so well because you have been there and you have done that. Only you forgot about it. This time (for there are no “third chances”), focus on and remember what you are doing as you relive and redirect your life up to the last minute.

Then, you can forget about it--forever.



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LOVE: TIME AND SPACE



Without trying to “reinvent the wheel,” let me start by asking “what is love--to you?”
Since everyone has his or her own special kind and definition of “love,” love is, most of the time, what you make it: that is, good or bad, fulfilling or frustrating, positive or nega-
tive. And adjusting your life and love to another person is the challenging part. So, do not expose yourself to “the other” in your life for long periods of time and in relatively small spaces?

The universal problem with love is making it last over many years (say from 10 to 20 to even longer) without disinterest, boredom and unfeeling tolerance setting in. Day-in and day-out “living together” in the same space can be and usually is deadly: every-
thing is known and so, everything becomes routine. There are fewer and fewer sponta-
neous moments of contact. Therefore, marriage is a sure-fire way to kill true love because we can no longer accept “the other” unconditionally because we know
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too much about him/her and their failings stand out more than their attractive qualities. And you have given so much that you feel as if you have nothing left to give, the essential part of all true love. In these instances, “Familiarity does breed contempt” more often than it breeds admiration and respect for “the other.”

So? Never get married, rather, live-together separately
in the same or a different space and, thus, keep your expectations high: look
forward to seeing and being with your “other” because these contacts are special
moments. And keep your meetings short and with clear and agreed-upon ending points and partings clearly in sight. You are not supposed to be around each other 24/7 and, so, your desires can be kept fresh and high. You CAN have the VERY BEST OF ALL WORLDS: shared moments of true and in-
tense love and separate time and space apart to recharge until the next meeting: cycles of anticipation and fulfillment followed by more anticipation and more
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fulfillment, always fresh and ready as you
were the first time when you were falling “in-love” and discovering each other. Maintaining the romantic state of feeling emotionally “in-love” is not an easy thing to do. But minimizing your times together, you, at least, have a chance. Constant feeding at a table, no matter how well set, kills appetite and appetite and desire is what is necessary to all unions of two people.

But what of “loneliness”? It may enter and upset the two lovers; “if we really love each other, then why can’t we be together all the time?” EXACTLY. Being together all the time breaks down each person’s identity and independence and replaces it with mindless, unthinking, and automatic role-playing to the point where you can finish one another’s sentences and anticipate one another’s thoughts and feelings. How dull, boring, and deadly! Also, how arrogantly possessive.


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Therefore, the key and the secret to successfully ongoing love-unions is to keep them on the “affair-level” of a “sometimes thing,” even and especially if this living arrangement is more real than pretend.

Space is critical to keeping attraction between lovers alive and at an intense level
by letting them have the opportunities to come together without being together all the time. No real person can withstand contin-
ual and predictable exposure to “the other”;
we need room to breathe, to think, to feel, to be ourselves first and, then, with and for our “other.”

Separate residences if you are not living to-gether or separate bedrooms, bathrooms, and living spaces if you really want to live together are mandatory and the only way that you can survive as a couple and as an individual, that is, separate, independent, and in-charge of your own life while being committed to your "other."

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Planned togetherness in basically separate lives is the only way to enjoy and to remain
“in-love” at the level you were in the beginning of your romance: exciting, enthusiastic, and alive. “Wives” and “husbands” are not people who are newly in-love every time that they meet; they are artificial roles that they play in return for financial security and for a stable home-life for children--supposedly. There are no guarantees.

Unlike the lines of the song,
“Husbands and wives CANNOT be
lovers, too.”

That’s why divorce was invented.

Being together selectively and on each other’s terms preserves true love because it guarantees individuality and true independence. Having neutral corners to retreat to after engaging with “your other” regenerates
and reinvigorates you. Too much and too
close togetherness takes the blush off the rose and renders it wilted. Let it breathe and grow.
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TWO is not one, and ONE is not two. But ONE and ONE is TWO and is the secret.

BE TOGETHER and, then, BE ALONE.
And your love will grow with no vines strangling each other. Everything needs time and space to grow--and the sunshine of lasting and intense love to feed it.

So, plan and budget your time together in your special places--and let your roses bloom. You can have your love and be alive in it too; it is a matter of awareness and choices and a little planning.



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I L L U S I O N S



Other people can usually see what our problems are at first-glance, but we cannot seem to figure them out for the life of us.
Why? Because all of us have built-up illusions around our true selves that we have come to believe and, without which, we could not function. These self-images exist on the edges of our belief-systems, that is, they could fall away at any time to leave us naked and revealed for what we are or, rather, what parts of ourselves we really are--each very flawed and imperfect.

We all have good qualities, like kindness, tolerance, and sincerity, and these positive parts of our total selves cover-up the opposite and flawed parts that we have convinced ourselves are not really there.

For instance, a person can be seen as very sincere and honest in his words but, and as he learned very young, he can use his natural ability of honest sincerity to make
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people believe him, even and especially when he is telling lies, which he is now very accomplished at. His apparent “sincerity” is merely a cover to manipulate other people; he could convince the devil himself that he was an angel of light.

The “sincere artist” cannot live without this part of his personality, which he justifies to himself as a highly developed sense of self-confidence, which is always a mind-game of self-hypnosis. If he should ever wake up, that is, doubt himself, his identity would shatter like distorted pieces of a mirror broken into a thousand shards and he would be lost and left with nothing to believe in, especially himself; he would expose himself to himself and to all those around him as a fraud.

But what is it that has changed his former genuine sincerity into a tool for deception?
If he had found a way to make other people
believe in him, then he would have a great
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power over all he came into contact with.
And so, he began to use his natural gift for honest expression of strong beliefs to convince other people of whatever it was that he was trying to sell. Salesmen use this talent to sell things; teachers and preachers use it to sell values and morals; prophets use it to sell “gods” and eternal life. We use it to sell ourselves.

What can happen, though, is that the trick can become the reality and become the real person underneath the original desire only to control: he believes his own lies to the point where they become his honest beliefs. It all depends on the values behind the pretense.
If a value is positive and creative, then the pretense becomes justified and is no longer a lie but sincere support (as in making students believe in themselves and, thus, boosting their self-confidence). If the value is negative and self-centered only, it is a lie designed to advance personal gain (as in seduction of women by men and extortion of money by con-men).

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But many people are transparently honest and true to their beliefs, that is, it is difficult if not impossible to fake kindness which only reveals itself in actions and not in words. Tolerance can be pretended but usually reveals itself in time to be intolerance.

Usually, it is some degree and some kind of insecurity that causes people to create illusions about themselves in order to succeed in a very competitve world. An “artist in his own mind” can become a case of severe self-delusion if the belief becomes central to his identity and self-belief. Prophets are always self-deluded supreme egotists because they actually believe that they are “sons of god”: Jesus Christ did but, to many people, he was just a fantastic and fanatical fraud at the right place and at the right time. And this “savior syndrome” has descended down to us today because none of these self-proclaimed prophets have ascended into the heavens that they claim to have descended from.

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A little self-delusion can be a good thing to ward off a selfish and violent world; unconscious self-delusion is a mental problem; selective and manipulative self-delusion is always reprehensible because it exploits others for your own selfish gains.

To know yourself completely and clearly and to accept all your parts--good and bad--is a necessary start on the road to happiness. Whether you travel that road suc-cessfully or not depends on your ability to see, first, yourself and, then, to accept other people for what they really are. Sometimes, we are fooled and tricked by others, and their insincere manipulations of your good- will can hurt and/or destroy you.





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“Know thyself” and “Watch out for others” are twin maxims to live by. Innocent and naive people are the ones who usually get hurt the most, and their pain can turn them into manipulative cynics as exagerrated efforts at self-defense. Wise and wary people can usually survive relatively unscathed, but they also miss out on opportunities for deep and trusting feelings.

Illusions can harm and realities are harsh. So, soften the sharp edges of reality with practical functioning illusions but know the difference between the reality and the illusion.

It is too easy to become confused and to get lost in your beliefs of who you really are and whom you would like to be. Sometimes, however, illusions can creatively transform you into something more than what you thought you were: these self-illusions are called self-confidence--and those are always good.




