2014


Philosophy30 Oct 2014 10:59 pm

The experience of pleasure has played a key role in human history and development. Pleasure is crucial to our desire for sex, food, friendships, community, and appreciation of nature and our environment. Pleasure is the template for happiness, joy and meaning.

In general pleasure has guided us towards things that insure our survival such as sex and food, and fosters our desire for friendship, community and appreciation of nature and our environment. Displeasure and pain on the other hand guide us away from things which endanger, injure, poison, disable us or restrict our quality of life.

Pleasure is at the core of our ability to both survive and to thrive. Throughout human history pleasure has led us towards life affirming behavior, while pain has averted us from life threatening and destructive events.

Non-sentient and even molecular life seems to have mechanisms that promote pleasure and survival and avert pain and extinction. The vestiges or precursors to pleasure are visible in the reflex reaction of a cell’s shrinking back from a dangerous or foreign substance and gravitating or incorporating a life affirming stimuli or substance.

While the pleasure/pain economy has been very efficient, it is by no means an infallible or perfect mechanism. Adaptations to dramatic or novel changes in the environment can trick the pleasure mechanism or cause it to fail in its ability to avoid or adapt to life threatening situations and events.

Our pleasure and pain economy does have a learning curve and since it is structured in our nervous system and body often takes generations to successfully adapt and incorporate new tastes in pleasure and pain. Just as our immune system takes time to adapt to a new germ, virus or bacteria to which we are being exposed.

We have pain and pleasure thresholds, in which both have acceptable ranges. We have all had the experience of a pleasurable experience being taken to excess in which the pleasurable experience crosses the threshold and becomes unpleasant if not painful.

Pain too often has a threshold that once passed we either lose consciousness or our body discharges powerful anesthetics into our system. Yet, our threshold of pain often provides us a warning system that offers us opportunities to improve our health or widen our capacities. The pain involved in exercise and physical exertion are often guide posts we can use that if we stay inside the thresholds we improve our abilities, immune system, or over all health.

Our conscious selves can change at a far greater speed than our organic selves, and to a large extent our pleasure/pain continuum is dominated by our organic selves. This ability for consciousness to grow and change at speeds that greatly surpass the organic self can lead to our conscious self duping or causing our pleasure economy to fail or give false signals.

Many substances and experiences which stimulate the pleasure response have a long history of being life enhancing or replicate the chemicals the body produces to have us feel pleasure, joy, connection, etc. Yet, our conscious abilities allow us to alter, distill, manipulate, modify, combine and increase the frequency and dosage of these substances and events which can result in our developing unhealthy and even life threatening compulsions and addictions. This fact has led us to over react, to mistrust or sometimes vilify our bodies pleasure signals.

This tendency of conscious mind to subvert and pervert our pleasure/pain economy has resulted in our devaluing or fearing pleasure and our organic self. The long history of human existence has been filled with much pain and suffering which has also induced self-conscious beings into sometimes choosing anesthesia over pleasure. This desire to over come suffering by becoming physically numb and emotionally detached is at the core of every major religion and spiritual practice.

Sense and Self-Consciousness

Through the instinctual, reflexive and ever evolving pleasure/pain mechanism (dynamic) our sensorial organic self (body) was able to be guided to make increasingly successful life affirming decisions. Over the course of time these decisions not only insured the survival of our species though successful adaptation, but created increasingly complex and rich experience.

Our sensorial world of pleasure and pain induced ever increasing awareness of our inner and outer world. Senses such as taste and touch had pronounced internal components. Our skin through the sense of touch was a major way in which we took in and interfaced with the world. Yet, an internal sense of touch put us in contact with our visceral selves. This is the sense of satiation and completion from food and water, or the warning pain of a head or stomach ache.

The sensation of taste occurs in our mouth and is felt inside our body. While we occasionally experience a taste in our mouth, the sense of taste is generally activated by the taking in of life from the outside world.

Smell is very associated and a companion of our sense of taste. While we experience smell inside our body we are very aware of its external origins and in fact we feel that we are smelling the rose as it exists outside of our nose and nostrils. Similar to smell we hear noises from the outside even though we experience them internally through the ear. Yet, we often can hear noises from inside the body such as our breathing, heartbeat, growling stomach or even creaking bones. In this manner of internal awareness hearing bears a strong resemblance to our sense of touch.

Our sense of sight is the most abstract and spatial of our senses. While many of our other senses directly affect and alter our real inner world, our sense of vision gives depth to all the other senses by having them orient all experience in the highly articulated world of the outside environment.

With our keen sense of vision we can plan, take evasive action, manipulate, prepare and imagine in ways which no other sense can come close to replicating. The closest rival does seem to hearing and is often the most developed sense of any one deprived of good vision.

Our sense of smell became less valuable to us as we became bipeds which stood erect and vertically open to the world rather than on all fours and being focused on the ground beneath us. So while the growing richness of our senses increased our awareness of our environment, changes in biological design such as our becoming two footed runners and observers of our horizons probably had a greater impact on the development and predominance of our self-consciousness (mind).

There appear to many factors that led to our amazing level of self-consciousness and intellectual acuity. A few of the factors would include the already mentioned standing erect, along with opposable thumbs and the evolution of the brain especially the neocortex. Our ability to articulate and unfold self-consciousness is difficult to imagine occurring without the accelerated growth in all forms of symbolic language especially that of words.

Moderns have difficulty imagining quality experience devoid of thought, or quality thought devoid of language (words). Yet, it reasonable to assume that man started off with a very small vocabulary similar to how children learn spoken language today. One would think that a very restricted vocabulary would have a difficult time producing a large volume of thoughts and that their occurrence was not the continual stream that we moderns have become accustomed to experiencing. I personally have a recollection of early childhood where events, play and fantasy dominated and did not seem to be so thought and word dependent. Also, our translations of the writing of ancient greeks (and others) are filled with examples of citizens who expressed surprise and discomfort for even the most mundane of thoughts and emotions usually denying any ownership of them and viewing them as coming from outside or a gift from the gods.

As sensorial awareness become richer and self-consciousness expanded due to factors such as brain and language development the emotional and psychological life of men was born and became increasingly dominant. The emergence of self-consciousness made us aware of the passage of time and of our having a personal history. We increasingly went from a body responding and reacting to external and internal stimuli to a consciousness planning, anticipating, hoping, regretting, feeling, desiring and searching for meaning in what we did and thought.

