Of course, it would be a motif… (The Video Diary of Sean O’Connor– Episode #37)

More on how we perceive ourselves & each other as well as how we’d like to be perceived and how I’d like to be perceived.

-Friday, June 14, 2019; East Windsor, NJ

*Why do we think what we do of ourselves and each other?

*How would we like to be perceived

*Maybe you think I change a lot?

*I want to be perceived as competent — not at everything but at least at talking to you about politics, philosophy and self improvement.

*I believe we must support each other!

#ImpeachTrumpNow

There are so many things we don’ t know about each other… (The Video Diary of Sean O’Connor–Episode #36)

Trying to think about people without being superficial.

-Friday, June 14, 2019; East Windsor, NJ

*How we are perceived by others & ourselves

*One of my favorite passages by Proust

*The limited contexts in which we are exposed to each other

The amusing thing then… (The Video Diary of Sean O’Connor– Episode #35)

Uncanny connections to contemporaries and people from over a century ago, reading routine, balance.

Thursday, June 13, 2019; East Windsor, NJ

IN THIS EPISODE:

*Connections like the “pragmatic clarification” of Charles Sanders Peirce and my “practical clarificationism”

*Plugging the Philosophase YouTube Channel

*Seeking to develop a daily routine

*What to read and for how often? (Fractal reading)

*Balanced preparation

Life is something, isn’t it? (The Video Diary of Sean O’Connor–Episode #34)

Brief remarks on the art of talking, pragmatism & Charles Sanders Pierce. –Thursday, June 13, 2019; East Windsor, NJ

IN THIS EPISODE

*Scripting what to say v talking off the cuff

*The creativity of talking

*How the subconscious takes over our plans

*The imperfection of even the finest education and Bertrand Russell

*The audacity of citing Wikipedia

So, clarification is a value….(The Video Diary of Sean O’Connor– Episode # 33)

Further explanation of “practical clarificationism.” A departure from the “Objectivism” of Ayn Rand and why I don’t like the word “pragmatic.” (part 1 of 2) -June 12th, 2019; East Windsor, NJ

MORE ABOUT THIS VIDEO DIARY ENTRY:

*Clarification strives for objectivity without succumbing to perfectionism

*”Pragmatic” v “practical”

*Talking from where we are as opposed to trying to sound like we’re authorities on something

*The “practical” v the “esoteric”

So I have come up with a sort of idea…(The Video Diary of Sean O’Connor– Episode #32)

I propose a philosophical concept: “practical clarificationism” and explain (part 1 of 2) -June 12th, 2019; East Windsor, NJ

More about this video diary entry:

*revised writings versus extemporaneous speaking

*revising “Objectivist” philosophy, based on its epistemology (the law of non-contradiction…)

*the problem with complete, absolute, 100% certainty (margin of error)

2007-2011: Prologue to the Prologue (Sean O’Connor’s Public Comment Video Diary Vlog)

… I seek this balance of operating with excellence in life all the while…I don’t want to be pedantic. Certainly not to the point that I stifle any forward motion towards constructiveness.

TRANSCRIPT:

I think one of the most important things I could possibly say at this point in time in my life is that I am so sorry for all of the destructive mistakes I made in my past, whether they hurt someone, or me, or not.

Most of all, I’m sorry for all the times I disrespected or offended my wife, or my mother. And I’m sorry about friendships I may have ruined.

Looking back on my past it seems something must have been deeply wrong with me for I was just so incapable of basic, rational, critical thinking. The perfect illustration of this was that, despite inheriting money from my father when he passed away, and despite having people in my life who loved me so much, I spent all that money, strained all those relationships (I am beyond grateful to have repaired many of those relationships) and I achieved…really…nothing.

A college dropout making at times no money, contributing nothing tangible to society, flaunting my cockiness, my arrogance, my pretentiousness, acting as if I was a philosophical genius despite seriously lacking in basic education, acting as if, with all of my failing relationships, that it must be them that is the problem and not me… these memories, the fact that this was me… particularly prior to about 2017, but especially prior to about 2011, these memories haunt the hell out of me but I don’t want to be marred by them anymore.

I  take just the slightest bit of comfort from a quote in a book my mom bought me when she traveled to Ireland. It’s a book about James Joyce and censorship. James Joyce is cited as writing this to his wife:

Now my darling Nora, I want you to read over and over all I have written to you. Some of it is ugly, obscene and bestial, some of it is pure and holy and spiritual: all of it is myself

How many of us, I wonder, if we look in the figurative mirror…or maybe even a literal mirror, can find something about ourselves which we find horrifying and never want the world to see, hiding in shame?

As much as possible, I do not want to “hide” in shame.

How do I reconcile that with the shame I feel towards so many aspects of my earlier self? How are we to deal with mistakes? Well, we must not let them ruin our lives and interfere with finding happiness or defining what we have become– that which we prefer.

And so…what of memories that we cannot seem to block out which trouble us so?

What of those wretched things?

What of the time I said to my mother “Fuck you” which to this day nauseates me, horrifies me, tortures me?

What of the times when I treated women like extensions of my vanity or people to use to assuage my deep depression, anxiety, paranoia, anger, loneliness, dread, and that whole plethora of troubling mental states?

And how I failed to be “responsible”– to clean this or that, to throw out the garbage when I should have, when I went to some job high or drunk…when I drank too much?

When I insulted anyone!?! When I started an argument just because I wanted to feel like I might win it? I hate my old self so much that sometimes all I can do is crucify him as to show I am no longer him. But if this person was someone else, how would I treat him or her? I’d ask; what’s up now that’s constructive and good?

I’m a bit frustrated this afternoon because I don’t make very much money and because I don’t know exactly what “job” is right for me while I take my time learning how to make money vlogging.

I do realize, if I really want to keep a video journal that is of substantial worth, it is not going to happen over night. I want to do this correctly. In the meantime then, I must find work…I must find a job where the workplace culture consists of people who believe deeply in the ethics of compassion and who believe in enough objectivity as to not fight each other physically or verbally, or with lies, double crossing each other out of terror that he or she won’t make as much money as the rest or that someone else will take his or her job from him or her.

Are my standards too high?

Would I not find at the end of the day that the New York Times does not lay on a pedestal? That people on NBC are not perfect?

The truth is…while I work on this artistic endeavor I am terrified of aiming for the wrong job, for missing something else, for not approaching the search correctly. I am quite capable of doing things wrong. And I don’t want to do this wrong. I was wrong after all, about my aim for graduate school and frankly it hurt and makes me feel like I wasted a lot of time and mental energy…but I also can’t be pedantic.

Isn’t it ironic? We try and uphold this belief that we’re supposed to do things right and when others to wrong, we can be hard on them, chastising them. Not always. Sometimes we watch from the sidelines and are willing to support them in thinking for themselves. But even the supposedly non-judgmental, I would imagine, are critical. In my hippiest of hippie phases, with all my “peace and love” I was still critical and harsh. So….I seek this balance of operating with excellence in life all the while…I don’t want to be pedantic. Certainly not to the point that I stifle any forward motion towards constructiveness.

I despise the clips I am about to share with you here. They horrify me. At times because I try too hard to sound like some kind of “cool” Jim Morrison poet hippie or cold stone realist Charles Bukowski type guy. But should you watch what follows, you will see I try to wrap my mind around thought, around sharing thought, around our economic system, around metaphysics, politics, art, et cetera. It was a lot of “jive talking” but to get to Joyce’s point…it was me.

And if I want to do this video diary thing right…and if I want to really commit to the value of preserving an evolution of my thoughts on things day to say, it seems reasonable for me to share with you a sort of prologue to the prologue, a rough draft of the rough draft, as I experimented with topics of focus, and how I dressed and wore my hair, and how I interacted with the camera, et cetera.

Recently it was suggested to me that the way I write can be perceived as uninviting and that I keep my audience at arms length. I don’t know if I agree. Or maybe I did. And maybe you think I still do. But hey…here I am, at least trying to be honest, and to get closer to you, to be more inviting the best I know how here and now. Moreover, imagine if we never taught our children, or if we never learned, what happened during the Holocaust, or what Americans did to African Americans or American Indians. Just because I am not proud of who I was in these videos doesn’t mean I should erase who I was either.

My name is Sean O’Connor and I thank you for checking out my video diary vlog. I call it “Public Comment” to underscore the value of commenting on one’s most valued thoughts publicly, of soul-sharing. Though I like to think wide and deep in our increasingly specialization -and -niche oriented international society the three most basic subjects my diary tends to focus on focus on include politics, culture and self. Though my approach is philosophical, political and intellectual, I’m also emotional and artistic. I’m a registered Democrat and thus lean liberal but I don’t bind myself to any political party. I’m 33, live in New Jersey with my wife, recently graduated William Paterson University with a BA in Liberal Studies, and currently work as a writing tutor for Mercer County Community College. Please enjoy my videos, subscribe if you want to follow along, and join the conversation in the comments sections.

Subscribe at https://www.youtube.com/user/seanoconnoressays/featured
For the full transcript to this vlog, visit publiccomment.blog
Visit me on Facebook at  https://www.facebook.com/publiccommentblog
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Email me at sean.publiccomment@gmail.com


On Ayn Rand, Senator Kamala Harris, etc… (Sean O’Connor’s Public Comment Video Diary Vlog– Episode #25)

I am utterly in love with the experience of thought. It’s like one can grasp any aspect of the universe one wants to touch and make sense of it, or integrate it with some other aspect….thus…keeping records of thoughts for me helps me pay homage to my love for them. But also, I believe that keeping records of thoughts is akin to tracing pieces of a soul…akin to aiding in the effort of expanding awareness of one another beyond the conventional depths.

TRANSCRIPT:

For the first time in… I actually don’t know how many years—maybe as many as half a decade (?)– I’m taking a look at Ayn Rand’s diaries.

Why?

Since my artistic interest here developed into keeping a video diary, and since I appreciate Ayn Rand’s epistemological clarifications of Aristotle’s laws of identity and non-contradiction, and her talks on objectivity and “Objectivism,” I thought I could at least find some insight or common ground with her, even-though ethics and politics…there Ayn Rand I essentially go our separate ways…Ayn Rand’s being an egoist, and myself…believing in what I call an ethical principle of compassion, which, requires caring about both one’s self, and others– not as an act of self-sacrificial or altruism;(ironically I think it is in one’s self interest to care about helping others, lest the society one lives in should crumble into a rather miserable ethos).

One thing I like about what Ayn Rand writes in the December of 1935 (when she’s only roughly 31….just two years younger than I am now) she is identifying her purposes for what would become The Fountainhead.

This leads me to wonder if I’m doing a good enough job defining my own purposes.

To review and perhaps clarify (?) first and foremost: I am utterly in love with the experience of thought. It’s like one can grasp any aspect of the universe one wants to touch and make sense of it, or integrate it with some other aspect….thus…keeping records of thoughts for me helps me pay homage to my love for them. But also, I believe that keeping records of thoughts is akin to tracing pieces of a soul…akin to aiding in the effort of expanding awareness of one another beyond the conventional depths.

(One reason I love YouTube so much more than Twitter is that someone can post a vlog that is really as long as they feel like, you can gaze into his or her eyes and see the expressions on his or her face as he or she bears his or her soul to you… very little is more precious to me than this.)

