Archive for philosophy

Shell-Shock: A novel by installments

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 26, 2016 by jtoddring

Here is an unconventional move. I am considering publishing a novel by installments. This has been done in the past, but is not the current norm. But I am not sure if it has been done while the novel is still in the process of being written. That would be a bold, and perhaps risky move.

What if the writing flounders? What if there is writer’s block? What if I want to re-write what I’ve written, re-work scenes, characters, story lines? All very risky to publish it while in vitro, so to speak.

But, on the other hand, considering the state of the world, the urgency of the times, and moreover, the rapid unfolding of current trends, if I wait until the novel is finished, proof-read, reviewed, edited, etc, before releasing it to the world, events could have passed it by, and what might have been prophetic, or at least prescient, becomes, or at least appears to be, mere reflective hindsight. Most importantly, perhaps, is that foresight is more valuable than hindsight, and the people should be warned, as well as inspired and rallied to action.

So, I am thinking about it. I will not promise at this point to continue to publish installments before the novel is completed, although I am seriously considering it; but I will start with offering a prologue, by way of introduction.

(And if there is interest, please feel free to send contributions or donations, because this writer, like most, has an income that does not exactly amount to that of Donald Trump – nor one ten-thousandth of it. But that is an aside, and unimportant.)

I hope you enjoy what you read. More importantly, I hope it sparks thought, discussion, and above all, action.

Peace,
Todd

***

Shell-Shock

The Transitional Time:

Between the End and the Beginning,
Lies the Time of Transitions

Prologue:

The History of the Collapse of Modern Civilization

 

We could say that there were many factors which led to the final collapse, and of course, there were many factors. But in the end, the chain of events which spiraled into this terrible culmination, and the collapse of modern civilization, could be said to have begun with this tipping point.

For a number of identifiable reasons, most of them identified by thoughtful observers well in advance, the global economy had become extremely unstable. (A crisis of over-production, combined with deregulation, the financialization of the economy, globalization, the off-shoring of production and profits, the evisceration and liquidation of the middle class, soaring inequality, and a kleptocratic billionaire class, were, of course, the central factors – as is now universally recognized, in hindsight.) But however one views the causes, when the collapse of the global economy finally came, a global depression hit the world like a tsunami, and things began to fall apart.

The result was chaos, panic, devastation, widespread suffering, fear, mistrust, paranoia, the further retreat into narcissistic, bunkered self-isolation and alienation, escapism, voyeurism and magical thinking, along with blame, hatred, the inflaming of old animosities, conflicts and hostilities, hunger, even greater soaring poverty and inequality, frustrations reaching a boiling point, and very quickly, riots in the streets, looting, and ultimately, in short order, revolution in the streets.

But the problem was not revolution, nor even a wave of popular revolutions springing up across the planet. The problem was a lack of resolve.

When revolution broke out, rebellion, or even dissent against a corrupt and unjust, ecologically suicidal order became viewed by the ruling elite as treason, and the crackdown began. The hounds and the goons were unleashed, and fascism arrived, in full-fledged form. Not the old fascism of goose-stepping soldiers wearing Nazi uniforms, but the new fascism, draped in the robes of smiling civility, virtue and nobility, or so it aimed to clothe itself, and parading as the salvation of freedom and democracy – both of which, of course, it was intent upon destroying.

The predictable backlash to the popular revolutions, and the repression and fascism which followed, was not the real problem. The problem was that the people buckled and submitted – at precisely the critical time when they needed to be their most bold, and unshakable.

The newly secured global corporate elite, with their henchmen firmly in control, now pushed back every advance that had been made by the people over the previous 200 years – and further, the past 800 years, since the birth of constitutional law and the Magna Carta.

It was a new feudal age, and a new and more brutal age of empire than the world had ever seen. All motion for positive social change was halted in its tracks, including all efforts at ending our assault on nature, and halting our full speed drive towards our own extinction.

Now, business was firmly in the driver’s seat, as it had been for a long time, but with a posse of goons and a fascist architecture to support it, to make sure no one got in the way of profits.