Conceptual and Physical Pleasure

The sensorial body is generally locked in the here and now. The pleasure pain mechanisms helped guide this body towards life affirming behavior and experiences and away from harmful or life threatening ones. The birth and development of self-consciousness aided the body in its goal of survival by giving it more options to alter and modify its environment, while expanding its abilities and resources to defend itself and acquire life’s necessities.

Self-consciousness and its rich emotional and psychological life developed its own pleasure and pain system which guided its desire to survive and flourish. Pleasurable emotional and psychological states such as loyalty, attachment, love and self-care were balanced by painful one’s such as mourning, anxiety, and anger which often aided in personal survival.

The mind and thoughts kinship with the sense of sight aided in its ability to imagine (images) and envision the possible and thereby assist in its altering or influencing the immediate environment. The ability to harbor and access the past, see the present from a global perspective, and anticipate the future gave self-conscious a tremendous advantage in the ability to survive and successfully adapt to one’s surroundings.

Self-consciousness was able to not only assist the sensorial body, but also to invent, create and imagine pleasures beyond the scope and design of the sensorial body. When pain and suffering became too great the mind was learning how to cope with, escape or even transmute suffering through imagination and belief.

The desire to escape pain and suffering through the creative powers of the mind became a vital component of the belief systems, myths and religions of almost every culture on the face of the earth. This overcoming of pain and suffering could be accomplished through salvation, revelation, enlightenment, a promise of of life after death, or esthetic practices of emotional detachment.

The overcoming of pain and suffering by transcending the body and its vulnerable sensorial world has been on the ascent for many centuries. The body and its world of successful functioning through pleasure and pain has been supplanted by an abstract world of belief and mind over matter.

Yet, abstract pleasure is not as rich as sensorial pleasure and self-consciousness combined. An imagined juicy peach is not as satisfying and pleasurable as eating a real peach. While imagined pleasure can be beneficial it truly cannot replace our very real needs for food, water and air.

The abstract pleasures of mind divorced from the sensorial body are quite beneficial and often necessary means of our being able to cope and deal with great pain and suffering. Yet, one is currently not in a state of suffering the taking flight into mind weakens our experiences and deprives us of all the millennia of benefits of what our sensorial body has learned of how to survive and flourish. No matter how self-conscious we become our sensorial bodies are what have us successfully live and function in the real world at a reaction speed far faster than we can think and make self-conscious decisions.

Spirituality and The Flesh

The belief that the body is a burden or a necessary hurdle on one’s journey towards heaven, nirvana, or some other form of eternal union is at the heart of many religions and spiritual practices. The belief that some essence called spirit will survive the death of the body, and in the case of reincarnation return again and again in new bodies until perfection is reached, and in the end will end up in a state of union for all eternity is extremely common.

The blissful state of this ultimate union is too refined for the gross sensorial body chained to the world of attached pleasure and pain. This spiritual state beyond pleasure and pain demonstrates the desire if not glorification of anesthesia.

The fear of pain and suffering is greater than the rich joys that are only able to be attained through the sensorial body. The unity and connection often espoused at the heart of spiritual practices is by definition bodiless. It is a unity of spirit or consciousness and not a physical connection or a rich sensorial pleasure such as the peach, but rather only the thought of the peach, or love, or actual connection.

Our sensorial body is very aware of physical connection and our consciousness can find no other analog to use. We should not find this surprising since the process of mind is born from the interaction of environment, body, nervous system and brain. All of our imagining are structured in the real world of the sensorial body, and all our conceptual pleasures of spirituality are structured in that very same rich and abundant sensorial world.

Spiritualists often make the universe as the ultimate source of our connection. The grand universe shows how we are all one. Our concept of universe is very similar to the monotheistic vision of a one god or creator that unifies and is everything. In either case most modern spiritualism emphasizes connection through the unity of the one “uni-verse” (uni meaning one).

I personally find the universe too abstract to be my source of connection. The universe is far too large for me to “feel”. The universe and God for that matter are beyond the constructs of our mind and its capacities for comprehension. The unfathomable dimensions of the universe do not inspire intimate connection, and the fact that the vast overwhelming majority of space is dead and devoid of any life (even molecular) is not warm and fuzzy but actually frightening.

Why would anyone make something so cold, distant, empty and unfathomable the very template and rationale for connection and unity? Why do people so readily seek connection out there, rather than right here? In many ways it replicates our connecting to others via cell phones and internet while ignoring family and friends at the restaurant we are at.

The universe for me is not a great image for unity and connection, but rather an inexhaustible source of awe and wonder. My source of connection is not found way out there, but rather right here. As I noted earlier, our sensorial bodies are intimately aware of the interconnection and interdependency of life.

I take in a bit of the world in every inhalation and return a bit of me in every exhalation. My connection and dependence on the world is obvious in every breath I take. My entire sensorial world full of pleasure and physical challenges is a dance of perpetual interdependence. My body is a host of interacting systems and generally harmonious colonies of microbes without which my life would not
continue.

I am fashioned by every interaction I have with another person, and every conversation I partake in. In many ways it is the divorcing and separation of self-consciousness itself which is at the source of our feeling of being disconnected. A sensorial body aided by self-conscious ego is capable of creating a tangible intimate existence. Not just an abstract union but a very real corporeal and rich intimacy.

Spirituality and religion are steeped in abstract language where the goal is radical change showing deep dissatisfaction with mundane life. Spiritual and religious texts goals often involve transformation, salvation and enlightenment, where the goal is the transcendence of mundane life, the sensorial body and the extinction of the individual ego.

I personally want to find better ways to appreciate, savor and intimately engage in life. I do not desire making everything one, but relish in the plenitude and diversity of our lush planet teeming with life. I see little benefit and great loss by trying to reduce life to a singularity. I seek no ultimates, certainties or eternal truths but rather look to embrace and enjoy the endless process of becoming more familiar, comfortable and intimate with my environment and the people who share it with me.

Government and Music and Philosophy and Poetry and Politics and Social Issues03 Aug 2014 10:54 am

The following is the lyrics and reverie for Deus Ex Machina a song of mine which will be released as a track on the album I’m Just Saying later this week.

Deus Ex Machina

Deus ex Machina is literally “the god machine”. In ancient Greek tragedies it was a device used at the end of the play to save the day through divine intervention to extricate the lead characters from sure and utter ruin.

