Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Notes on The Hopi Survival Kit

 The Hopi Survival Kit by Thomas E Mails

NY:  Penguin, 1997
ISBN 0 14 01.9545 9

(1)  Techqua Ikachi! is the creed of the Hopi Traditionalists.  In its English translation, what it means is “blending with the land and celebrating life.”  The traditionalists’ aim has always been to achieve this for themselves and everyone else in the world.

(14)  As you would expect, there have been other outstanding male Hopis among the Elderly Elders, but all except one of these have put on the “cloud mask” and gone to live with the Kachina spirits.

(89)  No true relationships with the things of the Creator could come from coercion, and true relationships between individuals could not be forced either.

(152-153)  “One by one, bowed darkened figures would whisper and breathe their prayers upon the cornmeal that their hands held:  ‘Our Father Sun, all the Unseen Living, help us this day with your Supreme Power.  Echo your voices into the ears of men so that they may hear and understand our purpose here this day.  Protect and guide us in the right way.  May our body, mind and spirit be wholesome this day, I humbly ask Thee.’”

(165)  When the Hopi do their rituals, these Spirit beings send power and strength and wisdom into the celebrants.  The performers receive it first, and then pass it on to villagers and friends who in heart and soul and mind are identifying with them.  This is power for understanding, power for the growth of crops, and power for the deepening of the love relationship that bonds creature with Creator.

(199)  The Gods do not allow the secrets to be known unless for the benefit of all living things.

(214)  We think their [Hopi] forecast is very frightening so suggest those who care about coming generations should write to:  Hamaker-Weaver Publishers, Box 1961, Burlingame CA 94010 - Hamaker's main book was The Survival Of Civilization (1983, 2002). His ideas were further elucidated by Donald A. Weaver in his book To Love & Regenerate The Earth (2002).  
Editorial Comment:  Remineralization.

(219)  Innocence is something that captivates us.

(224)  Maasaw [agent of the Creator] taught the founders of Oraibi that what we think and feel about any task we are performing has everything to do with its failure or its success.

(239)  From the cradle to the grave, we must, as the Hopi Traditionalists do, immerse ourselves in Mother Earth.  To put this succinctly, we need to blend with her so that we can celebrate life.

…  As a result of this blending with Mother Earth, which includes in fact a blending with ourselves, we will become calmer, more serene, less argumentative, and more secure.  No matter what developments take place in the world, our oneness with others will deepen.

(258)  When planting one must be in a good humor, no anger or sad thoughts.  One must sing and talk to the seeds, encourage them to come to the surface with joy.  When they surface, thank them and encourage them to keep strong.  As they grow, you thank them and also the unseen spirits who helped make it possible for the harvest which will provide food.  These are a few sides of the wisdom for growing crops.

(282)  Plants already know that the earth is a living mother to life, and that she nourishes her living children.  Plants know that everything is a brother or a sister.  Plants already know that everything is a person.

(288)  We always have our natures and weaknesses to consider, for no one succumbs to temptation better than we do.  We are masters at it.

(296-298)  Is not the idea of everyone - rich or poor, extraordinary or ordinary, pitching in and feeling truly worthwhile and good about it - an exceptional one?  This, of course, is precisely what the Creator told the Hopi at their Oraibi beginning.  He was offering them, along with everyone else in the world, the way to work together to affect the pace, intensity, and violence of the closing down of the Fourth Cycle.

(341-342)  Beyond this, the professor misses entirely the point of my books about Fools Crow and with Dan Evehama.  Neither person is telling his story for personal gain or adulation.  They deal with critical matters involving the world and its inhabitants, and with expressing the love and concern they have for their readers.  Readers need to know that this is part of a pattern followed by the great ones among the Native Americans.  They usually begin their prayers by praying for all of the people of the world.  They always put others first.  They feel a unity of spirit with everyone who exists that is marvelous to behold. And that is why so many people respond to them as warmly as they do - two-hearteds excepted.

(366)  It makes me sad to think I may not get to meet our True White Brother in person, but it is prophesied that just two or three righteous persons will be plenty to fulfill his mission.  Even one truly righteous would be able to do it.

(373)  “For years,” the Elderly Elders say, “our founding fathers have passed the knowledge of survival from mouth to mouth, which is to respect all living things, for we are all one and created by One."

Friday, November 10, 2023

Notes on Nonviolent Communication

 _Nonviolent Communication:  A Language of Life_ by Marshall Rosenberg

Encinitas, CA:  PuddleDancer Press, 2015
ISBN 978-1-892005-28-1

(21)  We are dangerous when we are not conscious of our responsiblity for how we behave, think, and feel.

(32)  The first component of NVC entails the separation of observation from evaluation.  When we combine observation with evaluation, others are apt to hear criticism and resist what we are saying.

(40)  Expressing our vulnerability can help resolve conflicts.

(41)  Distinguish between what we feel and what we think we are.

(49)  What others do may be the stimulus of our feelings, but not the cause.

(49-50)  Four options for receiving messages:
1. blame ourselves
2. blame others
3. sense our own feelings and needs
4. sense others’ feelings and needs
NB:  all at once, one at a time, and in every combination:  6, I think

(51)  As we shall see, the more we are able to connect our feelings to our own needs, the easier it is for others to respond compassionately.

(52)  The basic mechanism of motivating by guilt is to attribute the responsibility for one’s own feelings to others.

(56)  “I have lived for sixty-five years, and if there is one thing I have learned, it is never to give unless I give from the heart.”  - a man in a bus station who gives a child an orange after kissing it.

(69)  In addition to using positive language, we also want to word our requests in the form of concrete actions that others can undertake and to avoid vague, abstract, or ambiguous phrasing.

(74)  My belief is that, whenever we say something to another person, we are requesting something in return.  It may simply be an empathic connection - a verbal or nonverbal acknowledgment, as with the man on the train, that our words have been understood.

(97)  …I’ve found that people feel safer if we first reveal the feelings and needs within ourselves that are generating the question.  Thus, instead of asking someone, “What did I do?” we might say, “I’m frustrated because I’d like to be clearer about what you are referring to.  Would you be willing to tell me what I’ve done that leads you to see me in this way?"

(99)  As we’ve seen, all criticism, attack, insults, and judgments vanish when we focus attention on hearing the feelings and needs behind a message.  The more we practice in this way, the more we realize a simple truth:  behind all those messages we’ve allowed ourselves to be intimidated by are just individuals with unmet needs appealing to us to contribute to their well-being.

(104)  Empathy is a respectful understanding of what others are experiencing.  We often have a strong urge to give advice or reassurance and to explain our own position or feeling.  Empathy, however, calls upon us to empty our mind and listen to others with our whole being.

In NVC, no matter what words others may use to express themselves, we simply listen for their observations, feelings, needs, and requests.  Then we may wish to reflect back, paraphrasing what we have understood.  We stay with empathy and allow others the opportunity to fully express themselves before we turn our attention to solutions or requests for relief.

(135)  Don’t Do Anything That Isn’t Play!

(137)  After having acknowledged that you choose to do a particular activity, get in touch with the intention behind your choice by completing the statement, I choose to…. because I want….

(139)   When we use language which denies choice (for example, words such as should, have to, ought, must, can’t, supposed to, etc), our behaviors arise out of a vague sense of guilt, duty, or obligation.

(142)  Where guilt is a tactic of manipulation and coercion, it is useful to confuse simulus and cause.

…. To motivate by guilt, mix up stimulus and cause.

(144)  When we judge others, we contribute to violence.

...At the core of all anger is a need that is not being fulfilled.  Thus anger can be valuable if we use it as an alarm clock to wake us up - to realize we have a need that isn’t being met and that we are thinking in a way that makes it unlikely to be met.