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D E E P T H O U G H T S

Concentration is an endangered intensity.
It is being threatened by “skimming” and
“scanning” in the versatile process known as “multi-tasking” in which we move parts of our minds from one “bit” to another “byte” of
information and more pieces of information, and we absorb none of them. We “text” in abbreviated fragments of whole words as quickly and as compactly as possible (“tweets” are limited to 147 “characters” and are comprised, so far, of the drivel of extraneous and entirely irrelevant observations on the most mundane things, such as “I woke up with an erection this morning and, now, I have to go to work.”) Then, we fly them off at hyper-speed into cyberspace where they re-group and, eventually, rearrange themselves into cryptic messages for linguistically dysfunctional receivers of the dysfunctional words. We never re-read what we have “texted” (I think that proof-reading and editing is “forbidden” here) since what we have “texted,” not written because our words are not arranged into complete
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sentence-groups with correct punctuation, is "our best."

We receive hundreds of emails a day, and we “delete” most of them and scan the rest, not pausing long enough to absorb the meanings behind the messages. We have many and multiple conversations over our very “smart” cell-phones, all completed with the alacrity of fractured gossip trivia. Every “encounter” with others over more and more electronic devices that are becoming smaller and smaller and more complex in a more complex world are all designed to be fast, brief, and compact. We have been re-programmed to react without thinking, to purchase and to consume without any deliberate choice; and we are losing our capacities for sustained and developed thought on singular and rich subjects.

But why is it necessary to think deeply at all? It seems that we could all save ourselves a lot of trouble worrying/thinking about things we cannot change, like death and war, for instance.
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And don’t we, on occasions, brood about depressing and inevitable situations that
“deep thinking” only makes worse?

If we lived in a simpler society, then super-
ficial thought might be enough to get by on.
But we don’t, we never have and we never will. If we still read, not scan, we cannot plumb the depths--the connotations,
references, and implications--of a complex writer. We have truncated our attention spans into brief intervals of literal meanings;
we cannot go beyond the words to the meanings between, among, and behind them anymore. Our children are being taught in elementary school to only “decode” words (that is, pronounce and spell them on the simplest level), not to comprehend/understand them in their entirety.

And in math, the other extreme is taught: to understand the processes of the functions in arriving at an answer. This dichotomy
-3-


doesn’t make sense, especially since math-symbols are more easily manipulated than
more involved multiple word-symbols; why extend thought in math and curtail thought in language? Did the “new math” and the lock-step systems for learning languages get it backward? Math is based on mechanical operations of numbers and pluses and minuses of values; language is based on selection and use (diction) and arrangements (sentence structure) of words
with each part having nuanced levels of meaning in a single sentence that, then, builds on strings of ensuing sentences where there is nothing “mechanical” about them. Reading demands extended “deep
thought”; basic calculation requires mainly mechanical movements until math becomes a language in itself, a means of thinking in abstract terms; then, math approaches philosophy in explaining and predicting.

We, thus, live in two different worlds: the shallow and superficial world and the
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thoughtful and pensive world. We also tend to speak on the first level for brevity’s
sake and write on the second level for de-
velopment’s sake. And we listen--rather, do NOT listen and hear on either level; we are caught-up in the trivial egos of what
“concerns us only” and, therefore, miss most of the valuable and usable substance behind the sounds of "others." We do not think about the “spoken word,” only about our reflections in those words, the irrelevance of our insulated selves versus the outer and objective relevance of the words to our thoughts ABOUT ourselves.

A robot can be “taught”/programmed to re-
cognize voice patterns and to respond in kind, but not to be “artificially intelligent”--yet. That remains a domain of humans, and we are losing that ability with every new “high-tech” device that comes along in the technological wave that is drowning us, es-
pecially our young people who value fancy gadgets over crafted thought and worked
-5-


words. Thought and thinking may, in the near future if it already hasn’t, become the
province of the elite who have been truly educated and who understand and respect ideas and the words that contain them. The rest of the population, the “unwashed masses,” will continue “texting” and “tweeting” and will indulge in approximate “thinking,” reflexively believing that they are using their minds and not their thumbs. “Carpal tunnel syndrome” injures more than bone-joints; it calcifies brain cells into fossilized vestigial organs which will, eventually, evolve out of human form due to disuse Then, we will have meta-
morphosed into robots, ignorant and blissfully “happy” in our artificial unawareness and absence of any real thought altogether.

The “dark world” and not the “brave new world” will have descended upon the human race who will be stalled at the starting gates with their feet and minds shackled in all the
-6-


gadgets that have captured them in their
misguided rush into the future. The machine will have replaced the brain--badly. And
“deep thought” will have petrified into super-
ficial flashing lights on a screen. Everyone will “tweet,” no one will understand anything, and nobody will notice the differ-
ence.



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E S S A Y S


An “essay” is an attempt to try to persuade
someone of something, usually a particular point-of-view. It comes from the French,
“j’essai,” meaning “I try” or “pour essayer,” meaning “to try.” In the preceding 24 essays here, I tried to convince you of my
various points-of-view about 24 different
issues--from technology’s negative progress to education’s ineffectiveness to our illusions about life and death. In each essay, I started with opening lines designed to challenge my reader into some provoca-
tive thought without alienating him immediately. And since my views usually go against society’s views and some of its sacred cows, I assume that I did isolate some readers by page two.

The best thing about writing a series of essays is the discovery of new and insight-
ful phrases that come up along the way without any planning. Words coalesce into ideas and new juxtapositions of words
evolve from those ideas. It is these
-2-


combinations of words that pique the reader’s attention and echo in his memory
after the essay is over. A strong opening
sentence and a strong closing paragraph
frame these essays.

There are certain devices, tricks to creating
remembered phrases, and they have to do with both sound and sense, but mostly sound. One such technique is parallel or repeated sentence structure in the repetition
of words. Another is sound effects in either rhyme or alliteration, words that will catch the reader’s ear. When you can write a brief and effective phrase that encapsulates a developed and complex idea into two or three-word groups, then you have the best of insightful summary phrases--like at the end of the “Absurd” essay, the idea of de-
feating the meaninglessness of life, its “ab-
surdity,” concludes in the three words of
“Now is forever,” a dense phrase that makes the reader, hopefully, think before accepting or rejecting the claim.
-3-


Titles are important too as they can imply the subject without stating it outright, thus attracting and teasing the reader’s attention
before he even begins, as in “My Cup Runneth Over” which turns out to be about the World Cup and South African poverty.

Paragraphing is also essential to clarity of organization and presentation of sub-points.
Knowing when and where to end a section without dragging it on too long so that it loses the reader’s interest is key to moving the reader along with you to the end. You are propelling him along the lines of your words and thoughts as if you were manipu-
lating him, which is what you are doing.

Endings are equally a matter of knowing when to end your essay and on what memorable exit-line. The temptation here is
to keep raising your rhetoric higher and higher, thus taking your reader along with you until you reach that ultimate and quinti-
esential sentence where your reader and
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you can say, together, “Stop, enough, go any further and you will lose me in an anti-
climactic thought.” Beethoven did not have
“trouble finding his endings”; he just didn’t want to. No writer, artist, creator wants to
stop flying with the gods of his own ego.

Next, perfect spelling, grammar, and punc-
tuation are mandatory for your reader to take you seriously, and this requirement is recognized by all serious writers and assu-
med by all serious readers. Therefore, ex-
haustive proof-reading by you and, at least,
one other set of eyes is necessary to achieve an error-free essay every time.

Finally, is editing-out by cutting all unnecessary and repetetive words, phrases, and even sentences. Writers tend to use more words than are necessary in trying to get in the most points and effects. In the finished product, though, it is only compactness and terseness that count for and penetrate the reader’s consciousness.
-5-


Final drafts should bear little resemblance to pre-drafts since, after having finished a piece of writing, we should have more dis-
tance between us and our just composed words, still hot on the page.

However, editors with too much distance and strong opinions and tastes about styles of writing can butcher a writer’s style and content by translating them into his own idiom and by cutting them to the bone until there is nothing left of the original. Objec-
tivity works only when it is connected to the writer’s subjective purposes. And changing and omitting a writer’s words and punctuation changes the writing and the meaning of the writing.

