73) On Academia (part 2)

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-djmm7-bf61e2

…Although academia remains for me what death was for the Ophelia of Bob Dylan’s song “Desolation Row”: “quite romantic,” in hindsight, it occurs to me that treating academia as a field of holy and religious “Ivory Towers” first of all, in its dogma and myopia contradicts the truly “academic” spirit…

…When I failed to both receive funding from an MFA program and employment from a nearby university after graduating with my bachelor’s degree… I panicked, raced away from my dream, and grew convinced that academia would inevitably fizzle out from the global economy in the midst of such a rich world of cheaper information exchange across the internet’s digital media platforms…

…one beautiful, early September day, about two weeks ago now I think it was, I was walking in the development where my wife and I live, enjoying the refreshingly cool and breezy air. I thought about how much energy Ashley and I put into figuring out where we wanted to live (about 8 years!) We had a long list of potential places in and out of state and we researched the job and real estate markets in virtually every area of interest to us: places in Texas, California, Florida, New Hampshire, Illinois, Iowa, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, South Jersey, North Jersey, the Jersey Shore, et cetera…

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…

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…

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?”

FOR MORE FROM PUBLIC COMMENT, VISIT https://publiccommentpodcast.com/

 

 

On the Mueller testimony

News organizations widely reported that the Mueller testimony failed to capture much of the country. As to why, exactly, I think it is more complex than some may think. Beyond claims of apathy, cynicism, or Mueller’s failure to “perform” as some would have liked, there is the rather important consideration that many of us have to work and experience varying degrees of economic anxiety and other day-to-day pressures that make wrapping our minds around the upsetting drama in Washington something much easier said than done. While I was able to listen on my drive to the tutoring center, I did still have to “work” on things beyond the production of Public Comment, and when I didn’t, I still had my own marketing, branding, and aesthetic contemplations to improve Public Comment in mind. So, while I am concerned that too many people are apathetic, to be fair, I don’t know how much has more to do with juggling life than general apathy. As for the main stream media, I was saddened by those who placed so much emphasis on Mueller seeming not “as sharp” as he used to be as I wondered if in so doing they may have overlooked a number of other possible, contextual factors, such as possible anxiety over the high stakes of his testimony, and/or what he knows, but can’t tell us, but perhaps wishes he could tell us? Whatever you make of Mueller’s testimony, I hope enough Americans come to care so that as a nation we can get our act together and start taking care of our troubled government. 

***PUBLIC COMMENT is a podcast presented in the form of extemporaneous personal essays about a political and philosophical millennial as he tries to wrap his mind around the complexities of the human experience.****

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On competition

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST

OR WATCH THE VIDEO

Competition is an inevitable part of life. Even at the most metaphysical and psychological level, this piece of perception and that piece are competing for our integrated and perceptual focus and perspective. If you look out the window you inevitably choose where your eyes will focus, and some aspects of the scenery will lose out to other aspects in scope or magnification. There may be some ways to curb the anxiety inducing aspects of inevitable competition, or even get rid of competition in certain parts of our lives altogether, thanks to niche marketing and hyper-personalization. But to what degree should we get rid of competition? To what degree (if any at all?) do the postmodern aspects of niche marketing and hyper-personalization destroy opportunities for universal experience and community? 

Thank you again for visiting the Public Comment website which I created back in 2012. After 7 years of  experimentation and uncertainty about the identity and direction the website should take on, I established, in June of 2019, an official focuses on politics and philosophy and launched the podcast. As a political activist and philosopher, my goal here on Public Comment is to contribute to a universal dialogue of critical, creative, and introspective thought on politics and philosophy– a dialogue I hope you’ll join in the comments below.

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-fw56z-b82f3d

On moving some place better (part 7)(Vlog #48)

**THE NOTES**

***!!!!****!!!! Anxiety. Depression. Self loathing. This is an exceptionally dark period in my life and one which is upsetting to talk to you about, though it is important to talk about it nonetheless. Untreated mental illness and irrational metaphysical views are awful things to go through and can lead to behaviors which are destructive both to relationships and to one’s self. I know this, because during the months I lived in South Beach, thinking I was living my dream as some starving artist, what I was really doing was destroying my life and hurting others. If someone you know is suffering from a feeling that life is all bleakness, I hope you will care to brighten up their day some how, if you can, or try to challenge their assumptions somehow. ****!!!!****!!!!

*The horribleness of my time spent in South Beach must be understood in the context of my nihilism which must be understood in the context of certain psychological challenges and prior philosophical assumptions

*My nihilism: aimlessness and purposelessness (I wonder, is this a cause for suicide for some?)

*Suggested supplementary literature: Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Notes From Underground.

