Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Dolly Parton Is the Real Deal

 Dolly Parton is in the news (11/18/20) because she helped fund research for a COVID19 vaccine, besides being a musical and film and TV star and distributing something like 100 million books to the youngest readers.  

I am happy that I made sure to see her last time she played Boston.  I hadn’t realized till then what a great songwriter she is as well as being a consummate musical performer.  The show was at the Boch Center and the attitude of the women and girls who turned out for her was a joy to experience.  If Ms Parton does not win a Gershwin Prize it’s an embarrassment to whoever chooses such things.

Found a copy of her autobiography in a Little Free Library and was glad to learn more about this remarkable and admirable woman.

Dolly:  My Life and Other Unfinished Business by Dolly Parton
NY:  HarperCollins, 1994
ISBN 0-06-017720-9

(page 7)  Well, this snooty parson in his starched collar stopped by the fence while my daddy was sweating and groaning trying to get a stump out of the ground, and he said, “Hello, Lee, this is a right nice place you and the Lord have here.”  Daddy wiped the sweat from his brow with the back of his sleeve and said, “Yeah, well, you should have seen the som’bitch when the Lord had it by hisself."

(31) This was the first indication [a pie supper where Dewey King bought her pie to sit with her] I can remember that boys were interested in me, and I was touched by that. Although I’m not quite sure where.

(33-34)  Dolly’s mother would sometimes make Stone Soup with the kids, picking the stone of the neediest kid to go in the soup.

(45)  Wouldn’t it be something if we could have things we love in abundance without their losing that special attraction the want of them held for us.

(51)  The worst thing about poverty is not the actual pain of it, but the shame of it.

(66)   In my childlike way, I came to understand that death is only frightening to those of us left behind.

(72)  What has a six-year-old kid done that justified being burned in hellfire?  Any time I asked questions like that I was always told I was too young to understand.  It seemed to me that should work both ways.  I should also be too young to be punished for something I didn’t understand.

(119)  There is a healthy amount of dreaming that has to be done for any project to really be worthwhile.

(134)  I had loved John Kennedy.  Not in the way a woman loves a man but in the way one idealist recognizes another and loves him for that place within themselves that they share.  I didn’t know a lot about politics, but I knew that a lot of things were wrong and unjust and that Kennedy wanted to change them.  He was young.  He was looked at the country with fresh eyes that saw what his predecessors could not or would not.  I grieved for the country.  For the loss of a spirit that young people and poor people and downtrodden people could share and call their own.

(141)  I remembered old stories people would tell about times during the depression when down-and-out diners would go to a café and order a pine float - a glass of water and a toothpick.

(193)  You know money don’t make you smart.  Money don’t make you happy.  But it can make you comfortable if you’re smart enough to be happy.

(215)  We do these things [play tricks on each other] for the fun.  Carl [Dean, her husband] likes it better when nothing is said and it’s just funny inside.  Maybe it stays funny longer that way.

(240)  It’s hard when you want the best for everybody but you also want it for yourself.

(306)  The poet Emily Dickinson said, “The only thing I know about love is that love is all there is.”

(307)  I do think, though, that it’s time we learned to use the word _love_ without cringing.  Maybe then we’ll be able to actually do it without making a big deal out of it, to have it be as much a part of our daily lives as eating or sleeping.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Charmed Lives: A Family Romance

My father was very proud of his Hungarian heritage and proud of all other Hungarians of note.  One of the people he admired was Alexander Korda who made films in Hungary, Germany, the UK, and the USA, where he helped build the movie industry in each and every country.

Alexander Korda brought his two brothers along with him, Zoltan, who became a fine director, and Vincent, a painter who became a noted art director.  Michael Korda was Vincent's son, Alexander's nephew, and became an author and very successful publisher.

Here in what is shaping up to be a disastrous 21st century, these stories from the disastrous 20th century display a kind of life that we will not see again.

Charmed Lives:  A Family Romance by Michael Korda

NY:  Random House, 1979

ISBN  0-394-41954-5

(14)  [England in the late forties] The national spirit was that of the Blitz, without the excitement of the war or the hope of victory.

(32)  Once you have lived long enough in Southern California it always seems like the rest world when you return.  From Sunset Boulevard and South Rodeo Drive, New York, London, Venice - indeed anywhere east of Palm Springs and west of Malibu - appear insubstantial and unreal.  It has always  seemed to me natural to feel lonely in Los Angeles.  In New York I get desperate when I’m alone, and seek out strangers in bars, or begin telephoning friends at odd hours of the night, but I _expect_ to be lonely in L.A., and don’t mind it, since everybody appears to be as well.

(37)  … Habsburg bureaucracy (once accurately described as "despotism humanized by stupidity”).

(66)  As Zoli was later to say, “If people want to kill you for political reasons it can happen or not happen, but if they want to kill you for money, you are already dead.”

(92)  There is a wise Gypsy saying:  “Never steal two chickens in the same village.”

(93)  He [Alex] did not believe in self-justification.  When people were angry at him, he simply agreed with then, thus disarming them completely.

(157)  There is no cruelty like that of small children, and rich children are more cruel than most.

(163)  When Zoli nearly drowned shooting a scene with the mechanical Kaa on the set of “The Jungle Book”:  Coughing and spluttering, Zoli stood up on the bank, wringing out his hat.  “Vy didn’t you bloody help?” He asked.

Alex stared at his muddy shoes.  “You should have shouted in Hungarian,” he said.  “A cry for help should always be in your native language.  Only your own understand."

(164)  Vincent:  Remember:  The people who do the work are more important than the people who give the orders, and don’t ever forget it.

(191)  … at worst a Jaguar sedan (known among chauffeurs as “the Jew’s Bentley”)…

(195)  Alex:  “It’s an old custom.  If you give somebody a knife as a gift, he will become an enemy.  If he gives you a coin, he has bought the knife from you, you see, and you remain friends.  I want us to be friends, so I am taking your penny…."

(205)  Alex:  “Get used to the best,” he would say, “and you will then have a good incentive to succeed - and anyway what’s the point in getting used to second-rate things?”

(225)  Getting Orson Welles to play Harry Lime, chasing him from Rome to Naples to Venice to Capri to Nice, just after WWII when fresh fruit was still unavailable in the UK:  Once we were airborne, my father fell asleep, and gradually Orson, having finished the Nice-Matin and yesterday's Paris edition of the New York Herald-Tribune, began to eye the fruit. Sleepy myself, I noticed him pick up a piece of fruit and fondle it, but when I woke up an hour or so later, I realized to my horror that he had systematically taken a single bite out of each piece of fruit, even the ones whose rinds made this a difficult proposition. Having effectively destroyed Vincent's fruit basket, he was now at peace with himself, and slept soundly, his immaculate appearance marred only by a few spots of juice on shirt front.

I thought there was nothing to be gained by telling my father about Orson's revenge, and when we landed and he saw his devastated fruit basket, he merely sighed and asked the chauffeur to deliver it to Mr. Welles's suite at Claridge's. Not a vindictive man, Vincent was always surprised that others were, he made a allowance for talent.  "I give you a word of advice," he said, as we turned into Wilton Place –" never trust an actor!"

(231)  [Sonny] Tufts had been the victim of a terrible remark, perhaps the only actor in the history of motion pictures whose career was ended by a single line.  When Cary Grant had fallen ill before giving a speech, the organizing committee had replaced him at the last minute with Sonny Tufts, and the master of ceremonies, who had not been informed of the switch, announced to the audience of motion picture celebrities, “And now I present you with one of the truly great actors of the industry, a man who has been a star for many years, a distinguished actor and a great gentleman” - he glanced down at his program notes -  “Sonny _Tufts_?”  The roars of laughter echoed for many minutes, and Tufts never recovered.  Now he was attempting to make a comeback in England, preseumably in the hope that nobody had heard about the joke there, and Alex listened to him with growing impatience.

(241)  In one interview Alex was quoted as saying, “Poverty brings out the best and worst in a man, and it brought out both in me;  money, on the other hand, promises everything and gives nothing - but you first have to have it in order to despise it.”

(270)  Brendan Bracken on Alex buying a Chagall from Chagall’s wife:  “‘Not at all Brendan,’ he [Alex] said, 'Sometimes you have to let yourself be cheated like a gentleman.’  I daresay he’s right, but the truth of the matter is that he’s easily charmed.  I worry about that.  One should be very much on one’s guard against being charmed past the age of fifty.  It’s very dangerous, very dangerous indeed, to be a romantic at that age.”

(295-297)  At the hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo:  Shortly after we had made ourselves comfortable for dinner, a strange apparition presented itself to us in the dining room. A very old man, possibly the oldest man I had ever seen, appeared pushed in a wheelchair by a buxom woman in her mid-thirties….