Words are the same as paint for the artist, as sounds for the composer, and movement for the choreographer. And pain is the ink of creation, the colors of art, and the tones of music. The more intensity that an artist can infuse into his medium, the more
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effective and closer to the truth he will be. That is why “emotion recollected in tranquility” gives birth to true art, and all birth is painful by definition. And so, feeling comes first and, then, is transmitted into words, paints, or sounds by the control and power of the creator.

No wonder our gods are so busy with creation; it is a god-like occupation, and humans have the gaul to attempt it. But why not? To fly, once, with the gods and,
then, to die is a “consumation devoutly to be wished.” Even better, to repeat these flights of fancy again and again in our earth-bound and insignifcant lives is to live in and through a higher reality, the interpretation of
gross reality into near-perfect art.

Poets and painters have pulled back the veil obscuring our daily lives with mundane preoccupations to see and to reveal to others what they see: beauty, truth, and the meaning of all things great and small.




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H A P P I N E S S



An illusion of the mind, an emotion, a wish, a physical expression, “happiness” is impos-
sible to define because it is different for everyone, and it doesn’t last. But some points can be made about “happiness” that hold true for everybody.

First, there are two types of happiness: temporary and ongoing in intervals, that is, coming and going in momentary feelings of euphoric highs versus lasting feelings of realized longings. Desires for food, drink, sleep, and sex can be satisfied every time, as can wants for material possessions, like cars, houses, clothes, toys and gadgets which last less long than recurring human desires because they are just material things; and once you possess them, they are on their way out of our lives.

Lasting feelings of realized longings are pledges and expressions of “true love” be-
tween two aware people who know each other, care and respect each other. They
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are in continuous longing for the other: to be with him/her, to touch and be touched by him/her, to share his/her joys and sorrows, to support his/her failures and successes.
Lasting relationships among friends, lovers, and relatives are based on trust, loyalty, sacrifice and, above all, giving in as many unselfish ways as possible. But let us focus on romantic and physical love of two people “in-love.”

Any two people can “fall in-love”: young/ old, straight/gay, religious or atheists, for-
eign or native, educated or not--and in any combination. Love truly is “blind,” and we
“fall” because we are not aware of anything else around us except pursuing and winning the “loved-one.” And love can, indeed, “conquer all” obstacles of time and place, culture and family, education and money.
All that is necessary for love to flourish is
the irrational need for the other person and the undeniable attraction between the two.
It is not “being made for each other” as it is
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making each other over under the illusory glow of love that really does “come and go.”

Marriage is the most impossible kind of re-
lationship because, and as the word implies, you are “joined” to the other in legal and spiritual ways (if you are a believer), that is, you have made a “commitment for life.” And that is why divorce was invented, that is and as this word implies, the “cutting” of the bonds that supposedly tie the two to-
gether. Marriage also comes and goes in popularity in different societies so that when a society finally realizes that this contract promises unrealistic expectations
(love for life “until death do us part’), changes in relationships occur beween two adult and aware persons. For women, marriage promises the most unrealistic ex-
pectation of lifetime security, which most women have bought into for too long and that some still do in spite of their knowledge of and experience to the contrary. It is wish
fulfillment of the highest order--fantasy.
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Today and for the better part of the last 50 years since the liberation of women in the 1960’s, half of all marriages end in divorce.
Why? Because they were entered into too hastily and with not enough knowledge of what the other one was really like until it was too late. Or because they were entered into with too unrealistic expectations and with promises that were never kept. Then, followed the trial separations, the doomed attempts at reconciliation, and all the attendant horrors that go along with the break-up of a serious relationship.

And so, living together without getting mar-
ried came into style, and those unions worked better because they were voluntary and not required; each partner could hand-in his keys and take his books and be gone without lawyers or legal expenses. But for many women, not men, such a tentative arrangement did not provide enough security; they wanted a guarantee, an iron
-5-


clad contract that could not be broken.
In short, the woman wanted to own the man forever so that when she stopped try-
ing to please him, he could not just leave.
But he just did, so there was never any “guarantee” except what scorned love could get in its desire for revenge. And for many men, that spite was worth the price of freedom and another chance--at happiness.

What is the difference, therefore, between those relationships that succeeded and those that failed? Tradition, heredity and enviornment, and upbringing; strong and weak senses of self-confidence; stubborn personalities or wills to compromise and meet the other person half-way; disapprov-
ing relatives and friends; children and money, all of which can be “conquered by true love.” But most love is not “true” in the sense that it wants something back in return for itself as opposed to the absolute giving of a love with no expectation of anything in

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return, except true love from the other person. Such persons are hard to find and harder to keep. And those are the happy ones.

And because people and their needs change over the years, no one person can be expected to fulfill all the needs of another person all the time. Rather than divorce forever, compromise is necessary; and that is where loving two different persons at once but in different ways comes into the fading picture of the “once young lovers.” And it is women who have the most trouble with this fact of life, although some men do too, those who are insecure and totally dependent on possessing “their women.” But for most men, such a reality is not only possible but preferable; and not until women realize this fact about men will they have any chance at happiness and security “until divorce do them part.” Men can separate out the parts and kinds of love from other parts and kinds
-7-

of love: sex from romance and emotion, friendship and companionship from physical love and romantic love, interest and compatability levels from stale and stalled attraction. Men are, by nature, polygamous and can “spread their seed” easily among various women and taste of their different essences. Women have been conditioned by a consumer and materialistic society to believe that she is, by her nature, monogamous, that is, capable of being with one man only for a lifetime of security, which there is none. So that if and when the man loses interest in his mate, she can either accept the reality of “another woman” or hold out and destroy what she now has in false hopes of achieving what she wants--the man she originally knew and who promised to “love, honor but not obey” her forever, just like in the fairytales.

A mature and realistic woman has to decide what is more important to her and to her future, and then act upon it or, rather, accept her mate’s acting on it. And if she
-8-


has sense at all, she will soon see that the benefits outnumber the surrender of her false pride. For instance, if physical love has exhausted itself between the couple, then she can still “take care” of her mate by letting the other woman do her work for her. Also, he is not around her all the time, driving her crazy with his moods and silences. And best of all, she must know that he will always return to her and take care of her until he has to leave again. And the other woman must also realize her part in this split-relationship and that she is satisfied with it--if she gets enough time and consideration from the man. She is not a kept mistress but a surrogate mate who
fills a need in return for the excess love that the man has to give and which she wants and needs but cannot find in any single male. It is a win-win situation for all involved, not only the man. But for some reason unknown to man, women cannot comprehend this reality and fact of relation-ships: that they cannot last on the level that
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they started out. The only other choice is to have no realtionships at all or hit-and-miss recurring ones.

“Is something better than nothing at all?” is the question that all women have to answer for themselves in the cold light of day.

In the end, it seems that “love” creates more problems than it solves and is more trouble than it is worth. But another fact of life is that “nothing is free” or perfect as one imagines it to be in one’s head. And so, too many of us--women and men alike--settle for “untrue love” til death do them part or until they kill each other with “love” and possession.

So and if you have a choice at “true love” any time in your life--in the beginning, in the middle, or at the end--take it; otherwise, buy a new car and get a pet and be very atten-
tive to both; then, you can own them and they can be very good to you and never wander. They can only breakdown or die,
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just like men and women.



>top of page>

A L L U R E

(for MARCO)



Fish find shiny, flat metal objects “alluring”;
hence, the name “lures” for these traps. Humans find many things and people and places “alluring”; and, like “fishing lures,” they can entertain and please or beguile and destroy.

Odysseus in Homer’s ODYSSEY and his men are spellbound by the “Sirens’ Song” as they pass their island. So much so that
Odysseus orders them to stop-up their ears with wax so that they will not be enticed onto the rocks by these creatures. And down through the ages, many other female
“sirens” and a few “femmes fatale” have sung their songs and have attracted, tempted, lured and seduced men to their destruction. But why are men charmed by this kind of woman? Do these “sirens” of today have to be all beautiful or can they be less than perfect? The cliche is true:
“There is no accounting for taste” and, therefore, no logically consisent explanation
-2-


for attraction. “Beauty” is not a definitive answer since it is one of the most relative words in the language. In German, the word for “attraction” is “locken” and “faszin-
ieren,” both of which have seductive over-
tones of being hypnotized by something that captures you and “locks” you up in a
“Locken” to which she holds the key.