There is also my love for preserving time…and essentially traveling time in a way… one reason why I am willing to share with you old videos of myself…despite feeling actually depressed by re-watching them; they bring up awful memories and a lot of shame and humiliation. It is… nonetheless, life preserved…kept…tangible…time travel of sorts again as I was saying.

Anyway, I don’t want to get too caught up with my refrain of purpose though in the context of pointing out what I read from Ayn Rand it seemed appropriate to me.

Whenever I think of Ayn Rand I think also of my Grandfather. When I was…roughly 13 and told him I was an atheist he encouraged me to read The Fountainhead and talked about how Ayn Rand was an interesting atheistic philosopher. He said sometimes that she was his favorite philosopher.

I’ve been waiting for the right time to begin talking to you about Ayn Rand more…a woman who changed my world so fundamentally and so powerfully that I suspect the impact will last most of my life.

To be sure….I can’t tell you everything in a single entry because it’s a complex and extraordinarily long-winded topic…and I think Ayn Rand is complex to discuss because her epistemological ideas are so different than her political ones.

Its like she’s two different people. Objective and then idealistic.

I barely recall the first time I read Ayn Rand…The Fountainhead… I was 23 and a half. Living in Chesterfield, NJ. All I took from the novel… initially was the value–which I already possessed, I thought– of not shying away from one’s individuality, not being afraid to be “different” and challenge [like the novel’s protagonist Howard Roark] the conventions of the masses [Toohey, et al]. That was nothing new to me though… so on a first reading it was essentially Ayn Rand preaching to the choir.

[see 17:41- 20:34 in the video here to get a sense of what I was like at 23 years old in Chesterfield.]

The seocnd reading a year later was quite different. I had just recently turned 25 (or was just about to. I don’t have my dates exact here) and had just thrown out my second novel and quit my brief ustream.tv/YouTube vlogging phase, and was reading Ulysses by James Joyce, which was just too hard at the time for me to read or appreciate.

The problem I had with Joyce was that I would spend hours just looking up words because he went out of his way at times to use words that were obscure and archaic. I can in hindsight appreciate the artistry of that effort. Maybe I’d enjoy his writing more today. But at the time it was not resonating with me. I don’t know what it was I felt I needed to read or expose myself to intellectually then that Joyce just wasn’t offering but I felt myself in a tremendous rut.

I don’t know how many of you know the story but I confided in my wife about the rut and…noting (because she always knows me so well) that I value individualism, she suggested I re-read The Fountainhead and that maybe I’d find some inspiration from it. It felt like I was reading it for the first time. I saw “individualism” in a new light…not as an obvious self-esteem thing but rather…as a philosophical idea deeply in contrast to what she called “collectivism.”

I mean, I hadn’t thought of the philosophical debate before…I hadn’t thought of individualism as a theme to delve into because prior to this…again…the value of individualism… to me… was just a given.

Why did I need to therefore plunge into something which seemed so obvious?

It was also the case, as I recall it now, that, having failed to sell my self-published book, and noting that Ayn Rand managed to write best sellers, perhaps I could learn something from her. How had she managed to be a philosopher who could also make a lot of money?

That was when I decided I needed to delve into her and see if I could figure out her secret.

In exploring the writings about her and things she wrote herself, I was exposed to the notion of money as private property…something you work for that… when taxed… is taken from you… despite your right to that money.

I lacked a nuanced way to contemplate the concept of taxation then but I was thinking for the first time about rights and function of government on the one hand, and delving also into Ayn Rand’s more “esoteric” writings on knowledge, logic, conceptualization and such. I was, for the first time, gaining an understanding of knowledge… as possible! (My prior subjectivst epistemology is a loaded discussion. Let us just say for now I refused to accept any absolute, unchanging sense of “reality.”)

So key aspects of fundamental philosophical consciousness were developing within me directly as a result of exploring and contemplating Ayn Rand. That summer especially, I spent every second I could, when not working at the grocery store, studying my Ayn Rand books. I borrowed someone’s copy of Atlas Shrugged and took that novel on, taking notes and writing responses to ideas and such. I want to cite just a few lines from this novel that remain today central to my thinking :

She writes the axiom:

existence exists….something exists which one perceives and that one exists possessing consciousness, consciousness being the faculty of percieving that which exists.

A is A. A thing is itself… the law of identity….a leaf cannoty be a stone at the same time…”

And she defines reason as

the faculty that percieves, idenifies, and integrates the material provided by [one’s] senses

the art of non-contradictory identification [adding that] A contradiction cannot exist

(see pp 929-930)

Say what one will about where Ayn Rand unfortunately deviates from there but… the importance of embracing these fundamental metaphysical and epistemological principles, in my view seems like something that one just can’t overstate. It is the basis of science, journalism and truth…of constructive thought.

Still…oh the irony of how Ayn Rand made this tremendous contribution philosophy yet…alas…beyond that, fails to apply her own ideas of non-contradiction.

As opposed to being an Objectivist I think she is more like an idealist…I think she sees ideologies in there pure forms, and sees them only in their pure forms, and I believe Ayn Rand has this view of humans as sort of naturally prone to extreme rationality and thus…in the case of say…a  libertarian political system, where people are given immense freedom…they abuse it…slavery, exploitation, et cetera.

I’ll have more to say about Ayn Rand in the future but I will stick to bringing her up only as is appropriate to where my thoughts are in a given point in time, as opposed to writing some massive thing about her.

***

Two Friends of mine and I yesterday debated some of the candidates in the Democratic Presidential primary election. We spoke specifically about Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren. My friend criticized Kamala Harris for changing her views on prostitution.

At one point, he says, she apparently supported legalization and then flaked out. A New York Times article published…conveniently…just today….reports Sen. Harris as on the record in support of decriminalizing prostitution, citing an undated Facebook interview from The Root.

She did also say at a CNN Town Hall event on April 23, that she is in favor of decriminalizing prostitution. Strangely, Reason magazine characterizes what she says as not decriminalization.

Literally putting words in her mouth and misrepresenting her, Elizabeth Nolan Brown writes:

Harris still thinks paying for sex should be a crime, she just wants to classify all female sex workers as victims so as to avoid arresting them.

Disturbingly…in my opinion…. Brown completely ignores Sen. Harris’s point that pimps trafficking minors should be prosecuted. Sen. Harris did not say “paying for sex should be a crime.” I’m not sure why Brown says this. Harris says

we should not be criminalizing women who are engaged in consensual opportunities for employment

My other friend made a comment saying that Kamala Harris flip-flopped on healthcare. I am not sure where he got this information from but it is inaccurate.

Conservative and Libertarian sites widely reported that Kamla Harris said she wanted to eliminate private health insurance plans and then changed her mind. That’s not what she said though. She listed complaints about how private plans tend to harm people and said “let’s eliminate all that” but she never said “let’s eliminate private health insurance.”

It is really haunting how people put words in one another’s mouths. One more reason why I feel so passionate about keeping this video diary…it seems as if many in the media get away with not really listening and that people seem to believe it regardless of what the record actually is.

The first friend I was telling you about….this fellow also criticized Elizabeth Warren for being so adamant about the need to impeach president Trump. This friend emphasized that a year ago when the two of us were passionately pro impeaching president Trump, Senator Warren was not. He thinks she is merely an opportunist who, now running for president thinking she can score political points, says she wants to see the president impeached.

My friend contrasted her to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, saying Pelosi is is more measured. But I disagree. I think Pelosi may be trying to appear measured but comes across as tepid and a slave to re election anxiety.

(By the way…news just recently broke around 10 am this morning…from The Hill and The New York Times:  that Sen. Warren is calling for making it clear that a president can be indicted. This by the way, makes sense, and I am impressed by Sen. Warren saying what absolutely must be said with respect to where policy must go!)

But back to impeachment…my friend views Pelosi’s cautiousness as politically smart…that by leaving the option open but not committing to it quite, she is rallying support so to speak without alienating independents and moderate or uncertain Democrats who will be turned off by rushed impeachment. But Sen. Warren says over and over again that… essentially… some things matter more than “politics” and I agree!

What my friend fears is that if rushed impeachment hurts Democrats that could lead to the GOP’s taking back power and abolishing Obamacare and other healthcare protections. I do understand feeling protective of healthcare policy but I think if every policy position is excessively based on gauges of public support or constituents giving up their support then what conscience does one have? How safe would our healthcare be in such a world then?

My name is Sean O’Connor and I thank you for checking out my video diary vlog. I call it “Public Comment” to underscore the value of commenting on one’s most valued thoughts publicly, of soul-sharing. Though I like to think wide and deep in our increasingly specialization -and -niche oriented international society the three most basic subjects my diary tends to focus on focus on include politics, culture and self. Though my approach is philosophical, political and intellectual, I’m also emotional and artistic. I’m a registered Democrat and thus lean liberal but I don’t bind myself to any political party. I’m 33, live in New Jersey with my wife, recently graduated William Paterson University with a BA in Liberal Studies, and currently work as a writing tutor for Mercer County Community College. Please enjoy my videos, subscribe if you want to follow along, and join the conversation in the comments sections.

Subscribe at https://www.youtube.com/user/seanoconnoressays/featured
For the full transcript to this vlog, visit publiccomment.blog
Visit me on Facebook at  https://www.facebook.com/publiccommentblog
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Email me at sean.publiccomment@gmail.com

On Certain Aspects of Socializing– (Sean O’Connor’s Public Comment video diary vlog– Episode #24)

…my point now is with the internet age and such, even though the internet is becoming shall we say, more colonized and even though there are power structures to navigate through, like search engine algorithms and web design sophistication and such…if you can get an internet connection, you can get a Facebook account, and if you can present yourself effectively enough…who knows how much influence you just might have!

TRANSCRIPT:

I still don’t know what the perfect greeting is to begin these videos. Do I want to say “hi,” “hello” or “hey y’all” or “how are you?”

I like to have a reason for everything so there should be a reason why I begin one way as opposed to another. I thought about saying “hola; como estas” or “ciao” but then I thought…well, I don’t want to give anyone the impression that this is not in English and have them leave before the video even starts.

There was a tornado warning last night– roughly between 5:30 and 6:00 pm. Very rare for nj. When I was in high school a tornado hit the school while we were in class.

I don’t remember it so well.

(I’ve managed to block out almost all of my high school memories. I had a dream last night of someone I went to middle school with. He pretended to be nice to me for awhile but then asked if I still hated him as I mentioned in something I had posted online many years ago. I said I was stupid in those days and didn’t mean it. He did not, in this dream, forgive me though and spewed a few insults. The insults didn’t really bother me though. Insults in general really don’t mean much to me other than someone else’s own clear anger, negativity, anxiety and such.

I think when someone is not being constructive, that says all one needs to know— that they’re not being constructive. And by constructive, I mean encouraging– showing someone you care about his or her well-being in some way, shape, or form, wanting to know more about his or her goals, or offering some kind of feedback that can be of help advancing those goals. I mean that kind of thing.)

Anyway, the tornado watch made me mildly nervous so I called my Mom and my wife Ashley to make sure they were okay.

It was exceptionally dark out when we looked through the window at the tutoring center. Then one tutor remarked about how there was no lightning. Then wouldn’t you know it, lightning struck, and I said for believers in God maybe this was a sign that God was listening. I don’t remember it being that dark while raining in a few years but maybe I just haven’t paid attention in a few years.