Lonsdale, who's attention had been diverted from Alexa's bosom to the mysterious and unlikely couple, informed us that they were the old Baron de Rothschild and his nurse.  

“He's lived here since the year one," Lonsdale said. "He moved here from the hotel in Nice after quite a fuss. It seems that for years he had the same waiter, and every morning this waiter brought him his breakfast tea. Then one day the waiter died, and the baron complained that his tea didn't taste the same;  in fact it was dreadful, no taste all. The management rushed about trying to find out what had gone wrong. It happens that old Baron de Rothschild was a miserable tipper. He hated parting with money. In revenge the old floor waiter used to piss in his teapot every morning, starting I suppose with just a few drops, until old Rothschild gradually got used to it. When the waiter died, the new one was bringing Rothschild perfectly good tea, of course, but it just didn't taste the same because he'd gotten used to piss. There was a terrible row when the whole thing came out, and he moved here.”

As our own meal drew to a close, I noticed that the old man was becoming increasingly animated, as if, finally, his evening was about to reach its climax. I wondered if he had a taste for dessert, and was expecting to see something lavish and extraordinary after his frugal meal, but I was surprised to see that maitre d'hotel arrive with a single orange on a silver plate. Deftly, he stuck a fork in the orange and showed it to Rothschild, who nodded in approval. Taking a knife the maitre d'hotel skillfully cut the rind of the orange in one long loop, and placed the fruit in front of the Baron with the flourish.  Rothschild, by now quivering slightly in anticipation, tore the orange into segments with his palsied fingers. It seemed to me improbable that an orange could cause so much pleasure in any man, but who can tell what a man who likes piss in his tea will be excited by. I watched him place one segment of the orange in his mouth, roll it around, chew at it and swallow.  Then, to my astonishment, he very precisely spat the pips straight out across the table, where they landed between his companions breasts.  She took no notice and continued to smile. He snuffled with pleasure, wiped his mouth and took up another orange segment, and proceeded once more to spit the pips out into her cleavage. She looked around the room as if nothing were happening. I squeezed Alexis hand and pointed, and we sat breathlessly as he disposed of the whole orange and its pips, never once missing his target. Then, when he had finished, his companion rose, took away his napkin, checked his rug and wheeled him out of the dining room, bowing majestically to the staff, while the baron sunk back into a comatose lethargy. Clearly it had been the high point of his day….

I explained, as best I could, what what we had seen, and for a moment I thought Alex was not going to believe me. But Freddie Lonsdale gave one of his cackles. "Quite true," he said, "quite true. I heard he does that, but I've never seen it, and I'm sorry I missed it. They say that he also likes to go down to the kitchens and shape all the ice cream and parfaits into perfect little spirals by licking them. I've never been able to eat a parfait since.”

“Well," Alex reflected," I suppose we shall all have to find new pleasures at a certain age, God knows. In a way one can envy him."

(305)  She [Vivien Leigh] was, as Alex said, “the only person in the world who could be charming while she was throwing up,”…

(333)  I was making the same mistake that everybody made about my father;  because he liked company, people assumed he liked conversation.  The worst thing he could say about a man (and most women) was that they talked too much.

(334)  Like Winston Churchill, who always turned off his hearing aid in the House of Commons (and at home) on the grounds that he could hear what he himself was saying perfectly well without it, and didn’t much care what other people were saying, Vincent was quite capable of ignoring a conversation until he felt it was time to join it, or put an end to it.

(340)  Alex:  "Years ago, I remember that Lawrence of Arabia was coming to see me to talk about a movie of Seven Pillars of Wisdom, and he was killed on the way in a motorbike accident.  I still own the rights.”

(358)  Alex leaned over and gave me a searching look, “Remember,” he said, “all girls are different.  Unfortunately, all wives are the same.”

(380)  “Retirement,” he [Alex] said, “is a very difficult thing, much more difficult than people think.  The end is much harder than the beginning.  In the beginning, one is driven by hope and ambition, but at the end it’s just a question of how comfortably you can go out, and between the damned tax people at Somerset House and the bloody doctors, you can’t even count on much in the way of comfort.  Even the greatness of the past doesn’t help all that much.  In Churchill’s case, it just makes it that much harder to go.  Once one has climbed the ladder, it’s hard to step down - and very easy to fall!"

(387)   Movie people are seldom aware of the awe in which they are regarded, partly because they're too busy to notice where they’re working, and because it’s a way of life.  When a camera and lights are set up, it attracts a crowd - much as accidents and crimes do.

(394)  Leila, Vincent’s second wife:  People with ordinary family lives are much happier than people who want to be special.  I learned that.  You may learn it - I hope so, for your sake.

(420)  He [Alex] had once said that in every love affair there is one secret thing which each person knows about the other and which can never be spoken because it will immediately destroy the relationship, a kind of secret weapon in everybody’s heart.

(427)  Zoli:  You haven’t been close because she’s an old woman who once did you a favor.  I understand that.  We always want to turn away from the people who did favors for us, no?  It’s natural, even if it’s not very nice.

(434)  Alex:  Entertainment counts and it is the most difficult thing of all.  You can affect an audience three ways - you can make them laugh, make them cry, and make them sit forward in their seats with excitement.  You should never degrade them…

(449)  Photographer Milton Greene on Alexa [Alexander's third and much younger wife]:  “Nobody’s going to solve her problems.  She has to learn, like everybody else.”

”Learn what?”

“Learn that being tough doesn’t help.  Being rich doesn’t help much either.  What matters is feeling good about what you’re doing.  I don’t think she does.”

(478)  Alex had always boasted that he could learn any language by going to a new country and buying the newspapers, reading them every day until he understood the headlines, then the stories, then the reviews and features.  “When you can do the crosswords,” he would say, “it is time to move on to another country, and learn a new language."

Monday, August 24, 2020

Dreaming the Future: Reimagining Civilization in the Age of Nature

 Dreaming the Future:  Reimagining Civilization in the Age of Nature by Kenny Ausubel

White River Junction, VT:  Chelsea Green Publishing, 2012

ISBN 978-1-60358-459-3

(xi)  It is the art of creating, in ecological designer John Todd’s words, “elegant solutions predicated on the uniqueness of place.”

(xv)  Hoxsey:  When Healing Becomes a Crime, film and book

…. The Hoxsey herbal treatment was a classic case history or medical politics - its therapeutic value twice upheld by federal courts while thousands upon thousands of patients claimed to be cured by it.

(3)  For all the chatter about the Age of Information, what we’re really entering is the Age of Nature.  After all, we didn’t invent nature.  Nature invented us.  Nature bats last, the saying goes.  Even more important, it’s her playing field.  We would be wise to learn the ground rules and how to play by them.

The solutions residing in nature consistently surpass our conception of what’s possible.  The quest to understand nature’s operating instructions is showing us how to design appropriately for human civilization by modeling human organization on living systems and adapting practical ways to serve human ends harmlessly.  They very genius of nature that we are destroying is precisely what we now most need to get ourselves through this bottleneck.

(4)  James Lovelock:  A geophysical system always begins with the action of a single organism.  If this action happens to be locally beneficial to the environment, then it can spread until eventually a _global altruism_ results.  Gaia always operates like this to achieve her altruism.  There is no foresight or planning involved.  The reverse is also true, and any species that affects the environment unfavorably is doomed, but life goes on.

(8)  As [Malcolm] Margolin has said, “it’s really important to get a view of humanity as not living apart from the world or destructive to it.  People by their way of living can actually be a blessing to the world.  But to be a human being, you need more than one generation to take this stuff up.”

(22)  As Charles Darwin observed, “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.”

…Resilience Alliance outlined some of the rules of the road in their book Resilience Thinking.

… Taking care of nature means taking care of people, and taking care of people means taking care of nature.

… Resilience thinking means abandoning command-and control approaches.

(24)  The heart of resilience is diversity.  Damaged ecosystems rebound to health when they have sufficient diversity.

(27)  Studies about social resilience - why some people recover from trauma and abuse - show that perhaps the most important factor is reaching out to helpers and mentors.

(32-33)  To create conditions conducive to life, nature has operating instructions that Benyus has distilled as “Life’s Principles.”  Life optimizes rather than maximizes - it designs for the good of the whole system, whereas maximizing for just one element skews the overall system.  It designs for multiple functions, creating efficiencies.  It matches form to function.

Life leverages interdependence by recycling all materials, fostering cooperative relationships, and creating self-organizing systems.  Life uses benign manufacturing with “life-friendly” materials, water-based chemistry, and self-assembly.

Life also constantly adapts and evolves.  It’s keyed to the local and it’s responsive.  It’s resourceful and opportunistic.  It uses feedback loops to keep learning and responding.  It integrates cyclic processes.  It cross-polinates and mutates.  It builds resilience through diversity, decentralization, and redundancy, allowing for failure and building in sageguards to avoid the possibility of crashing the whole system at once.

