21 December 2010

The Story of Story

Not from the beginning; from now. This story has been told before, but is soon forgot in all the stories that come after.

This one, for instance, began with a shadow hunter on a candlelit ceiling. Then, a ceiling fan. Finally, a computer. And yet, there is always more after the finally is finally done. So now we come back to this story of story again.

What happens, you ask?

What comes next?

It could be over in an instant. It could be delivered by the good grace of the spirits or the Great Spirit Self of all separate selfs, known not selfishly as the Universe. Or perhaps in the naming, distinguishing, we do gain that distinction, self-ish, through self-distinguishing, the opposite of enlightenment, self-extinguishing. After all, the language is made that way. To identify, discriminate, divide and thereby conquer. The earth, that battleground of human will to grasp.

Some would say the story has ended as of this moment, 10:31 PM Hawaii time, with full lunar eclipse tonight before Solstice day. Some, that is, who interpret this event as the actual "end of the Mayan calendar," instead of the usual target of 21/12/2121. Some say that means "the end of time" - either the apocalypse version, or just a cosmic stopwatch punching out "no time." Some say it'll be just more of the same, bigbiz as usual, which means of course "apocalypse now, middle east remix." And I know one guy who would take the numbers and work out a cool djembe beat, g d P T g d g d P d g T.

So we come down to the nitty gritty: what is your story? What is mine? I'm sure we'd both rather hear about yours, so why don't you start?

While you're thinking about it, I'll just type some thoughts here on the subject of psychology. The story, the story goes, is just a story, and we can let it go, in the dark of this full moon at the dark of this year.

If I delve, for instance, into my own story now, it becomes a journal, and I might be inclined to nurse its tenuous existence offstage, if I don't like what I'm feeling now, shrinking from concern over how I must appear ... though Little Grandmother Kiesha Crowder and the great Abraham Maslow agree, that the first principle of self-actualized people is to have no concern for the opinions other people have about you, for those too are only stories, and not even ours. And likewise you don't judge them by your own story, but accept that they too are learning just as we all are, all faces of God, who chose to be here for this difficult learning. David Wilcock in his October Surprise radio interview echoes these sentiments in his conclusion, pointing to our higher self becoming available when we still the mind of its normal chatter, not striving however for some perfect Zen garden or abstract void, rather to create an opening for higher self to come through, to speak, to manifest.

Whether the higher self is identified with angels or demons, aliens or space sisters, God in his Darwinian beard and Charlton Heston brow, or the well-padded earth goddess herself, it comes to clear the air of the TV-grade stories, the propaganda news, gossip and hearsay, grief of the past and fear of the future, caught in the middle, reasons why, if only, she said he said, then what? Something new, imagine that. But of course, if I sound cynical, despite my highest wishes, it is because my tool is the dull hammer of the mechanical age, glyphs on virtual parchment, ants of logical construction yammering across the page as if to trace whole murals of truth.

In tonight's dance class teaching, we are called to center in the body. A couple inches below the navel, will connect us also to the earth. A center in the heart, to all beings. And in the mind, our center connects us to all parts of creation. (Note: that's natural creation, not trash, which Little Grandmother reminds us is something only we careless selfish humans create.)

The stories go on, because that is the function of language, to create stories. You might say that language is the earth, its geology, and stories are its form of life, its biology. Or to switch academic departments, linguistics studies language, literature studies stories.

It is interesting to note in today's media world how so many kinds of stories now are hybrids. Half the Maui Film Festival's offerings this winter are pegged in the brochure as "dramedy," a term I'd never heard before. Of course it's been a noticeable trend in film for a decade or more (a real film buff could nail that down for you, or perhaps a couple of minutes of my time either now or later, googling and doing a bit of research, but I'd much rather continue this conversation with you) ... But wait--I realize now my error. You were preparing your own monologue, while I pursued this other trail for the most part assuming a listener, which is to say reader, but the only one available was you, and you were busy, so the whole exercise ends up being just that, an exercise.

Now see, in the time it took me to type the above, I might have departed into that other storyline - or you might say, followed the central thread instead of digressing, yet at the time it felt like digression; so how to tell, at any given moment, which is which? - for a quick consultation of Google, and so all right, since you insist ... hummpf. The article discusses literature (19th-century drama - Chekhov, Ibsen, Shaw) and TV (1969, advent of comedy-dramas) but not film. The thread stops here, apparently.

