71) On the summer of 2019

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-ef35n-bd9ac4

The summer of 2019 is almost over now and the air, to my immense pleasure, throughout this last week has significantly cooled down…almost unseasonably so…

…Overlooking the sadness or nostalgia we sometimes feel in response to our awareness that life simply happens then ends, and that thus, experiences do not and cannot “happen again” (except within memory, the perception of its audio or visual record)… I enjoy the seasons changing. One aesthetic benefit of living in a “temperate” area as opposed to, say, a tropical one, or a desert, is that you get not just the changes of temperature and weather, but also, the visual changes—leaves turning yellow, brown, orange, red and then falling to the ground, eventually snow and ice, and then a burst of green and other flowery colors! Mental stimulation!

This outlook is relatively new for me…

…in a very panicked fury, I said to my mother: “fuck you!”

Before I proceed I must make emphatically clear my shame and regret about this. Of course, who among us have not said at one point or another to our parents some version of “I hate you!” or “fuck you!”—? Not that this coming of age and rites of passage thing justifies such a traditional adolescent vitriol and angst but I don’t imagine my own gracelessness here that I unfairly subjected my mother to was exceptionally unique or even personal. I imagine even the most polite teenager demonstrates a capacity for critical thought if he or she at some point contradicts his or her parents to his or her parents’ profound dismay. I understand though this always deeply upset my mother….

…My mother should write a book espousing her views on motherhood. It would make the world a better place…

…(On the matter of my connection to my feelings I should like to bring up that individuals occasionally offer in the bodies of their critiques that I may come across as detached from feelings. A few people mentioned to me that I come across to them as “pretentious,”  “condescending” or as though I were hiding, even if only inadvertently, my more “human” layers…

…Contrasting that awful burnout feeling and context with the peace and quiet, especially in Durham, New Hampshire and that surrounding area, which was significantly less built up and less populated than central New Jersey, and how that refreshing vibe was so accentuated by the snow…and not a fierce, blizzardy snow, but a calm, soft kissing kind of snow…

70) On anxiety (part 1: hastiness & impatience)

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-ajsup-bcdfb1

I’m beginning to understand some of my anxiety’s nuances beyond the constantly striking panic attacks, insomnia, night time alcohol abuse, and obsessive-compulsive thoughts of death that used to consume me. The more blatantly obvious symptoms now curbed, courtesy of Effexor, and a wife who devotes herself to conceptualizing and practicing a philosophy of what I believe it means to thrive (like seeing a doctor for a check up, “for starters”), certain other symptoms, previously overshadowed, now capture my attention—for example: impatience and hastiness…

69) The Skyscraper, Not the Cold, Bitter Wind

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-dd77u-bcdf9f

Mark Holland, he owned the hostel where I could no longer afford to lodge; with grace, he insisted I stay.

Mark treated my poems like hundred dollar bills; If I read them to him, and listened to his lectures on music, I could stay, and food was on him…

67) Obama

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-8jd3k-bcdf79

January, 2016: I see President Barack Obama crying.

Small splotches of white salt under his dark brown, snowy night eye seem dabbed on there by a paint brush; of course, it’s just the light reflecting off his evaporating tears.

The photo was taken by Jim Watson for AFP/Getty Images when President Obama was giving a speech on gun control.

November, 2008: I was 22. It was my second time voting for president.

I voted for Barack Obama.

Just the past month my father had died because his colon exploded…

66) Kavanaugh

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-2b594-bcdf5a

The fight for justice…hands stretching, muscles tearing, reaching for the sky- daunting, tempting to surrender, and submit, assuming futility, but people walked on the moon, made a vaccine for malaria, polio, and other diseases.

I contemplate my White Privilege, resenting every remnant of it, and scowl at America’s White Supremacist bigot bullies…oppressing…Native Americans, African Americans, Arabs, Jews, Women, the non-heterosexual, the poor, the vulnerable, the non-Christian, non-Caucasian and it disturbs me, makes me drink my whiskey with a little extra intensity…

I fear that nothing, not a single atrocity, would have moved Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s supporters in the Senate to oppose his confirmation…

65) Dream Catcher

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-hu4dg-bcdf4b

Fear of dying in my sleep…of dying in poverty, no career I climbed up to reflect on… just a plethora of aspirations and thoughts racing like a flock of thousands of birds headed south…while America’s democracy and rule of law corrode…gin and prayers fail to relax me…

But I am like my grandmother.