The principles appear simple.  Nature runs on current sunlight.  Nature banks on diversity.  Nature rewards cooperation.  Nature builds from the bottom up.  Nature recycles everything.  Life creates conditions conducive to life.

(33)  Quieting human cleverness is the first step in biomimicry.  Next comes listening, then trying to echo what we hear.  This emulating is hard and humbling work.  When what we learn improves how we live, we grow grateful, and that leads to the last step in the path:  stewardship and care taking, a practial thanksgiving for what we’ve learned.

(34)  Jay Harmon is one of our most gifted biomimics and a self-described strategic optimist.

… He came to realize that nature’s favorite form is the spiral.

(35)  Harmon is indeed now demonstrating that it’s more profitable to copy nature than to destroy it.  As CEO of PAX Scientific, a Marin County industrial-design firm that he operates with his wife and partner Francesca Bertone, he develops energy-efficient and ecologically friendly technologies.  PAX Scientific is revolutionizing industrial design working with companies in businesses as far-ranging as refrigerators, ships, and computers.

(38)  Jay Harmon:  Once it [PAX water impeller] sets up, the entire water body becomes a ringed vortex like a smoke ring, which is by far nature’s most efficient flow structure.  This is one of the reasons that we can impact very large volumes of water with such a small device and so little energy.

(48)  As educator David W Orr suggests, the ultimate object of ecological desgin is the human mind.  For the most part, solutions exist for the vast majority of our problems, aand the solutions residing in nature consistently surpass our concept of what’s possible.  It is not ultimately a technolgical issue, but a human perception issue.  The real environmental crisis is between our ears.

(51)  Here are some basic tenets of ecological medicine she [Carolyn Ratffensperger] helped outline:
The first goal of medicine is to establish the conditions for health and wholeness, thus preventing disease and illness.  The second is to cure.
The Earth is also the physician’s client.  The patient under the physician’s care is one part of the Earth.
Humans are part of a local ecosystem.  A disturbed ecosystem can make people physically ill.
Medicine should not add to the illnesses of humans or the planet.  Medical practices themselves should not damage other species or the ecosystem.

… Ironically, medicine itself is a highly toxic enerprise.  The health care industry emits nearly half the known dioxin and dioxin-linked compounds and around a quarter of the mercury released into the environment.

(52)  It’s well proven that the overuse of antibiotics has bred widespread resistance and precipitated a global medical crisis.  But what few realize is how much of the source is factory farming, which uses an estimated 29 million pounds a year in the United States alone at last count - on top of the 3 million used for people.  About 70 percent of all antibiotics sold in the United States are given to healthy food animals as a non-therapeutic treatment to artificially speed up their growth and compensate for the effects of unsanitary conditions on the farm.  Then the antibiotics migrate into land and water to breed even wider resistance.

… Across the United States, animals raised for food produce almost 90,000 pounds of waste _per second_.  
NB:  Methane

(67)  As the late Gaylord Nelson, principal founder of Earth Day, said, “The economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment.”

… And in times like these, as Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge."

(79)  Another popular form of mimicry in plants and animals is crypsis, the art of concealment.  Keeping a low profile has potent advantages.

(90)  Ants also invented agriculture before people did, by 50 million years, and they are accomplishing two feats beyond the powers of present human technologies.  They are growing a monocultural crop year after year without disaster, and they are using an antibiotic so prudently that they have not provoked antibiotic resistance.

(108)  As the author EL Doctorow said, “We recognize two forms of citizenship, common and preferred.”
NB:  stock owners

… One thing is for sure:  a forty-hour workweek at the minimum wage will definitely not get you out of poverty.  We have been creating a permanent class of the working poor.

(108-109)  [Kevin] Phillips says that the decline of great economic powers is historically linked to four factors.  The first is “financialization” of their economies, as speculation replaces real production and commerce.

(109)  The second factor is very high levels of debt.  The United States is now the biggest debtor nation in the world.

… The third is extreme economic inequality.  

… Lastly, military overreaching usually seals the decline of a fading dominant economy.

(111)  In contrast, as the World Economic Forum documented, four of the five most competitive economies in the world have the most time-friendly, family-friendly, and worker-friendly policies.

(115)  What did [Tom] Linzey and his team do?  “Well, we have no pride of authorship.  We stole some language.  We went out and we took South Dakota’s work, where the anticorporate farming law is part of the state constitution.  It was driven into the state constitution by farmers and activists in South Dakota who refused to fight things by parts per million, by water pollution, by odor pollution, by end-of-the-pipe measures.  And that’s what’s wrong with environmental law:  It’s all end-of-the-pipe.  It waits until the problem is caused, then comes up with a solution.  Well, the folks in the Midwest didn’t want to be in that position, and they took these steps to drive this law and this concept into the constitution through a statewide initiative process that mandated no corporations in farming.”

(118)  You may remember the Boston Tea Party.  It actually began as a revolt against the East India Company after it enlisted the British Crown to exempt it from paying the tea taxes that applied to merchants in the colonies, thereby destroying any competition from small colonial merchants.  The American Revolution began as an anticorporate, antimonopoly rebellion.

Following the American Revolution, corporations were kept on a tight legal leash.  Corporations could be formed only to undertake public projects, and could exist for just a finite period.  After that, they could be rechartered only if they could show they existed for the public good.  Their directors and officers were held personally liable for the actions and harms of the corporations.  All that began to change with the 1886 Supreme Court ruling that corporations were persons.

The Corporate Rights Elimination Ordinances that have been passed in Pennsylvania gives communities the right to refuse to recognize their corporate constitutional rights at the municipal level.  The argument shifted from contaminated sludge to the Constituion.

(121)  People were coming to understand what Thomas Jefferson had warned against over two hundred years ago:  “I hope we will crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government in a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of the country.”

(122)  Tom Linzey:  So we said, “Yeah, we could do that.”  We went back to the office and began drafting the Corporate Rights Elimination Ordinance.  After Porter Township, unanimously voted to adopt a binding law as the first in the country to pass a binding ordinance eliminating corporate constitional rights, another township followed in early 2003.  Then another rural municipal government.  We were at the beginning of the beginning, and we’d discovered some new tools.”

(124)  Perhaps, just perhaps, we’re in this mess today not only because we don’t live in a democracy, but because we’ve never had a democracy in this country.  Indeed, perhaps the corporate cultural I.V. in our arms has been working so well that it’s hard for us to even imagine what self-government would look like.  We assume that we’re working within a framework in which majorities actually make governing decisions.

(132)  Tom Linzey:  We’ve tried to build an environmental movement on the basis of nature as property.  Environmental regulations and laws are all based on Congress’s authority under something called the Commerce Clause.  In fact, when Congress passed he Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and National Environmental Plicy Act and even the Endangered Species Act, they were all done under the Commerce Clause authority, which essentially says that nature is commerce.  Western philosophy and law treat nature as property.  It’s really a shake-up when people start syaing that right-less things should have rights, at the very least the right to exist.

(133)  Wild Law:  A manifesto for Earth Justice by South African environmental attorney Cormac Cullinan

…  Tom Linzey:  What’s fascinating is that over a dozen municipalities in the United States today working with our organization have passed local laws that declare that ecosystems have rights to exist and flourish of their own, and that anyone in the community can step into the shoes of the ecosystem to protect it or vindicate it.  Damages have to be measured by the damage to the ecosystem and damage awards have to go back to restoring the ecosystem itself.  It’s a fundamental shift in the law.

(138)  Over a series of months, they shaped and expanded that language, and in 2009 the people of Ecuador approved the New Constitution, becoming the the very first country in the world to recognize in its Constitution the rights of ecosystems to “exist, persist, regenerate and evolve.”

…  In 2010, CELDF [Community Environment Legal Defense Fund] became a founding member of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature, an international organization formed to buidl a global movement ot recognize nature’s legal rights, and is currently chairing its Legislative Assistance Working Group.

(143)  To succeed in this momentous transition, we’re being called upon to cooperate on a grand scale.  It requires the equivalent of a wartime mobilization, yet its purpose is precisely the opposite:  to create peace.
NB:  War also can create peace, supposedly

(145)  People said, “We’re at war with these people because they’ve harmed us.  They’ve done wrong to us.”  The Peacemaker [Huron who founded the Iroquois Confederacy] replied that the pursuit of peace is not merely the pursuit of the absence of violence.  Peace is never achieved until justice is achieved.  Justice is not achieved until everyone’s interests are addressed.  So, he said, you will never actually finish addressing everyone’s issues.  You can’t achieve peace unless it’s accompanied by constant striving to address justice.  It means your job will never end.

(162)  In the wake of the crash and looming bankruptcies, professor Gerald Epstein of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst proposed a “Green Bank of America” and “Green Citi Bank.”  That would be a real public option.

