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I think it's very possible that the following may be among the most important things ever written, or spoke as it was a commencement speech given to Kenyon College in 2005 by the late David Foster Wallace. The following is the transcript, in full. It, like anything, and as Wallace illustrates, takes a degree of choice to understand what it is, exactly that Wallace is exploring. I hope you all are able to recognize it.
This is Water:
“Greetings parents and congratulations to Kenyon’s graduating class of 2005. There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”
This is a standard requirement of US commencement speeches, the deployment of didactic little parable-ish stories. The story thing turns out to be one of the better, less bull-shitty conventions of the genre, but if you’re worried that I plan to present myself here as the wise, older fish explaining what water is to you younger fish, please don’t be. I am not the wise old fish. The point of the fish story is merely that the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about. Stated as an English sentence, of course, this is just a banal platitude, but the fact is that in the day to day trenches of adult existence, banal platitudes can have a life or death importance, or so I wish to suggest to you on this dry and lovely morning.
Of course the main requirement of speeches like this is that I’m supposed to talk about your liberal arts education’s meaning, to try to explain why the degree you are about to receive has actual human value instead of just a material payoff. So let’s talk about the single most pervasive cliché in the commencement speech genre, which is that a liberal arts education is not so much about filling you up with knowledge as it is about “teaching you how to think.” If you’re like me as a student, you’ve never liked hearing this, and you tend to feel a bit insulted by the claim that you needed anybody to teach you how to think, since the fact that you even got admitted to a college this good seems like proof that you already know how to think. But I’m going to posit to you that the liberal arts cliché turns out not to be insulting at all, because the really significant education in thinking that we’re supposed to get in a place like this isn’t really about the capacity to think, but rather about the choice of what to think about. If your total freedom of choice regarding what to think about seems too obvious to waste time discussing, I’d ask you to think about fish and water, and to bracket for just a few minutes your skepticism about the value of the totally obvious.
Here’s another didactic little story. There are these two guys sitting together in a bar in the remote Alaskan wilderness. One of the guys is religious, the other is an atheist, and the two are arguing about the existence of God with that special intensity that comes after about the fourth beer. And the atheist says: “Look, it’s not like I don’t have actual reasons for not believing in God. It’s not like I haven’t ever experimented with the whole God and prayer thing. Just last month I got caught away from the camp in that terrible blizzard, and I was totally lost and I couldn’t see a thing, and it was 50 below, and so I tried it: I fell to my knees in the snow and cried out ‘Oh, God, if there is a God, I’m lost in this blizzard, and I’m gonna die if you don’t help me.’” And now, in the bar, the religious guy looks at the atheist all puzzled. “Well then you must believe now,” he says, “After all, here you are, alive.” The atheist just rolls his eyes. “No, man, all that was was a couple Eskimos happened to come wandering by and showed me the way back to camp.”
It’s easy to run this story through kind of a standard liberal arts analysis: the exact same experience can mean two totally different things to two different people, given those people’s two different belief templates and two different ways of constructing meaning from experience. Because we prize tolerance and diversity of belief, nowhere in our liberal arts analysis do we want to claim that one guy’s interpretation is true and the other guy’s is false or bad. Which is fine, except we also never end up talking about just where these individual templates and beliefs come from. Meaning, where they come from INSIDE the two guys. As if a person’s most basic orientation toward the world, and the meaning of his experience were somehow just hard-wired: like height or shoe-size; or automatically absorbed from the culture: like language. As if how we construct meaning were not actually a matter of personal, intentional choice. Plus, there’s the whole matter of arrogance. The nonreligious guy is so totally certain in his dismissal of the possibility that the passing Eskimos had anything to do with his prayer for help. True, there are plenty of religious people who seem arrogant and certain of their own interpretations, too. But religious dogmatists’ problem is exactly the same as the story’s unbeliever: blind certainty, a close-mindedness that amounts to an imprisonment so total that the prisoner doesn’t even know he’s locked up.
The point here is that I think this is one part of what teaching me how to think is really supposed to mean. To be just a little less arrogant. To have just a little critical awareness about myself and my certainties. Because a huge percentage of the stuff that I tend to be automatically certain of is, it turns out, totally wrong and deluded. I have learned this the hard way, as I predict you graduates will, too.
Here is just one example of the total wrongness of something I tend to be automatically sure of: everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute center of the universe; the realest, most vivid and important person in existence. We rarely think about this sort of natural, basic self-centeredness because it’s so socially repulsive. But it’s pretty much the same for all of us. It is our default setting, hard-wired into our boards at birth. Think about it: there is no experience you have had that you are not the absolute center of. The world as you experience it is there in front of YOU or behind YOU, to the left or right of YOU, on YOUR TV or YOUR monitor. And so on. Other people’s thoughts and feelings have to be communicated to you somehow, but your own are so immediate, urgent, real.
Please don’t worry that I’m getting ready to lecture you about compassion or other-directedness or all the so-called virtues. This is not a matter of virtue. It’s a matter of my choosing to do the work of somehow altering or getting free of my natural, hard-wired default setting which is to be deeply and literally self-centered and to see and interpret everything through this lens of self. People who can adjust their natural default setting this way are often described as being “well-adjusted”, which I suggest to you is not an accidental term.
Given the triumphant academic setting here, an obvious question is how much of this work of adjusting our default setting involves actual knowledge or intellect. This question gets very tricky. Probably the most dangerous thing about an academic education–least in my own case–is that it enables my tendency to over-intellectualize stuff, to get lost in abstract argument inside my head, instead of simply paying attention to what is going on right in front of me, paying attention to what is going on inside me.