In this song a strong proud woman is counseled to remain patient despite the fact that the speed of life is seemingly careening out of control. The counsel of her contemporaries seem to suggest that she should take solace in her beliefs and that soon her prayers will be answered by a last minute appearance of the god machine. We moderns are likewise being asked to trust that through our faith in religion, spirituality, technology or science will be plucked out of the immanent disaster our current path seems to be on.

In the late 60’s Buckminster Fuller published a book entitled Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth. The book focused on how the earth is essentially a huge spaceship with a limited amount of resources which cannot be resupplied. All of the life on this self-contained ship traveling through space is fragile and mutually dependent on each other for its continued survival.

Our blatant over use of finite resources such as oil, and our continual polluting of our air and water since his book was released bear comparison to the way the characters in the old greek plays ignored the prophesies of the savants in the tragedies. Our foolhardiness becomes even more obvious when we take the analogy between the earth and a giant space ship a little further.

Imagine the fate of the Star Ship Enterprise or some other city sized spaceship, if they allowed their water and air supply to be polluted and toxic. In addition, imagine the repercussions if they routinely had battles between different sectors of the ship in which passengers were killed and their living environment (hardware) were destroyed. How long would the voyage last?

The interdependence of organic and sentient life is a functional and practical reality, while our concepts of nation, political ideology, belief and judgment are relatively arbitrary. Without trees we could not breathe, nor could our bodies function and survive without germs and bacteria. The kill of be killed philosophy which dominates our modern world view is misguided and untenable. Strategies of how to coexist should not be relegated to the realm of utopia or idealism, for they are essential to our continual survival.

Words of hope, promise, and national or ethnic superiority pale in comparison to the importance of actions which increase the quality of life for all the inhabitants of space ship earth. The earth is a lush and vibrant planet due more to the ability of organic life to cooperate, adapt, harmonize and thrive than for its ability for individual organisms to defeat and destroy other organisms. While each individual organism must eat or perish, they also depend on the overall health and expansion of all life on the planet for their continued existence.

People turn a blind eye to the atrocities done in their name, or even defend, justify and support the actions of governments which are destroying people and nature. We are endangered by nuclear warheads and accidents, the degradation and increased toxicity of our water and air, the destruction of arable land and the overuse of non replenish-able resources. The earths growing population and advances in technology have created the opportunity for us to have killed and caused more human suffering than any previous empire on earth. We have killed millions upon millions of innocents under the ironic and absurd pretext of giving people their freedom.

So should we be like the ancient Greeks and still pin our hopes on divine intervention or the eleventh hour appearance of a god machine?

The earth has successfully dealt with every crisis it has faced. Despite the fact that life has always been fragile and survival has always been a reality, life on our planet has not only persisted but flourished. The earth is the only blue/green planet that our science has been able to find, so our planet had to do something right in order to create and support organic life. All we have to do is tap into and continue the tradition of our flourishing planet.

Deus Ex Machina

Deluge of broken comedies, the joker licks the steam
Laura struggles to make it better puts her pride in relief
The treadmill keeps moving faster all is on the increase
Before you slip into the chasm enter the god machine

Keep your toes on the line don’t trip on that line, trip on that line
Your hopes are in the future, so they tell you, so they tell you
So they tell you, so they sell you all will be improve a little later
Running cold, running bold, running blind, can you set the pace?

Lunge onward in darkness blindfolded by the mask of innocence
Walk softly pretty lady have faith in the guiding hand
Take a sleep on stony ground, not much you can do with this land
Listen safe to the deep voice that tells you what lies below

It’s cold, so cold and shady but a few yards yonder lies a brook
You can rest there for awhile, rest there lover
All looks so bleak, the edge of defeat, have faith in some alien god machine
Kiss the treasure the golden dream for here comes the god machine

Adorable god of fortune is late upon the scene
Make me shiver in wonder of your awesome majesty
Pluck us from the danger, the climactic deed
If you’re made of plaster what awaits sweet destiny?

Golden idol of reason celestial or divine
Save us at eleven before our last midnight
All looks so bleak, the edge of defeat, have faith in some alien god machine
Kiss the treasure the golden dream for here comes the god machine
Deus ex machina
Enter the god machine
Deus ex machina

Economics and Government and Social Issues23 Jun 2014 03:07 pm

Since our global community seems to be moving in the direction of increased wealth and power going into fewer and fewer hands it is logical to conclude that there is a diminishing inner core of power lords disseminated about the planet.

If you were to teach a course on how to become a power lord or power broker, what would you advise? If we were to devise the typical or ideal personality profile what would it look like? While such an investigation could be quite elaborate and lengthy, we’ll offer some initial logical assumptions regarding the basic personality structure of your typical power lord.

Since power and wealth are the goal of many extremely competitive and ambitious individuals it is highly unlikely that a person lacking in these qualities would rise to the top of the power lord world, especially considering that our basic economic structures promote and reward selfishness, obsessiveness and hyper competitiveness.

It would seem safe to assume that empathy and compassion would be obstacles to the sort of self-aggrandizement and single mindedness it takes in order to rise to the top in the worlds of wealth and power. A person who is compassionate or egalitarian by nature would not be able nor willing to compete in the winner takes all manner that is the way of the most ambitious in the realms of wealth and power.

I think it would be safe to say that one doesn’t become or remain a power lord without an insatiable thirst for wealth and power. The key world here is insatiable. If one wishes to be a power lord there is no end point to their ambition. If there is, they will be defeated or replaced by someone who is more devoted to the task at hand.

The goal of the aspiring power lord is to win the moment. In almost each and every transaction and interaction they must come out the victor. In every defeat they are put at a greater disadvantage to their fellow competitors.

While strategy and planning are important and beneficial towards winning and staying on top, most power lords would have to be acutely aware that projections and predictions inherent in planning become less accurate in larger and larger time frames. Couple this with the uselessness of long term plans if you continue to lose in the present and this creates a very utilitarian obsession with the present.

In other words power lords by necessity of the dynamics of competition always have to remain relatively short sighted. Continued success often depends on their ability to access the necessary resources, technology and legal clout in order to deal with problems that arise. They have a utilitarian faith in progress and invention and can often point out how their critics and those predicting the end of the world have been wrong for generations and that the pragmatic optimism in “where there’s a will there’s a way” has served them well.

