Local Stories, Events
Ref. : Civic Events
Ref. : Arts & Education Events
Ref. : Public Service Notices
Books, Films, Arts & Education
Ref. : Letters to the editor
Health Care & Environment
11.18 Air pollution levels ‘forcing families to move out of cities’ [like from desertification, lack of drinkable water and rising oceans, there will also be pollution-caused immigration until humans fix things]
11.17 Policies of China, Russia and Canada threaten 5C climate change, study finds [Climate catastrophe is increasingly likely without worldwide organization, funding and commitment to winning THE WAR AGAINST GLOBAL WARMING.]
11.16 How pesticide bans can prevent tens of thousands of suicides a year [how many thousands more die early from eating pesticide-laced food?]
11.15 The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us [fossil fuel burning, un-recyclable plastic production/use and methane gas release must cease ASAP.]
11.15 The long read: The plastic backlash: what's behind our sudden rage – and will it make a difference? [the world wants to throw-up...]
11.15 Claws out: crab fishermen sue 30 oil firms over climate change [workers are waking-up...]
11.12 This Land is Your Land: The Zinke effect: how the US interior department became a tool of industry [behaving ignorantly again...]
News Media Matters
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
11.19 Last Week Tonight with John Oliver 11/18/2018 (HBO) [29:26 video]
11.19 Trump Says He Was 'Fully Briefed' and Also 'Not Briefed Yet' But Either Way Saudi Crown Prince 'Absolutely' Not Involved Because Trump Knows 'Everything That Went On' Without Listening to Tape of Khashoggi Murder
11.19 'We Need New Leaders, Period': Progressive Newcomers Urge Democrats to Embrace Bold Agenda or Face Primary Challenges [Current Democrat leaders are highly compromised by corporate donations]
11.18 Trump says Pelosi deserves speakership, offers Republican votes [An affirmation of Pelosi's unsuitability]
11.18 Khanna to Pelosi: Don't Just Create Green New Deal Select Committee, Make Ocasio-Cortez Its Chair [Will Pelosi earnestly change, or end her career in disgrace?]
11.18 Chuck Schumer, Feckless Hack [Neoliberal Democrats must go!]
11.18 What the State of the VA Tells Us About Trump’s War on Welfare [Privatizing often results in outright fraud and higher costs by private prisons, privatized health insurance and health care, privatized public schools and online "colleges" like Trump University]
11.17 As Energy for Medicare for All Explodes, Steny Hoyer's Plan Includes Waiting for Trump to Help Make Obamacare Better [Another who is unfit to be Democrat leader]
11.17 'A Staggeringly Bad Idea': Outrage as Pelosi Pushes Tax Rule That Would 'Kneecap the Progressive Agenda' [Unfit to be Democrat leader]
11.14 The Guardian view on Yemen’s misery: the west is complicit [WAR CRIMES]
Economics, Crony Capitalism
11.19 Bankrupt Sears wants to give executives $19 million in bonuses [blatantly immoral and sick to richly reward those who led the company into the bankruptcy]
11.18 Big Pharma Bankrolled Pro-Trump Group As Trump Pushed Pharma Tax Cut [Corruption Central!]
11.16 Amazon’s HQ2 Will Get a Tax Break Designed to Help the Poor [a Republican program that directly helps participating wealthy companies—but only helps workers if and when 'trickle-down' occurs.]
11.16 Trump doesn’t want to punish Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi. His new sanctions prove it. [George W. Bush made a similar immoral decision for the same oily reasons after 9-11, protecting Saudi defense contracts while facilitating the slaughter of poorer Arab "terrorists" in the region.]
International & Futurism
11.18 France demands UK climate pledge in return for Brexit trade deal [Excellent!]
11.17 Thousands gather to block London bridges in climate rebellion [We're losing WWIII because the enemy is invisible while we're like frogs slowly cooking. We aren't informed enough to be alarmed, but must get organized and motivated to fight back. We need a War Plan to ruthlessly pursue the fight of our lives!]
