Monday, January 04, 2016

The Mass-Production of Individuality

Mass production and mass consumption have steadily been killing the individual.  Behavioral algorithms are the final stage in which the last vestiges of the individual are being eradicated.  They standardize the last, most stubbornly resistant step in the production-consumption process: desire.  Because the data shows that people deeply desire the feeling that they are individuals, our behavioral algorithms must constantly incorporate the illusion that categories of behavior (most particularly, consumption choices)  are the proper definition of "individuality" in order to accomplish optimum outcomes.  Because the truth-value of an algorithm, like any logico-mathematical equation, is its effectiveness in solving the problem upon which it is brought to bear, then, the existence of individuality has actually been proved “true” by virtue of its eradication.  We mass-produce individuality.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Facts do not scale.



A fact that has been focus grouped is no longer a fact, it is an opinion.  The only fact that can be determined by a poll is which among several prepackaged opinions a test population prefers.  Facts (to use the popular marketing terminology of the present moment) “do not scale”.  They do not fail to be facts if they are unpopular.  They do not become greater or more factual inasmuch as opinion proves to favor them.  Because they do not, the tools of marketing can neither produce nor arrive at truths.  In fact, a Democracy of polling and focus groups begins to believe that truths are an undemocratic illusion.  We have entered a market driven age in which vast resources are available (for a price), and, except for a tiny minority of specially trained persons, only opinions can possibly result from their use.  Those opinions can only compete for market share in the fashion of all other products.  A Democracy based upon marketing methods can only arrive at dysfunction or empty ritual… or, as is the case at the moment, a struggle to determine which of the two will prevail.  The only question is which will win out in the end.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Unchanged.

While our sciences and technologies grow ever more incredible, human nature remains unchanged.

...destroying the last of our culture...

We are in the process of destroying the last of our culture because it does not allow for the maximal rate of production and consumption of (mostly cheap) goods.  The depth of the personal and social chaos this is creating affects our lives in ever more disruptive ways virtually every day.  As climate change (for just one example among many) manifests itself to the point that societal blindness to its existence is impossible, the balance provided by the civil society which we must depend upon in order to reduce the violence of the changes is collapsing even faster and with even more destructive results.

Perfect justice...

Perfect justice does not exist.  In a world that can no longer believe in an omniscient deity, justice does not exist at all.  There is no longer a referee, real or illusory, only players ever more aware that they can do almost anything in their desire to win, positively unconcerned for the wider consequences.  There is only escalation.  The vestigial remains of religion and its constructs linger.  There is the struggle to “find a way back”.  There is even a vestigial belief in the word “justice” as a power-word (thus a word emptied of meaning) available for a while longer as a tactic to support various factions engaged in a vicious struggle to have the one thing that remains possible: power.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

A life without reflection...

A life without reflection is an animal's life.  Prevailing social constructs become the functional equivalent of instinctive behavior in the animal.  The person who lives such a life values it as an animal values its life.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Prospectus: Executive Summary


Two years ago, I began a start-up called The Virtual Vanaprastha.  The product line I offer includes a sane lifestyle-concept in an insane world.  The lifestyle I work daily to design, test and offer is intended not only to be sane for myself but sane for readers who might also realize that we are careening wildly about wherever our product and financial markets take us good and/or bad.

For just one of the almost numberless examples, we are altering the environment of the planet because our markets demand we do so.  This demand is coming both from democrats and plutocrats.  All available means of avoiding the climate change that market economies are causing threaten the profits of business magnates and corporations and the quality of life of the general population.  Because it threatens our own collective profits, as well, be we rich or poor, we are unable effectively to oppose the wealthy faction. 

Those who are not wealthy are divided against each other.  It is the normal course of things and amplified by our technologies and the rapid redefinitions of democracy they have driven. The plutocrats, being much more able to coordinate their small numbers, easily take advantage of these facts.  The concept of a mass protest or political movement is destined to fail unless the wealthy see a profit opportunity in allowing or even creating it.  Far more likely than not, a successful movement will have been created specifically by the plutocracy using the tools of psychology (advertising), or even propaganda, such as is the case with the well-known Tea Party movement.

Climate change is not even coming.  It is already here and still we cannot choose to take the necessary steps in order to limit its severity.  Droughts and floods (often alternately in the same locations), more frequent and powerful extreme storm systems, higher food prices, water rationing, and much more, have already begun.  They are now a part of our life and still we cannot assemble the political will to meaningfully limit the far greater damage ahead.

Climate change presents a business opportunity.  Corporations deny climate change while actively creating business plans in order to maximize profits from it.  This is the only large-scale collective planning we are capable of doing in reaction to climate change.

