On money & value (Vlog #53)

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It’s embarrassing to discuss my struggles with money. For me at least, it’s harder to talk about money than sex, religion, or politics because it forces me to address my deep insecurity regarding how I might be perceived based on my “economic status.” Maybe some think I’m audacious for trying to make a living as a vlogger but I’ve got to stand up for my desire because I want to live in the kind of world where people can make money fulfilling their dreams.

***THE NOTES***

*Only death & illness are harder for me to discuss

*I’m not “good at” money & I fight with my self-esteem when contemplating my financial life

*What it means to love one’s job

*Free talking…upfront….sharing thoughts

*The temptation to envy those who earn more money

*My financial difficulties are, to a tremendous degree, my fault…I take responsibility for it

*I like being upfront about things that matter to me

*If there are people out there getting paid for things they want to get paid for then why shouldn’t I try to get paid for what I want to get paid for?

*Talking about money makes me so nervous I trip over my words

*Remember when we had to pay much more for video content?

*You must stand up for your values

*To me vlogging is art (& so is talking)

*Being an “outside-the-box” person

*One reason why I love politics is because moving policy forward can move humanity forward ethically

*Would you overlook your ethics if someone offered you the money to do so? (figurative prostitution, “Selling your soul to the Devil,”)

*Sometimes I get overwhelmed with this feeling that everyone wants my money

*I don’t want to be a f**** up when it comes to money

*I fear how many can corrupt relationships

*I’d like more time to read, watch vlogs, socialize on social media, be a philanthropist…

*Opening up about this is so embarassing

*I hate complaining that my work doesn’t get properly compensated but don’t so many of us feel that way sometimes?

*I tell myself that if I like my vlog then maybe someone else will too

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On what it means to me to be an American (Vlog #52)

*Happy independence day! In this vlog I suggest that grappling with being an American starts with grappling with notions of capitalism which led us where we are today as well as contemplating what kind of capitalism moving forward would be of the ethical sort. Or can there be no ethical form of capitalism? *

***THE NOTES***

*Why does America mean to me what it means to me?

*Ideology & nationhood/countryhood?

*Is America in theory cosmopolitan as opposed to nationalistic/ethnocentric like certain Russian, Israeli, Palestinian tendencies?

*Thinking about America I think requires thinking about capitalism– I think it’s the most inherent part of being an American

-different TYPES of capitalism?

-slavery & genocide in the name of American Capitalism

-what does it mean to claim your own land? Who gets to claim land & why?

*Foundation of America versus other countries: example, UK, Candada….

*Is the theft of Native American land a manifestation of actual capitalist ideology or is it just in the name of capitalism?

*There is no appropriate contemplation about being an American without grappling with atrocities perpetrated against the Native Americans

*Kirsten Gilligrand: “we want healthy capitalism, not corrupted capitalism”

*Andrew Yang on “Human Centered Capitalism

*I think capitalism as such is fair but I wonder if I am at all influenced by confirmation bias

*Capitalism is like democracy- both imperfect but the best options

*Some freedom & opportunity versus none versus ways to maximize

*Relationship between private property, creativity, self, privacy, individuality, soul, freedom

*I’m more than an American, I’m a human!

***PLEASE LIKE, COMMENT & SHARE 🙂

On moving some place better (part 10) (vlog #51)

* *Living in South Beach I conceptualized my sense of self as that of a “starving artist” but to understand how I reached that point requires understanding how I developed a sense of self as an artist, from my admiration for John Travolta and The Bee Gees to my fascination with Charles Bukowski & Allen Ginsberg*

***THE NOTES***

*Early morning gaffes

*Move to South Beach was especially unique…it was an act of pure rebellion…something I was “not supposed to do”; my act of rejecting academia

*The people who inspired me philosophically during my pre-philosophy phase

*The importance of understanding the artistic side of myself as I came to conceptualize myself as “starving artist”

*Around 1996: Discovering acting & John Travolta/Grease/Saturday Night Fever

-Travolta seemed to have charisma, coolness, the characters he played seemed to “get the girls”… made me want to become a “movie star”: my first major “dream” in life which I fantasized about all day, every day, while at school

(do young people still say “whatevs?”)

*Sometime between 1997-1999: Discovering The Bee Gees–> deeply romantic, benevolent song lyrics which I studied and which got me into writing song lyrics

*Around 2002: J.D. Salinger (he seemed real & unpretentious) & Alanis Morrissette whose songs didn’t rhyme which inspired me to think “outside the box”

*& then on prom night I discovered Charles Bukowski: he seemed so free, open, easy to understand, reflective, real (& I wanted to be like him)

*& then there was Allen Ginsberg: the 1st poet I read who was an atheist like me, and who moved me (inadvertently) towards irrationalism, “trippy” stuff, “madness” as a sort of philosophical principle

*I thought Ginsberg, Kerouac, & the Beats were the geniuses of their time….Kerouac’s On the Road made me want to drop out of college and hitch hike America

On moving someplace better (part 9)(Vlog #50)

*** NOTES***

*Places can be like music, the way make one feel

*Some memories hurt to recall but still must be recalled anyway

*Nightmares of ex-girlfriend’s mother’s hatred for me

*Life & what we take from it as life continues…as we try to make ourselves better… & the memories that bask in us…

*Working at the liquor store I’d hear the song “Demons” by Imagine Dragons, which haunted me with bad memories of South Beach

*I started a lot of fights….how do I tell you about it without violating her privacy or mine? I was addicted to attention and compliments, I didn’t think I could help my negativity (and I didn’t try)so I was self negligent and maybe masochistic?

*I wanted my ex-gf to rebel against her parents the way I rebelled against mine….I hated almost anytime her parents/family was around and caused a bit of a scene once at how her parents could afford to eat at a nice restaurant

*That our relationship was going to end seemed hauntingly inevitable to me

*”Over My Head” by The Fray : another song that reminds me of South Beach and how I felt when I lived there

*I was closed to virtually all constructive criticism/useful suggestions people offered me

*I lacked the maturity to realize I should not have been in a romantic relationship at that time

*I thought myself a starving artist and wanted to be like Rimbaud & Baudelaire…two very depressing, pessimistic poets

“I managed to make every trace of human hope vanish from my mind…bad luck was my God”

-Arthur Rimbaud; “A Season in Hell”

On moving some place better (part 8) (Vlog #49)

***THE NOTES***

*Some of the philosophical questions related to choosing where to live (proximity to those we love, aesthetics, spiritual refreshment, et cetera…)

*This move to Basking Ridge feels like a chance for a “clean slate…” ; a bombardment of newness (new town, new roads, new condo, new desk, new neighbors, new geography, new economy, new internet provider, et cetera…)

*A gaffe….contradicting myself about why three moves to FL in a row amounted in disaster for me…

Do I contradict myself?