The business elite made a killing, both literally and figuratively, and the business of killing the planet was simply an externality, and an unfortunate consequence which could not be helped. The race to extinction, or at least to the collapse of human civilization, was on, and it would not take much time at the newly accelerated pace.

The eventual outcome, which came very quickly, and with frightening speed, was not only the death of the oceans, but also, and more critically for humanity, the collapse of agriculture and world food systems.

As crop failure, famine, hunger and starvation swept the planet, two other horsemen appeared: death and disease. War, or the intensification and spread of the already well-established pattern of permanent war, followed swiftly behind.

Between the sickness and mass deaths caused by famine, disease and war, the cogs and the infrastructure, the supply lines and networks of industrial civilization began to sputter, to seize, and finally, to collapse.

The fascist coup of the corporate elite had done this, we could say. But that, really, if we are to be honest with ourselves, would be to miss the point, and to pass the blame. The people failed themselves, because they caved in, when they should have stood firm.

The spirit of great hearts and great courage, such as the spirit of Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr., should have, and could have guided them, and led them to victory. But it was the spirit of fear that won out in the end. And the rest, as they say, is history.

The people thought they had problems before. Now, with the collapse, their problems really began. At least in the short term, the meek did not inherit the earth. They inherited a wasteland. Now, the best, and the worst of humanity, became vividly clear.

Blessed be the gadflies

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 26, 2016 by jtoddring

Metaphorically speaking, and only with regard to issues of the greatest importance, I wholeheartedly agree:

“When confronting your enemy, go for the jugular, and never back down.”
– Alexander Cockburn
(A journalist with a rare quality – a spine)

Alexander Cockburn: born in Scotland, raised in Ireland – of course he was a scrapper. And I love him for it.

He reminds me of my greatest literary hero, Henry David Thoreau.

“I sometimes despair of getting anything accomplished by the help of my fellow men. Their minds would first have to be placed in a kind of powerful vice, to squeeze their old ideas out of them.”

Ferocious, honest, and also true.

Blessed be the gadflies. Jesus forgot to mention that one, but I think it was implied.

JTR,
January 26, 2016

Confronting Evil: Not with a bang, but a whimper? Neither, I say

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 26, 2016 by jtoddring

Yes, it is best to be cordial, courteous, friendly and respectful, and to avoid harsh words and harsh speech, generally speaking. But when it comes to confronting power, when it comes to addressing the power elite and their willing vassals, servants, prostitutes in high office, and other shills, we must be fierce, and uncompromising – particularly when lives are at stake; or worse, when, as at present, the future of humanity and all life on earth is at stake, and the rulers and their peons are actively destroying, not only the quality of life for the great majority, but even the possibility of the continuation of life at all.

Then, the gloves must come off, and we use language as a weapon, as well as a means of informing, inspiring and uplifting.

Sometimes, evil must simply be defeated, and while I would not go so far as to say, “by any means necessary,” I would say that there are times for dispensing with civilities, and driving a stake through the heart of the lies and illusions which surround and enchain us – or we will never be free, and our future will be bleak.

If we need any further encouragement to stand up and speak out — and with passion and boldness, and not mousy obedience, meekness or timidity — I would say that Henry David Thoreau’s, On Civil Disobedience, Etienne de la Boite’s, The Discourse On Voluntary Servitude, Erich Fromm’s, Escape From Freedom, and the writings and speeches of Mahatma Gandhi and the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., should top the list of essential works to read or re-read for inspiration. As Dr. King said, we must face the fierce urgency of now — there is such a thing, as being too late.

Stand up, and speak out – for justice, for peace, for freedom, and for a better world for all: courteously whenever possible, but ferociously when necessary.

J. Todd Ring,
January 26, 2016

Ship of Fools

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on January 26, 2016 by jtoddring

Having compassion, respect and love does not mean we must become grinning, blinkered, deferential, obsequious and obedient, compliant fools, unable to tie our own shoe laces without the approval of some authority figure or the bleating crowd. Sometimes, the most compassionate action, is strong action. Sometimes, the most compassionate words, are strong words.

