Relationships


Economics and Gender Issues and Government and Politics and Psychology and Relationships and Social Issues17 May 2013 03:03 pm

My dad came to the US from Italy when he was 13 years old. My mom was born in the US in a small Italian community which was where my dad’s family eventually settled. My mom’s parents married shortly after they had come to America and quickly started a family.

My dad, who was 13 years older than my mom, lasted less than a year in public schools and began working to help support the family when he was 14. My mom lasted into her freshman year of high school, but too, had to quit school to help support the family.

My dad was a firm believer in the idea of coming to America to “make a better life”. He, like many of contemporaries, felt that hard work and sacrifice were necessary to accomplish this goal. Living in the US was seen as an opportunity to escape the poverty that had dominated his family for generations in southern Italy. Success, for him, was being able to provide for his family so that they had food on the table and would not have to spend their waking hours worrying about basic safety and survival.

After my parents married they moved to a nearby factory town on the shores of Lake Michigan. My dad took pride on his working his way up from the railway yards to become a ticket agent at a train station. He talked of his being fortunate of no longer having to do “menial labor” nor having to work in the factories that dominated local employment.

In my early years I rarely saw my dad for he found it necessary to  have a second job to make sure we could not only survive, but save some money for the future. My dad got up at four in the morning,  got ready for work and returned home about 3 in the afternoon as we were coming home from school, we than would eat before 4 so that my dad could make the evening shift at some restaurant or at the new fast food establishments.

On the rare evening my dad was at home he would take his slide rule and racing form to the kitchen table and spend hours doing the research that went into his small wagers on the horses. On weekends we either went to relatives houses many of which still lived in the Italian community a half hour away, or some relative would come to our house. Larger family parties occurred regularly celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, holidays and church functions. On Sunday mornings we always went to church before seeing relatives for the remainder of the day.

The men in my hometown talked about work and factory life far more than any other topic. Even in family gathering it was unusual that someone didn’t vent a little frustration over their work situation, boss or the lack of security in their employment. 

Maybe it was just what we chose to watch, but the topic of labor and work even seemed to dominate the entertainment industry. I remember movies and plays which dealt with coal miners, factory workers, union strikes and the plight of failure and emptiness in characters such as Willie Loman in Death of a Salesman.

While Marx was not someone my blue collar world had read, people and TV often talked about feeling the “dehumanizing” role of factory work, or how mass production work was like living in a prison, or how insulting and degrading it was to have to kowtow to every boss or supervisor and how the work itself took away a man’s sense of dignity and self-respect. Even the popular comedies on TV made numerous jokes and references to the ever present possibility of being fired or laid off.

At a very early age I became highly fearful of ending up working in a factory, or being forced to engage in some labor of endless repetition. Even the professionals in town with careers or those in management positions seemed to be kowtowing to some boss and being tethered to a long and highly structured work week.  In my mind I began to equate work with a loss of freedom, autonomy and any hope of  a decent quality of life.

My mom had worked from the age of 15 until she got married in her late 20’s. She took pride in being a strong peasant woman and in the old world values of the immigrant mother’s she idolized. She liked the role of  mother and homemaker, and took a particular delight in cooking.

My mom’s life of a housekeeper mother was filled with menial labor and “drudgery”.  Yet, the ardor of her work load and the time required to complete a task seemed to lessen with each invention and advance in appliance technology. Going from washboard to wringer was not that drastic, but the jump to washing machine was dramatic and much appreciated. Even the advance in fabrics reduced ironing time. The list of appliances, technologies and “conveniences” which reduced housekeeping time and effort was expanding on a monthly basis. Even in lower middle class families such as ourselves the quality of life of the homemaker was improving greatly.

By the time I was four or five my mom was able to entertain herself with radio or TV while she tended to her household tasks and chores. She was able to take breaks to watch a favorite program or visit with a neighbor lady for an hour or so, and still get dinner on the table by 4.  My mom actually found enough “leisure” time to reengage in hobbies/crafts of her latter childhood such as embroidery and crocheting.

Most of her daytime TV was divided into two areas. One area of interest was quiz type of programs such as “Concentration” and the other were the emotional tearjerkers such as “Queen for a Day” or the “Millionaire”. 

While the advances in technology appeared to be a boon for the housekeeper, it did not seem to improve the quality of life for the factory worker. While advance in assembly line technology did reduce the physical demand on a worker, it also reduced the scope of their activity to one part or cog of a product. No longer could they even take pride in the completion of an entire product such as a clock, radio or car, but only in the installation of a front fender, minute hand, or some other part of the complete product.

While technology reduced the time it took to housekeep and the strain the tasks took on the body, in the factory it just increased production expectations and the fears that the technology would replace your need as a worker. Advances in technology made it possible for my dad’s work load to be decreased, and he could have theoretically played a radio while he worked. Yet, his “higher ups” sent out memo’s stating playing a radio would result in termination of employment, and the railroad found many new and additional tasks for him to perform to insure that he had no free time or that his work load was reduced in any fashion or form. To the contrary it seemed that each passing day my dad was required to do more, and be responsible for more, with no additional pay.

In general I found my mom’s life more tolerable than my dad’s. I found his perpetual working, subservience to bosses, and the lack of autonomy and development of outside interests to be boring at best and humiliating at worst. I could never reconcile my relatives story of my dad’s past with the dad I knew. The man who played trumpet, read philosophy, travelled the country, was an avid Ham operator, gambled, made his own sausage, cheese and wine, etc. was  nowhere to be seen. The last vestiges of that man were only seen at the rare moments he listened intently to the opera on the radio, or took time for himself to read reflective nonfiction.