Last summer I was in a bad way….extreme panic disorder, exhausting panic attack after panic attack, and Esophoria with my eyes so they were constantly bugging out, I was experiencing severe vertigo-like symptoms and at the time wasn’t sure what the hell was wrong with me.

Plus I was extraordinarily worried about what Trump might do to this country and what Russia might do to this country, and I think still….if Trump manages to advance without impeachment or prosecution then the damage has been done to this country… and if Republicans remain Trumpian in their ideology…insult heavy, lying, trying to get away with crimes, conspiring with foreign governments and trying to cheat in our Democractic elections…damage done.

***
Last night I listened to MSNBC’s Brian William’s and his panel discussing Robert Mueller’s statement. Listening to the statement a second time, what stood out was his closing remark. He said:

And I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments, that there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election. And that allegation deserves the attention of every American. Thank you. Thank you for being here today.

Brian William’s called it “chilling.”

I agree with that.

Specifically the reason I likewise found it chilling was that Mueller– who in fact says extremely little and perhaps…understates things?– said his that the “multiple, systematic efforts to interfere with our election….deserves the attention of every American.” That’s a powerful assertion coming from him.

Moreover, I think about what it means to say something

deserves the attention of every American.”

Remember all I was saying yesterday about our niche’ society– the idea of people only paying attention to things that are relevant to their niche?

But Mueller essentially says that the attacks on our elections is of universal concern in America– that we should all…care…that it should be a topic of contemplation and discussion among everyone in this country.

I wonder how many or how few things “every American” thinks about— you know…those things that bind us together as oppose to those things which divide us within our niche communities.  

***
So I’m persisting in my desire to improve my interactions with others on social media. Facebook and Instagram seem easier for me at least when it comes to contributing to conversations. On Twitter I feel like I’m just talking to myself. Also, lately I’ve opened Reddit and Tumblr accounts but it occurs to me…I really know nothing about these social media platforms and find them a touch intimidating— like Twitter I find the visual stimulation a bit…almost overstimulating because so much is jumping out at my eyes. So many posts— like a mad swarm of bees or a mad flock of birds and it almost makes me a little dizzy to be honest. Maybe part of that has to do with my esophoria because even with my glasses it is still hard for my eyes to withstand too much visual stimuli. Shopping at the grocery store can still make me ever so slightly dizzy with that feeling of so many people and so many food and drink items jumping at me!

But I realize so many things in life are about time, investment, practice, exploration, experimentation, commitment to learning, et cetera. Maybe we can’t all have the genes that make us the Michael Jordan of basketball per se, but I think most people, if they are willing to put in the time and effort, can excel where they want.

Of course, this belief has been put to the test. I thought that if I did everything that my research told me to do I’d get a teaching assistantship at a graduate school but that did not happen.

On the other hand, when I think more about that, I also think that all the time I spent researching academia and tweaking my creative writing application portfolio and statement of purpose was time lost getting a broader understanding of where the real champions of free expression seem to be, which is I think, largely in social media, or media more broadly. Media is more accessible to anyone willing to learn and produce. Graduate school to me seems like a fraternity or sorority for people who suit the power paradigms which the admissions committees cling to.  I mean…maybe this is partly speculative. I can’t prove exactly what goes on in the minds of admissions committee members but I have read interviews in which they concede that often they can’t even explain why they chose to admit this person over that person and that on a different day they might have admitted other people instead. To me that sounds extremely subjective.

I do by the way appreciate that there is such a thing as skill and that some people are just better than others at particular things and that not everyone can be a graduate school student per se.

But i can’t help but think…the degree of exclusiveness…the tens of thousands of dollars you must borrow for some people to say they think you are worthy of a creative arts type degree…I mean…I am tempted to call that a scam and a scheme in a world where really anyone can dive into the digital world, study, work, practice and prove his or her diligence at very little cost. The piece of paper and the enforcement in my opinion are simply not worth it!  

This makes me think of a YouTube video I was watching by a young lady named Vanessa Lau

Published on Jan 15, 2019:  she has this video where she suggests using Instagram like a micro-blog & uses the principle “know, like & trust” but she also talks about how not worth it it is to say…pay for people to give you social media likes, views, et cetera and she talks about the value of establishing real, and credible, tangible connections with social media engagements.

What I mean then …and I’ve talked about this before…the extremely democratic times we are living in…

…it is somewhat remnant of the mid 19th century…when Lincoln didn’t have to go to law school to be a lawyer or the president, when Walt Whitman didn’t have to get a Creative Writing MFA to become one of America’s greatest and most revolutionary poets, — there was….as I understand the ethos, especially around the 1830’s— the people I think who came of age around that time when Andrew Jackson was president…though he was evil, and committed genocide and is one of the worst presidents we ever had, he did personify, as historians note, a democratic ethos…he appealed to the “every man” or….the newly liberated white man.

Right…just around this time, virtually all white men could finally vote as opposed to just the rich property owners and such.

So my point now is with the internet age and such, even though the internet is becoming shall we say, more colonized and even though there are power structures to navigate through, like search engine algorithms and web design sophistication and such…if you can get an internet connection, you can get a Facebook account, and if you can present yourself effectively enough…who knows how much influence you just might have.

So, in that context, as opposed to jumping the hurdles of $20,000 plus of debt, the opinions of your professors, and the politics of who knows who and does a favor for who and gets who a book deal, et cetera, I mean…if you can cultivate strong social skills..all of that really is just a bunch of bs now…it seems to me…

So speaking of social skills…I really do need to cultivate my own, at least on social media. Socializing has always been difficult for me. I am not the guy who spends nights after work at the bar or “hanging out.” I don’t really “party” or go to the club or whatever it is really social people do.

Now, part of it is due to the fact that I just enjoy working. I love working! I love reading, researching, writing, producing, connecting with people online, exploring the internet universe. So when I was running for political office for example, I was always quite social. At the Tutoring Center, I enjoy staying late with co-workers, and I’m very social at parties. Outside of the job though, I want to do my other “work” as opposed to just “hanging out.” Am I doing something that is advancing my political hopes? Am I producing anything artistic that I believe really captures the soul in a meaningful and evocative way? Am I resonating in a kind of economic, marketing sense?

Well, that will be all for today. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

My name is Sean O’Connor and I thank you for checking out my video diary vlog. I call it “Public Comment” to underscore the value of commenting on one’s most valued thoughts publicly, of soul-sharing. Though I like to think wide and deep in our increasingly specialization -and -niche oriented international society the three most basic subjects my diary tends to focus on focus on include politics, culture and self. Though my approach is philosophical, political and intellectual, I’m also emotional and artistic. I’m a registered Democrat and thus lean liberal but I don’t bind myself to any political party. I’m 33, live in New Jersey with my wife, recently graduated William Paterson University with a BA in Liberal Studies, and currently work as a writing tutor for Mercer County Community College. Please enjoy my videos, subscribe if you want to follow along, and join the conversation in the comments sections.

Subscribe at https://www.youtube.com/user/seanoconnoressays/featured
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On Mueller Statement, Keeping a Diary, Finding a Niche (Sean O’Connor’s Public Comment Video Diary Vlog– Episode #23)

That the president, even if he or she in theory indeed committed a crime, is essentially above the law, and, from Mueller’s point of view, should only face congress—if they choose to examine the president– this is literal unfairness. This is a perfect example of what is wrong with American society today. Special treatment for people who are lucky enough to know how to abuse the system to protect themselves from criminal and abusive and unethical behavior. I try not to get too caught up in my emotions but this angers me.

TRANSCRIPT:

Hello dear audience! I hope your day is going well. Around 11 AM this morning former Special Investigator and FBI Director Bob Mueller spoke.

I got an alert on my cellphone a little bit prior to his brief statement being made and kept the TV on to hear him but the damn “smart” TV my wife bought… there seems to be something wrong with it…specifically the YouTube TV app because it turned off without me realizing.

(YouTube TV works on all our other devices so I blame the TV which we bought at Best Buy which of late has not seemed to me…the “best buy” as there are now so few items in stock at the store –if you enjoy the experiencing of actually shopping at a store, physically, as opposed to only online. I don’t hate online shopping…it saves time where this is a lot to do but I also enjoy actually shopping in a store…moving my feet, grabbing an item to look at it physically… also, two items within the last year which I’ve purchased at Best Buy turned out defective).

Mueller said really quite little but I think the take away was that he made no effort to imply in any way, shape, or form, that he viewed the president as innocent of a crime. Instead he reiterated that Department of Justice policy advises against indicting a sitting president.

Politically, in the context of our current climate, I can understand that decision, however, in a more ideal…ethical…sense…a more just sense…the president should not be so protected politically as he or she is today.

That the president, even if he or she in theory indeed committed a crime, is essentially above the law, and, from Mueller’s point of view, should only face congress—if they choose to examine the president– this is literal unfairness. This is a perfect example of what is wrong with American society today. Special treatment for people who are lucky enough to know how to abuse the system to protect themselves from criminal and abusive and unethical behavior. I try not to get too caught up in my emotions but this angers me.

I always think back to the thousands of dollars I was fined for speeding related traffic violations when I was 23 and how that kept me from driving throughout most of my 20’s…the president however, can in theory, conspire with a foreign enemy and obstruct justice and if congress doesn’t care it’s an open invitation to get away with it.

This is a travesty and I hope…dear audience…that we will not stand for this and that as we conceptualize what the politics of our future ought to be, we include fairness, and true equality under the law as the 14th amendment of the Constitution suggests we should.  

***

I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of the diary for just about the last day– my thoughts on the concept have evolved over the years….though I’ve been writing probably since about I was about nine, I have been keeping notebooks (to the best of my memory) since I was 19.

I don’t remember exactly when it became a habit though I know for sure by 19 I often wandered around with notebook in hand, usually writing little poems.

Around 2008 at some point I started a prayer diary.

Here is one of the oldest notebooks I could find..

It’s from the Fall of 2006/Winter of 2007— roughly….mostly from when I lived in South Beach.

I’m tempted to throw it out because I despise who I was and the things I wrote then…but… just because I dislike who I was does not, in my view, justify destroying records of it. (There are some things I am tempted to destroy….especially certain videos…I’ve not decided where I stand on records one should keep versus the ones worth destroying. What would the proper principle be? What do you think? I could use your advice on that.)

When did I first start just taking “notes” as I do now throughout my day? (My good friend Bernard Foyuth also does this. It’s a very good habit in my opinion.)

I experimented with this a little bit in 2009 when I began investing more in the keeping of a diary and would weave between sketching “notes” and writing out thoughts more fully. But I think by 2010 I largely abandoned this diary practice, taking more interest in simply “writing” and at the time working on selling my awful book though I would stick to keeping notes in little notebooks. At some point in the fall of 2010 I did attempt a sort of “public diary” but failed to commit. I was briefly quite interested in tracking every movie I watched, book I read, et cetera.

I’m not sure why I abandoned the interest except to say my mind was very all over the place (it was this way since childhood) and I was very conflicted about what the hell I was doing with myself. I had been seriously convinced when I self published that this book would succeed.  

Damn cockiness. How it can destroy your life.

With my sense of self as a failure as opposed to any sustained sense of self merely needing to conquer adversity I…again…went “all over the place” in mind…anything to distract myself from those bad feelings.

By early winter 2011 I think (?) I grew quite depressed with a failed attempt to sell the book, I had despised a novel I wrote, and attempted a sort of vlog/internet live stream talk show concept and to compile ideas I was interested in talking about. To the best of my ability this was when I began the notebook keeping method as I still more or less maintain today.