As I’m sure you guys know by now, it is extremely difficult to stay alert and attentive, instead of getting hypnotized by the constant monologue inside your own head (may be happening right now). Twenty years after my own graduation, I have come gradually to understand that the liberal arts cliché about teaching you how to think is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed. Think of the old cliché about “the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master.”
And I submit that this is what the real, no bullshit value of your liberal arts education is supposed to be about: how to keep from going through your comfortable, prosperous, respectable adult life dead, unconscious, a slave to your head and to your natural default setting of being uniquely, completely, imperially alone day in and day out. That may sound like hyperbole, or abstract nonsense. Let’s get concrete. The plain fact is that you graduating seniors do not yet have any clue what “day in day out” really means. There happen to be whole, large parts of adult American life that nobody talks about in commencement speeches. One such part involves boredom, routine and petty frustration. The parents and older folks here will know all too well what I’m talking about.
By way of example, let’s say it’s an average adult day, and you get up in the morning, go to your challenging, white-collar, college-graduate job, and you work hard for eight or ten hours, and at the end of the day you’re tired and somewhat stressed and all you want is to go home and have a good supper and maybe unwind for an hour, and then hit the sack early because, of course, you have to get up the next day and do it all again.
... but then you remember there’s no food at home. You haven’t had time to shop this week because of your challenging job, and so now after work you have to get in your car and drive to the supermarket. It’s the end of the work day and the traffic is apt to be: very bad. So getting to the store takes way longer than it should, and when you finally get there, the supermarket is very crowded, because of course it’s the time of day when all the other people with jobs also try to squeeze in some grocery shopping. And the store is hideously lit and infused with soul-killing muzak or corporate pop and it’s pretty much the last place you want to be but you can’t just get in and quickly out; you have to wander all over the huge, over-lit store’s confusing aisles to find the stuff you want and you have to maneuver your junky cart through all these other tired, hurried people with carts (et cetera, et cetera, cutting stuff out because this is a long ceremony) and eventually you get all your supper supplies, except now it turns out there aren’t enough check-out lanes open even though it’s the end-of-the-day rush. So the checkout line is incredibly long, which is stupid and infuriating. But you can’t take your frustration out on the frantic lady working the register, who is overworked at a job whose daily tedium and meaninglessness surpasses the imagination of any of us here at a prestigious college.
But anyway, you finally get to the checkout line’s front, and you pay for your food, and you get told to “Have a nice day” in a voice that is the absolute voice of death. Then you have to take your creepy, flimsy, plastic bags of groceries in your cart with the one crazy wheel that pulls maddeningly to the left, all the way out through the crowded, bumpy, littery parking lot, and then you have to drive all the way home through slow, heavy, SUV-intensive, rush-hour traffic, et cetera et cetera.
Everyone here has done this, of course. But it hasn’t yet been part of you graduates’ actual life routine, day after week after month after year.
But it will be. And many more dreary, annoying, seemingly meaningless routines besides. But that is not the point. The point is that petty, frustrating crap like this is exactly where the work of choosing is gonna come in. Because the traffic jams and crowded aisles and long checkout lines give me time to think, and if I don’t make a conscious decision about how to think and what to pay attention to, I’m gonna be pissed and miserable every time I have to shop. Because my natural default setting is the certainty that situations like this are really all about me. About MY hungriness and MY fatigue and MY desire to just get home, and it’s going to seem for all the world like everybody else is just in my way. And who are all these people in my way? And look at how repulsive most of them are, and how stupid and cow-like and dead-eyed and nonhuman they seem in the checkout line, or at how annoying and rude it is that people are talking loudly on cell phones in the middle of the line. And look at how deeply and personally unfair this is.
Or, of course, if I’m in a more socially conscious liberal arts form of my default setting, I can spend time in the end-of-the-day traffic being disgusted about all the huge, stupid, lane-blocking SUV’s and Hummers and V-12 pickup trucks, burning their wasteful, selfish, 40-gallon tanks of gas, and I can dwell on the fact that the patriotic or religious bumper-stickers always seem to be on the biggest, most disgustingly selfish vehicles, driven by the ugliest [responding here to loud applause] — this is an example of how NOT to think, though — most disgustingly selfish vehicles, driven by the ugliest, most inconsiderate and aggressive drivers. And I can think about how our children’s children will despise us for wasting all the future’s fuel, and probably screwing up the climate, and how spoiled and stupid and selfish and disgusting we all are, and how modern consumer society just sucks, and so forth and so on.
You get the idea.
If I choose to think this way in a store and on the freeway, fine. Lots of us do. Except thinking this way tends to be so easy and automatic that it doesn’t have to be a choice. It is my natural default setting. It’s the automatic way that I experience the boring, frustrating, crowded parts of adult life when I’m operating on the automatic, unconscious belief that I am the center of the world, and that my immediate needs and feelings are what should determine the world’s priorities.
The thing is that, of course, there are totally different ways to think about these kinds of situations. In this traffic, all these vehicles stopped and idling in my way, it’s not impossible that some of these people in SUV’s have been in horrible auto accidents in the past, and now find driving so terrifying that their therapist has all but ordered them to get a huge, heavy SUV so they can feel safe enough to drive. Or that the Hummer that just cut me off is maybe being driven by a father whose little child is hurt or sick in the seat next to him, and he’s trying to get this kid to the hospital, and he’s in a bigger, more legitimate hurry than I am: it is actually I who am in HIS way.
Or I can choose to force myself to consider the likelihood that everyone else in the supermarket’s checkout line is just as bored and frustrated as I am, and that some of these people probably have harder, more tedious and painful lives than I do.