The time I remember him being the most vibrant and alive was when I was 6 or 7 and his union went on strike. My dad become a leader of the workers at this time and set up camp at the downtown hotel in our town. He shined in the role of organizer, giving people instructions, speaking at meetings and being part of the negotiations with management. Though he was glad when the strike was over, I kind of missed the dynamic man who was my dad for a short time.

My dad’s sense of pride and self-esteem had him adopt the stay at home housewife preference. He felt it was his obligation and duty to be the “breadwinner” and that he would be a failure if his wife “had to work”. Yet, when I was 8 years old my mom decided that since all the kids (I was the youngest) were fairly self-sufficient that she wanted to do more to help make our family financially more comfortable. It took only a couple of weeks to convince my dad that she nor their friends would think she “had to work”, but that she just wanted a new challenge and it would allow my sister an opportunity to learn how to cook and manage a home.

My dad helped my mom get a job as a ticket agent at another station on the same line as my dad. She enjoyed the challenge and it gave them a shared interest which brought them closer together. Yet, it wasn’t long before the luster of the new job wore off, and my mom began to complain about the routine just like all the men. Yet, at the end of the day the sense of financial security she got from the job outweighed its deficits and she stayed on the job until about a year after she was robbed at gunpoint and never again felt safe at work.

By the time I got to high school I had made the following assessments of the world and lives of men and women.  I viewed being male as having almost no options and being destined to a laborious life spent in servitude, with little hope of privacy, autonomy or time for personal development. Most of the men I knew seemed empty, emotionally vacant and resentful. The boys my age were trying to sow a few wild oats before conforming to the fate of being male.

I did have some distant male relatives who lived in Italian communities or neighborhoods that seemed to truly enjoy their lives. They were artists, musicians, entrepreneurs (organized crime?), or individuals who somehow got by with minimal labor. They were fun loving, funny, emotional, and their lives seemed to be filled with meaningful relationships. Quality of life, joy and relationships were their priorities and they made you feel good just to be able to bask in their energy.

The Italian lover’s of life philosophy summed up by the colloquialism “dolce far niente”  (sweet idleness) was something that I harmonized with. Another version of this Italian art of living philosophy was offered by North Carolina State basketball coach Jim Valvano when after being diagnosed with cancer  said: “To me, there are three things we all should do every day…..You should laugh every day…You should spend time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears…If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special”…

The life of most of the adults I knew seemed hollow and meaningless. Life seemed too incredible and precious to me, to waste it in toil or mindless activity. Most men were doomed to an empty existence of endless labor, we had no choice in the matter. Women on the other hand were beginning to have options, my mom could work or stay at home. Technology and social change were opening a whole new world to women in which they began to talk of issues such as“quality of life”, “consciousness raising”, “intimacy” and the richness of human emotion and experience.

Just when I was beginning to feel that I would have little or no opportunity to lead a fulfilling and rich existence the women’s movement emerged as a beacon for a vision of living a quality life. While the majority of men were consigned to a life of labor and subjugation, a growing percentage of women were entering a new age of self-exploration and enlightenment.

I remember watching the Phil Donahue show and feeling a growing sense of hope and optimism. Women were leading a discussion on the direction of society. The gospel of the women’s movement seemed to be that men were leading an empty life of labor, ambition and the thirst for power, and that women were in danger of leading a “shallow” and “superficial” life filled with pettiness and gossip. Women were being called upon to join together in a quest for a fulfilling and meaningful life. A life of freedom, dignity, respect and personal development. 

The majority of my male friends in high school were either already becoming emotionally vacant and empty, or just partying until the music stopped. My female friends were more into self-disclosure and talking about their feelings. 

I became close to a small group of verbal guys who talked at length on science, philosophy and the future. I also found another mixed group of friends who talked about art, literature, music and social revolution. The majority of female friends I had, talked about relationships, human communication and the soap opera of adolescence. 

Though I sometimes found the conversation of my female friends to be petty or emotionally tedious it was far preferable to the alternative. I found myself introducing or advocating my female friends to become more engaged in the women’s movement and its basic philosophy.

Advances in technology were already showing that automation was the future, and that many factory jobs could be replaced by automated machines working faster and more efficiently than human workers. We already were showing signs of having too many workers for too few jobs, and that productivity goals could be met through less full time workers.

The women’s movement and pop psychology were informing us that “self-actualization” and “intimacy” were far more important than work/labor and making money. That, in fact, monetary ambition and long working hours were injurious to health, quality of life, and the development and maintenance of fulfilling friendships and enduring familial relationships.

Despite the murder of some very important leaders of social change much had been accomplished not only in the growth of the women’s movement, but civil rights, and the ecological and anti-war movements. Watchdog agencies, whistleblowers and journalists were exposing the corruption in government, business, medicine, finance, academia, the media and the military in a way that seemed to promise better management and accountability.

Human dignity and respect was on the rise for workers, women, minorities and students. Fear and hatred was being replaced by tolerance and understanding. The landing on the moon had been a sign that we can accomplish anything we commit ourselves to and that war, poverty, and world hunger were problems we could address and solve.

We are fond of saying that it is darkest before the dawn, yet one person’s dawn is another persons dusk. And just at the moment when I felt that the journey of self-actualization and quality of life was about to take flight, the forces of anger, control, hatred, and oppression seemed to silently turn us back towards the prison we just escaped.

Almost overnight the messages of personal development, quality of life, human intimacy, freedom and autonomy were being subtly modified and replaced with messages speaking of consumption, making money, and national and cultural superiority. 

The advertising and business world targeted minorities, women, and students as emerging lucrative consumer markets. Equating new found freedoms and social status with making money, consumption and having a new and expensive image. Drinking malt liquor and wearing specific clothes became synonymous with being a hip and successful black person. Virginia Slim’s proclaimed, “you’ve come a long way baby”, to hawk a product “designed for the modern woman”. 