Very well then I contradict myself,

(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Walt Whitman; Song of Myself, Part 51

*Montaigne’s sexism & cynicism…

*Another reason why I love Dostoevsky’s Notes From Underground

*My love for romantic love goes back to when I was about three and a half years old…by about 10/11 years old I grew obsessed with Grease and West Side Story— both of which impacted how I idealized “romantic love,” “love at first sight,” wanted to fall in love on the beach, processed contradictory examples of theoretical romantic love (how to explain my seemingly apolitical, otherwise Democrat by default father and my former, very Republican stepmother!?!)

*My superficial, mystical, irrational notion of romantic love

*Prior to the girlfriend I had at Florida Gulf Coast University/South Beach I never really had a “serious” relationship

*I didn’t tend to appreciate girls for who they were, mostly just how they made me -FEEL-… even the first girl I ever spent almost all my time with (though we did manage to connect in certain respects…example: both artistic…)

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

**THE NOTES**

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On the second Democratic primary debate (Vlog #47)

PART 1: HOW THE DEBATE HAS IMPACTED MY POLITICAL THINKING THUS FAR
PART 2: WHO IMPRESSED ME & WHO CONCERNED ME MOST

**THE NOTES**

*2 nights of political debates: very intellectually stimulating & culturally special (brings us all together)

*Most important election since 1960? Of the 21st century? For more on the nature of these revolutionary times, check out my essay about it. I think Andrew Yang seems to get it, though he did not get fair coverage from MSNBC at the debate. The Hill says he only got 2 minutes and 50 seconds of speaking time compared to former VP Joe Biden’s 12 minutes and 53 seconds. Did MSNBC not learn from the mistakes of 2016 and how unfair VT Senator Bernie Sanders was treated?

*These debates have led me to further develop and hone my political thinking and so I have a few new political thoughts:

1 HEALTHCARE

-why should 1 person get better healthcare/insurance than someone else? If private is ultimately better than maybe nobody should get it as that would technically be unfair, would it not?

Humans are more important than money

Andrew Yang

-I am not convinced we should just outright abolish private health insurance here and now but we must work towards equal quality for all– “universal” in some sense, which Gillibrand & Buttigieg appear to understand but Biden did not.

2 UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME

-I’ve been contemplating this for months thanks to the persistence of my friend Montaniz Stills and determined that so long as SOME people get government subsidies in one form or another (Green energy, Lockheed Martin, big Pharma, small business loans, National Endowment for the Arts, et cetera…) it would only be fair if everyone got a little money…if the government invested in PEOPLE which would be a real UNIVERSAL approach to combating poverty, as opposed to a “special interest pandering” only approach.

-That said…I don’t know why it must be $1,000 specifically but just a little bit of money can bring a person a long way…I know from personal experience

3 CONCERNS ABOUT PANDERING

-This leads to certain oppressed minorities being overlooked. Example: Native Americans. This is why I beef with the ageist pandering of CA Rep. Eric Swalwell who kept saying “Pass the torch” to younger people. This disturbed me and was disrespectful.

I think Rep. Swalwell is the worst of the candidates running for president among the Democrats.

-to be fair to him though, I respect how ambitious and successful he is for a young man his age, and, in fact, I was ageist against Pete Buttigieg for seeming too young/inexperienced, which Sen. Bernie Sanders helped me realize.

*Another candidate who concerned me was former VP Joe Biden. I am sorry for previously questioning whether or not he may be senile though. But it does seem as though he has failed learn from the 2016 elections. It seems he is still very attached to Obamacare as opposed to universal healthcare. Also he was very defensive about criticisms for his mistaken vote on the war in Iraq, then praising how the Obama administration ultimately withdrew from Iraq, despite the fact that this led to a huge mess in which ISIS took over. He seems not to have learned from this and wants to repeat this mistake in Afghanistan.

*Biden was also very defensive towards Sen. Harris’ criticisms of his past record on integration of school districts.

*AGAIN, REGARDING MSNBC’S UNFAIR TREATMENT OF YANG:

-His idea on universal income really is worth more discussion. What could be more lucrative than really investing in people? Imagine also investing in people who were taught how to be a good consumer and how to think philosophically starting in middle school! Even some Libertarians support a Universal basic income. )

-So check out yang2020.com

*I was especially impressed by NY Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. I think she really understands the key ethical issue we are dealing with: the problem is GREED, NOT CAPITALISM, which VT Sen. Bernie Sanders does not quite seem to understand.

*Gillibrand is my favorite candidate for president thus far. I like that she wants publicly funded elections (she brought up how this would empower teenage protesters against the NRA…and why was Biden kissing up to the NRA by the way?), less private prisons, and called for competition in healthcare insurance industry between private & public.

[RELATED: Reasons to Vote for Gillibrand or Warren & Not for Biden]

*Pete Buttigieg also impressed me, which surprised me considering my ageist bias. He was, like Gillibrand, right on about private-public competition in healthcare, called out hypocrisy within many of the Religious Right, and realizes it’s important to ensure that people who did not go to college still live well. He also made a valuable point about investing in rural America.

*As for Sen. Bernie Sanders: I think he could win because he is right on about the need for revolutionary thinking, has a charismatic approach to rhetoric, though he doesn’t explain himself so well sometimes and also sometimes fails to answer questions he is asked. Is he even a real socialist?

On the first Democratic primary debate (Vlog #46)

THE CANDIDATES WHO MOST CONCERNED ME
THE CANDIDATES WHO MOST IMPRESSED ME

*THE NOTES:

*A brief digression: It’s so wonderful to be clean shaven– the symbolism of it!– reminds me of when I first started shaving after a seven year phase of always growing a beard

*New subject: the first 2020 Democratic Presidential Primary Debate– the first group, from the perspective of the informed voter

*My political activism/commentary/analysis mission statement:

My goal as a political activist is to discuss matters pertaining to informed voting, keeping elected and appointed officials accountable, and visualizing a logical and fact based policy agenda that promotes and advances justice for all.