There are many kinds of “allure” for both men and women. Some are attracted to traditional beauty of handsome men and pretty women; no one is attracted to the ugly and the misshapen. Also, some women are attracted to personality and power. Men are definitely attracted to what they see and women to what they hear or think they hear. A repellant person is a turn-off to almost all people although these are relative terms here too and many people are just naturally repellant and, so, like what they identify with.


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What, then, are the problems with being attracted to other people and their individual
qualities, both positive and negative? False and even fatal attraction can range from moderately hurtful to terminally deadly, depending on the source and potency of the lure. Some women and some men can be “drugs” to other men and women, depending on what you are attracted to or addicted by--sex, money, looks, or power.
Eventually the allure wears off, and you have to find a “new drug” (a new person) or increase the dosage with every contact, that is, more sex, more money, better looks and more power. Your search for variety, though, always ends up the same: disinter-
est, boredom, and conflict. Maybe, you are looking for the wrong qualities in a woman or in a man; perhaps, you are placing too much emphasis on outward and physical appearances of one type of woman or man
and not enough on the inner qualities of mental and emotional flexibility and unselfish ability to give more than you take.
-4-


What is necessary, then, before buying into “a product” (a new person), your particu-
lar type of allure is knowledge about the person, be it his or her behavior or goals.
If you are aware of your past mistaken choices, then maybe you can do something about them. But if you keep repeating the same mistaken choices over and over again, you are fearful of actually succeed-
ing, that is, committing, or you are just plain stupid. “To err is human; to keep erring” is indulgent stubbornness and a bit of maso-
chism. This is the kind of knowledge that is acquired only after some time and some ex-
perience with the other sex, especially with women who, as a rule, are more change- able than men are. Maybe “relationship leases” and “try-out periods” are two solu- tions to impulse buying since you cannot just “return the purchase for replacement or a refund or repair of defective parts.”



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Cars are easier to deal with; people are im-
possible to deal with, especially when one or both parties are unwilling to “deal”: “If you do this for me, I will do that for you” does not always work, especially in choices that are long-term and life-long commitments, like career choices, places to live, and having children. These are all items that must be declared openly, discussed seri-
ously, and negotiated realistically before you “seal the deal.” If relationships were treated more like business negotiations, maybe more positive results would be
forthcoming, be it in a marriage (where your chances of success are less) or in a living-
together (where your chances at success are better because it is a voluntary commit-
ment, not a legal one). False advertising, failure to perform, and conflict of interests can also be applied to relationship contracts
between people--if they are serious. Rela-
tionships need not be adversarial in nature but open to flexible compromises to allow for changing desires and needs of each
person. “Love,” however one defines it,
-6-


is not nearly enough to ensure ongoing sat-
isfaction and mutual happiness along the way. It is too ambiguous, abstract, and too
interpretive by each person to mean any -
thing: what do the questions “Are you in-
love with her/him” or “Do you love her/
him” mean?

What cannot be set-down or discussed in any pre-arrangement agreement “to relate and to listen and to cooperate” with the other are instances of chance and accident: a life-altering injury, a change in sexual preference and, most commonly, interest in another persn. These may come up in any
relationship and must be dealt with then and there, not before unless specific clauses are written into the contract for “circumstances beyond anyone’s control.”

Keeping your relationship as simple and as clear as possible over time helps in main-
taining its allure to both parties. Also, re-
newing and rewriting the contract at
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necessary intervals help in making new conditions applicable and old ones viable.
Just “letting things go” and hoping that they will “take care of themselves” is not going to work; relationships must be worked out and worked at if they are to have any vitality and longevity.

One’s “word” is not enough for so serious an agreement; written declarations for
clarity and workability and changing com-
patability are highly desirable. And con-
stant communication also helps so that small cracks in the road do not turn into
sink holes.

“Soyez prudent” and “cherchez la femme” (“ou l’homme”) with enthusiasm, creativity, and honesty. Life is not short but long, very long; and if you make the wrong choice, partings are painful. We all have choices even when we do not want to choose. Choose wisely and keep your eyes wide open.



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OLD AGE: SOME DO’S & DONT’S





“I don’t want to die.”
“But you must.”
“Why?”
“I don’t know.”

And, so, you die and sleep forever. But how can we prepare and what things should we do and not do towards the end.
Short of a precisely timed “exit-plan” (which are difficult to execute), here are some suggestions:

DONT’S

1. Don’t retire (unless you have a consuming interest or mistress)
2. Don’t change mates (unless you can get
a sexier and richer
one and even
more loyal)
3. Don’t fall in-love (unless you “have to” or
are retarded)

4. Don’t sign anything (unless you have to
over to your children or are retarded)

5. Don’t listen to anyone’s (unless they die
advice first)

6. Don’t have a “born-again (unless god
experience gives you a
lot of money in
cash)

7. Don’t let your mate die (unless she/he
first leaves you a lot
of money)

8. Don’t rely on anyone (except “the one”
or unless you can
replace them with
a better one)

9. Don’t settle for (unless you can’t carry
decrepitude out your “exit-plan”)

10. Don’t go into any (unless you can carry
-assisted living, out your “exit-plan”)
-nursing home,
-rehab center, or
-hospital (the absolute worst)

11. Don’t die outside (unless you live in
your home squalor)

12. Don’t listen to (unless they die first)
doctors or lawyers

13. Don’t fraternize with (unless they are
anyone religious: safely committed
priests, ministers, behind bars or on
rabbis, imams, or t.v. at 3 a.m.)
prophets

14. Don’t let your sympathetic (unless you
friends and relatives any- can gag
where near you them)

15. Don’t alter your diet (unless you can
or any of your bad replace them w/
habits: cling to those other worse
habits)

16. Don’t tolerate any (unless you are
pain or even dis- sufficiently doped-up
comfort for your taste)

17. Don’t let anyone (unless you want to
ever tie you down go instantly crazy)
or restrain you in
any way

18. Don’t let anyone (unless you don’t like
put a diaper on shitting in your pants)
you

19. Don’t shit at all (unless you take pain-
pills and, so, shit hard
rabbit-pellets)

20. Don’t give up (unless you cannot
sex at all work your mouth)

21. Don’t start believing (unless you are
in any kind of after- demented or pre-
life at all viously retarded)

22. Don’t say “good-bye” (unless you like
to anyone pain)

SOME DO’s

1. Do hold onto your mind at all costs
2. “ “ “ “ control “ “
3. money
4. most trusted other
5. dick or pussy
6. sense of absurdity
7. sense of reality(how-
ever you see it)

8. Do hold onto your cell-phones, emails &
overuse them

9. “ “ “ “ TV & remote control

10. pen & paper & go
out w/ them clutched
in your greedy hands

11. own bed and never
get into another

12. one person who can,
will, and wants to do
everything you
want & be very, very
good to her/him

13. Let her/him lie down in the same bed
with you & let her/him sleep w/ you if
you can--at a distance.

14. Have them touch you a lot, all over.

15. Tell her/him that you “love them” and
have her/him tell you “the same thing.”

In the end, put into effect all of the above that you have prepared for and practiced with all your life. And try to “look forward” to your death and “enjoy it” because it could be the trip of your life or the quickest and longest sleep that you have ever had. You “missed your birth” when you”rose from the dead”; don’t miss this experience on your way out.

Otherwise, program and hypnotize yourself to never think about death and try to die in an accident or, best of all, in your sleep-- from one sleep to another without ever noticing the difference. Consciousness or unconsciousness is key to all final acts.

Death can be painless or even a “work of
art” although it probably won’t be, especi-
ally if you live and die in America; Switzer-
land and Australia know how to die and when. At the end, take a vacation there because it will be your last. Bon voyage!

Or ignore all of the above and try to never
die.




DANCING WIITH BONES


On the island of Madagascar off the eastern coast of Africa, there persists a ritual called
“Famadihana” where villagers exhume the bodies of their dead relatives and proceed to celebrate them with feasting, drinking, and dancing with the dead bodies before returning them to their cleaned and refur-
bished crypts or to just holes in the ground.
This festivity recurs every five to seven years.