Soon the women’s movement humanistic message of quality of life and intimacy became lost in the desire for equal pay and full employment. Entering the evil and destructive male dominated world of power, money, servitude and labor became the goal and battle cry of the movement. 

While I fully supported equality and rights for all, I felt stunned that the goal had now become for all to become slaves to money, labor and subjugation to corporate owners be they white male, female or minority. I personally cared little if the warden were black, white or female, I just wanted out of prison. My concern was in the quality of our lives and in our ability to create and sustain meaningful relationships and a societal respect for my and your privacy and autonomy.

Now forty years later I still have the same longings, desires and goals. I look back at the women’s movement like a photograph of an old girl friend who ended up sleeping with my old tormentor. We could have shared so much together, we could have had made the world an intimate caring place. Instead we now live in a society in which two paychecks don’t even have the purchasing power of one back in the 50’s or 60’s.  And where quality of life, life expectancy, health, happiness quotients, and leisure time have been on the decline and falling behind other more “socialistic” nations around the globe.

While I look back at what I experienced as a lost opportunity its hard not to be frightened by our surveillance society and the loss of all the freedoms and privacy we struggled to achieve and the fact that the only real growth industry left in our decayed capitalistic system of empire is fear mongering , prejudice and intolerance. 

Jim Guido

 

Poetry and Psychology and Relationships23 Feb 2013 01:48 pm

Such are the passions
Some love some hate
Some implore others debate

We get filled and overload
We get filled and then explode
Feel the urgent in others woes
Feel our passions to the bone

Those who want distance from the fray
Deem their equanimity the highest grace
A noble heart and a safe place
The calm enlightenment of the sedate

Love throbs, joy is electric
Laughter bursts and orgasm spastic
I want to feel your skin in the game
Feel your care at sadnesses base

Stillness is the ground before we breathe
Verdant life forever teems
Prolonged stillness is a sign of death
apathy, depression that completely disconnect

I listen for the echo of my desire
Of passion matched with longing inspired
I yearn to feel the hot gusts from your fire
My face wind burned by such passion sired

Nothing lost and nothing gained
Insults precious life’s predicament
A heart invested is all I seek
Devoted to care, compassion and the intimate

Endless process is our curse
A life sentence and wet nurse
Meaning flows from her sweet breast
I’ll give it my all and suckle till my last breath

Jim Guido

Philosophy and Psychology and Relationships10 Jan 2013 01:42 pm

Much of my thought over the last year or two has been focused on articulating and exploring the wonderful world of life becoming conscious of itself. A major part of my reflections has dealt with the complementary and integrated roles of the body and self-consciousness. I refer to the body as that which lives in the world, or the habit body. I’m generally comfortable as designating the self-conscious mind as the ego.

As you many of you who visit this site frequently know, I think too much emphasis and attention is placed upon the self/ego/executive function to the disservice and lack of appreciation of the skill and wonder of the lived body. You may want to read the previous posts in order to get caught up to speed.

 http://guidoworld.com/blog/i-realize-it-…
 http://guidoworld.com/blog/reflections-o…
 http://guidoworld.com/blog/life-consciou…

Okay, so lets start by the simple statement that the ego is the thinking mind, which among other things observes, savors, problem solves, plans, judges, blames, etc. The ego is by definition self-conscious (conscious of itself). We refer to it as the executive function because of its primal role in planning, organizing, problem solving, etc.

While the ego is busy being self-conscious and thinking, speaking to itself, problem solving and judging, the lived body is busy participating, integrating, harmonizing, hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling and touching the world. The lived body is reacting, responding, selecting, documenting, perceiving and managing our mundane existence and coexistence with the environment.

The lived body is the habit body. Based on a few important data points it learns how to effortlessly function in the real world with lightning speed. The lived body is able to act and process at a far greater speed than the self-conscious mind. While we walk our habit bodies are soaking in the environment even if we are self-consciously else where. When our conscious mind suddenly becomes aware of the smell of lilacs it is usually only because of the constant perceiving and sensing being conducted by the lived-habit body (me). Hopefully this description has you better understand or feel what I mean when I talk about our bodies being-in-the-world or taking up a world.

It is the transcendental nature of our ego (self-consciousness) which allows it to be able to reflect, observe and savor. Likewise it is the nature of the habit body to orient itself and function in the world. The habit body participates and is in the world, and the ego is that which appreciates and reflects on our being in the world. The ego’s ability to transcend and observe our body and our experience our essential for our being aware of our experience.

So in essence the habit body is aware and conscious, it just isn’t self-aware and self-conscious. The problem with most of modern psychology, science and even spiritualism is that they over exaggerate the importance and autonomy of the self-conscious mind and deny the importance if not existence of any other aspect of our humanity. In psychology there is only (self)-consciousness and unconsciousness.

Let’s take the term unconscious memory and apply it to the dynamic between ego and habit body and see if it can become understandable and not just an oxymoron. Okay, our lived body is processing and documenting a tremendous amount of data (experience, words, sensation, etc.). Much of this information is placed in short, medium and long term memory even when our conscious mind was elsewhere or focused on one or two aspects of the total experience. This is why if pressed you can recall what song was playing at a party, or what someone was wearing even while at the moment of those occurrences your ego was deeply focused on a conversation or lost deep in thought. While your habit body acts of a minimal amount of information, it still processes and remembers a huge amount of data over a small space of time.