… Distributed energy systems provide much greater efficiency as well as security, in part because huge amounts of energy are lost in long-distance transmission.  The leading model is Denmark, where distributed networks generate half the country’s electricity and have cut carbon emissions by nearly half from 1990 levels.

(163)  At a meeting of global spiritual leaders, Chief Oren Lyons of the Iroquois Six Nations recalls the words of a Japanese elder who distilled the essence of the crisis we face into four words:  value change for survival.

(164)  The First People’s Original Instructions:
Take only what you need, and give back as much as you take.
Take responsibility for sustaining the web of life.
Because all life is connected and related, respect your relatives and each other.
Pursue peace through justice in a process that never ends.
Be grateful.
Enjoy life.

(168)  An estimated 25 percent of emissions produced by people in industrialized nations can now be linked with the foods they eat.

(171)  Among its [the EU’s] structural innovatioins are two policies:  works councils and codetermination, which go right to the heart of power.  Works councils give employees significant input on working conditions, as well as codecision rights on some aspects of finances and some consultation rights on new technologies, mergers, and layoffs.  They contribute to efficiency by improving the quality of decisions and worker buy-in.

With codetermination, workers elect representatives to supervisory boards.  It has fostered cooperation with management and benefitted businesses.

(172)  Organic Valley, the $500 million farmers’ co-op, delivers returns of 2 percent while meeting its mission of saving the family farm.  Spain’s Mondragon Corporation, the nation’s seventh-largest industrial enterprise, is partnering with the United Steelworkers union to creat manufacturing co-ops.  Holland’s large Rabobank Group, founded in the 1800s, operates on cooperative principles and is owned by shareholder customers and employees.  The data show that employee-owned firms tend to outperform thier peers, and foundation-owned ones perform at least as well or better.  In Europe, co-ops contribute 12 percent of GDP.

(185)  John Mohawk, Seneca historian:  The culture that I came from saw the universe as the fountain of everything, including consciousness.  In our culture we’re scolded for being arrogant if we think that we’re smart.  An individual is not smart according to our culture.  An individual is merely lucky to be a part of a system that has intelligence that happens to reside in them.  In other words, be humble about this always.  the read intelligence isn’t the property of an individual or a corporation or something - the real intelligence is the property of the universe itself.

(187)  [John Mohawk] The Creator is the force that gave that plant consciousness, as manifested in its compounds and in its shape at that moment.  When you’re talking to that plant, you’re talking to the essence fo the spirit of life in the universe, not just on the Earth.  Whatever it is is not confined to here.  You can look up in the sky and see that we’re not the only place that’s occupied.  There are other beings in the universe besdies us.  That’s the old spirituality.  Acquire that consciousness, and it becomes extremely difficult to rationalize pollution.  acquire that consciousness and it becomes very difficult to rationalize cutting down trees to make board-feet worth of dollars out of them.   

I propose to you that spirituality is the highest form of political consciousness.

(188)  [Lyall] Watson identifies three pinciple sources of this disruptive evil in ecology:
a loss of connection to place
a loss of balance between both numbers and distribution
a lack of diversity

(189)  R. Buckminster Fuller’s  mission statement for humanity:
To make the world work
For 100 percent of humanity
In the shortest possible time
Through spontaneous cooperation
Without ecological offense
Or the disadvantage of anyone.  

(194)  Dennis Martinez, founder of the Indigenous Peoples’ Restroation Network, a working group of the Society for Ecological Restoration International:

…Omar Freilla, Green Worker Cooperatives, a South-Bronx-based organization dedicated to incubating worker-owned green businesses in order to build a strong local economy rooted in democrary and environmental justice:

Elaine Ingham is a soil biology researcher and the founder of Soil Foodweb Inc:

(195)  Luisah Teish, Jambalaya:  The Natural Woman’s Book of Peronals Charms and Practical Rituals, Carnival of the Spirit (New York:  Harper and Row, 1985)

(196)  Business Alliance for Local Living Economies [BALLE]:

(199)  Edward Tick and Stephen Larsen, The Practice of Dream Healing:  Bringing Ancient Greek Mysteries into Modern Medicine (Wheaton, IL:  Quest Books, 2001)

Two European banks known for their ethics and progressive policies are Triodos Bank ( and Rabobank (

Thursday, August 6, 2020


Today is August 6, the anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.  On August 9, another atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki.

I’ve been to Hiroshima and left a single paper crane in remembrance there.  May no more atomic bombs be used ever again.

Hiroshima by John Hersey
NY:  Bantam Book, 1946
ISBN 0-553-13078-1

(31)  Dr Machii said, “It must have been a Molotoffano hanakago - a Molotov flower basket, the delicate Japanese name for the “bread basket,” or self-scattering cluster of bombs.

(39)  The wounded limped past the screams, and Mr Tanimoto ran past them.  As a Christian he was filled with compassion for those who were trapped, and as a Japanese he was overwhelmed by the shame of being unhurt, and he prayed as he ran, “God help them and take them out of the fire.”

(47)  To Father Kleinsorge, an Occidental, the silence in the grove by the river, where hundreds of gruesomely wounded suffered together, was one of the most dreadful and awesome phenomena of his whole experience.  The hurt ones were quiet;  no one wept, much less screamed in pain;  no one complained;  none of the many who died did so noisily;  not even the children cried;  very few people even spoke.

(77)  Father Cieslik was bursting with some inside dope he had, but he waited until the conversation turned naturally to the mystery of the bomb.  Then he said he knew what kind of bomb it was;  he had the secret on the best authority - that of a Japanese newspaperman who had dropped in at the Novitiate.  The bomb was not a bomb at all;  it was a kind of fine magnesium powder sprayed over the whole city by a single plane, and it exploded when it came into contact with the live wires of the city power system.

(89)  Even though the wreckage had been described to her, and though she was still in pain, the sight horrified and amazed her, and there was something she noticed about it that particularly gave her the creeps.  Over everything - up through the wreckage of the city, in gutters, along the riverbanks, tangled among tiles and tin roofing, climbing on charred tree trunks - was a blanket of fresh, vivid, lush, optimistic green;  the verdancy rose even from the foundations of ruined houses.  Weeds already hid the ashes, and wild flowers were in bloom among the city’s bones.  The bomb had not only left the underground organs of plants intact;  it had stimulated them.  Everywhere were bluets and Spanish bayonets, goosefoot, morning glories and day lilies, the hair-fruited bean, purslane and clotbur and sesame and panic grass and feverfew.  Especially in a circle at the center, sickle senna grew in extraordinary regeneration, not only standing among the charred remnants of the same plant but pushing up in new places, among bricks and through cracks in the asphalt.  It actually seemed as if a load of sickle-senna seed had been dropped along with the bomb.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The Life Cycle Completed

Picked up this short book from a Little Free Library in my neighborhood.  As I am now entering old age, it made some sense.

The Life Cycle Completed by Erik H Erikson
NY:  WW Norton, 1982
ISBN 0-393-30229-6

(9)  Thus, a look back on this century’s last few decades makes it clear that old age was “discovered” only in recent years - and this both for theoretical and historical reasons - for it certainly demanded some redefinition when an ever-increasing number of old people were found (and found themselves) to represent a mass of elderlies rather than an elite of elders.  Before that, however, we had come at last to acknowledge adulthood as a developmental and conflictual phase in its own right, rather than merely the mature end of all development (ie, Benedek 1959).

(25-26)  There is, in whatever order, the biological process of the hierarchic organization of organ systems constituting a body (soma);  there is the psychic process organizing individual experience by ego synthesis (psyche);  and there is the communal process of the cultural organization of the interdependence of persons (ethos).

(29)  In childhood, sexual development undergoes three phases, each of  which marks the strong libidinization of a vital zone of the organism.  Therefore,  they are usually referred to as the “oral,” the “anal,” and the “phallic” phases.  The far-reaching consequences of their strong libidinal endowment for the vicissitudes of human sexuality have been abundantly demonstrated - that is, the playful variety of pregenital pleasures (if, indeed, they remain “forepleasures”), the ensuing perversions, if one of the other remains demanding enough to upset the genital primacy;  and, above all, the neurotic consequences for the undue repression of strong pregenital needs.  Obviously, these three stages, too, are linked epigenetically, for anality (2i) exists during the oral stage (1) and must take its place in the “phallic” stage (III), after its normative crisis in the anal stage (2ii).

(34)  The mouth primarily incorporates, even as it can also eject content or close itself up to incoming matter.  The anus and the urethra retain and eliminate, while the phallus is destined to intrude, and the vagina include.  

(44)  and here, while we are always inclined to pair an infant with its mother, we must of course allow for other maternal persons and, indeed, for fathers, who help to evoke and to strengthen in the infant the sense of a primal Other - the I’s counterpart.