Again, please don’t think that I’m giving you moral advice, or that I’m saying you are supposed to think this way, or that anyone expects you to just automatically do it. Because it’s hard. It takes will and effort, and if you are like me, some days you won’t be able to do it, or you just flat out won’t want to.
But most days, if you’re aware enough to give yourself a choice, you can choose to look differently at this fat, dead-eyed, over-made-up lady who just screamed at her kid in the checkout line. Maybe she’s not usually like this. Maybe she’s been up three straight nights holding the hand of a husband who is dying of bone cancer. Or maybe this very lady is the low-wage clerk at the motor vehicle department, who just yesterday helped your spouse resolve a horrific, infuriating, red-tape problem through some small act of bureaucratic kindness. Of course, none of this is likely, but it’s also not impossible. It just depends what you want to consider. If you’re automatically sure that you know what reality is, and you are operating on your default setting, then you, like me, probably won’t consider possibilities that aren’t annoying and miserable. But if you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down.
Not that that mystical stuff is necessarily true. The only thing that’s capital-T True is that you get to decide how you’re gonna try to see it.
This, I submit, is the freedom of a real education, of learning how to be well-adjusted. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn’t. You get to decide what to worship.
Because here’s something else that’s weird but true: in the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship–be it JC or Allah, be it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles–is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. On one level, we all know this stuff already. It’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness. Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they’re evil or sinful, it’s that they’re unconscious. They are default settings.
They’re the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that’s what you’re doing.
And the so-called real world will not discourage you from operating on your default settings, because the so-called real world of men and money and power hums merrily along in a pool of fear and anger and frustration and craving and worship of self. Our own present culture has harnessed these forces in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom. The freedom all to be lords of our tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the center of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talk about much in the great outside world of wanting and achieving…. The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.
That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.
I know that this stuff probably doesn’t sound fun and breezy or grandly inspirational the way a commencement speech is supposed to sound. What it is, as far as I can see, is the capital-T Truth, with a whole lot of rhetorical niceties stripped away. You are, of course, free to think of it whatever you wish. But please don’t just dismiss it as just some finger-wagging Dr. Laura sermon. None of this stuff is really about morality or religion or dogma or big fancy questions of life after death.
The capital-T Truth is about life BEFORE death.
It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over:
“This is water.”
“This is water.”
It is unimaginably hard to do this, to stay conscious and alive in the adult world day in and day out. Which means yet another grand cliché turns out to be true: your education really IS the job of a lifetime. And it commences: now.
I wish you way more than luck.
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Throughout all of this and the arguments and the politics of wearing a mask there's been something about it that hasn't been sitting right with me; beyond the virtuousness of the act of wearing a mask and those that are demanding that everyone does when faced with the argument of maintaining our rights as American citizens there's still something, more.
I have spent a lifetime learning to balance my intellect and my emotions and as a result I generally trust my instincts, especially when I sit on the problem for a while, granted certain situations activate my anxieties and, in some cases, my depression which can manipulate my intuition which, in turn, can influence my perspectives. This has happened with me a great deal when it comes to my relationships over the course of the last five or six or seven years, still those issues are getting easier and easier to both recognize and resolve.
I mention this only because this isn't one of those situations, and although some issues may have been clouded by manipulated judgment this isn't one of them.
I've been paying attention to the increased cases of COVID-19 throughout the country, and how those cases correlate with mask mandates, media coverage, protests, etc., and what I'm discovering, and even with very minimal research (although I dive into it, I mention that only so you might take the time...) the correlations between the increases and decreases of COVID-19 are not related to mask mandates. There's been a lot of talk behind the science of it all but understanding the science behind something and correlating it with the actual data are, believe it or not, two very different things. It might be worth your time to stop thinking about why the science behind masks SHOULD work and start looking into the correlations of whether it actually DOES work...
(all of you do seem to agree that science is a process, we learn from the data, we make mistakes, and we learn from those mistakes, formulating hypothesis, testing the hypothesis, and then starting over again - it's not an exact "science." - you've said it yourselves; until politics get's involved and then all of a sudden we have iron-clad answers, until we don't, and then you're arguments about the process of science start over again)
(29 states and D.C. have mandated masks as of Thursday, go look at the graphs of COVID-19 cases, does it correlate with masks mandates? A very small handful of less populated states show a decrease (is that mask related or media related, compare that to major media announcements and protests), what about the rest?)
And, because of sound bites like contained droplets in our saliva and mucus and the virtuousness of wearing a mask I've seen people lose it because others are not wearing masks, and I've seen, among them, those same people sitting maskless in a small room talking and laughing - with each other; because the mandate states that it's OK not to wear a mask while seated; so, I can't help but wonder what is it, really that you're actually concerned about? Is it the mandate or is it your health?
It dawned on me, finally a few days ago why this issue hasn't been sitting right with me.
This will likely sound ridiculous to some of you, only because some of you aren't willing to consider the possibility, but perhaps this idea is a jumping off point for you, a place to build your own foundations; essentially all I'm asking is that you stop blindly accepting everything that you hear, because you all do - all affiliated parties, the only differences are the widely, and mutually (party determined) sound bites that you're adopting.
The most effective means to avoid contracting and/or recuperating [from] COVID-19 are: eating healthy, exercise, and immune support.
If you're concerned about COVID-19 pay attention to the factors regarding the most severe cases and hospitalizations, pay attention to who is the most susceptible to the virus, and why. It's amazing to me that we haven't heard anything regarding how Americans eat, the percentage of Americans that are overweight, the effort we go through to maintain our health, or heaven forbid our for-profit insurance based healthcare system.