To speak the truth in troubled times is an act of both compassion and courage. To refuse to do so, proves only cowardice, and a lack of inner strength, principles and conviction. With that being said, I must say this, with all due respect.

Modern society has no respect, nor even recognition, of wisdom. It has no recognition of enlightenment. It cannot recognize sages or prophets. It barely recognizes, and in truth, places little value upon, knowledge, understanding, or even common sense. For these reasons, modern society is, sadly, a lost and drifting ship, and a ship of fools.

No wonder I jumped overboard thirty years ago. I have no desire to go down with them – either metaphorically, into the collective madness of a society that has lost its bearings; nor literally, into the mire and self-destruction of a self-created social and ecological holocaust and collective suicide. I will share what I have gleaned from a safe distance, upon a raft; but I will not bind myself to madmen. That would help neither them nor me.

Take the road less traveled by. That makes all the difference. Don’t give up. Never give up. Fight for justice and a better world for all until your last breath. But do not let the madness of a society that has lost all perspective drag you down. Trust yourself. That, at any time, and particularly in a society gone mad, is of paramount, and critical importance.

J. Todd Ring,
January 26, 2016

 

Empiricism and Dogmatism

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 18, 2015 by jtoddring

Or,

Evidence-based opinion versus ideological fundamentalism

There is a major difference between evidence-based opinion and opinion-based evidence. The former is empirical, and sane, the latter, dogmatic, and either insane or dishonest.

There are always a few people, many in fact, who adopt an ideology first, then mold the facts to fit their ideology. This is called fanaticism when it is a sincere and honest mistake of simply irrationality, and Orwellian or Machiavellian cynical deceit when it is a conscious distortion of the truth.

There will always be zealots, ideologues and liars in the world. The key is to speak the truth as best we understand it, question all dogmas and assumptions, and reveal the actual evidence, so that saner, clearer, and more honest minds may prevail. The challenge is on-going, especially in a culture pervaded by propaganda and distraction, but it is essential work, and cannot be neglected.

JTR,

October 18, 2015

Holidays and holy days – and the dross and drivel which confuses and clouds over them

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 12, 2015 by jtoddring

Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter…Yom Kippur, Hunakkah, Passover… Ramadan: these symbolic expressions of union, communion, gratitude, faith and love – what do they matter?

Except that they do.

As a naturally reclusive and largely solitary being, I often avoid such communal social gatherings, even though I honour and respect them, and value them deeply. But that is an indication of my own human limitations and short-comings, and not an indication of a feeling that these days and these celebrations are meaningless, trite or hollow, which they categorically are not.

Forgive me if I do not celebrate Columbus Day, or Presidents’ Day, or other such inanities and monuments of a culture gone mad. Celebrating conquest and empire is not something I want to do.

And forgive me if I also refuse to celebrate a crass and unholy materialism, a dedication to consumer fetishes, and the iconization of the mere flesh – flesh which is holy, but which becomes a barrier and a distraction, and even a prison, if not taken as a gateway, but instead, the destination, point of departure, and meaning of life. But I will celebrate, and commemorate, and mark, alone or together with others, the significant times and rituals which remind us all of what matters most: which is always, faith and love.

Be you secular, religious, anti-religious, spiritual, atheistic, or what have you, if you cannot commemorate love, at least – if not also, a wisdom which is superior,higher, broader and deeper than our own, as all the greatest of scientists, philosophers, poets and thinkers have done, by the way, then you are rebelling against common sense, and may the gods pity you, and bring comfort to your lost and beleaguered mind. We cannot, or need not, live in a shoe box of the mind, or the soul.

There are bigger realities than our own narrow views would suggest to the ever-changing flicker of consciousness, which we call, “me” and “I”. And as Heraclitus said, and Shakespeare quoted, “There is more to heaven and earth than is contained in your philosophy” – words I try to remember daily, for they sow humility: and with humility comes receptivity, and an open heart and mind – and everything that is truly valuable or worthwhile, stems from that.