*My broader political perspective/philosophy: the ethics of compassion & the political philosophy of social democracy; (in the two videos below, should you seek more context & details regarding the I evolution of my political philosophy, it is explained there)

*CANDIDATES WHO CONCERNED ME

-Washington Governor Jay Inslee:

he wants to do away with the filibuster which I think is dangerous as it stifles debate and lowers the Democrats to Senator Mitch McConnell’s & the GOP’s level of abusing power to constrain the minority party

-Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard:

she seemed robotic to me most of the time/ to lack passion. She started an argument with Ohio Representative Tim Ryan over Afghanistan policy, pushing for extremely swift withdrawal– does she not see the disaster of withdrawing from Iraq as ISIS took over?!?

[SEE MY VLOG ON THE WAR IN AFGHANISTAN ]

*Julian Castro:

(btw, ever get paranoid that you got one of your facts wrong?)….

…despite his federal executive branch experience as HUD Secretary he seemed excessively cantankerous (though I do appreciate his passion for “Section 1325″(( see Slate’s explanation for more on this))– he also seemed to pander to LGBTQ & LatinX as opposed to appreciating plights of ALL minorities, like the disturbingly underrepresented Native Americans , Muslims & Arabs, Jews, Blacks, Senior citizens, Asian Americans, et cetera… [sorry if I forgot a group I should have mentioned…please leave a comment!]

-NYC Mayor Bill di Blasio: though I liked his policy assertiveness, his proposal to tax the richest 1 percent up to 70 percent seems to me an excessive and rather irrational, overly emotional and un-thought out scapegoating of the rich, and unethical

(I say this as someone who’s had money and had none)

I had money, and I had none

I had money, and I had none

Jim Morrison; The Changeling
LISTEN TO THE DOORS SONG I QUOTED

…I don’t think we should ever tax someone most of or even half of their income…so maybe not more than 44%

*THE CANDIDATES WHO MOST IMPRESSED ME

*MASS Senator Elizabeth Warren (She did seem, unfortunately, and unfairly so, though to no fault of her own, to receive the most questions/attention and I don’t like how the media treated her like the favorite…even if she is and should be…)– I do think she is a genius communicator

“By the time I graduated from high school, my family didn’t have the money for a college application, much less a chance for me to go to college. But I got my chance. It was a $50-a-semester commuter college. That was a little slice of government that created some opportunity for a girl. And it opened my life.

Elizabeth Warren; June 26th 2019 Democratic Primary debate

[!!!!…that said, do note the observation made by the Washington Post about the dishonesty of her story:

Warren actually went to a private college, George Washington University, on a debate scholarship. She attended GW, which cost much more than $50 a semester and is definitely not a commuter college, until her high school sweetheart proposed to her. She accepted, got married, dropped out of GW and followed him to Houston, where he worked for IBM. That was when she enrolled in her $50-a-semester commuter college, the University of Houston.

Henry Olsen; Washington Post

-MINN Senator Amy Klobuchar:

She came across to me as calm, poised & rational. For example, consider her emphasis on establishing a public option for healthcare as opposed to rushing into complete abolition of private healthcare. Another example is her view on the border as she expressed the importance of both being humane in our treatment of those who cross our borders but also being mindful of security and the fact that we should defend ourselves against & prosecute violent criminals & sex traffickers.

-Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan:

(btw, shout out to philosopher & writer Matthew Snope for bringing Ryan to my attention)

-Rep. Ryan is my top choice for VP thus far . He is extremely passionate (perhaps a touch angry though?) and rich in policy proposals which are mindful of cultural complexities. For example, he wants more emotional support for our youth in schools, and he is inclusive/universal as opposed to pandering to one group or another. Finally, he’s right on and realistic about Afghanistan in contrast to Rep. Gabbard who I believe started an irrational argument with him on the topic.

*The two candidates I was unsure of are former TX Rep. Beto O’Rourke and my own NJ Senator Cory Booker. I thought O’Rourke was right on about a public option as opposed to abolishing private insurance from the getco, but I also thought he was a bit of a grand-stander for speaking in Spanish first thing, and pandering. Also, he didn’t always answer the questions he was asked. Neither did Senator Booker. Booker seemed, at times, overly emotional to me, but I do like his position on guns, that they should be treated like cars, and require similar licensing protocols.

On moving some place better (part 6) (Vlog #45)

*THE NOTES

*Longest I’ve gone without shaving in a long time—> reminds me of bad times: my “fuck the system” phase, when I thought I was remaking my default sense of self which I hated inside & out

*The iconography/symbolism of artists & their ethos that propelled me into that “fuck the system” mentality

*The struggle to manage time when juggling a move some place & unexpected challenges that arise such as power outage or smoke alarms going off, et cetera…

*I believe everybody should have a dignified home of their own

*The first place I lived in South Beach was a hostel, roughly a block away from the beach, but I was too nihilistic to appreciate it

*A girl from Brazil compares me to Nietzsche

*Some of my worst memories though for a time there was no place I preferred to be

*My first autumn since preschool not in school/college

On moving someplace better (part 5); Vlog #44

**THE NOTES**

*Here I am in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, vlogging from my very own official PUBLIC COMMENT VLOGGING STUDIO (A spacious walk-in closet; 🙂 )

*The symbolism of moving and of certain key life experiences

*The symbolism/meaning/significance of our move to Basking Ridge: an attempt at an objective reflection of the personal meaning– as opposed to subjective (i.e., only feelings based))

*Conscious contemplation of the notion of a move from one place to another– it’s personal meaning—how does this change us?—- self expressiom & desire fulfillment @ exceptionally high intensity (a lot of mental stimulation thus higher intensity of introspection)

*Being aware of the experience of moving itself (I mean, if I were writing a novel about it how would I narrate it?)

*Flood of memories of when Ashley & I moved to Oceanside, California– the first move I had ever made with a woman– (this move to Basking Ridge is our first move as a married couple…exceptionally romantic but during drive I felt regret about my poor character during our move and time in Oceanside—- I’m determined to be a gentleman this time around!