Some natives approve of this practice while others disapprove, thinking it is a waste of time and money to pretend that there is a relationship between the living and the dead. The majority who favor “Famadi-
hana” think that this macbre tradition not only shows “where they came from” (from bodies, not dust and mud) but also strengthens families between generations, teaching children the importance of what it “means to be dead.” Also, it helps the “bones of their ancestors” from becoming “lost in the world.”
-2-


What do they know that we don’t? We bury or burn our dead and, then, we forget them on purpose or as time passes and we lose touch with our memories. Is this good or bad?

In one way, it is good for us, the living, to soothe over our grief with forgetting versus remembering past wounds and dead moments, longing after them with a painful nostalgia. What’s dead and gone is better left alone because we can never bring it back.

On the other side, remembering the dead, not just ours but all souls, can be more than an occasional feast day. The “Day of the Dead”/”All Souls’ Day” celebrated in different cultures on November 2 is a chance to not only remember the dead but to also re- establish the “linked chain” that binds all the living and the dead and the not-yet born: past, present and future in an interdepen- dently linked line going back to our
-3-


beginnings and into our unknown future. This kind of continuum says that every link in the eternal “chain of souls” is necessary for every other link to have a place in the drama of existence over the ages. Without a previous or a following link, the chain would fall apart and, so, every one of us--dead, living, and not-yet born--would have nothing to “hold onto” and nothing to follow with any accumulated meaning. Our momentary existences would just “fall off” and become forgotten fragments in a chaotic field of life without any significance or permanence. Each one of us is bound to the other, eternally joined in an ongoing chain of lives.

In today’s modern societies, permanence is not one of our most cherished values. We live in a disposable culture where we anx-iously cross off every day on the calendar, throw away and replace televisions and cars readily and easily, and try to forget about those who have died as rapidly as
-4-


possible. Why? Because it is too much of a hassle to relish and repair old things, most of all, our temporarily injured emotions when a loved-one dies.

Is it all a matter of relative values, or is there an absolute and better way to deal with the dead? If we even can forget others, then we definitley do not want to be forgotten after we die. Why? Because then our lives would have meant nothing more than a blink in the eye of time and a grain of sand in the vastness of the universe. To have had some meaning that does not fade into nothingness forever is our innermost secret and natural desire.

“I don’t want it to end with me” and, so, we create others to carry on our name and our memory. But they die too and, eventually, there are no more linear geneologies, and everything dies out of all time and all place
--and no one and no thing is remembered “forrever.”

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So, go ahead and “shake them bones” and celebrate and remember that we have all been here and we have lived briefly and that we did leave something behind: a
vibrating chain that never fades into silence and oblivion
--if we take it out and remember to dust it off once in awhile.





LABOR LOST


“How can I labor when I have nothing to labor at and I can’t find a job? What has happened to all the jobs and an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work?”

Labor has been mechanized, down-sized, outsourced, and bottom-lined for our CEO’s and bosses’ benefit and their own fun and profit with no care at all for the common laborer. How did this happen?

Money became the product instead of the end-product, that is, making money out of money replaced making money out of goods. High finance took over production and money-managers manipulated, reorganized and “rebundled” real and virtual “monetary instruments” that, then, could be harvested or further dispersed speculatively to make more money and so on--until the wagers came due. Then, there was no money to pay off the bets, and the house was bankrupt: banks failed and the too-big-to-fail financial institutions had to be bailed
-2-


out by the government. When our deficit climbed out of sight, what did the big money-men do? They sat on their newly subsidized cash, leaving the bosses to lay-off their workers. And that’s where we are now: in a big hole with a reluctance to pour more money into the system for fear of in-creasing an already unmanageable deficit.And while we sit in that hole, we sink further into it.

But we have always managed to come back against all odds, but maybe not this time. We seem to be caught between a need to stimulate the economy with more money and a desire to not increase the deficit. When your car is stalled going up a hill, you don’t put it into neutral and wait for something to happen; you give it the gas and drive it up the hill because it is not going anywhere by itself; neither is our economy. We cannot wait forever (or lose a decade as Japan did not too long ago); and if no money starts to flow into the
-3-


economy and no investments are made to restart production, then all potential labor is, literally, lost: no jobs will miraculously reappear and no one will work anymore. We will just stagnate until some catastrophe happens (like WW II and our all-out mobilization against it and the flooding of the economy with an abundance of goods and jobs) and we are forced to invest money and turn the economy back on, like one must turn the lights back on after a break in the service: we have to buy some more.

Add to this, the absolutely stubborn, recalcitrant and destructive refusal to do anything by the Republican Party and we have a systemic stalemate while we sink ever deeper and deeper into our hole.

“Love’s Labor’s Lost” is a comedy; our is a tragedy in the making.



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9-11 REDUX


Freedom can be taken too far--to the ex-tremes where expression for expression’s sake ceases to be freedom of speech or religion but an invitation to exploitation and destruction of real freedoms.

Take right now, for instance. Anti-muslim feelings are growing, no longer festering below the surface but about to explode in full view. The “construction of a building”
(a mosque) and the “destruction of a book”
(the Koran) are “rights extended to all,even if opposed by most” (Charles M. Blow, NY TIMES, op-ed, 9/11/2010). But why “extended (offered) to all”? Should there be any qualifying criteria to whom these “rights” AND responsibilities are “extended”?
Yes. These “rights” should not be given in clear opposition to a reasonable majority concensus, and they should definitely not be given to a self-indulgent and self-seeking wanna-be minister of thirty people. Religion
does strange things to people, more so than even money can do.
-2-


All religions, unless held in check, have the potential to go off the deep end: Catholicism produced the Crusades, the Spanish Inqui-sition, and the current child-molestation scandal; Protestantism produced witch-hunts and subsequent witch-burnings, and the current exposure of hypocritical, anti-gay, closeted homosexual ministers; Judaism produces an entirely one-sided Zionism which exploits and undermines all Palestinian rights to their land at the point of a gun.

And, now, Islam is producing fanatically violent behavior in not only their radical fringe but also in an angry mob mentality of devout followers of Mohammed, a warrior prophet at best. The three major world religions are trying to outdo each other for the most extreme flock of believers. If you believe that it is a good thing to burn our flag as a sign of protest against our nation’s foreign policies, then it is also “lawful” to burn a holy book as a sign of displeasure
-3-

with a particular religion’s beliefs and practices. And if you believe that it is allowable to build a mosque in a highly symbolic and sensitive area, then it is also a good idea to destroy an embassy or incite a country to war in the name of your god.

Ideals that stem from unrealistic freedoms without due responsibility stand for and prove only one thing: a country’s exaggerated perception of its own exceptionalism and a tradition that has outlived its usefulness. What makes America “so great,” its freedoms or its wars? Both institutions have gone beyond tolerance and necessity to genuinely thought-out oppostion to the intolerance of its religious factions (anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-science and anti-Americanism or “Death to the Great Satan”) and to wars of conquest, empire-building (a.k.a. “nation-building,” in politically incorrect terms), occupation and wholesale exploitation of a foreign country’s resources and its desperate people. Enough is enough.
-4-


It is time to speak up and to speak out against all destructive religious forces, whoever and wherever they may be that, under the guise of America’s unlimited “freedoms of expression,” attempt to destroy genuine American values: indepen-dence and individual progress, charity for the victims of world disasters, and true democracy of majority rule.

Our government is, first and foremost, re-sponsible to its citizens who fight and die in its misguided wars and who pay their taxes and not to some outmoded ideals that no longer work. We may pretend that we are always tolerant and not at war with a re-ligion, namely Islam, but we are at war with all religions that no longer practice restraint but who have, rather, profoundly rationalized their service to their followers for domination and rule over the world’s 6.5 billion people who are up for grabs.


-5-


Religions are imperfect man-made conduits to their supposed gods in financial
competition for world-wide influence and, as such, are all human constructs that are prone to human corruption. Priests, ministers, rabbis, and imams are all human and not perfect in many ways: lustful appe-tites for sex, food, drink and drugs; greed for money and luxury (note well the boys’ club mentality of the Vatican, stewing in its stolen wealth and decaying in lives of privileged comfort); and, finally, in the substitution of faith in materialism for faith in virtue and goodness. No longer do the leaders of the world’s controlling religions believe in poverty, chastity and obedience but in the good life, a lust for the flesh and an arrogant and hypocritical independence. It is only the walls and veils of arch duplicity that maintain the decption by trying to cover the real decay that rots beneath the surface. But the walls are being torn down daily and the veils ripped away by an increasingly disillusioned and angry hoard
-7-

of desperate and despairing non-believers in the false promises of their religion. Science and rationalism and technology have replaced blind faith in and naive support of the “roads to salvation” which, for a price, all religiously “enlightened leaders” will teach you to follow so that you, too, can claim your “just rewards in a guaranteed after-life” while suffering, doing without, and dying in the misery of your deprived existences here on earth.

