OUR INSANELY GREAT AWAKENING

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[DIFFERENTLY ALIVE] - page 5

BE POSITIVE THOUGH IT HURTS

Why do you remain?

The same beliefs same routine same expectations all the lies.

Does new ease the pain?

Might shiny blind out the fear?

Buy iPhone X.

A device that knows everything about you, including your location, your face and fingerprints, from a tax dodging corporation that makes its products in a country which has outlawed anonymity on the web and imprisons people for wrongspeak.

You’re the future!

“Sometimes in the morning I am petrified and can’t move.”

I deleted my Gmail account. No, this is different, my gmail was not like yours. I was one of the very first. It was April 2o04, the product still in beta, but thanks to my also being one of the very first to have and fund and manage a Google keywords ad campaign for a small business, I was so honored with what at the time seemed like the future of communicating online for business.

Now, more than 13 years later, all gone. Every email. Tens of thousands, sent and received.

I also recently deleted well over 100,000 tweets. Yes, really.

“But the lows are so extreme that the good seems fucking cheap.”

We think our digital traces never really go away and that digital spaces are anlogous to physical ones. Both thoughts are false.

Digital matters, but differently.

Like sight, but not touch, like hearing, but not smelling.

But we are allowing it to consume us, all of us, all the parts of us, our connections, our prospects, our thoughts and fears, our joys, our past.

We are so much more than what it can contain.

“You’ll be honest, you’ll be brave
You’ll be handsome, you’ll be beautiful
You’ll be happy”

Rilo Kiley, now effectively deceased, were deliberately anti-commercial, their songs constructed to celebrate their joys, but never quite, to showcase their voice, yet sublimate underneath the gear, their words expressing their feelings, but never their rawness.

They couldn’t be true, full, honest, themselves.

There’s a lesson in that.

“Your ship may be coming in. You’re weak but not giving in.”

It’s good to not give up. And it may be liberating for you to leave behind.

You can not respond, not engage, not share, not like, not pose, and still go forward with your life. I promise you. In a fit of indignation, Rilo Kiley sang “that God never blessed her insides,” but he has yours. And that’s all the validation you need.

THE REVEALING SCIENCE OF GOD

There has never been a better time to outlaw abortion. In fact, it may be necessary for our survival.

Confession: should God exist, and I believe this is so, and should God care, and I believe this is also so, my two great fears re godly retribution — not just for me, but humanity — will come from our gruesome, emotionally distant and utterly dollar-based treatment of the animals we eat, and our flippant embrace of abortion: for convenience.

I know, I know, this is crazy talk, it will never happen, if I got a young woman pregnant I would encourage her to get an abortion, I don’t want to be responsible for round-the-clock care of a fully disabled young life, our bodies, our choice, all the excuses, I am aware of these all and sympathetic to each.

But the science is clear.

We know what a four-month-old human fetus looks like, feels like. Our machines reveal to us how it is impacted by the mother’s various physical and emotional inputs. It’s size and gender and the many physical and electrical signals it puts out now avail themselves to us.

Human life.

There’s more.

And this is why the issue is so pressing.

We are now actively seeking to hack mortality, to extend human life beyond 100 years, 150 years, maybe longer, some believe as long as 1,000 years, and even some exploring methods to digitize “consciousness” — even while we can’t fully define the term — and thereby remove ourselves from the bodily realm, except: we don’t know yet how to achieve any of this and are unable to fully test these theories of human usurpation upon ourselves. Yet we are moments away from using those ((humans)) that come next — human DNA, fertilized eggs, fetuses — as our test pattern, our use case. We are editing genes, striking out offending DNA, experimenting on flesh and its components to create an improved form, stronger, smarter, taller, prettier, happier, longer-lived. But for all those who fail to meet our expectations?

Tossed into the dustbin of countless mortal failures.

Vile.

Ours is the age of destruction, which is frightening, yes, but also exhilarating, as we are moving at technological scale and speed to create new realities and alter our place within them and our interactions over them.

But we must not abandon our humanity.

We must also never allow humanity to be abandoned.

We are tinkering with human life with the explicit goal of lasting transformation and we simultaneously and very literally do not know what is right or best, so let us declare now and forever: all failures, as we define them at the time, along with all successes, similarly defined, must be honored, accepted, cared for, and endowed with the same rights and potentials as each of us, just as each of us must retain the very same rights and potentials as all those who follow.

As the past slips from our understanding, we cannot allow it to be expunged from our compassion.

We are and must always remain the totality of all which has come before.

Smarter, stronger, better, we believe ourselves to be this and more compared to those that came before, but true or not, we retain pieces of them just as we retain pieces of the cosmos. Never forget.

“Amused but real in thought we fled from the sea whole.”