*Our first time owning residential property!

*My astronomical gratitude to live in Basking Ridge with my wife!

On moving some place better (part 4) (Vlog #43)

2 days until we move to Basking Ridge, NJ– almost all I can think about. This move is a striking contrast to my move to Fort Myers/Estero, FL back in 2005, which led to deepened mental illness, obsession with marijuana, dropping out of college and a kind of psychological downfall.

*It’s seizing my consciousness: only 2 days until we move to Basking Ridge, NJ!

*What does it mean to think about living somewhere?

*Personal/inner revolution…major changes– like the world of Heraclitus

*The dark, revolutionary period when I moved to Fort Myers/Estero, FL in contrast to our upcoming move

*I did not really think through my move to Fort Myers/Estero, FL

*I was, in general, an oblivious person

*paranoia, panic attacks, and other consequences of my marijuana obsession

*morality & time

*convinced I suffered from severe intellectual disability

*unable to even enjoy a romantic relationship, convinced of the worst in everyone, including myself and believing Fort Myers was cursed by evil spirits

*My fantasy vision of myself as a rich & famous Ex-pat poet living in Europe only to end up a nihilist in South Beach

*My troubled epistemology

*Questions I should have asked myself & tried to answer

A few brief thoughts on art (short philosophical essay)

[Note: I began this essay in the autumn of 2017 initially intending it to be a poem. It has been revised numerous times to reach its current form]

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

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

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

The Guardian reports that the Foxcon Longhua factory in China, which manufactures iPhones, has body catching nets to curtail its suicide epidemic.

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

I sigh…the music plays on…a man and woman sing: “I-I-I-O-I-I-I-O-I-O-AH- I-O-I-O-O-AYYYY! AYYYY! YEAHHH!…”

According to a Business Wire article published June 23, 1999, it was a husband and wife singing “a vocal chant” called “Jubilant Drinking Song,” recorded in the late 1970s and incorporated without their knowledge in this international top ten hit– the 1993 song “Return to Innocence,” by a music group that calls itself “Enigma.”

This resulted in a lawsuit and then eventually a settlement.

The music continues…I think of wind…wind…blowing through American beachgrass…

…the sound of ocean waves crashing while I’m walking on the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk, gazing at the snow falling from a dark gray, nighttime sky.

I show the winter wind my toughness as it persists, whipping my exposed skin.

The music inspires, and facilitates contemplation and day dreams…

On a few perambulations in late Autumn of 2018 in East Windsor, NJ

Walking helps me meditate. My thoughts: streaming, roaming, like wind, or birds flying. No obligations… except to walk, and meditate. The sky, a sheet of blank white paper. I wish it would snow. Yes, let winter arrive early! Make it colder. Cold air, so blunt, stimulating, ordering me to feel its intensity, like masterpiece art work or extra dry gin, and refreshing, like pure cranberry juice (without any added sugar) from the refrigerator, or like waking up late after a much needed, long night of sleep, and exciting too, like the first French kiss in series, igniting my nerves. At least the air this afternoon chills enough to repel the gnats, and mosquitoes. Autumn’s rustic bouquets blooming…I wish I could walk through its maze all day. The air’s force, when it gusts, feels like God’s blessing, an extract of pure benevolence, a grandparent’s kiss.

Dream catcher (a short philosophical essay)

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

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

But I am like my grandmother.

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

I watch the news on my laptop…

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

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

Nuclear North Korea threatens the inevitability of violence…

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

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

Thank you.

It helps me sleep…

On moving some place better (part 3)(Vlog #42)

The developing complexity of my psychology, my determinism, my nihilism, and my marijuana obsession, as I transfer from Kean University to Florida Gulf Coast University (From Elizabeth/Union, NJ to Fort Myers/Estero, FL) between 2004-2006

*My desire to drop out of college and emulate Jack Kerouac, hitchhiking America

*Moving to Fort Myers/Estero, FL to attend Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) felt like a miracle, an artist’s “dream come true.”

*The irony of feeling “liberated”– falling into the depths of determinism & nihilism

*WHY was I really even attending college? I didn’t know…I was just waiting for riches and fame because I was convinced that was simply my fate. Bob Dylan put it so well when he sang:

SOONER OR LATER ONE OF US MUST KNOW

THAT YOU JUST DID WHAT YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO DO

Bob Dylan; Sooner or Later

*Trying marijuana for the first time and falling in love with it

*The place you live and the philosophical ideas you develop when you live there and come to thereby associate with your time spent living there

*My addiction/obsession with marijuana

-I believed I “needed” marijuana to be a “good” poet or become “one with the universe”

*second time I tried marijuana I suffered extreme paranoia and panic attacks, yet I kept smoking it…

On moving some place better (part 2)(Vlog #41)

From my childhood obsession with the Caribbean Sea while living in Robbinsville, NJ to my frustration with urban Kean University in Union/Elizabeth NJ in 2004-2005.

*The role of memoir/autobiography/personal essay/introspection in philosophical contemplation

*Falling in love with the Caribbean Sea & “the beach” in general

-a love poem I wrote about the beach when I was 18 y/o back in 2004

**ah the naivete of youth!**

*18 y/o @ Kean University, not standing up for my love of the beach

-loved the people but too urban for me (Union/Elizabeth, NJ)

*I’m very sensitive to geography/ picky in my taste

*Kean University: disgusting dorms/ felt like a prison cell in contrast to Florida Gulf Coast University dorms in new, beautiful apartment with my own room

*Ignoring my dream & happiness: that had to change

SEE RELATED: Geographical preference: a philosophical flash fiction

On the Confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh

[Note: this essay was written during a very psychologically complex time in my life. First of all, this was happening around the time my grandfather passed away. Secondly, in the midst of my final semester of undergraduate studies I was in a state of profound confusion concerning what my next step in life ought to be. Though it seemed clear I ought to do all I could to break into the opinion-writing scene within the journalism world there were two very particular things troubling me: A) I honestly didn’t know initially what to make of the Kavanaugh hearings, especially after we learned that he had been accused by multiple women– and without evidence– of sexual misconduct. No matter how much I read on the subject I didn’t want to end up saying something or thinking something biased or blatantly demonstrating how little I know about legal nuances. In a word, I felt unqualified to “think” about what was happening; B) I felt confused about the aesthetic questions behind how one ought to write a political commentary. Moreover, I felt two competing impulses: one was to be completely detached from this rather fascinating but unpleasant period of U.S. history and the other was to in fact record my thoughts on what it was like to “experience” the occurrence of such a dramatic span of political events transpire. Spiritually and philosophically I thought, as someone who loves to write, it seemed there might be a kind of ethical obligation to document how this historical crisis within the Senate and Supreme Court permeated my mind, not as a mere political analyst or commentator, but as a human living in the country where this was happening.