A Zoo Of Our Own Making: We will kill for empire and a parking space
Tuesday, 14 December 2010
Restless and agitated in our confinement, we sink further into anomie ... into the benumbing embrace of comfort zones such as over- eating, anti-depressants and consumerism.
In an age, when nature is besieged and the political landscape blighted, and one stands, stoop shouldered and wincing into the howling wasteland of epic-scale idiocy extant in the era, a solitary person can feel lost ... marooned inside an increasingly isolated sense of self. Whether urban, suburban, or rural dwelling, the sense of alienation, for an individual, is profound ... as discernible to the eye as the constellations of foreclosure signs stippling overgrown front lawns across the land ... as hidden as the abandoned dreams within.
The fraying ligature of the landscape of the United States reveals an inner geography of alienation and anomie. Living on the island of Manhattan, I daily negotiate an urban layout of practical, but identity-decimating grids -- a cityscape of harsh, inhuman right angles ... a geography that renders street encounters abrupt, curt and intrusive.
After a time, one begins, by reflex, to buffer oneself against such intrusions, withdrawing inward ... becoming a self-enclosed, walking fortress, shielding oneself from the degradations of these impersonal affronts (that feel altogether personal) -- with I- Pods, Blackberries, and other vestments attendant to the muttered prayers of the self-absorbed.
While above the street -- corporate towers -- that are steel and concrete kingdoms of blind, willful ascension -- blot the skyline ... these structures flee upward, as if to escape the implications of life lived at street level and sharing in the consequences of decisions made within their sterile, insular sanctums of power and cupidity.
This is architecture as blind hubris: creations made by the hands of mortal men ... yet failing to have any connection to the ground, these buildings crowd out the real estate of the sacred. Moreover, their manic skyward thrust leaves them, and those imprisoned within, bereft of roots that reach down into the renewing loam of the earth, to where mortal vanity is delivered to dust and desperate hopes rot and transubstantiate into the compost that nourishes new life.
And blooms of renewal, I suspect, will not be found online as well. The electronic sheen of social media sites is no substitute for communal fabric. There is no animal musk nor angelic apprehensions to en-soul the flesh and tease wisdom out of obdurate will ... No matter how many restless shades want to friend you on FaceBook nor ghostly texts descend upon you in an unholy Pentecost of Tweets, online exchanges will continue to leave you restless, hollow, and yearning for the colors and cacophony of an authentic agora.
The adolescent purgatory of FaceBook -- with its castings into the Eternal Now of instant praise, acceptance, and rejection -- reflects, magnifies, and acerbates the perpetual adolescence of the contemporary culture of the United States, intensifying its shallow longings and displaced panics, its narcissistic rage and obsession with the superficial. It devours libido, by providing a pixilated facsimile of the primal dance of human endeavor, leaving one's heart churning in thwarted yearning, locked an evanescent embrace with electronic phantoms, as one, paradoxically, attempts to live out unfulfilled desires by means of hollow communion with the soul-negating source of his alienation.
One can never get enough of what one doesn't need. Ergo, the compulsions and panic of millions of hungry ghosts will hold an ongoing, hollow mass online, in a futile campaign to regain form, gain direction, and walk in meaning and beauty among the things of the world, but instead will remain imprisoned within the very system that condemned them to this fate.
And this is the place, we, as a culture, will remain, for a time. This electronic inferno will be our vale and mountaintop, our sanctuary and leviathan. We will stare baffled into its vastness, stupefied and lost within its proliferate array of depersonalizing distractions and seductions. The more we try to lose ourselves in it, by surrendering to its shimmering surface attractions, the more tightly we will become bound in the bondage of self.
Naturally, living in the grinding maw of such monsters of alienation will engulf one with ennui and angst. Moreover, the judgment of anyone claiming not to be afflicted should be regarded as suspect.