My fascination with keeping a video diary ultimately has to do with…as I’ve been saying…interests in preservation of thoughts, and sharing of them, and self expression in general…

One issue that’s been pressing me is not wanting to sacrifice one’s self expression to the confines of what one thinks about how one ought to according to others. But important to think also about how to “sell” one’s self in the sense of knowing your value! Your uniqueness. so here comes questions of finding one’s niche.

A lot of sources insist on having a narrow specialization  / niche to market. But what’s my niche. Not quite a philosophy vlog though I am philosophical… but I’m interested in more .. in thought process and sharing it… so why not “essay”? Why not personal essay? I think… or theorize (?) a real quality “essay” reads formally enough that it’s been significantly revised. This is merely looked over and fixed up for the purpose of enjoying the experience of looking over a thought before sharing. I want something… as I’ve said… raw… but not so raw that it hasn’t been looked over for a basic vetting and some kind of directed structure.

This is what prompted me to really understand my interest in public diary/ video diary as opposed to just thinking about this effort as “vlogging” in general.

What KIND of vlog is this? What is my “niche?”

Must I have one?

If I have one…it begins with my desire to think freely quite “Wide & deep” as opposed to with the narrowness that comes with specialization. Ironically I think that is narrow, specialized & niche in itself so now I am experimenting with the tagline

Thinking deep & wide, providing fresh air for niche specialists

Do you think that sounds pretentious? I’m always paranoid of sounding either stupid or so pedantic as to be pretentious!

But while that describes the essence…the function…or distinctness of what I do here now with this vlog I still needed to conceptualize it ….categorically for a lack of better terms.

I began thinking…..video diary….but with respect to how to market this I began having a kind of semantic paranoia.

DO I call it a “vlog diary” or “diary vlog” or “video diary vlog” or just “video diary?”


I literally spent hours on my smartphone last night googling this really to little avail though pure logic helped me deduce that “video diary” is a perfect description for this kind of vlog. As oppoised to saying “vlog diary?” Actually I’m still not positive but aesthetically I like the expression “video diary vlog” because it’s direct in saying exactly what kind of vlog….as opposed to what kind of diary….but why? I really may want to develop and clarify this more.

Beyond that I have also been thinking of structure here…That to me is an important part of this… doing “thought scans” (that is the term I use… “thought scans” based on my top interests… news/politics, culture (from philosophy to technology) and self ( from deep questions to readings/ viewings and other contemplated experiences. )

I want to make one last comment today.

In my last vlog I lamented the war in Afghanistan.

My Friend Rahinne Ambrose inspired me to read up on Yemen.

Makes me think of how Afghanistan is not the only war/ military entanglement we Americans are involved in.

The gist of what I learned is some of the history. I used my old textbook from the course I took on Modern Middle Eastern Civilization which was helpful, and also a BBC article.

The one thing I didn’t really figure out yet is exactly what the Houthis in North Yemen want that those in South Yemen don’t want…I mean beyond the fight over whether or not Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi who essentially is the president though in exile …and I don’t yet know the more nuanced policy debates in Yemen though I do know there’s a power fight between Iran and Saudi Arabia for influence over the country’s politics and that we– the United States— have been supporting to some extent, Saudi Arabia. Oh, always more to learn.

I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

My name is Sean O’Connor and I thank you for checking out my video diary vlog. I call it “Public Comment” to underscore the value of commenting on one’s most valued thoughts publicly, of soul-sharing. Though I like to think wide and deep in our increasingly specialization -and -niche oriented international society the three most basic subjects my diary tends to focus on focus on include politics, culture and self. Though my approach is philosophical, political and intellectual, I’m also emotional and artistic. I’m a registered Democrat and thus lean liberal but I don’t bind myself to any political party. I’m 33, live in New Jersey with my wife, recently graduated William Paterson University with a BA in Liberal Studies, and currently work as a writing tutor for Mercer County Community College. Please enjoy my videos, subscribe if you want to follow along, and join the conversation in the comments sections.

Subscribe to my YouTube Channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/seanoconnoressays/featured
Visit me on Facebook at  https://www.facebook.com/publiccommentblog
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Email me at sean.publiccomment@gmail.com


On my Atheism Phase, “Universally Speaking,” As Anthony Kiedis Puts It (Sean O’Connor’s Public Comment video diary vlog– episode #18)

I dismiss entirely a notion I believe is in part upheld based on postmodern type grounds that confine people to little groups of their own values which have nothing to do with groups beyond theirs… (even if so called intellectuals want to think themselves the only people who can intellectualize in a meaningful way)– I mean…this is not directed to so called “intellectuals” though I admit there are grounds to describe my tone as “intellectual” or “esoteric”

TRANSCRIPT:

Hey ‘y’all! (Yes, yes, my fondness of the expression “‘y’all,” despite my coastal, NJ/NY Metropolitan intellectual “Yankee” ((?)) upbringing and cultural practices ((?)) manners of putting things ((?)) continues to grow)

I understand, based on viewer feedback that I might want to try not speaking so slow. Why do I do it? Can I blame my poetry phases? My acting phases? I don’t know. I do like the weight of a word.

Anyway, I want to ask you: do you identify with any particular religion?

I mean, when “push comes to shove” as they say (Yes, I love to say “as they say” and I love those little sayings “they” say— of course…who is they? Some mysterious crowd of people in our minds?) …

I mean, when faced with your sense of mortality or your contemplations on the subject of life in a general way…you know…that very wide angled panoramic view of our births, our childhoods, teenage years, young adulthood (ah…channeling Walt Whitman’s genius poem “Eidolons” here?) the intense desire for sex and whether or not you believe in the depth of romantic relationships, and whether or not you believe in monogamy, marriage, parenthood, sense of purpose, sense of meaning….the meaning of the work you do and the money you make, spend, save, how much you do or do not care about how what you do impacts your health, what you make of social life, whether you want friends, what those friendships are supposed to be like in your mind, how you handle disagreements, when you think about what care about, what some of us might refer to as your “values” or “priorities” or “interests”– when you feel sad and reflect…do you in that context call yourself an Atheist, a Muslim, a Jew, a Christian, a Sikh, a Buddhist? (Just to name a few “religions” or “ideological identities” of the many possibilities).

To what extend have you, within the greatest depths of your convictions, justified, on the granular level, those kinds of religious, ideological, philosophical beliefs you have?

I remember the first ideological/philosophical/religious thought I ever had.

Now, I don’t know where I first heard of the concept of a “God” but I remember at roughly three years old, I asked my grandmother if God was a boy or a girl and my grandma said: “God is whatever you want it to be.”

That is one of the earliest memories I have in general and perhaps closest to the vertabtim of any of my early childhood memories.

I don’t know when it occurred to me that my father’s side of the family was theoretically “Christian” and my mother’s “Jewish,” but I remember when a dear friend of mine asked me what my religion was. I was not older than 13 when that happened and first I joked and said I was Jatholic because all I knew was that there was contradictory religions professed in my complex family with mother, father, stepfather and stepmother all possessing very unique ideological notions.

My dear friend pressed me to really think about what in fact I identified with regarding religion.

I got to thinking about “Santa Clause” which I knew was a lie by then (or a fun, make-believe idea perhaps we want to call it?)

I got to thinking about scientific concepts such as empiricism (terribly ironic too because I failed Math class and didn’t care at all about science…yet science reined supreme in my mind regardless of my interest in it)

No. I did not know the word “empiricism” or if I did, I don’t remember knowing  or using it then. But it did appear to me…whatever God could theoretically be, it is beyond empirical reach…and absent any legitimate scientific proof as far as I could understand, atheism seemed a perfectly fair mentality to me.

And I thought….the God idea is exceptionally comforting…and I thought…interesting that someone would claim to be the son of a God with no proof and people just believe it…and just believe these heaven and hell ideas. And they have the pretentiousness to tell you that God is something you just have to be primed to “feel” and have “faith” in and if you can’t there is something wrong with you.

I became a full fledged atheist and yet my best friend at the time was what he called a “Seventh Day Adventist Christian.”

Our deepening ideological differences, as opposed to creating some kind of crack in our friendship, appeared to give it tremendous strength. I cannot begin to tell you how many countless hours this individual and I spent debating, from every angle we could, the question of why one should or should not believe a God exists.

And moreover, how should people regard a text such as the Bible?

And…what would the implications of these things be? For example, from certain Seventh Day Adventist Christian perspectives I was exposed to, various aspects of sexuality were regarded as sin.

No sex before marriage.

No masturbating.

No lust.

That always troubled me as much as the notion of a God. I thought the notion that a person should not masturbate or explore his or her sexuality was one of the most absurd notions one could possibly come up with.

And there was music many of these kinds of Christians were not supposed to listen to, and ideas of women as subservient that some of these Christians possessed, and a perplexing fixation on Republican politicians…

Other questions that were raised… from the perspective of many who believe in God– I came to learn from this friend of mine-. For example: since God absolutely existed, they thought, truth in general was an absolute thing.

So this was all an introduction for me to the questions of “philosophy” and ethics.

I wonder…if it were not for this brilliant person…this deep, intellectual, philosophical thinker I was so lucky to meet, whether I would have delved so deeply into those topics so many people I know refer to as intellectual or philosophical.

Beyond the scope of the atheism versus Christianity debate I had with this person and then others as I began to develop my own beliefs….and whatever questions arose in this realm…I never thought about concepts such as “philosophy” or “intellectualism.”

I didn’t even…as a teenager, know the meaning of “philosophy” and ironic as this may seem, anyone who, at that time, might have thought themselves “intellectual” was probably somehow — I don’t know how I arrived at this conclusion– detached from life in a more visceral sense.

Because I was an “artist.”

I wasn’t troubled by (or in fact in possession of the confidence to contemplate) notions some might consider “esoteric.”

I want to digress briefly on this concept of the esotertic here.

I am very opposed to a real niche type approach to communication—that is to say, I try to the best of my ability to speak to you in as universal a way…as universal a perspective as I can.

And what do I mean by that? By Universal?

I mean…I don’t view myself as talking exclusively to “intellectuals”  or “artists” or “academics” or “YouTubers” or “Facebookers” or “millennials” or my contemporaries…I mean…for all we know…someway and somehow, this video file will reach an alien life form that can somehow….decipher it.

My point is this…I dismiss entirely a notion I believe is in part upheld based on postmodern type grounds that confine people to little groups of their own values which have nothing to do with groups beyond theirs… (even if so called intellectuals want to think themselves the only people who can intellectualize in a meaningful way)– I mean…this is not directed to so called “intellectuals” though I admit there are grounds to describe my tone as “intellectual” or “esoteric”

((Oh, that reminds me of another “conviction” I had growing up as a kid and a teenager…I didn’t believe in cliques….didn’t want to belong to, confine myself to, or identify with a clique…I didn’t want to be a “jock” or a “nerd:” or a “dork” or a “geek” or a “stoner” or a “goth” or a “punk” or an “emo” or a “band geek” or a “theater geek” or a “bad kid” or any type of group-oriented identifying thing… (though naturally I was an atheist in a purely objective and descriptive sense).

This actually contributed to chronic loneliness as everyone around me seemed to gravitate towards a particular crowd and even when I did gravitate this way or that way I never felt bound to or married to my gravitation.