This same dynamic is repeating itself as potable water grows ever scarcer on the planet and possibly
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millions already die every year from the lack of it.  It is repeated as retirement programs and medical safety nets are disassembled in favor of greater wealth for the plutocracy and more money to fuel the cycle of new inexpensive products designed to become obsolete or irreparable in short order necessitating more production and more consumption.  As massively wealthy corporations move out of the states they’re pillaging, they are leaving behind impoverished populations, unable to change their citizenship with similar ease, solely responsible for paying the enormous debts created in the name of wealth generation.  It’s simply the best business strategy and it is being actively pursued.

The reader may reflect upon all that this implies and be quite open to a new lifestyle-concept, may have read to this point in order to understand The Virtual Vanaprastha’s promising answer as to how to put all of this right.  But my lifestyle-concept — my product — is even more revolutionary than that.  The Virtual Vanaprastha offers the lifestyle-concept of acceptance: there is almost no hope that any of this will be avoided. 

Remember, you yourself are reading this prospectus on a computer connected to the Internet.  You are likely to own an automobile of one sort or another.  It requires fuel.  If it is a recent model, it reports your whereabouts at all times.  Whether or not the vehicle is a recent model, your smart-phone reports your whereabouts at all times.  All of this, and much more, is yours only upon payment due.  Failure to pay on time will cripple your life and the life of your family. Sign the take-it-or-leave-it contracts, allow your day to day activities to be tracked and recorded and pay your bills on time and you have a quality of life unimaginable even 25 years ago.  Reject the package and life becomes a very uncomfortable, limited affair.

The plutocrats of the world are going to bank your payments, wield your data and make all decisions regarding all of this destruction for their own benefits, their own enhanced profits.  They could not be stopped before now and they are orders of magnitude more powerful now.  The trend is overwhelming and unmistakable.

While this may sound evil to those whose wealth is decreasing, as the result, they are the best ally of the wealthy.  They cannot want to make the necessary sacrifices in order to seriously modify the system that brings them inexpensive food, clothing, shelter and continuous stimulation.  They can only object to having too small a cut of the profits with which to buy more.  People cannot get enough of the latest products or the social networking that makes buying them an inherent part of being in-touch or receiving emotional responsiveness. They crave historically enormous amounts of emotional stimulation and strive to negotiate a satisfying persona.  To the point, in fact, that they fear those who do not experience the same cravings — a category of persons who might otherwise prove helpful — because they are so foreign to them, so inexplicable.

Those who see an historical sense of entitlement slipping away, who react by collecting personal armories, building bunkers and/or forming militias, offer only a deeply flawed and doomed concept.  At base, they have sufficient collective rational thought, in the aggregate, to realize that they are helpless against today’s government security forces and technologies ever more co-opted by large corporations.  In the end, they are not preparing to win some apocalyptic war and they know it.  New technologies are capable of defeating them with ease.  Instead they are preparing to win a guerrilla war against their fellow disenfranchised for the not inconsiderable scraps that will fall from the table.  It is in this manner that they imagine they will regain the physical advantages and emotional satisfaction that once came with their entitlements.

Those who continue to try through the political process and peaceful demonstration are strong and worthy of the greatest respect.  The Virtual Vanaprastha concept does not oppose engagement.  One of the most important aspects of the psychological side of the concept is a daily feeling of community.  But engagement as regards these massive issues is inherently dependent upon magical thinking.  What successes there are will be worthy of our praise and appreciation.  But they will only limit the harshness of the problems in small ways and only for short times.  It is vitally important to each individual and family unit to acknowledge and accept the realities of the conditions that lie ahead and to make plans to succeed in the face of those realities.

What lies ahead will be either a challenge to be met or the unwinding of fate.  Not everyone who addresses it as a challenge will succeed to overcome the daunting obstacles that they will meet.  Not all who leave the matter to fate will fare poorly.  Those who can properly analyze and prepare will only have a far better chance.  There can be no guarantees.

The first step, then, is analysis of what lies ahead.  The next is to build the resources to meet the challenges that might be expected.  Your work should build resources.  Your leisure should build resources.  Your celebrations should build resources.  Your mourning should build resources.  You must learn to have happy, rewarding lives building resources.

Inasmuch as power and wealth are not precisely synonymous (and that’s not much), the only other source of power is knowledge.  The answer is education.

