Apr 11 2014

New Age Bullshit Generator

The New Age Bullshit Generator recently crossed my path.

I don’t know what’s worse.  How devastatingly accurate it is, how much it sounds like things I’ve heard people actually say, or the fact that I understand a lot of the randomized silliness it comes up with.

Like a mouse pushing a lever to get a pellet, I could probably keep reloading the damn thing for days.

An example:

This life is nothing short of a blossoming unifying of zero-point divinity.

By deepening, we exist. Faith is the driver of karma.

We are being called to explore the quantum soup itself as an interface between energy and choice.

It is time to take inspiration to the next level. This myth never ends. It is a sign of things to come.

The future will be an ethereal evolving of faith. The revolution of truth is now happening worldwide. Imagine an evolving of what could be.

Soon there will be a condensing of growth the likes of which the totality has never seen. Eons from now, we messengers will heal like never before as we are aligned by the totality. We must learn how to lead zero-point lives in the face of suffering.

If you have never experienced this rebirth devoid of self, it can be difficult to exist. Lifeform, look within and synergize yourself. It can be difficult to know where to begin.

We must bless ourselves and inspire others. Although you may not realize it, you are joyous. How should you navigate this ethereal solar system?

Enjoy!

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Apr 08 2014

An Old Story…but absolutely true.

Published by under Personal

It was a stark and dormy night.

Basically, due to circumstances I won’t even begin to go into here, my junior year of college started with me homeless. My housing had fallen through to abovementioned complications, and I needed a place to live.

I went to school in rural Pennsylvania. I’m not going to tell you exactly where, as I’m sure I’m opening myself up to all sorts of lawsuits by even mentioning names. In any event, the bit you do need to know is that this particular part of Pennsylvania has the second highest incest rate in the United States. No shit. If you’ve ever wondered what the Deep Ones looked like in H.P. Lovecraft’s The Shadow Over Innsmouth, I have a pretty good idea.

I got the last available apartment in town. It was in a building that I later found out that my father had dubbed “The Tenement” (he had also gone to school in this town). There were five windows missing when I moved in. This was my first apartment. I will never forget it. I rented the apartment from Beverly B____. When I told people who I was renting from, I’d get the same reaction each time. People would shake their heads and smile at me.

Local legend has it that Bev’s mother never paid to have her delivered, either. I guess at that point, you can’t exactly “reposess” an infant and put it back. But I digress.

As much as I loved Kathy Bates in the movie version of Stephen King’s Misery, I have no choice but to believe that the character was based on Bev. Bev would disappear for days on end. My roomie and I could only figure she’d “gone to her laughing place”. Incidentally, Bev’s place smelled like a year’s worth of used pantyhose. That’s the only way I can begin to describe it. She was a large, greasy woman, missing a few fundamental chromosomes.

The day that I moved in, there was no electricity in my apartment. There was also no running water in the kitchen, and no shower. After 3 days of knocking on Bev’s door (her place was joined to the apartment building), I still was unable to find her to get her to throw the main breaker switch in the locked basement. I was coming back from class on the third day, and to my surprise the apartment building was surrounded by police cars, and several cops were pounding on Bev’s door. I grabbed the nearest undercover-narcotics-officer-along-for-the-bust and asked him what was going on. “Oh, Bev’s going in for tax evasion again.” I informed him that they were not taking her anywhere until she turned on the electricity in my apartment. He asked me with a rather bewildered look on his face if I was renting from her, and how long I’d been without power. I told him, and he just laughed. Fortunately, they made her turn on the power before they hauled her in.

Not long thereafter, Bev’s maintenance crew descended on the apartment building to begin repairs. Now around this time, I had also watched John Waters’ Pink Flamingos for the first time, and was amazed at the similarities between the people in that film, and the people I was dealing with in regards to the apartment. The maintenance crew consisted of a woman my roomie and I nicknamed ALF. For Alien Life Form. ALF had a chin that stuck out 8 inches (I’m not exaggerating) from the front of her face. ALF also had a daughter named Porky. Now lest you think we were being mean, that’s what ALF called her. I have no idea what her real name was. The third member of the crew was someone we dubbed “Crackers the Dog Boy”. All he did was woof. I never heard a single word come out of his mouth.