The so called unconscious memory of psychology is more accurately described as memory that was documented and incorporated into the data base of the lived habit body and was able to be retrieved by the ego to become data for the self-conscious mind. In the rare occasion that the habit body has protected itself from the pain, discomfort or failure caused by a specific event/memory or general habit/memory than it is true that the self-conscious ego has to struggle to access this data. Yet, almost all memory is habit body catalogued, and the vast majority is organized in a manner allowing for the best and most comfortable successful functioning of being-in-the-world.

When one reflects on one’s actual experience there are many other forms of consciousness and awareness which do not fit the strict definition of ego or self-consciousness. Yet, in the dual world of consciousness and unconsciousness, the unconscious is bad and a problem. While it is true that inhibition and many bad habits originate in a the world of the habit body (me), it is ludicrous to say it only has negative attributes. The lightning quick short hand allows the lived body to move and successfully function in the world, it also allows it to sort essential from inessential material. Likewise, it is the lightning speed of its processing which allows it to perform and catalogue useful information (memory, habit, sensorial cues, etc.) at the same time.

Just think how slow and difficult it would be for us to function and learn if we were totally dependent on the ego as our only form of awareness. Even walking would be near impossible if we had to break it down into the thousands of components and compensations involved in almost every step. We probably would never learn to walk if the skill had to be imparted to us by our ego. Similarly, we could think of nothing else when walking if the general mechanics and each subtle variation of stride and terrain had to be self-consciously orchestrated and analyzed.

The habit body’s ability to adapt to a new situation is far more quick and efficient than if it were attempted by the ego. We can adapt and master a major change in a matter of moments as our body incorporates and makes the changes part of our functional body image. If I put a feather in my hat within a few minutes I move in a way honoring the existence of the feather and seldom having it bump into objects as I move about rooms I’ve never even been in before. Just imagine how long it would take if I were to have to consciously think through each new scenario.

Likewise think how quickly one adjusts to riding a bicycle or a car with radically different dimensions than the one we are accustomed to, and how impossible it would be to adjust if we had to consciously identify and analytically teach our body the modifications of the new vehicle, as we make every turn, brake and park the vehicle. A musician within minutes of being seated at a piano with keys of different size and response, can play even the most challenging piece with a smoothness and deft that defies logic.

I’ll end here and hopefully what I have chosen to write here has clarified more than it has overwhelmed in my attempt to articulate the importance of the habit body and its relation to the ego.

Jim Guido

Poetry and Relationships and sexuality25 Oct 2012 01:25 pm

She repulsed him with her kindness
if not genuine at least sincere

He needed passion more than understanding
No matter how he showed or said it
it remained doggedly unclear

She was in his head
What he wanted was to be in her body
To infuse her with his playful desire

To her love was romantic, a perfect ideal
For him passion was just a thin membrane away from complete fusion

She dreamt of a child
He yearned for intimacy
She envisioned them as parents and partners
He viewed the viscerally shared as the root of all meaning

She sought harmony, an unblemished life
A personal eden bereft of conflict
Her eternal goal was to be a still pond
No ripples to disturb its presentation

She sought beauty everywhere
In thought, word, sight, smell and touch
She found beauty everywhere
Yet, in her man, not so much

He thrived on life’s imperfections
Problems were challenges and opportunities
He loved the grit and the sweat
The joy of a challenge met

He saw intimacy as the measure of one’s life
Each new experience as a gift
Immersed in the rough and tumble of existence
Sharing with her was his bliss

In her relations:
Harmony over honesty
Ease over disease
Calm as endless balance

Beauty was the handmaiden of love
It was what made life attractive
Beauty is what drew her to others
To nature, art and the sacred

He wore each new wrinkle as a badge of honor
Sensed ardor often was born from the arduous
That one often had to provoke to be provocative
and wisdom was more about the real than the ideal

She sees life through the lens of love and beauty
He through the lens of history and experience
Beauty she fashioned into life’s ideal
Intimacy he saw as the measure of one’s life
Beauty became her life’s purpose and zeal
Intimacy was all he asked of life

Is there sufficient beauty in intimacy?
The fate of this love may be dependent on it

Relationships and Social Issues10 Aug 2012 09:27 pm

As a young catholic boy the nuns taught me the dangers of ambition
of wanting too much and of having vain and unrealistic goals
I was taught to do the right thing, and value only what was important in life

I heeded the nun’s advice and tried to construct a simple life
based on being a good person, thinking good thoughts, and being a good friend
Whether by myself or with others
I thrived on passion, desire and play
I craved to be intimate with myself, the world, and all with whom I interacted

So, I spent my youth in play and conversation
I listened intently and relished in whatever my friends were able to share
I played sports and I played with words and ideas
I found humor and laughter to be life’s most treasured possessions

Though we were young and had little wisdom or insight
I was more successful in high school that at any other time
in having my conversations result in feelings of intimacy and communion
The older I’ve gotten the more guarded I find people
Always too busy or too weary to stay in intimate conversation

I’ve sought intimacy in almost everything I’ve done
I’ve been writing songs for near forty years
They have served me well as a vehicle to express and expand myself
They have catalogued my life, my feelings, my hopes, dreams and fears

During one decade of life I took to writing books
Yet since no publisher nor agent deemed them worthy of publication
The joy soon ended and while the ideas are there the will is no longer
Instead I have a website in which I write posts and essays on a regular basis
On the site I also have my books, music and lyrics, and a growing catalogue of posts

While each year the number of visitors to the site has increased
There is no dialogue and people only drop comments promoting their businesses
I seek out creative and productive people and ask questions and interview them
But sadly they do not want to talk about their thoughts any more than mine
I write songs and posts to which no one listens or responds to
I engage in conversations that seldom go anywhere

For years the passion and play of my marriage has kept the fires burning
Our life was the template of intimacy that I used for all other situations
While my appreciation of myself, nature and human consciousness continues
To be an endless spring of intimacy, play and passion
I find that the passion, desire and play that was the hallmark of my marriage wanes

Passion, desire and play have always been interconnected in me
Without passion my desire fades and my body is often
to weary, achy or tired for play

Nature and self-consciousness are my remaining life lines
Yet these sometimes aren’t enough to fuel a robust body

I mourn now for so much lost
Is acceptance the only path open to me?

