OUR INSANELY GREAT AWAKENING

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the wandering class

LITERALLY I CAN’T

“Oh my God. Shut the fuck up.”

Welcome, children, I know you are all eager to take this, your final exam after twelve long years of state-enforced, parent-required, union-run, 20th century-modelled education. Please, still still, quietly, disconnect from all devices, you may not access any videos or data sources, no search engines or spreadsheets, no archived information or virtual reality training enhancements. That is not how we do things at school!

Brian! I am talking. Stop your fidgeting!

Good.

Now, to ensure you are ready for adulthood, I will call on each of you to answer a series of questions. Please, answer each to the fullest of your abilities.

Deena, you first!

The following is a list of 1,000 great books representing the very best of our culture. Name all those you have read.

None? Really? Ok.

Describe the structure of America’s government?

You can’t?

Recite the first amendment.

Yes, let’s skip that one.

Can you explain compound interest?

Agreed, that is too hard.

Have you ever balanced a checkbook?

No, I suppose you haven’t.

Here is a basic geometry question, a trigonometry problem, and an algebraic riddle. Solve.

Yes, you did get them all wrong, dear.

Recite a line from Shakespeare.

To be or not — close enough!

Give me an example of a depreciating asset.

Depreciating asset.

Depreciating.

Asset.

Name 3 presidents.

Yes, we’ll accept two.

Here is an internal combustion engine with two basic problems. Fix them.

Fine, that was too hard.

Connect this common API with this popular app.

Yes, that was also too hard, I’ll give you that.

Spell “debilitate.”

No, just one ‘a’ I’m afraid.

No, not there.

No, not there, either.

D-e-b-i-l-i-t-a-t-e.

Agreed, spelling isn’t terribly important. We should probably remove that question from the test.

Why did America enter World War 1?

Agreed, that was over 100 years ago, let me change the question.

Why did America enter World War 2?

Nazis? Yes, we’ll accept that.

Here is a number set. Calculate for us the mean, median and mode.

No, wait. That’s obviously too difficult. Question withdrawn.

That’s everything we have for you, Deena. Congratulations, you passed! The future welcomes you.

CONSUMPTION NOW!

“Farmer is a happy crook. Jesus hates him every day. Cause Jesus gave and farmer took.” 

You no longer need to work on Maggie’s farm. Near-global, all-digital, easily accessible platforms bring the world to you.

With little effort, minimal costs, and a few keystrokes, you are everywhere, and everyone who connects with you becomes a walking, talking, image-making proponent of your brand, every customer a positive ripple in the commercial marketing zeitgeist — remember, this requires near nothing from you — you are fully realized, able to launch a business, sell your wares, instantly satisfy wants, needs and fulfillments inside a dizzying partly-physical, slightly virtual planet-spanning logistical ecosystem.

It is glorious.

Technology should enable us, extend us, liberate us, maximize our talents, our skills, our commitment.

But I remain uneasy.

Logan Paul is a very popular “YouTube star” with millions of viewers — literally, despite the fact that you never heard of him. His various antics are watched by millions mostly on small screens, smartphones, tablets, laptops. He earns a great deal of money through YouTube advertisements.

Until now.

Many people were upset by how they viewed Mr. Paul’s response to recently “finding” a dead body.

These people, certain their righteousness was more right than others, took to the same semi-global platforms to howl their outrage. Google promptly marginalized Mr. Paul’s YouTube channel.

Which is fully their right, in America, in the early 21st century, given that it is their platform.

Except, there aren’t very many of these wondrous platforms. Maybe there can’t be?

If you can’t express your thoughts on Twitter, or promote your wares on Facebook, or upload your video to YouTube, that low-barrier, low-cost, giant-digital mart gets really small really fast.

Should we allow this?

Three companies — Google, Facebook, Twitter — all headquartered in one small area of one state in the United States can, anytime they wish, marginalize any business, any talent, any idea, any voice.

That’s far too much power.

For now, I am not suggesting we seek government redress. But, we must keep vigilant.

But wait. There’s more.

Let’s imagine a world where Google, Facebook and Twitter — and nearby Apple, which makes the world’s most popular smartphone, the prime entryway to our global bazaar, which is made in a democratically-opposed nation — all always do the right thing.

