Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Dimming Light

“That's always seemed so ridiculous to me, that people want to be around someone because they're pretty. It's like picking your breakfeast cereals based on color instead of taste.”
― John Green, "Paper Towns"

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Roman/Roma - Diverse Forms of Social Capital

Socrates - "In the course of my life I have often had intimations in dreams 'that I should compose music.' The same dream came to me sometimes in one form, and sometimes in another, but always saying the same or nearly the same words: 'Cultivate and make music,' said the dream."
- Plato, "Phaedo"

Monday, August 18, 2014

World's Spinning Out of the 'System" Relentlessly Advances

On August 2, 2009, after cordoning off part of the Arab neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem, Israeli police evicted two Palestinian families (more than 50 people) from their homes, allowing Jewish settlers immediately to move into the vacated houses. Although Israeli police cited a ruling by the country’s Supreme Court, the evicted Arab families had been living there for more than 50 years. This event which, rather exceptionally, did attract the attention of the world media, is part of a much larger and mostly ignored ongoing process.

Two years later, not much has changed. On October 16, 2011, Israel announced plans to build 2,600 new homes in southern Jerusalem, despite condemnation from the UN, the EU, and Britain. If implemented, the plans would not only divide the Arab section of the city from the rest of the occupied West Bank, but also severely undermine the chances of a viable Palestinian state and hamper the everyday life of Palestinians. The conclusion is obvious: while paying lip-service to the two-state solution, Israel is busy creating a situation on the ground that will render a two-state solution practically impossible. The dream that underlies this politics is best rendered by the wall that separates a settler’s town from the Palestinian town on a nearby hill somewhere in the West Bank. The Israeli side of the wall is painted with the image of the countryside beyond the wall—but without the Palestinian town, depicting just nature, grass, trees ... Is this not ethnic cleansing at its purest, imagining the outside beyond the wall as it should be: empty, virginal, waiting to be settled?
Slavoj Zizek, "What goes on when nothing goes on?"

Friday, August 15, 2014

More "Self"-Expression

Secretly hiding beneath eyelids where no one can see,
my mind discovers and explores inner countries and
highways, giving me pictures to write from.

Exercises in spontaneous writing always fulfill my
inner spirit as I quickly find the words to describe
and explain what I see.

New ideas flow bountifully and send me into nether
worlds where only I am present.

Taking self-expression to another world, I gloriously
enjoy every moment I am alone and free to be myself.
- RoseAnn V. Shawiak

But is it really "ME" that I express? Or the contents of the gap lying between me and the demands of an-"other"?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Mantra Supporting the Quest for Knowledge

"Mantra" (Sanskrit मंत्र) means a sacred utterance, numinous sound, or a syllable, word, phonemes, or group of words believed by some to have psychological and spiritual power.[2][3] Mantra may or may not be syntactic or have literal meaning; the spiritual value of mantra comes when it is audible, visible, or present in thought.[2][4]

Earliest mantras were composed in Vedic times by Hindus in India, and those are at least 3000 years old.[5] Mantras are now found in various schools of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.[3][6] Similar hymns, chants, compositions and concepts are found in Zoroastrianism,[7] Taoism, Christianity and elsewhere.[2]

The use, structure, function, importance and types of mantras vary according to the school and philosophy of Hinduism and of Buddhism. Mantras serve a central role in the tantric school of Hinduism.[5][8] In this school, mantras are considered equivalent to deities, a sacred formula and deeply personal ritual, and considered to be effective only after initiation. However, in other schools of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism or Sikhism, this is not so.[7][9]

Mantras come in many forms, including ṛc (verses from Rigveda for example) and sāman (musical chants from the Sāmaveda for example).[2][5] They are typically melodic, mathematically structured meters, resonant with numinous qualities. At its simplest, the word ॐ (Aum, Om) serves as a mantra. In more sophisticated forms, they are melodic phrases with spiritual interpretations such as human longing for truth, reality, light, immortality, peace, love, knowledge and action.[2][9] In other forms, they are literally meaningless, yet musically uplifting and spiritually meaningful.[5]
- from Wikipedia

Monday, August 11, 2014

A Supernatural Influence

I studied evil, I can't deny,
Was a hoodoo charm called a Love Me or Die,
Some fingernail, a piece of her dress,
Apocathery, Devil's behes'
I will relate, the piteous consequence my mistake,
Fallin slave to passin desire,
Makin' the dreaded Love me or Die.
Against a Jungle primeval green,
She had the looks of a beauty queen
No bangles or chain, wearin' broken shoe
Seventy-five cent bottle perfume.
I said, "Good mornin", I tipped my hat,
All the while I was cunning like a rat,
Smilin gaily, looked her in the eye,
I felt in pocket, the Love me or Die
My past history, one to behold,
I studied magic from days of old,
Membership, secret societies,
Power and wealth in my family
But Matilda, Darling,
Why you don't take my wedding ring,
Like a demon under the floor,
I buried the hoodoo down the back door.
Lawd, word broke through the town,
That a fever strike Matilda down,
Nine thirty, the doctor arrive,
Priest come runnin, quarter to five.
Standin in the weeds early next day,
I saw the meat wagon rollin away,
I seen Matilda layin in the back,
Her old mother wearin a suit of black
Sound the trumpet, and bang the drum,
I wait for me judgement to come,
I know her spirit is down beneath,
I hear the weepin and gnashing of the teeth.
Flames of Hell licks at my feet,
In the shadow of the Jungle I feel the heat,
Matilda's waiting in Hell for me too,
All cause she died from a bad hoodoo.
- CW Stoneking

