Thursday, May 29, 2014

is europe getting bored with itself, aching for a war?

okay, i'm biting off more than i can chew. alas, living in post-war germany (1954-56) and later under the berlin wall, i'm suspicious. all those castles, all those ruins, new and old, didn't appear on the scene for our sight-seeing pleasure. for some reason they've loved going for each other's juggler, a murderous history of 2000 years. my hope, economics would show them the advantage of unity, hasn't exactly played out. the elections this week put pseudo-fascists in a lot of important positions. 

true, the old countries ain't what they used to be, bottom-heavy with immigrants, new eastern nations joining in, germany the economic power-house. europe suffering from colonization. isn't that ironic? of course, other things contribute. no common language, all the problems of the united states without the breathing room of its landscape and  educational system. maybe too many secure years with high taxes and national health have made the continentals extremely bored.  

years ago, an old woman, probably younger than i am now, said, "life much more interesting in wartime". half the novels coming out stories based in World War II, when the whole earth wallowed in events, individuals heroic or crushed, surviving by playing the piano or counterfeiting money. americans suffered the war from afar, though 365,000 soldiers died. and the returning vets had a hell of a time, probably the same as in this video. 

i wonder if russia backed off from taking more of the ukraine, sensing the europeans would like a fight, something to unify them, to forget the daily routine? boredom causes many wars, as daniel boorstin said in the image, when the united states creating illusions for itself. we do have the same language, and we have fought a bitter civil war. we've learned it's much more entertaining to watch battles from afar. 

i'm rereading aphorisms from the bed of procrustes by nassim taleb:

  In nature we never repeat the same motion; in captivity (office, gym,commute, sports), life is just repetitive-stress injury. NO randomness.

Modernity's double punishment is to make us both age prematurely and live longer

  Don't talk about "progress" in terms of longevity, safety, or comfort before comparing zoo animals to those in the wilderness. 

  Most people fear being without audiovisual stimulation because they are too repetitive when they think and imagine things on their own. 

  You exist if and only if you are free to do things without a visible objective, with no justification and, above all, outside the dictatorship of someone else's narrative. 

somewhere i read, "people feeling their religion too restrictive, seek a new one with more restrictions." the curse of individuality over tribalism. in the latter everyone has a sense of purpose: the survival of the group." (see video above again) remember: meaning is a feeling, not a thought. logic can't make you as happy as an ice-cream cone. 

working up a facebook page - trying to pull a life together:

Friday, May 9, 2014

in pursuit of the "The Flock"

of course, the whole presentation made me nervous. a college film project, The Flock, unfinished as yet. five students from california traveled the south, interviewing people from this particular religious group. one of them had been raised as part of it, displaced from southern california to alabama on orders from the church leaders. being a minister's kid, experiencing california to montana and back, i could sympathize with with their displacement.

they lived scattered in a southern city, mostly socializing with each other. nothing remarkable, except a point brought up by the academic expert in cults: the group more important than the family. and the children disciplined by everybody, thus displacing the parents with community rules. oddly, in the interviews the parents felt the experience hadn't been 'so bad' while the children felt angry, boiled in oil.

this brought my own experiences back, living cheek by jowel with church structures, attending various activities by command, though my parents not abysmal in this. in fact my mother once yelled at a neighbor for spanking me. montana a kind of hell for her. raised a city kid in oakland, california at twenty-two she made many a faux pas and incensed the women in the church, ie. "How could anybody live with outhouses?" combined with her undiagnosable illness - she'd had a hysterectomy the next year and the surgeon nicked an ovary. i'm sure her experiences struck me to the quick, not to mention she'd a huge scar from an appendectomy when i was in the womb.

during the question and answer period, the border between individual and 'cult' very hazy. the kid from alabama didn't want the focus on him. they'd hundreds of interview hours. how were they to organize it into a compelling movie? their interview questions distilled into twenty-five, it might be interesting to pick the most significant, say eight, and give a cross-section of answers building up to the most intense query.

for me, tribal raising the norm in distant anthropology. freud said, 'the biggest drive of an individual to belong to a circle of 200 or less.' unfortunately, in our ancestors' struggles, they needed to put tribe survival before the individual. in some the kids didn't even know who their fathers were and when they were past a certain age, the doctrines of the community dictated all actions.

obviously, mixing this old style with the modern age of necessary individuality bound to create tensions and bitterness. we rebel against our parents (mostly) while establishing our own domain. where does the boundary of the group impinge on this necessity? alas, any modern mass society would fall apart without the rule of law.

since the following statement made by a modern guru - not to mention being a social hermit myself - i add it with a question mark...?