Thursday, December 10, 2015

Neurochemical Warfare

 In only a matter of months, Donald Trump has made the unthinkable real.  Many laughed, at first, at his candidacy, dismissed him as a clown.  Now his fascism snowballs with increasing weight.  Even mainstream media outlets have compared him to the Fuhrer.  His every latest rant conjures a reminiscence of that terrible Nazi rise. 

Given the grave threat, which has left many stunned, it is vital to break out of such incredulity, to accept that Trump will keep escalating as he seeks the next crest of attention.  Now that he has called for a “total and complete” ban on Muslims, it is only a matter of time before the violence slouching in his rhetoric spurs a rash of physical attacks.  Hate groups are already benefitting (1).  A few days ago a severed pig’s head was thrown at a mosque in Philadelphia, and in general attacks on Mulisms are on the rise.  Trump didn’t create this hysteria but he stokes it and focuses it in monstrous ways:

Instead of standing by and saying things like, “Can he get any dumber” and dismissing his campaign as “foolish,” we need to open our eyes.  The blitzkrieg-quick momentum of the demagoguery, and how far it has taken America (and the world) into darkness, is probative and prophetic.  Painful though it is, we need to confront this fascism.  We are not doomed to repeat history, yet if we do repeat it, WWIII will end history.  Notice how divorced from fact and reality Trump’s narcissism sits, on its throne of lies, and realize that his ego needs more and more, which requires pushing the tension to extremes (the desire to hate in his followers demands it, so Trump is also a pawn).  The ultimate end, as his grandstanding meets stronger and stronger resistance, will be a nuclear launch.  Deified hate, in its supreme reach for anti-glory, will not shy from sacrificing the human race.

The brain is far different from a computer, so I am leery of analogies.  But we’ve begun to discuss how computers “think, see, hear,” and so on.  They continue to complexify, and rudimentary comparisons can be useful.  So, I want to bring up the concept of a psychological virus  The psychological virus as a correlative of a computer virus.

Computers are adaptive and malleable but when a computer virus takes hold, it attenuates the machine’s ability.  It does so by infiltrating and spreading into command systems, wherever they might be in the operating system. The result is an infection, a terrible hobbling of the machine’s reach.  Likewise, Trump’s insidious, demonizing phillipics send out a psychological virus, a trojan horse  for the mind. 

The hate seeps in, solidifies a black-and-white worldview, creating what psychologists call confirmation bias.  Perception gets skewed, sees what it wants, regardless of evidence.  The neuroplasticity of the dendrites gets locked down, with an emphasis on the higher, cortical regions.  The mental garden of neurotransmittters, with all its capacity to bloom with candor, hardens into a warren of intransigence.

Once a psychological virus is in place, it can’t be removed, unlike its computer counterpart.  Our society embraces the idea of the adult human being as a rational autonomous agent.  However, as marketing firms, scholars, and political advisers know, this is far from how life actually transpires.  Simple emotional appeals, the ‘big lie’ (to reference the infamous Hitler quote) are far better ways to reach much of the population, especially when they are disaffected, as by a cruel, unjust economy.  Better to channel thought rather than appeal to its noble rational side.  Better to strap autonomy within a harness of prejudice rather than let someone steer their own  well-considered course.  The followers of hate-speakers can be incredibly intelligent and yet also psychologically trussed.

When capacity for thought has been subverted so much that it modifes fact for specious, fallacious ends, the sort that sustain and expand a militarized, racist march, the person in question has been fully co-opted into the darkest of mental diseases.

The use of such techniques (I'm calling them psychological viruses to show how vulnerable, how susceptible, we truly are; and to belie the great myth of our simple rational autonomy) is well-known.  They have been investigated and documented throughout the bellicose record of human discord.  In light of this scholarship, we can talk of the psychological virus as being the weapon of 'neurochemical warfare':  the use of rhetoric to mobilize people into a crusade, and instill a devotion to whatever atrocity is demanded by the collective delusion.  That there is one great leader, a singular force akin to a god, a perfect being who can do no wrong, that is the historical exemplar, and it is one that Trump clearly craves.

The stronger he gets, the weaker he will get.  Even the slightest hint of disagreement could become a slight:  a lack of fealty to the Father.  He will lash out, thinner and thinner, needier and needier.  At some point, the very existence of the world itself must offend him.  He will then try to make it pay for imposing the truth:  that he is not really a god, not always right, not even close; and, in fact, he pushes to become something far different, the opposite of what he claims:  a spearhead, not of the good and pure, but rather of global evil.


Saturday, November 28, 2015

Sane Zombies

Sane zombies?  It’s a contradiction in essence.  But that’s the point.   


In my last post, I talked about werewolves and vampires as symbolisms of human monstrosity.  For instance, our devastating effect on the meteorological homeostasis of the planet.  Our relationships revolve around ugly poles: exploiter and the exploited; consumer and the consumed; nobles and toadies.  