In 1973, following the release of several groundbreaking and very popular albums, Yes released their boastful opus, Tales From Topographic Oceans.

2 LPs, 4 sides, 80 minutes, insufferable, much too long, full of hubris, but also brilliant at times, soaring in places, uplifting, enlightening, an earnest musical foray into thought, gods, the beginnings of life and that which it makes whole, a dense pop music exploration that challenged convention all while taking the listener on a journey close to the edge of what could come next in music, only to collapse into the abyss.

Side 1, wonderful.

Sides 2-4, tolerable, but only just, and only for those who, like me, love 1970s progressive rock and honor Yes’ place amongst the greats.

“Young Christians see it from the beginning
Old people feel it, that’s what they’re saying
Move over glory to sons of old fighters past”

This is worth a listen.

We are blithely, blindly tinkering with actual human form — not values, not ideas, not building tools, not altering how we live or where, nor even how long  — but actual human form.

There will be successes, of course, amongst the shocking horrors, but as you stare into that deep, dark truthful mirror, remember now to look out, there you see all the cravenness, the ills and suffering, the lies and desires, and you know, despite our potential, despite all the effort and money from the rich, from the genius-crazy, from the evil, and from the hopeful, that our only hope going forward is strict adherence to the honor and preservation of life.

That comes first, always.

Not improvements, not abandonments, not potential.

“What happened to wonders we once knew so well?
Did we forget what happened? Surely we can tell.
We must have waited all our lives for this, moment.”

 

GOD KNOWS I DO

“I really do believe there’s a heaven somewhere. There’s a heaven somewhere”

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced its inductees for 2018. The new members include Bon Jovi, Dire Straits, the Moody Blues, the Cars and Nina Simone. Sister Rosetta Tharpe will be (posthumously) given the Early Influence award.

I did not get a vote.

Had, I would not have included Bon Jovi. I would likewise not have voted for the Cars and probably not Dire Straits. Sister Rosetta Tharpe, I absolutely would have inducted as a full member. I would also have added Yes, the Doobie Brothers Joy Division (plus, New Order), ELO, Jim Croce, Hall and Oates Dick Dale, Beck, Talking Heads, INXS, and probably PJ Harvey.

You likely know all of them except for Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

Know her.

A supremely gifted guitarist who died before most Americans were yet born, she inspired churchgoers, backsliders, black, white, Elvis, Brits, Jerry Lee Lewis, and countless others.

(Tharpe) attained popularity in the 1930s and 1940s with her gospel recordings, characterized by a unique mixture of spiritual lyrics and rhythmic accompaniment that was a precursor of rock and roll. She was the first great recording star of gospel music and among the first gospel musicians to appeal to rhythm-and-blues and rock-and-roll audiences, later being referred to as “the original soul sister” and “the Godmother of rock and roll”. She influenced early rock-and-roll musicians, including Little Richard, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis. 

Tharpe was a pioneer in her guitar technique; she was among the first popular recording artists to use heavy distortion on her electric guitar, presaging the rise of electric blues. Her guitar playing technique had a profound influence on the development of British blues in the 1960s.

“There’s a heaven somewhere, up above my head. Yeah, yeah, yeah.”

We undervalue pioneers, still, excepting those few that become fabulously wealthy.

I wonder if this will cease? This is the age of the destruction of everything, with the world changing so fully, so fastly, that soon the past will be as unknowable as the future.

And there will become a permanent global wandering class.

Unable to thrive within existing cultural, political and economic structures, they take to their driverless cars, using social media to interact, their hands and talents to craft, bitcoin to buy and sell, algorithms to barter.

Let’s talk now about government.

This post is not political.

Government is a consuming beast, benevolent when required or whenever mutually beneficial, but always demanding, always growing, like a shark that must keep swimming, but always always always it is seeking to devour independence, suspicious of all and whatever that might challenge its supremacy.

America presents a complication.

If the Bible is the inspired word of God, the Constitution is the inspired word of freedom.

The structure of our government — and when combined with the sanctioned bill of rights — places hard, repeated limits on the unquenchable fire of government rapaciousness.

They found a workaround.

Importing people and marginalizing others, creating a dependent class, ensures at least a high floor to government power. The dependent simply aren’t going to challenge the government’s efforts to grow and take.

They found another workaround.

Government becomes intertwined with the culture, such that no day, no moment can pass without our eyes and ears, at minimum, repeatedly and aggressively assaulted (or informed) of the government’s actions, demands and desires, and…by working very closely with those who control the culture’s entertainment, government can also sanction thought, behavior, norms while marginalizing and disempowering those who — witch-like — operate beyond its scope. This presently includes some evangelical Christians, the last remaining hippies, and a few others. 

Should such groups ever in any way threaten the  government’s glorification, the government simply goes after those groups, stripping them of freedoms, and forcing them to take on government in its realm — almost always a losing proposition for the non-government side.