Getting back to my point here… I’m not targeting anyone IN PARTICULAR here.

What’s that line by Anthony Kiedis from the Red Hot Chilly Peppers?

“Universally Speaking I win in the long run”

And this chain of particular thoughts is to be continued because it’s complex and who doesn’t love a good “to be continued?”

LOL as I love to say. Talk to you tomorrow


Public Comment is a personal journal vlog where I share my free thoughts on politics, culture, and self.

Please feel free to share your thoughts with me at sean.publiccomment@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter at 
https://twitter.com/sopubliccomment 

A Better World? Who’s Gonna Care? (Sean O’Connor’s Public Comment video diary vlog– episode #17)

…suddenly it occurred to you that in fact, if you look at it from this other perspective, you could make more money doing x, reach more people doing y, keep your soul doing z, et cetera…

TRANSCRIPT:

To what can I attribute the confusion over the decades plaguing me with respect to matters of career?

So many things happen to interest me.

In the broadest sense, I suppose we could perhaps characterize my condition as culture transfixion syndrome? (My father– who was a psychologist– actually hypothesized sometimes that I suffered from ADD. Ironically now I’m the opposite of the ADD type– I enjoy hyper focus to the point that the slightest distraction irritates me like nails on a chalkboard– even innocent things like a text message alert from my cellphone while I’m reading and taking notes on the news.)

Anyway, my point is that in my utter fascination with life and culture, naturally–I hope you’d grant– I like envisioning cultural improvements: better movies, better politics, better literature, better philosophical principles. How does one pick from that lot when one wants, in the broadest sense, to conceptualize what it might mean to help and do one’s part in advancing us towards “a better world?”

Yes, since I was a kid I’ve had lofty ambitions though in those days perhaps those ambitions were… more egotistical?

Marred by my sense of utter and complete incompetence, I suppose the perfect elixir was the dream that one day I might be the opposite.

You know…day in and day out envying like mad hell the people you think look so much better than you, who are so much smarter than you, who come from so much more money than you— of course you might, in this context, dream of something that feels better. I think even when I used to want to be president of the United States— at least the first time I believed I wanted to do that– in part I just wanted to believe I really could achieve it! When you have the bizarre notion that everyone around you is just inherently better than you…if you have a certain kind of defense mechanism you want to think you could be as good…maybe even sometimes you want to think…I could be better…to feel like you are better…or best! Have you ever “been there and done that?” Wished for the feeling of true excellence? The kind that wins you praise, money, sense of power?

But at some point– I can’t say exactly when– I began to change and care more about…just wanting to prove to myself I could acquire and develop a basic sense of competence and critical thinking ability.

One reason I’ve always been so shy is because I knew at least that I didn’t really know how to think about things critically– how to process, for example, the latest news that…oh…for example…if we were to apply this to today’s news…that Google said to hell with Huawei! And what that means..

. (I say, Go Google Go! Right on! God bless China and all but I’m not for enriching those who imprison critics and Uighur Muslims just for being critics and Uighur Muslims. And I think Google demonstrates some sense of integrity– even if in theory it is good PR to suspend business with Huawei and the protest isn’t entirely genuine– Google didn’t HAVE to make any kind of stand. There’s plenty I don’t know about Google but I know I respect that they’re not afraid to make Huawei think!)

Anyway, my point is that just a few years ago I would not have had the courage to even contemplate technological news because I lacked the confidence.

And so now…to get…psychological with you…it would seem…my sense of ambition is transforming…focusing less on maybe…subconscious (?) needs to believe I can grow more valuable than I believed I was — and now…more on …very…direct…interests.

Is “direct” the right word?

I’m interested in thought in a very cut and dry sense…personal thoughts on navigating through life, interpreting and processing the surrounding culture, and acting ethically, thinking logically, talking “straight” as some may put it…straight as in straight forward, not heterosexual…though I am heterosexual but I have nothing but love and support for the LGBTQ movement, sexual liberation, and all of that.

I should tell you, the career aspiration confusion though…it was more complicated than that.

(Hey…if you want to know the value of an English degree or a few literature courses…it’s understanding in a visceral way, beyond the psychology “research” papers, the complexity of human nature…I think we are rather rarely so 1, 2, 3, or 4 etc dimensional.)

Even when I’ve been at my most belligerent and condescending, would you believe me if I insisted to you that I had good intentions?

Really, even if my thinking has suffered severely from extreme irrationality and subjectivity, I’ve usually had good intentions and usually have desired deeply to do my part in making this a “better world.” Even in my acting days, as a young teenager…for example, I played an Auschwitz survivor, and wrote the one-man- movie about him, and the goal was to raise awareness about the importance of never forgetting the Holocaust.

I also played a cocaine addict. I didn’t write that movie but took the role seriously because I believed in raising drug addiction awareness.

Even in my love for the Bee Gees by the way…their music is about romantic love…as opposed to anger, hatred, utter depression and despondency…

So…you get these lofty hopes for the world in your mind and you wonder—well I don’t know if you do…but I have…I wondered…what is the best way for me to make this a better world based on my understanding of what a better world might be!?!

And the little things can mess it up. For example, at times I’ve not wanted to be a poet SIMPLY because I know very few people care about poetry and therefore my efforts could be in vein.

At times I’ve not wanted to write political commentaries because…unless I have a column…who is gonna care. It’s not like the New York Times is gonna publish my Facebook note. It’s not like my opinion holds so much weight. So…when your ambitions are intense and for awhile your convinced of a particular strategy by which to express your ethical hopes only to find that some bit of information suggests…seemingly credibly to you— that your strategy and your plan is ultimately useless…that no one will care…(isn’t that the worst one…feeling no one will call in the massive din of competing voices?) or that suddenly it occurred to you that in fact, if you look at it from this other perspective, you could make more money doing x, reach more people doing y, keep your soul doing z, et cetera? Could I get an amen on this one folks?

Have a great day in the meantime and I shall chat with you tomorrow.

Public Comment is a personal journal vlog where I share my free thoughts on politics, culture, and self.

Please feel free to share your thoughts with me at sean.publiccomment@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter at 
https://twitter.com/sopubliccomment 


On Finding My Dream Job Because YOLO (Sean O’Connor’s Public Comment video diary vlog– episode #16)

How does one determine one’s dream job and why does it matter?

TRANSCRIPT:

Good day, folks! (Yes, I’m playing with my opening line today. Usually it’s just “greetings ladies and gentlemen!” but I want to embrace experimentation)

But moving on: What do you want to be when you grow up?

This question, and my variety of answers through the years (I’m 33 years old now…does that count as “grown up?” Sometimes I think not working one’s “dream job,” or not earning a desirable wage are things that can make one feel less “grown up,” “adult,” “empowered to practice responsible adulthood,” et cetera, as the “grown ups” talk about property taxes they pay on the homes they own, the expenses related to bringing up their children, et cetera. This is all worked in to my confused notion of equating landing your dream job with growing up).

One of the privileges that I believe Americans and other Western countries, along with the wealthier factions of other nations, get to enjoy is aiming for that  “dream job”— conceptualizing such a thing—what is my dream job?

As the strangeness of our still relatively new internet economy continues to shake up the old order of things, that seemed to endure… approximately from after  World War 2, and into the early part of the first decade of the 2000’s, and as a millennial in this changing marketplace, the notion of a job worth putting all of my effort towards capturing has boggled my mind a bit.

For example, intellectually speaking, since I tend to think about and approach questions in what I think is an academic way, I thought seeking a job in academia was entirely logical for me.

With over two years of experience as a writing tutor “under my belt” (as they say) and a lovely 3.98 GPA, graduate academia seemed like simply a natural progression of what I’ve already been doing.

But academia’s prospects, as I’ve scoured Indeed.com and Glassdoor.com, and as I’ve heard insiders speak out on the budgetary bleakness of prospects even for those armed with a PhD under their belts, and as the revolutionary abundance of information and resources for digital productivity available on the internet seem only on the uptick, I’m not sure, as a long term investment, that the depths of academia seem so wise—at least, not for me.

I’ve been troubled over the question of where I’m supposed to look for a “job,” how exactly I’m supposed to look, et cetera.

Obviously, I could render my college education, which I poured my very life and soul into – perhaps to excess?—utterly useless and just dive back into some easy retail position where I won’t make so much money, unless I rise on up into management, but that simply doesn’t interest me.

Ha!

This reminds me of something someone recently said to me: “you young people” he said, “have to be happy” — as opposed to just finding work.

But why not?

YOLO, as they say.

(Do they still say that?)

I do not want to waste my life negating and denying the depths of my soul engaged in activities that mean only a simple means to an end.

If there is a God, which I speculate there is, what an insult to IT, (I don’t call God a he or a she as I think God is neither quite a person or an advocate of sexism) to simply ignore one’s potential, one’s soul, one’s dreams!

Okay then, so what the hell do I want to do with myself?

Perhaps you’ve heard this story of mine. By the time I was 10 years old I thought I wanted to be an actor, screenwriter, movie producer. In the years that followed I idolized Meryl Streep, John  Travolta and Tom Hanks—among other actors. When I was about 13, In the depths of my John Travolta craze ,I fell in love with the unique and romantic style of their Bee Gees and the music they produced for Saturday Night Fever.

(I asked a handful of my coworkers if they had seen it. Most had not. It reminded me of middle school days and how I felt very, very alone in my love for the Bee Gees. Everyone else was into Brittney Spears and Eminem. I could not relate to either. )

But I wanted to do what the Bee Gees did: write songs.

That became my new dream. Of course, I could not sing or play a musical instrument, so I’d just have to be a poet.

Upon my entrance to college, I juggled desires to write novels and poems, and in a fit of cockiness and naivete I dropped out, thinking some how I could “make it” as a poet. And then I wanted to be a philosopher (though  not one who got a university degree). And then I wanted to be a politician. And then I wanted to be a documentarian. And then I wanted to be a political commentator. And then I wanted to do this. And then I wanted to do that.

My point is this: I’ve contemplated so many possible jobs and through the years, struggled to “stick to one.”

Of course…some of you might be able to relate as we now live in what is for some considered a “gig economy.”

Unless you’re relatively young and have a job in the STEM fields, you may likely be forced to learn how to juggle and integrate a number of jobs just to pay your bills. In this context, the swirl of job prospect confusion worth injecting a deep personal investment in seems understandable.

Anyway, so goes the story and context of my contemplations regarding “dream job” over the last few decades.

What about now? Now I have a bachelor’s degree. What do I do? What do I want to do? What do I really want? (And what SHOULD I do?)

Do you think I am a narcissist if I say THIS, HERE, is what I want to do? (Well, people buy Charles Bukowski books…he wrote this way, but he glamorized his misogyny and alcoholism, so I have to believe this could be [ or ought to be] more marketable than that, as I strive to project a more constructive world view…Identifying what I think, and sharing it all in that context?

Talking to you about my thoughts.

I realize not everyone can be what some call a “YouTube Star.”

I’ve plunged myself into research on the question of how vlogs and blogs manage to become widely shared. Some tips WordPress rather ambiguously suggests: be “interesting, important and/or funny.”

Of course what does that mean?

By the way…I’m not funny.

I cannot be funny. I don’t know how.

I may have told you this before but it seems to be a genetic defect. Anytime I make someone laugh it seems to have been pure accident. Moreover, and perhaps this explains it…I don’t really enjoy trying to be funny. Not that I don’t enjoy those who do. It’s a pleasure working with, and socializing with such people. But it’s simply not me.