(48)  The epigenetic chart, however, will insist that the dramatic does not replace but rather joins the numinous, and the judicial elements, even as it anticipates the elements as yet to be ontogenetically;  namely the formal and the ideological.

NB:  Epigenetics -  literally means "above" or "on top of" genetics. It refers to external modifications to DNA that turn genes "on" or "off." These modifications do not change the DNA sequence, but instead, they affect how cells "read" genes.

syntonic - of a person) responsive to and in harmony with their environment so that affect is appropriate to the given situation.
"culturally syntonic"
(of a psychiatric condition or psychological process) consistent with other aspects of an individual's personality and belief system.
suffix: -syntonic
"this phobia was ego-syntonic"
relating to or denoting the lively and responsive type of temperament that was considered liable to bipolar disorder.

(55)  To restate the sequence of psychosocial stages throughout life means to take responsibility for the terms Joan Erikson and I have originally attached to them - terms that include such suspect words as hope, fidelity, and care. These [hope, fidelity, and care], we say, are among the psychosocial strengths that emerge from the struggles of syntonic and dystonic tendencies at three crucial stages of life:  hope from the antithesis of basic trust vs basic mistrust in infancy;  fidelity from that of identity vs identity confusion in adolescence;  and care from generativity vs self absorption in adulthood.  (The vs stands for “versus,” and yet also, in the light of their complementarity, for something like “vice versa.”)  Most of these terms seem not foreign to the claim that, in fact, “qualify’ a young person to enter the generational cycle - and an adult to conclude it.
NB:  generativity - a concern for people besides self and family that usually develops during middle age especially : a need to nurture and guide younger people and contribute to the next generation —used in the psychology of Erik Erikson

(59)  Hope is “expectant desire,” a phrase well in accordance with a vague instinctual drivenness undergoing experiences that awaken some firm expectations.

(62)  No doubt, the role of old age needs to be reobserved, rethought.  To this we can here try to contribute only by rviewing our scheme.  So back to the chart:  What is the place of old age in the length and width of it?  Located as it is chronologically in the upper right corner, its last dystonic item, we said, is despair;  and as we take a quick glance at the lower left left corner we remember that down there the first syntonic element is hope.  In Spanish, at least, this bridges esperanza and desesperanza.  And indeed, in whatever language, hope connotes the most basic quality of “I”-ness, without which life could not begin or meaningfully end.  And as we ascend to the empty square in the uppper left corner, we realize that up there we need a word for the last possible form of hope as matured along the whole first ascending vertical:  for this, certainly, the word faith suggests itself.

(65-66)  For inidividual life is the coincidence of but one life cycle with but one segment of history;  and all human integrity stands or falls with the one style of integrity of which one partakes.

(78)  … some anal-muscular self-will
NB:  the relation between anus and muscles

(87)  “As may be said of our life, it is not worth much, but it is all we have…”

The Child’s Conception of Geometry by Jean Piaget, Inhelder Bärbel, and Alina Szeminska

Friday, July 17, 2020

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance:  An Inquiry into Values by Robert M Pirsig
NY:  Bantam Books, 1974

(5)  We want to make good time, but for us now this is measured with emphasis on “good” rather than “time” and when you make that shift in emphasis the whole approach changes.

(27)  We were all spectators.  And it occurred to me there _is_ no manual that deals with the _real_ business of motorcycle maintenance, the most important aspect of all.  Caring about what you are doing is considered either unimportant or taken for granted.

(146)  When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths or any other kinds of dogmas or goals, it’s always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt.

(174)  Feininger’s painting “Church of the Minorities”

(186)  In another class he changed the subject from the the thumb [write about the back of your thumb for an hour] to a coin, and got a full hour’s writing from every student.  In other classes it was the same.   Some asked, “Do you have to write about both sides?”  Once they got into the idea of seeing directly for themselves they also saw there was no limit to the amount they could say.  It was a confidence-building assignment too, because what they wrote, even though seemingly trivial, was nevertheless their own thing, not a mimicking of someone else’s.  Classes where he used the coin exercise were always less balky and more interested.

As a result of his experiments he concluded that imitation was a real evil that had to be broken before real rhetoric teaching could begin.  This imitation seemed to be an external compulsion.  Little children didn’t have it.  It seemed to come later on, possibly as a result of school itself.

(194)  Grades really cover up failure to teach.  A bad instructor can go through an entire quarter leaving absolutely nothing memorable in the minds of his class, curve out the scores on an irrelevant test, and leave the impression that some have learned and some have not.

(198)  Mountains should be climbed with as little effort as possible and without desire.  The reality of your own nature should determine the speed.  If you become restless, speed up.  If you become winded, slow down.  You climb the mountain in an equilibrium between restlessness and exhaustion.  Then, when you’re no longer thinking ahead, each footstep isn’t just a means to an end but a unique event in itself.

(199)  “It’s all right,” Phaedrus said.  “We just accidentally stumbled over a genuine question, and the shock is hard to recover from."

(225)  Philosophical mysticism, the idea that truth is indefinable and can be apprehended only by non-rational means, has been with us since the beginning of history.  It’s the basis of Zen practice.  But it’s not an academic subject.

(241)  Reality is always the moment of vision _before_ the intellectualization takes place.  _There is no other reality_.  This preintellectual reality is what Phaedrus felt he had properly identified as Quality.  Since all intellectually identifiable things must emerge _from_ this preintellectual reality, Quality is the _parent_, the _source_ of all subjects and objects.

(257)  Then, having identified the nature of geometric axioms, he [Poincaré] turned to the question.  Is Euclidean geometry true or is Riemann geometry true?  

He answered, The question has no meaning.

As well ask whether the metric system is true and the avoirdupois system is false;  whether Cartesian coordinates are true and polar coordinates are false.  One geometry can not be more true than another;  it can only be more _convenient_.  Geometry is not true.  It is advantageous. 
NB:  Geometry comes from the nature of space and time and human perception

(261)  Mathematical solutions are selected by the subliminal self on the basis of “mathematical beauty,” of the harmony of numbers and forms, of geometric elegance.  “This is a true esthetic feeling which all mathematicians know,” Poincaré said, “but of which the profane are so ignorant as often to be tempted to smile.”  But it is this harmony, this beauty, that is at the center of it all.

(269)  There has been a haze, a backup problem in this Chautauqua so far;  I talked about caring the first day and then realized I couldn’t say anything meaningful about caring until its inverse side, Quality, is understood.  I think it’s important now to tie care to Quality by pointing out that care and Quality are internal and external aspects of the same thing.  A person who sees Quality and feels it as he works is a person who cares.  A person who cares about what he sees and does is a person who’s bound to have some characteristics of Quality.
NB:  appamada

(284)  It [a wall in Korea] was beautiful because the people who worked on it had a way of looking at things that made them do it right unselfconsciously.  They didn’t separate themselves from the work in such a way as to do it wrong.  There is the center of the whole situation.
NB:  Watching Vietnamese workers work in Ho Chi Minh City

(297)  The gumption-filling process occurs when one is quiet long enough to see and hear and feel the real universe, not just one’s own stale opinions about it. But it’s nothing exotic.  That’s why I like the word.

(304)  Quality, value, _creates_ the subjects and objects of the world.  The facts do not exist until value has created them.

(305)  … just _stare_ at the machine.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  Just live with it for a while.  Watch it the way you watch a line when fishing and before long, as sure as you live, you’ll get a little nibble, a little fact asking in a timid, humble way if you’re interested in it.  That’s the way the world keeps on happening.  Be interested in it.

(314)  Because we’re unaccustomed to it, we don’t usually see that there’s a third possible logical term equal to yes and no which is capable of exapnding our understanding in an unrecognized direction.  We don’t even have a term for it, so I’ll have to use the Japanese mu.

Mu means “no thing.”  Like “Quality” it points outside the process of dualistic discrimination.  Mu simpley says, “No class;  not one, not zero, not yes, not no.”  It states that the context of the question is such that a yes or no answer is in error and should not be given.  “Unask the question,” is what it says.
NB:  Buddhist logic:  yes, no, not yes, not no, neither yes nor no, both yes and no
Plus two:  don't understand the question? and none of the above
Also, there are quite a few Chinese characters that can be translated as "no"

(315)  Yes or no confirms or denies a hypothesis.  Mu says the answer is _beyond_ the hypothesis.

(335)  You point to something as having Quality and the Quality tends to go away.  Quality is what you see out of the corner of your eye, and so I look at the lake below but feel the peculiar quality from the chill, almost frigid sunlight behind me, and the almost motionless wind.

(351)  Technology is blamed for a lot of this loneliness, since the loneliness is certainly associated with the newer technological devices - TV, jets, freeways and so on isn’t the objects of technology but the tendency of technology to isolate people into lonely attitudes of objectivity.  It’s the objectivity, the dualistic way of looking at things underlying technology, that produces the evil….  Quality destroys objectivity every time.