We're concerned enough about the virus to complain about people not wearing masks but not enough to actually change and maintain a healthier lifestyle, and that's inherently nonsensical.
Many of you are clearly more concerned about me, and others than you are about yourselves and those of you who are, you seem to be hiding behind the guise of being socially virtuous which, to me, seems exceptionally hypocritical. This isn't about my rights and freedoms as an American, not really for me it's about focusing on the things that are actually the most argumentatively pertinent.
Masks are enabling. They enable people to not question their lifestyles, to not readjust how they eat, exercise, live; masks are a crutch. The problem isn't masks the problem is how we treat ourselves, the healthy are either not contracting COVID-19 or they're getting through fairly stress-free. What if the debate, instead of being about whether to wear masks or not, was actually about preventative healthcare (eating right, staying healthy, exercise, being conscious about how we're living) if we want long-term preventative action against COVID-19, it's not masks and it's not a vaccine.
Much of the world that is successful in containing this virus and their death-rates - we're trying to compare their success with our failures in the wrong ways and in the wrong areas; the simple truth is, we are one of the most sickly, out-of-shape, physically apathetic countries on the planet and our COVID-19 numbers are showing that in dramatic fashion, and for whatever reason the argument is overshadowed by masks, and the complacency of American indifference.
2020 has been an interesting year, to say the least the most interesting part of it, for me is that it's revealed the nature, and state of our political atmosphere but not in the way that many of you might recognize; the ultra-liberal and ultra-conservatives are both behaving as if our current atmosphere has only confirmed their perspectives, in reality it's presented, in dramatic fashion, that nobody knows what the fuck they're talking about and how relentlessly people hold to their convictions regardless of how irrational they might be; no, at the moment I'm not referring to masks but rather the general state of things. Extremism is dangerous, regardless the platform.
Oh, and wash your hands!
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There’s a freedom to living in the United States that, I believe, most people casually ignore.
It’s no secret that our government is attempting to deny us the rights they were [are] established, afforeded, and protected by the government, and our government does this because they know that we will react in exactly the way that they want us to react, regardless of our affiliations and, in many ways, because of our affiliations. We cede to policy and manifesto, we disregard our humanity and our beliefs, and we’re conditioned by logical fallacies that aid in government overreach; we’re more concerned that we adhere to our platforms than we are about our actual rights. The government has us twisted around the law so much that we’re afraid to engage and to enjoy our rights as American’s, because we don’t want to effort in the bureaucracy; it’s not worth the effort to actively support our rights.
And, on the other hand, there is a developing idea that being virtuous, that showing a general interest in the well-being of another takes an active form, that it somehow demands the precondition that your soiled hands—and by ‘your,’ I mean the universal you, as in quote/unquote “everybody”—ought to be snooping about my worldview; however, your idea of an equilibrium, and your social code are, in reality, nothing less than guerrilla warfare of a moral compass. The freedom to choose cannot be subjugated by the idea that-that choice is marred by one belief being more virtuous than another, and that you are, by some means, exalted with the right to decide which is the more virtuous choice.
With that said, our country, the United States was built on the foundation of revered men, with the intention of establishing a nation of freedom, and yes many stood on the back of others, of entire races to do so; the long standing history of mankind does not lead attractively to your present progressive agendas, intentions, and regrets nevertheless we have developed and achieved and acknowledged and atoned and, in reprise, sought amends.
We’re not a perfect people, we’re not a perfect species so to expect perfection in our development and in our cultivation is.., and even still perfection can only exist in your ideal of the word; we learn from our mistakes and we grow, and change isn’t easy so we’ll contest it, because we’re comfortable in our familiarity but, still we do learn and we do grow and it’s time for many of you to recognize that, and to acknowledge where we’ve come from where we were, and where we’re going and how we all want to get there, and the compromise and the harmony that we’re going to require, and the patience and the understanding that we’re going to require, and that we’re going to have to think with a new standard and let go of the foundations of our affiliations that continue to divide us.
Fredericksburg is a relatively small town in the Texas Hill Country, because of the pandemic the town council canceled a notable Fourth of July day parade that has otherwise been a huge annual event in Fredericksburg. A small handful of citizens decided to organize an unsanctioned drive by 'parade,' that the FBD helped to support; this was an incredible display of small town patriotism and civil responsibility, and an exercise of our individual rights.
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I’m sure, by now, most people who follow some stream of news are familiar with CHAZ: the Capital Hill Autonomous Zone in Seattle, Washington; six blocks in the northern heart of Seattle that have been declared a “police free zone,” until certain demands are met (there have been 30 posted on Medium’s website). Declaring yourself independent of the laws of the United States and forcibly occupying American soil is, essentially, an act of war (by U.N. Generally Assembly 3314) and in doing so you’re surrendering your rights as a United States citizen; to some that may seem rash, obviously I disagree. I know that many would argue “intent” as well as degrees of “aggression” in the consideration of what is defined by “act of war,” however taking into consideration the blockades, and the five shootings within the autonomous zone in two weeks that have left two teenage boys dead, and the irrationality of their demands--We Demand: “abolishing,” the SPD (Seattle Police Department) as well as the “attached court system,” the release of marijuana related offense prisoners, the “De-gentrification” of Seattle, free college for the people in the state of Washington, “...the people of Seattle seek out and proudly support Black-owned business,” there are others, although these few stood out for me as being especially ridiculous, this has been a declaration of war, and the fact that the United States government left it in the hands of the state government is pretty, um, prudent. To say the least.