This complex reaction led me to wonder if I should perhaps experiment with approaching the current political events from more of a “poetic” perspective, or “artistic” or “humanistic” or “personal” perspective– though I was not sure exactly what that should ultimately mean.

As a result, this essay was initially conceptualized as a “poem,” and one composed in a very complex intellectual-psychological-aesthetic frame of mind.]

Don’t fret 

Warriors will keep alive in the blood

-Simon Ortiz

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

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

I fear that nothing, not a single atrocity, would have moved Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s supporters in the Senate to oppose his confirmation (not that we know whether he was guilty or innocent… “the allegations fail to meet the more likely than not standard,” Senator Sue Collins said in her speech, explaining her vote to confirm him…but the way Christine Blasey Ford’s accusations were “investigated” in a rush- “More than 40 people with potential information into the sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh have not been contacted by the FBI, according to multiple sources that include friends of both the nominee and his accusers,” NBC News reported…and what about Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick who also made accusations of sexual misconduct…ignored by the Republicans in Senate, the F.B.I., President Trump ((outright misogynistic deference to Kavanaugh, it seems to me))– a “sham” as many Democrats in the Senate called it!)

Even months later, Trump says he knows acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, then says he doesn’t know him, adding to the reeking junkyards, and mountain chains of venom filled sewage lies, poisoning our politics, government, law enforcement, rhetoric, relationships, and the Republicans– not a…flinch…

A NIGHTMARE AND AN OUTRAGE!

But hope…hope…hope…look at things like New England, where the snow seems to grace with its elegance as it falls- the homicide rates there, among the lowest in the nation…look at the gentlemen like former F.B.I. Director James Comey, and the ladies like newly elected Congress woman of Kansas, Sharice Davids…

More Americans voted for Clinton than Trump.

More Americans voted for Clinton than Trump.

More Americans voted for Clinton than Trump.

Geographical preference: a philosophical flash fiction

Jewel and Israel were on their third date, driving from East Windsor to Ocean Grove in Israel’s new, red 2015 Volkswagen GTI. He lamented letting go of his dark green 1997 Saturn S Series SW 2. What an irrational attachment to that vehicle he had—even to the name, “Saturn”; like the Mercury cars, it made him think of outer space and this felt more exciting than the names of most other cars. How strange, Israel thought, that both Saturn and Mercury ended up defunct within years of each other. The Saturn was his first car and he didn’t want to get rid of it—he liked holding on to relics: a couple of nine year old t-shirts, his VCR for example, a record player his grandparents had given him, their old plasma ball, their copy of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment… but alas, that damn Saturn, it cost him, on average, a thousand dollars plus, a year—sometimes as much as three thousand dollars a year– in repairs. A year earlier he had to replace the catalytic converter, the oil pump, and needed air conditioning repairs. In search of a reliable but cheap automobile he scoured consumer reviews online and stumbled upon a February 2015 US News and World Report article on the Volkswagen GTI which claimed the vehicle was the “best sports car” for the money in 2015. A year earlier the GTI had been ranked by the US News and World Report as the best “upscale small car” for the money. Perhaps not the most “attention grabbing” but the bright red color was. He actually would have preferred a sky blue car, but he didn’t have so many options, and anyway, he liked how red pierced with ambition and passion in his mind so Israel, ultimately, was pleased.

The drive—straight down New Jersey Route 33– took about 45 minutes. Route 33—at least the eastern portion of it– was one of the few nearby highways Israel enjoyed. He liked passing through communities like Manalapan and Howell which leaned more rural—more open fields to gaze at from the corners of his eyes (because he prided himself on focusing on the road)—in contrast to suburban East Windsor—where he lived all his life (Jewel lived there now too); the open space always relaxed him; for him, it symbolized the free and undeveloped, uncharted terrain of consciousness, ripe for discovery and cultivation of new thoughts. Israel told this to Jewel as they were driving, and she told him she also found a deep, personal connection to certain aspects of the environment. Then she brought up her love for mountains and her desire to live in a community where views of them were ubiquitous.

“I fell in love with them back in 2008,” Jewel said. “It was my senior year at William Paterson University. I thought Clinton and Obama running against each other that summer in the primary, and then Obama winning general election was just so amazing.”

“Yeah, it was. I remember that night too,” Israel said.

“Yeah! So…it literally gave me this, like, natural ‘high,’ and…with the university happening to be on mountains, this theme of…you know… of interconnected elevation… and… that was the night…” she paused, and Israel, who had been falling in love with her, was falling deeper now, and feeling even a touch turned on (and a touch guilty about it) by her passion, the volume of her voice increasing, her hands moving to accentuate her words and expressiveness…“that I decided I was going to be a history professor, and that I could get a spiritual high out of history…these events of such significance! And so the image of mountains are kind of like a memento of that, like a reminder of my purpose. Does that make sense?”

On President Obama (a short essay)

[Note: This is a one of a short series of essays which had originally been conceptualized as a “poem” at a time when I lacked a firm notion of what it was I really believed a “poem” to be. This piece is also interesting because I spent years not only writing it but furthermore I had spent a number of years wanting, in general, to write something about President Obama as such, or as a topic, as opposed to something very policy specific, which had been excruciatingly challenging for me. No doubt, if I compare exactly my approach to writing about a topic now to what my approach was when this essay was completed, in December of 2018, it would be somewhat different however not so much in sentiment or substance.]

January, 2016: I see President Barack Obama crying.

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

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

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

I voted for Barack Obama.

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

After he died, I thought I lived in some other universe.

The yellow, red, orange, and brown leaves falling from tree branches seemed to be all that could comfort me, reminding me of my father’s book of Van Gogh paintings that I inherited.

On occasion, when those trees shook, and threw their leaves in the air, especially when it rained, I thought maybe my father’s… ghost… was trying to tell me something.