“Put money in your purse” and free yourself from medieval superstition and fears and forge your own essence and your own sal-vation here on this very real earth. “The meek shall not inhertit the earth”; the strong will buy it out from under you and cast you out into the darkness.

Wise-up and grow-up and start being real by saying “no” to insulting and destructive religious “projects,” such as new and unnec-essary mosques and old and unnecessary books of fairy tales, burned or perserved.



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THE CHOICE


Religiously speaking, the Israelites are the
“chosen people,” selected by their god to occupy and to totally control the “land of the Patriarchs” in what, formerly, was known as Palestine. These “chosen ones” have been trying, by all means necessary, to hold onto that “promised land” for over sixty years now. They have expelled hundreds of thousands of native Palestinian Arabs; conquered more land through a series of brutal and one-sided wars; gone back on their promises to stop building more and more Jewish settlements in the
West Bank; invaded and decimated Gaza with overkill for rocket-attacks by Hamas ; overreacted by intercepting and killing members of a blockade-breaking flotilla from Turkey; arresting and incarcerating thousands of enemy-Palestinians--all in the name of possession of the stolen land.

On the other side, both Arab and home-grown Jewish extremists (like the young man who assassinated Yitzak Rabin in
-2-

1995) have continually and consistently bombed and murdered hundreds of inno-cent Israelis (usually in unguarded public places like buses and restaurants); kidnap-ped individual Jewish soldiers, holding them hostage; conducted two separate Intifadas
(violent uprisings) in 1987 and 2000 that killed many more innocent civilians; and, to-
gether with their Jewish counterparts, have
undermined all peace proposals brokered by other countries.

Now in 2010, Israel has a choice to make: to finally agree to accept and to follow-through on a plan for peace involving a two
-state solution where both Israel and Palestine would share land, independently governed by each faction(the West Bank and Gaza overseen by the Palestinians and the rest by the Israelis) with a recognition by both parties that the other has a “right to exist” and that Israel is the official Jewish homeland and an independent and valid state.

-3-

A majority of Israelis (about 60%) are ready to accept this two-state solution, while the other 40% (either undecided or rabidly fana-
tical) oppose any kind of peace with Pales-
tine. Their current leader Netanyahu (more of a political opportunist than previous prime-ministers) claims he, too, is in favor of this particular peace plan. But dedicated and devout settlers plus the ultra-orthodox and nationalist factions refuse to let go of their “divine rights” in continuing to build tangible settlements that eat up more and more land of the already limited West Bank (on their side of the Wall that separates them from Israel) and in interpreting their Biblical claims as “god’s chosen” with no compromises at all.

Add to these split sentiments, the geo-
political fact that what happens in all the terrorist countries is motivated by what happens in this stalemate in the Middle East. If these ageless and cyclical attacks and revenge-attacks were to end here, there would be a significant reduction in
-4-
specific acts of violence by all enemies of
the Jewish state against all supporters of the Jewish state, first and foremost, the United States.

Therefore, it is now up to “the chosen” to finally decide between a chance for peace and a guaranteed onslaught of attack and counter-attack since neither side is able to wipe out the other side completely, ensur-ing future and endless conflict, war, and human rights’ violations.

One way leads to certain destruction; the other way may lead to a constructive and rational co-existence between two people who share the same origins but not their
man-made belief-systems. The choice comes down to which is more important:
gods or people? Let the people deal with each other and let the gods fight it out among themselves and not on this scarred and blood-drenched piece of land in the desert. Enough is enough, and every sane
person has had enough. It is time for reason to prevail over religion.



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F A C E S


Let us “put on a face to meet the faces that we meet,” muses J.Alfred Prufrock in T.S.
Eliot’s dreary monologue of the same name,
“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” a “love song” of lost loves and lost chances.

Most of us are and have been faceless in the crowd until now where, literally, any of 500 million other faces--would-be “friends” or anonymous and cowardly attackers--can and do react to and descend on your posted face, whether you really want them to or not. Sometimes, the result is just clutter; other times, the result can be destructively cruel haranguing that may lead the overwhelmed faces to commit suicide because, in a moment of human weakness, they chose to make themselves known and, therefore, glued their faces to this virtual billboard for all to see, use, and abuse.



-2-

Something has gone wrong in our society when our natural desire to be known among our friends and others, a normal reaction to modern-day anonymity, overtakes and exaggerates our need for private individuality at unforeseen costs. For once you put yourself out there for the world to see, you have opened that self up to be vilified, attacked and, worst of all, “befriended” by others who would be known, together with you.

Humans are, at their cores, insecure, com-
petitive, jealous, aggresive and predatory animals, ready to pounce on any other of their species who are, in the least bit vulnerable, superior or even just different which is, ironically, a mark of individuality in itself.

What to do? Hide in the crowd, be silent in the hope of not being discovered and go along with your daily business quietly and unobtrusively? Or splash your face all over the internet for the world to see?
-3-

To be a nobody in your own eyes--with no
distinguishing characteristics that highlight you from all those faces around you--can be a challenging and compelling situation to be avoided at all costs. To not be overlooked by others is a common need which creates and supports our very existence.

But what has happened to the true images of ourselves as ordinary, hardworking and worthy individuals who do not depend on any kind of excessive acknowledgement, much less reognition for our specialness if not for our self-procalimed exceptionalism?

“My son/daughter made the honor roll at Middling Middle School” signs emblazon car rear-windows and give us something to read and to contemplate in our daily drives through endless and faceless traffic. Whereas, the proclaimed students are confused and frustrated adolescents made that way by their parents’ unrealistic ambitions for their quite ordinary children.
-4-

And they are also made that way by a voracious and prostituting media that relies on its ability to convince its most common denomintaor faces that they too can have, not only their fifteen minutes of fame, but also their own reality show, no matter how impoverished their reality is--from aspiring to DANCING WITH THE STARS where you are your own star, vicariously feeding off your favorite celebrities’ talent or lack thereof to just “letting it all hang out” on THE JERSEY SHORE.

We are mostly plain and common people, the ungifted who go to work everyday with or without much purpose or even aware- ness and who return home every night, knowing that they have survived another day in the jungle of faceless fears, to clothe and to love their young and to hold each other in their arms as they lie abed, night after uncertain night.



-5-

Those faces--I, you, us--are the special ones who “need no praises, only the wages of their most [common] hearts.” And someone to remind them.



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M I D D L E M E N




“Between the idea
And the reality...
Falls the Shadow...
Between the conception
And the creation...
Falls the Shadow...”

(T.S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men”)

Between the people and their goals fall the
managers: the facilitators, the arrangers, the manipulators, the exploiters--the priests, the politicians, the administrators.

Between man and his god falls his religion that keeps him from his god: J.C. on their Cross, Allah in their Paradise, and Yaweh inside their Temple. The interpreters of the faith sequester themselves in the palaces of their churches, encrust their altars with gold and gems, exploit their faithful by selling them nothing for something (their substance) and fat themselves in the misbegotten bargain.
-2-

Between the people and their freedom falls their government that keeps them separated from the realization of their dreams. The leaders of a country erect impressive halls of justice and its laws, walls built of stone and marble, to execute and legislate their citizens’ survival, only to embroil and destroy them in wars and division.

Between the teachers and their students fall the administrators who weave webs of obfuscating structures of process and methods around the communication of ideas and the creation of skills. They rob their teachers of their gifts and charms and deprive the students of their rights and needs.








