Yesterday public television in Seattle celebrated their decade-long relationship with the just-deceased self-help writer Wayne Dyer, and to honor the author the station was replaying one of his final talks.
The theme of his presentation alludes me; it was something about Five Steps to Something or Other, the secrets of which were contained in his new book, which was touted tastefully throughout his talk.
I decided to give the show a try, despite the fact that I’ve a strong aversion to listening to other people talk or write about ‘how’ life should be lived or experienced.
Prior to the advent of the Internet, this phenomenon of people giving advice about living was always buzzing in the background of life, but not in the omnipresent way it does now.
The Net has mutated what used to be a semi-contained industry (the self-help, how-to world) into a bacchanalia of yapping gurus and guides — billions of bromides pinging back and forth across blogs, YouTube and social media every hour.
The world, as the Net depicts it, is divided into distinct camps: Those with electronic devices doing nothing. And those doing nothing but writing or talking about doing stuff and then selling that information on an electronic device to people that aren’t doing anything.
While watching the PBS tribute to Wayne Dyer talking about Wayne Dyer and Wayne Dyer’s new book about doing stuff to be a better person like Wayne Dyer, my fascination and agitation landed not on Dyer, but on the audience.
Their eagerness and willingness to be told how they could improve their lives felt heartbreaking. Because the camera would periodically cutaway to random scans of the crowd, I was privy to dozens of eyeholes dilated in moist receptivity as Dyer spoonfed them a list of dos and don’ts for a ‘better life.’
Dyer had conveniently crafted these pointers into a list that was transformed into an illustration of a ladder with five distinct steps. And because our culture is obsessed to the point of mania with lists, the childlike image of the ladder remained projected behind Dyer as his proverbs tumbled forth.
I squirmed. Each ‘pointer’ or step on the ladder was related to Dyer’s personal existence — as if I were interested. (I write this flatly, not from a place of mean-spiritedness but fact, I wasn’t intrigued, though I’m sure many in the audience were.)
Dyer’s peculiar mix of humility and hubris was incredibly distracting. I kept thinking, “God, this is so brilliant. You missed your calling (and million$) by not starting a church or movement.” And yet my eyeholes were bone-dry.
Too, this interweaving of the promise of a secret to be revealed (to better oneself or reach a financial goal), with Dyer’s insistent desire to give it to me was just weird.
I’ve long suggested that no one follows the how-tos of self-help books. Books of this ilk are akin to talismans that people keep on their nightstand to remind them of something or other that is supposed to make their life better while they continue to do what they’ve always done because in the end the only person anyone is interested in hearing from is oneself.
Gurdjieff‘s student, the writer O.R. Orage wrote: “Imagination as we use it, is simply an excess of desire over ability.” Self-help books allow for a kind of imaginary ability that turns out to be nothing more than a hybrid form of procrastination. This deluded state hovers about in the mind for a couple of weeks and then the book begins to gather dust on the nightstand.
Finally, perhaps, maybe, you get your shit together and act from some kind of gumption. Often this comes via desperation or is tied in with eleventh-hour providence. But whatever: “Yay, you’re off of your ass!”
Moving in life, doing things, takes courage and I’m fascinated by how and why humans have lost so much courage, the scale of which you can track by watching the bestseller status of various self-help and how-to books.
Or just listen to the predominate message within politics, which goes something like: “Vote for ___ and she’ll guarantee that you and your family will survive this weird post-industrial society you’re struggling to survive in.” But why must I wait for Bernie Sanders to make my life better? (I think Bernie’s great by the way — but why displace my courage and faith unto him?)
So, the point of this post isn’t to make fun of self-help books but to act as a reminder or a spirited nudge. A reminder to pay attention to the impulse to buy books (or listen incessantly to TED talks about things you should be doing yourself) that are stand-ins for your goals and the kind of focus and exertion of will required to fulfill your purpose.
What is the solution to escaping the tyranny of the how-to-self-help-yourself stuff?
Well, if I told you that you’d be in the same cycle I’ve outlined above. Instead, I’ll offer some insights and observations that seem closer to (and are germane with) the universal. These are suggestions for you to poke at and entertain in passing. Lightly. Read more
Rémi Gaillard is a guy who lost his job as a shoe salesman and then decided to transform the big question mark in his life (as in “What to do next?”) by spreading that question mark all over the world as a culture jammer, (as in people scratching their heads while watching him and asking “What the fuck?)
Think of Rémi like another Banksy but only much more juvenile, a graduate of the Jackass school of agitprop.
Gaillard is a good example of someone taking a scary life event (unemployment) and flipping it into a cue to start doing exactly what he loved most, namely comedy and furries and disturbing the status quo. (Furries? Well, just Google it).
Gaillard’s motto is “C’est en faisant n’importe quoi qu’on devient n’importe qui.”
Translated: “It’s by doing whatever that one becomes whoever.”
I’m needlepointing that into my bedspread right after this post goes live.
As a man interested in comely men, I will vouch, too, for P.E.T.A’s designation of Rémi being one of the sexiest vegetarians on the planet. I’d like to share a tofu burger with him at his earliest convenience.
His natal chart (February 7, 1975 in Montpellier, France — no birth time) shows a not-surprising water trine between Venus and Uranus. Venus (and Mars) in Pisces folks have a strong affinity with animals. Perhaps this is related to the traditional association of the signs Virgo and Pisces (with little and large animals, respectively.) You can think of this signature as someone who loves (Venus) to create chaos (Uranus) by wearing animal (Pisces) costumes. Feel free to add that description to your collection of key phrases for astrological aspects.