The reference to the dramatists, however, strikes a note of connection to theme, if not storyline itself: the stance of irony. Irony is the mode, after all, of discourse when our story discusses itself, or pretends to discuss itself, or merely silently offers its opinion in the form of the clothing, the coloring, the style, the selection of story elements it chooses to present. In this light, you might call any author ironic. True, there is a mimicking of creation - no, an enactment of creation - in any, well, creation. So there is the thing itself, presented in particular definition provided by the eye of the beholder who is the author; but then the reader has your own interpretation; and the author smiles whether benignly or sarcastically, and even on occasion may have a word to say edgewise. Or even, on rarer occasion, steal the whole show, shoo out the audience, kick back and light a cigar to watch the premiere all by his Orson Welles lonesome.

Coming back to the higher self, where did it go? When last seen it was hiding in the center of the mind. Then suddenly, as if sucked into the stargate at the center of the capstan (for all you sailing buffs), it vamoosed back to the mother ship complaining, "Jeez, X98&$@f, these po mo fo's a piece a work!"

So here I put off dark-night's sleep, intending to write a serious tome or at least reverent epistle but instead manage only this garbled transcription of a shoddy demo tape of an ancient lecture on dramatic irony when really, the clearest insight to come out of it all is the wikiquip about the Greek model (and they should know, because didn't they invent language, or at least philosophy?), to the effect that all stories are about either movin' up the ladder (comedy) or down (tragedy). Now so as not to end on that sour note, I leave you with - what, a homily? A joke? No, jokes go at the beginning, to get them on your side. You don't want to end with "The joke's on you, sucker." No, you end with appreciation, and inspiration, and motivation to do that meditation, and invite that higher self in ... you see, some can preach and mean it, they can use the good word as the Bible intended, the Word of God, that can be trusted, and that alone, because it comes from the Highest Authority, and so on. In the Beginning, after all, I mean before all, was, I mean is, the Word.

So is the user of language doomed to intentional (political) or unintentional (religious) obfuscation, or exiled to the inherent irony of fiction?

The question brings us back to the hybridization, the melting pot, the unified field of film genres, of TV shows, of news and documentaries, of fiction, nonfiction, drama, journalism, theatre and politics, puppet show and circus du jour. Reality TV has been replaced by Reality Reality, where events are orchestrated and spun at the highest levels of power and influence, at the expense of truth and justice and common sense. Trouble is, common sense is out the window when the man and woman and children inside stay glued to the box, the screen, the flashing pad.

"Must we always stray into the political?" complains the bourgeois art critic. "Must you in fact use that odious word, 'bourgeois'? The word itself reeks of politics."

And so it does. Easier to disguise one's politics in fiction, I suppose. Just ask the White House Press Corpse (absent Helen Thomas).

If there is a point to all of this, it is this: Life is a story. Our life is a story, is full of stories. Our story is being written every minute - not just one but multiple plot lines, simultaneous variations on what we hoped might be a single theme. And always these pesky interruptions, keeping us from what we intended, and still intend, to do or say. So now that it comes down to saying it ...

It comes back to that vertebrate legacy, the spine. I danced tonight with backbone all curvy, until I realized how snakelike, I mean, how feminine it really was, and so changed my stride to more of the yangmaster strutting around shirtless with arms stiff and fists clenched. So my personal story on this new moon solstice end of the world, casting behind what does not serve, is about becoming a new man, dedicating this practice to my tragic good soldier fallen angel father, for his braveness in the genocidal turmoil and tarnished hopes of a generation, and with forgiveness for his weakness of spirit against the onslaught of collective karma. I was the lucky one, for his sins set me free to emerge into whatever form I might be.

Yet still I demur. Except to stake this modest claim: storyteller (damning epithet of Dad and Mom, who warned me of the consequences, the whipping house; but hey, what do they call someone who doesn't speak at all? Dumb). So it appears, at first glance, a lose-lose proposition: Remain silent and enjoy no fully human identity; or risk falsehood in every word, every remark and opinion, every belief and claim. Ah, now we are set up for the heroic - to accept the silence and from that grounding take the risk: a mission worthy of any reader who may have just woken from his or her nap in time to catch this conclusion, before I lay me down to sleep on the longest night of the year, while the new world births.