*This was a uniquely complex time in my life mentally which I believe all starts with the intensity of anxiety I felt & which had been exasperated by a year of smoking a lot of pot

*Where did my anxiety come from? I hypothesize that it’s chemical– too little serotonin, since increasing it via Effexor has made my life significantly better: more calmness & self-esteem

*As a kid I was convinced that virtually everyone hated me; it was like a fundamental philosophical assumption which caused me to fear most people and experience further social anxiety

*Depression runs in my family. My grandmother (on my father’s side) for example, received multiple shock therapy treatments and was hospitalized for her depression.

*My esophoria (eye condition) also induces panic attacks, vertigo, sweating, shaking, etc, and I believe may explain why I couldn’t/didn’t color in the lines when I was in pre-school, as well as why I walked awkwardly, struggled with depth perception, posture, and consequentially viewed myself as incompetent.

*School in general made me anxious due to my view of myself as incompetent which led to more anxiety and depression as well. The twin psychological struggles became fundamental philosophical principles for me and smoking marijuana made it worse.

*Panic attacks– by the time I was living in South Beach– were interfering with the romantic relationship I was in. Though I had previously been prescribed Zoloft I felt too afraid of taking it and thus lingered on, untreated.

*One major symptom of the depression I experienced was a lot of sobbing.

*My fear that I would die young like Rimbaud or Jim Morrison also worsened my anxiety, depression, sense of doom and gloom.

*On the other hand (and maybe ironic, some of you might think?) my atheism, which was my ultimate gateway into poetry and philosophy, gave me relief from anxiety and depression. IT have me a sense of intellectualism and self esteem, but because I viewed most of society as brainwashed by Christianity I disliked and distrusted most people, and fancied myself uniquely free-thinking.

*On top of all of this, I had no real education in ethics (by that I mean I never learned about ethics as an official, academic, philosophical subject with a wide variety of essays about it) and so one of the only things I managed to value was my own notion of romantic love and that certain couples are just “meant to be” even if they lack chemistry and don’t get along.

Dream catcher (a short philosophical essay)

[Note: the writing of this essay began back in the fall of 2017, intended originally as a “poem” and was completed within a year’s time and now ultimately takes the form of a short essay)

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…

…five splits in the screen so we can see the face of each expert on the news panel… strikes my eyes like the rays of a plasma ball, the dendrites of a neuron under a microscope, octopus arms, jellyfish tentacles inside an aquarium…

President Trump called NFL players “sons of bitches” for kneeling during the singing of the national anthem to protest racism and police brutality.

Nuclear North Korea threatens the inevitability of violence…

Even on Friday, at 11:30 p.m. when one could be doing anything… many, like MSNBC’s Brian Williams analyze our Earth’s environment and community- its well-being or lack thereof.

Caretakers indeed abound: bureaucrats, military, police, fire fighters, hospital workers, and nocturnal intellectuals, with integrity.

Thank you.

It helps me sleep…

On Graduating College (Sean O’Connor’s Public Comment video diary vlog– episode #8)


-From an F in Math in fifth grade to a 3.98 GPA and a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Studies at 33 years old… my views on education have evolved significantly-

LISTEN TO THE PUBLIC COMMENT PODCAST

The philosopher and writer Michel de Montaigne– whose work I had the opportunity to study in college– continues to influence and inspire me. I revere his contribution to the development of the “personal essay” and the written treatment of individual subjects from the perspective of reflection on experience with/connection to such subjects. In this context one can learn about the person in particular, the human soul in general, the topic, in a conversation as opposed to a lecture or pure argument. And in the case of essays such as the sort Montaigne wrote, there’s the freedom to digress, in his case, in and out of history, philosophy, politics, et cetera.

I think of Montaigne now, as I contemplate my extemporaneous, thinking-out- loud- as- I- go approach to vlogging and podcasting, and as I touch on the subject of graduating college, from the perspective of someone who once received an F in fifth grade and dropped out of college multiple times to someone who fell in love with academia, graduated with a  3.98 GPA and was granted the privilege to speak at his college graduation. That is to say, there is, among the ironies, the irony that while I possess some “academically” derived thoughts on my academic experiences—I mean, based on scholarly articles, and university research from which I could merely synthesize that sea of research—I could not speak with accuracy if I detached from my personal connection to this subject.