(147)  Violence comes from the belief that other people cause our pain and therefore deserve punishment

We recall four options when hearing a difficult message:  1. Blame ourselves  2. Blame others  3. Sense our own feelings and needs  4. Sense others’ feelings and needs

(151)  I’ve learned to savor life much more by only hearing what’s going on in their hearts and not getting caught up with the stuff in their heads.
NB:  If you can recognize the difference

(161)  Whatever the situation may be, resolving conflicts involves all the principles I outlined previously in this book:  observing, identifying and expressing feelings, connecting feelings with needs, and making doable requests fo another person using clear, concrete, positive action language.

(163)  They [mediators] are not at all concerned with creating a quality of connection, thus overlooking the only conflict resolution tool I have ever known to work.  When I described the NVC method and the role of human connection, one of the participants at the Austria meeting raised the objection that I was talking about psychotherapy, and that mediators were not psychotherapists.

In my experience, connecting people at this level isn’t psychotherapy;  it’s actually the core of mediation because when you make the connection, the problem solves itself most of the time.

(164)  NVC Conflict Resolution Steps - A Quick Overview
First, we express our own needs.
Second, we search for the real needs of the other person, no matter how they are expressing themselves.  If they are not expressing a need, but instead an opinion, judgment, or analysis, we recognize that, and continue to seek the need behind their words, the need underneath what they are saying.
Third, we verify that we both accurately recognize the other person’s needs, and if not, continue to seek the need behind their words.
Fourth, we provide as much empathy as is required for us to mutually hear each other’s needs accurately.
And fifth, having clarified both parties’ needs in the situation, we propose strategies for resolving the conflict, framing them in positive action language.

(165)  In order not to confuse needs and strategies, it is important to recall that needs contain no reference to anybody taking any particular action.  On the other hand, strategies, which may appear in the form of requests, desires, wants, and “solutions,” refer to specific actions that specific people may take.

(168)  So this is our work:  learning to recognize the need in statements that don’t overtly express any need.  It takes practice, and it always involves some guessing.  Once we sense what the other person needs, we can check in with them, and then help them put into their need into words.  If we are able to truly hear their need, a new level of connection is forged - a critical piece that moves the conflict toward successful resolution.

(170)  We must not assume that when one party expresses a need clearly, that the other party hears it accurately.

(171)  People often need empathy before they are able to hear what is being said.

… If we could just say, “Here are the needs of both sides.  Here are the resources.  What can be done to meet these needs?,” conflicts would be easily resolved.

(183)  When we witness behaviors that raise concern in us - unless it is a situation that calls for the protective use of force as described in Chapter 12 - the first thing we do is to empathize with the needs of the person who is behaving in the way we dislike.

(186)  Robert Irwin, Building a Peace System

(189)  I believe it is critical to be aware of the importance of people’s reasons for behaving as we request.

(198)  Focus on what we want to do rather than what went wrong.

(199)  Defuse stress by hearing our own feelings and needs.

(203)  By showing us how to focus on what we truly want rather than on what is wrong with others or ourselves, NVC gives us the tools and understanding to create a more peaceful state of mind.

(210)  The Three Components of Appreciation
NVC clearly distinguishes three components in the expression of appreciation:
1. the actions that have contributed to our well-being
2. the particular needs of ours that have been fulfilled
3. the pleasureful feelings engendered by the fulfillment of those needs

(212)  Accustomed to a culture where buying, earning, and deserving are the standard modes of interchange, we are often uncomfortable with simple giving and receiving.
NB:  Anthropologists might disagree that there is such a thing as “simple giving and receiving"

… “I would like to thank you in a way that we Sufi Muslims do when we want to express special appreciation for something.”  Locking his thumb onto mine, he looked me in the eye and said, “I kiss the God in you that allows you to give us what you did.”  He then kissed my hand.

(214)  “Dad, are you aware how often you bring up what’s gone wrong but almost never bring up what’s gone right?”

(218)  My grandmother loved to dance, and my mother remembers her saying often, “Never walk when you can dance.”

(220)  Ruth Benedict, “Synergy - Patterns of the Good Culture” Psychology Today 4 (June 1970):  53-57

(222)  Rabindranath Tagore, Sadhana:  The Realization of Life  Tucson:  Omen Press, 1972

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Quotes from The Dude and the Zen Master

 The Dude and the Zen Master by Jeff Bridges and Bernie Glassman (NY:  Blue Rider Press, 2012  ISBN 978-0-399-16164-3)

(page 8)  [BG]  I was an aeronautical engineer and mathematician in my early years, but mostly I've taught Zen Buddhism, and that's where we both met.  Not just in meditation which is what most people think of when they hear Zen, but the Zen of action, of living freely in the world without causing harm, of relieving our own suffering and the suffering of others.

(16)  [JB]  Mark Twain said, "I am a very old man and have suffered a great many misfortunes, most of which never happened."

(22)  [BG]  An English philosopher said that whatever is cosmic is also comic.  Do the best you can and don't take it seriously.

(23)  [JB]  So I have this word for much of what I do in life:  plorking.  I'm not playing and I'm not working, I'm plorking.

(31)  [BG]  In Zen we say that the other shore is right here under our feet.  What we're looking for - the meaning of life, happiness, peace - is right here.  So the question is no longer, how do I get from here to there?  The question is:  How do I [get] from here to here?   How do I experience that fact that, instead of having to get _there_ for something, it's right here and now?  This is it;  this is the other shore.  In Buddhism we sometimes call it the Pure Land.

(39)  [BG]  Finally I realized that practice and enlightenment were endless so enlightenment experiences would keep happening.  And since an enlightenment experience is an awakening to the interconnectedness of life, the awakening will keep deepening.  It begins with the sense of my self being my body, and it stretches until my self is realized as the universe.

(60)  [BG]  You might call him a Lamed-Vavnik.  In Jewish mysticism, there are thirty-six righteous people, the Lamed-Vav Tzaddikim.  They're simple and unassuming, and they are so good that on account of them God lets the world continue instead of destroying it.  But no one knows who they are because their lives are so humble.  They can be the pizza delivery boy, the cashier in a Chinese takeout, the window-washer, or the woman selling you stamps in the post office.

(68)  [JB]  At the same time I'm reading about the Tibetan Lojong practices, which are basically slogans all about leaning into these uncomfortable situations and opening up to them as if they're gifts.  One in particular strikes me:  _Always maintain a joyful mind._  Appreciate the struggles as opportunities to wake up.

(69)  [JB]  So I suggested we do something that my wife and I do sometimes.  We sit opposite each other.  One person expresses what's on his or her mind and the other person just listens and receives, till the first person has no more to say, and then we switch.  We keep on doing that till both of us feel like we're done.  Sometimes the shift happens, sometimes it doesn't;  it's a jam.

(72)  [BG]  One day he [Huineng, the Sixth Patriarch] goes to the market to sell his wood and hears a monk chanting a line from the _Diamond Sutra_:  "Abiding nowhere, raise the Mind."  If you can abide nowhere, you are raising the mind of compassion.  So here's this guy who knows nothing about Buddhism, a woodcutter, but when he hears that verse he has a profound enlightenment experience.

(75)  [JB]  Shunryu Suzuki, who founded the San Francisco Zen Center, said that if something is not paradoxical, it's not true.  If you say that abiding nowhere is the same as abiding everywhere, then abiding and not abiding are kind of the same thing, too.  It can get very confusing, and true at the same time.