Amplifying his comedic nature is Aquarius and Saturn. It might be that Gaillard’s moon resides in Capricorn, too, depending on time of birth, but he’s definitely an Aquarian. And as I remind folks with a strong Saturn or the sign Aquarius exaggerated in their chart: Some of the funniest people in life are Saturnine (dark, sarcastic, often gallows humor-inspired souls) or Aquarian — just loopy peculiar folks, like extraterrestrial walk-ins.
Three days ago I decided to explore online options for meeting guys. It’s been a couple of years since my last love partner moved away to live in the actual world of World of Warcraft. (The fallout from dating a guy still in his 20s who was a pro-gamer — recruited by Blizzard Entertainment.).
Here’s what I discovered (and experienced) on the sites I invested time in, all of which, since my last foray years ago, have become extremely aggressive and devious.
Mind you these are considered ‘dating’ sites, not ‘hookup’ sites. I’m not adverse to those but since the bedbug craze I no longer hookup. I know! A tragic loss to the horny men of Washington.
OK Cupid: Lots of men with dogs. In fact, there are lots of dogs and guys seemingly wed to their dogs. It got to the point where I amended my profile with:
“If you are so cathected to your dog that sleeping away from the creature for an evening might trigger an anxiety attack, we won’t be a good match.”
The one interesting guy that contacted me on OK Cupid was comely and in his late 40s. So that was encouraging. Tho he began his text message to me with the question: “Are you a bottom?”
This is not a good first question (unless you’re on Scruff or Grindr or hanging out at The Cuff). I suggested we explore other topics first, before anal positions, but then never heard back from him.
Read this entire post here.
“The future isn’t what it used to be.” –Yogi Berra
Human beings are funny.
We’ve had civilised cultures established on the planet for thousands and thousands of years — with our ability to self-reflect, gather information, theorize, analyze, etc. and yet we still write about the future as if it’s something that can be predicted.
And so data is gathered and compared and parceled out and cross-referenced to past events as if that cross-referencing will reveal something literal about how something will play out in the future — but it never does.
And yet we keep doing this. Why?
“The future” is just a term for utter unpredictability. And this makes people insane. Especially in a science-obsessed culture like ours that equates knowledge and information with the ability to classify and then predict. As if it were that simple and easy.
It is so funny.
After I posted this on Facebook my friend, astrologer Kate Petty commented: “But there are predictable cycles.”
And this is true.
Astrology as a spiritual path is a wondrous mixture of the mystical with the linear. I think this is why some astrologers attempt to make astrology into a science, but science is too limited to contain astrology. It’s like trying fit the ocean into a Dixie cup.
Usually, at least initially, when we consider the mystical we do so from a passive posture within the soul. And for this reason a lot of people don’t gravitate to a contemplative life. Read more and you’ll see why.
When you begin to sense and feel, in your bones, the ineffable presence, the totality of reality — or True Nature — as some traditions call it, you’re humbled to the point of obliteration.
Those same spiritual traditions call this obliteration process “ego death” and, as I’ve experienced that experience, it’s a fitting term. To soften it some and echo Jung, I’ll bring up one of his quotes: “There is no coming into consciousness without pain.”
More about obliteration:
Humans are a peculiar phenomenon because they are half-animal and half-human. Because we’ve become distanced from the natural expression of our instincts (the fallout from a psychic posture like the ego) we disconnect from our connection to the natural cycles and rhythms of nature and the heavens.
And this is where astrology, as a spiritual practice, offers us an opportunity to realign, reconnect and live as conduits of something much more magnificent and mysterious than the ego’s Hitler-esque, control freak tyranny.
OK, so hold on — I’m going to make a jump here: Read more
I’ve written about filmmaker and provocateur Adam Curtis before. I suggest you read that post, Pop Culture’s Edgiest Truth-Teller, to see more of what he’s about.
But do so after you watch his latest short documentary that he created for the BBC’s year-in-review program 2014 Wipe. He spins an eerie cocoon of unsettling facts, images and propositions — all centered around a condition that is just as apt to American economics (and the political machine that support those tactics) as anything coming out of Russia or the UK. (I’m deliberately being vague so you watch the video below).
Curtis’ audio visual inquiry is an apt mirroring of the final release of the in-progress Uranus Pluto square (culminating in May of this year). Another way to read this square, as related to what Curtis is highlighting, would go like this:
It’s through the deliberate manipulation of future shock (a Uranian theme that the futurist Alvin Toffler framed many years ago) that a massive rape and robbery (big Pluto themes) are underway — all under the auspices of destabilization and confusion. That condition, too, would be the Pluto part of the equation — where any sense of proportion is lost. Where larger-than-the-imagination fortunes are the prize; as Curtis notes related to the mystery of ‘quantitative easing’:
Who to trust as a vetted and informed realist for information delivery? And what if the destabilization and confusion are simply natural byproducts of a sociocultural breakdown that is inevitable when any system has maxed out its lunacy cycle. Perturbations are the norm in science when one form or system is impacted by another. The question remains as to what, exactly, this other system connotes. Evo- or de-evoltuion?
My sense is that all of this is a kind of ‘spinning beyond one’s personal control’ phenomena that our connection to the Internet exacerbates and throws into high relief. Bold, monstrous motions like this by an economic political body are akin to larger-than-life ‘selfies‘. Only the caption here would read: “Look! I can rape an entire culture.”
This is crime as art, and all artists, despite the threat of legal ramifications, want credit for their creations. And now the entire world can watch. But through a confused, scattershot lens.