Possessed by this mode of being: we languish in a zoo of our own making where we gaze, without comprehension, at the confines of our enclosure, chew our paws, pace the cage, and are restless for mealtime. Like an animal in a cage, we are no longer what we were meant to be ... we have forgotten what it is to be alive. With the exception of superficial form, we begin to lose our affinity to what makes us recognizable as a human being and as an animal -- for we have become simply a sad thing that waits for lunch. And I defy any caged clock-watcher in a cubicle to defy that point.
Restless and agitated in our confinement, we sink further into anomie ... into the benumbing embrace of comfort zones (over- eating, anti-depressants, consumerism as emotional distraction, addiction to electronic media) where we chose safety over the truth of our being. In these cages of inauthenticity, our heart's longings and human needs are held in stasis by the perfunctory persona we cultivated for approval and acceptance; there, consigned to a barren region of mind where one is rewarded for docility and duplicity, one languishes, bereft of eros and pothos ... unconsciously self-convicted and sentenced for the crime of being a serial betrayer of one's essential self.
There is danger, of course, in such places -- but there is also the possibility of renewal.
Personal and historical traumas leave a legacy of bewilderment. And being bewildered i.e., being in a psychic wilderness, lost, having wandered or been cast past the known horizon of experience ... is to be in position to engage the novel, be in the thrall of unfolding mystery, and wander in a soul- suffused landscape of the sublime.
A state of alienation is right where we should be: To be able to adapt to a culture dedicated to little more than finding efficient means of exploiting the hours of the greater public's lives for the benefit of a greedy few ... would be a tragedy. Living within this culture should bring on despair ... It is a leviathan that has devoured your existence. Do you think you can renovate the belly of the beast ... set up a time-share with Jonah and Pinocchio there ... and live in comfort?
Should not one stagger and stammer in mortification when shown a handful of dust?
Moreover, the solution we are offered -- making ourselves a dwelling within a prison of consumer kitsch -- should and does only bring on more anomie. Eliot wrote the following regarding a psyche attempting to adapt to a dying culture
One of the notions, as Rilke might put it, that is "brooding like a seed" in my psyche has been the distinction James Hillman makes between civilization and culture. Hillman avers that, and I agree, civilization is a dead thing -- an edifice of crumbling marble enshrined in an eros-devoid museum of the mind where we do little more than give empty, obligatory homage to a fossilized tableaux ... our forced reverence is but a perfunctory prayer muttered before the iconography of a dead religion; in contrast, culture is a living, breathing phenomenon of the collective mind, heart, and soul of the people within it. Its logos inhabits the very air of existence, permeating it like the sound of birdsong, and cricket and cicada stridulation throughout a high summer night.
Moreover, he avers that culture is akin to a madhouse; in fact, the solution lies in the back ward of the asylum, the area where are housed the hopeless cases. In other words, like Dante ... proceed to the place you most fear looking upon, embrace it, and hear its awful keening and heart-opening agonies. There is the location of rebirth, the last circle of hell ... retreating to a comfort zone will simply leave the situation is stasis.
So the question arises: How does one enter the soul-making shabbiness of the human condition, even though, as always, we are powerless against the trajectory of history and lost within the mad proliferation of culture -- and, as Bob Dylan limned in lyric regarding the alienation this situation evokes, "[one has] no direction home?"
Try this: embrace the bracing pain of your alienation: make a home in being lost. Gaze with wonder of upon the sacred scenery of your bewilderment ... Wandering in the wilderness is a holy state.
Wendell Berry believes such ventures to be one of the true vocations of the soul:
In other words, in times such as ours, when we embrace our alienation then we will be welcomed home ... to share a common shelter with the multitudes who are also lost.
Phil Rockstroh is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. He may be contacted at: email@example.com. Visit Phil's website http://philrockstroh.com/ And at FaceBook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000711907499
Mr. Rockstroh's stories are republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.
Copyright © 2010 The Baltimore News Network. All rights reserved.
Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.
Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.This story was published on December 14, 2010.