(129)  [BG]  For me, being at peace means I'm interconnected.
NB:  Integrity as peace

(130)  [BG]  I'm Buddhist, but as you know, I'm also Jewish.  The Hebrew word for peace is shalom.  Many people know that word, but what they may not know is that the root of shalom is shalem, which means whole.  To make something shalem, to make peace, is to make whole.  There's a Jewish mystical tradition that at the time of the Creation, God's light filled a cup, but the light was so strong that the cup shattered into fragments scattered throughout the universe.  And the role of the righteous person, the mensch, is to bring the fragments back and connect them to restore the cup.  That's what I mean by peace.  For me, peace means whole.

(137)  [BG]  Even when people see the value of something, the desire to keep their identity as a conservative, a liberal, or anything else can be stronger than their sense of interconnectedness - even if it means that kids go hungry.  _How can I work with a liberal, even if we have the same goals?_  It makes no sense, but the differences can take over.  That's what we fight wars about.

(141)  [JB]  Another practice I find interesting is tonglen.  That's a Tibetan practice that helps us connect with others' suffering and our own.  I'm kind of a beginning student of it, but one idea I really like is that your feelings are not just _your_ feelings, we all have them.  So in some ways, you're a representative of what it is to be alive.  As an actor, I feel that I represent a community, the family of man and woman, and my job is to show how different people will act in different situations, like the father in _American Heart_.  So when it comes to feelings of struggle and suffering, you're not alone;  your suffering is on behalf of the whole group, on behalf of all of us.

(143)  [JB]  Johnny's [Goodwin] point of view was that A440 is a relatively modern standard of tuning and basically it's an arbitrary thing.  [Chris] Pelonis, who is an acoustical engineer, said that A440 is not just the frequency of the note A but is also the earth's vibration.  Earth has a basic resonance, and that's why A became the standard.  He summarized it this way:  "the region of 440 is by Supreme design and not arbitrary or coincidental."

(146)  [BG]  That sutra [the Heart Sutra] talks about the state of not knowing, so if you're at one with the sutra you're in resonance with the entire universe.  Of course, we are always in resonance with the entire universe because we _are_ that universe.  But how do we become aware of it?  How do we experience?  By getting into that space where that's  _all_ we experience, where there's nothing but A [the whole sutra can be understood in one letter].

(178)  [BG]  I have lots of hope.  Expectation is the bummer;  that's where I get into trouble.  As long as hope is without expectation or attachment, there's no problem. 

(194)  [BG]   I've played with changing that vow [of the Bodhisattva] to:  Beings are numberless, I vow to serve them.  It sounds less arrogant and more possible.  But whether you serve them or free them, you're helping people see that there is no one truth, that everything they believe or that others believe is just an opinion.  

(199)  [JB]  And he quoted Tolstoy:  "As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields."

(200)  Marian Kolodziej, Catholic Pole who was one of the first prisoners in Auschwitz and later painted murals of the barracks in Oswiecim, "The Labyrinth."

(206)  [JB]  Many people think about children as their immortality.  She [Bridges' mother] said that they're really closer to your mortality.  When you have a child, you have another pair of eyes, another heart that you love more than your own, but you have no control over them.

(233)  [BG]  Being a Zen teacher, I know that frustrations come out of expectations, but in this case [Israeli/Palestinian peace] I was really attached to seeing big changes.

(257-258)  [JB]  Buddhist Five Remembrances
I am of the nature to grow old.  There is no way to escape growing old.
I am of the nature to have ill health.  There is no way to escape ill health.
I am of the nature to die.  There is no way to escape death.
All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change.  There is no way to escape being separated from them.
My actions are my only true belongings.  I cannot escape the consequences of my actions.  My actions are the ground upon which I stand.
from _Plum Village Chanting Book_ by Thich Nhat Hanh

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Facing the Emotional Reality of Accelerating Climate Transformations

Once you know:  growing our capacity to face darkening climate predictions

2023 Charles D Keeling Memorial Lecture, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
May 8, 2023
Susan Moser, Affiliate Faculty at University of Massachusetts Amherst; Research Faculty at Antioch University of New England

Once You Know documentary:

Moser first learned of climate change in 1985
"We're moving outside the range of the familiar in terms of frequency, intensity, and how expensive they are."
growing acknowledgment of mental health threats from climate
extreme heat causes people to be more aggressive
"It is really intense how domestic violence and abuse of children goes up in those [climate] events:  any time another storm hits, a man hits a woman" is a bitter irony known among those who work in that field
Climate change is not the same for everybody, the people who did the least to cause the problems and least able to navigate climate change are hurt worse and have to look at the effects almost constantly.  

[Moser repeated this point several times.]

The confluence of racism and poverty with climate is potent.

There is also first responder burn-out
Is This How You Feel - letters from scientists to the future on climate

"Climate change doesn't capture what's happening here... We're dealing systems collapsing.  A complete shift... It is impacting everything - culturally, ecologically, economically."  Gay Sheffield

How do you go home knowing that?
In some way this is toxic knowledge.

what is meaningful work on the way down?
[A Prosperous Way Down: Principles and Policies New Edition by Howard T. Odum  (Author), Elisabeth C. Odum (Author) - 1991, the great ecologist's last book]

local officials are key
people don't learn about trauma informed communications
the same people who are trying to work with the whole community on climate/resilience are part of the government which is perpetrating police violence and callous social policies on those very marginalized people who need the most help.  

National Adaptation Forum ( one resource

How do we know all this about climate and not do something?
Those for whom the apocalypse is their day job are predominantly women (hence, double, triple burdens)
fear of spreading "doom" and despair, obsession with (easy) hope... personal attacks (including threats to life, work, reputation, person) 
[around the world people doing practical work on the environment are murdered, often]

'The challenge
A world of rapid and constant and complex change with great uncertainty, unknowing and surprises;  more frequent and pervasive traumatic disruptions for more and more people;  inevitable (chosen and/or imposed) transformative change."

The Adaptive Mind Project ( pdf alert) building the skills needed for coping with transformative change while reducing their own trauma and trauma to others.

First ask is simple acknowledgment [that climate change is already here and we are suffering it.]

Adaptive mind is not just in individuals but in the community [including non-humans] 
community care [not just individuals or nuclear families]
"We are so imagination challenged and we cannot imagine that there is a future that's not just a doom future."
"Covid showed us how quickly we can change and how little stamina we have."
We need to learn more about how social change can happen.
Acknowledge the doom and gloom and move from there

end of notes

I've used this quote since I first read it:
the war that matters is the war against the imagination
all other wars are subsumed in it.
Diane di Prima

It and the following two quotes inform how I view the world:

We remain alert so as not to get run down, but it turns out you only have to hop a few feet to one side and the whole huge machinery rolls by, not seeing you at all.
Lew Welch

Quite clearly, our task is predominantly metaphysical, for it is how to get all of humanity to educate itself swiftly enough to generate spontaneous behaviors that will avoid extinction.  
R. Buckminster Fuller

This lecture was an event I found while compiling Energy (and Other) Events Monthly (, the website archive and free listserv.  These kinds of things happen every day all over the world and many are available in real time as well as archived online.   What I do and why I do it ( explains how I'd like to see this resource used.

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Notes on Samuel R Delany's Times Square Red, Times Square Blue

Samuel R Delany's book on urban development issues, Times Square Red, Times Square Blue (New York University Press, 1999) brings his astute and engaging science fiction writer eye to the topic.  He has a kind of Victorian erudition coupled with all the tools of post-modern deconstruction and political discourse.

