Tuesday, August 21, 2012

the closing of american academia

I came across a great article today on Al Jazeera, "The closing of American academia."


I find it fascinating, this myth that higher education always leads to more prosperity. That is it something to be sought after highly. I resent the baby boomer ideal that if you only work hard enough, you can achieve anything. So, if I do well in school and get good grades and try to get the highest degree available in a field I can...do what? Earn $10,000 a year and be on food stamps? I', going to get this degree, but I'm doing it because I think we live in a world that values "haves" and "have nots." I think it will be easier for me to emigrate and easier for me to slip into upper echelons of society wherever I live. I am doing it because the prosperity is running out in America, and free graduate degrees are going the way of the dodo bird. I am sucking the last bits of affluence I can out of this dying empire and I'm getting the hell out. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

everything is a remix, or against individualism

I saw this video posted today by my good friend Bridget and it put together succinctly a lot of what I've been thinking lately. I read a book years ago called The Modern Mind. It describes the development of western thought through the twentieth century as a novel would. It tells a story. And in this story it is absolutely clear that ideas do not come from individual genius. Ideas are shared, developed communally, and inevitable.

This thinking that there are individual geniuses who are exponentially more creative and innovative than the rest of us blind, ignorant masses is so in alignment with all of the thinking that epitomizes this country. And the results of this thinking are catastrophic. If we think that individuals make the world, it leads to less sharing, and therefore less innovation. It also leads to a very western psychological problem which is what I think of as the flip side to the American Dream. Let's call it the American Nightmare Syndrome. This ANS engenders thinking such as "If I have not been successful (wealth/fame/innovation/etc), than it is my fault as an individual." The flip side of this is of course the American Dream Syndrome which states "I can do anything if I (individually) work hard enough, focus enough and have enough strength of character." However, what the speaker is saying in this video above is that these innovations come inevitably with the evolution of human society. If you have not innovated a new product, it is because those ideas have not yet coalesced enough to become possible.

Let go of the control you think you have on your life and circumstances. Let go and just be. Follow the path that makes you happy, and if you happen to be in the right place at the right time to do something great, do it. If not, you're still doing something great by taking in the creativity of others (which is an inevitable part of life) and making it new. Just by speaking or cooking or telling a joke you are making something new out of all of the creative input you've had in your life. Embrace it! Don't try to sell it or keep it to yourself. Love it! Feel the power in the fact that you were able to make that meal because of all of the meals that came before in your lifetime and the lifetime of anyone who has taught you too cook. Enjoy it!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

the sacred

I have an idea for a religion, one that I already practice. It involves not rules of how to live or how to relate to other people, but only the love of sacred spaces. This idea came to me in Arches National Park in Utah this past June. Walking through these caverns and under these magnificent stone arches, I felt a need to call this space sacred.

Well, but what is sacred if not a rule made by moral men dictating what much be done? I wondered if in this religion, my religion, if sacred could mean more than that. It could mean a space that is necessary for the existence of all things. A space that must be treasured and cared for. A space where no injuries such as loud motors or pavement should be allowed to exist. If there were any place that I would consider my temple, it would be the red rock desert of Utah. I wish the religious fervor of the world could be directed toward the truly sacred.


Lately, I have decided to try to make my mindset more positive. This is a hard task in the world in which I live with the wars, environmental degradation, corruption, the endless stream of attacks on my person through advertising and marketing. For a good portion of my life, I found purpose in knowing these things. I could not stand listening to the half-baked explanations given by the people I know about the phenomena of our world. I wanted to truly know why things were the way they were. I looked into different continents, different eras of human history, and I got answers. Once I had these answers, I needed the solution for my life. How to avoid all this suffering? This modern American life isn't the way it has to be. There are options.

Then I chose my life -- the life of a homesteader. There are many reasons that this is the life that will work for me, but for now I'll just say it is because I think it will lead to the most happiness and the least suffering (which are not the same thing).

So, now I know the life I want to lead and why I want to lead it. The next few years will be devoted to getting there. Which brings me back to why I want more positivity in my life. Learning all I did about the world caused me a lot of pain personally. The truth was painful. We are not spiraling toward an ever better world. No one is going to solve the problems we have as a global society. These problems that exist now are an inherent outcome of the development of human society. These facts are terribly sad ones, and I am faced with evidence for all of these facts daily -- in our politicians, advertisements, news cycle even in the actions of strangers.

 So, I am in a point now where I would simply like to cut out as much of the negativity as possible. that includes too much internet news, or tv shows. I want to know some things that are happening in the world, but I am now getting diminishing returns from knowing all of it. It is not changing my plan for my life, it is only reinforcing it. With that in mind, here are a few videos that have made me feel really positive recently, from people who have brought positivity into the lives of many: