Friday, September 26, 2008

About this blog

It’s raining this morning, and since I don’t like to work outside in the rain, it’s a perfect day to start regular blogging—which I hope to keep up daily. Before I get into today’s subject, though, let me do a little “housekeeping.”

First, thanks for the comments on my opening opus, “Radical Pantheism” (please don’t think that length will be repeated anytime soon; it’s actually the longest article I’ve ever written). Aside from the unsurprising fact that all the comments (so far) came from personal friends of mine, the commenters have other things in common (and the synchronicity here naturally delights a pantheist like myself): they’re all women of spiritual leanings, and each is an artist in her own genre. It felt like a blessing by the Muses—an equally delightful omen. (The book Jan recommends looks interesting, in a subject I was introduced to years ago in “The Tao of Physics,” by Fritjof Capra.)

The second thing I wanted to take care of was to note the fact—obvious to anyone under the age of thirty—that I don’t know much more about computers than John McCain. I’m hoping to remedy that in coming weeks (plus I’m getting a new computer, which will help speed things along). I’ll also get a digital camera, to illustrate (when I can) what I’m talking about—whether it’s a court hearing or the way the wind plays upon the grass—without worrying about whether I’m stepping on somebody’s photographic rights (alternative suggestions are welcome). The upshot is, I hope to add all the bells and whistles soon, including photos, videos and hyperlinks.

It was thinking about the links I’d like to refer people to that gave me the idea for today’s post.

The most attractive aspect of writing a blog, for me, is that it’s a very open medium, which allows me to write whatever I want, at any length, on any subject. All my writing in the past has been circumscribed by the editorial needs of the newspaper or website I was writing for. But as I thought about how to organize the links for this blog, it became apparent to me that my blog posts would fall into the same five general categories: Matrix, Deep State, New World, Spirit and Family.

Matrix

This term is obviously borrowed from the Matrix film trilogy, whose hero discovers that the world he thinks he is living in is not the real world, but a computer-generated fantasy. I use the term to refer to the “real” world, where America is still a constitutional democracy—the world of liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans, the New York Times and the Washington Post and the rest of the corporate media, the world where American democracy has been replaced by a Permanent Presidential Puppet Show.

This is the world we all live in, a world of illusion which nonetheless has tragic and real-world consequences. It is a world where all communications are monitored by whatever-named agency has taken over the functions of Total Information Awareness, mining the near-infinite ocean of data for patterns that might affect the wealth and well-being of what sociologist C. Wright Mills once called “the Power Elite.” It is a world defined at its outer edges by journalists like Ron Suskind and Seymour Hersch, a world whose ways have taken a taxi to the dark side.

It is also the world of what I think of as “institutional progressives,” who generally follow the analysis of American foreign policy laid out most famously by Noam Chomsky, and still believe in the economic policies of the New Deal. These are goodhearted people who think the Constitution can be restored, but whose own goodness of heart prevents them from psychologically accepting the dark truths at the epic center of modern American history. Matrix is where I’ll link sites like Common Dreams, Buzzflash and Firedoglake, favorite sites of mine whose take on the Matrix I consider essential reading. I don’t have any real hope that Cynthia McKinney will be elected president, and in the “real” world, it is essential that Obama is. And if hope is anywhere to be found, you can certainly find it among his supporters, and on these sites.

Deep State

At the very outposts of the Matrix are journalists like Glenn Greenwald, at Salon, and Naomi Klein, author of the important book, “The Shock Doctrine.” They are reporting on the outlines of fascism that are becoming so apparent in the American (and global) system, from the collusion of the two major parties in illegal activities to the unprecedented staging of the American military on native soil. But they don’t go as far as “the other Naomi,” Naomi Wolf, author of “Letter to a Young Patriot,” in questioning the truth of the official account of what really happened on 9/11—which, if revealed, would indeed “change everything.”

I first encountered the term “deep state” in the writings of Peter Dale Scott, a Canadian diplomat turned Berkeley English professor, and to my mind the foremost authority on the assassination of JFK and its links to the American Deep State: the underworld nexus of criminal organizations and the CIA, the banking and energy industries, and the military industrial complex (including its psychological operations arm, the corporate media). Scott traces the first use of the term as a reference to the corrupt underworld behind the government of Turkey. FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds says that the secrets of 9/11 can be found in the Turkish-American Council.

Deep State topics will include 9/11 and the fascist takeover of America, false flag terrorism, CIA drug-running, the Bush crime family, fishy associations and assassinations, and related subjects. A partial list of websites tracking these subterranean activities would have to include Online Journal, 9/11 Blogger, 9/11 Truth, Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, Journal of 9/11 Studies, Want to Know, Madcow Morning News, Propaganda Matrix, Information Clearing House, and websites of people like Dr. Scott, retired Special Forces sergeant Stan Goff, Chris Floyd and Carolyn Kay, among others.

New World

I am not just a radical; I’m a revolutionary.

However, though I would commit violence in the immediate defense of myself or my family, the idea of plotting a violent revolution, under the all-seeing eye of the most intrusive surveillance state in history, is both laughable and sad. And as a pantheist who believes in the eternal cycles of history and the essential divinity of all beings, I also believe that violence is ultimately futile, and in the power of nonviolence—the best and only strategic alternative, under the circumstances.