The irony for the aspiring power lord is that while they are playing an economic and political game of musical chairs in which they must be they last person seated, they also are dependent on business alliances and the general trust and support and trust of the general populace.

This basic fact of their dependency on the trust and support of others necessitates that they must hide their end goals from everyone, in some cases even from themselves. If not the top tier, at least the higher tiers in the race for wealth and power must be populated by con men and sociopaths. Even an obviously power grabbing dictator is dependent on an inner circle of compatriots that trust and believe that their loyalty and efforts will result in their sharing in the spoils.

The goal of power and wealth seems to require a very utilitarian view of others as a means to an end. Competition on this grand of a scale would make any genuine humanitarian feeling or bond with others a weakness supplying your adversaries with the means to defeat you. If the goal is defeating everyone to become the defending champion of ultimate wealth and power, then how can you be anything but cold and alone? The logical conclusion for the power lord is that success, wealth and power are their only remaining companions.

As far as we can tell their still is a community of power lords and a champion has not been declared. This could signal that at some point even the most ambitious and successful power lords find a need for friends and allies, or it could mean that the game still has farther to go.

One might conclude from the logic of the above discussion that I am a pessimist or feel that power lords are inevitable and the lot of the general populace are to be pawns at best and victims and casualties at worse. While ambitious and selfish people always have and most likely will exist, I feel that our current economic and political structures are custom made for power lords to exist and thrive.

The so called “capitalistic meritocracy” that we live in, is a paradise for sociopathic con men, selfish obsessive personalties, pirates, and all out exploiters. We could just as easily construct a society that rewards genuine humanitarianism, compassion and egalitarianism.

As Plato observed: “Power should be confined to those who are not in love with it.”

Our capitalistic economy fosters a sense of lack, a need to fill oneself through consuming. Business success often depends on convincing people that they need a product, that their lives will be less than if they do not make the purchase. Doesn’t this business reality make salesman into con man and exploiters of others? It seems probable if not inevitable that such logic fosters exaggeration, deception and misrepresentation?

It is relatively easy to be successful selling a product that is addictive, it literally sells itself. Is it then not logical that exploiting peoples addictions, compulsions and weaknesses becomes part and parcel of a lot of commerce?

The biggest and most deceiving sell job is that this system of exploitation and economic opportunism is both necessary and at the very core of progress. We are told that without economic competition and equality our quality of life would plummet.

The discontented currently rule the world, they are the power lords. They shape and control the message, and have the majority of people accept their lies and personally convenient world view. Here are the lyrics to a song of mine which are pertinent to this discussion.

The Discontented Rule the World                                                       8/31/13

A contented man seldom worries
A contented man does not hate
A contented woman needs no ambition
A contented woman is able to wait

The Discontended Rule the World

The contended man savors conversation
The contended man enjoys the day
The contented woman is open to pleasure
The contented woman finds joy in play

The discontented rule the world
The discontented abuse the world
The discontented cause us pain
The discontented mock the sane

My contentment nestled in delight
My contentment welling up inside
My contentment whispered in my sigh
My contentment permeates my life

The discontented are always plotting
contesting, battlings and forever defeating
The discontented are not to be trusted
they’ll never own enough even when you’re busted

The discontented rule the world
The discontented abuse the world
The contented have no urge to rule

______________________________________________

I’d like to expand on the last line of the song. While contented people likely have no need to rule over others, they often do enjoy serving and helping others. If our society was structured in a more compassionate and life enhancing manner than those elected would fulfill the role we originally envisioned for them. Elected officials could behave and aspire to truly be “public servants”. The current goals of capitalism make a mockery of the ideals of democracy.

I find it intriguing how often we view some of the most powerful and wealthy people on the planet as being incompetent and powerless. We invest these people with the purest of intentions and judge the success of their actions by these supposed goals and values.

While the actions of the president, congress and federal reserve almost always benefit the interests of the few or support the agenda of ruthless power, we view them as incompetent or failing to fulfill their objective to represent our interests. While almost every action of our government is most easily explained as successfully protecting the interests of the elite and the empire, we instead think that they have bungled their attempts to spread democracy and freedom throughout the world.

The actions of the federal reserve are easily viewed as consistent and successful when you evaluate their actions as a private banking cartel looking to maximize their profits and those of their associates rather than their attempting to mange inflation, boost the economy or assist the job market. Yet, despite these glaring contradictions we would rather view these highly intelligent, successful and powerful people as out of touch or misguided. We may insult their abilities, but we never question their intentions.

While one may conclude that I am not a big fan of the actions and goals of the power elite, I think the discussion above demonstrates that they are very gifted and dedicated people. They are in the position they are in because they are sophisticated and talented enough to know how to win and be successful. Their apparent failure and struggles of meeting their goals is very inconsistent with their nature and history. It is more probable that they are acting as con men getting us to believe or invest in them values and goals which are inaccurate, and they instead (the president, federal government, central bankers, and economic elite) are successfully fulfilling their actual goals.

I find this same mechanism present with a few of our more famous philanthropists. I’m not saying that philanthropy does not exist, but that sometimes people who claim to be philanthropist are power lords in sheep’s clothing. When a multi-billionaire claims to be giving back to the people through charity and works to improve the quality of life of those around the globe, but their net worth continues to expand, than that sounds more like a savvy investor and not a philanthropist.

A person who is doing charity and giving away millions and maybe even billions of dollars, while technically retired, should not be increasing their net worth. Investing is the very mechanism of giving away your money to a cause or venture which will give you a positive return on your money. If a power lord does this and calls this philanthropy it is essentially a PR maneuver or a means of taking advantage of tax breaks and other political channels allowing them access to a market that would not otherwise be able to profit from.

While it may be true that the discontent rule the world, it is only with our tacit acceptance and support. The first step towards improvement would likely involve our restructuring society in a more humanistic manner (not as hard as they would like you to believe), and for us to stop revering and trusting the very people who are ignoring and injuring our best interests. Jim Guido

Government and Politics and Social Issues18 Apr 2014 02:03 pm

The desire to be free and the need to protect our freedom has been a declared hallmark of modern civilized societies for the last several centuries. Personal liberty and one’s reputation are valued as rights to be earned through honoring the social contract. In fact in most societies the government’s main purpose is to insure that the freedoms of law abiding individuals are protected and insured. The phrase “give me liberty or give me death” attributed to Patrick Henry became a truism of the American culture. Imprisonment and slavery have replaced exile as the harshest punishment short of death that a society can inflict upon an individual.