Within the last 48 hours CHAZ has renamed itself to CHOP the Capital Hill Occupied Protest, so they’ve effectively declared themselves U.S. citizens again and removed barricades to a three block radius. I do very much want to support causes, and movements that encourage justice where injustice exists, however, simply supporting an idea in the form of a movement that lacks leadership and cause is meaningless. CHAZ was irrational and meaningless and CHOP cannot support itself if they don’t reevaluate their demands and establish some form of leadership that can approach and address the city of Seattle and the State of Washington and the federal government, if necessary otherwise, much like many directionless groups within the BLM movement cannot gain traction or lead to real change.
What do you want!?
I did originally want to dedicate this column entirely to CHAZ, it was an interesting happenstance that was effectively being ignored by a media that was clearly in support of the 'movement', although also recognizing the questionable legality of CHAZ/CHOP.
And, the Seattle Police Department cleared CHOP out yesterday morning.
Our world is changing too quickly for us to keep up, and our divide continues to grow while party lines are being manipulated and reforged.
So, I’m going to spend the next few minutes discussing Face Masks; because most of us, I’m sure, are loving both talking about, and listening to the respective opinions regarding the matter.
There is this semi-general consensus that the use of Face Masks as well as social distancing will slow the infection rate of the virus, and generally if something has even the possibility of providing some comfort and or support then, why not? Right?
...and, we do need to flatten the curve; the rate of the virus needs to slow so that our hospitals are able to adequately maintain the level of infected.
So, why is this an issue?
...especially when most are suggesting that the wearing of Face Masks should not be politicized, that it’s a health concern and, therefore, should not be regarded with a political agenda; although the argument developed by means of a political agenda, and people all over social platforms are posting contradictory statements from various health professionals on either side declaring the support of, or cautioning against the wearing of Face Masks.
Either Face Masks work or they don’t and, in either case, it’s become one of the most politically divisive issues in our country today, and unfortunately, no ones’ stepping back from the argument far enough and for long enough to recognize that, and to ask themselves why that is.
If it’s not a political issue then why is it a political issue? (And, of course, both the Liberals and Conservatives will have their own responses to that question, which I find incredibly amusing).
Personally, and I know it’s a moot point for many of you, but OSHA’s website clearly states that Face Masks:
“Will Not Protect the Wearer Against Airborne Transmissible Infectious Agents Due to Loose Fit, Lack of Seal, or Inadequate Filtration.” This is clearly stated on the site, multiple times in regards to multiple types of masks.
The worldwide death rate of the virus is 4.92%, this is exponentially low, the likelihood that you will recover from the virus is a good one, and yes there are arguments to be made about long-term health conditions and expenses and what an “acceptable” death rate is (although I would strongly argue that the way that we relate to death is irrational, especially considering that each and every one of us is going to die, that might seem heartless to you, if it does than you’re one of the people that I’m referring to that desperately needs to reevaluate your perspective of death—and the correlation of death and nature, and the rationality of the comparisons that you’re making and those that you’re ignoring—more than others), and I think the argument in comparison to other viruses is absolutely plausible, and I know that many of you will make arguments in contradiction of-, but, frankly, most of the arguments that I’ve mentioned (and that I haven’t) are rooted in a politicized agenda to further condition our place in society, and it’s not one party more so than another it’s our government and it is us, and most of us are ignoring the basic fundamental reality that this is a virus, it’s not a plague, it’s not war, it’s not personal.
The problem is not with Face Masks, let me say that again; the problem is not whether we’re wearing Face Masks or not.
The problem lies with a large percentage of the population being more concerned about what others are doing than what I can do to regulate the course of things.
The choice to not wear a Face Mask has nothing to do with you, or your health, and although your arguments suggest that my decision not to is somehow a lack of interest in your well-being is an invalid, albeit seemingly rational one, and I say "seemingly" only because your promotion of the general concern and well-being of others sounds more appealing than policing one another but, effectively, your "interest in my well-being," especially to the degree of contentious care that you're providing is encouragingly unwelcome.
Those that might be more susceptible to contracting it should, likely, self-quarantine, if you can, and if you want to wear a mask then by all bloody means wear a mask, maintain a social distance (stay the fuck away from people), stop going in to places that you don’t have to, and I really don’t understand why those of you so desperately arguing the necessity of wearing the mask are doing anything other than working and/or grocery shopping, anyway? What right do you have to sit at a bar or a restaurant and bitch about what other people are doing?
If you’re an employee of almost any establishment anywhere you’re required to wear a mask anyway, stay away from people who aren’t wearing them. This is something that I vehemently do not understand! Why, if you have the means to regulate yourself are you so desperately pissed off at others, and are these not the same people that you’re supposed to be respecting by wearing your mask? Regulate yourselves and we’ll be fine, in the meantime maintain your immune system.
Regulate yourself. It’s not a plague. It’s not war. It’s not personal.
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I thought I'd let this to the talking for me today, so you people realize that I'm not the only person that recognizes the incoherent babble, and bias between the Left and the Right. Enjoy!
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Yes, racism does exist within the infrastructure and systems of the United States; the most consistently notable of which is the wealth gap between black and white America, and most recently apparent in the wake of the late 90’s, detailed housing bubble—wealth is accumulated by owning property, and for decade's, after the civil rights movements, it was nearly impossible for black families to buy homes in prominent neighborhoods; white Americans were afraid that the property values would decrease in their neighborhoods so real estate wasn't easily accessible for black families, and that snowballed. the result presented itself as urban decay, and a lack of work, drugs, crime, and a racial fear bias. An example of which is the Doll Test, although, personally, I don't think it's a good one, it's just one--I'll post a better one as a video, below--so, be prepared in advance this may not go the way you want, but when you sit white children down in front of two dolls one of which is black while the other is white and you ask, “Which one is bad?” 100% of the time they are going to choose the one that doesn’t look like them; most children, up to a certain age, are not developed enough to respond to a direct question like that with, “neither.”