So then, the following bullet list provides a sample from the propositions upon which The Virtual Vanaprastha concept is founded:

      ·        Strive to be completely rational.  Do not strive to be free of emotion.  In a T=0 healthy mind, this will result in a healthier balance between rational mind (which requires continual development and maintenance) and emotional mind (which is inevitable and inevitably demands more dominance than is healthy).
·        Use the new technologies but don’t let them use you any more than can be avoided.  Learn everything you can about the new technologies (hardware and software) and use that knowledge to have far greater resources available to you at far lower cost.
·        Use the legacy technologies inasmuch as they can profitably be translated into the present world.  Learn the concepts by which machines work just as you would learn how computer software and hardware work.  Know how to use the widest possible range of tools in order to build, modify and effect repairs.  Low tech is one of your more powerful resources.
·        Buy no cultural product primarily because it is popular.  It is an enormously destructive personal and collective behavior.
·        The single most powerful legacy technology is books.
·        The most powerful tool in any toolkit is disinterest.  There is no greater resource.  Learn how and when to use it.
·        Have fun.  Enjoy yourself.  Learn to enjoy yourself regardless of difficult circumstances.

If you have managed somehow to become a media personality, ignore everything I say.  Keep working on more ways to get nearly naked in public and to be outrageous enough to get in the next media cycle.  Just ignore me.  If you have not managed to become a media personality and think that you might like to try my product, ignore them.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Henry David Thoreau and Two Other Autistic Lives giveaway, day 1.

Day 1 of the Henry David Thoreau and Two Other Autistic Lives: before the diagnosis existed FREE GIVEAWAY is underway.  BE SURE TO GET YOUR COPY WHILE IT'S FREE!
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In March of 1845, Thoreau borrowed an ax, walked to a parcel of property offered by Emerson, on the shore of Walden Pond, about a mile from town, and began cutting the materials to make a cabin. From time to time he returned to the spot to pick up where he left off until eventually he’d built enough of the cabin to provide shelter from the rain.  On the fourth of July he moved into the unfinished cabin, anxious to get started.  The rest he would finish while his experiment was underway.

      During the first six months he sometimes returned to eat and sleep at home, while the cabin was being finished for the approaching winter weather.  He bought simple food (until the beans he would plant the next year were ready to harvest), for his meals, to which he added the berries he picked and fish he caught in the pond.  His mother made sure he was provided with pies and other treats.  Most nights he lit his lamp and entered the day’s affairs in his journal and worked on the book about his excursion, several years before, on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers with his brother John.  Occasionally he walked to the home of one or another friend to pass an evening hour at their fireside.”

5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating subject and a great read., November 28, 2014
By Laura L. Orem
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This review is from: Henry David Thoreau and Two Other Autistic Lives: before the diagnosis existed (Kindle Edition)
A fascinating subject and a great read. Particularly insightful in showing how those on the spectrum can do important work (and even achieve greatness) when provided with support and the room to grow. This is an important message in an age in which diagnoses of autism continue to increase. Highly recommend.

Check out The Virtual Vanaprastha Facebook page here:
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Sunday, July 12, 2015

Rapier and Dagger Final, Copenhagen Open 2015, NHFL

When Edward de Vere did combat with the Knevets and their retainers it would have been with these weapons and in a similar style. The old Medieval long swords and such survived only in field combat and tournament. This is also how the sword battle in *Romeo and Juliet*, almost certainly based upon the Knevet duel, would have been choreographed, as well as the contest in *Hamlet*.

 
 Yet another exceptional half-hour English language documentary from Deutsche Welle, this one on the changes occurring in the worlds of publishing and reading. Jam packed with information and visuals typifying the reading experience in Europe and the U.S. today..

Saturday, March 01, 2014

from the Asiatic Journal, V 21 (1826): "THE SOUTH COAST OF CRIMEA"


(From the Journal of a Russian Officer)

 Sevastopol, the first town of Crimea, and the most beautifully situated in all Russia, was not in existence at the conquest of the country in 1783. An insignificant village lay on the right shore of the bay, in the midst of a thick forest; and on this spot Sevastopol was built, which now contains above 20,000 inhabitants, mostly soldiers and sailors. The town is seated on the declivity of a hill, forming a promontory between two bays. The houses are chiefly of one story, white, covered with red tiles, and surrounded with fruit trees. The principal street (the houses of which are two stories) runs along the foot of the hill

Its advantages as a sea port are perhaps unequalled. The roads are formed by a bay about a werst and a half wide, by seven wersts long, and from seven to ten fathoms deep. The anchorage is excellent, and vessels are protected against every wind, except from the west, on entering. From the southern entrance, it comprehends four capacious bays, viz Artillery bay, South bay, Ship's bay and the careening-bay.


Go to the entire article>>>

Thursday, February 27, 2014

American Life in Poetry #217: Kevin Griffith


BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE, 2004-2006

American literature is rich with poems about the passage of time, and the inevitability of change, and how these affect us. Here is a poem by Kevin Griffith, who lives in Ohio, in which the years accelerate by their passing.


Spinning


I hold my two-year-old son
under his arms and start to twirl.
His feet sway away from me
and the day becomes a blur.
Everything I own is flying into space
yard toys, sandbox, tools,
garage and house,
and, finally, the years of my life.