There is something worth remembering, marking, making note of, and celebrating here, in these feast days, holidays, holy days, or cultural traditions of days of special note – or at least, some of these are worth remembering.

At the very least, let us celebrate love – even when it is strained, and perhaps most importantly when it is strained. You water your garden when it is dry, and has been without rain for some time – not when it is already drenched in a nourishing downpour. When it pours, celebrate, and when it is dry, remember, and nourish the good all the more.

Holidays and holy days: the former are for rest and relaxation, and sheer enjoyment; the latter, for remembering what is important. (And Martin Luther King Day is a holy day to me, or at least a day of great reverence for the Reverend, and it is so to many people, so let’s not be too quick to decide which is which.) Let’s keep remembering, and let us learn to forget that which distracts us from what is truly meaningful in life, or worse, clouds our minds with foolish or destructive illusions.

There is much to be remembered, much to be celebrated and commemorated, and more to the point, much to be honoured. And there is also much to be forgotten – or at least dispensed with.

Separate the wheat from the chaff. But don’t be so hasty in the process as to miss or overlook what is truly valuable, and worthy of being honoured, and remembered, nourished and sustained.

JTR,
October 11, 2015

Essential reading for Columbus Day:

Stolen Continents: The Americas Through Indian Eyes Since 1492, by Ronald Wright

https://www.amazon.com/Stolen-Continents-Conquest-Resistance-Americas/dp/0618492402/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1444603899&sr=8-2&keywords=Stolen+Continents%2C+by+Ronald+Wright

Year 501: The Conquest Continues, by Noam Chomsky

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1608464075?keywords=yea%20501%20chomsky&qid=1444604032&ref_=sr_1_sc_1&sr=8-1-spell

Columbus, The Indians, and Human Progress – Howard Zinn

https://dandelionsalad.wordpress.com/2009/10/13/columbus-the-indians-and-human-progress-by-howard-zinn/

Agony Amidst the Ecstasy

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 7, 2015 by jtoddring

I think of my greatest heroes, the people I admire and respect the most – Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Voltaire, Thoreau, Emerson, Walt Whitman, Blake, Dickens, Shakespeare, Spinoza (who has been called, “The prince of philosophers”, and rightly so), Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, Alan Watts, Peter Kropotkin, Thomas Merton, St. Francis, Jesus, the Buddha, Shankara and Lao Tzu, to name a few. What would they think about the society in which we now live? They would be thoroughly disgusted by it, and if they did not repudiate it entirely, they would be horrified by it. And they would certainly have some very strong words of reproach and correction to speak to it.

“It is the breaking of the root vow to refuse to give correction where correction is needed,
even if you can’t do it in the best possible way.”

 – The Bodhisattva Vows

I cannot keep pace with my fellow men, or women, because they are lost, and to keep pace would mean becoming lost with them. No, they must go their own way. I will go mine.

I will stay with the wisdom-holders of all time. That is my place. I have no place in this society; and the more I see of it, the less I want to have any place in it at all. Show me a ship, a horse, a sunset, or a dawn, and I will make my way, alone if need be, away from the madness that has become this world.

Nature is perfect in its simple majesty. Humankind has despoiled their nest, and is despoiling the rest; and it is a head-on collision course with reality which they are facing, though they have not the courage to admit it, much less deal with it, as would be prudent, and only sane.

If I cared about no one but myself, I would feel that my life is not only blessed, but beatific. I write, I study, I meditate, I pray, I have a beautiful little garden and place to live that I call home, and I have wonderful, loving family and friends. What more could I possibly ask for in this life? But I am tormented, anguished, overwrought, and utterly agonized, beyond all words, if not daily, then at least repeatedly, by the horrific state of the world, the suffering of my fellow living beings, and a deep and profound worry for them.

I have given my best, all my life, and will continue to do so, but I am painfully tempted to simply walk away, ride away, as Lao Tzu did, or sail away, and leave them to their madness, for they seem to have no ears to hear, and no eyes to see.

“Father please forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

JTR,
October 7, 2015