The potential to actualize gets sacrificed to this maleficent trench. 


The zombie theme adds another component:  the teeming senselessness.  Idiot conformity.  Our airwaves endure an orgy of zombie parades, and small islands of the besieged.  The last stand of true awareness.  Ragged heroes, surrounded by a sea of compromised flesh.


There are two conclusions.  We have a huge amount of subconscious disgust for our fellow citizens.  Moreover, there is catharsis in acting out the role of a mass slaughter.   A brutal judge, taking a machete or shotgun to the skulls of the lost.


Violence simmers in our subconscious.  We see our fellow humans as idiots.


There are those who feeds off this, and magnify it. 


Warnings about Donald Trump’s trajectory have already been written, excellent op-eds in newspapers like the Washington Post and the New York Times.  Here’s a few, one is explicitly Hitleresque:



We all partake in the furtherance of the zombie, vampire, and werewolf themes.   We may not be aware (hence zombie?), but we buy things, all kinds of things, made by the oppressed.  We suck the life blood of sweatshop workers, and plod along the path of consumerist devouring.  


Another form of it:  We in the USA contribute to greenhouse gas emissions at a grossly disproportionate rate.  With the boomer generation as bellwether--frontline zombiedom, we are blithe in our habits, our driving of fancy cars, our casual flipping of the coal-hungry electric switch.  


The vertical production chains showcase ways in which we support (effectively revel in) the degradation of Gaia, and the extirpation of Her creatures.


Despite all this, as mentioned in the last blog entry, there is a difference between monsters.  That we are all to blame does not make us equally culpable.  Werewolves and vampires can decide to do good acts.  It’s never too late.  Zombies can become more aware, even if it is in paltry increments.


Trump could become President.  He erects a wall between the USA and Mexico.  He registers Muslims in a data base.  He feasts on bloated social veins of ethnic antipathy.  He has said America must do the “unthinkable.”  


Are we to assume his gross narcissism will stop short of nuclear options?  Should we hope he won’t go too far, as many did with Hitler?  Narcissists and sociopaths--and he is both--need to up the ante, constantly, to get their rise.


Too often we use the idiom ‘nuclear option’ in casual ways.   We need to be alert to the tens of thousands of ICBM’s launchable by a hate-monger like President Trump, or by any one of the other leaders in other troubled countries that possess such doomsday weapons.  


India and Pakistan are a rancorous pair, locked in mutual seethe.  North Korea, absolutely Orwellian, has nuclear weapons.  And so on.  


It comes down to how we deal with our disgust and rage.  I think Martin Luther King, Jr. had it right.  Only love has a chance to overcome hate.   Hitler’s hatespeak led us into WWII.  We can’t afford to let Trump’s hatespeak reign.


It’s tremendously hard not to mock and taunt the Trumpites, their starry-eyed chants. They are zombies, though even less aware, more ignorant, due to their acceptance and spread of White heteronormative patriarchy.


This article came out yesterday:



Love is the only way to challenge the momentum of such rancor.  Jesus was compassionate toward the poor and the weak.  If liberals respond to Trump's followers with agape, the kind of love MLK endorsed, or Buddhist compassion, or any other spiritual tradition of care, as opposed to attack, it will make it harder for Trumpites to see those outside their in-group as subhuman.  It could disrupt the black-and-white worldview.  Perhaps more importantly, it could influence those who are still undecided, apathetic or unaware.  Those on the fence.


Still, humanity seems to be marching in good zombie-fashion toward doom.  The USA, with its supreme military, harbors tens of millions of citizens foaming at the mouth before the infectious vitriol of their grand hotspur--a needy man of huge ego who, according to his ex-wife, kept a book of Hitler’s speeches next to his bed.  


White protesters with guns in Dallas, standing near an Islamic sanctuary.  Scary, scary photos:


Sane zombies.  That’s impossible.  So… what?


 “The great way is easy, yet people prefer the side paths” -- Lao Tzu.


"When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace."

-- Jimi Hendrix 







Thursday, October 8, 2015

Better Vampires, Saner Werewolves

I think the political cartoon below by Pat Bagley nicely sums up the split mind of the USA.  On one side, you have people pushing for progress and greater awareness.  You can easily imagine a multicultural diversity of folks.  On the other, you have a faction in denial, driven by fear and hate, locked into closed-mindedness.  This, it is clear, is the Republican side, the stubborn  and bitter white core that is, demographically, fading in numbers relative to other ethnic groups.  These are the folks that buy readily into, say, Donald Trump’s intense racism when he says he wants to build a wall between the US and Mexico.