November, 2012: In my naiveté, I betray my fellow Americans, voting against Obama and for Romney– my… Republican phase… failing to notice things like, say, the nature of my own poverty, and the poverty that surrounded me and my coworkers in the retail industry.

I failed to realize the exploitation.

I was a college dropout then, holding false assumptions.

Example: if people fail to “think and grow rich,” blame their skepticism, not their exploiters.

Less government, more optimism.

Mix errors like that with tornadoes of panic attacks… (extremely low… serotonin level…a doctor and I later hypothesized) almost deafening, blinding, throwing me all over the place, meddling with my thought process…

I returned to college, combating my anxiety with knowledge, learning to think and analyze more critically…as I reflected on President Obama over the years, I came to miss him.

On a Romantic Evening (A philosophical, personal “micro-essay”)

[Note: This piece was originally written in the summer of 2017 as a poem. Over the past few years it has been revised and re-conceptualized to its current form as a very a sort of personal micro-essay on romantic love]

Things we do not desire, which I do not prefer to list, do exist in this universe but not in here, where our hands are touching like water touches the surface of the Earth as we float a little, on a black, leather couch and watch a fictional cop and a criminal shooting bullets at each other, on the television screen, or is it congress versus President Trump’s corrupt conspirators, or jeez, is it a shielded window through which we see countless episodes of good versus evil- life’s most basic theme? Now my wife’s hand slips away, innocently, like a leaf on a branch would shift in the wind, so she could grab her glass of water from the small table in front of the couch. A little while later we turn towards each other and lean in for a long kiss. After that we both smile- our lips spreading like a sunrise, bit by bit, pushing out night’s darkness, diplomatically exiling it, and we continue watching the TV.

On the 2018 Midterms (A short essay)

[Brief note: This brief essay, which was completed around December of 2018, and is a reflection of thoughts and feelings I was having around the time of the 2018 midterm elections, is mildly experimental in nature, and is perhaps somewhat “lyrical” as it is part of a series originally intended to be categorized as a so called “prose poem.”

Since that time however, my views on aesthetics have evolved significantly. The exact definition of a “prose poem” will make for an interesting essay in the future but at this point in time I can tell you that at the time in my life when I was writing a number of so called “prose poems” I was in fact writing short, highly compressed, highly personal essays. That is to say, I was writing straight forward, matter of fact thoughts on particular subjects of interest. Now in a frame of mind where I believe this piece is properly categorized and understood with respect to its intentions I am happy to share it with you here for your contemplations]

Now everything’s a little upside down, as a matter of fact the wheels have stopped

What’s good is bad, what’s bad is good

-Bob Dylan, “Idiot Wind”

“‘Can one be well while suffering morally? Can one be calm in times like these if one has any feeling?’”

Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

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

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

Last Sunday night at 9 p.m.– the Sunday before the election–instead of “Headliners,” which is usually on at that time on MSNBC, there was special coverage discussing the “big day”– the anticipation, a spectacle like fireworks on New Years’ Eve… or Christmas trees decorated with bright red, green, orange, pink, and blue lights, and a diversity of ornaments…like steaming, spicy mulled wine still in the pot.

Just two weeks ago, pipe bombs were mailed to prominent liberals, and what the Washington Post called “the deadliest [attack] on Jews in U.S. history,” took place at Tree of Life Synagogue.

Voter suppression…reported in Texas, North Dakota and Georgia… targeting… Native Americans and African Americans…in particular.

America these days is like a toilet, filled with excrement, and vomit, that just won’t flush.

I say this categorically, and in pain.

I apologize with fervor, writing such nauseating words, but…at least the Democrats won the House of Representatives.

Though I strain, I do see the light of one, glittering star dancing on the horizon.

Some Brief Remarks on the Question of Whether or Not a God Might Exist (A short essay)

(Brief note: this short essay was originally completed on November 4th, 2018. I initially wrote this with the interest of making it part of what I referred to at the time as a “essayistic poem.” Although I have since abandoned that particular project and the accompanying view of aesthetics I possessed at the time of undertaking that project I maintain, after over half a year of hindsight, that the thoughts in this essay in themselves are a sufficient introduction to my thinking on the question of whether or not a God might exist and thus, this blog being devoted to my “Public Comment” on my views of things, it seems reasonable to include this here)

There is no empirical evidence to suggest a God exists yet even if the universe arbitrarily happens to be,and even despite atrocities [things I hate to acknowledge like disease, genocide, tsunamis, accidents…] there is beauty-the beauty of stars sparkling, mystifying, burning, illuminating; there is the beauty of the wind, whether it is tossing autumn leaves or brushing palm tree fronds, or making contact with water, ground or the skin of a living, conscious human, or a French kiss [mmm, just the thought of one!]-or fantasy!-all only a sliver, only a microscopic speck of the beauty that we indulge in with such  pleasure.

Virtually each of us, if we try can find some beautiful things that bless us. From the atheistic perspective: how serendipitous! And that is all.  From a less presumptuous perspective such blessings do provide grounds at least for suspicion -and thus for hope that some creative “entity” one might call “God” is a genius artist with profound bravura composinga masterpiece universe.

There is so much to it! Think, just think about the diversity: humans that evolve from the discovery of fire to the inventions of the internet and space stations, ah, and strawberries, planets, colors (so many colors), oil, mountains, lightning, gemstones, jellyfish, cats, dogs, horses, snakes, milk, wood, sand, ocean waves, atoms, genes, silk, Aristotle, Abraham Lincoln, Helen Keller, Meryl Streep, my wife Ashley O’Connor, my mother Amy Hanselmann, my stepfather John Hanselmann, music, wine, Effexor, coffee, blizzards, motion picture, the New      York Times and the Washington Post, Proust, Walt Whitman, Montaigne, gravity, ink, blood, consciousness, language, memory, mineral water, birds flying (flying!) hot springs, seahorses, broccoli, brussel sprouts, pizza, moons, temperature, states of matter, sexual and asexual reproduction, sky, seemingly infinite particulars that just so happen to be and with such nuanced particulars within the particulars-all the cells in a human and their nuclei and mitochondria, the layers of the Earth, its biomes, the gasses of Jupiter and Saturn, every planet’s orbit around the sun, the position of every star, et cetera…

If there is that much fascinating complexity, and variety, in this universe then why mightn’t there be such a thing as a God? Some creative thing that possess something like a mind that imagines, reasons, produces, just by its glorious, unfathomable nature.