Without passion, desire and play
I have difficulty recognizing who I am
or how I am to be in the world

I have never been a highly credentialed person
My talents have been my calling card
Some time ago I began donating some of my earnings
back to the agencies I contracted with
giving back to help save services offered

I have always and am prepared to live a solitary life
Life is wondrous in and of itself
Yet, I mourn all the wasted opportunity
for intimacy, passion, desire and play
These are the ingredients of the simple life
One about what’s important and not money and things

This is about unfolding and sharing the wonders of life
and of life being conscious of itself
Living life in its naked splendor
While remaining respectful and appreciative

So much suffering is unnecessary
And I am party to it by my silence
I feel I could be very helpful
But my voice and hands are wasted

So, today I sit and mourn all the wasted opportunities
for intimacy, passion, desire and play
I watch the darkening clouds move in
And hope we will survive the fray
For all I have is this world, my body and consciousness
And all three are in danger today

 

Part 2

I speak with an intensity and investment
Which others find too taxing
About issues and concerns
That others find overwhelming

I’m optimistic about topics which others find depressing and
Express skepticism about paths and solutions
Which provide most with a sense of hope

I participate in groups
Which never fully embrace me as a member
And shun the trappings of community
That strike me deceptive or exclusive

I find excitement in the mundane
And emptiness in the thrilling
I find people more fascinating
Than the wonders of the universe
I find my little acre more fulfilling
Than travels far abroad

I find little solace in words
Or in the bosom of belief
I trust more in the world of actions
And my body’s ability to learn

I yearn for little beyond my thoughts,
My feelings, senses and desires
I feel privileged to be alive
And honored to be aware

I long to share simplicity
And the wisdom that time bestows
A world, a body a consciousness
Both unique and the bonds we know

Though I’ve dedicated myself to a life of
intimacy and self-actualization
I often feel ignorant and alone

Yet when all is said and done
I’m quite happy to call home
My acre, nature and the planet
My body, the experience we mold

Yet, my insatiable thirst for intimacy
Will always have me seek for more

United in Compassion,

Jim Guido

 

Music and Poetry and Relationships08 Jul 2012 07:36 am

Thirty years ago I was in the recording studio recording my first album Life in the Shadows. Most of the songs on that album we (the band Ekstasis) had been performing in clubs in the Chicago area for about five years before recording them.

Often I surprise myself when I read the lyrics I penned back then. One of the oddest and most arcane lyrics of that time period was Psittacism Criticism, and in honor of the 30th anniversary of my first album I thought a reverie on that song would be both fun and fitting.

The term psittacism refers to any speech pattern which resembles the monotonous metallic vocalizations which were the staple of futuristic robots. So here’s the lyrics followed by my reflections of what I was thinking when I wrote them.

Psittacism Criticism

Coughing up those bricks
Glorified shibboleths
I’d give you the back of my hand
If I could endorse a cliché

She talks with all the class of escaping gas
To sad little void heads
Glazed eyes and gaping jaw (perpetual sneeze)

Come to my room to play adult Parchesee
Unshuffle me with your card shark hands
Let me be your detour if you desire reconstruction
I’m sad yet hopeful, this blue blood’s not green

Parched man desires refreshment
But even a man dehydrate will decline HCL

Where’s the party, where’s the party?
Put me on remote control
Oh hell, I used to be 21
There’s no time after alcohol

Put me in my time
Put me in my time

I used to be a friend of mine till
You put me in my time

Tell me if you care

This song was written after a weekend of socializing with friends and other young twenty contemporaries. I found most parties to be disappointing and somewhat depressing. Most gatherings lacked the type of intensity and intimacy for which I thirsted. The lyrics of this song sum up my sense of disappointment.

Coughing up those bricks
Glorified shibboleths

While shibboleth usually refers to customs and beliefs which are the hallmark of a given group I also used it to mean the lingo and habits of my crowd. The time was the middle to late seventies and we were a proud and somewhat arrogant group. We viewed most adults as ignorant, selfish and power hungry automatons whose lives were generally empty and shallow. In this respect I was in synch with my peer group, yet I was also quite critical of my peers.

The first two lines of the song refers to the catch phrases that accompanied almost every sentence uttered by my crowd. Hardly five seconds ever passed without someone saying “right on”, “heavy”, “cool”, “man” or some other trite response. These words were the “amens” of our social religion and though they were meant to provide validation and solidarity I found them an obstacle to sustaining meaningful dialogue.

The bricks were, of course, those lifeless catch phrases which said nothing and went no where. I chose coughing up those bricks for several reasons. One, coughing is a sign of pain and contagious disease and I was becoming increasingly concerned that the empty party talk was beginning to contaminate my thought process as well as the quality of my relationships with others. Bricks are lifeless dead weight and seemed the perfect vehicle for how I felt about the empty, lifeless discussions which were passing as meaningful conversation.

We believed that our lingo and slang were a sign of our depth and superior social awareness, that is why they were glorified shibboleths. We weren’t up tight inhibited slaves to the establishment as were our parents, but rather fully autonomous revelers of life’s secrets and pleasures. While our parents were “out of touch”, we were “with it” and totally “tuned in”.

Yet, to me the incessant lingo showed that my peers were becoming just as empty as their parents, and the drugs weren’t about self-discovery and opening new universes but no different than our parents alcohol and cigarette dominated socializing. To borrow a phrase from another one of my songs of that time period, Eros and Erosion, “I refuse to speak in ejaculations”. I wanted penetrating discourse which revealed and created life’s meaning and significance, and was not content with the reflexive grunts of community which pervaded all social interaction.