He relates his experiences over nearly thirty years in Times Square talking with the homeless and the hustlers, the small businessmen and their customers, the denizens of the porno theaters he frequented and makes a strong case that the "redevelopment" that has pushed most of these folks out of the area is based upon a fear of contact (as opposed to networking) and especially any contact across class lines.  By remaking Times Square into something like a mall that is always tourist-friendly, Delany believes that all of us will become tourists even in our own communities.  As a black homosexual, he has an unique perspective based upon his survival observations of a mostly white, heterosexual culture.                            

(pages 149 - 152)  The generally erroneous assumption about how new buildings make money is something like this:  A big company acquires the land, clears it for construction, and commences to build.  After three to five years, when it is complete, the company rents the building out.  If the building is a success, all the offices (or apartments, as the case may be) are leased, and the site is a popular one, then and only then does the corporation that owns the building begin to see profits on its earlier outlays and investments.  Thus the ultimate success of the building as a habitation is pivotal to the building's future economic success.

If this were the way new office buildings were actually built, however, few would even be considered, much less actually begun.

Here is an only somewhat simplified picture of how the process _actually_ works.  Simplified though it is, it gives a much better idea of what on and how money is made.  A large corporation decides to build a building.  It acquires some land.  Now it sets up an extremely small ownership corporation, which is tied to the parent corporation by a lot of very complicated contracts - but is a different and autonomous corporation envertheless.  That ownership corporation, tiny as it might be, is now ready to build the building.  The parent corporation also sets up a much larger construction corporation, which hires diggers, subcontracts construction companies, and generally oversees the building proper.

The little ownership corporation now borrows a lot of money from a bank - enough to pay the construction corporation for constructing the building proper.  The small ownership corporation also sells stock to investors - enough to pay back the bank loan.  The tiny ownership corporation (an office, a secretary, and a few officers that oversee things) proceeds to pay the parent construction corporation with the bank funds to build the building.  It uses the stock funds to pay back the bank.  Figured in the cost of the building is a healthy margin of profits for the construction corporation - and for the large corporation that got the whole project started - while the investors pay off the bank, so that _it_ doesn't get twisted out of shape.  Meanwhile both the ownership corporation and construction corporation pay the parent corporation as their controlling stockholder.

Yes, if the building turns out to be a stunningly popular address, then (remember all those contracts?) profits will be substantially greater than otherwise.  But millions and millions of dollars of profits will be made by the parent corporation just from the construction of the building alone, even if no single space in it is ever rented out.  (Movies are made in the same manner, which is why so many awful ones hit the screen.  By the time they are released, the producers have long since taken the money and, as it were, run.)  Believing in the myth of profit only in return for investments, public investors will swallow the actual cost of the building's eventual failure - if it fails - while the ownership corporation is reduced in size to nothing or next to nothing:  an office in the building on which no rent is paid, a secretary and/or an answering machine, and a nominal head (with another major job somewhere else) on minimal salary who comes in once a month to check in ... if that.

Two facts should now be apparent.

First fact:  The Forty-second Street Development Project (I use this as a metonym for the hidden corporate web behind it) _wants_ to build those buildings.  Renting them out is secondary, even if the failure to rent them is a major catastrophe for the city, turning the area into a glass and aluminum graveyard.

A truth of high finance tends to get away from even the moderately well-off investor (the successful doctor or lawyer, say, bringing in two to four hundred thousand a year), though this truth is, indeed, what makes capitalism:  In short-term speculative business ventures of (to choose an arbitrary cutoff point) more than three million dollars, such as a building or civic center, (second fact) the profits to be made from dividing the money up and moving it around over the one to six years during which that money must be spent easily offset any losses from the possible failure of the enterprise itself as a speculative endeavor, once it's completed.

The interest on a million dollars at 6.5 percent is about 250 dollars a _day_;  on a good conservative portfolio it will be 400 dollars a day.  The interest on ten million dollars is ten times that.  Thus the interest on ten million dollars is almost a million and a half a year.  The Forty-second Street Development Project is determined to build those buildings.  The question is:  How long will it take to convince investors to swallow the uselessness of the project?

Far more important than whether the buildings can be rented out is whether _the investors think the buildings can be rented out_.  In the late seventies, three of those towers were tabled for ten years.  The ostensible purpose for that ten-year delay was to give economic forces a chance to shift and business a chance to rally to the area.  The real reason, however, was simply the hope that people would forget the arguments against the project, so clear in so many people's minds at the time.  Indeed, the crushing arguments against the whole project from the mid-seventies were, by the mid-eighties, largely forgotten;  this forgetting has allowed the project to take its opening steps over the last ten years.  The current ten-year delay means that public relations corporations have been given another decade to make the American investing public forget the facts of the matter and convince that same public that the Times Square project is a sound one.  It gambles on the possibility that, ten years from now, the economic situation might be better - at which point the developers will go ahead with those towers, towers which, Stern has told us, _will_ be built."

(121)  Given the mode of capitalism under which we live, life is at its most rewarding, productive, and pleasant when large numbers of people understand, appreciate, and seek out interclass contact and communication conducted in a mode of good will.

The class war raging constantly and often silently in the comparatively stabilized societies of the developed world perpetually works for the erosion of the social practices through which interclass communication takes place and of the institutions holding those practices stable, so that new institutions must always be conceived and set in place to take over the jobs of those that are battered again and again till they are destroyed.

While the establishment and utilization of those institutions always involved social practices, the effects of my primary and secondary theses are regularly perceived at the level of discourse.  Therefore, it is only by a constant renovation of the concept of discourse that society can maintain the most conscientious and informed field for both the establishment of such insitutions and practices and, by extension, the necessary critique of those institutions and practices - a critique necessary if new instittuions of any efficacy are to be established.  At this level, in its largely stabilizing/destabilizing role, superstructure (and superstructure at its most oppositional) _can_ impinge on infrastructure." 

(123 -124)  Contact is the conversation that starts in the line at the grocery counter with the person behind you while the clerk is changing the paper roll in the cash register.  It is the pleasantries exchanged with a neighbor who has brought her chair out to take some air on the stoop.  It is the discussion that begins with the person next to you at a bar.  It can be the conversation that starts with any number of semiofficials or service persons - mailman, policeman, librarian, store clerk or counter person.  As well, it can be two men watching each other masturbating together in adjacent urinals of a public john - an encounter that, later, may or may not become a conversation.  Very importantly, contact is also the intercourse - physical and conversational - that blooms in and as 'casual sex' in public rest rooms, sex movies, public parks, singles bars, and sex clubs, on street corners with heavy hustling traffic, and in the adjoining motels or the apartments of one of another participant, from which nonsexual friendships and/or acquaintances lasting for decades or a lifetime may spring, not to mention the conversation of a john with a prostitute or hustler encountered on one of another street corner or in a bar - a relation that, a decade later, has devolved into a smile or a nod, even when (to quote Swinburne) 'You have forgotten my kisses/And I have forgotten your name.'  Mostly, these contact encounters are merely pleasant chats, adding a voice to a face now and again encountered in the neighborhood." 

(128 -129)  There is, of course, another way to meet people.  It is called _networking_.  Networking is what people have to do when those with like interests live too far apart to be thrown together in public spaces through chance and propinquity.  Networking is what people in small towns have to do to establish any complex cultural life today.

But contemporary _networking_ is notably different from _contact_.

At first one is tempted to set contact and networking to opposition.  Networking tends to be professional and motive-driven.  Contact tends to be more broadly social and appears random.  Networking crosses class lines only in the most vigilant manner.  Contact regularly crosses class lines in those public spaces in which interclasss encounters are at their most frequent.  Networking is heavily dependent on institutions to promote the necessary propinquity (gyms, parties, twelve-step programs, conferences, reading groups, singing groups, social gatherings, workshops, tourist groups, and classes), where those with the requisite social skills can maneuver.  Contact is associated with public space and the architecture and commerce that depend on and promote it.  Thus contact is often an outdoor sport;  networking tends to occur indoors."