I have a “serious” disposition. (Maybe we can blame my father? He used to say, when he took my picture, “don’t smile” in a dark, quiet, ominous voice.).

To be clear, it is not as though I’m depressed or depressing or melancholy or incapable of smiling. In fact, I tend to be in a good mood most of the time.

So what do I mean by “serious” anyway? Less so than serious, I suppose, overall I simply just tend not to joke a lot.  More so then…a lack of joking than extreme impersonal “seriousness.” That, and I always tend to be in the depths of my psychological and philosophical evaluations of things—do I agree with workplace policy? If not, that tends to annoy me and I try and conceptualize a better policy.

For example, at the community college where I work: how do they decide how newly admitted students will be placed into their first English or Math classes or if such coursework ought to be required? This is a loaded discussion in itself so I won’t digress, but I have my opinions, and my opinions seize me like air seizes my lungs. (Or should I say, like my lungs seize air).

So perhaps more so than serious, I am extremely “opinionated” and passionate about my opinions. (The opinion page is my favorite page in the newspaper, and for awhile I was an opinion page editor for the College VOICE, so I suppose that much adds up).

Then with respect to the question of what job out there I desire…first and foremost, I want a job where my opinions count.

One of the most miserable aspects of working retail is that my opinions counted for nothing. (In fact I felt as if I counted for nothing since I was paid severely little…I think a whole 10.50 an hour in my prime with a random and inconsistent number of hours per week?)

For example, the customer, they tell you, is always right.

That is far from true. Sometimes the customer is right and sometimes the customer is wrong.

Not that I fail, by the way, to appreciate doing all one can to make one’s customer happy. I do believe in exceptional customer service.

But not at the expense of being insulted, being treated as a robot, not being worth a “hello, how are you” and just turning into a receptacle for the customer’s anxiety to get out of the store as quick as possible and lodge their sometimes irrational complaints at you, maybe because a coupon was expired for example, but they demanded it to be honored anyway.

Meanwhile…they’re on their cellphones treating you as if indeed, you are literally just a transactional machine. I tried to articulate my beliefs in a set up where cashiers could preserve a bit more dignity but…I will give you a perfect example of how little management cared.

A man who used to work for this one place I cashiered, his name was Bob— may he rest in peace now— he was an older man, I think close to his eighties if not already in his eighties, and had given decades of his life to this grocery store company and Bob had some ideas on how the store might improve its operations.

So he wrote it all out in an 8 page letter—that is what he told me—and gave it to the man who owned the stores. The man never so much as acknowledged reading it or even receiving it.

If at all possible, I do not EVER want to work for such an arrogant, disinterested company ever again.

Opinions, if they are backed by facts and logic, ought to at least count for something such as basic respect.

I’m not saying I’d rather be on the streets. We do what we must in this life. But to the degree which we can identify and strive for what we most deeply want— I’m stating as much for the record!

The WordPress article also says to be “important.”

I’m not sure I know how to be important— at least not in your eyes, though I do know at least what’s “important” to me, and in fact, I try to treat that which I view as important with “the utmost importance.” (I’ll give forms of that word a rest now. Ha ha. As I try to be slightly funny. I didn’t say I would succeed but I give myself credit for trying)

That’s why I try to read and take notes on the news every morning. What, of consequence, is occurring in the world? Even when things don’t appear to affect me directly—take the abortion question for example, as I am not a woman and thank God and knock on wood but my wife and I don’t appear to be embedded in a scenario right now where we have to address the question—it affects the society I live in, and I believe the well-being of society impacts the well-being of the individual, even if it is beyond the scope of his or her recognition…unless you choose to be totally oblivious…which by the way… I’ve done before…

I don’t mean to suggest that not having an x amount of knowledge on the news necessarily means someone is oblivious.

That would be unreasonably and rudely presumptuous. Though I would say, getting back to this YOLO issue….

If you only live once, will you make the most of your look at the world…at the universe…will you see it with as much depth and understanding as you can, or will you…cheapen your experience?

Thus, you see, I find a relationship between importance and richness of life experience even if I have not quite figured out how to make myself important and enriching to others, or how to show that I could.

On Globalism & a Cosmopolitan, Secular, One State Solution for Israel & Palestine (Sean O’Connor’s Public Comment video diary vlog– episode #15)

TRANSCRIPT:

So, yesterday the New York Times reported that the Trump administration announced they’re going to hold an “economic workshop” in Bahrain hoping that their contribution to an improved Palestinian economy will lead to a friendlier approach to Israel. Meanwhile, the Trump administration appears to lean towards a pro-Israel one-state solution, as President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is on record saying “let’s just not say” ‘two states’ (God forbid– and no pun intended)

This unreasonableness here, and the bias is blatant.  Not that I’m in love with a so called “two state solution.” I have many reservations about this. But my opposition to a “two state solution” is of the unconventional sort.

I do understand a case for cynicism that Israel and the Palestinians could ever live in a secular and cosmopolitan democracy. The recent violence in Gaza– the worst breakout of violence in 5 years, as has been widely reported– is ample proof that both sides of this conflict are deep in the thickness of zealous, indignant nationalism.

But that is the root of the problem– nationalism! Thus, a two state solution is at best a temporary band aid– a cheap one, ready to fall off the first time you wash your hands at that–  since it does not address this notion that the Israelis and Palestinians simply can’t co-exist as people beyond ethnicity, beyond “nation,” beyond race, and beyond religion, in a spirit of tolerance and real representative democracy.

Still, that being said, if there is to be a “Jewish” Israeli state, I think it would only be fair that there be a Palestinian state. But I must reiterate, logically, this is not a good long term plan!

And frankly, this whole “nationalism” thing is becoming a real serious global problem which the Trump administration is only adding to. I believe we need to start re-examining a cosmopolitan and globalist philosophy.

Just like states in a union can be “laboratories for democracy” as the expression goes– why can’t countries be seen as such ultimately? We’re all humans and our anxieties over resources will only get more complicated.

And what does that look like?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the media industry, and even education and academia, and what the internet means for it in the longer term as things have been evolving over the last decade or so. For example, what does it mean now that podcasts and smaller internet media organizations, whether through social media or cheap apps are emerging? With the means for them to develop getting cheaper and their willingness to produce without making much money persisting, more and more people are gaining access to information for free.

There are a lot of benefits to this—more people are self actualizing, expressing themselves, developing the sophistication of their productivity, but media and academia as we know it are also, it seems, hemorrhaging.

No, I’m not worried about Amazon, Jeff Bezos, Comcast, NBC, or Netflix overall. But there is a massive economic shakeup going on. And it’s not just the way information and technology are shaking up academia and the media.

And how does China’s Huawei innovation of a 5G network play into this? Frankly, considering how we know they don’t believe in free speech, and imprison millions of Uighurs in the North Western Province of China— Xinjiang for being Muslims … as they buy more cellphone parts from US companies — could they manage to shake up so called American values in such a way that those benefiting from Chinese subsidized technology ultimately choose to preserve their way of life — I mean their money and business regardless of  any bad intentions China might have with the use of its marvelous technology? Don’t doubt it…we’ve seen how money and power corrupted a nationalistic Trump coalition GOP.

What’s my point? Wouldn’t Chinese influence over a nationalistic U.S. agenda lead to more globalism? Would it? Or could it lead to complex cyber conflicts playing on our economic anxieties, and vulnerabilities exacerbated by competing nationalistic drives?  

It’s one thing to talk about nationalism versus globalism in the abstract. That will only get us so far. We need to be more assertive and start talking about anti-nationalistic policies, like calling for more aggressive cooperation between the Palestinians and the Israelis with the end game ultimately being a secular, cosmopolitan one state solution.

On Republicans for Impeaching Trump & Soft (Sean O’Connor’s Public Comment video diary vlog–episode #14)


THE TRANSCRIPT:

Greetings ladies and gentlemen. Today I want to talk to you briefly about the stability of the Republican obsession with subservience of sorts to Trump, the blessing and curse –I’m being slightly rhetorical and hyperbolic here– of freedom of productivity, and my slow but steady development of thoughts on crafting and aesthetics of the vlog…as both a means of effective, meaningful communication and as an artistic medium

 Republican Congressman from Michigan, Justin Amash, and Fox New’s Chris Wallace recently offered a slight iota of new criticism aimed at Trump from Republicans and the Conservative Media, which I find at least a little uplifting, though by no means  am I deluding myself with notions that this means there’s a significant crack in the egg, so to speak.

Yesterday, Representative Amash Tweeted:

Here are my principal conclusions:

1. Attorney General Barr has deliberately misrepresented Mueller’s report. 2. President Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct. 3. Partisanship has eroded our system of checks and balances. 4. Few members of Congress have read the report.

He tweeted quite a bit…he also said:

Impeachment, which is a special form of indictment, does not even require probable cause that a crime (e.g., obstruction of justice) has been committed; it simply requires a finding that an official has engaged in careless, abusive, corrupt, or otherwise dishonorable conduct.

And, regarding the actions of attorney General William Barr,  Fox News Journalist Chris Wallace said on television last Friday :

“he clearly is protecting this president and advocating his point of view on a lot of these issues.”

He also conceded that :

“I think there are other lawyers who would say…he certainly was not forthcoming [to congress] about what he knew about Mueller’s opinion”  

I wouldn’t quite characterize Wallace’s attempt at objectivity a victory for holding Attorney General Barr, or President Trump accountable, however, I believe we must note that Fox News — the Trump train propaganda machine— doesn’t…as far as I know… pressure or require its so called journalists to entertain the notion that Barr is putting his strange and perplexing public relations protection of President Trump above honesty and justice. (By the way, do any of you have a theory on the story with Attorney General Barr? What does he GET out of working as another one of Trump’s sycophants? I wonder– but don’t have grounds to quite suppose– if Trump has some kind of blackmail on people like Barr, Giuliani, Rand Paul, Lindsey Graham– people who so strikingly changed their anti-Trump tune).

What are we to make of the perplexing reluctance of Republicans and Conservatives to stand up to President Trump with respect to…virtually anything? Are we witnessing not just the cliche political corruption but true moral corruption, a swath of politicians, lobbyists, and pundits who have chosen to switch off their consciences as we find ourselves with direct evidence of president Trump’s obstruction of justice, violation of the constitution’s emoluments clause, cruelty towards political asylum seekers  (some of whom are children or babies) and expressed admiration for tyrants?

The psychology and their supposed pragmatics behind it truly arouse my curiosity.

You may note I’m producing these vlogs a little differently now. Now, I write down what I want to say, even if I improvise or omit  additional comments here or there. You may also note that there is no podcast accompanying this vlog. I’ve been inspired most of all by Chris Hayes of MSNBC, who has his show at 8 PM five days a week, a weekly podcast, and the occasional article. I like that pace so I’m adapting a similar approach.

(By the way, I highly recommend Hayes’ New York Times article “The First Presidential Impeachment” about the book “The Impeachers” which is about the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson, back in 1868. Typically, commentators refer to Watergate when contemplating the prospects of a Trump impeachment, but I’ve been saying for months to consider the Andre Johnson impeachment because I believe this may be one of the greatest examples of a president who appears to contrast the majority or plurality ethos of the country he or she is supposedly “leading”)

The question of how to approach this new world of digital media self expression fascinates and excites me, but also confuses me. It’s a luxurious confusion though. That is to say, even though i get frustrated over questions like how often to vlog or podcast or post something on twitter or Instagram, i’m privileged to probe THESE questions as opposed to, “how am I going to afford dinner tonight?”  

