July 16th, 2014

Rollo May: The Catch-22 of Technology

tvexplosion

“What people today do of fear of irrational elements in themselves and in other people is to put tools and mechanisms between themselves and the unconscious world.

This protects them from being grasped by the the frightening and threatening aspects of irrational experience.

rollo_may

I am saying nothing whatever, I am sure it will be understood, against technology or mechanics in themselves.

What I am saying is that danger always exists that our technology will serve as a buffer between us and nature, a block between us and the deeper dimensions of our experience.

Tools and techniques ought to be an extension of consciousness, but they can just as easily be a protection against consciousness. This means that technology can be clung to, believed in, and depended on far beyond its legitimate sphere, since it also serves as a defense against our fears of irrational phenomena.

Thus the very success of technological creativity … is a threat to its own existence.”

–Rollo May



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June 27th, 2014

Bright Thoughts: The Mitch Horowitz Interview

mitch_horowitz_astroinquiry

In the opening to his new book One Simple Idea: How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Life, author Mitch Horowitz recounts his childhood fascination with inspirational wisdom.

For him it all began with a poem that hung on the wall in his big sister’s bedroom. A blacklight poster that included phrases like:

“Forget yesterday. I am where I am. Tell me friend, what can I do today, to be where I want to be tomorrow?”

When Mitch’s father lost his job and financial conditions in the family took a downward arc, his curiosity about the possibilities of positive thinking grew, leading him to eventually study the writings of Emerson and Talmud. His hope was that his internal attitude and perspective of mind could make a difference.

Horowitz attributes aligning with uplifting thoughts as a remedy that didn’t so much as change his family’s fortunes –- which did gradually improve — but as a practice that helped him “navigate his life. And maybe something more.”

And it’s that “something more” that Horowitz explores in detail in his meticulously researched book. Read more



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April 10th, 2014

Observing Life Beyond the Screen

bird_mirror

Human beings don’t observe each other enough. When you observe other people you’re observing directly the precise mystery of what life is.

It’s human nature to be both attracted to people and also shy and unsettled by people. We consider someone psychologically healthy who can navigate between the two poles.

It’s true that there are other ways to access a sense of wonder in life, say, through nature, art, spiritual devotion or simply staring at the night sky (if you live in a place where you can actually observe a night sky).

But there’s nothing like another human being to amplify the questions that should be primary in each of our lives: Who am I? Who are we? Where did we come from? Where are we going?

If these questions are not a priority in your life I can guarantee that you’re living a half life. And that’s a shame.

The wonder and awe and beauty and majesty of the human being, the very mystery of how we have a self-reflecting consciousness and our own unique window into reality — a window that phenomenologists call first-person givenness — is why in places like India when people meet each other they put their hands together and bow to the person across from them. That gesture acknowledges the indefinable mystery that is the other individual’s being, his or her divinity. Read more



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April 04th, 2014

Farm Animal Activist Gene Baur: Cheap Food, Agonizing Deaths & Sexless Turkeys

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I’ve toggled in and out of vegetarianism for years. There were points in my life where the necessity to eat meat (or the belief that it was a necessity) felt crucial. But as I’ve matured I’ve come to see that most of what I thought about meat was inaccurate, not relevant, and based on whim, ease and, well, self-interest — rather than the ‘bigger picture.’

Everything eats and is eaten. Life eats life. This is a fact. But as our consciousness shifts, evolves, can we take life (to consume it) more consciously? Be that organic gardening, non-GMO food stuffs, humane slaughter houses (what an oxymoron that is)? Or become intelligently aware (not obsessive) with our nutritional needs so that there is balance and sanity amidst our consumption. And awareness of how those needs impact the world and the creatures that live in the world with us.

Presently I live on coffee, wine, salmon, vegetables, nuts and protein from egg whites. No gluten (or very little). Also some kind of treat: Cookies, muffins or an 18-pound box of See’s candy [I’m kidding.] But I do keep the treats gluten free.

But with meat. Oy. Watching one too many Youtubes showing the horrific, often deliberately cruel condition that chickens and cows must live through with what little they even have of a lifespan, tipped the tipping point for me. And then too, what of the workers in these plants and the impact of endless slaughtering on their psyches?

I had to stop and consider what I was aiding and abetting for the sake of convenience while shopping with a budget in mind. Meaning: Everything chopped, washed, wrapped and put on gleaming display in the meat section with an affordable price tag attached. Yes, all the necessities in place to make me not have to think about what I would have to experience if I were finding or raising my own animals and then murdering them.

No more.

Watch this interview with activist Gene Baur where he discusses cheap food, annoying protestors and the rise of giant sexless turkeys and let me know what you think and if this makes any impression on your dietary choices. I’d like to hear from you.

Hat tip to Godfrey Hamilton for pointing this Time interview out to me.



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March 17th, 2014

“Like” My Death and Chicken Scratchin’

hamlet_death_facebook

Another friend dead.

Another Facebook page still active.

I understand the deceased’s family has to involve the Attorney General to get FB to remove a dead person’s profile. Why?

But then — hell — still living, I tried to delete my Vine account last week and it was impossible to do it. I needed to contact the president of the company or equivalent and get his permission.

Vines. How entwined, how enmeshed are we into these cross-connects of social networks? And why do the corps that run them need me so desperately to stay? Alive…or dead?

Five friends have died since I joined Facebook about 7 years ago. And it’s weird and now doubly voyeuristic to visit their pages when curiosity overcomes me. And it does. I click in and trawl around. It’s kind of awful.

Friends and family continue to scrawl comments — especially around holidays and anniversaries — as if the dead person can ‘read’ them. Nothing says disconnected from reality like: “Love you babe, I know you’re reading this somewhere. Here’s a picture of Tammy’s new baby.” Shit like that.

But then how ‘real’ is any of the interacting that occurs here, now, with the ‘living’.

I could have dropped dead after typing this post and a handful of you would be commenting, liking, and I might be writhing on the ground alongside my desk, savoring my last breath and getting the strangest download:

I’m imagining Hamlet at the grave and he’s turning the skull ’round and there’s a Facebook ‘LIKE’ logo etched into the dome-top. And for a soundtrack there’s that line from Joni Mitchell‘s Hejira:

‘Well I looked at the granite markers
Those tributes to finality, to eternity
And then I looked at myself here
Chicken scratching for my immortality’

I guess that’s part of the big unconscious draw to leaving trails on FB — be ye alive or dead — ‘chicken scratching’ for our immortality. And of those that have already flown the coop? They’re liking this in heaven.
 
Painting by Eugène Ferdinand Victor Delacroix, 1939, Louvre Museum



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