A bilateral point that I’m making is that shameless racism is not as far-reaching as a large percentage of progressive America might have you believe; yes, flagrant racism does exist but it doesn’t always exist in situational semantics, “I don’t see color,” is an interesting example; obtrusive racists don’t have a problem being racist, they have no reason to hide behind, or to conceal their racism, especially in semantics. There are so many existing layers to race in America today, and like those Venn Diagrams floating around Social Media that are trying to map our place in shingle racism it’s not always so simple or obvious as a lot of people are trying to suggest. The point being, most people who say “I don’t see color,” don’t understand the underlying notion that “not seeing color,” might, to some, suggest a refusal to acknowledge a persons identity, there is an intellectual idea that we do need to recognize the 'color' of a person but to not be quote/unquote negatively affected by it, this is not something that a lot of people conceptually understand, and the time taken to effort in to remedy that understanding, especially in the contentious way that a lot of people do, is wasted, because these people are simply not racist, they just don't have the same prudent political advocacy that many of you might. The point that I hope I’m making is to be discerning with our understanding, our tolerance, and our time.
I don’t think that I’ll be able to address and respond to all of the ideals and memes and belief systems regarding the recent responses to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and as a result I’m sure that there will be a lot of frustration and, quite possibly surprise towards this column but I mean, I don’t know, our country has become so politically divided everything that happens from mass/school shooting to racial bias to police overreach to any number of prejudicial injustices there’s going to be backlash, even within party lines and, honestly, it’s enough to feel both outrage and, simultaneously, numb to it and considering it's amazing too me how similar people are behaving regardless their end of the spectrum, and in particular to the response.
George Floyd’s murder regardless of black vs. blue or BLM was abhorrent, and Chauvin should be charged with 2nd degree murder, regardless of the circumstances that may, or may not have lead to Floyd’s death because at the time George Floyd was laying on the ground, in police custody, with a knee pressed firmly into his neck; those circumstances are indisputable.
The varied responses to it, however, are absolutely questionable; if the thought is outrageous to you, or if you disagree that’s absolutely your right but, history—the same history that many of you are citing to support the degree of your response is against you. MLK, in his speech citing "...rioting as the language of the unheard," didn’t participate in any rioting himself, and instead made the protest for Civil Rights his life mission, and he succeeded in many, many ways. He wasn’t protesting situationally; Martin Luther King, Jr. was protesting and marching and delivering his message to politicians as well as to the people every single day, and not only when there were specific acts of racial injustice, that’s an incredibly important point to consider; there were people out there making it their life mission and supporting the same cause, every single day. Leaderless movements do not have nor do they gain traction, people need to organize, and to outline, and to involve.
There’s a meme going around with pictures of silent, peaceful protests with the message that people still did not listen, so rioting became the only option, peaceful protests have inspired and influenced greater change than rioting ever has all over the world, for centuries but it takes time, it has always taken time. MLK and other revered men gave it their due diligence, they didn’t give up periodically, let their anger build, and then demand justice situationally the next time there was racial bias or blatant racism.
You say people are not listening well, Minneapolis had the platform to really insight possible change, for leaders of a movement to step up and to address and to Speak out for that injustice, they had Everyone’s ear, and then they rioted, and then the rest of the country rioted. And then much of the white anti-racist supporters to show a misguided sense of solidarity supported, and engaged in the riots, instead of acknowledging the lessons of history, and many of them hid behind the guise of race to justify violent behavior, and frankly yes, I find that disgusting (Saying that, and still supporting the active cause that BLM could represent are not mutually exclusive ideas). These are not the actions and the behaviors of a movement, and it is not racist to disavow turbulent behavior that’s being justified to support a movement that in, and of itself inherently opposes violence.
I know a lot of people will vehemently disagree, but time and time again the world has protested that peace begets peace, and violence begets violence.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed for his protest and for his message, but do you honestly think that if he knew that was going to happen he would have lived his life any differently? The BLM movement needs a movement, which requires a real, unified, definable message, and a means to deliver that message in a way that people will hear, and it’s going to take time, and in the end, unfortunately, there will be racist people, you cannot force or demand racism out of someone; yes, it’s distasteful and repugnant behavior, but you can’t just protest and riot because your angry and your exhausted because ignorant people exist. There has to be an outlined message, define what you want to accomplish, and in a way that is admissible and definable, and then share it.
(ie. what if, instead of demanding accountability, after the fact people unified to demand that law enforcement go through similar training [programs as the military; our military conducts themselves, usually, with a greater sense of composure and awareness than law enforcement...)
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“Planets are round. The Earth is not one of them.” ~ Flat Earth Twitter Handle
I was going to talk about Daniel Shenton, the Flat Earth Society President who was responsible for yet another reawakening of the Flat Earth in the early part of this century and Mark Sargent who is clearly less of a Flat Earth supporter and more of an active science denier that cares more about being famous than he does about his principles and belief systems, and then I was going to continue this series on through three parts, where I engage the mathematical evaluations of Eratosthenes and his more modern Flat Earth rivalry with Wilbur Glen Voliva but I realized, geezus, what a colossal waste of my time!
sit tight for the dramatic conclusion of This Flat Earth Thing!