The repairs on the apartment were promptly ignored by the crew in favor of re-painting the trim at the bottom of the walls. Never mind that we had no shower. Never mind, that it was October, and we were still missing 5 windows. Never mind, that we had no running water in the kitchen, and had to do our dishes in the tub. Never mind, that the guy down the hall did not have a functioning toilet or shower, and had to use our bathroom. Goshdurnit, if that trim didn’t need painting! And more painting. And more painting. And even more painting.

I remember one day, Bev came knockin’ on our door, asking me if we’d heard any noises the night before. We hadn’t. According to her, Crackers The Dog Boy had been “prowling up on the roof trying to see her nekkid, and she had just gotten out of the bath, and slathered herself up with Vicks Vap-O-Rub!”

Even more disturbing, was that ALF kept trying to set me up with Porky. “Porky likes you. She thinks you’re cute.” *shudder*. But the kicker, was the day that Porky didn’t show up. “Betcher wonderin’ where Porky is!” ALF asked me. (“No, not really”, I wanted to reply). But before I could respond, came the words that haunt me to this day. “Porky don’t go outdoors no more. She’s afraid of rocks.”

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Apr 01 2014

Sabbath Assembly – Quaternity

As It Is…

Sabbath Assembly - Quaternity

Sabbath Assembly – Quaternity

Sabbath Assembly is back with a third album, Quaternity, based on concepts and beliefs The Process Church of the Final Judgment.

I’ll admit, I was nervous about this album. The Process Church ceased to be some time ago (despite rumors that they’re responsible for all kinds of evil), and I was wondering when the well of hymns would either dry up, or feel too limiting.

I loved their first album (Restored to One), which reminded me of a delicious mix of Coven, and Jesus  music. Looking for more music like this led me to Jex Thoth (vocalist on the first Sabbath Assembly album), and the band Blood Ceremony (also highly recommended).  I honestly expected Sabbath Assembly to be a one-off band, and was pleasantly surprised when they returned with a second album of hymns (and a new and no less impressive vocalist in Jamie Myers), Ye Are Gods

The Final Reckoning is at hand, and we’ve reached the point I was curious about. Quaternity isn’t a collection of hymns this time (though the track “Lucifer”, with guest vocals by former Processian Anthony D’Andrea – who felt the original covers weren’t quite right,  is a Process hymn).  Rather, what we are presented with is an album exploring the themes found within the Process Church theology, via a number of original compositions.

This is not inherently a bad thing.  In fact, there is some stellar music here (“The Burning Cross of Christ” and “Lucifer” in particular). However, if anything, this feels like an album of a band trying to find its way out of a corner it painted itself into with its first two albums.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that corner – it’s an amazing corner to be in.  But when you have a finite amount of source material, you’re eventually going to have to come up with something new.

As such, one might compare this album to Einstürzende Neubauten’s album, Ende Neu, released in the midst of that band’s drastic line-up changes. There are good songs, but not always the “cohesion” present in other releases.  This is a band trying to find a direction to move forward in, while remaining true to its roots.

Lest it sound like I’m panning the album (I’m not), I guess I’m a little greedy in wanting more of the mystery of the Process Church, and the surprising joy I found in earlier Sabbath Assembly releases (“Glory to the Gods in the Highest”, and “Exit” come to mind). Quaternity also continues the trend started in Ye Are Gods of pulling the music forward to current times. If Restored to One had an incredible 60s “occult rock” vibe to it, the “60s” part of that is no longer as readily apparent (to me, anyway). The track “I, Satan” dives headlong into doom metal (again, nothing wrong with that), but the subject matter now feels distant from the Process Church, and more situated with in Sabbath Assembly.