-3-

Why do we allow these barriers to come between us and what we desire? Are we insecure, passive and careless people who readily relinguish our natural talents to unnatural "middle men" and their agendas--power, greed, and the need to feel artificially superior? And why have we traded-in our state of nature for the corrup- ting civilization of society? Because it was necessary, but not to the extreme points where the surrender of our values and our wishes have evolved today. Societies have lost control of their individual and group destinies, and the valves of choice have become stuck in the hands of self-interest, ego, and ignorance. Political parties morph, merge, replicate and spawn unthinking and puerile protesters that scream and shout--about nothing. “Take back your country!” From whom, from where? From those false prophets and leaders that you perceive and determine within your own point-of-view? And moral relevance and equivalence be damned; some truths really are self-evident.
-4-

But we cannot see beyond our own limited visions, and we will not open our ears to listen to the other side, because we are set in our ways, we are selfish, we are greedy, we are small, we are heroic, we are human.
And that’s why we have abdicated our lives and our fortunes to those who can only try to "manage" us.

Let us learn to be silent, to listen, to think and, then, to really take back our country from these meddling men.




MINE, ALL MINE


Thirty-three miners trapped two thousand feet below the surface of the Chilean earth.

And one at a time, each emerged in a body-
hugging capsule called “the Phoenix,” up the shaft drilled down through the mud, the soil, the layers of rock, through the darkest of dark, clutched up inside this life-saving coffin, a twenty-minute ride, then a fifteen-
minute ride and, finally, a mere ten-minute ride that seemed like a lifetime, oxygen mask on, a miner’s hat-lamp lit, the only contact with hope, itching from humidity blisters after two months in a five-hundred square foot cave, pressing against the heavy sides of the capsule, terrifed that a claustrophobic panic might set in or, worse yet, going unconscious and dying from a rush of blood from the brain with no place to go and, then, what?

A microphone with a voice in it that pulled you up and up and up until you began to see daylight between the wired cage mesh,
-2-

then a shock of blazing light as your eyes came even with the level surface of the ground and you were, finally, free.

And so, a rescue that had never been attempted before was attempted and succeeded, a magnificent battle against death and a miraculous epiphany of light and life.

Then, all went back down from there: the
world’s media was there to greet the thirty-three survivors destined to be heroes forever; the family and friends sequestered carefully in a closed area for their privacy; the rescurers; the engineers, the experts, the drillers; the doctors, nurses and paramedics; and the corporate reps there,
on the spot, ready to offer each survivor four hundred thousand dollars for an interview, more for book deals, movie rights, and even a reality show, sponsorships for new mining safety equipment, a line of sports’ gear, free beer and wine for a year, chocolate bars and
-3-

vitamin drinks forever, and even a male enhancement commercial--all “guraranteed” to make them secure, well-off for the rest of their lives.

Plus millions, maybe billions, for the corporations, doing their civic duty for these victims of an exploitive mining company, these refugees from under the earth in a living hell, these pawns of the cloying greed for money and meaning in a world devoid of both, where we viscerally feed off intense events like this global rescue so that we can feel alive for awhile before we sink back down into the torpor of our daily drudgery where we, too, were momentarily pulled up from.

But unlike these genuine adventurers, we will soon fall back asleep again and forget that we were even witnesses.




-4-

The event that rocked the world for three days will fade from our imperfect memories while we look after the next--fire, flood, hurricane, war, cat caught in a tree and, ultimately, our own insignificant deaths.


DUMB, DUMBER, DUMBEST


All hail the Tea Party elite and their shining stars: Sarah “Winky” Palin of Alaska, Christine “Clueless” O’Donnell of Delaware, and Sharron “I’m No Angel” Angle of Nevada--all candidates for highest offers.

Take sincerely stupid, nice girl Christine and let’s just call her “Dumb” for short and for clarity.

Q: “Where in the Constitution is the
separation of church and state?”
A: “You’re telling me that’s in the First
Amendment?”

Next is Sharron’s angle for Anglos versus
Latinos--”Dumber” by any stretch of the tongue. Speaking to a roomfull of Hispanic Students in Las Vegas last week, she really said, “Some of you look a little more Asian to me...[like myself who has] been called the first Asian legislator in Nevada”; she is not Asian; she’s a wasp.

-2-


And everybody’s all-Alaskan sweetheart,
Sarah “Dumbest” Palin. She walks, she talks, she “don’t retreat; [she] reloads.” She emulates George W.-speak: “refudiate,” “misunderestimate,” and “wee-wee’d up.”
She says she believes in American exceptionalism, but when it comes to talented people running the country, exceptionalism is suspect. Leaders, she believes, should be “just like you and me.”

These are the new representatives of our
country, a death-defying race to the bottom
of the barrel where the air is alive with anger and the mind is frozen in fear. And if this kind of un-leadership is what 2010 America really wants, then they will get what they deserve. And the rest of us can move to the center where the free, the brave, and the holders-on can feel at home in our mediocrity and political paralysis.



>top of page>

DUMB, DUMBER, DUMBEST





All hail the Tea Party elite and their shining stars: Sarah “Winky” Palin of Alaska, Christine “Clueless” O’Donnell of Delaware, and Sharron “I’m No Angel” Angle of Nevada--all candidates for highest offers.

Take sincerely stupid, nice girl Christine and let’s just call her “Dumb” for short and for clarity.

Q: “Where in the Constitution is the
separation of church and state?”
A: “You’re telling me that’s in the First
Amendment?”

Next is Sharron’s angle for Anglos versus
Latinos--”Dumber” by any stretch of the tongue. Speaking to a roomfull of Hispanic Students in Las Vegas last week, she really said, “Some of you look a little more Asian to me...[like myself who has] been called the first Asian legislator in Nevada”; she is not Asian; she’s a wasp.

-2-


And everybody’s all-Alaskan sweetheart,
Sarah “Dumbest” Palin. She walks, she talks, she “don’t retreat; [she] reloads.” She emulates George W.-speak: “refudiate,” “misunderestimate,” and “wee-wee’d up.”
She says she believes in American exceptionalism, but when it comes to talented people running the country, exceptionalism is suspect. Leaders, she believes, should be “just like you and me.”

These are the new representatives of our
country, a death-defying race to the bottom
of the barrel where the air is alive with anger and the mind is frozen in fear. And if this kind of un-leadership is what 2010 America really wants, then they will get what they deserve. And the rest of us can move to the center where the free, the brave, and the holders-on can feel at home in our mediocrity and political paralysis.





BEYOND LOVE


What is it that goes beyond want, need and desire in an all-consuming realtionship? Between mates, lovers, friends and, especially, self?

Something beyond a rational sharing of things-in-common, beyond culture, beyond values, beyond education, responsibility, beyond attraction, beyond sex, beyond romance? Something irrational that cannot be identified or named but which can be recognized and felt as mysteriously as a force-field upon contact. A sharing over time and place of caring about and for each other until a bond is made that is impossible to break, even though each tries to. Even if they are “bad for each other” in the realities of their separate worlds, the pull cannot be denied, eased or erased as much as they want it to be gone.

Something beyond true-love, something that drives life and is pursued whenever it wanders out of reach. Obsession.



>top of page>

MINE, ALL MINE




Thirty-three miners trapped two thousand feet below the surface of the Chilean earth.

And one at a time, each emerged in a body-
hugging capsule called “the Phoenix,” up the shaft drilled down through the mud, the soil, the layers of rock, through the darkest of dark, clutched up inside this life-saving coffin, a twenty-minute ride, then a fifteen-
minute ride and, finally, a mere ten-minute ride that seemed like a lifetime, oxygen mask on, a miner’s hat-lamp lit, the only contact with hope, itching from humidity blisters after two months in a five-hundred square foot cave, pressing against the heavy sides of the capsule, terrifed that a claustrophobic panic might set in or, worse yet, going unconscious and dying from a rush of blood from the brain with no place to go and, then, what?

A microphone with a voice in it that pulled you up and up and up until you began to see daylight between the wired cage mesh,
-2-

then a shock of blazing light as your eyes came even with the level surface of the ground and you were, finally, free.

And so, a rescue that had never been attempted before was attempted and succeeded, a magnificent battle against death and a miraculous epiphany of light and life.

Then, all went back down from there: the
world’s media was there to greet the thirty-three survivors destined to be heroes forever; the family and friends sequestered carefully in a closed area for their privacy; the rescurers; the engineers, the experts, the drillers; the doctors, nurses and paramedics; and the corporate reps there,
on the spot, ready to offer each survivor four hundred thousand dollars for an interview, more for book deals, movie rights, and even a reality show, sponsorships for new mining safety equipment, a line of sports’ gear, free beer and wine for a year, chocolate bars and
-3-

vitamin drinks forever, and even a male enhancement commercial--all “guraranteed” to make them secure, well-off for the rest of their lives.