I have continued my research on This Flat Earth Thing and the more I read about it the more absurd it gets, there is no scientific or religious argument(s) to support Flat Earthery; the two most common arguments that I run in to are:
1.) There’s no way that gravity can support the southern hemisphere from falling into the void of space.
2.) The appearances of--that the Earth is flat, while the sun and moon are spherical.
Like every conspiracy theory and Sci-Fi narrative there are pleas of reason, there is a certain degree of legitimacy to particular claims and those claims can be rationally argued and supported, however, when additional arguments are raised to counter appended Flat Earth theories instead of being substantiated, flat earth refutes are being invented, therefore you, and your senseless ideals have resolutely reached an impasse, at which point it’s time to take your ball and saunter home with your tail tucked between your legs, take responsibility for your idiocy, accept a pitch of laurel in your accountability find your nearest travel agent and see the whole baseball-shaped world.
The basis of the first argument, ironically enough, is founded on the premise that gravity must exist; it is unimaginable to Flat Earthers that space is a void, not just empty but, quite literally pointless, it is aimless, it is directionless; therefore the “southern hemisphere” isn’t actually a southern most point, it is simply a frame of reference established to provide us with a geographically universal vantage; for the argument to be validated space, itself would have to be a hoax, so the next “logical” argument for the Flat Earthery community is to suggest that we’re not actually skyrocketing upwards through space, rather that we exist in a curved-like shell resting motionless on something, “Nobody yet knows on what, exactly.” Until, that is, of course, that this shell gets up and just walks away, won't we be surprised! Taking the exposition literally is demonstrably stupid.
The second argument makes even less sense, why we would assume, if both the sun and the moon are obviously spherical that the earth is not? I cannot get past this claim. I mean, the idea is based entirely on observational ques, right? And, yet we know that things exists beyond our line of sight, because we’ve seen them, they are not simply obstructed by obstructions they just suddenly appear, as if some unexplained curvature existed in our angle of perception; if you have ever driven through the southwestern United States, or any distance greater than ten miles, you know, without a shadow of a doubt that this is true. How do these people vehemently deny that?
Clearly, Flat Earthers have nothing to actually support their belief, which is to say that this theory isn’t actually a theory or a belief at all, but rather a particularly deeply-rooted distrust in science; it’s anti-belief. It’s channeled atheism.
Although The “Flat Earth Theory” is gaining traction, yes but not because people actually believe the Earth is flat, they prefer instead to remain suspicious of governments and scientists and corporations; the Flat Earth concept is more of a facade, a guise for an ambiguous collective of conspiracy theorists who use the “Flat Earth” theory in the same way that Fight Clubs might have a secret accord: a handshake or a code word, and it’s so phenomenally absurd that it has all the rest of us going, “WTF are these people!” and leave us chasing our tails trying to find some insight as to why anyone would support such a blatantly outlandish idea that we get overwhelmingly exhausted by the nonsense and we just give up. "...no, but during a Lunar eclipse, when the Earth is between the Moon and the Sun the shadow on the Moon is rou.....AAHHHHH!!"
Because we all know that the first rule of such associations is that you don’t talk about it.
So, I’m just not going to talk about it…
ps. If I go missing, because I have uncovered some startling underworld truth, I want you all to know that it was the Flat Earth Society; start your inquiries with Daniel Shenton and Mark Sargent and the rest of the New Order Illuminati!
Pps. Why are there no direct flights in the Southern Hemisphere?
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“We call them cool those hearts that have no scars to show, the ones that never do let go, and risk the tables being turned.
We call them fools who have to dance within the flames, who chance the sorrow and the shame, that always comes with getting burned...
We call them strong those who can face this world alone, who seem to get by on their own, those who will never take the fall
We call them weak, who are unable to resist the slightest chance love might exist and for that forsake it all...”
Throughout the course of our time here most of us will find only one or two things that we might actively fight for; a something that will tear us from our routines and the normalcy of our lives and motivate us to be better, to love bolder, and to chance what loss or heartache might follow.
Many of us won’t even take the risk, we may never even notice the opportunity as it compasses us, we’ll cling instead to what’s familiar and to what’s comfortable—to what’s habitual, as if life was meant only to be survived, paused within a long drawn out breath, gravely from the vantage of a treadmill in a fitness center, sometimes paced at a slow crawl and others at a dead sprint surrounded, still by idleness and perpetual atrophy, where we are shaped by the seasons, only and stale time neither experienced nor savored, just constant, day-in, and day-out, and empty; no, not safe, but numb
Because life is a test; an opportunity, it’s not something to be waited out safely withstood within the perimeters of systems and bureaucracy, indifference and Ardorless connections. We are vindicated by Risk! Without risk we are not challenged, and without challenge we cannot learn, and without awareness we cannot grow.
It’s easy to be desirous of a thing without intention or discipline or understanding or faith, simply to want and to justify the appetite with “love” and craving, to lust impulsively without growth, without awareness, without conduct, without valor. It’s paramount to recognize the distinction between your longing and the realization of that fulfillment.
When you challenge yourself to labor for what you’re passionate about, it’s true you may not prevail, at least accomplishment may not look like what you anticipated; there will be sorrow, and shame, and doubt, and injury you will get burned but your scars are a prize, in honor of who you are not who you were, living in our past denies us both of present and a future, and offers us only lingering prayers of a sought tomorrow, unrealized.
Throughout the course of our time here most of us will find only one or two things that we might actively fight for; a something that will tear us from our routines and the normalcy of our lives and motivate us to be better, to love bolder, and to chance what loss or heartache might follow. If, and when you find that something to fight for resolve to do so with all of your heart, all of your poise, and all of your conviction and regardless of your awaited outcome you will have gained, in the Risk and the Chance of having dared the flames.