A number of other reviewers have had issues with the final track, the 18:21 long “Four Horsemen.” – this is a meditation piece, for certain (not in the chanting/chime-y sort of way), a pastiche of Process Church doctrine and different styles of music – exquisite at times.

Do I like the album? Yes.  But for different reasons than the first two. I am mostly curious to see where the next album goes, as I suspect it will be more Sabbath Assembly, and less Process Church (or, perhaps, Sabbath Assembly as informed by the Process Church, rather than the Process Church as interpreted by Sabbath Assembly).  What this new direction will eventually look like (occult rock? doom metal? neo-folk? other?) remains to be heard.

If you’re curious about The Process Church of the Final Judgment, you might also take a gander at some of my other posts on the subject.

So be it.

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Mar 25 2014

Read A Fucking Book…

Published by under Books,These Kids Today

Why are you reading this?

Step away from the computer.  Go read a book.

Still here?  Then let me indulge in the blog equivalent of The Backyardigans* and give you something to read about why you should be reading something else.

Cold, Stark Reality

Cold, Stark Reality

Mashable posted something recently, about a math teacher who punished his unruly class by posting Game of Thrones spoilers. 

At first, I had a laugh at the schadenfreude.  Then I realized there was something fundamentally wrong here.

The teacher had read the books. The class was watching it on TV. The class was upset about the spoilers, but with all due respect, the books are widely available, have been for years, and could have been read by the students at any time.

Yet, they chose not to.  They chose to passively wait to have the story doled out to them in a drastically simplified (though still great – don’t get me wrong, I love the show and the books, but for different reasons) form.

At this point, many may object (my wife among them) that there simply isn’t time to read the books.  True – as a working adult with a 2 year old son and the accompanying responsibilities, my time for reading has become drastically reduced (hence, the near stagnation of the “What I’m Reading” list on the right). I am reading, but where pre-child, I would probably get through a book or two per week, I’m now reduced to 10-20 pages on my lunch breaks at work.

But as a kid? As a high school student (I’m assuming these are high school students)?  I read Lord of the Rings in 4th grade. I read the entire Dune series in high school. There is time for recreational reading when you are younger. And it saddens me that the kids in the article even considered the list of deaths to be spoilers when they could have freely found out this information, on their own, by, say, reading ahead.

Has this thought even occurred to them?

Why not?

I can’t even blame my favorite object of scorn, The No Child Left Behind Act, as it seems to have happened in France.

Seriously.  Stop reading this post, and go read a fucking book.


*The Backyardigans is a children’s show on television, extolling the wonders of playing outdoors and using your imaginations.  Which might be a better idea than sitting on your ass and watching a show about it.

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Mar 13 2014

tl;dr (New World Odor)

Published by under Personal,politics,psychology

It’s 2014, and somewhere along the way, we’ve lost our humanity, and the ability to see the (beautiful) complexity of each other’s souls.

I’m not entirely sure we ever had it, truthfully, but things seem to be hitting a fever pitch lately.

The short version is that interactions, discussions, debate, social discourse have all become about zero-sum games.

Zero-Sum Game:

A situation in which a gain by one person or side must be matched by a loss by another person or side. –The Free Dictionary

People and situations are being reduced to their most convenient (not even basic) components. We can’t even agree to disagree.

I’ve become fascinated by blind adherence to ideology, of late. Why are each of us so certain that we have the “right” answers, and everyone else is wrong? In a move that I’m sure will piss off at least a few people, I’m going to point my finger equally at the Right, the Left, Vegans, Feminists, Fundamentalists (of any religion), Integral Theorists, CSICOP, 9/11 Truthers, Tea Partiers, White Supremacists, Marxists, Fascists, Anti-Fascists, Libertarians, Objectivists, Holistic NewAge types, Anti-Vaccine people, and more.

Just because I haven’t included your particular paradigmatic belief system in this list does not make you automatically immune from what I am saying.

There is nothing sadder, in my opinion, than someone who not only claims to have all of the answers, but adamantly refuses to read or explore ideas beyond their limited worldview.

I don’t claim to have any answers, let alone “all” of the answers. I also read a lot on a variety of subjects.