When we stop, my son is a grown man,
and I am very old. We stagger
back into each other's arms
one last time, two lost friends
heavy with drink, remembering the good old days.



American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright (c)2006 by Kevin Griffith, whose most recent book of poetry is "Denmark, Kangaroo, Orange," Pearl Editions, 2007. Poem reprinted from "Mid-American Review," Vol. 26, no. 2, 2006, by permission of Kevin Griffith and the publisher.  Introduction copyright (c)2009 by The Poetry Foundation.  The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.  We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.




Also at Virtual Grub Street by/about Ted Kooser:

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Front Page



Alex Castellanos Now Advisor to McCain Campaign
by Gilbert Wesley Purdy
Sun Jul 20, 2008
Daily Kos

Maybe Castellanos is a racist, maybe not. But if his research indicates that a racist ad will help his candidate, he's already proven once that it is not beyond him. [Go to the complete story >>>]


The Ballad of Big Dick
by Gilbert Wesley Purdy
Thu Jul 10, 2008
Daily Kos

Ev'ry mornin' at the White House you could see him arrive,
He stood five foot ten and weighed two twenty-five.
Kinda broad at the shoulder and broader at the hip,
And everybody knew ya didn't give no lip to Big Dick.
Big Dick, Big Di-ick, Big Bad Dick Big Dick. [Go the the complete parody>>>]


Man-Boy Love Advocate Accused of Using Wikipedia to Troll for Interested Parties
by Gilbert Wesley Purdy
Mar 4, 2007
Eye Online

Rookiee's boyloving propensities, it was decided, fell under the category of "sexual preference" and users were not to be prejudiced against due to sexual preference. [Go to the complete story >>>]




True Stone and Epitaph: the Poetry of Pablo Neruda.by Gilbert Wesley Purdy.

The Essential Neruda: Selected Poems, Mark Eisner, Ed.
San Francisco: City Lights Publishers, 2004. 222 pages
ISBN 0-87286-428-6


The year 2004 is the centennial of the birth of the poet Pablo Neruda. As a result, the already considerable amount of work published annually by and about the poet has increased exponentially. City Lights' 100th birthday gift is The Essential Neruda, a selection of poems, edited by Mark Eisner, a visiting scholar at Stanford University's Center for Latin American Studies. [
Go to the review>>>]



Pierce Butler, Fanny Kemble, et al.
by Gilbert Wesley Purdy.

The Weeping Time: Elegy in Three Voices by Christopher Conlon.
Washington, D.C.: Argonne House Press, 2004.
138 pp. $19.95 paper. ISBN 1-887641-18-1.


In March of 1859, Pierce Butler, a Philadelphian, wealthy by virtue of two plantations in Georgia, auctioned some 430 of his slaves in one of the largest such sales in American history. That auction became known as 'The Weeping Time'. The poet Christopher Conlon memorializes that day with a book of poems bearing the same name. Butler is of further historical interest by virtue of his rocky marriage to the famous English actress, Fanny Kemble,... [
Go to the Review>>>]


Go to full Poetry Review Index>>>
Go to the Book Review Index>>>

Page 2

New Poetry:

For the Tattooed Man by Sharmila Voorakkara
Fried Beauty by R. S. Gwynn
Seeing the Eclipse in Maine by Robert Bly
Dead Butterfly by Ellen Bass
Go to the Poetry Index >>>


New Book Reviews:


Never Far from a Breakdown. Collected Poems: With Notes Toward the Memoirs, by Djuna Barnes. Reviewed by Brian Phillips.

Thrills and Chills and Home Movies. Strong Is Your Hold, by Galway Kinnell. -and- Interrogation Palace, by David Wojahn. Reviewed by Peter Campion.

Barnes on Fire. A Word Like Fire: Selected Poems, by Dick Barnes. Reviewed by Peter Campion.

The Cosmic I. Present Company by W. S. Merwin.
Reviewed by by Gilbert Wesley Purdy.









Sex Trek: the Next Generation.
by Gilbert Wesley Purdy.


Sex Carnival by Bill Brownstein.
Toronto: ECW Press, 2000
250 pages. $22.95 Can, $18.95 US.
ISBN 1-55022-415-8.


Two factors changed our relationship to sex in the past century. The first was the introduction of cheap, effective birth-control. The second, market capitalism, has become the unchallenged law of the jungle.... [Go to the review>>>]


Go to the Book Review Index>>>


New Interviews:


Translating Poetry into Poetry. An interview with C. K. Williams.
Nature Poems in a Post-Natural Age. An interview with Gary Snyder.
The Poet of Green Bananas and Baclao. An interview with Victor Hernández Cruz.