Take the risk - we have nothing more to lose. Or everything to lose, and thus finally open to the universal energy we crave to bathe in, the larger story wanting to tell itself anew in our own voice:

Tilling soil, planting seeds, clearing weeds, tasting fruit.

03 December 2010

Maui Time

Two months in Maui this time around, and once again life feels more or less normal here, after the initial month or so of settling in, reorienting to a new residence and neighborhood, reconnecting with previous friends and new acquaintances.

The logistics of the move this year fell into place effortlessly, with a single email to a former drum student landing me a comfortable suite for reasonable rent, and a wider mailing to local friends yielding a reliable low-cost car.

This year I face none of the hardships of high-altitude living, all too similar to high-latitude living, in the nightly dive of the thermometer. Every day I see the scoreboard on my desktop with the lopsided tally (23-2; 28-7; 23- -4, Celsius) reminding me why I'm here.

The island's best beaches lie waiting every morning just minutes away by car, with extended walks between and beyond the resorts of Wailea, down to the wild reaches of Makena and La Perouse. I have snorkeled just once this time, gone on one long ridge hike, seen no turtles or whales yet. The daily routine of swimming and walking is enough, I find, to connect well with the place, the land, water, air, and beloved sunshine.

During such outings I often, as in Victoria summer outings, carry materials to multitask on various creative projects: editingwritingreading, music selection, rhythm studyflute and drum practice, planning.

Opportunities for drumming continue in various forms: Haitian and Brazilian dance classes every week, and less frequently, West African dance; Afro-Cuban jams with traditional rhythms and songs; informal workshopping with fellow drummers; private lessons to teach; and of course, the ever-inspiring Little Beach jams every Sunday afternoon, tending more or less to the West African style.

This year I have pared down my usual slate of other events including groups meeting for spiritual practices and teachings, yoga classes, and 5-rhythms dances. Living here on the "sunny side" means a longer drive to such events which happen most often on the rainier, which is to say cheaper, which is to say, more alternative region of the island. Still, I have sampled the laying on of hands (Deeksha), the toning of the sacred sound "Hu," Sufi dancing ("Zikr"), and attended a weekend workshop for writers. In general, though, when it comes to the cornucopia of possible events being offered, I continue my discoveries on the path of "less is more."

I spend most of my indoor time at home on the computer, engaged in a variety of creative projects, editing work, ongoing research in world affairs, and periodic indulgence in televised events: first the baseball playoffs, and lately the TV series (via Internet archives) The Event. The primary project occupying my attention has been work to edit and revise a novel of the Canadian North, inspired by the three years I spent in Arctic Quebec in the 70s. The other major focus has been to edit, select and compile, from a vast amount of raw recordings, several CDs worth of music from the Victoria-area improvisation group Strange Moon.

Just released are two albums featuring my flute music, largely recorded in Strange Moon jams. Coming soon are albums featuring E. Neptune on flute, Axel on keyboards, and two thematic compilations, Strange Yoga and Strange Funk. For some sneak previews, check out the slide presentation "Wailea," more flute tracks available for free download, and assorted Strange Moon selections at MySpaceFacebookReverbnation, and the Strange Moon website. Send me an email if you want to make sure to hear about it when these new albums are released!

With all of this enjoyment of what life offers on this beautiful island, and taking advantage of my opportunity for creative projects, I have also enjoyed connecting with old and new friends from further north, the first wave of the annual snowbirds who come to dip their toes in the surf and sample the local vibe which goes simply by the name, "Aloha." For those who cannot hop across Pacific Pond so easily, I hear that leg warmers, wrist warmers, and abdominal scarfs can help beat the icy blasts. Bon chance, mes amis! A la prochaine...