But we do have examples of those very few who fight in this arena — and win.

They do so almost always through the force of their talent, so great is it that it can’t be hidden away nor destroyed nor mocked nor denied, and so great is its power that it changes people, changes their hearts, minds, and alters reality, like sound ripples which loosen the rungs, maybe even destroy a column, possibly even damaging the foundation of all existing structures.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe was one such talent.

Yes, she rendered unto Caesar, as is still required, but her playing of the electric guitar revealed to us all of a new way, a better way, of a kingdom beyond.

“Up above my head, I hear music in the air.”


Another pioneering entertainer, Miss Roise Mae Moore, who recorded in the 1920s.

BABY YOU’RE A RICH MAN

The rich young man informed Jesus that he faithfully obeyed each of the commandments. The rich young man was certain Jesus would smile, nod, bless him, then send him on.

Jesus did not.

Instead, Jesus told the man to sell his possessions, give all his wealth to the poor.

We are led to believe the man did not.

We spend too much time admiring the rich, discussing the rich, attempting to copy the rich, I think, rather than seeking to understand the poor, and poverty, and living without.

Chamath Palihapitiya is a very rich man.

Facebook money.

Mr. Palihapitiya, who also owns the Golden State Warriors and interests in various tech companies, is, I doubt you are surprised to learn, quick to tell others what they are doing wrong.

Recently, however, he told us what he did wrong: help build Facebook.

“The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse. No cooperation. Misinformation. Mistruth. And it’s not an American problem. This is not about Russian ads. This is a global problem. So we are in a really bad state of affairs right now, in my opinion.”

Do not expect Mr. Palihapitiya to give any of his Facebook money back.

Do not expect him to live like the poor, nor the middle, nor even the well-to-do professional class. He belongs to that tiny thriving cabal of aggressively globalist, virulently tech-centric, fabulously wealthy men and women who have prospered these past 30 years, even as millions of Others lose their work, their livelihood, witness the destruction of their community.

One of the apex beneficiaries of a political + financial + educational + economic structure which we can only question now because of the very clear and present backlash to it. It’s sort of like how those winning the culture wars never say culture wars, just culture. Only the losers say culture war. For the winners, it’s the culture.

For the economic winners, globalization is The Economy.

Until it’s not, of course.

To deride the men and women who find hope in electing men and women who just might represent their needs, their wants, their communities, at long last, is to deny the very real suffering your preferred economic system has created for millions.

Don’t do that.

Maybe the poor will always be with us, but the poor have a vote, and they also deserve a listen.

Tupac wondered if there is a ghetto in heaven.

“I’d rather be dead than a po’ nigga
Let the Lord judge the criminals
If I die, I wonder if Heaven got a ghetto”

I suspect not.

I Wonder If Heaven Got a Ghetto is a lyrical call to worship and a brutal call to arms. A five-minute homily that drops more wisdom, more real, than a college student might learn in a year — or a journalist in a lifetime.

Sadly, the music is wretched. Strip away the words and I Wonder If Heaven Got a Ghetto is almost painful to listen to, a throwaway 1990s drum kit vomit of a song, saccharine R&B blended with “urban adult contemporary” preening.

I think our current economic and cultural and political structures, particularly those being built up, less so those crumbling, those fading into the past, and the ones being set fire to, are like this Tupac song. There is brilliance inside, and goodness, and truth, and a reaching out, and a looking toward, but there’s also so much crap and hate and anger and violence overlaid, and we need to come to terms with this, if we are to right it.

Maybe, and I can’t promise this will be validated, but maybe if we listen to all those who the current cultural winners are brandishing as angry or racist or on the wrong side of history, maybe we can make the system they so admire actually work for all.

And without anybody having to give up everything they got.

“Now the tables have turned around
You didn’t listen, until the niggas burned it down
And now Bush can’t stop the hit
I predicted the shit, in 2Pacalypse
And for once I was down with niggas, felt good
In the hood bein’ around the niggas, yeah
And for the first time everybody let go
And the streets was death row
I wonder if Heaven got a ghetto”

GOD GAVE ME EVERYTHING

Listen to that fast-charging, tight jangling guitar lick, that steady stomping beat, hard metallic ripples piercing your speakers. Now here comes Mick, still bringing it deep into his golden years.

Punk. Rocker.

I mean that as a compliment.

God may have given him everything, but Mick Jagger has given us so much.

“God gave me everything I want
Come on, I’ll give it all to you
God gave me everything I want
Now come on, I’ll give it all to you”

Badass. And us men we do so admire a badass. Women, too, I suspect. How could they not?

Immense talent that finds its voice — and then always delivers. That’s a rare gift. Let’s enjoy it — and honor him — while he still lives.