The complexities of freedom is a topic that has occupied my contemplation for over a decade now.

In the miserable summer of 2007,(I say that summer was miserable because it was the summer of my near homelessness in Tampa, where thanks to the charity of the man who owned the hostel I stayed in, I had a place to live and food to eat)– this was when, for the first time in my life, it seemed that we possess so called “free will.” (As to the question of whether or not I still think we do, I call myself a “soft determinist”– I think we experience what feels like choice; that is to say, our minds inherently contemplate and land on an option…and our inclinations and knowledge would count as  factors with respect to that “choice”– the “choice” as an action occurs I believe, in our minds– but can we fight the deeper, more fundamental genetics, biology and physics involved? I don’t think so)

But my point is that my awareness of some sense of free will, which first came to me twelve years ago now, has always complicated my approach to “free productivity” — by that I mean…with a full sense of creative autonomy, whether it is a question of “what do I want to be when I grow up?” or, now that I’ve decided what kind of “art work,” “product” or “service providing business” I want to produce, and now that I’ve found the confidence to do it my way as opposed to being told how to do it, how do I determine certain creative specifics? For example, take this vlog— how long should it be? How often should it be done?

Two things I tried to keep in mind the most: how those I most admire approach these things— I mentioned Chris Hayes before—, and of course, CONTEXT. This is something that totally slipped my mind over the last two weeks. For example, it should have been obvious to me that videos require more concentration…more mental energy– so perhaps the hour long camera in my face vlog concept turns out to be irrational…my stepfather did describe these as “long winded”– they were too much so…i apologize; if I want to go on for longer I think that is more ideal for podcasts as they allow for more listening flexibility–

I can’t get over how exciting this vlogging concept is to me and the question of what it means to me to make the most of it. I see various elements to it. I see it as a sort of open, public, video journal, I see it as talking to “the world”– or the universe (assuming this is preserved and in the future people can watch this from their smart phones on a terraformed mars or on some space station ), I also see it as something quite similar to the personal essay. In that sense, additionally there is something artistic about this. So I took the advice— I forget which site I read it on, or which vlog I heard about this in– and tried to be mindful of my background, to show you something more than just plain white, that adds to the context or depth of my “personality.” I’m curios though, do ya’ll prefer a plain white background, or something which exudes more personality?  Please let me know. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

Public Comment is a personal journal vlog and podcast where I share my free thoughts on politics, culture, and self.

Please feel free to share your thoughts with me at sean.publiccomment@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter at 
https://twitter.com/sopubliccomment 


On Social & Digital Media (Sean O’Connor’s Public Comment video diary vlog– episode #13)

Most of my social life has been rather marred by anxiety and shyness. Lately I’ve been opening up though, on social media, experimenting with self expression beyond the written word into digital audio and video. But is digital better than print?  

IN THIS EPISODE:

This vlogging/podcasting endeavor is the most interesting and exciting endeavor I ever undertook even despite the intimidating complexities of social and digital media. I don’t know what the most suitable and efficient multimedia integration consists of just yet. Today I switched from Facebook live streaming to YouTube live streaming because YouTube has much better video quality.

What Facebook lacks in video quality it gains in the likelihood that I might reach a wider audience in the short term, but as I am in this for the long term, I’m willing to produce videos of sharper quality than immediately reach more people. But what about Vimeo? And do I really need to record my videos live? The one advantage on that front is that the live streamed YouTube videos seem to upload faster. But I haven’t experimented enough with video editing and uploading different formats and such.

Vlogging and podcasting are interesting as one might categorize them as mere social media (like a more thoroughly produced status update?) while others might view them as more “professional” (?) media productions. I view it as a kind of hybrid venture: one the one hand, I like the notion of this being very direct, personable, social interaction between you and I. On the other hand, I strive to produce each episode with the utmost in thoughtfulness and quality– at least to the best of my ability.

My investment in this experimental project, from the “social media” perspective is actually surprising to me because whether or not you can tell, despite my political and philosophical assertiveness throughout my life, I have always tended to be quite shy, and even terribly anxious socially.

I did not have a plethora of friends growing up. I had more “internet friends” than “in person” friends. (What is it about the blockade of the computer screen that seems to filter out the fundamentals of social anxiety?)

(Not to say I was friendless, by the way. I was blessed with a few amazing friends!)

One fascinating aspect of social media to me is how it democratizes the marketplace of ideas and products. MSNBC and NPR may have more resources to give them a competitive advantage over me, for example, in their audience reach, but so long as the underdog of social media competition has access to a Twitter or Facebook account, it is quite possible to have an unpredictably massive social impact. As someone who believes very strongly in standing up for his politics and values, I find this notion extremely motivating and inspiring!

I wonder though…are my digital media products that I share on social media safe from material degradation over time? I came across this interesting article on preserving digital materials which links to this product called M disk which is supposed to preserve digital media for up to 1000 years! I’d love to know what major media organizations like the New York Times or NBC think about this topic.

Public Comment is a personal journal vlog and podcast where I share my free thoughts on politics, culture, and self.

Please feel free to share your thoughts with me at sean.publiccomment@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter at 
https://twitter.com/sopubliccomment 

On Definitions & My Gratitude (Sean O’Connor’s Public Comment video diary vlog– episode #12)

Definitions keep me up at night. Counting my blessings helps me get through the day.

IN THIS EPISODE:

Misspeaking: I do it too much.

A few days ago I claimed to disapprove of how philosophy tends to be taught in the universities. I regret making this comment. I lack sufficient research to make this claim. Why did I say it?

Sometimes we just gaffe.

Sometimes, for whatever reason (laziness? depression?) we just don’t care. It’s not always a “big deal” (I mean, not the “end of the world,” however, when people claim to provide us with definitions to words without dictionary sources this can be a pet peeve of mine as I take definitions quite seriously.

I spent years attempting to find a definition of “poetry” I deemed clear and concise, growing frustrated with how so many poets impose ambiguous definitions of “poetry.” For example, A.R. Ammons, in his lecture “A Poem Is a Walk” writes that

our experience of poetry is least injured when we accept it as useless, meaningless, and nonrational.

(I utterly disagree; what is the point if imposing on ourselves utter irrationality?)

Even various definitions of “essay” cling to ambiguity. Take, for example, the book Essayism, by Brian Dillon. He suggests that essays

perform a combination of exactitude and evasion that seems to me to define what writing ought to be.

Why should writing, or communication in general, evade? He seems to me to imply that constructiveness somehow has nothing to do with discussion.

Anyway, my point is to express my frustration with subjective and obfuscating uses of words and definitions as it interferes with gaining a more constructive, comprehensible sense of life.

More recently, as I’ve been contemplating and developing notions of keeping this personal journal vlog and podcast I’ve been seeking out the difference between the word “diary” and “journal.” Some people claim they’re different concepts, and make these claims without any sourcing.

I also want to discuss my gratitude today, because for me it can be an intense, awe-like emotion. It’s not an original experience, but a universal one, I believe– the amazingness of things… life, physics, the internet, ability to jot notes in Google docs in bed with the TV in the background…to still be alive despite terrifying past experiences when I thought I would die.


Public Comment is a personal journal vlog and podcast where I share my free thoughts on politics, culture, and self.

Please feel free to share your thoughts with me at sean.publiccomment@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter at
https://twitter.com/sopubliccomment

On marketing (part 1: anxiety), free thought (part 2), and free trade

Listen to the podcast

or watch the video

My incompetence thus far in self marketing, the development of my understanding in the value of free thought, and a look at the debate over free trade and protectionism in the realm of trade policy.

IN THIS EPISODE:

When it comes to self marketing (as opposed to political marketing, or marketing for an employer), anxiety and a complicated array of thoughts, at times, stifle me.

I have a fear of annoying people with my requests for their time, feedback, money and/or endorsement, most of all because I understand many of us are quite busy and bombarded with other people asking for our time, feedback, money and endorsements.

Also, I often think of how money can corrupt.

Money doesn’t talk, it swears

obscenity, who really cares?

Propaganda, all is phony…

-Bob Dylan

I wonder: am I corrupted, in my self-marketing by an unreasonable desire for money, attention, praise, undeserved self advancement, narcissism, et cetera? (I certainly believe in my early twenties I suffered from slight narcissistic tendencies, though as a defense mechanism since I suffered from severe anxiety, depression, and self esteem challenges. That is to say, I desired undeserved praise, attention, and introspected just for the sake of gaining awareness of my own thoughts as existing things, not for the sake of understanding and vetting them!).

I also think of other examples where money seems to blatantly corrupt individuals, companies, corporations, politicians, et cetera—(Weapon producers/dealers, health insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, oil/energy companies).

Those insecurities aside, obviously we need resources to live and also it is reasonable to stand up for the products/services we believe in, whether we are advocate consumers, or involved in the product(s)/service(s) ourselves. After all, why should something one offers, when it is of value, linger in vain?

That, I believe, would be unethical.

So I tie my sense of self marketing to the moral convictions motivating those aspects of myself I “market.”

So what do I say then, is the moral marketability of my shared “free thoughts?”

Frankly, I question how much genuinely “free” thought is truly “out there” when you consider not just profit concerns/ popularity concerns and how that could inject bias into shared thoughts but also how people (I have done it myself. Example: when I was obsessed with Ayn Rand) can slip into dogmas. Even postmodernism can become a dogmatic blinder, as opposed to mere healthy skepticism and independence.

On a separate note, I want to initiate a conversation about trade policy.

There are two articles I recommend. One by the Economist and one by Foreign Policy. The latter addresses the politics versus the economics of free trade, as well as policy options with respect to how we might want to deal with the inevitable harm to certain job holders that free trade results in: Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) which serves like compensation specifically for those adversely affected.

Tell me what you think. Email me at sean.publiccomment@gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter at
https://twitter.com/sopubliccomment

Public Comment is a video diary styled vlog and personal journal podcast where I share my free thoughts on politics, culture, and self.

On Acquainting Myself With Technology, Determining What’s Interesting, and Friendship (Sean O’Connor’s Public Comment video diary vlog–episode #10)


I suffer from extreme ignorance with respect to all things STEM so this new phase of learning about computer and internet technology– specifically dealing with live and recorded audio and video files– is challenging. Still, I find it fascinating and relevant to culture awareness and literacy. If only that was enough to keep all my treasured friendships afloat.
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So since I can’t afford the best equipment just yet, and since I lack any kind of support staff some of the technological aspects of my presentation, alas, suffers. At some point in life one must, if one suffers from degrees of perfectionism, come to terms with the fact that one simply cannot do it all. I read about this earlier today on a website that is new to me: fastcompany.com– a technology news site of sorts, it seems. “Make peace with incomplete knowledge” is what the article suggested.

I’m working on it!

One of my struggles, which you may have heard me mention earlier, is that I get so flustered trying to research everything I want to learn, trying to pay attention to as many aspects of the world around us as I can, trying to be what some may refer to as a “well-rounded person.” (Political news, entertainment news, podcasts, radio, art work, history books, social media, business news, technology news, blogs and vlogs, et cetera….) I accept and I am in the process of making peace with the fact that nobody can be perfectly well-rounded. (I mean, I get it…nobody can be perfect at anything. But still, one wants aims, standards, et cetera, right?)