02 December 2010

The Event - TV review

One of the intentions of corporate-controlled media is to instill in people a sense of disempowerment, of immobilization and paralysis. Its outcome is to turn you into good consumers. It is to keep people isolated, to feel that there is no possibility for social change. --David Barsamian, journalist and publisher (source)

The Event, in personal terms, represents a significant event in my TV-viewing history (though I didn't really watch it on TV, but in archived form on the Internet - available through February). It's the only TV series I've watched since I was a teenager growing up in suburban middle-class America. Part of the reason for my decades-long fast has been a resistance to the numbing irrelevance of TV content, and part a resistance to the packaged consumerism which that form of media, with its built-in corporate sponsorship, represents.
Why, then, is this "conspiracy thriller" so riveting? Mainstream reviewers have downplayed the politics, discussing instead such entertainment staples as character development and narrative structure. These episodes, for example, proceed not in linear fashion but rather as a mosaic of scenes scattered across a checkerboard of times and places. I find the characters/actors compelling enough; while the action and suspense play expertly on tension and emotion. The heart of my interest in this story, however, lies in its artful approximation of the multi-layered plotting that passes for political reality in this age of disclosure.

It may be coincidence that the series airs while Wikileaks dominates the newswaves with revelations of diplomatic and intelligence double-dealing on the world stage. That the major funding for the program may, according to David Wilcock's sources, come from the Pentagon. That key events bear an uncanny resemblance to documented government coverups such as the invasion of Iraq (or Iran) 9/11contact with extraterrestrials, and Presidential assassination. Along with these tantalizing mysteries within the TV plot, comes the greater mystery of its relation to such actual events and workings of realpolitik.

While mainstream news media (owned by a handful of vested interests) continues to pooh-pooh, mock, or ignore such dangerously troublesome matters, the alternative news media on the Internet has feasted on the information available to substantiate such claims of actual conspiracy. The viewing public is caught in the middle, either continuing to swallow the official narrative of such events, or learning by accumulated evidence (and common sense) to question, at least, the government line. After navigating the minefield of realities and fictions, mere questioning leads to a blanket distrust of all government and media pronouncements.

Into this breach of belief steps The Event. From the dialogue emerges, in plain sight, the basic operating principle of the government intelligence apparatus: to construct, at every point, a "narrative" that will satisfy the public - and at the same time "protect them from the truth" - while keeping hidden the more inconveniently explosive truths. On some matters even the highest levels of government, the President included, are cut out of the "need to know" loop; while more shadowy figures pull the strings for their own agenda of power and control.

In mainstream political discourse and reporting today, the very word "conspiracy" has been co-opted by the official narrative. The term itself simply denotes planning in secret. What we can well imagine, though it is not revealed, is degraded to the status of fantasy. A plausible explanation, if it doesn't match the party line, is by default considered not fact but "theory." Yet conspiracy is the bread and butter of this series. With what intent?

The theory of Pentagon funding aside, it bears asking: Is there an agenda, either artistic or political, behind this major TV series?

For starters, the impulse of disclosure is evident. The similarity of the fictional President Martinez to Obama, and of the Vice President to Cheney (or perhaps John McCain) is striking. The alien crash of 1944 in Alaska recalls the famous Roswell incident of 1947. Elimination of key witnesses and whistleblowers, a matter of course. Infiltration of CIA, FBI, police and security forces at every level, evident in every episode. If we have been living in denial of such machinations, the show will open our eyes. On the other hand, the result can be overkill; we may go from disbelieving all conspiracies, to seeing them everywhere and thus disappearing into a one-way web of suspicions and conflicting theories.

The double-agent thriller, after all, is nothing new. Everything, we might conclude, is not only suspect, but fatally corrupt. We then may continue to watch the events unfold, as entertainment, numbed to powerlessness by an endless chain of execution, coercion, passing of responsibility up the chain of command to regions and persons we cannot hope, in the real world, ever to expose to resist - if we care for our lives and our loved ones.

I am left with two theories to explain the motives behind this series:

1) Entertainment. Clearly the producers are aware of the groundswell of interest in controversial matters of national security and policy. They are capitalizing on this interest by filling the void between mainstream and alternative narratives, exploiting the alternative views by presenting them in the only way that is politically acceptable at the present time: as fiction. This motive we might describe as mere commercialism.