“There’s this love that is burning deep in my soul constantly yearning to get out of control wanting to fly higher and higher I can’t abide standing outside the fire.”
“But you have to be tough when consumed by desire ‘cause it’s not enough just to stand outside the fire.”
“Life is not tried, it is merely survived if you’re standing outside the fire.”
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“Too much social distancing is going to push these Flat Earthers right over the edge.”
I have spent the morning watching and reading various notions on the belief that the earth is flat. However, I’m still teetering on the edge. It comes across as a little too two dimensional, if you ask me; haha, like flat as in the Earth, like a two dimensional earth. Do ya get it? Good, cause the puns are going to get more complicated.
What I’ve discovered is that Samuel Birley Rowbotham is, essentially, the L. Ron Hubbard of the Flat Earthery community, from what I gather during my brief history of research this morning, is that S. Bir Rowbotham waded out into shallows of the Old Bedford River in Cambridgeshire U.K. with a telescope balanced in his arms to eye the curvature of the earth through an unstable glass lens as a boat sailed away in the near distance. Now, because he wasn’t able to see the hull of the boat detrude in the horizon he concluded that the earth was flat, obviously because that’s generally my first instinct when weird shit happens and I can’t quite explain it; a curvature in the earth should have, and absolutely does decrease your vision of an object as it disappears in the distance.
Rowbotham is considered an English inventor and writer, according to Wikipedia, which is pseudo reliable, at best, the thing is that I cannot, for the life of me, uncover a single thing that this Rowbotham character invented, ever. Except for popularizing the concept of THE FLAT EARTH; which is to say, I suppose, that Rowbotham 'invented' the flat earth. And just the epistemological and stoic profundity of such ideology is a red pill kind of speculum.
My favorite part of the Bedford Level Experiment - this is what they called Rowbotham wading into the waters of the Bedford river with a telescope - however, is that Rowbotham published his findings in a book he titled, Zetetic Astronomy: Earth Not a Globe by Parallax.
Zetetique is an application of the scientific method used to investigate paranormal phenomena (I hope that’s not lost on anyone, because I find that to be outrageously fantastic), he recognized how incredibly outlandish his own study was, and if you need further proof of that recognition he published the book under the pseudonym, Parallax! F*cking parallax! Parallax! Parallax is, as if I should even bother to define it, “the displacement or difference in the ‘apparent’ position of an object viewed along two different lines of sight...blah, blah blah.” which is a scientific explanation for an optical illusion, which makes it that much better!
Rowbotham published his own bizarre findings in a book that by all semantic means, was titled, Paranormal Astronomy: Earth Not a Globe by Batman...
The only general concession regarding S. Bir Rowbotham is that he was a phenomenal orator, the man could capture a persons' attention and squeeze the sphere out of it; he could debate a concept until it unceasingly orbits your subconscious and planets itself in your mind. After all Rowbotham has captured the apple of millions of gyres all "around the globe..."
But don't take my word for it, see for yourself in for Part II of "This Flat Earth Thing"
Coming up who is Mark Sargent? And why does he matter? I'm almost too excited I'm having trouble thinking up a dramatic cliffhanger!
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Thank you, Elle
:: With Gratitude ::
There is a warmth to a day like today, early in spring when each note of the birds song endures, stretched out as if time itself is slowed and her song reaches out to fill the space between, it’s not the same warmth that caresses your skin, arousing the senses, no it’s more immersed, and facile; it’s infinite, one moment everlasting, until the air tempers and the sun drifts, and one everlasting moment is simply gone, and a new day takes its place.
I’m mourning, and celebrating simultaneously. Mourning for something that I lost: a look, an expression of love, and admiration, and respect not something in the eyes but behind the eyes, the most beautiful thing that I have ever seen expressed on the face of the most beautiful thing that I have ever seen.
My respect, admiration, and adoration for her is unparalleled and it’s nothing that I could even attempt to describe, I’ve tried. I didn’t know that I could respect, admire, and love her more than I did, I didn’t know it was possible. There is no one, anywhere that could compare to this woman, she is someone that shatters all notions defining or outlining the character of a wo(man). I cannot even begin to explain how the decisions she’s made over the past week stun and amaze me; what she is willing to do and to forgive for no reason, none except that she is capable and that she is willing is astounding.
She is a living angel, and she has compassion and understanding and faith like nothing I’ve seen, witnessed, or imagined in the quality of a person. She is the Spring; the summer, autumn, and winter she is the feeling inside of you that you cannot explain, new but familiar with every season: the birdsong that reaches out to fill the space between, the passion simmering in the summer heat, the tranquility descending with the autumn leaves, and the fated passing in a winters’ breath.
My gratitude for her is unbound, every day.
In my plight I allowed expectation to obscure my unconditional awe, in my loneliness I allowed my desire to overwhelm my thanksgiving, and in my exhaustion I allowed discourse to illuminate my failing. I am so sorry.
So, I mourn for something that I lost.
And, yet there is a warmth to a day like today, early in spring when each note of the birds song endures, stretched out as if time itself is slowed and her song reaches out to fill the space between, it’s not the same warmth that caresses your skin, arousing the senses, no it’s more immersed, and facile; it’s resurrection, an opportunity to fall in love; again. It's rebirth. It's a gift. And, I accept it with complete recognition of it's requisite. Thank you, love; Thank you.
This isn't what I intended to write today. I started writing wanting to write poetic prose about the season, and how much I'm enjoying the day but I kept getting stuck, and when actually let myself write this is what came out.
And, about the song... I just had to do it ;) Watch it!