You would expect and assume that a society that places such a high value on freedom would make every effort to insure that someone’s freedom was not taken from them unnecessarily or unjustly. You would think the act of terminating one’s freedom would be done as a last resort and only after every other alternative had been exhausted. Surely you would think that every effort and precaution would be taken to insure that a person would not falsely or mistakenly have their freedom taken from them. While all the sentiments regarding the essential primacy of freedom are ideals of our judicial system, its basic structure and functioning tell quite a different story.

Yet, while being judged by a jury of your peers and having witnesses take an oath to “tell the truth and nothing but the truth” seems like a good start, the very trial process is littered with obstacles and priorities which make truth and justice fairly inconsequential. In the majority of situations witnesses are asked yes and no questions which are designed to only yield the aspects of fact and truth which support the lawyers agenda. Any attempt by a witness to actually tell the whole truth is suppressed and redirected and if the witness persists in attempting to give a full and balanced reply to the question they could be held in contempt for “refusing to answer the question”.

In fact, one could say, that in a trial truth is a commodity used and exploited in the name of the higher purpose of the attorneys and that is to win the case. While witnesses take an oath to honesty, lawyers do not. Their ethic and currency is not truth, but on presenting the best and most biased case possible to support the portrayal of events in the way they want them to be viewed.

In the case of wrongful harm such as theft, assault or such the best interest of the victim would be to have the perpetrator imprisoned, rehabilitated and restitution extracted from him whenever possible. Yet, the prosecutor’s main goal is not to identify the true perpetrator and bring him to trial, but only to prosecute the man who for whatever reason stands accused.

Our system does not foster a true dedication towards finding out the truth, neither does it truly protect nor insure one’s freedom. Instead, the trial process is a contest between two opposing sides in which lawyers use all devices at their disposal to have their side win. Witnesses are asked questions in ways which emphasize desired perceptions and trigger emotional biases in jurors to carry the day.

Our system of justice seems rather callous when you think of what is at stake. When a person’s freedom and long term reputation hang in the balance you would think we could gear our judicial practices less towards winning and more towards discovering whether someone acted in a way deserving of the loss of their freedom.

A great deal of a trial lawyers education and ongoing professional instruction centers around the science of how to convince and influence jurors. Lawyers make a science out of how to speak, make references and influence jurors in subliminal and unconscious manners in order to get their support with no inherent regard to the actual innocence or guilt of the person accused. Making and winning a case, not attaining the truth, is the order of the day.

While the truth is often difficult and sometimes impossible to ascertain, considering what’s at stake, we should make every conceivable effort and devote the bulk of the trial process to arrive at certainty. In those cases where certainty is unattainable than and a person’s freedom should not be taken away.

What then would a judicial process dedicated to the truth look like? It would involve all parties working together to find out the truth and then after the truth has been discovered they the prosecution and defense could present the mitigating, heinous or chronic circumstances which help judge and jurors determine the best course of action.

Our economic system is structured in competition where distortion, exaggeration and biased perspective are somewhat indigenous to sales and commerce. The more pervasive our market based brand of capitalism is in our lives, the more dishonesty and deception become interwoven into our moment to moment experience.

The techniques of misrepresentation, exaggeration and deception have seeped out of commerce and have invaded our social, political and even spiritual existences. Yet, even if we were to find sufficient reason to continue to misrepresent, deceive and exploit in other aspects of social economic interaction, we should make truth and honesty foremost when it directly impacts one’s very freedom and the carrying out of justice.

Considering what’s at stake serving as a juror should be a treated as a solemn and venerable responsibility. Our civic courses should include instruction on the meaning and duty of serving as a juror. If we truly wanted jurors to appreciate the gravity and importance of the task at hand, they should be well compensated for their time serving. Currently, a sizable portion of the populace try to avoid doing jury duty and view it as a nuisance. It is the rare person who equates the preserving of the ideal of freedom and justice with the process of serving on a jury.

We still pose ourselves internationally as a beacon of freedom and justice.  In fact our government feels it is our moral duty to meddle, intervene and when possible alter the “immoral” and “unjust” practices, governments and leaders of nations throughout the globe. The fact that our nation finds it necessary to imprison the highest percentage of its citizens than any other nation on the planet does not strike them as odd or hypocritical. Yet, if we are such a moral and free society, than how we can  justify a system that removes the freedom of so many of its citizens. Are we more immoral than others? Or do other nations such as our European allies just let 9 times as more dangerous and immoral criminals undeserving of freedom to roam their streets and work in their businesses?

While this tendency of ours to jail segments of our population, especially minorities and the poor, at a high percentage has been going on for decades we could point out one disturbing dynamic. We mentioned above the dangers of having our system of justice and with it people’s very freedom being dependent on economic competitive factors which supplant truth and justice as the primary concern. Over the last few decades the trend towards privatization of prisons has grown considerably. In order for these prisons to succeed and make a profit they need to retain a rather high occupancy rate, which means they will not be able to survive unless our conviction and imprisonment rate stays high if not continue to increase.

While there are literally hundreds of fine articles discussing the increased role and function of privately owned prisons and their impact on the job market and its impact on our justice system you could start with the following as an introduction: Privatization of the US Prison System

The damages done to lives by white color crime while at least as significant as those caused by poor substance users or petty thieves, yet the percentage of people who go to jail for breaking laws which destroy people’s financial and practical existences is disproportionately low, and in some cases such as banking fraud almost nil. Our system of justice seems to value the freedom of the wealthy, regardless of the severity of their harm, to the freedom of the poor or minorities. While we officially ended slavery long ago, some would make the case that our prisons have done a rather decent job of continuing the actual practice of slavery by taking away the freedoms of minorities through imbalanced incarceration.

While this possibility is worthy of discussion it is not the central issue of this post which is just the relatively flippant way our society through its competitive trial system treats the reality of human freedom. I personally find it very disturbing when the main goal of a trial isn’t the truth regarding the innocence or guilt of the accused, but in the winning of a case by the prosecution or a defense attorney. As mentioned before certainty and truth are not always attainable, but we should at least devise a system which is devoted to and maximizes all energies towards the uncovering of as much fact and truth as possible. Personal freedom and social justice truly deserve our finest efforts, and should not be reduced to possible outcomes of a system of justice built on personal competition between lawyers measuring their success through winning cases even when the odds and facts are not in their favor.