I think America, as a political experiment, is dead. We entered a post-constitutional era when the Supreme Court handed the presidency to the dauphin at the turn of the millennium. And in the wake of illegal wars, torture, the abandonment of habeus corpus, signing statements, and an “opposition party” Congress that refuses to perform its constitutional imperative to impeach the most flagrant criminal in presidential history, America only lives on in the ideals of its citizens.

But let’s face it. We’d already outgrown a structure that was created for a population only 1/100th of America’s present size, anyway. Just look in Article I, where a representative has to have a minimum constituency of 30,000 residents. In their deliberations, the Framers rejected 40,000 as “too high.” Today, the average representative has about 680,000 constituents—more than twenty-two times what the Framers intended. We each have a little more than four percent of the democracy the Constitution was built to give us.

So I think we need a new government. The source of many of our problems is mass culture and the problem of scale, and that’s at the heart of what’s wrong with our Constitution, which was designed before industrialization changed human nature. For example, it’s absurd to think of ourselves as “independent” citizens, when we depend on a corporate food distribution system to keep ourselves alive. We’re very dependent, and we have to come to terms with these kinds of fundamental issues in any coherent redesign of American government—which is coming, no matter what we do. The Empire is crumbling, but how it ends up depends on us.

These are the kinds of things I’ll be writing about in New World, and of the efforts of people like Joel Hirschorn, who’s calling for an Article V Constitutional Convention. I also admire the work of David Sirota and the Progressive States Network. I’ve thought for a long time that state legislatures are where we should be focusing our electoral efforts, where the link between corporations and government can be most effectively broken. I’ll also be writing about my own efforts to change the local government here in Hampshire County, West Virginia (the case goes to the WV Supreme Court on October 7th; you can find the case files at HistoricHampshire.org) and other ideas about decentralizing government and building local communities.

Spirit

This category will include not only reflections on divinity, and further explorations of scriptural history and ideas, like I featured in my first post, but also any discussion about art (which I know little about, although I have a lot of artist friends) and music, including the music I make with the Time Travelers, the folk/gospel group I sing with. By the way, we’re playing the Burlington (WV) Apple Harvest Festival on Saturday October 4th at noon. You’re all invited.

Practical pantheism will also be discussed under this category, as I experience it in my various interactions with the world, not only with people, but in my relationships with the fellow members of my personal multi-species tribe—with whom I spend more time than I do with other humans, including my partner Nancy. The tribe’s members include Matewan, a yellow lab who’s seventy in human years, my approximate contemporary, and getting stiff; Simone, the neurotic foundling, also a yellow lab mix; Ace, the crotchety gray tabby elder of the feline crew; Abe, his lookalike younger hunting partner; Elizabeth, the princess, Abe’s sister, a creamy orange tabby and the house huntress; Belly Button, a black cat with a big white belly, who prefers the company of the dogs; and Digger and Daisy, the draft horses (the chickens, being non-mammal, are a tribe unto themselves).

Sometimes I feel like I live in Meercat Manor. Sometimes the animals talk to me in my dreams.

Family

This will not be one of those blogs where I’ll be discussing the intimate details of my personal family life—not only to protect the privacy of my loved ones, but to maintain a zone of privacy for Michael Hasty, the private person whose authorship of this blog is only one aspect of an otherwise full and complicated human life. It’s inevitable that the lives of Michael Hasty and Radical Pantheist, a series of mental snapshots on a webpage, will intersect on occasion, but one should never be confused with the other.

As I did with the column I used to write in the Hampshire Review, however, sometimes I’ll write about our family activities (like our annual weeklong family reunion at the beach) in a general way that illustrates my thoughts about family and the turn of the Great Wheel. I’ll also link readers to family websites, once I check with the relatives to see if they want to be publicly associated with me. For example, I have a nephew and godson, Trent Haaga, who’s a screenwriter and B-movie action hero (the protagonist in “Terror Firma,” a Troma production—doesn’t get much more B-movie than that). And my brothers are characters on “Monster Madhouse,” a cable TV show that features old Japanese monster movies. I’ll give you a full weblist once I put it together.

Well, that’s it. Certainly enough writing for today. I hope you’ll join me on this particular ride, and tell your friends. I’ll try to keep things interesting.

If you’d like to be notified when I publish a more substantive article (besides the usual daily stuff), put “email list” in the subject line of an email to “radicalpantheist [at] gmail [dot] com”—spelled like it sounds, not like it looks.

2 comments:

Jessi said...

If you have any computer/digital camera/video/whatever questions, feel free to shoot me an email--if I don't know the answers, chances are good I know someone who does!

tanyaa said...

It is not necessary to think about the Supreme Being as a personal god. Pantheism claims the Universe is God, that God is all that exists.
This does not mean the God of theism is equivalent to the Universe. That would be absurd because Theism clearly distinguish the Creator from Creation.Pantheism survives on Java in confused form, although it sometimes needs police protection.
Sheikh Siti Jenar (or Lemah Abang) was a 16th century Sufi religious leader, sometimes called the 10th Wali, or the 10th Holy Man, who preached a pantheistic, other-worldly understanding of Islam, which among other things, taught that the five pillars of Islam did not need to be abided by in this life, but only in the next, because this life is immaterial.
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Tanyaa
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