I don’t write on this blog much anymore, mostly because I am fixated on my novel, which involves two very different cultures and two sets of protagonists.  Another reason, much less, is that I feel the main points I want to emphasize are fairly simple.  Bagley’s cartoon sums a lot of it up.  I’m just repeating myself when I lament that we are in the midst of the Earth’s sixth mass extinction, and our declining war-addicted empire just doesn’t care.  It comes down to human psychology.  Our enemy is not ‘out there’ somewhere.  To quote a famous cartoon character, "The enemy is us." 

What a world you and I were born into, worthy of awe and disgust.  It's a human-dominated place, on the verge of nuclear war or some other civilization-ending chaos.  We're about to merge our bodies with computers and cyborgery.  Just the last few hundred years have seen the Earth change in ways not seen in its 4.5 billion year history.

Still, we humans act more like ants than empathic, sentient creatures.  How many of us are sickened and grieved by the genocide of the Native Americans that took place not long ago, committed so that the USA could expand, following its selfish goal of “Manifest Destiny.”  Every privilege I have, every bit of time to write or think, or just be free of worry, comes at the price of unmentionable injustice. 

None of us should forget, but most of us do.  And we who benefit from atrocity deserve our burden of shame.  This is not ancient history.  Scalps sold, massacres conducted, hatred incarnated into murderous cruelty.    

But, yes, we remain ant-like.  Look at how many people cling with nostalgia to the Civil War (1861-1865).  We are very much still children of those times, and its White supremacy.

It's impossible to face all the horror of what we've done and do, unless you also look at the miraculous side of life.  My life is a strange duality of fascination for the beautiful, and utter disappointment in humans.  Also disappointment in the Architects of this universe, so magical and yet tragically callous.  Nature is resplendent and giving, yes, but also inveterate with violence.  Themes of predation and brutality are essential cogs in the clockwork of ecological systems.

I frequently rail at God, though I doubt there is one ‘God’ who created all this.  Still, such a concept supplies an easy, cathartic target.  A convenient effigy.  I often tell God how much I hate him (usually it is "him," to include my disgust for patriarchy).

Other times I am in love with God/dess.

Beauty and ugliness.  God as wondrous or diabolical.  Humans as incredible or disgusting.  We humans can do better.  But we are also very much pawns of greater systems and zeitgeists.  

It makes sense that we are fascinated by vampires and werewolves.  I think this is so in large part because humans are, in a legitimate, physical sense, vampires and werewolves.  

We consume life, even torture it in factory farms, to survive.  Our need to consume life, magnified through the egregious lens of consumerism (note the essence of that:  consume), has turned much of the planet into a stranglehold of crop lattices and rainforest-slaying ranches.

We are also werewolves.  We wear pretty faces.  We smile and act cute or noble.  We proclaim Liberty, Equality and all that.  But there's another side.  The full truth exposes us in World Wars, sweatshops, an the industrial claws of avarice that swipe the skin of this abused world.  

Anyone reading this is situated somewhere in the sexist, racist, classist pyramid of status, wealth and power.  Behind the smiles, then, gross injustice.  And, as I said above, the specter and very real financial benefit from recent atrocity of Indigenous people and the slavery of Black people.

Yes, we are vampires and werewolves.  All humans, really, in some way or another.  But some are worse, much worse.  And that brings me to my main point:  we can do good acts, we can improve.

 This philosophy revolves around polarities--good and evil--yet acknowledges the importance of gradations between them.  The extremes are there, but we play out our lives in-between.   

That doesn't mean we can't seek the good.   Or do good acts.  We can each move forward as individuals.  And, since we're all interconnected, we can move collectively.  Social, cultural and technological networks interrelate us.  Feminists, for example, have known for quite a while that self-identity is in large part formed by relationships.  

My own spirituality now accepts spirit guides--forces that include, as part of their complexity, a quest to improve ethically.  This isn't anything new, really.  Shamanism was the very first religion on the planet.  We've lost touch with its psychic power.

For myself, there is no sense to say there is an all-powerful, all-Good God watching over us.  Such a being would not allow the evils we face and perpetrate.  As I said above, I like to rail at God, hate God, wrestle with God like Jacob did in the Bible.  Heck, Jacob even won, until God cheated and dislocated his hip.

If we do seek the Good, we can move our global civilization away from its current trajectory toward another world war.  At some point, in our technological progress, our ability to create thinking machines will allow us to create ethical beings, good beings--Angels.  This concept, of what an angel could be, or do, is well-worth exploring as we move forward and create more and more capable robots to do more and more work.

Ethical algorithms are already being developed for self-driving cars.  

Whatever we do, we need to get away from the sociopathic mindset that the Earth and its creatures are just bland resources, numbers in a profit equation.  We need to create cultures of governance and corporate leadership that do not reward and thereby advance narcissism and sociopathy.  

You want to know what freedom is?  It is becoming more and more aware, consciousness-raising, in a context of being able to make wise choices.  Indeed, greater awareness is a curse, if you can't handle it.  But if you can--that is freedom.