Plus millions, maybe billions, for the corporations, doing their civic duty for these victims of an exploitive mining company, these refugees from under the earth in a living hell, these pawns of the cloying greed for money and meaning in a world devoid of both, where we viscerally feed off intense events like this global rescue so that we can feel alive for awhile before we sink back down into the torpor of our daily drudgery where we, too, were momentarily pulled up from.

But unlike these genuine adventurers, we will soon fall back asleep again and forget that we were even witnesses.




-4-

The event that rocked the world for three days will fade from our imperfect memories while we look after the next--fire, flood, hurricane, war, cat caught in a tree and, ultimately, our own insignificant deaths.


DUMB, DUMBER, DUMBEST


All hail the Tea Party elite and their shining stars: Sarah “Winky” Palin of Alaska, Christine “Clueless” O’Donnell of Delaware, and Sharron “I’m No Angel” Angle of Nevada--all candidates for highest offers.

Take sincerely stupid, nice girl Christine and let’s just call her “Dumb” for short and for clarity.

Q: “Where in the Constitution is the
separation of church and state?”
A: “You’re telling me that’s in the First
Amendment?”

Next is Sharron’s angle for Anglos versus
Latinos--”Dumber” by any stretch of the tongue. Speaking to a roomfull of Hispanic Students in Las Vegas last week, she really said, “Some of you look a little more Asian to me...[like myself who has] been called the first Asian legislator in Nevada”; she is not Asian; she’s a wasp.

-2-


And everybody’s all-Alaskan sweetheart,
Sarah “Dumbest” Palin. She walks, she talks, she “don’t retreat; [she] reloads.” She emulates George W.-speak: “refudiate,” “misunderestimate,” and “wee-wee’d up.”
She says she believes in American exceptionalism, but when it comes to talented people running the country, exceptionalism is suspect. Leaders, she believes, should be “just like you and me.”

These are the new representatives of our
country, a death-defying race to the bottom
of the barrel where the air is alive with anger and the mind is frozen in fear. And if this kind of un-leadership is what 2010 America really wants, then they will get what they deserve. And the rest of us can move to the center where the free, the brave, and the holders-on can feel at home in our mediocrity and political paralysis.



>top of page>

BEYOND LOVE




What is it that goes beyond want, need and desire in an all-consuming realtionship? Between mates, lovers, friends and, especially, self?

Something beyond a rational sharing of things-in-common, beyond culture, beyond values, beyond education, responsibility, beyond attraction, beyond sex, beyond romance? Something irrational that cannot be identified or named but which can be recognized and felt as mysteriously as a force-field upon contact. A sharing over time and place of caring about and for each other until a bond is made that is impossible to break, even though each tries to. Even if they are “bad for each other” in the realities of their separate worlds, the pull cannot be denied, eased or erased as much as they want it to be gone.

Something beyond true-love, something that drives life and is pursued whenever it wanders out of reach. Obsession.



>top of page>

LABOR LOST



“How can I labor when I have nothing to labor at and I can’t find a job? What has happened to all the jobs and an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work?”

Labor has been mechanized, down-sized, outsourced, and bottom-lined for our CEO’s and bosses’ benefit and their own fun and profit with no care at all for the common laborer. How did this happen?

Money became the product instead of the end-product, that is, making money out of money replaced making money out of goods. High finance took over production and money-managers manipulated, reorga-
nized and “rebundled” real and virtual “monetary instruments” that, then, could be
harvested or further dispersed speculatively to make more money and so on--until the wagers came due. Then, there was no money to pay off the bets, and the house was bankrupt: banks failed and the too-big-to-fail financial institutions had to be bailed
-2-


out by the government. When our deficit climbed out of sight, what did the big money-men do? They sat on their newly subsidized cash, leaving the bosses to lay-off their workers. And that’s where we are now: in a big hole with a reluctance to pour more money into the system for fear of in-creasing an already unmanageable deficit.
And while we sit in that hole, we sink further into it.

But we have always managed to come back against all odds, but maybe not this time. We seem to be caught between a need to stimulate the economy with more money and a desire to not increase the deficit. When your car is stalled going up a hill, you don’t put it into neutral and wait for something to happen; you give it the gas and drive it up the hill because it is not going anywhere by itself; neither is our economy. We cannot wait forever (or lose a decade as Japan did not too long ago); and if no money starts to flow into the
-3-


economy and no investments are made to restart production, then all potential labor is, literally, lost: no jobs will miraculously reappear and no one will work anymore. We will just stagnate until some catastrophe happens (like WW II and our all-out mobilization against it and the flooding of the economy with an abundance of goods and jobs) and we are forced to invest money and turn the economy back on, like one must turn the lights back on after a break in the service: we have to buy some more.

Add to this, the absolutely stubborn, recal-
citrant and destructive refusal to do any- thing by the Republican Party and we have a systemic stalemate while we sink ever deeper and deeper into our hole.

“Love’s Labor’s Lost” is a comedy; our is a tragedy in the making.



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DANCING WIITH BONES




On the island of Madagascar off the eastern coast of Africa, there persists a ritual called
“Famadihana” where villagers exhume the bodies of their dead relatives and proceed to celebrate them with feasting, drinking, and dancing with the dead bodies before
returning them to their cleaned and refur-
bished crypts or to just holes in the ground.
This festivity recurs every five to seven years.

Some natives approve of this practice while others disapprove, thinking it is a waste of time and money to pretend that there is a relationship between the living and the dead. The majority who favor “Famadi-
hana” think that this macbre tradition not only shows “where they came from” (from bodies, not dust and mud) but also strengthens families between generations, teaching children the importance of what it “means to be dead.” Also, it helps the “bones of their ancestors” from becoming “lost in the world.”
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What do they know that we don’t? We bury or burn our dead and, then, we forget them on purpose or as time passes and we lose touch with our memories. Is this good or bad?

In one way, it is good for us, the living, to soothe over our grief with forgetting versus remembering past wounds and dead moments, longing after them with a painful
nostalgia. What’s dead and gone is better left alone because we can never bring it back.

On the other side, remembering the dead, not just ours but all souls, can be more than an occasional feast day. The “Day of the Dead”/”All Souls’ Day” celebrated in different cultures on November 2 is a chance to not only remember the dead but to also re- establish the “linked chain” that binds all the living and the dead and the not-yet born: past, present and future in an interdepen- dently linked line going back to our
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beginnings and into our unknown future. This kind of continuum says that every link in the eternal “chain of souls” is necessary for every other link to have a place in the drama of existence over the ages. Without a previous or a following link, the chain would fall apart and, so, every one of us--dead, living, and not-yet born--would have nothing to “hold onto” and nothing to follow with any accumulated meaning. Our momentary existences would just “fall off” and become forgotten fragments in a chaotic field of life without any significance or permanence. Each one of us is bound to the other, eternally joined in an ongoing chain of lives.

In today’s modern societies, permanence is not one of our most cherished values. We live in a disposable culture where we anx-iously cross off every day on the calendar, throw away and replace televisions and cars readily and easily, and try to forget about those who have died as rapidly as
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possible. Why? Because it is too much of a hassle to relish and repair old things, most of all, our temporarily injured emotions when a loved-one dies.

Is it all a matter of relative values, or is there an absolute and better way to deal with the dead? If we even can forget others, then we definitley do not want to be forgotten after we die. Why? Because then our lives would have meant nothing more than a blink in the eye of time and a grain of sand in the vastness of the universe. To have had some meaning that does not fade into nothingness forever is our innermost secret and natural desire.
“I don’t want it to end with me” and, so, we create others to carry on our name and our memory. But they die too and, eventually, there are no more linear geneologies, and everything dies out of all time and all place
--and no one and no thing is remembered
“forrever.”

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So, go ahead and “shake them bones” and celebrate and remember that we have all been here and we have lived briefly and that we did leave something behind: a
vibrating chain that never fades into
silence and oblivion--if we take it out and remember to dust it off once in awhile.



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