They are tolerant of voices and ideas and the many ways these are expressed.

No fears, everyone hop aboard!

Now what?

Everyone’s able to buy and sell and market and collect in this glorious grand parade of digitalized commerce.

But shouldn’t there be more?

Or different?

Check out my Amazon e-store!

Use the brand code from my Instagram feed!

Click on the App Store link on my blog!

All well and good, true enough. But it’s just stuff and money, honestly.

I deeply appreciate the always-learning, never-sleeping, constantly-iterating, desperately-challenging consensual hallucination that is capitalism. I do. It has extended our lives, broadened our minds, liberated our days.

But all we’re doing with these blessings is consuming.

That seems like a major failure on our part — not something we can blame on technology or capitalism or even small minds.

Rather, fear.

Let’s stop being afraid.

Let’s build what comes next to be better than who we are now.

I GOT I GOT I GOT I GOT

“I was born like this, since one like this, immaculate conception.
I transform like this, perform like this, was Yeshua’s new weapon.
I don’t contemplate, I meditate, then off your fucking head.”

This song is garbage.

Unlistenable.

All those who suggest it is a great song by a great artist, a testament of lived experience, are wrong.

It’s garbage.

7-11 taquitos.

Worse, maybe, the music is an annoying, ear-swatting, repetitive screech from some keyboard pressed play then left on repeat.

The lyrics a reflection of a culture, debased.

No — a culture debased, swallowed whole, regurgitated, then re-packaged for consumption.

The world should not be this.

Pop music form has regressed, like so much else. Deconstruction has set us backwards, not revealed fuller truths. Pop music reached its zenith in the late 1960s, rock music in the 1970s, rap in the 1980s and we’ve tried so hard to find the next, failed, but kept trying, and we had our punk and rage and metal and the many nonsensical iterations of metal and country rock and country pop and rap soul and pop soul and grunge and old school but they all kept slamming up against one another, all trying to sound new, and failing, because the form itself can’t be made greater, there can only be something to replace it, except the machine that is commerce refuses to let go, fearful of losing any money and so just as painting was doomed to never reach greater heights in the 20th century — after photography and literal moving pictures were born — so too is pop music likewise now just poses, winks, nods and fuck yous to the establishment, to the fans, the believers.

No, Taylor Swift is the equivalent of your dad starting a conversation with you by discussing the most recent favorable outcome of your favorite sports team. Comforting, possibly inviting, but not the point.

We know we must go forward and we have no idea what that means.

Pop music was a gift by and from and, sadly, to the 20th century.

All we’re doing now is pretending garbage like “DNA” is listenable. Art.

“See, you’s a, you’s a, you’s a—
Bitch, your hormones prolly switch inside your DNA
Problem is, all that sucker shit inside your DNA
Daddy prolly snitched, heritage inside your DNA.”

A front, a pose, playacting, the “artist,” as fully realized, human wrecking crew, manifesting ripples in the force, all the world pays attention.

It’s false. It’s shit. Don’t give it any part of you.

“I don’t contemplate, I meditate, then off your fucking head
This that put-the-kids-to-bed
This that I got, I got, I got, I got
Realness, I just kill shit ’cause it’s in my DNA
I got millions, I got riches buildin’ in my DNA.”

Everybody chasing money, whole world in debt.

This is what we’ve allowed our world to become.

Debased, violent, greedy.

And still can’t come up with a way out.

Lamar’s talent is to feast on this shit and puke gold. Yours is not. You fool yourself to think otherwise.

Lamar excels in this world, bad as it is, rotten as he knows it is, and you are welcome to embrace that rottenness, to try and be like Lamar, except fail miserably at it. Or, you can take another path, a path that leaves this rot behind.

Lamar has a gift. The word flow, punctured beat, syncopated rap, the phrases, the rhythms, the repeats, all coming so fast, so strong, you hear his beauty poking out from beneath all the excess, and all of it wasted in the flesh, in the cash, in the now, with all that anger

This won’t take us forward.

Create something beautiful.

But if you can’t create something beautiful, probably that’s because this reality won’t allow it to come to life.