(352-353)  Reason was no longer to be “value free.”  Reason was to be subordinate, logically, to Quality, and he was sure he would find the cause of its not being so back among the ancient Greeks, whose mythos had endowed our culture with the tendency underlying all the evil of out technology, the tendency _to do what is “reasonable” even when it isn’t any good_.  That was the whole thing.  Right there.  I said a long time ago that he was in pursuit of the ghost of reason.  This is what I meant.  Reason and Quality had become separated and in conflict with each other and Quality had been forced under and reason made supreme somewhere back then.

(370)  “What moves the Greek warrior to deeds of heroism,” Kitto comments, “is not a sense of duty as we understand it - duty towards others:  it is rather duty towards himself.  He strives after that which we translate ‘virtue’ but is in Greek arete, ‘excellence’… we shall have much to say about arete.  It runs through Greek life.”

There, Phaedrus thinks, is a definition of Quality that had existed a thousand years before the dialecticians ever thought to put it to word-traps.

(371)  Phaedrus is fascinated too by the description of the motive of “duty toward self’  which is almost exact translation of the Sanskrit word dharma, sometimes described as the “one” of the Hindus.  Can the dharma of the Hindus and the “virtue” of the ancient Greeks is identical?

(372)  HDF Kitto, The Greeks:  Arete implies a respect for the wholeness or oneness of life, and a consequent dislike of specialization.  It implies a contempt for efficiency - or rather a much higher idea of efficiency, an efficiency which exists not in one department of life but in life itself.

(386)  The Church of Reason, like all insitutions of the System, is based not on individual strength but upon individual weakness.  What’s really demanded in the Church of Reason is not ability, but inability.  Then you are considered teachable.  A truly able person is always a threat.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Freedom and Civilization

Freedom and Civilization by Bronsilaw Malinowski
Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1944

(11)  We shall see that all action is in itself a temporary surrender of freedom.

(21)  One thing can be demonstrated scientifically: this is the essential dependence of all freedoms and every freedom and freedom in general upon the elimination of collective violence.

(25-26)  The individual's freedom consists in his ability to choose the goal, to find the road, and to reap the rewards of his efforts and endeavors. Those men are free who are able to decide what to do, where to go, what to build. All claims for freedom remain idle and irrelevant unless planning and aiming can be translated into an effective execution through well-implemented and well-organized behavior. The determining conditions of freedom are therefore to be found in the manner in which a society is organized; the way in which the instrumentalities are made accessible; and in the guarantees which safeguard all the rewards of planned and purposeful action and insure their equitable distribution

(33)  Neither ontogenetically nor phylogenetically is “man born free.”
NB:  Free applies only to man's law 

(36)  The ability to foresee and to plan ahead, that is, the ability to use past experience in order to establish future conditions corresponding to the needs, desires and the aspirations of man, is the first essential prerequisite of freedom.

(37)  Thus the maintenance, the management, and the development of the psychological mainsprings in inspiration, invention, and contribution are the first and foremost conditions of freedom. The formation of social loyalty, on which every institution is built, is the second condition. The way in which the cultural values, that is, the enjoyment of economic, social, political, moral, and spiritual benefits, are distributed – in other words, freedom in the pursuit of happiness – is the last and perhaps the main condition of liberty.

(39)  Freedom is neither more nor less but full success in action. It is activity spontaneously planned, efficiently executed, and enjoyed in its results by all those who have contributed.

(43)  “The world has never had a good definition of the word liberty, and the American people, just now, are much in want of one.”  Thus spoke Abraham Lincoln in his Baltimore address on April 18, 1864.

(45)  The intuitive emotional and subjective meaning of freedom, as felt rather than formulated by the man in the street, conceives of freedom as the ability to do what one likes or to do nothing. The claim that liberty is the absence of restraint, trammels, and of hindrances is persistent.

(46)  When we are told by Cicero that "we are all the law's slaves, that we may be free", the implication is clear: freedom can only be achieved through restraint.

(47)  Free action must imply some control of circumstances and other people.

(54-56)  We find there [chart page 55] that intangible of freedom felt intuitively, rather than capable of clear definition:  the feeling of absolute absence of all restraint.  This is flanked by the libertarian postion that freedom flourishes outside the trammels of rule and law;  and by the postion that discipline is essential to freedom.
NB:  Freedom requires responsibility and brings consequences whether we like it or not

(59)  Real freedom is neither absolute nor omnipresent and it certainly is not negative. It is always an increase in control, in efficiency, and in the power to dominate one's own organism and the environment, as well as artifacts in the supply of natural resources. Hence freedom as a quality of human action, freedom as increase of efficiency and control, means the breaking down of certain obstacles and a compensation for certain deficiencies; it also implies the acceptance of rules of nature, that is scientific laws of knowledge, and of those norms and laws of human behavior which are indispensable to efficient co-operation.
NB:  Not dominate but dance with, aiki, geotheraphy not geoengineering
(71)  The best education makes work into play.  Yet play contains always an element of make-believe, an element of"freedom" to do what the child wishes at the moment. The trick of successful education consists in the use of such freedom by turning it into the chains of spontaneously accepted desire to follow up a determined course of activity.

(75)  adventitious - happening or carried on according to chance rather than design or inherent nature; coming from outside; not native.  BIOLOGY formed accidentally or in an unusual anatomical position

(81)  Once more we see that the most important scientific task is to be quite clear as to the context of our argument.  We have to scrutinize whether such a context is real;  whether it is relevant;  and whether it represents a legitimate isolate of human behavior.  In all cases we rejected freedom as an independent, substantial and spontaneous absolute.  Such an absolute, holding the cornucopia of unlimited choices, does not exist in reality.  It exists only in the metaphor of speech.

(83)  Perhaps a good deal of the success of that most recent form of magical mysticism which we find in the doctrines of Nazism, communism and fascism, is due to the combination of real mechanical power on the executive side with the feeling of indefinite possibilities in sentiment, and lust for political and economic self realization.
NB:  Myth, fairy tale, magic, freedom

(90)  War most certainly was not the chronic state of primitive evolution.  Real warfare makes an appearance late in human evolution.

(92)  Let us once more examine the three phases [purpose, execution, results] of freedom in human action. The purpose, as we saw, is nothing else but the planning of an activity for the achievement of definite results.

…  In short, examine whichever type of freedom you like – of framing purposes, individual or social – and you will find that the claim to freedom of action is implicit.

…  Thus freedom of action implies free access to material wealth as well as the scope for organization and cooperation.

(93)  Here freedom consists in the scope given to individuals and groups to organize and to implement all such purposes as they may choose. It resides in what is usually called "freedom of combination", a freedom enjoyed in democracies but denied in societies either where the state takes over all initiative or else where slavery, serfdom, or the caste system debar certain groups from any initiative and supply others with an excess of power.

Finally, the freedom of achievements and results refers to the standard of cultural enjoyment for the members of the community. Here problems of freedom hinge on such tangible and concrete facts as the distribution of wealth, the freedom of vertical mobility or the freedom of movement across certain territorial boundaries. Here also enter the problems of how far the finer gifts of culture, such as recreations, intellectual and artistic enjoyments, and all the religious and spiritual benefits, are distributed within the community.

(94)  As regards action, liberty means personal choice and a full scope for group organization, with adequate access to all the necessary implements and legal privileges for organized activity.

…  As regards the liberty of enjoyment, that is, the liberty of one's fair share in the communal standard of living, we see that this is curtailed by the existence of parasitic privilege given to few at the expense of the many who are exploited.

…  True democracy must always aim at the curtailment of all the current increments in power and wealth, and of the ability of consuming goods, material and spiritual, which have been produced by others.

(95)  The denial of freedom is always embodied in political, legal, or economic restrictions or in adequacies which prevent human beings from maturing their purpose, realizing it, and achieving the results in the form of an adequate standard of living.

(99)  First, we assume that we are interested in existence, that is, in action. The freedom of the spirit must be left over and understood as a by-product of our definition of freedom and action. Secondly, we assume that any definition of freedom in terms of one individual and his exclusive interests is not viable, since one man's power is or may become the slavery of another, indeed of many others.  We thus affirm that freedom must be predicated with reference to groups in cooperation.  Thirdly, we also assume that the element of instrumentality, that is, of material goods, whether implements or consumers' wealth, has to be included in our definition.  Man never acts under conditions of culture without the equipment of his material mechanisms, and in this he has to submit to certain rules inherent in the mechanism, the laws of ownership or of usufruct determine the rights of use and the limitations of abuse, as well as the distribution of benefits.