To graduate at 33 as opposed to 22 years old, at points in my reflection, brings sadness and regrets because sometimes it can seem like all this does is confirm some notion of myself as slow compared to my smarter peers. Yet I don’t think that way about those who are my age or my elders who earn their college degrees later than is “conventional.” That would be to do what Ayn Rand referred to as “context dropping.” As one former professor of mine once said, “you never know where you are in someone else’s narrative.” She was actually citing a former professor of hers. Moreover, what is the problem with not going right to college or never going? College simply offers an array of specific opportunities to receive specific sets of knowledge. Seemingly countless resources of knowledge exist beyond the college setting. What matters is not whether one attends a university or not but rather the question of what one seeks to learn and what one aspires to achieve with that knowledge. (This is not to say that I downplay the incredible value, especially of community, that various types of schools, whether university, college or trade school, can offer. I think too much autodidacticism might lead to isolation and a kind of anti-social philosophy; at least this turned out to be the case in my experience).

Central to the context behind my academic struggles was mental illness (depression an anxiety specifically) combined with incorrect and poorly defined, fundamental philosophical principles. Even when I possessed a scientific epistemology, I didn’t think about how it applied to much more than science. I had no real sense of values. Not because my family failed to instill them but because I wasn’t taught, in high school, any kind of serious intellectual presentation of theories of values and ethics. How much of a difference would that have made? How much difference would consistent mental/psychological check-ups have made? I don’t believe in torturing myself with “what if’s” but I do like gaining an understanding of context behind how events transpire. That is something I gained from the many history courses I took.

So, with psychological and philosophical reasons for detaching from “school” from elementary school through my first few years of college, I retreated to the arts. In my childhood, horror stories, movies, writing, and acting were my refuge.

As inclined to the arts as I may have been, with very few exceptions, I treated my artistic endeavors with profound narcissism. That is to say, the concentration I put into writing, passionate though I may have been in some sense, I feared any kind of real feedback and thus, while I always hoped for people to praise whatever poem or performance I shared with them, really, alas, I didn’t think about it as constructive feedback to help me produce anything meaningfully consequential. It was largely my escape from academic standards at play.       

By my sophomore year of college—when I attended Florida Gulf Coast University—I experienced further ironies. While convinced of my incompetence and lacking “belief” in knowledge, I was nonetheless engaged in philosophizing and extracurricular study of poets who interested me, including Kerouac, Ginsberg, Dylan, Morrison, Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Ovid, Sappho, Shelley, Lennon—all the ones I considered the “rebels” of poetry. Even after I dropped out (then returned, then dropped out again, then returned, then dropped out again…), I remained avid as a reader, and persistent in my desire to be something of an intellectual artist or an artistic intellectual, delving into Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, William James, John Dewey, Dostoevsky, Napoleon Hill and eventually Ayn Rand.

My Ayn Rand phase with even more ironic yet because I became an “objectivist” who now believed in “knowledge” staunchly so, and spent all my free time reading non-fiction books, yet I still maintained my “anti-academia” perspective. This newfound objectivism, alas, failed to facilitate my eradication of the frustrating poverty and tedium of cashiering, even when it led to my first run for political office. As I thought more and more about my life logically it occurred to me I ought to return to college and there I saw, gradually, the pile of contradictions that made up my puritanical sort of “objectivism” (I call myself, for a lack of better words thus far, a “clarificationist” because I believe we can strive for objectivity and gain ever greater clarity but never quite get a point of absolutism or pure objectivity). Likewise, I saw the flaws with my libertarianism as I took courses on poverty, Native Americans, women and the law, the Holocaust/Nazi Germany, the U.S. judicial system, et cetera, and learned how leaving people “free” to exploit and abuse leads to exploitation and abuse. Not in every case, but often enough that it remains rampant today.

I thought, as my college education reached its final chapter, that an MFA in Creative Writing was in my future. This seemed to me the ultimate way I could build a community of greater person- to -person understanding, empathy, intellectual freedom or free thought (which is what Creative Writing came to mean to me as a concept) (I mean, as a “creative writer” and professor of the subject) and even though I’ve been offered an opportunity to study at graduate school, the last five months out of college have thrust me into deeper questions about the meaning of practicality, contributing the world, making money, finding a place in these revolutionary times, and making the most of the college education I received.

#4 Balance in Life; Globalism; Economic Anxiety

Greetings! Today, I look beyond politics (though not quite away from it… [can I ever, really?])… to speak with you as honestly and intimately as I can about what it means to me to find a balance between practicality/responsibility and also seeking self-fulfillment/self actualization. In other words, I am thinking a lot about what my “sense of purpose” is…how to be the “change [I ]want to see in the world.

My mother has liked to say in the past that she believes I have the “gift of gab.” I like to talk. That is the whole reason behind why I write in fact. Though one frustration I find with my writing is, as a result severe perfectionism, it takes me a long time to finish writing projects, so extemporaneous speaking enables me to try and balance a sense of trying to speak constructively without spending many, many months just to say one thing.

Also in this blog, I talk about immigration, the violence between Hamas and Israel, globalism versus nationalism, and I reflect on our changing economy.