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Future Horizons

Today, the media constantly bombard us with requests to choose, addressing us as subjects supposed to know what we really want (which book, clothes, TV program, place of holiday . . .)—“press A, if you want this, press B, if you want that,” or, to quote the motto of the recent “reflective” TV publicity campaign for advertisement itself, “Advertisement—the right to choose.” However, at a more fundamental level, the new media deprive the subject radically of the knowledge of what he wants: They address a thoroughly malleable subject who has constantly to be told what he wants, i.e., the very evocation of a choice to be made performatively creates the need for the object of choice. One should bear in mind here that the main function of the Master is to tell the subject what he wants—the need for the Master arises in answer to the subject’s confusion, insofar as he does not know what he wants. What, then, happens in the situation of the decline of the Master, when the subject himself is constantly bombarded with the request to give a sign as to what he wants? The exact opposite of what one would expect: It is when there is no one here to tell you what you really want, when all the burden of the choice is on you, that the big Other dominates you completely, and the choice effectively disappears, i.e., is replaced by its mere semblance. One is tempted to paraphrase here Lacan’s well- known reversal of Dostoyevski (“If there is no God, nothing is permitted at all”): If no forced choice confines the field of free choice, the very freedom of choice disappears.

This suspension of the function of the (symbolic) Master is the crucial feature of the Real whose contours loom at the horizon of the cyberspace universe: the moment of implosion when humanity will attend the limit impossible to transgress, the moment at which the coordinates of our societal life-world will be dissolved. At this moment, distances will be suspended (I will be able to communicate instantly through teleconferences with anywhere on the globe); all information, from texts to music to video, will be instantly available on my interface. However, the obverse of this suspension of the distance which separates me from a far-away foreigner is that, due to the gradual disappearance of contact with “real” bodily others, a neighbor will no longer be a neighbor, since he or she will be progressively replaced by a screen specter; the general availability will induce unbearable claustrophobia; the excess of choice will be experienced as the impossibility to choose; the universal direct participatory community will exclude all the more forcefully those who are prevented from participating in it. The vision of cyberspace opening up a future of unending possibilities of limitless change, of new multiple sex organs, etc., etc., conceals its exact opposite: an unheard-of imposition of radical closure. This, then, is the Real awaiting us, and all endeavors to symbolize this real, from utopian (the New Age or “deconstructionist” celebrations of the liberating potentials of cyberspace), to the blackest dystopian ones (the prospect of the total control by a God-like computerized network . . .), are just this, i.e., so many attempts to avoid the true “end of history,” the paradox of an infinity far more suffocating than any actual confinement. Is therefore one of the possible reactions to the excessive filling-in of the voids in cyberspace not the informational anorexia, the desperate refusal to accept informations?

Or, to put it in a different way, virtualization cancels the distance between a neighbor and a distant foreigner, insofar as it suspends the presence of the Other in the massive weight of the Real: neighbors and foreigners, all are equal in their spectral screen-presence. That is to say, why was the Christian injunction “love thy neighbor like thyself” so problematic for Freud? The proximity of the Other which makes a neighbor a neighbor is that of jouissance: When the presence of the Other becomes unbearable, suffocating, it means that we experience his or her mode of jouissance as too intrusive. And, what is the contemporary “postmodern” racism, if not a violent reaction to this virtualization of the Other, a return of the experience of the neighbor in his or her (or their) intolerable, traumatic presence? The feature which disturbs the racist in his Other (the way they laugh, the smell of their food . . .) is thus precisely the little piece of the real which bears witness to their presence beyond the symbolic order.
- Slavoj Zizek, "What can Psychoanalyses Tell Us About Cyberspace?"

Monday, August 4, 2014

Monday Blues

Monday, Monday. Can’t trust that day.
- The Mamas and the Papas

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Ashes to Ashes

Love has gone and left me and the days are all alike;
Eat I must, and sleep I will, — and would that night were here!
But ah! — to lie awake and hear the slow hours strike!
Would that it were day again! — with twilight near!

Love has gone and left me and I don't know what to do;
This or that or what you will is all the same to me;
But all the things that I begin I leave before I'm through, —
There's little use in anything as far as I can see.

Love has gone and left me, — and the neighbors knock and borrow,
And life goes on forever like the gnawing of a mouse, —
And to-morrow and to-morrow and to-morrow and to-morrow
There's this little street and this little house.
Edna St. Vincent Millay, "Ashes of Life"