The Truth!

The Truth!

Today, I got sucked into an argument with a 9/11 Truther.  I should know better.  I really should. There is nothing I can say or do that will convince him that I am anything other than one of the “sheeple.”  Because I’ve read a good chunk of the source material he’s referring to and remain unconvinced, he can only reply with

oh yeah cause it best to just eat doughnuts and scratch your dirty ass then know what your country is up to. The old “I don’t want to read or be informed of anything I have a latte chilling on the side board” argument. shallow waters evaporate quickly.

"You, for one, should welcome your new overlords!"

“You, for one, should welcome your new overlords!”

The main problem with this (besides the fact that I tend to avoid donuts) is that there’s an underlying assumption that if I just read this one thing, or just watch this one video, my mind will be blown wide open, I will see the light, I will finally realize that my entire life has been a lie.

What I find sad/entertaining/smh-inducing is that the minute someone challenges the merits of an argument, questions an assumption (or, hell, even asks a question, period), the average truther will respond with exactly this kind of rage-intensive ad hominem attack.

This tactic generally happens with fundamentalists of any ideology of belief system, by the way.

Not too long ago, I read Michael Barkun’s A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America (now in new, revised form!).

Aside from the obvious – that Barkun is really a shill for the New World Order (NOT) – the book offered some fascinating insight into how this sort of fundamentalism coalesces.

(Apologies for the long quote)

“[Colin] Campbell argued that cults emerge out of a supportive social and ideological environment, which he called the cultic milieu. This cultural underground encompasses [James] Webb’s concept of rejected knowledge, but is broader in two ways. First, it includes ‘all deviant belief systems,’ not merely those that find their way to occultism, though the occult remains a major component of the cultic milieu. But that milieu includes not simply beliefs and ideas but also their related practices, ‘the collectivities, institutions, individuals and media of communication associated with these beliefs.’…

“The cultic milieu is by nature hostile to authority, both because it rejects the authority of such normative institutions as churches and universities, and because no single institution within the milieu has the authority to prescribe beliefs and practices for those within it. As diverse as the cultic milieu is, however, Campbell finds in it ‘unifying tendences.’ One such tendency is its opposition to ‘dominant cultural orthodoxies.’..The very oppositional situation of the cultic millieu makes it wary of all claims to authoritative judgment. Its suspiciousness makes it intrinsically receptive to all forms of revisionism, whether in history, religion, science, or politics.

If disdain for orthodoxy is one trait of the cultic milieu, another is its fluidity. Ideas migrate easily from one part of the milieu to another, their movement facilitated by both a general receptivity to the unorthodox and a communication system of publications, meetings, and (more recently) interlinked Web sites. According to Campbell, ‘the literature of particular groups and movements frequently devotes space to topics outside its own orbit, including reviews of one another’s literature and advertises one another’s meetings. As a direct consequence of this individuals who ‘enter’ the milieu at any one point frequently travel rapidly through a variety of movements and beliefs and by so doing constitute yet another unifying force within the milieu.'” (pp. 25-26)

Stigmatized Knowledge:

“The domain of stigmatized knowledge claims may be divided into five varieties:

  • Forgotten Knowledge: knowledge once allegedly known but lost through faulty memory, cataclysm, or some other interrupting factor (e.g. beliefs about ancient wisdom once possessed by inhabitants of Atlantis)
  • Superseded Knowledge: claims that once were authoritatively recognized as knowledge but lost that status because they came to be regarded as false or less valid than other claims (e.g., astrology and alchemy).
  • Ignored Knowledge: knowledge claims that persist in low-prestige social groups but are not taken seriously by others (e.g., folk medicine).
  • Rejected Knowledge: knowledge claims that are explicitly rejected as false from the outset (e.g., UFO abductions)
  • Suppressed knowledge: claims that are allegedly known to be valid by authoritative institutions but are suppressed because the institutions fear the consequences of public knowledge or have some evil or selfish motive for hiding the truth (e.g., the alien origins of UFOs and suppressed cancer cures).