She used to listen to talk radio late at night as she fell asleep, sometimes not until three a.m.…

I watch the news on my laptop…

64) The 2018 Midterms

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-nimfp-bcdf39

This election feels like a spaceship heading for a black hole.

Please don’t explode…please don’t explode…please don’t explode, and shatter like the German democracy did in 1933…

Last Sunday night at 9 p.m.– the Sunday before the election–instead of “Headliners,” which is usually on at that time on MSNBC, there was special coverage discussing the “big day”– the anticipation, a spectacle like fireworks on New Years’ Eve…

63) Art

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-e8u86-bcdf22

Music plays on my Apple laptop…the back reads: “Designed by Apple in California. Assembled in China.”

According to the “executive summary” for the China Labor Watch Website “workers making the iPhone” are exploited, paid just $1.85 per hour.

(Compare to my $11; compare to $7.25, America’s minimum wage).

The Guardian reports that the Foxcon Longhua factory in China, which manufactures iPhones,

has body catching nets to curtail its suicide epidemic.

Should I trash what the workers produced in protest, and boycott?…

62) On how I try way too hard

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-jzqzu-bcb1d8

*In pursuit of economic success, intellectual/artistic recognition, and mentoring, I have tried too hard which has been the cause of mistakes and failed relationships*

Do I want to be rich and famous with that house on the beach?  For most of my life I desired as much. That is perhaps not so unique. Though maybe people would sooner enjoy riches than fame per se. A lot of attention for awhile might seem attractive but long enduring fame? Misleading speculations about you in the media? I think Bob Dylan described it interestingly in his song “Idiot Wind“:…

…I do suppose one of the most embarrassing thoughts I lock inside myself is that I want to be a genius. Not the “know it all” kind. Nor the showy kind. Just as I cannot stand the flaunting of wealth, so I likewise cannot stand the flaunting of knowledge or intelligence. Flaunting in general I consider to be counter-productive, subjective, like very bad music–…

…In the last year I perhaps overdid it with three professors who I wanted to get closer to intellectually, who I wanted to be my mentors, who I wanted to “take me on”– they, my Jean-Luc Picards, and me their William Riker. They, my Schopenhauers. Me, their Nietzsches. They, my Verlaines. Me, their Rimbauds. (Without the sex and romance.) Have you ever seen the movie The Paper Chase? Ever fall in love intellectually, so to speak, with a professor, to a point that he or she is on such a pedestal that his or her approval is the mark of your intellectual success or failure, your brilliance or your incompetence?…

…From an immediate emotional point of view I wanted to call Dr. X a bitch. Just once…

Now with respect to my intellectual vanity of sorts, the fact is, my ego was crushed by these three professors and William Paterson University’s decision not to award me with a graduate assistantship despite my 3.98 gpa and I guess explicitly and blatantly expressed freakish obsession with the brilliance of some of their professors. 

(I am not ashamed of being freakishly obsessed with the brilliant work of brilliant people. These days I think there is not enough of this kind of appreciation going around…)

 

…There is a typo in the email I sent to the editor of the New York Times’ op/ed page, James Bennet. I sent him the email because…well…I envisioned two attractive scenarios: 1) his feedback on my essays (maybe he might even like them and share them with someone and maybe so would begin the tale of my increased readership and enough of my podcasts downloaded that advertisers would start paying me and I could finally convert this second gig into my full-time occupation; 2) Mr. Bennet thinks I could contribute something of value to the New York Times and puts my name forward for a writing job there.

Alas, I learned when applying for the Creative Writing MFA program at the University of New Hampshire that espousing one’s attraction to an apparent ethos is not to be confused with ultimately defeating the competition for this or that role within their community and demonstrating how you align as specifically as possible with what they are looking for.] 

how much does someone want to be unraveled by a person who is self marketing to them? Part of me worries that taking the time to try and establish some kind of connection might be viewed as a flamboyant act of bullshit. I imagine the recipient of the email wanting to say “you know and I know you just want something from me. So what do you want and let me see to what degree it seems like it may or may not accord with my values, interests et cetera…”

 

 

 

 

61) Striving to create diplomatic art and media in a dog-eat-dog world

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-wixvf-bbcd50

*What am I forgetting to think about, distracted and preoccupied with that damn blockade of financial concerns and anxiety? How many of us ask ourselves this question or… how many others could we ask this question for as they too are bogged down by things which compassionate folks would like to see them not bogged down by

*…And beyond the economic anxiety and poverty there are other things which hijack the mind’s potential or rob a life…  the emotions of serious illness, being damned by some kind of “bad luck”– medical malpractice, just a bad reaction to a medication at the wrong time (such as was the cause of my father’s own untimely death), getting struck by lightning, figuratively or literally…shot by a bigot, victim of a space shuttle explosion or terrorist attack…. Things which haunt me to consider…when I was younger I felt morally obligated to envision tragedies of all kinds befalling me if only to “hold the hands” of the less fortunate in my own way and share the misery with them. 