2) Disclosure Management. There is enough documentation, analysis, and access to the alternative paradigm out there by now, that disclosure of events and strategies previously hidden has passed from theory to front-page news. Disclosure is allowed (however grudgingly, as in the case of Wikileaks) but diluted. So there are damning videos or diplomatic cables to worry about - but not to worry, just let the documentation and commentary grow to indigestible proportions. In the meantime, public reaction can be gauged, prominent voices identified, and the real story released slowly amid the confusion - while the next new crisis is orchestrated to make past events and narratives seem irrelevant, water under the bridge, artifacts of history. Finally if, as such commentators as David Wilcock insist, actual disclosure is imminent, then public reaction can be softened by these measured doses of forewarning. By the time the real story is announced, we are habituated to it; it's old news after all. Life goes on; we change the channel in search of the next storyline.
The motivations of entertainment and disclosure are not mutually exclusive. Even those hiding the truths - of government complicity in 9/11, for example - must know that the truth will come out, that it has come out already. For them strategy must switch from prevention to damage control; from creating a flimsy fiction (boxcutters, weather balloons, a lone gunman), to massaging the media so that every so-called fact becomes suspect, and each hypothesis must compete with variations until no coherent storyline remains.

We are engaged, riveted by our deep intuitive knowledge that the events represented in The Event are real - even awed that such revelations can be offered so boldly, so openly now. Yet in the process we fall into a new, more subtle paradigm of obfuscation. The dots are all there, in plain sight, to connect: but the frame of safety remains in place, the real world conspiracies free to continue outside the TV's narrative box. Even within the storyline of the TV episodes, there is no real hope of final justice or clarity. At the end of our hour of rapt attention, the mystery revealed has produced only further mystery, which we must come back to explore. A new twist, a new betrayal, a new escape of responsibility from final reckoning. Still, we come back for more ... because this story, after all, is the story of our public life.

Ironically the initial thrill, of seeing true stories finally brought to light, brings to mind the euphoria (which even this political skeptic felt) accompanying the Obama inauguration. The new leader denounced the excesses of the Bush era and promised fundamental change - before realpolitik (endless war and occupation in the Middle East, for example) took center stage again. Likewise, it is tempting to applaud, to take hope from The Event with its overdue exposure of government and other powerful interests. Yet ultimately this new story, or serial narrative, is not new at all. We already know from past disclosures (Gulf of Tonkin, Watergate, Iran-Contra, Pinochet, Iraq WMD, or simply from novels and thrillers of the Cold War) how this world operates at the highest levels. Repelled but fascinated, we crave knowing, seeing more truth revealed. But will that knowledge, as the slogan says, "give us power" or "set us free"?

Consciously intended or not, the effect of disclosure scripted in this fashion is to disempower the audience. There will be no reaction, in political terms. The real revolution will not be televised, and in fact a nation of TV junkies does not a revolution make, no matter the ideology.

The more relevant slogan remains, in McLuhan's famous words, "The medium is the message." We are lulled with a false sense of power and grace in viewing a facsimile of the truth, a virtual history; while the real version plays out freely behind the distraction. TV-watching teaches neither history nor liberation; rather it programs, it demands, by the very manner of our engagement with it, passivity and fear, and disengagement from real political discourse.

We might still try to point to the fabricated narrative and say, "Look, that's just like what really happened! It's exactly what's going on behind the scenes." True enough. But the flip side is that when we turn our attention to actual abuses of power, our claims can be redirected back to the box in the living room. There is a ready-made story to refer to, ingeniously constructed, at once far more powerful than the lame soundbites of official press conferences, and ultimately dismissable as mere fiction. "Yeah, right," the new rebuttal goes, "just like in that TV show."

Still, I say, better to be a witness of the truth, than to take refuge in apathy and denial. When this episode ends, I switch off the TV. At least, until the next one.

--Nowick Gray

See especially: 
The National Security State and the Assassination of JFK: The CIA, the Pentagon, and the `Peace President` (by Andrew Gavin Marshall)

The New American Century: This film exposes how every major war in US history was based on a complete fraud, with video of insiders themselves admitting it.

False Flag Terrorism and Amazing Coincidences

7/7 Ripple Effect: "Regarding the 7/7/2005 terrorist attacks in London, let us look at the facts, and what we were told, and compare them...."

Top digests of 9/11 disclosure: 9/11: The Myth and the Reality | | Anniversary of 9/11

See also: TruTV, Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura (former Governor of Minnesota)
>>update>> “Police State” episode of hit Ventura show covering FEMA camps pulled from air
>>update>> (but you can still watch it there (at the bottom of the linked page) ... so far! (as of 6 Dec. 2010)

See more at: Alternative News Media - links and recommended websites (AlternativeCulture.com)