Focusing on politics, culture and introspection as may three main topics of interest help me find a sense of balance. That may seem counter intuitive, especially with respect to culture. Isn’t culture such an endless thing? Yes. But if I think in terms of getting a look today at just one, or just a few key aspects of the culture, and other aspects tomorrow, then that helps relax me. (As opposed to saying: an article on psychology for ten minutes, then another ten minutes on real estate, on but then what about technology news?…If I just think…pieces of culture…I have a topic and I can free think based from that center).

If you know me or if you take even a quick look at my website, the depth of my interest in politics is pretty blatant and substantive, but what about my love for introspection?

I see introspection, I think, on two levels– the private, and that which I consider with sharing. How does one decide what to keep private and what not to keep private? A friend of mine said there is really nothing one must keep private, though context of course, he said, does matter. Why talk about say, issues relating to what happens in the bathroom if it’s arbitrary?

I love having friends, but it brings me tremendous chagrin to think of friendships that either I have lost, or that seem as though I have lost. I hate to think I played any role in the destruction of friendships and relationships I’ve been a part of but I aspire at least to preserve those relationships I’m blessed with today, and hope to revive lost relationships some time in the future.

On Failure, Free Thought, and Time (Sean O’Connor’s Public Comment video diary vlog–episode #9)

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Between my failed attempt turn my self-published book, my three failed runs for political office, and my failed pursuit of a teaching assistantship position as a graduate school student I’ve had enough failure to feel like I’m an expert on the topic. But, like Elon Musk, I refuse to be defined by my failures, so today I imagined myself as the Montaigne of the personal vlog, digressing from topic to topic as I pleased, from failure to time, thinking of Hootie and the Blowfish, when they sing: “Time, why you punish me?”

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-

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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.

Navigating Through the Debris of Information Overload (Sean O’Connor’s Public Comment video diary vlog–episode #7)

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How can we gain a sense of the world, of life, living it to the fullest, appreciating all that’s “out there” with such a bombardment and deluge of information…an overwhelming plethora of options to contemplate everywhere? How does this impact the way we process, say, the news, for example, when historical, monumental, complex events transpire: I’m thinking of President Trump’s Attorney General William Barr who faces Contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with the House Judiciary Committee’s subpoena for the unredacted Mueller report, and how this thrusts us, (say Judiciary Committee Nadler and Speaker Pelosi) into a “constitutional crisis.” What does that mean? What does it mean for the future of our country, our democracy, and the rule of law as the president persists in obstruction of justice and his executive branch plays along?

This conflict of prioritization has bothered me for a long time. Back in the Spring of 2011, for the first time, I identified my “priorities” of awareness. This was when I discovered the value and importance of the news, politics, & philosophy.

Read the New York Times article: “House Panel Approves Contempt for Barr After Trump Claims Privilege Over Full Mueller Report

Since then though, the struggle to determine exactly how much attention one should pay to the news has been yet another complex question for me, which persists, not because I’m a news enthusiast or “politics junkie.” Rather, I cherish basic awareness; I consider it a fundamental ethical principle.

And then I wonder: which news sources should I prioritize. I love the New York Times and the Washington Post, but I can’t read every article they publish. What about Foreign Affairs, Newsweek, The Daily Beast, Politico, et cetera?

And what about the challenge of sorting through all of the news’ complexities? The details, the confusing concepts and contexts which require deeper understanding…additional research?

And beyond the news reports (the articles, the television commentaries, interviews, segments, et cetera) there’s accounting for, and mentally processing official government business: official documents, pending legislation, proposed budgets– to name some examples.

Read the resolution recommending Barr be held in contempt of congress

And what about the rest of the day?

How do we fit in our meditation, exercise, work, entertainment, cleaning, paperwork, social media feeds, all the while trying to acquaint ourselves further with art, science, technology?

It could be argued of course that the world has gone “niche” but it seems so cheap to me to abandon a holistic perspective, as if it leads to a denigration of life…of the universe and the miracle of experience.

Extemporaneous Speaking & Guns (Sean O’Connor’s Public Comment video diary vlog– episode #6)

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The most microscopic aspects of things complicate if you delve into them enough, zooming into the depths like…a microscope. So sometimes when it comes to making choices it can feel quite challenging. For example, I could mull over every word in every sentence I want to say to you and spend months attempting to perfect my verbal expression, and in the meantime, miss out on things I want to tell you now, that will end up cast aside (is this just prioritizing?) or…one can just…and I’ll quote John Mayer here, when he sings “say what you need to say”…

The opportunity to talk directly to you here and now… I view it as its own “art” in contrast to “writing” in the more “literary” sense. Not to say I wish to be arbitrary. I don’t. It’s important to spend time just thinking, researching, processing, analyzing…having something to talk about…kind of like prepper for a jazz performance? Wasn’t THIS what especially the “Beat Poets” were really after? The art of talking? So that is what I am going for here, aesthetically, medium-wise, contextually. I want to talk to you from where I am psychologically and metaphysically.

In today’s video blog this is my first topic. But then I move onto the topic of gun policy. Instead of getting into the depths of the “politics” of gun “policy” though, I’ve decided to delve more specifically into the philosophy behind gun politics. Why do we say one has a “right” to own a gun? Sure, you can cite the U.S. constitution, but the U.S. Constitution is not the “golden words” of some “God” (I believe in a God but I do not say “I know a God exists”; a belief is different than knowledge). What is a “right?” I take a look at some dictionary definitions and propose my own, for your consideration.

And how do we determine then, what a “right” is?  There are epistemological and ethical considerations here. Do you believe in thinking objectively? If so, how do we think logically and objectively about this? Do you believe in ethics/morality? It’s fundamental ethics that lead to fundamental policy views. This means, what rights do you think we should have, and why? And tied to this, how much do you value human life? Do you value human life enough to grant that there is an ethical need to keep guns out of the hands of those who are mentally unwell  and seek to murder?

One other point: some statistics. There are significantly more homicides per 100,000 people in the U.S. than in the U.K. Moreover, you are more likely to get stabbed to death in California or in Texas than you are in the U.K. In the UK there were 285 knife/stabbing related homicides between March of 2017 and 2018 in a population of roughly 66 million people. In contrast, there were 280 knife/stabbing related murders in 2015 in California in a population of merely a rough 39 million…or Texas where there were 175 knife/stabbing related deaths out of a population of roughly 29 million.

I bring these points up because I hear from conservatives and libertarians this idea that in the UK even if they don’t have a gun problem, they have a stabbing problem, so the real problem is world wide homicide, not homicide by guns in the U.S. They are wrong. Homicide is a bigger problem in the U.S. than it is in much of the world. It’s not about guns versus knives. It’s about homicide, guns and knives and we must take measures to address all of these issues.

In Search of Independence (Sean O’Connor’s Public Comment video diary vlog– episode #5)

If you’ve heard Bob Dylan’s song “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)” then perhaps you will understand? Here’s the sense of conflict: this deep rooted desire for all-encompassing independence– economic, ideological, political, intellectual– thinking something like: “To Hell with academia!” To Hell with the corporations and ‘big business!’ To Hell with everyone who stands to gain a profit of the information they sell us! To Hell with the ‘Main Stream Media!’ To Hell with Religion!” To Hell with so called ‘art!’! et cetera…and you think it because you have a vision that just doesn’t seem to fit with all the many standards out there (ironically enough!)– too blunt to be a poet, too academic to be a journalist, too populist to be an academic, too conceptual to establish a conventional ‘narrative,’ too self preserving to be “corporate,” too “independent” to belong to a political party…

Yet, I’m not the anti-social type. I enjoy academia, I enjoy the big businesses –main stream media for example, like MSNBC — and while I’m not religious, I’m deeply influenced by Christian ideas like that wonderful maxim “forgive them of their sins, they know not what they do.” So I strive to find a balance between maintaining a sense of independence while also engaging in my love for community. This is what I talk about on this episode of the Public Comment Blog which you can watch or listen to.

#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.

2020 Democratic Primary Candidates I Have My Eyes On & More… (Sean O’Connor’s Public Comment video diary vlog– episode #2)


In this video I discuss the implications of persisting gun violence, my concerns with oversimplification of calling one’s self a “socialist” or a “capitalist,” and I take a closer look at some pros and cons about a Joe Biden presidency, along with my thoughts on other candidates

“A Dull Aching Pain”- Impeaching Trump; Bernie or Biden for President? (THE FIRST PILOT)

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…Trump’s threat to congressional oversight, the difference between a Democratic Socialist and a Social Democrat, and biases in the Democratic primary election….

I was feeling exceptionally depressed, still processing my failure to obtain a paid teaching assistantship and paid tuition from a Creative Writing MFA program, unable to find a job in the various job listings I was sorting through, troubled by the political state of things, tangled in my thoughts on aesthetics, neglecting a variety of other personal, philosophical, and practical thoughts, and like an inevitable mansoon I just had to talk…just had to get a few things “off my chest” as some might like to put it.

I was thinking of Howard Stern and my envy for how he was able to just talk straight about whatever was on his mind. I felt a similar envy towards Michel de Montaigne who wrote the most beautifully free flowing essays I ever read, with a fascinating integration of autobiography, scholarly contemplation, and philosophy. Then there was the love I felt for the pundits on MSNBC, the New York Times, and the Washington Post, who work with such dedication to analyze what’s going on in the news.

I wished I could somehow be like some combination of these wonderful, inspirational people.

I was also feeling a little mad to learn that people on Twitch get paid to play video games in front of a webcam. I thought, there’s got to be something I can do in front of a webcam that is constructive too.

The PUBLIC COMMENT began here with a tremendous deal of uncertainty. Just a little under two years earlier, when I began writing my column for the College VOICE my adviser– Holly Katherine Johnson– asked if I had any ideas for a name, and “Public Comment” came to mind. I thought of it because I could never get out of my mind the intensity of my experiences during the so-called “Public Comment” periods of the East Windsor Town Council Meetings, where I really discovered, for the first time, the full significance of one’s freedom of speech, and just how much those who feel threatened by free speech desire to find ways to curtail it. For example, it was often the case that Mayor Janice Mironov of East Windsor would interrupt me and tell me things like “wrap it up,” or when I asked a question, or asked how she thought I was contradicting myself, she would just say things to the tune of “are you finished Mr. O’Connor? You’re five minutes are almost up.”

Just about a year after I began my column, I experimented with the idea of a vlog series called Public Comment via live-streaming on Facebook to voice my political concerns but I was also preoccupied with completing my BA at William Paterson University and offering my best as a columnist, plus I was trying to figure out what the hell I was supposed to do with myself occupationally after I graduated. So I quickly abandoned the Public Comment idea.

Though compelled to “just talk” I was quite uncertain of what I was going to do with this extemporaneous, sort of “stream of consciousness” style talking. The only radio experience I’d had consisted of a few episodes at the student station at Mercer County Community College back in 2014, which I gave up on quite quickly.

I had no “team” to help me research, figure out how to integrate media mediums into a palatable program, or to suggest how I might want to experiment by ways of style and approaches.

I had just my mind, my voice, my ideas, my experiences, my laptop and its webcam.

Then a friend and co-worker suggested I make a podcast so I began experimenting with a combination of articles, vlogs, and podcasts to see what would stick, or what method of employing all three would stick.