We’ll have to change this reality.

THANK GOD FOR MOM AND DAD

The bouncy, banging Hey Ya! by Outkast may be the most fun song with the most happy music paired with the most disheartening words.

I think it a reflection of our present age — despite having been released nearly 15 years ago.

Turn it up.

Feet tappin, finger snappin, lyrical rappin, fist pumpin bass, beat and keys, now rush onto the dance floor, flesh pressed against flesh, everyone happy, free, boundless.

Listen to what is being said.

“Thank God for Mom and Dad for sticking through together cause we don’t know how.”

Dark.

A one line lyrical bomb dropped on the prevailing, prevaricating culture, the culture of now.

Mom and dad stuck it out, through good times and bad, but you know, even at this tender age, that you are too weak, too undisciplined, too fearful of the slightest emotional pain to stay together — as one.

“Oh, we’ve been together, but separate’s always better when there’s feelings involved.”

Feelings, true, honest, lasting, as soon as these arise — run! That’s what this playful, high energy song — doesn’t recommend, but reveals is what’s taking place.

As soon as it gets real, you run.

And the culture, today’s culture, sanctions this, enables this, promotes this.

Are you strong enough to defy?

Make yourself strong enough to defy.

Jesus remarked, in Luke, that: “just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.” 

Don’t get drowned in the flood.

The world doesn’t need your now but your future, not your joy but your strength, not your body but your spirit, not your alone but your togetherness.

You can make the world much better, just as you can make yourself much greater, even as everything the past has constructed demands you focus instead on this now, these desires, it’s appetite.

“Y’all don’t want to hear me, you just want to dance.”

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.

BUS RIDE

Truth be told, it wasn’t my idea, not the revival part, that just happened, I just wanted to go, just go and keep going, maybe bring joy into people’s lives, starting with mine, see what’s out there, learn, change, help, like disciples, only we had no leader, no Jesus, least not one we could all point to, that kind of magic had long since been taught out of us, though we still were allowed to create our own magic, if we could, most couldn’t, but that’s not my issue, or maybe it is, maybe that’s why I did this, because I just one day decided to use what little money we had, never told the wives, though they needed to go also, that much was clear, and so I refashioned a late model driverless truck and made it into a traveling mobile home, not home, exactly, more a collection of people, me, the wives, our children, a couple neighbors, others who joined us, took a lot of time, wasn’t hard, just time-consuming, of course time I have plenty of, what with our monthly stipend only requiring us to pledge to work 4 hours a day, but it took me a year, all told, to turn that truck into a mobile village, two bathrooms, makeshift kitchen, bunks for 15, plus our tools, out belongings, we’d travel the roads, laugh at the folks staring at us, stop wherever it seemed interesting, or when we had grown too restless to keep moving, bit of petty crime, some sex trade, off-list drugs, that sort of stuff, only it slowly turned into something else, a sort of revival in motion, others tracking our every mile, we’d all get out, the curious townfolk would gather, like we were from some distant star, at first a few, then crowds of fifty, then a hundred, then a thousand, a mini-economy built up, we’d offer music and dance, do baptisms for money, trade artwork for protein drinks and anti-aging pills, offer prayers for the people who joined in, and sometimes for those that didn’t, maybe stay in other’s homes, learn from each other, steal a small object or two, tack it onto the bus, a testament to who we met, where we’d been, their lives, though that wasn’t always easy, the motors in my legs had long since run down and not many were willing to help a 600-pound-man into their home, then on to the next town, then the next, hoping that the bridge from Alaska to Russia, which they promised to have completed five years ago, ever got finished, yes it was fine for everyone watching us, we’re now one of the most popular shows on the screen, people tracking us eat, sleep, stop, build, tear down, but I’d also like to see those folks across the oceans in real, not just in screen, that also makes for much better music, I think, since it’s quicker to feel what the others feel, of course that’s for another day, right now I’m just happy to be moving, staring up out the window overhead, laying here in my bunk, wondering what it will be like where we stop next, how the people will treat us, how the local security will treat us, what the children will discover, who will join us, who will depart us, what we’ll trade, that’s always the most fun, the thinking about it before.

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