Jim Guido

Economics and Government and Psychology and Social Issues and Stock Market28 Feb 2014 01:45 pm

While most of our attention is focused on our “losing jobs” to China, India and many emerging or third world nations, we may be missing the more important ways in which our basic economic structure is changing. In many ways it appears that our Industrial Free Market Economy is being transformed into a economic system based on Financial Instruments.

Over the last number of decades we have been referred to as a consumer based economy in which the health of the economy was dependent on the increased velocity of money being fueled by strong and generally increasing expenditure and consumption. Recessions or down turns in the economic health of the nation was accompanied by drops in consumption and expenditures. The economy “contracted” at these time periods with businesses laying off workers in response to a drop in revenues and profits as consumption stagnated or decreased.

In a society in which its economic system is dependent on the consumption of goods and services there was always a need for people to be employed and for wages to increase to support their being able to continue to consume, invest and make major purchases to stimulate the economy.
Since the beginning of the industrial revolution modern societies have found an increasing need for the vast majority of citizens to fulfill three roles, that being consumer, worker/producer and soldier. The woman’s movement almost doubled the pool of possible workers and with two pay checks per household as compared to one, allowed for a sharp increase in both production and consumption.

The rising populations throughout the industrialized societies impelled its economic and political leaders to support their consumer cultures by trying to monopolize the natural resources of the globe. A surplus of oil, foodstuffs, natural gas, minerals, potable water, etc. were all needed materials and essentials to keep the consumer based economies humming and expanding.

Many so called underdeveloped nations were somewhat opposed to their surrendering these resources or not having them be the main benefactors or their economic value. The wealthier industrialized nations felt they were the proper stewards of these precious and valuable commodities and felt other nations should trust in their proper management and global dissemination.

According to the industrial nations those envious of the industrialized nations must be subdued and forcibly assisted in becoming better and more moral nations. In this manner constant protection and advancement depended on forming the most formidable of military forces which then required the role of soldier to become paramount, rivaling both the roles of consumer and produces in their importance for the continued success and functioning of the consumer culture.

The industrialized world was led by “free democratic” societies who felt their way of life threatened by the existence of totalitarian, communist and even egalitarian socialistic societies. Such political and economic diversity was not tolerable for a social economic structure that was dependent on both the increased access to and dominance of food, energy, and industrial materials and technologies by the elite industrial nations. The equating of freedom and free trade made military might and superiority not only palatable but a moral imperative. Freedom and fighting for freedom became synonymous, and the possibility of freedom without war became a somewhat mocked and unrealistic ideal.

Protecting our freedom and way of life, from the morally bankrupt and evil despots led many to “proudly serve” in the military and to support our governments policies and political agendas. These people viewed themselves and their nation as the true bastions of freedom, justice and moral righteousness.
One of the true ironies of our sense of progress and the ideal of an ever expanding worker/producer consumer culture, is the role of technology and its impact on our lives. While it is true that every advance in technology creates jobs, it is also true that most advances in technology replace more jobs and human labor than they create. Machines and inventions have almost always increased production and made businesses less dependent on human labor, or at least reduced the number of man hours necessary to produce the same number of goods.

Increases in production via technological advances has been astounding often in a geometric progression. Likewise, the areas in which technology dramatically increased production is finding itself in not only almost every area of manual labor but also in the service economy.  While the possibility of our being able to create a fully automated society freed of human labor is still up for debate, the fact that each passing day the need for a smaller and smaller percentage and number of people working is a unavoidable reality. The old truism that automation only replaces unskilled labor and jobs unfit for human beings is no longer  accurate in any sense. In fact you could say that the last decade saw more highly skilled jobs, such as surgeons and systems analysts, being replaced by robots and computers that can deal with huge reams of information, microscopic precision and nanotechnology.

Modern technology, robotics and artificial technology are overcoming human error, limitations and vulnerabilities. In many industries we can produce in a matter of hours what we most likely will consume in months or even years. As technology becomes more gifted (as workers and producers) our role as workers and producers becomes more and more unnecessary and obsolete. While this is rather easy to fathom, it is harder for most people to recognize that our role as a consumer is likewise becoming increasingly unnecessary since the last recession.

Despite rather anemic growth in consumption accompanied by rising unemployment and falling wages the stock market and corporate profits are positively booming. Those working in the sweat factories abroad are now making maybe $200 a year rather than the $100 a year they used to make. These people are replacing jobs in the industrial nations that made anywhere from $18,000 to over $40,000 a year. So while the decreased wages are cutting down on overhead, they are also greatly reducing the pool of disposable income available to buy products that should be necessary for corporate profits and stock performance.

How are corporations able to make record profits if the consumers of their products and services are unemployed, making less money, and have less disposable income available? Add to this conundrum the fact that banks have drastically cut back the number of loans given out during this entire meteoric rise in corporate profits and the stock market. Well if people have no money to spend, and they can’t borrow it, where are these record profits and stock prices coming from?

During the time which we now refer to as the Great Recession we were told that our entire financial system was in crisis and the threat of total collapse was imminent. The stock market and financial systems survival was accomplished through a massive injection of money into the marketplace via bailouts, loans and ample money printing.

While the economy continued to struggle and unemployment rose, the financial and stock markets began to show signs of not only stabilizing, but regaining the majority of losses. While the financial press continued to debate the existence of “green shoots” and whether we’d have another recession, the stock market had already doubled since its low and the housing prices were beginning to inch back up. The “jobless recovery” has never really ended while the stock and financial markets are at new all time highs. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, these new highs and corporate profits have been accomplished despite and maybe even because of a struggling economy.

In an industrial consumer economy there is a ceiling of how high profits can go in a high unemployment and low wage environment. Without jobs and expanding disposable income (higher wages) consumer spending is bound to slow down if not contract. Yet, one of the biggest and longest stock market runs in occurring in a stagnant or low growth economy where over 95% of financial gain has been acquired by the top 1% of the populace.
These facts seem to point to the fact that we no longer live in a consumer based economy and instead are experiencing the birth of a new economic model. Let’s look at some of the reasons this new model could be referred to as a financial instrument model.