(101-102)  Thus freedom here means once more the smooth and effective run of a process which can again be analyzed into three phases.  We have the initial drive which starts an activity;  we have conditions for an effective course of this activity;  and we have the reward of satisfactory results in the satisfaction of the drive.
NB:  animal freedom 

(103)  It is well to remember that the moments of freedom to be free are very rare in human life.

(105)  The freedom of survival thus consists of two fundamental installments:  the freedom of security, that is, the freedom from fear;  and the freedom of prosperity, that is, the freedom from want.
NB:  less fear, less want;  less want, less fear
Four Freedoms - Freedom of speech. Freedom of worship. Freedom from want. Freedom from fear.

calefaction - the act of warming or heating; the production of heat in a body by the action of fire, or by communication of heat from other bodies.

(111)  We are thus led again to the leitmotif of our argument:  the distinction between the rules and constraints which effectively establish freedom and those which abrogate it.  Rules which are intrinsically determined by the requirements of purposeful and concertedly executed action in which the results are equitably distributed, are rules and freedom.  On the other hand, rules and principles of organization in which, through the monopoly of physical force, wealth, and supernatural influence, an individual or a group can compel others to act without giving the workers any share in planning or in the enjoyment of the results, are rules which deny freedom in its sociological sense.

…  Freedom in primitive communities is very definitely associated with a conservative  attitude towards well-established rules and values.  Even at a high level of development it is dangerous, theoretically and in practice, to associate freedom with subversive, disruptive, and revolutionary movements.
NB:  freedom as conservative

(121)  It became clear that at the primitive level there is a very little scope for real oppression.  For in every institution we have the same limiting factors: such groups consist of kinsmen, hence of people related by blood and the sentiment of blood, since kinship runs right through the structure of the tribe.  In all the groups people depend very much on each other, hence the sanction of reciprocity or retaliation is always present. The high degree of mutual dependence between the leader and his followers is another factor which under primitive conditions prevent the abuse of personal authority. Primitive conditions also do not lend themselves easily to the accumulation of power either through physical force or wealth, or the use of spiritual intimidation.

(127)  Every phase of such a process, every rule of co-operation and ownership, every object necessary as a consumer commodity or as an implement, become appreciated or acquired value and are surrounded with the rules of appreciation and respect. Education consists in the transmission of such rules and in the teaching of language, which is the main instrumentality for the framing of rules, precepts, and imperatives.  Our thesis is that freedom is found in obedience to such laws.

(137)  The relation therefore of value to freedom is clear.  Value is the driving force which determines purpose, and in choice of purpose, its translation into an effective action in the full enjoyment of the results.  We find thus that value is the prime mover in human existence.  It pervades all forms of activity and is the driving force throughout culture. Man is moved to effort, not under an immediate physiological drive, but instructed by traditional rules, moved by learned motive and controlled by value.  Man works to obtain the things that he values, whether this be an object, a way of life or a belief. The way by which he values – freedom of conscience, of dogma, of devotion to ideals – are established as one of the main installments in freedom or bondage.

(141-142)  We shall see that human beings can either be trained to be free, or trained to be rulers, tyrants, or dictators, or else they can be trained to be slaves.  Thus the understanding I've educational mechanisms and conditions is essential to our appreciation of the reality of freedom as it occurs differentially in human societies.

(142)  With reference to our concept of freedom we see that a man has to learn how to form his purposes.  From the wide and chaotic range of ever-changing whim, impulse, or drive which leads to random behavior, the individual learns to select a limited range of fixed and determined values.  Motives and purpose are always the acceptance of cultural values or its reinterpretation and at times revolt against it.

(146)  In primitive communities at the low level of development we find no caste or rank hierarchy to any tangible degree. Such distinctions as are implied in age-grades, secret societies, and sex-linked distinctions are the only equivalent of class or rank. Yet except for differentiation by sex which as a rule is functional rather than oppressive, we find that freedom of choice and of access to training is equally distributed.

It is only when through the development of monopoly and power, wealth and spiritual constraint the discriminative institutions of caste and rank, as well as of wealth and power, that freedom as regards birthright and the full development of personality become seriously curtailed.

(147)  Unemployment is in some ways one of the most acute and istressing forms in which the freedom of exercising one’s abilities and skills is denied.

(148)  The individual is never free of bond except through his relation to socially organized groups.  His birthright is defined by his parentage.

(153)  Freedom is primarily related neither to the isolated individual, nor even to society, nor yet perhaps to the potentialities of freedom and slavery given to man by machine. The real instrument both of freedom and oppression is always the organized partial constituent of a community:  the institution.

(153-154)  The significance of this discovery is due to two facts, first, that in institution always presents the same structure, and second, that institutions are of universal occurrence;  thus the institution is the real isolate of culture.
NB:  institution as culture

(155)  main types of institutional organization
1.  Family and derived kinship organizations (extended family;  kindred groups;  clan)
2.  Municipality  (local group; horde;  village; township; city)
3.  Tribe as the political organization based on territorial principle (primitive tribe; polis; tribe-state; state; nation-state; empire)
4.  Tribe as the culturally integrated unit (primitive homogeneous tribe; tribe-nation; nation)
5.  Age-group (age-grades; age hierarchies; professional age distinctions)
6.  Voluntary associations  (primitive: secret societies and clubs; advanced: benevolent, political, and ideological societies)
7.  Occupational groups  (primitive: magical organizations; economic teams; artisan guilds; professional associations; religious congregations)
8.  Status groups based on the principle of rank, caste, and economic class.

…  Our sequence: the formation of purpose, its implementation into activities, and the distribution of benefits resulting from the activity, is in a sense applicable to the individual.

(157)  The institution as the organizing means of realizing the values, the techniques, or the contributions to human welfare embodied in its charter, is the very cultural instrument of freedom, if freedom be the realization of purpose and reaping the benefits thereof.  Because, as we have been insisting throughout, no man ever achieves anything, new or old, fundamental or peripheral, sound or fantastic, through his own unaided efforts.  It is clear that the freedom of his personal purpose and its pragmatic success is always a by-product of the freedom of institutionalized activities.

(160)  The Folklore of Capitalism by Thurman Arnold

(167)  The partial surrender of freedom in the fragmentary phases of human behavior is an ineluctable quality of the cultural process.

(170)  When the purpose is chosen by the group as a whole; when the action is taken by autonomous responsibility; and when the results are shared among all the members of the group, we find freedom within that institution. When the purpose is accepted by command or instilled by indoctrination; when the action is controlled by coercive authority; and when the results of the activity are doled out for the advantages of those in authority, we find a denial of freedom.

…  The denial of freedom within an institution occurs therefore through an abuse of the authority held by those who organize and control the institution.

…  In every case, the middle factor of our sequence, implemented action, is the one where freedom grows and where it receives its restrictions. Freedom is born there and freedom is killed there.

(171)  The real abuse of authority, however, begins when discipline has to be made chronic, permanent, and pervasive.

(177-178)  We see also throughout our arguments that all of the messages from nature to man are embodied in human tradition.  The realization of natural determinism is thus received by each generation from culture. We see here are the foundations of the confusion from which even now as users of words we are suffering – the confusion between law as a phase of natural determinism and law as a human precept. This comes from the fact that although Law(1) is embodied in the outer reality, it comes into the hands of man invariably as Law(2). The commands of nature or of the supernatural are, therefore, easily confused with commands of man.

(179)  The main ethical principle of all primitive tribes is that conformity to tradition is good and deviation bad.

(180)  In primitive cultures, as we know already and will perceive even more fully, oppression and exploitation do not occur except in minor matters and on rare occasions.

(184)  The general importance of equity, that is, freedom, is embodied in the fact that no virtue is rated higher in primitive communities than generosity.

(188-189)  The real difference between free cultures and cultures pervaded by serfdom and bondage, lies in whether they are constituted for the avoidance of crises in their reduction to a minimum; or else whether they are constituted on preparing crises, thriving through crises, and using the creation of crises is the main means to the end of establishing more slavery.  There is only one type of crisis which has beset humanity, which, starting at a late stage of evolution, has lasted throughout recorded historical times, and which has survived as the fountainhead of all present evils. This is the crisis of war.
NB:  living in crisis as a symptom of addiction

(189)  Civilization also has worked continually so as to prevent epidemics, reduce infection, and build up the resistance of the human organism against its main enemies, disease, disability, and accident.
NB:  Trmp

(197)  Once more we come to recognize that freedom is a quality of more or less simple or complex systems of organized activity, in which a degree of discipline is necessary for effective action.

(199)  Discipline  reaches its highest level when any such complicated, high-powered, and fully organized type of activity is faced by a crisis.  A ship's company when storm breaks out, when shipwreck threatens, or when a U-boat is sighted, cannot enjoy any freedom of thought, deliberation, or discussion. One and all have to obey the orders of the ship's master. Each has to carry out his differential task with supreme submission to the rules of skill, of division of functions, as well as of conscience and morale.  They have to fall back on discipline, unquestioning and mechanical. The same is true when a factory or a house is on fire and this has to be extinguished or localized by a fire brigade, volunteer or professional. Once more, strict discipline is the condition indispensable for any successful effort.