But to fixate on this dogmatically is masochistic and raises no one up…brings no wisdom or improvement or real hope to anyone.    

So I seek understanding for knowledge’s sake…

*…I find myself more attracted to “the media” industry now than academia but it is strange. Like a divorce.

*…Although the trouble of people feeling they must kiss ass is just a social problem in general, not industry specific. That is one thing believe it or not I refuse to do. I find it degrading. I find ass-kissing and being told what to say or think without any invitation for discussion to be utterly degrading.

*…All of this can be VERY expensive business, I realize. You know…independent media…starting up your own business, living on your own terms, making art, saying what you really think (some people experience hurt feelings very easily. I feel bad about it but it’s also not fair for their hurt feelings to get priority over honesty. I believe the right course of action is thus diplomacy, which I give my all to as a writer and activist though I sometimes fail. I remember when I applied for a political organization and asked questions about their policy positions. I didn’t mean to poke holes in their lifework or disrespect their souls but if they will not be open to discussion then they too are poking holes…to some degree it actually is a “dog eat dog” world.

*….how many people do you know who are or seem or say they are tired or busy? 

I haven’t taken a tally but I have heard people describe themselves as tired and /or busy almost, I think, as often I’ve heard people ask the question “how are you?” which, if not followed by “tired” or “busy” is followed by that word “good” which…maybe you are a little suspicious of or maybe you know full well you are telling a so called “white lie” as to not tell the story of all that’s frustrating you. (In fact, this is all so common place that it is brought up in friendlier conversation often itself!)

*… About these somewhat and “sort of” seemingly chaotic thoughts (to borrow Dylan’s description “sort of”  once more! And perhaps not for the last time!)…the sense of chaos and confusion is not…so far as I can tell…fundamentally epistemological. (Epistemology tends towards the cut and dry for me: if you’re acquainted with me you know my mantra of objectivity, empiricism, non-contradiction, law of identity, pragmatic clarification…) Rather, it’s a struggle to accept a degree of imperfection…

*...What exactly is the definition of media? 

And why (emphasis here on the WHY) can I be confident that this definition, more so than all others, is THE definition? 

Can that which we call “art,” just to give you an example of what happens in my mind as I contemplate definitions, count as part of that broader notion of “media?”

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Gun violence: linked to mental illness, lack of ethics, both, or neither?

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-gdx3u-bafe6f

With the heightened tension on the right and the left with respect to the gun violence crisis in America the President is quick to blame mental illness, while many experts and critics on the left warn that mental health is not the fundamental problem and cause. But if we do not refer to the disturbances within the mind that lead up to an act of mass violence as part of a “mental illness,” how are we supposed to characterize it? Mere unethical behavior? But not all breaches of ethics are the same. Is there any connection between severe lack of ethics and mental illness? What standards do we refer to reach such a conclusion? To the degree which we might associate gun violence with unethical behavior one question raised is whether or not the perpetrator of violence fully “knows” what he or she is doing is absolutely “unethical.”

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#58) On the complexity of reconciling imperfection with principles

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-jw7wv-b9f472

Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard inspired me! As my winner of last night’s Democratic primary debate for cracking open Senator Kamala Harris’ complex and arguably quite troubling record of hypocrisy and injustice I cannot help but wonder: to what degree to we grant anyone– whether it is Sen. Harris in her run for president, or even just ourselves– the leeway of humanness and the inevitability of imperfection? When is a mistake one where we say “oh, everyone makes mistakes” and move on, and when is a mistake so troubling as to bring about a major response of consequence such as disqualification of the office of the U.S. presidency? 

So in this episode I will take a look at Sen. Harris’ record in the context of questioning adherence to principle in the midst of complexity. Specifically, I examine her healthcare proposal, and her record as the Attorney General of California. One media organization that proves time and time again to be a great source as I contemplate these kinds of questions is VOX. There are two articles from them today that were exceptionally useful. 

Kamala Harris’s Medicare-for-all plan, explained

Kamala Harris’s controversial record on criminal justice, explained

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