The financial crisis was averted and the stock market rebounded when the Federal Reserve and other Central Banks began printing money and thereby “injecting liquidity into the marketplace”. The stock market was buoyed by relatively free money being used to buy stocks which had come down sharply in price. Troubled banks, financial institutions, and corporations were bailed out or give huge near zero percent loans to help them pay off their debts and stabilize their businesses.

While these extreme measures were implemented to avoid a catastrophe, the money printing, loans and bailouts have continued. In essence the financial behemoths which were declared too big to fail, have been receiving free freshly created money to use in any manner which they find beneficial.

Since many of these businesses are banks and other financial institutions which make no tangible merchandise or products, they have used this money to purchase financial instruments which are making a solid yield, repurchasing their own stock, and investing it in the financial world of stocks and bonds.

Many of the troubled financial institutions were saddled with bad loans and mortgages that were “under water” and had no hope of ever being paid off. The Federal Reserve took it upon themselves to purchase billions of dollars of this unserviceable through financial instruments such as mortgage backed securities to take these burdensome debts off of the books.

The transfer process was/is quite simple. The Fed would electronically create “print” money and use it to buy bad debt such as unserviceable bank loans. The debt purchased by the Fed would be transferred from the banks to the tax payer by being added to the
national debt.

The businesses and non financial corporations receiving newly created money via low interest loans and bailouts mainly chose to follow the path resulting in maximizing their short term financial gain. So, rather than lower their profit margins by increasing their overhead through building factories, hiring workers, increasing worker pay and expanding their businesses they mainly did the same as the banks and make most of their profits through stock buy backs, investing in financial instruments, and actually reducing overhead by closing factories, cutting wages and benefits, and when possible passing on expenses to the government (taxpayers).

Measures which were taken to avert an economic meltdown have now become business as usual. Money printing and financial instruments have become the way money is made by the top fraction of one percent of the populace. As long as money is being electronically created and injected into the marketplace via the coffers of the 1% there is little need for a consumer to spend his dwindling pennies on products and services. Every dollar printed just adds to the pool of money available and if that money is placed directly into the hands of the wealthiest their relative worth skyrockets as the relative wealth of everyone else plummets.

Is a Post Industrial Financial Instrument Economy sustainable? Are the financial elite going to eventually meet resistance or truly need the consumer, worker and soldier?

With each passing day advances in automation, nanotechnology, robotics, artificial intelligence, surveillance, and military technology are making the roles of worker, consumer and soldier increasingly unnecessary for the acquisition and securing of wealth. Through debt, taxes, suspension of entitlements, destruction of worker rights and protections, the loss of privacy, and the legal erosion of our basic inalienable rights and freedoms we are losing any recourse we may have had to defend our role and purpose in this new global economy as well as any way to insure our economic self-determination.

The stock market is currently enjoying its longest stretch, some 60 months, without a correction of 20% or more. The longer this goes on the more it supports the possibility that we have truly entered a new economic paradigm in which automation, perceptual management and financial instruments have replaced the old rules and dynamics of an industrial based economy. While I personally think this economic paradigm coup is premature and ill fated, and the coming stock market crash will be historic in nature, I am unwilling to totally discount this new financial instrument based economy succeeding now or in the near future.

In such a world where the common man becomes superfluous at best and a burden at worst we may look back at Brave New World and 1984 as comparatively rosy views of the future.

Jim Guido

 

Art and Music and Poetry16 Jan 2014 06:47 pm

This is a copy of the release announcement for my new album.

Hey,

This email is to announce the fourth album of mine to be released on Bandcamp.com. The album is entitled Opportunity Lost, and joins Flesh of Life, Life in the Shadows, and Edge of Eden on the site. To access all four albums click on or type in  http://guido2.bandcamp.com and scout about to your hearts content. All albums and individual songs come with notes and credits to help you better digest all that is there. Please read my sneak preview of Peek-a-Boo that follows……sneak preview…… (peek-a-boo)….. okay one pun down many to go.

Peek-a-Boo

Shortly after the first glimmer of self-awareness a child develops the life long need to be recognized and appreciated for being a unique individual while also feeling connected to and loved by others. These two basic dual needs of humans often become a source of interpersonal conflict and ambivalence in adolescence when teenagers demand total autonomy and privacy one moment and then bemoan being ignored and abandoned by others the next.

In infancy these dual needs get met simultaneously in the game of peek-a-boo with mom, dad or a caretaker. Most infants wriggle, giggle and squeal in delight at the prospect of being discovered anew time and time again during a peek-a-boo session. At this moment the child feels recognized and appreciated for being a unique entity while feeling swathed in their mothers love and care. Most parents have experienced the urgent cries of a child who feels the game is being terminated too quickly.

Since the desire to be loved and recognized lasts throughout our lives we usually find ways to encourage others to recognize us (think bellbottoms, or candy colored hair) and to be emotionally connected to us (teams, play groups, clubs, etc.). In latter childhood peek-a-boo gets replaced with more sophisticated games of being discovered and recognized like hide-and-seek, tag, red light, Marco Polo and even less obvious games such as Simon Says, Mother May I and Charades.

The primal need for recognition, a sense of belonging, and being appreciated for one’s uniqueness is demonstrated by the emotional power contained in live artistic performances, award ceremonies and personal tributes. We can attend a ceremony or watch a tribute or award ceremony and get a lump in our throat at the prospect of a total stranger getting a standing ovation. Similarly the emotional power of a wedding ceremony is often heightened and amplified by the number of people witnessing the public acknowledgment of love and appreciation of one person to another.

Actually the whole veil aspect of the wedding does seem to go out of its way to replicate the whole peek-a-boo moment of discovery and unbridled (pun intended) attention given at the moment preceding the exchange of vows.

So, one of the ways in which I personally seek to continue to play the game of peek-a-boo and hopefully get re-discovered, validated and appreciated for my uniqueness is through my art. The time and care that goes into every lyric I write and song I compose is my attempt to share the most intimate parts of myself with friends and the world in general. Anyone who has seen my drawing and handwriting immediately realizes that as a child I did not get the usual “props” when I brought home such works from early school years.

While the desire and need for appreciation, validation, recognition and connection never leaves us, it does appear that most of us find few avenues in our adult lives to get those needs met (charades and Pictionary only go so far).