(127)  [Jane Jacobs] dismisses "pervert parks" as necessarily social blights (largely understandable in the pre-Stonewall 1950s when she was collecting material for her book, but nevertheless unfortunate), though she _was_ ready to acknowledge the positive roles winos and destitute alcoholics played in stabilizing the quality of neighborhood life at a _higher_ level than the neighborhood would maintain without them.

"I would recommend her analysis, though I would add that, like so much American thinking on the left, it lacks not so much a class analysis as an _interclass_ analysis."

Editorial Comment:  Somewhere I should have notes on Jane Jacobs' _Life and Death of Great American Cities_.

Monday, June 19, 2023

Joan Didion: We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live

_We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live_ by Joan Didion
NY:  Everyman Library, 2006
ISBN  0-307-26487-4

Slouching Towards Bethlehem
“Where the Kissing Never Stops”
(42)  Joan Baez was a personality before she was entirely a person, and, like anyone to whom that happens, she is in a sense the hapless victim of what others have seen in her, written about her, wanted her to be and not to be.  

“Slouching Towards Bethlehem”
(90)  He has a shaved head and the kind of cherubic face usually seen in newspaper photographs of mass murderers.

“On Keeping a Notebook”
(103)  “The party was _not_ for you, the spider was _not_ a black widow, _it wasn’t that way at all_.”  Very likely they are right, for not only have I always had trouble distinguishing between what happened and what merely might have happened, but I remain unconvinced that the distinction, for my purposes, matters.

“Notes from a Native Daughter”
(131)  In fact that is what I want to tell you about:  what it is like to come from a place like Sacramento.  If I could make you understand that, I could make you uinderstand California and perhaps something else besides, for Sacramento _is_ California, and California is a place in which a boom mentality and a sense of Chekhovian loss meet in uneasy suspension;  in which the mind is troubled by some buried but ineradicable suspicion that things had better work here, because here, beneath that immense bleached sky, is where we run out of continent.

“Letter from Paradise, 21º 19’ N., 157º 52’ W.”
(146)  On the whole I am able to take a very long view of death, but I think a great deal about what there is to remember, twenty-one years later, of a boy who died at nineteen.
NB:  WWII graves in Honolulu’s Punchbowl

“Goodbye to All That”
(171)  Someone who lives always with a plane schedule in the drawer lives on a slightly different calendar.

The White Album
“The White Album”
(185)  We tell ourselves stories in order to live.  The princess is caged in the consulate.  The man with the candy will lead the children into the sea.  The naked woman on the ledge outside the window on the seventeenth floor is a victim of accidie, or the naked woman is an exhibitionist, and it would be “interesting” to know which.  We tell ourselves that it makes some difference whether the naked woman is about to commit a mortal sin or is about to register a political protest or is about to be, the Aristophanic view, snatched back to the human condition by the fireman in priest’s clothing just visible in the window behind her, the one smiling at the telephoto lens.  We look for the sermon in the suicide, for the social or moral lesson in the murder of five.  We interpret what we see, select the most workable of the multiple choices.  We live entirely, especially if we are writers, by the imposition of a narrative line upon disparate images, by the “ideas” with which we have learned to freeze the shifting phantasmagoria which is our actual experience.

Or at least we do for a while.  I am talking here about a time when I began to doubt the premises of all the stories I had ever told myself, a common conditon but one I found troubling.

(211)  In other words it was another story without a narrative.
NB:  Receiving a diagnosis of MS

“James Pike, American”
(216)  apologue - a moral fable, especially one with animals as characters

“Holy Water”
(225)  The apparent ease of California life is an illusion, and those who believe the illusion real live here in only the most temporary way.

"The Getty”
(233)  (I have never been sure what the word “nouveau” can possibly mean in America, implying as it does that the speaker is gazing down six hundred years of rolled lawns.)

“Good Citizens”
(241)  … the public life of liberal Hollywood comprises a kind of dictatorship of good intentions, a social contract in which actual and irreconcilable disagreement is as taboo as failure or bad teeth, a climate devoid of irony.

“Notes Toward a Dreampolitik”
(251)  To watch a bike movie is finally to apprehend the extent to which the toleration of small irritations is no longer a trait much admired in America, the extent to which a noexistent frustration threshold is seen not as psychopathic but as a “right.”

“In the Islands”
(281)  What the place [the Royal Hawaiian Hotel] reflected in the Thirties it reflects still, in less flamboyant mutations:  a kind of life lived always on the streets where the oldest trees grow.

“In Hollywood”
(296)  There is in Hollywood, as in all cultures in which gambling is the central activity, a lowered sexual energy, an inability to devote more than token attention to the preoccupations of the society outside.  The action is everything, more consuming than sex, more immediate than politics;  more important always than the acquisition of money, which is never, for the gambler, the true point of the exercise.
NB:  venture capital

(297)  [at Adolf Zukor’s 100th birthday celebration]… but on this night there is among them a resigned warmth, a recognition that they will attend one another’s funerals.

“On the Morning After the Sixties”
(329)  … the narrative on which many of us grew up no longer applies.

(330)  I think now that we were the last generation to identify with adults.
NB:  Silent Generation of the 1950s, which I’ve now seen confused with the generation that fought WWII

(362)    “Don’t say I said this, but there are no issues here,” I was told by a high-placed Salvadoran.  “There are only ambitions.”

… That this man saw _la situación_ as only one more realignment of power among the entitled, a conflict of “ambitions” rather than “issues,” was, I recognized, what many people would call a conventional bourgeois view of civil conflict, and offered no solutions, but the people with solutions to offer were mainly somewhere else, in Mexico or Panama or Washington.

(388)  There is a sense in which the place remains marked by the meanness and discontinuity of all frontier history, by a  certain proximity to the cultural zero.

After Henry
“Pacific Distances”
(592)  When I first moved to Los Angeles from New York, in 1964, I found this absence of narrative a deprivation.  At the end of two years, I realized (quite suddenly, alone one morning in the car) that I had come to find narrative sentimental.  This remains a radical difference between the two cities, and also between the ways in which the residents of those cities view each other.

“Los Angeles Days”
(614)  … something in the human spirit rejects planning on a daily basis for catastrophe. 

“L.A. Noir”
(653)  In a city [Los Angeles] not only largely conceived as a series of real estate promotions but largely supported by a series of confidence games, a city even then afloat on motion pictures and junk bonds and the B-2 Stealth bomber, the conviction that something can be made of nothing may be one of the few narratives in which everyone participates.  A belief in extreme possibilities colors daily life.

“Sentimental Journeys”
(686)  Later it would be recalled that 3,254 other rapes were reported that year, including one the following week involving the near decapitation of a black woman in Fort Tryon Park and one two weeks later involving a black woman in Brooklyn who was robbed, raped, sodomized, and thrown down an air shaft of a four-story building, but the point was rhetorical, since crimes are universally understood to be news to the extent that they offer, however erroneously, a story a lesson, a high concept.
NB:  tyranny of story, narrative

(702)  A preference for broad strokes, for the distortion and flattening of character and the reduction of events to narrative, has been for well over a hundred years the heart of the way the city [NYC] presents itself…

(713)  The imposition of a sentimental, or false, narrative on the disparate and often random experience that constitutes the life of a city or a country means, necessarily, that much of what happens in that city or country will be rendered merely illustrative, a series of set pieces, or performance opportunities.