Oh yes, do I ever suspect there may indeed be a God, and do I ever hope, now on the cliff before I dive into the good kind of crying…

On moving some place better (Vlog #40)

-Why I’m so thrilled my wife & I are moving from East Windsor, NJ to Basking Ridge, NJ

*What’s worth our time– a quote from Charles Sanders Peirce on “economy of research”

*A personal and autobiographical approach to philosophy/ philosophical aspects of our life stories

*Growing up in white, rural Robbinsville, NJ, in the 1990’s

*My father’s house in rural Cream Ridge, NJ– 2 acres of land!

*My earliest 2 memories are of the beach

*Why I dislike East Windsor

**In the video I mistook my estimation of precisely how white Robbinsville was. I do not recall more than one African American in my class until I was 4th grade when I met someone of Egyptian background and someone mulatto. When I was in 6th grade I recall meeting two people of Indian backgrounds in my class. The bottom line is that Robbinsville was exceptionally white.

Of course I believe that things are always more complex… (Vlog #39)

More on identifying a “target audience” and the development of this vlog.

*Annoyed by postmodernism, nihilism, sophistry?

*Want more “real” talk?

*Building on Montaigne’s personal approach to philosophy

*No elitism or populism here!

*The evolution & development of the Public Comment Vlog

It’s a fine day… (Vlog #38)

Improving my vlog’s marketability, content strategy and sense of “target audience.”

*Even more on the art of talking

More on the art of talking on this vlog here

*The aesthetics of productivity

*Ethics & Sense of self

*What is my “target audience?” Is it pretentious to say “creative & critical thinkers?”

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.

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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
For the full transcript to this vlog, visit publiccomment.blog
Visit me on Facebook at  https://www.facebook.com/publiccommentblog
Follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/publiccomment.blog/
Tweet me at https://twitter.com/sopubliccomment
Connect with me on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/soconnorwritingtutor/
Email me at sean.publiccomment@gmail.com

On Sexism Against Women (Sean O’Connor’s Public Comment video diary vlog– episode #19)

...out of six women candidates, to suggest that they’re all uniquely unqualified in contrast the remaining 18 men would be highly suggestive of an appearance of a prevailing misogynistic or sexist impulse in our politics.

I see no reason why, after over two centuries of male leadership in the executive branch, at a time when a quarter of the candidates are female, a woman should be denied the presidency at this point. I do believe there is a role for inclusiveness in things…when there is a disproportionate amount of people excluded from something I think we need to ask how there can be more inclusion.

TRANSCRIPT:

It delights me to chat with you today folks. (By the way, I’m searching for the right greeting. I’m sick of “greetings ladies and gentlemen!” because it assumes everyone watching is a lady or a gentleman” ((not that I’m assuming impolite society is watching here but I do strive for as much accuracy and objectivity and as few assumptions as possible)) and “greetings” as I’ve said in videos for over a decade now just sounds too…generic…to me. Greetings?What kind of greetings? Right?)

Anyway…today I’ll be chatting with you exclusively about women.

Evidence suggests that my vlogs–almost entirely… fail to interest the female sex, compared to men and this troubles me. Last night before bed I was contemplating this issue, worrying, thinking, wow, what the hell is wrong with me? How could I so unilaterally repel– virtually– an entire sex?

You see, I use an application called “Tube Buddy” to track how many or how few people watch my YouTube vlogs. For example, Tube Buddy tells me that 60.7 percent of my viewers are between the ages of 25-34. 68.4 percent of my audience watches these vlogs on a desktop computer.

Now, when it comes to male versus female viewership, 94 percent of my audience, according to Tube Buddy is male.

I find this unacceptable on my part and this means I do need to seriously evaluate possible causes. Forgive me if something seemingly, and implicitly sexist ever came out of my mouth for I seek to live as decent person.  

My friend from William Paterson University, Rahinne Ambrose, suggests I ask you directly- what issues are important to you? So I’m asking you: gals out there…lasses (i love the words “lad” and “lass) what issues are important to you? And I suppose another thing I’d like to know– do you have any thoughts on why men might not prioritize these issues as much as you do?

In the meantime, I’m an extremely impatient person so I wanted to start researching this issue of matters that women care about in 2019 to gain a better understanding now.

Three particular articles struck me most this morning.

The first is an article from ThoughtCo which highlighted sexism and gender bias as a top issue on the female mind these days.

In the context of this as a video-diary vlog of a white, straight, heterosexual male, I wonder, what might be the most appropriate and meaningful way for me to appreciate this particular concern of sexism and gender bias?

I suppose taking the time to think and talk about it would be a good start.

I feel especially sensitive to this issue of sexism and gender bias.

I lived for a time under the roof of a single mother. My mother left my father when I was three. So that would have been around 1990. I remember the day we “left.”

My mother picked me up from preschool and said we were moving. I said “is Dad coming?” and she said “no.” Strange though it may seem, I didn’t appear on the surface worry about my father not moving with us. I had not seen him so much up to that point in my life. Or if I did, I don’t have any memories except for one…him sticking his dirty, hairy feet in the bath tub when my little brother and I were taking a bath. To the best of my knowledge my father worked long days and come home late and wasn’t so much a part of my earliest upbringing.

I don’t really know the full details of why the marriage between my mother and father ended. But to bring this story back to the topic of sexism and gender bias I actually, just upon thinking about this, note some things.

My mother had custody of my little brother and I. Yes, every other weekend I saw my father and that was okay, but what does that signify about my father’s view of fatherhood, man’s role in raising children, in contrast to the woman’s?

I do realize my mother was bound to be the one who had custody over us…but that to me is a major point for consideration. My mother took responsibility for raising my brother and I…she did so in a manner that was quite gung-ho.

What did this mean to my father?

To what extent (if it all) and how (if it all) might he have grappled with this?

In some respects his apparent negligence really seems without excuse.

My father was a psychologist who specialized in couples counseling. To say he couldn’t have wrapped his mind…intellectually– around a father’s responsibility to his children, not just as a father to his children, but as a partner in parenting with the woman he had children with, as someone with concern about her well-being in the situation, quite regardless of their romantic relationship …I just think that seems like an illogical supposition.