(201)  It is a great tribute to the intellectual qualities of the Italian nation that Fascism was not able to make the Italian armies invincible.

(202)  Here we have the systematic and scientifically thought out preparation of artificial disaster for humanity as a whole, so that a small section shall retain a permanent control over mankind through scientifically organized violence.  In this lies the real, the gigantic crime of totalitarianism. It means the denial of freedom even to the average member of the master nation. It is the negation of all economic freedom so as to create national autarchy.  It is the negation of political freedom for the creation of full national discipline. It is the denial of spiritual independence so as to produce a community with a single purpose. The system thus aims at enslaving the world and also its “master-nation", so as to establish the exclusive privilege of a party, its centralized executive and finally one leader. Let us remember always that the destruction of real and integral liberty is not conceived here as a temporary measure during the crisis, but as a permanent establishment of human civilization.

(203)  The fundamental difference between discipline in a democracy at war on the one hand, and totalitarian discipline on the other, is to be found in the fact that for us discipline is a means to an end, while to the Nazis it is an end in itself.
NB:  means and ends

(209)  All religions are essentially pragmatic.
NB:  Anything that isn’t pragmatic, useful, practical drops out.  Anything that is practical can become a practice.

(212)  Another reason why we have to distinguish active magic from mere daydreaming is because all magic is traditionally standardized.

…  Psychologically magic represents the efficiency of standardized optimism.

(213)  Those who have studied the techniques of real propaganda, as this has been developed in the totalitarian countries, will realize that the thrilling promises, the affirmations of power and efficiency, as well as the canalizing of hatreds and passions, are built up essentially on the technique of a magic spell.

(214)  All the arguments of the present essay hinge round the simple proposition: freedom is the essence of civilization because freedom is neither more nor less than obedience to the rules of science, of social justice, and of ethics. These rules are not arbitrary. They are founded in the order of material process, of organic reality, and of cultural structure.

(219)  Propaganda starts with monoply in the dissemination of truth, a monopoly based on force.

(222)  It is hardly necessary to prove here by a detailed analysis of facts that growing Fascism in Italy and Nazism in Germany were not merely movements of opinion, but also organizations of violence. A state which under the charter of sovereignty ought to have the monopoly of all armed force, and which at the same time allows a determined minority to preach its own gospel and to constitute itself an army for the overthrow of the state, obviously signs its own death warrant.

…  Hence Hitlers and Mussolinis may be allowed to speak. They must not be allowed to organize armed private police forces.

(223)  It is the relation between opinion and the possible acts of a criminal nature to which it may lead that has to be considered every time we grant full freedom of conscience, thought and speech.

(228)  Democracy as a cultural system is the constitution of the community which is composed of collaborating groups. Each such group is an institution, which is itself built on democratic principles, and in which initiatives, purposes and constraints are well distributed. The democracy of the whole group lies in the relations of institutions to one another, and in the relations of 
individuals within each institution.

…  A wider and more elastic, more fundamental definition of the concept of democracy implies the maximum of discipline with the least amount of coercion. It implies obedience to law without the need of physical enforcement. Discipline must not occur except where concerted action demands it.

(229)  The most important cultural aspect of democracy, the autonomy of institutions, is seldom, if ever, considered in theoretical argument for practical application. This autonomy of institutions really contains and embodies all the other principles of democracy.

(231)  Thus democracy can be defined as a cultural system devised so as to allow the fullest opportunities to the individual and to the group to determine its purposes, to organize and implement them, and to carry out the activities upon which they are intent. A modern democracy has also the duty to guarantee to its members an equitable distribution of rewards, the full enjoyment of recreation, the privileges of knowledge and of the arts, and of all that constitutes the spiritual prerogatives of contemporary man.

…  We can sum up the main aspects of democracy as follows: 
(1)  No centralized power which dictates all aspects of life
(2)  Distribution of influence to those who do the work
(3)  No accumulated monopolies
(4)  No secrets or open centers of oppression by violence, blatantly illegal or camouflage, from which there is no redress and no appeal
(5)  Access by one and all to most avenues of influence and self-expression.

(242-243) Freedom in its essence is the acceptance of the chains which suit you and for which you are suited, and of the harness in which you pull towards an end chosen and valued by your self, and not imposed. It is not, and never can be, the absence of restrictions, obligations of law and of duty….

Freedom is the possibility of "self-realization" based on personal choice, on free contact and spontaneous endeavor, or individual initiative…  The greater the opportunities of self-realization there are for more people, the more freedom there is.  However free a political constitution, and however diversified a culture, the individual is obliged, stage to stage and step by step, to renounce certain freedoms;  in choosing his vocation; in choosing his mate; in the acceptance of certain decisions and commands.

(248)  The only monopoly which occurs is in objects of a magical or religious character.

(251)  It is therefore always round the distribution and organization of authority, violence, and wealth that the problem of freedom hinges.

(253)  Those outside the tribe are not regarded as full human beings.
NB:  Tribal politics can become eliminationist

(257-258)  We see therefore that the tribe-nation or nation is the very instrument of freedom, constituted as it is for the peaceful exercise of culture.  This point is of great importance to us in our analysis of freedom.  Throughout the development of humanity, there have always existed two principles of integration or unification:  the principle of unification by national culture, embodied in the tribe-nation or nation; and that of unification by political force, embodied in the tribe-state or state.

(265)  In reality, the state and government are one among many institutions. The fundamental difference, however, which contributes to all the mystic attitudes towards the state is that it is the only historic institution which has the monopoly of force. This is the main source of all our present-day troubles.

…  The birth of the tribe-state is the danger signal in the history of humanity, for with it occurred the birth of militarism.  The tribe-nation as we have already seen is the unit of cultural cooperation, and must not be confused with the tribe-state, which is the political unit, based on centralized authoritative power and the organization of armed force.

(270)  The real origins of political organization are to be found in the fact that power is inevitably a part of any organized life, and that the sources of power are to be found in violence.

(280)  War however is not a permanent state of affairs in any type of tribal culture….  

The earliest intertribal fighting – and we must remember that this starts only at the end of the paleolithic or the beginnings of the neolithic stage – is only an occasional affair and occurs on a relatively small scale.

(283)  The primitive always considers that only he, himself, and his tribesmen are men. The others fall outside the scope of legitimate humanity.

(284)  The charter of war and the charter of slavery are essentially cognate in principle. They are also related in actual occurrence. Slavery without war hardly ever occurs in human cultures.

…  The common charter of both institutions is the doctrine that a relationship between two human beings or groups can be based on the abrogation of all human rights of one for the benefit of the other.  This principle changes the foe into a non-human object fit for killing and destruction during the fight. After victory it changes him into an object to be used as the means for the master's ends.

(286)  I mean the institution of slavery.  Human material was, perhaps, the first type of wealth to be effectively looted.

(296) To the slave a doctrine that he has no right to act as he chooses is not so agreeable or acceptable. It implies also, however, that he has no right to think or to feel. Thoughts and feelings, as we know, are worthless unless they can be translated into action.

(297)  War is the direct denial of the freedom of survival since its essence is killing. Slavery is the denial of all biological freedom except in the self-interest, not of the organism, but of its master. The slave also is deprived of all those satisfactions which culture guarantees to man as the price paid for the trammels which it imposes. The slave does not enjoy the protection of the law. His economic behavior is not determined by profits and advantages. He cannot mate according to his own choice. He remains outside the law of parentage and of kinship. Even his conscience is not his own.

(300)  Vigilance is not only the price of freedom, it is also the price of slavery.

(305)  To live, totalitarianism has to create crises where these do not exist.

(306)  In Nazi Germany, this supremely effective machinery of  force is combined with a doctrine of the crudest mysticism.

(307)  Totalitarianism is thus primarily a cultural revolution.  It is intimately associated with the integral subordination of all cultural acitivities for the emergency of war, revolution or counter-revolution.

(324)  in times of war, human beings are integrated on the political principle, that is, the legalized use of violence. The political state is intimately associated with war, and the use of violence as the main argument and drive to action is essential to war. Before violence can become effective as a political principle, it must first be used within institutions. War again, in the military preparedness which it implies, in its main activity of fighting, and and it's aftermath of victory and subjugation, is the permanent source of all the curtailments of freedom.]

(325)  The relation between man and machine at the point where a monopoly of control can be established is probably the essential problem of freedom in human evolution.

…  The main thesis of this analysis hinges on the concept of violence as the greatest enemy of freedom. All freedoms are dependent on the elimination of collective violence.