(714)  In a city in which grave and disrupting problems had become general - problems of not having, problems of not making it, problems that demonstrably existed, among the mad and the ill and the under-equipped and the overwhelmed, with decreasing reference to color - the case of the Central Park jogger provided more than just a safe, or structured, setting in which various and sometimes only marginally related rages could be vented.

Political Fictions
“A Foreward”
(735)  The piece I finally did on the 1988 campaign, “Insider Baseball,” was the first of a number of pieces I eventually did about various aspects of American politics, most of which had to do, I came to realize, with the ways in which the political process did not reflect but increasingly proceeded from a series of fables about American experience.

(736)  It was also clear in 1988 that the rhetorical manipulation of resentment and anger designed to attract these target voters had reduced the nation’s political dialogue to a level so dispiritingly low that its highest expression had come to be a pernicious nostalgia.  Perhaps most striking of all, it was clear in 1988 that those inside the process had congealed into a permanent political class, the defining characteristic of which was its readiness to abandon those not inside the process.  All of this was known.

(737 -738)  The graphs themselves, however, told a somewhat more complicated story:  only third-five percent of nonvoters, or about seventeen percent of all adult Americans, fell into the “apathetic” category, which, according to a directory of the Shorenstein study [Vanishing Voters], included those who “have no sense of civic duty,” aren’t interested in politics,” and “have no commitment in keeping up with public affairs.”  Another fourteen percent of nonvoters were classifed as “disconnected,” a group including both those “who can’t get to the polls because of advanced age or disability” and those “who recently changed addresses and are not yet registered” - in other words, people functionally unable to vote.  The remaining fifty-one percent of these nonvoters, meaning roughly a quarter of all adult Americans, were classsifed as either “alienated: (“the angry men and women of US politics… so disgusted with politicians and the political process that they’ve opted out”) or “disenchanted” (“these non-voters aren't so much repelled by politics as they are by the way politics is practiced”), in either case pretty much the polar opposite of “apathetic.”  According to the graphs, more than seventy percent of all novoters were in fact registered, a figure that cast some ambiguity on the degree of “apathy” even among the thirty-five percent categorized as “apathetic.”
NB:  percentage of non-registered qualified voters

(738)  The interesting point at which the attitudes of voters and nonvoters did diverge was that revealed by questioning about specific policies.  Voters, for example, tended to believe that the federal budget surplus should go to a tax cut.  Nonvoters, who on the whole had less education and lower income, more often said that the surplus should be spent on health, welfare, and education.  “Nonvoters have different needs,” is the way the Post summarized this.  “But why should politicians listen?”

(742)  That this [incomes above $50,000 (1988 dollars)] was not a demographic profile of the country at large, that half the nation's citizens had only a vassal relationship to the government under which they lived, that the democracy we spoke of spreading throughout the world was now in our own country only an ideality, had come to be seen, against the higher priority of keeping the process in the hands of those who already held it, as facts without application. 

“Insider Baseball”
(750)  American reporters “like” covering a presidential campaign (it gets them out on the road, it has balloons, it has music, it is viewed as a big story, one that leads to the respect of one’s peers, to the Sunday shows, to lecture fees and often to Washington), which is why there has developed among those who do it so arresting an enthusiasm for overlooking the contradictions inherent in reporting that which occurs only in order to be reported.

(758)  This notion, that the citizen’s choice among determinedly centrist candidates makes a “difference,” is in fact the narrative’s most central element, and its most fictive.

“The West Wing of Oz”
(785)  In a 1991 Rand Institute report prepared for the Department of Defense, Benjamin C Schwarz noted that “the greed and apparent tactical incompetence of Salvadoran officers has so exhausted American experts posted to El Salvador that all the individuals interviewed for this report who have served there in the past two years believe that the Salvadoran military does not wish to win the war because in so doing it would lose the American aid that has enriched it for the past decade."

(795)  Not long after the Grenada invasion, for which the number of medals awarded eventually exceeded the number of actual combatants, the president, in his commander-in-chief role, spoke at a ceremony honoring the nation’s Medal of Honor recipients.

(797)  Jeffrey K Tulis The Rhetorical Presidency, 1987:  The routinization of crisis, endemic to the rhetorical presidency, is accompanied by attempted repetitions of charisma.  In Reagan’s case this style was further reinforced by an ideology and a rhetoric opposed to the Washington establishment, to bureaucrats and bureaucracies…  
NB:  speech as action and confusion

(799)  … ended by transforming the White House into a kind of cargo cult.
NB:  woo woo, also for the 60s

“Eyes on the Prize”
(813)  He [Jerry Brown] told Governor Clinton that the [1992] ticket would have his “full endorsement” in the unlikely eventuality that the platform was amended to include four provisions:  “a $100 ceiling on all political contributions, a ban on political committees (PACs), universal registration undertaken by government itself (together with same-day registration), and finally election day as a holiday."

(824)  … large numbers of Americans report finding politics deeply silly, yet the necessity for this reduction is now accepted as a given.

(826)  Political Scientist Walter Dean Burnham [1988?]:  “The Republicans, however, are perfectly happy to declare class struggle all the time.  They are always waging a one-sided class war against the constituency the Democrats nominally represent.  In this sense, the Republicans are the only real political party in the United States.  They stand for ideology and interest, not compromise.”

“Political Pornography”
(863)  The genuflection toward “fairness” is a familiar newsroom piety, in practice the excuse for a good deal of autopilot reporting and lazy thinking but in theory a benign ideal.  In Washington, however, a community in which the management of news has become the single overriding preoccupation of the core industry, what “fairness” has often come to mean is a scrupulous passivity, an agreement to cover the story not as it is occurring but as it is presented, which is to say as it is manufactured.

“Clinton Agonistes”

(875)  Perhaps because not all of the experts, authorities, and spokespersons driving this news had extensive experience with the kind of city-side beat on which it is taken for granted that the D. A.'s office will leak the cases they doubt they can make, selective prosecutorial hints had become embedded in the ongoing story as fact.

(890)  The fact that an election between two candidates arguing which has the more correct “values" left most voters with no reason to come to the polls had even come to be spoken about, by less wary professionals, as the beauty part, the bonus that would render the process finally and perpetually impenetrable.  "Who cares what every adult thinks?" a Republican strategist asked The Washington Post to this point in early September 1998.  "It's totally not germane to this election.”

“Vichy Washington”
(909)  It was the solution to this problem, the naming of the citizens themselves as co-conspirators in the nation’s moral degradation, that remains the most strikingly exotic aspect of the event that came to dominate the late 1990s.

“God’s Country”
(936)  Almost  a year before the New Hampshire primary [2000 campaign after Clinton impeachment], then, the shape the campaign would take had already been settled upon, and it was not a shape that would require the Washington community to accomodate itself to the views of the country:  what was concerning Americans, it had been decided, was the shame they had to date failed to recognize.

…. More than two-thirds of Americans polled by The Los Angeles Times in February 1999, immediately after President Clinton was tried and acquitted by the Senate, said that his misconduct had not caused them to lose respect for the office the presidency.  Sixty-eight percent said that they did not want the issue raised in the 2000 presidential campaign.  More than three in five said that the Republicans pursued impeachment “primarily because they wanted to hurt President Clinton politically.”  Only one-third, or a number approximately the size of the Republican base, said that Republicans were motivated by concern about the effect of “Clinton’s actions on the legal and moral fabric of the country."

(944-945) … (like the fact that the number of Americans who belonged to churches during the American Revolution constituted only seventeen percent of the population).,..