Fly Well In the Dark,


(click on image to expand)

Friday, August 21, 2015

Afternoon Thoughts

If I had to give advice to a young peson, I would say, ‘Get used to knowing the truth and not being heard.’  Even more:  ‘Get used to working in social situations where bringing up the truth is counterproductive.’  However, ‘Learn to fight effectively for the truth, and to keep yourself well despite the frustration.’

My latest frustration is an article in the Washington Post titled, “Inside the GOP field’s new strategies to ride out the Trump tornado.”  It’s a dull, pragmatic piece that points to three strategies:  (a) attack Trump, (b) join Trump, (c) ignore Trump.   What’s entirely missing in the article is the frightening racism that Trump  pushes.  He wants to build a massive wall, create a huge police state to deport millions of  “illegals,” and he recently referred to some of his followers who beat a Mexican as “passionate.”  There is only one ethical strategy for dealing with Trump:  condemn his racist demagoguery and point out the dangerous slide he is taking into fascism. 

Instead, what you get from the article is that the candidates want to tap into Trump’s followers, not by condemning their racism, but by harnessing it for their own campaign.

Let’s be honest, Trump is a large step toward a Hitler.  To not see that, or speak against it at this point, is egregious and broken.  Hence our country is egregious and broken.  It is, indeed, a decadent, wealth-dominated imperial nation in decline.

America is infected with virulent racism, and the Republican Party is effectively its champion.  But you can’t say that.  You get nowhere and you get attacked.  The confederate flag was recently taken down in South Carolina from a prominent site.  But the backlash is large, and, within its fury rides a mighty racism.  The promoters of the confederate flag have even rewritten US history, making the civil war about States’ rights, not slavery.

They not only refuse to see truth, they attempt to obliterate it.

Another truth:  the United States was built on a genocidal push to eliminate or ‘civilize’ Native Americans.   Not only did the US remove and diminish the Native cultures, it embraced european attitudes of domination and enslavement.  This applies to peoples but also wilderness and nature as well.  The Native Americans respected nature as spiritual and reciprocal.  In the US, nature is a resource to  be exploited.  “Resource,” “exploit”--these represent the vocabulary of an ego-centered, material culture that has turned a beautiful continent into an impoverished one in a geological blink of time. 

Slaughtering millions of buffalo and laying train tracks--that serves as a symbolism of the ideological sickness.  So does blowing the heads off mountains to get at the coal inside.  So does the greed of the oil companies, and all the pollution, traffic and degradation thereby entailed.

The US has new technological powers, but it acts with callous disregard in its implementation of those powers.  “Callous disregard” is an understatement, given the atrocities, given the extinctions of species, given the uglification of the Earth.

Even global warming is considered a hoax by Republicans.  If you say otherwise, you are part of a conspiracy.

It’s so frustrating to try to speak the truth.  Humanity might well collapse soon, still not listening, still in denial, as those who speak truth continue, without being heard, to speak out.

Anybody who wants to live honestly on the Earth needs to be aware of this profoundly dysfunctional mass psychology.

Another truth:  the Christian god is not the one real god.  Christianity itself is a belief system based on myths.  This is the truth.  But you can’t say this. 

There is an epidemic of rape and other violence against women in this country.  We don’t talk  about it.  The internet fosters a massive realm of anonymous misogyny.  For Republicans especially, whose leaders are most all men (and white), these issues are off the table.  Welfare recipients are mostly single women raising children, and Republicans attack welfare recipients, tapping into sexism, racism and misogyny.

Recently, a woman in college carried a mattress with her on campus and even to graduation, to make a statement:  that she was raped, and the university not only didn’t hearbut also stood in the way of justice.  She literally carried a mattress, using it as a symbol of the truth of what happened.  She was ignored or belittled by those in power.  The Dean refused to shake her hand at graduation.

Just recently, the Black Lives Matter movement started to speak out about the violence against blacks by police, police who never suffered for their unprosecuted  crimes.  For generations, they got away with shooting blacks with no consequences.

In our society, there is so much of this denial.  If you have been sexually abused and try to seek acknowledgement, expect not only the perpetrator--almost always a male--to deny it, but also the social system.

I could go on and on.  The big one is that human civilization is on the brink of collapse, either ecological or through nuclear war.  But the more you talk about this, the less you are heard.

So, if you are going to be honest and not stifle your conscience, get ready to deal with being an outsider.  You’ll be aware but ostracized. It seems that a lot of young people, late teens, early twenties, are open-minded and see society’s lies, and feel serious frustration.  History shows us that they are the essence of social movements.  The younger generations are our hope.  We should listen to them much, much more

This is what I have learned in my fifty-two years of life.  Happy birthday to me, Aug 21, 2015.