I’d give you the back of my hand
If I could endorse a cliché

My disappointment with my peers was heading towards anger and that is why I said that “I’d give you the back of my hand”. So, while criticizing my peers for engaging in endless trite phrases I engaged in a little self-effacing humor by using a hackneyed saying from a previous generation as my threatening reprimand. I qualify that statement by saying “if I could endorse a cliche”, because the whole idea behind psittacism criticism is to revoke all manner of trite an repetitive speech and expression, rather than attacking one form while glorifying another.

She talks with all the class of escaping gas
To sad little void heads
Glazed eyes and gaping jaw (perpetual sneeze)

I could not help but see my drugged out friends as “sad little void heads”. While I was juiced on life, they were choosing to escape into an anesthetized world which would bar them from remembering the nights conversations when they woke the next day. A sure sign of the drugged out partier was the gaping jaw and perpetual sneeze pose mentioned in the song.

Come to my room to play adult Parchesee
Unshuffle me with your card shark hands
Let me be your detour if you desire reconstruction
I’m sad yet hopeful, this blue blood’s not green

This verse was intended to be rich in obscure sexual innuendo. First off choosing Parchesee as an implicitly tawdry game seems ironic unless you know that it supposedly was originally a game of leisure played by harem girls. I invented the concept of unshuffling to show how deft and agile were my harem girl lover’s hands. Since I was feeling so out of synch with my world, her unshuffling me would most likely restore my life to a sense of meaning and intimacy.

In response to her healing acts of love I would gladly return the favor and help her reconstruct a life of intimacy and fulfillment. All she would have to do is say the word, and we would be each other’s detour from the current emptiness of modern life. The word play of detour and reconstruction were a veiled reference to the “road to enlightenment” that so dominated the counter cultural spiritualism of that time.

The last line of the verse notes how my discontent with the hippie zeitgeist had more to do with my high ideals then any kind of envy of those openly embracing the times. One again I use a bit of ironic self-effacing humor as I equate my aspirations of intimacy with being a blue blood.

Parched man desires refreshment
But even a man dehydrate will decline HCL

The next verse emphasizes the fact that while my thirst for community and intimacy remains unquenched, I will not sacrifice my principles and settle for less. A drink of (HCL) hydrochloric acid will not only not quench my thirst but would only do me further damage.

Where’s the party, where’s the party?
Put me on remote control
Oh hell, I used to be 21
There’s no time after alcohol

As my frustration peaks I cry out and ask where is the party. where is the celebration. I’m beginning to find these gatherings not only unfulfilling but annoying. At these functions I just go through the motions of having a good time, as if I were on remote control. My mainly unconscious drugged out companions are likewise on auto pilot as we seem to be acting out the same play every night. Life is quickly becoming one gigantic alcoholic blackout where we age quickly while our lives go on in a semi-conscious coma.

Put me in my time
Put me in my time

I used to be a friend of mine till
You put me in my time

I remember a time when our conversations were filled with insight and meaning. A time when we openly disclosed things that mattered to us, before they became parodies and caricatures of real feelings dressed in teenage angst and political slogans.

I remember when I felt good about myself, and was a true friend of mine. Yet, the more I become a member of the the partying crowd of the late seventies the less self-respect I have. It seems every time I try to connect with my friends they “put me in my time”, this time of emptiness and self-alienation.

Tell me if you care

The song ends with the plaintive yet hopeful request of my friends if they still care. Like me, do they still yearn to share what’s important and desire real intimacy, insight and disclosure?

When listening to the song please take note how the stilted rhythm of the beginning verses echo the psittacism that I’m articulating. While the song is in 4/4 it has a kind of demented waltz feel to it. The music lurches and jerks like the automatons it is meant to portray.

Yet, soon after the lead vocalists voice becomes metallic and robotic the music blossoms and gains a hopeful flow. The sax and female vocal solos soar and rage against the machine and end the song in majestic celebration. A sensual celebration which is the hope and means by which the psittacism I have here criticized gets destroyed.

Now, thirty years later my life has played out more like the sax and vocal solo than the stilted disconnected world of the beginning of the song, yet my disappointment in the quality of most human contact remains. I still hunger and thirst for increased intimacy and depth of sharing, and remain vigilant to fully exploit each opportunity for quality conversation that presents itself.

Jim Guido

Psychology and Relationships01 May 2012 10:42 pm

The following is a description of a model of care I am designing. I have introduced it to a few families I’m working with and the response to date has been very positive. The model is not just for adoptive family systems, but that is the populace for which I decided to use this pilot program with.

I will post a more complete description of the program, its goals, theory and methodology as I flesh out the details.

The Family Advocacy Model

In adopted family systems it is common that the adoptive child’s ability to function in their adopted family in a healthy manner has been compromised by the severity and/or confluence of early developmental factors. These factors can involve gaps in early personal/social development, neglect, abuse, trauma, or any chronic patterns or lacks which adversely affect the child’s sense of trust, validation or self-esteem.

In the Family Advocacy Model we assist the adopted family in the development and implementation of strategies, skills and family rituals which restore and promote the healthy functioning of the family. This is accomplished by our workers gaining an understanding and knowledge of the family system through family interviews, in-home observations, and file information along with on-going dialogue with support services already in place such as treatment teams, therapists, psychiatrists, etc.

Information regarding the family system thus acquired will be used in the design and implementation of goals and skills which will assist family functioning in terms of increased harmony, family role integration, bonding and attachment, and each family members sense of personal growth and development. Each family member will have input into the identification of their goals and assessment of their progress.