My father liked, also, to cling to how awful his father was.

(That is one thing he opened up to me about quite vividly in our final years together).

The story goes, as I know it, that my father’s dad, according to my father, only married his mother because he wanted to know he could have her…to have sex with her and make her his wife and that after this he no longer was interested in marriage or family life and so he went to fight in World War II.

Upon returning he started a new family with a new wife, had a daughter and acted for many years as if he was not my father’s dad.

I am told my father once went to visit him at the insurance agency where he worked for decades and when my father introduced himself to his father’s secretary asking to see him the secretary said something to the effect of: “I’ve known your father for so many years and he never once said anything about having a son,” and this is something my father pointed to as traumatizing for him.

I don’t doubt that but still don’t believe this excuses his lack of emphatic parental responsibility and respect for the undue burden this put on my mother, who for a time, went to night school, while working a job…meanwhile, how very comfortably my father lived with his substantial income as a private psychologist. I don;t claim to know the economic/ fiduciary details of talks and agreements or lack there of or issues between my mother and father but I have no evidence that he went out of his way to help my mother out in any truly substantive way beyond child support money which was often late.

What exactly explains my father’s treatment of my mother and his fatherhood role?

He was perhaps not so different in certain respects from his father because he can’t even claim to have some kind of intellectual disinterest in women considering the fact that one of his life passions was photographing nude women and speaking at length of his views on the justification of sexual liberation, pornography, and things of that sort.

It almost seems…but I won’t say I can quite claim…but still it seems…as though my father actually objectified women and viewed them mostly as sex objects, prioritizing his nudist photography and stock pile of pornography over a substantive relationship with a woman.

Of course…things are never that simple.

Philosophical, psychological and contextual questions would need to be addressed.

By that I mean….what was the source of my father’s view of women?

I think a Nietzschean examination would be interesting. One of Nietzsche’s most interesting points…to me… is his Will To Power idea…his idea that people cling to that which they believe brings them so much power. A possible suggestion then, from this point of view, might be that my father viewed…sexual prowess or sexual indulgence as more empowering than husband life and fatherhood?

That seems still like an over simplification though.

And meanwhile, maybe I’m talking too much about him right now and not enough about my amazing mother.

He had the experience of retreating from the demands of day to day parenting and all the stress and complexities, from the psychological, to the economic to the practical, et cetera, that my mother did not have.

I cannot help but think of that line by Jason Isbell

all the years I took from her just by being born.

What if it could have been the other way around? If my mother could have explored something in life (for my father it was psychology, and sex…it would seem) that deeply interested her beyond parenting, and intense economic concern (not that we were poor so much as we grew up mindful that we were not rich and that every dollar counted. In contrast, my father often didn’t hesitate to hand me a fifty dollar bill and say “get outta here.”)  

I’m not suggesting my mother would have wanted it another way, or not significantly another way.

I understand that being a mother is something she was interested in.

But how could her life have been better if she had been treated better by my father.

By the way…I am not saying that has to mean I wish they stayed together. I love my stepfather and every way I imagine the possibilities I see him as the best thing in the world for her. My stepfather treats my mother right– he openly speaks about his interest in her well-being.

Sadly, I do not recall my father ever saying “how is your mother?” Maybe he did and I just forget but clearly then he never went out of his way in such a fashion that it burned in memory.

I think my father may have indeed been a sexist.

 He failed at marriage three times. Now I have no right whatsoever to delve into the details behind precisely how those marriages ultimately failed but I can tell you I saw more of an indication from my father that women served a purpose of sexual thrills than deep relationships that took interest in the wider well-being of the women he was most intimate with…well at least in the case of my mother.  

I don’t begrudge my father’s deep interest in sexuality, or his deep interest in sexual connections with women. That seems to me, unfair, over simplifying things, even to a point of mistreating women…because women are sexual just as men are and those aspects of life are important aspects of life…but did it take precedence over my father’s view of the ramifications of a society where men and women did not and still do not often quite fare the same? Did my father feel profound concern for my mother’s economic well-being? Did he feel concern about how his negligence in the field of parenting negatively impacted my mother and how deeply unfair and harmful it was?

Another article I came across that struck me is an article published by the American Psychological Association. In this article I read in the introduction that

a large number of cross-sectional, longitudinal, and cohort-sequential studies have provided evidence that across cohorts, samples, and measures […] men tend to have higher self esteem than women

This is another troubling finding about our society today and I believe in fact that the topic of self-esteem stretches beyond sex and/or gender though for the remainder of my time with you, I will confine this to the element of this topic concerning women.

While I do not believe politics ever serves as a panacea, I do believe policies can have tremendous cultural impacts.

In light of this, I believe, with the 2020 Democratic primary election coming up we are in a unique position to bring special attention to women’s issues.

6 of the 24 candidates for president in the Democratic primary election are women. Now….I’m very poor at math but I know 6 x 4= 24 which means one fourth, one quarter of the candidates are female.

In my thinking….out of six women candidates, to suggest that they’re all uniquely unqualified in contrast the remaining 18 men would be highly suggestive of an appearance of a prevailing misogynistic or sexist impulse in our politics.

I see no reason why, after over two centuries of male leadership in the executive branch, at a time when a quarter of the candidates are female, a woman should be denied the presidency at this point. I do believe there is a role for inclusiveness in things…when there is a disproportionate amount of people excluded from something I think we need to ask how there can be more inclusion.

We have the means for women to become much more inclusive in American politics than ever before in this election. I believe this is something we ought to do. And I believe this could pay major dividends in elevating the self esteem not just of women but all oppressed groups.

I believe this would be taking a lesson from winning corporate practices in Europe. As the economist reports in the February 17, 2018 article “Ten years on from Norway’s quota for women on corporate boards:”

In 2008 Norway obliged listed companies to reserve at least 40% of their director seats for women on pain of dissolution. In the following five years more than a dozen countries set similar quotas at 30% to 40%. In Belgium, France and Italy, too, firms that fail to comply can be fined, dissolved or banned from paying existing directors.

Following this notion of a quota, of ensuring inclusiveness, I believe pledging to support a female candidate, when so many women are running, is a good move.

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

Listen to the Public Comment podcast

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?”