Where I Was From
(963)  … a state where distrust of centralized government authority has historically passed for an ethic…

(1028)  Lakewood exists because at a given time in a different economy it had seemed an efficient idea to provide population density for the mall and a labor pool for the Douglas plant.  There are a lot of towns like Lakewood in California.  They were California’s mill towns, breeder towns for the boom.  When times were good and there was money to spread around, these were the towns that proved Marx wrong, that managed to increase the proletariat and simultaneously, by calling it middle class, to co-opt it. Such towns were organized around the sedative idealization of team sports, where were believed to develop “good citizens,” and therefore tended to the idealization of adolescent males.  During the good years, the years for which places like Lakewood or Canoga Park or El Segundo or Pico Rivera existed, the preferred resident was in fact an adolescent or post-adolescent male, ideally one already married and mortgaged, in harness to the plant, a good worker, a steady consumer, a team player, someone who played ball, a good citizen.

(1044)  The perfect circularity of the enterprise, one in which politicians controlled the letting of government contracts to companies which in turn utilized the contracts to employ potential voters, did not encourage natural selection.

(1071)  This gets tricky.  Notice the way in which the author [Victor Davis Hanson] implicitly frames his indictment of himself and his family for turning away from the pure agrarian life as an indictment of the rest of us, for failing to support that life.

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Notes on The Persuaders

 _The Persuaders:  at the Front Lines of the Fight for Heartsm Minds, and Democracy_ by Anand Giridharadas

NY:  Alfred A Knopf, 2022
ISBN 9780593318997

Dividing to Conquer
(7)  “The IRA [Internet Research Agency] knows that in political warfare disgust is a much more powerful tool than anger,” [Darren] Linvill and [Patrick] Warren have written.  “Anger drives people to the polls, disgust drives countries apart.”

(33-34)  “The thing about our movement is that we’re too woke,” [Linda] Sarsour told me, “which is why we don’t have mass mobilization in the way that we should,”  In choosing the word “woke,” she was using a term that once had real meaning in a Black radical tradition - “Today our very survival depends on oiur ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change,” Dr King once said - and had since been co-opted by the political right as a catchall label for the more pluralist, egalitarian future than many white people feared.

(48)  The problem she [Loretta Ross] observed with one’s 90-percenters is that instead of focusing on the vast overlap, they fixated on the 10 percent divergence.

(49)  For an activist who works in coalition, 75-percenters require a further skill beyond what 90-percenters do.  You don’t merely have to tolerate others focising on different things, attacking a broadly similar vision of the prolbem in their own, distinct way.  You have to accept large islands of disagreement in a sea of assent.  With your 75-percenters, there is still so much you can get done together.  But [Loretta] Ross obsreved an excessive interest in that nonoverlapping 25 percent.  It was a scab people wanted to keep picking instead of doing the things they could do.

…You approach those people [50-percenters] by first accepting they don't want the world you want.  Their vision is different.  But if you can understand their values and needs and look for openings, as when Ross’s father fell into dread about his health care, you can, in addition to helping them, pry open a closed mind.

(50)  You have to spend a lot of time on the concept of fear, because a lot of people, particularly in that 25-percenter category, operate from platforms of fear,” she [Loretta Ross] told me.  “Fear of immigrants, fear of queers, fear of this, fear of that.  And so you can have really productive conversations talking about their fears, but you  have to take their fears seriously for them to even be able to listen to you.  If you dismiss their fears, they don’t listen.  They don’t think you’re taking the fact that they’re afraid seriously enough."

(51)  Loretta Ross:  “I think as part of the movement to end violence against women, we made some overpromises.  We told people, particularly rape survivors, that we could create safe spaces, when in fact all we can do is create spaces to be brave together."

(55)  She told them before they worry about those they were trying to win over, they should look at themselves. "You have to be in a loving, healing space to call anybody in,” [Loretta] Ross told me.  “You can’t do it from anger, because it's just going to end up badly.  So you have to asess why you’re doing it.  What’s your motivation?  Are you trying help this person learn, or are you actually trying to change them?”

Movement Building
(70)  Alicia Garza:  … the longer I’m in the practice of building a movement, the more I realize that movement building isn’t about finding your tribe - it’s about growing your tribe across difference to focus on a common set of goals.

(71)  Progressives, Garza said, too often seek out united fronts when, in fact, they should be forging popular fronts.  Drawing on Marx, she defines popular fronts as “alliances that come together across a range of political beliefs, for the purpose of achieving a short- to intermediate-term goal, while united fronts are long-term alliances based on the highest level of political alignment."

(74)  Alicia Garza:  So the moral of this story is how you make people feel matters.  And sometimes part of our purist cultre can be not having room for the waking among the work.  And because of that, we just kind of keep circulating among the woke.  Forgeting that the whole point is not to be cliques.

(102)  Kurt [white father of an adopted Afro-American child]:  “I think the Black community will go, ‘Great, big deal.  We've been grieving for hundreds of years.  So yay!  Congratulations.  Nice work,  Suck it up,  Change.  Let’s go.’”
NB:  But where do we go, what do we do, what is our defined task and common vision?

(119)  Personal narrative and emotional appeals were how a politics that presented like change but avoided real change were sold to people, so they wouldn’t notice how little they were getting.

(148)  Ben McDonald:  “Whenever you confront somebody and you win, don’t walk away from the table.  Always give them the golden gate of retreat.”

The point was not that you let the other side advance.  The word “retreat” was key.  That was the intransigent part.  You needed your vision of progress to prevail over theirs.  What was up for grabs was how it would go down.  Retreat itself was not negotiable, but there could always be ways of their retreating that bred resentment and made the conflict live on forever and other ways of retreating that made those who had lost or had changed their mind feel considered and seen, feel that they still had their dignity intact, which allowed them to let go of having to be right and having to win.

(192)  AOC:  “Some people are of the belief that electoralism is broken beyond repair and it is a dead end when you look at the profound influence of dark money and X, Y, Z ways that American democracy is fragile, imperiled, or broken.  The thing I keep coming back to is that it really isn’t one or the other.  It’s that we need each other.

“Ther are certain things that can be accomplished electorally that simply cannot be done with grassroots organizing,” she continued.  “There are some things that can be done with collective mass movement that will never be accomplished through electoral means.  And, in fact, going beyond that binary, both of these types of work and organizing are necessary for the success of the other.  Yet you will have hard-liners in both categories.”
NB:  “Use EVERYTHING!” as my old martial arts teacher would exhort us.  And there are more than just electoral politics and mass movements.

(202)  AOC:  I don’t value the things you think I value.  That precisely is the source of power.  The thing they fear the most is what they don’t control.

Anat Shenker-Osorio
(220)  The ranks of the persuadable change from issue to issue, year to year.  But [Anat] Shenker-Osorio thinks about it as a rule of 20-60-20.  When you ask people to rate their support for various issues (as opposed to parties, about which people are far more partisan and tribal), a fifth of people are committed to your side, a fifth of people are reliably for the opposition;  most people are “moderate,” which is to say their minds are in play.

(226)  Something struck her.  On Luntz’s tests, which tracked the attitude of base, opposition, and moderates listening to a message, the winning one was defined as that which raised base approval, raised moderate approval, and _reduced_ opposition approval.  Not the message that raised all three.

…It was that you should seek out ways to please your base, get it chanting in ways that encircled and wooed the persuadables, and, at the same time, alienate and marginalize the opposition.  The left needed, if you’ll pardon the expression, to dial for blue meat.