“Stigmatized knowledge appears compelling to believers not only because it possesses the cachet of the suppressed and forbidden, but because of its allegedly empirical basis. Some stigmatized knowledge appears to rest on nonempirical or antiempirical foundations – for example, knowledge claimed to derive from spiritual entities channeled through human intermediaries. To a striking extent, however, stigmatized knowledge rests on asserted empirical foundations: those who make the claims explicitly or by implication challenge others to test their facts against evidence…Yet the version of empiricism that operates in the domain of stigmatized knowledge has its own peculiar characteristics.

“In the first place, stigmatization itself is taken to be evidence of truth – for why else would a belief be stigmatized if not to suppress the truth? Hence stigmatization, instead of making a truth claim appear problematic, is seen to give it credibility, by implying that some malign forces conspired to prevent its becoming known. A presumption of validity therefore attaches to stigmatized claims, which greatly facilitates the flow of such claims through the cultic milieu…

“At the same time that stigmatization is employed as a virtual guarantee of truth, the literature of stigmatized knowledge enthusiastically mimics mainstream scholarship. It does so by appropriating the apparatus of scholarship in the form of elaborate citations and bibliographies. The most common manifestation of pedantry is a fondness for reciprocal citation, in which authors obligingly cite one another. The result is that the same sources are repeated over and over, which produces a kind of pseudoconfirmation…the multiplication of sources may leave the impression of validation without actually putting any propositions to the test.” (pp.  27-29)

I’ve noticed this trend not just in the Truther movement, but in the other areas I’ve mentioned above, as well.

Look, I get how exciting it is to believe that you’ve magically solved the riddles, that you can see through the Matrix, and that you’re one of the Enlightened Ones.  It’s an awesome feeling.  Really.  And, more importantly, I’m honestly impressed with your desire to learn, and your (albeit limited) use of critical thinking. To quote the character Twist, from Spaced, “I really see what you were trying to do.”

But unless you turn that critical thinking onto your replacement paradigm, you’ve only traded one master for another, one dogma for another – The King is Dead, Long Live the King.

Perhaps?

Perhaps?

I’ve read a good chunk of 9/11 literature. I’ve seen just about every variation of Loose Change. I think there are some legitimate questions. But the answers provided to these questions lead me to further questions, which people seem to panic and get defensive (if not hostile) about when I ask them.

But if your ultimate goal is to “tip us towards the Light” (whatever that means), then you’ll have to be patient with me, and understand if I (and several million others) remain unconvinced by your arguments.

I’m waiting for proof.  Innuendo, guilt-by-association, and credibility-stretching connections between people and events aren’t enough.

You have yet to convince me. I’m sorry.

Finally, I would like to add that I am again, curious, if the insistence of fundamentalists that others join their cause is to give them a better sense of security in their beliefs. Safety in numbers.

So, in the meantime, I’m going to go back to “scratching my dirty ass” and drinking my latte.

You can keep the donuts.

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Feb 26 2014

both (and)

Published by under between

René Guénon

René Guénon

“…a desire for simplification…[has] become a distinctive feature of the modern mentality; this desire is so strong that certain philosophers have given way to it in the scientific domain, and have gone to the length of presenting it as a sort of logical ‘pseudo-principle’, in the form of a statement that ‘nature always takes the simplest course… This is a perfectly gratuitous postulate, for there does not seem to be any reason why nature should work in that way and not in any other; many conditions other than simplicity can enter into its workings, and can outweigh simplicity to such an extent that nature seems…often to take a course that is extremely complicated. Indeed, this particular ‘pseudo-principle’ amounts to no more than a wish arising from a sort of ‘mental laziness’: it is desired that things should be as simple as possible, because if they really were so they would be so much the easier to understand…” – René Guénon

on the other hand,

William Adama

William Adama

“People look for complicated answers when something terrible happens. Maybe we were just taken by surprise… and were beaten. Maybe we just have to learn to live with that.” – William Adama

 

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