While attempting to assist in the improved functioning of the adopted family system we will also strive to honor, retain and promote the unique qualities and values of the system. We will restrict our focus to each family members functioning in the family in terms of their abilities, gifts and personality characteristics. While the Family Advocacy model attempts to meet the current needs of the adopted family, services and goals typically center around areas such as communication patterns, generational boundaries, role identification and clarification, and the appreciation, respect and empathy of each family member to the feelings and integrity of the other family members.

Although the immediate goal of the Family Advocacy Model is the improved functioning of the adopted family system as a whole, we, as well, do advocate for the successful social functioning of each individual member. As an family advocate we will assist and support the family in arenas outside the family home such as school, employment and peer interaction.

Jim Guido

Philosophy and Relationships03 Feb 2012 08:59 am

Each year I write my wife 12 letters during the Christmas season (the 12 days of Christmas) as part of her presents. She has graciously given me permission to post this letter.

I decided to post this letter as it was written. Hopefully, you the reader, can follow it despite some of the inside references and verbal short hand. Recently my thoughts have been darkened by some dark prospects I will address in my next post to be entitled “Let’s hope I’m Wrong”.

Yet, it is always nice to take a moment to reflect on the wonder of human existence. I hope you enjoy this post and keep it in mind when you read my next few posts.

December 12, 2011

This year for me has been one of getting back to my phenomenological roots and feeling increased gratitude for being healthy. This has been a year for focusing on what I have, rather than what I do not have.

As the mighty storm clouds continue to build around our economy and social structure it is difficult to not feel a little anxiety regarding the future. Yet, at the same time it is almost impossible not to feel very fortunate in the present and to take heart in how well the years have treated us.

We don’t deserve suffering nor good fortune, yet eating right, exercise, kindness and appreciation are their own rewards. I feel that doing the healthy thing is going to continue to be one of my highest priorities for the coming years. I hope you too, make your continued health the highest of personal priorities.

Putting together the package of my lyrics for the book club has helped me gain some perspective and appreciation of what I have written and sung. “I shoot out thoughts like a Tommy gun, words pour out in rapid runs, painting the world that is me, making the world I am to be…….sometimes the world touches me. “

Speech has always come easy for me. Thoughts and words do shoot out in constant streams. Getting older I do have the occasional experience of struggling for a word, yet for the bulk of my life words have come to me effortlessly and even complex or original thoughts have been there for me with no hesitation.

My writing forever surprises me. On one level I’m a rather controlled and thoughtful writer. When writing a song I more often than not take my time slowly building the song phrase by phrase, often going back and changing lines until a certain flow happens. Yet, even when I have anguished over its creation my words always surpass my intentions. Days, months and in some cases years will pass by before I appreciate or even recognize some meanings that lay hidden inside the words.

Being human is such an extraordinary thing. Each human life is far more fascinating then its author intended. If people truly appreciated human experience and the richness of self-consciousness than there would be no greater endangered species than depression.

Despite the fact that we refer to ourselves as human beings we seem to unrealistically and negatively judge and evaluate ourselves as human doings. Most of us race about doing, acting and accomplishing while rarely matching up to our expectations. We are finite and limited beings who seem to demand of ourselves absolutes, completions and perfections.

As I wistfully mention in Opportunity Lost, ‘I wish the human race could be run at a more comfortable pace.” It does seem that we are pitting the two most dominant ways we refer to ourselves against each other. In one corner we have human beings and in the other the human race. Yet, despite the popularity of mindfulness and spirituality the realities and demands of modern capitalism are having the race overshadow the being.

There is no inherent problem in doing, acting and performing as long as it is anchored in being. Being is not the opposite of acting, for to be demands breathing and all sensorial experience necessitates movement. Yet, being includes an acceptance of one’s real situation and one’s intersubjective connection with the world, others, the body and self-consciousness.

Yet, there is no where on the globe in which people stay centered in the real and actual experience of being human. It appears that it is extremely difficult to accept our inherent ambiguity and uncertainty. Either self-consciousness is the goal or the illusion, or the present is the goal relegating history, reflection and anticipation into evils or distractions.

As I point out and question in Come on In,

The limits we strive hard to overcome
Make life possible are its total sum
Why is being human such a bad gig?
What’s so wrong with life as it is?

And all I have to say is the invitation I offer in the same song:

I’m so excited by the challenge within
I’m so delighted to take it all in
I just want to dance, I just want to swim
I just want to laugh, I just have to grin
Come on in

It is hard to imagine anything more interesting and fulfilling that to think, feel and speak. For me no description of heaven, nirvana or cosmic consciousness has surpassed or even matched the beauty and satiation I can acquire through the simple process of human experience and intimacy.

Hopefully we can enjoy many more years in appreciating our journey on this our earthly and all so human Magic Carpet Ride.

Psychedelically,

Jim

PS No not Hendrix, the Italian guy

Philosophy and Relationships11 Nov 2011 12:48 pm

One of my popular posts is the one I entitled Learning How to Purr which I wrote back in 2008. I’m glad it has been read so often as I think Learning How to Purr is a rewarding skill. The post by the way was based on the lyrics of the song by that name which can be heard and read on Zephyr in the music section of the site.

What is amazing is that for a cat purring is not a rare event or a sign of perfect bliss. Purring is the default mode of a cat, if nothing pressing is happening then for most felines purring is the thing to do (feel). I, too, am learning how to make that humming type of contentment my fall back mode of being in the world.

My nature is to be reflective and thoughtful and even in the midst of activity I am often ruminating on some thought or observation. I love learning about myself, others and the world I perceive. Each day I find it easier to do all these things in a manner which makes purring commonplace.