Let’s also imagine that God gives each of us everything we want. What might that be like?

“God gave me everything I want. I can’t stop, can’t stop, I’m still looking.”

President Trump issued a “space policy directive” to NASA to send men to the moon, then eventually to Mars.

I would love to go to Mars! (And safely return, of course.)

I would love to be fabulously wealthy.

Also fit, attractive, smart, revered.

In the closet areas of my brain are many other yet-experienced realities I would no doubt relish should God see fit to give me everything I want.

But he hasn’t.

And there’s that gnawing suspicion that God knows best.

We have more than ever before. We have more than 99.999% of the entirety of humanity and its antecedents and, based on data gathered by my eyes, ears and other senses, we are not healthier, not stronger, not happier, not better.

Sleep comes with effort.

Depression visits regularly.

Obesity, outrage and discontent are commonplace.

We take so many pills that apps now exist to remind us to take all our pills.

But Mick seems happy.

Is getting everything you want only right for some?

“I saw it in the midnight sun
And I felt it in the race I won
And I hear it in the windy storm
And I feel it in the icy dawn

And I smell it in the wine I taste
And I see it in my father’s face
And I hear it in a symphony
And I feel it in the love you show for me”

We have so much.

Maybe it’s too much, I can’t say.

We’re losing our past while the future becomes everything but certain.

That grates on identity and identity is reality.

Maybe gratitude will cure us?

If not, then do like the poor boys do and sing for a rock ‘n roll band.

Worked for Mick Jagger.

ALL HOPE IS GONE

Why do you believe?

The culture demands you jettison belief in God, in religion, in your gender, your genetics, your nation’s boundaries. Believe instead — the cultural gatekeepers and media bullhorns proclaim — in diversity, in fluidity, in globalization, in technology, in those jobs not coming back, in all of the things, however true, not true or somehow in-between, which encourage you to consume more, buy more, dispose more, and link your identity more strongly to your possessions, even as you replace them daily, weekly, yearly.

What does belief gain you?

A man using standard computing equipment was able to (digitally) swap the face of a porn actress with superstar Gal Gadot, the actress who so capably plays Wonder Woman.

It’s difficult for human eyes to see the truth, more so than ever before.

Probably, the viewers of porn want exactly that.

There was a terror attack in New York City today. Thankfully, a mostly botched attack.

A young man from Bangladesh.

He came to America.

He lived here for seven years.

He was in nearly all ways discernible to our eyes — and ears and other senses — utterly non-descript.

After a recent visit back to Bangladesh, he changed.

Today, he attempted to set off a bomb on the New York City subway.

Mostly, he harmed himself.

What if — bear with me here — the young man felt compelled to make and set off a bomb, kill scores of innocent people, but he simultaneously didn’t want to?

What if — bear with me here — whatever was compelling him to commit his dastardly act was not at all what he wanted to do?

I entertain the idea that the Bible is a makers guide. There are two elements to this notion:

  1. the Bible’s tales of morality, goodness, and faith instruct humanity — and guide us as we create evermore capable machines
  2. what if — yes, I know this is utterly fantastical — the Bible is also a *literal* makers guide, directing our technological development?

Mad, I know.

Bear with me.

I think today of Joseph. God spoke to Joseph, according to the Bible, through Joseph’s dreams. The dreams told Joseph what to do about Mary, about Christ, when to leave Bethlehem, when to go to Egypt, when to leave again.

Can we — us mortals — develop technology that enables us to send messages into another’s dreams?

Can we make voice a weapon?

Certainly, it’s already used as a substitute for magic.

You speak, your voice travels twenty feet where it reaches your Amazon Echo, which awakens, connects to the Internet, interacts with multiple computers and data sources, then returns with your request, speaking back to you.

Let’s do this, but into a person’s dreams!

A tree falls in the forest, no one is around to hear it, but once all the world’s things are wired, connected, we can hear whatever we want, from wherever and whenever we choose.

What then?

Hearing, seeing, as fluid as your twitter feed?

Question everything becomes no longer a pose, rather, the world we have constructed.

Sometimes, that’s cool.

One of the things I love so much about Beck is that I feel that even his failures — and, honestly, I think most of his songs are near-failures — but even his failures reveal our possible paths, pointing the way to a future, a future that is sometimes acceptable, sometimes exactly not.

Beck’s rhythmic collages of noise, cultural detritus, a flotsam of aural impressions, these alter how we see the world.

The past de-constructed, the future uncertain.

“Rockin’ the city, close to god
Engines running, all hope is gone
Out on the highway, having a baby
Crawling the city, close to god
Engines running
Dixie fried
Got a feeling, that I’m leaving
Extra sugar, heavy breathing”

After you hear Close to God, consider next Sweet Satan.

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