All in all I can’t tell you how much it means to me when any of you take the time and care to read my words and listen to the songs. In many ways my music is my public personal diary. There is little in life I enjoy more than sharing with others. As many of you know I treat the average conversation as a hungry man approaches a smorgasbord. Please click on http://guido2.bandcamp.com and dine on my musical offerings. Come visit often and invite friends to dine there also. If you get a chance email or write me your thoughts and feelings whether they are related or inspired by my songs or just to satisfy your need for a round of peek-a-boo.

So the last thing I have to say is: “Tag, you’re it”.

United in Compassion,

Jim

The album and lyrics can be downloaded at Bandcamp. Click on the music tab above if you’d like to listen to some more of my music. Yet you can only download music at http://guido2.bandcamp.com.

Music and Poetry01 Jan 2014 08:40 pm

The following is a fictional interview of I interviewing me, (or more phenomenologically accurate me interviewing I) regarding the lyrics to Mottled Morn.

Lyric alert:
This song rated M for mature minds as some content maybe existentially uncomfortable or emotionally challenging.

Q: How did you come up with the song title?
A: I often like to engage in meditative musings, or reflective reverie on a single word. The word mottled came into my head while on a walk, and I decided to savor the word and all of its associated meanings.

Q: Meditative musing, reflective reverie? Did your predilection for alliteration have anything to do with your choosing to pair mottled with morn?
A: Most definitely.

Q: So with all the endless permutations and combinations of possible syntax how did you arrive at this particular assemblage of words?
A: Wow, that seems more like a question to be answered by the reflective me rather than the speaking self, but I’ll do my best to give you a decent answer.

Q: I’m sure you will. So how did the lyrics take shape?
A: Well it all started from my initial reverie on the word mottled, in which I focused on staying loyal to its aspects of irregularity or asymmetry with regard to presentation of patterns while not being as committed to its having to do with color. My propensity for alliteration once again had me find areas of similarity between mottled and motley.

Q: So if not color, what is mottled in your song?
A: Well as I said I wanted to do homage to the idea of irregularity or symmetry. So when the first line, “like a voice from another dimension, the day began out of phase” came to me, I quickly transferred the mottled pattern from color to sound. The voice broke the patterns of symmetry and familiarity by neither coming from within (thought) or from a recognizable source of a person in my presence.

Q: Doesn’t that harken more to schizophrenia than a breaking of a pattern?
A: Yes, there is nothing more central to the idea of needing consistency and regularity than the sense of self. The singer uses this as an opportunity to depict the severity of his disorientation with which he finds himself when waking from slumber. He wakes due to a bright light which steals away dream and replaces it with a fragile and disoriented semi wakefulness.

Q: Why did you introduce the girl and hint at a break up?
A: There are few things which anchor our lives more than love. The loss of love, or the sense that the feeling of loving someone was an illusion can definitely place us in a position of great angst and lead to our entire existence seeming displaced, empty and lacking in any order and meaning.

Q: Yet, in the long run the song does not seem to be about lost love. Isn’t the song more about you than a relationship gone wrong?
A: Yes that’s true. The line “I saw right through her into me” changed the entire direction of the song. That line came about totally organically as I was singing generally nonsense words trying to find a cadence and vocal line that matched the chords that I was playing. Yet, once that line seeped in and resonated with me I knew that the song was about to write itself.

Q: Did the song take much editing? How long did it take you to write the song?
A: I standardly do not edit my songs much. In general I use my art as a way for me to learn about me, where editing seems more like an exercise into consciously managing me. The words of the song were written over a couple of days, a musical section at a time. Each section had its own cadence and meter and it took awhile for the words to settle in with the chordal mood and ambience. I had been playing with the chords on and off for a few months before deciding to write the lyrics.

Q: So what was the lost love theme replaced with?
A: Well it wasn’t really replaced it just became less a song about a lover and more about one’s love of life. The love of life is the measure by which all other love’s are judged. The singer finds the cure to the disconcerting quality of the mottled morn to be embracing irregularity and not to fight it.

He gets over his lost love, by realizing that she wanted certainty and was unable to adapt and enjoy the capricious aspects of insight and personal growth. He on the other hand professes to “reap the joys” of his sense of doubt. He experiences intimacy as the never ending process of self-discovery and becoming more familiar and at home with so many aspects of life and knowledge. The unwillingness of his lover, others, or even himself to stay committed to the unfurling of intimacy seems to be structured in fears and inhibitions.

Intimacy, the singer feels, is the entire realm between certainty and chaos, in which all is experienced as neither arbitrary nor predestined. His allegiance is to life itself, not just its essence or spirit, but its deep visceral reality.

Q: How did you decide that the song was complete? Is there a final lesson to be learned in Mottled Morn?
A: No I don’t think there is an ultimate message or meaning to Mottled Morn, it was just an exploration of a feeling. It is rare when I feel a song is truly complete, usually they are just snap shots that one ends before they become as laborious as a library of photo albums. In this song, at some point I just stopped and reread the lyrics and it just felt like a good place to pause.

Q: Could you read them to see if we agree?
A: I’d be honored to do so.

Mottled Morn 12/5/13

Like a voice from another dimension
The day began out of phase

The light stole my mind from a dream
Forgetfullness gave my heart a much needed reprieve
Emotional waves crash on rocky shores
Their hollow echoes prey on my mottled morn

I saw right through her into me
I found her distance quite disorienting
Waves of emotion crashed on rocky shores
Their hollow echoes haunt me to my core

She left my soul stranded on the beach
When she set her heart slightly out of reach
I look out into the endlessness of sky
Sensing the reasons why

She is afraid of a life in transition
Feels betrayed and exposed by all that is uncertain
I reap such joys from the sense of doubt
Each day a new puzzle that cries to be sorted out

The fresh and the discovered draw my fascination
Every mystery deepens richens my infatuation
I long to share to revel in amazement
To treat her body as a fragile present

I’m in love with every warm breath
of this precious life
It’s mystery and its passion
intoxicate my mind

Life touches me so tenderly
sends tingles up my spine
The intimate and the familar
fan the flames of desire

Today and all tomorrows I sense I will treasure it
I am hopelessly dependent, devoted and in love with life

Hope you all enjoyed listening in on my little conversation with myself.

Jim Guido

While this song has been recorded, it will not be available for some time. In the meantime please go listen to my some of my albums located in the music section of this website, or go to Bandcamp and type in or click on http://guido2.bandcamp.com to get to my homepage. You can listen and download my songs on Bandcamp to your heart’s content.