(228)  To sum up the [Anat] Shenker-Osorio method thus far:  Don’t dilute the vision to reach out to a middle that isn’t in the middle but is confused.  Thrill your base;  alienate the people who aren’t going to vote for you anyway but will do you the favor, if you’re setting the rhetorical agenda, of yelling your ideas all over town.  Don’t be afraid to call out, to woo the right people and drive away the right people.  And there was more.  These callouts, she argued, needed to be nested within a positive galvanizing mission that her allies on the left too often forget to include while deploring problems.

(231)  Voters aren’t stirred to reduce harm, Shenker-Osorio said.  They’re motivated to create good.  

...“Paint the beautiful tomorrow”

…”The entire premise of my work is, ’Say what you’re for.’  The rest is commentary.”

(231-232)  “I genuinely believe,” she continued, “it is a Republican wet dream that they have us talking constantly about everything that we oppose because (a) it gives them more airtime, (b) it scares the shit out of people, and when people are afraid, what they seek is a more authoritarian, more restrictive, more conservative kind of leadership and structure, (c) it has us not speak about what we’re for.”  She joked with colleagues that despite all her research into the nuances of different messages, there was really just one winning message for her side.  “That message is, ‘We can have nice things.’"

(235)  “What you fight,” [Anat] Shenker-Osorio likes to say, “you feed.”
NB:  Taoism, aikido

(238)  … the fight (for voting rights) should be characterized as seeking the freedom to vote.

… “We should care for our land, we should care for our earth, because it’s the American way.  It’s what we’ve always done.”  To her ear, this sounded off, because tradition, doing something because it’s what we’ve always done, is a frame that will never benefit the progressive left.

(240) The message ordering [Anat] Shenker-Osorio suggests instead goes like this:  shared value, problem, solution.

… A fundamental thing many people who disagree with you share with you is the desire to feel like good people.  If the message is venturing into challenging territory, it helps to ground it first in a shared belief.

(249)  What the recent surveys showed was that when you asked Americans of all persuasions what values they most cared about, freedom consistently topped the list… “This really, truly is, over and again, the core value Americans associate with this country,” Shenker-Osorio told the the group…
NB:  Freedom from or freedom for?

(253)  Shenker-Osorio:  “We don’t have time to be genuflecting at the altar of bipartisanship, and pretending that Republicans are a party, that they are anything other than an authoritarian faction.  We do not have time.”

(256)  An astonishing 17 percent of Americans were said to be QAnon believers now [as of 2021]
NB:  17 percent supported Dick Cheney after he shot someone in the face 

Deprogramming Cultification
(259)  Once again, they [deprogrammers after Diane Benscoter was with the Moonies] weren’t trying to make her believe anything particular in that moment.  They were illustrating the anatomy of brainwashing in general.  It was helpful that the manipulation in question had nothing to do with the Moonies, belonging to a completely alien situation.  People have less elaborate fencing systems to protect them from ideas on subjects they have little investment in.  So she could see the art of manipulation more clearly and objectively.  And then, having seen it, she could begin to make connections herself.

…Attempting to persuade her [Diane Benscoter] of new beliefs - of better biblical interpretations - hadn’t worked.  But making space for new beliefs to enter by deflating the old ones was more effective.

(262) Where cults thrived, something in the society wasn’t working right.

(266)  [Diane] Benscoter set up a nonprofit called Antidote, and these days it is in the early phase of a potentially vast project on how societies can vaccinate citizens against the virus of cults, disinformation, and manipulation.

… She wants to develop educational videos that might wake cult victims up, by playing on the only desire she has found can compete with the desire to have the world explained simply and totally - the desire not to be conned.  She imagines video listicles like “Ten ways to tell if you;re being psychologically manipulated."

(268)  John Cook, Monash University “a systematic, step-by-step process for identifying fallacies”:

(271)  Cook’s website Skeptical Science:

(273)  Why couldn’t the opponents of misinformaiton do the same?  Instead of answering disinformation with better information, try to discredit the misinformers!  It was in keeping with what [Diane] Benscoter had experienced when the efforts to replace her beliefs with truer belifes had failed, but then the warning that she had been deceived by unscrupulous people using unscrupulous methods had worked.

(285) He [Cesar Torres] was the guy who tried to tell himself what John Cook had argued:  that the crazies weren’t perpetrators so much as victims of a society awash in mis- and disinformation.

Deep Canvassing
(299)  “Over time,” [Steve] Deline continued, “it became cleat that, ‘Oh, all of these answers we’re trying to give aren’t helping.’  We can try to answer people’s concerns with facts and information.  And their fears about gay people, and about their church being forced to do something, and their righteous indignation about lefties pushing things on them - there’s no answer we can give that dispels these fears.  They’re actually in a place where they're wrestling with some deeply seated emotions.  The thing that actually made a different was inviting them to talk about their lives, and then things they've experienced and their stories, and sharing our stories.

(300)  [Steve] Deline and his fellow canvassers didn’t think of themselves as being divided against their targets on the other side of the doors so much as they thought of their targets as being divided against themselves.  They saw tham as being lost, grasping.  It was another way of saying that Shenker-Osorio had described about the swing voter being confused, not centrist.  (She would eventually advise deep canvassing effforts around the 2020 elections.)  The canvasser’s opportunity wasn't to implant something of their own, something foreign to the target, into them.  Rather, it was to pit some things going on inside them against other things going on inside them, to get them to re-rank these things.
NB:  Another possibility is to approach people as if we are all confused and trying to figure it out so let’s do it together.  As if we had a common positive vision.

(301)  First, the canvasser was to make contact

Second, the canvasser was to create a “nonjudgmental context.”

(302)  Vox:  “The new research shows that if you want to change someone’s mind, you need to have patience with them, ask them to reflect on their life, and listen.  It’s not about calling people out or labeling them fill-in-the-bland-phobic.  Which makes it feel like a big departure from a lot of the current political dialogue.”

… Third, the canvasser was to exchange personal narratives…

…  Fourth, the canvasser was to invite the analogic perspective taking.  Was there a time _you_ needed support.  Was there a time _you_ needed health care but struggled to access it?

…  Fifth, the canvasser was to make an explicit case.  Here, after doing much listening and eliciting, the canvasser spoke more openly of their own feeloings about the subject at hand.

…  Sixth, the canvasser, having sown some cognitive dissonance, was to seek to help the subject wrestle with it out loud.

(303)  Seventh, and only seventh, the canvasser was to respond to the subject’s concerns with talking points and facts.  As Deline had observed, this seventh step was step one for many amateurs.

…  “Only after rapport had been established and stories shared would canvassers address concerns.”  To be fact-checked, in other words, had prerequisites.  It helped first to feel heard, cared for, respected, seen in the fullness of one’s complexity and even, yes, confusion.

Eighth, and finally, the canvasser was to ask the subject to rate their support for the policy question again.  Has our conversation changed your opinion? the canvasser asks. The scholars who helped build up the method call this the “rehearsal of opinion change,” with the subject often lured into “active processing” of their own ideas and stories and background and the cognitive dissonance that might have surfaced.  The theory is that political opinions are often hastily formed from scanty information.  Following a substantive chat at the door, the subject is encouraged to think more slowly about whether their view comports with their deepest values, with what they know to be true, with their sense of themselves, with their experiences.

(308)  For every hundred voters the campaign spoke to about establishing universal health care, including for undocumented immigrants, it moved around eight of them, according to the resulting research published by the scholars Joshua Kallla of Yale and David Broockman of Berkeley.
NB: 8-10% moivement

(311)  He [Matthew, a person Cesar the deep canvasser is talking to] was a fount less of political opinnions than of political emotions.  He felt betrayed, lied to, ignored, condescended to.  Many of those feelings were grounded in the realities of American life.  But he then felt a need to assign ideas to these emotions.