A calm cellular joy which traverses my body and guides my perspective is finding its way into my daily activities. Even at the height of activity at work, playing music or sports, or in conversation I can sense the purr arising from deep inside me. I meditate twice a day and it is now becoming rare when the bulk of that time is not spent purring (basking) in cellular joy.

As you can tell from my posts, this purring does not prevent me from looking at the world critically and realistically. My cellular joy isn’t born of dreaming and escapism but from my visceral integration with others and my surroundings. The warm hum is visceral and emanates from and circulates through my body. It is not an abstract joy divorced from the real world and a possession of my mind, it is not a platonic ideal, or a spiritual consciousness, but rather a full bodied joy of the wonder of the dance of me perceiving myself and the world.

In my poems Awed and I Realize It is Me, which have been posted on this site, I try to paint and articulate this beauty in a form which helps create the perspective that gives rise to the experience of cellular joy and purring. Each day that passes I learn new ways of celebrating life, and make new discoveries revealing the wonder of human existence.

What I’ve learned from developing the habit of purring is that it is not what you do that’s is so important as how you do it. Cellular joy comes more from adopting the right perspectives than having total control over the activities you do from moment to moment. In fact, what seems to be emerging is an organic realization that the cellular joy has little to do with any specific activity and the very search for the right activity or accomplishment often runs counter to the experience of cellular joy (purring).

Though certain thoughts and attitudes are helpful in fostering or allowing purring to occur, I have come to learn that cellular joy is an actual organic experience. The human body makes our having a world and perception possible. Without my body there would be no me, and no way for me to experience a world. My sense of self is not a thing, it is a process, and without my body and its taking up a world there would be nothing to feel, know or experience.

Cellular joy is the celebration of being alive. And when it comes down to it, what better is there to celebrate that the gift of life.

Jim Guido

Relationships and Social Issues26 Sep 2011 01:21 pm

I recently read a book entitled Money and Psychotherapy that pointed out how specifics regarding people’s financial situation are seldom ever addressed in therapy. A major point of the book was to say that there is a taboo in therapy regarding any investigative discussion on money, and that this taboo reflects a general avoidance of personal finance discussion in everyday life.

When reading the book I thought about how many taboos we have in our culture regarding typical conversation between friends and associates. In fact it is hard to think of a topic of conversation that doesn’t have restrictions on what can be shared. There are taboos and restrictions on open dialogues about sex, religion, politics, ethics, government, law, desire, fantasy, parenting and education just to name a few.

Sometimes it is acceptable to have a general discussion about one of these topics with a group of like minded individuals, or we can tolerate a quick professing of strongly held beliefs. Yet, usually these conversations are more an opportunity for individuals to state or express their opinions and beliefs and are not usually forums for a true exchange of ideas.

In general our society has many rules regarding “polite” or “civilized” conversation. Topics which are emotionally powerful, full of personal significance or socially important are not considered appropriate for daily dialogue and more often than not are considered to be “private issues”.

I will readily admit that personal realities, set beliefs and certainties are rather fruitless topics of conversation. At best one can express these views, but since they are fixed and rigid they are by definition not useful for conversation or dialogue. Yet, as growing changing human beings there should be much of our lives which we are exploring and learning in which shared dialogue would be helpful and productive.

While my distaste for typical social conversation is stronger than most, I seldom meet a person who finds most social and party conversation satisfying. Most people express some form of emptiness or lack in the quality of most social conversation, yet feel the sense of community outweighs the deficits.

The taboos and rules regarding what can be discussed in one-on-one or small group conversation are far less restrictive. While there is an openness and even sometimes a willingness for self-disclosure and an articulation of one’s personal reality, there still exists a substantial resistance to a frank exchange of ideas or working through opposing perceptions.

I myself find even the best of friends can have a relatively small threshold and tolerance of meaningful or explorative conversation. Even my intimate life long friends who used to energetically engage in these type of conversations in high school and college, now find it difficult to delve for more than a few minutes before seeking a distraction.
I do find my thirst for meaningful conversation has stayed strong through out the years. My closest friends are very appreciative of the quality of our conversations and often express regret that they don’t have “these type” of conversations more often. Yet, when it comes down to it, they honor the taboos and inhibitions of socially accepted discourse.

Over the last few years I’ve noticed an aggressive nature to the avoidance of intimate or meaningful dialogue, and that is to make the desire for meaningful dialogue into a pathology or a sign of social ineptness. Now, efforts to engage in meaningful or emotionally invested discussion are rebuffed as a sign of a person’s “inability to read social cues” or their honesty as “a lack of social filters”.

I have worked many years with people on the Autism Spectrum and so I’m quite aware of individuals who have neurological deficits that limit their ability to read social situations, or to see things from another’s perspective. Yet, now people are now using this fact as a defense mechanism in rationalizing their resistance or discomfort with intimate dialogue.

In a future post I hope to talk more on the role inhibitions play on limiting our basic drive towards intimacy. Those willing to learn more of my thoughts regarding intimacy, should go to the words section of this website and read my book “Exploring Intimacy”.

Yet, in this post I only want to conclude by once again emphasizing my sadness at the lack of intimate and meaningful conversation allowed by social protocol and conventions. The taboos we have restricting meaningful interchange strip our social world from much of the richness it has to offer. Of course, one is free to express these things in the arts, such as I do in lyric, song and books. Yet, life and experience could be so much richer if our society encouraged meaningful exchange thereby allowing us to more fully benefit by the perspective, experience and energy of others in an immediate fashion.

It is a shame that our wonder of the world and depth of our experience often is expected to stay mute. There is so little time, and so much richness to share, and almost every individual I know possesses so many gems that, do to social conventions, stay hidden from my eyes.

Jim Guido

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