Impending Doom

I guess this time of year invites morbid thoughts: nature receding into dormancy as it is, temperatures dropping to inhospitable levels. Then there’s the growing disaster of climate change that our politicos seem unwilling or unable to address in any meaningful way, the partisan reality disconnect dividing us into hostile tribes and who can forget the ominous persistence of the dreaded virus.

What I need is a catharsis, a jolt of adrenalin to lift me from this debilitating depression. I was reading that the horror genre is beneficial as a means of escaping the sense of gloom one finds oneself in at times; that horror films can help one find a fresh outlook. Seeing Jason about to slice up an unaware teenager and the like produces an adrenalin rush, so the article suggests, ushering in a revival of energy to go along with a thankfulness one is in one’s living room rather than in a cabin at Camp Crystal Lake.

It makes sense to me; I think I’ll revisit some of the films that have terrified me in the past; maybe start with Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte. Betty Davis’ take on insanity caused me nightmares for quite some time.

Subliminal Truth

I’ve been reading, lately, about art and meaning, specifically how the intended communication the art maker might initially wish to convey becomes confused and intermingled with personal urges or desires that are then made manifest in the work during the intensive painstaking making process.

An uninhibited free reign provides the art maker’s mind the opportunity to bypass the political correctness of moral restraint untroubled by any sort of critical push-back (well, at least until the work is presented) and if the work is coming from the depths of the maker’s being without ulterior motive the work will be true: not necessarily attractive in an aesthetic sense nor morally uplifting nor of profound meaning; just honest.

Anyway, this got me thinking about my motivations as I proceeded to develop and execute my painting of the Mother Tree. Making the painting turned out to be a fairly involved undertaking in more ways than I usually find myself engaged. So now I’m led to consider that a project I’ve intended to have a lightly humorousness, anthropomorphizing tree forms as I have might in fact suggest a subliminal libidinous undertone that not only have I been preoccupied with female anatomy I present them (the female entities) as subservient

.Well, I must claim innocence. I really was just intending a light-hearted take on the natural process. But, who can say what the unconscious mind holds. I just hope the PC police won’t come down on me too hard.


I’ve been reading an interesting commentary on self-awareness. The suggestion the author makes is that the ‘whys’ of our intuitive actions and reactions are mysteries we rationalize by creating narratives that justify our otherwise unexplainable behaviors.

This, you might guess, has me thinking about my own behaviors, wondering where some of my recent actions and reactions come from, why I’m so inclined, sometimes, to take things personally. It occurs to me after some thought that often my more emotional responses are driven by doubts and uncertainties: being inclined, as I am, to ruminate on multiple points of view.

Did I just justify my emotional responses? Well, it’s all pretty complicated. I guess telling ourselves stories about why we do what we do is a human inevitability. We should hope when emotional build-up makes things intense, we can at least take responsibility rather than seek scapegoats. (The ‘deep state’ is pretty popular these days.)

The Media Eco-System

I heard the term ‘media eco-system’ used the other day and got to thinking about what that might encompass.

An eco-system as I understand it, consists of a complexity of mutually dependent inter-acting parts that constitute a ‘whole’ and embodies an aspect if not the totality of the realities of the organisms within. The media eco-system provides us captives a diverse selection of socio-cultural perspectives that demand belief, rejection, adherence or refutation of the sensational often incendiary information conveyed, pushing those of us locked into the media world toward extremes of opinion and behaviors not to mention paranoia.

I’ve come to realize the media eco-system is essentially oppositional by design, generating anger that insures the rabid following necessary to the systems’ sustainability. So, I wonder, how do I stay informed about the things that matter these days without getting sucked into the vile vortex.

I guess, to be fair, not all news presentation is sensationalized. I’ll just have to look harder to find a fair and balanced coverage. (Not sure, but I think that might be the slogan of one of the more egregious sources.)

Contemplating Immortality

The human genome has finally been deciphered and connected suggesting that in the future an individual’s genetic flaws may be found and possibly corrected leading to the potential for longer human lifespans. Imagination might lead one to the idea that sustaining life indefinitely is within the realm of possibility.

On the face of it the idea seems pretty uplifting, having all that time to…………… well, do exactly what. Another problem that comes to mind is that the very nature of human Being depends on uncertainty. Awareness of one’s mortality, as subliminal as it may be, is an enlivening prospect, an experiential richness, without which one would likely fall into a debilitating ennui, losing any sense of meaningful life.

It will be some generations, I suspect, before anyone must worry about such things. Meanwhile, realizing mortality will keep us in mind of the preciousness of daily existence.

Reborn in the Seventh Sphere

Does skepticism Inhibit Emotional Development?

I’ve been thinking about two essays I’ve recently read by the 19th century philosopher William James. The essays were delivered to the philosophical society and YMCA at Harvard and Yale, respectively, where, it appears, enlightenment thinking had not surprisingly undermined religious beliefs of many faculty members and students.

The thing that has stuck with me as I think about his essentially pro-faith rationale is his fervent assertion that skepticism about belief in God (in whatever form it may take), if sustained will inhibit emotional growth. One must have the will, he maintains, to choose, make an informed decision and move forward in that belief or disbelief until new experiences lead to reassessment.

I find this position to be counter to my own fairly skeptical nature. My thought processes are organized to entertain possibilities without the need to choose one. So, I guess I must count myself among the timid non-choosers wondering what it must be like living in the rarefied air of firm belief.

The Beauty of Rationalization

I’ve been thinking, lately, about the nature of consumer capitalism and how it tends to disenfranchise tens if not hundreds of thousands of people. Folks who are, on the whole, perfectly functional individuals, who have been caught in an impossible financial bind not always of their own making, find themselves unable to provide basic human needs, particularly shelter.

I’ve been reading about a large sub-culture of nomads living in various mobile vehicles who rely on scant social security payments and taxing seasonal employment to make ends meet. The dilemma has me wondering how these folks, who have not chosen to ‘drop out’ in order to exploit the social safety net but rather work in order to maintain an autonomy, deserve such a tenuous existence.

Convinced as I am of the oppressive predicament suffered by thousands, of whom I’ve been made aware by a dedicated and credible reporter who spent extended time living with these vulnerable folks, I find myself disturbed and righteously indignant at the unfairness of it all.

But, to be honest and upon further consideration I must admit my righteous indignation is pretty hard to sustain, you know, having to suffer such distressing contemplation, which has led me to the rationalization that maybe not all of these folks are such innocent victims, that maybe their dilemmas are the result of irresponsibility on their part; maybe they dealt frivolously with their formal education, blew off consumer math, made bad choices in the selection of spouses.

So now, upon even further consideration I find I must relieve myself of my overly righteous suffering. I find myself able to comfortably return to the placid complacency which is my mien and so proceed with my normal daily routines untroubled by occurrences beyond my control.

A Balanced Nature

I’ve been reading a very interesting article about the tiger population in India. Bengal tigers, considered a threatened species, have been given protections against hunting as well as a large protected reserve in the jungles of Madya Pradesh were they share the land with the indigenous forest villagers. To the east, in the Sundarbans mangrove swamps between India and Bangladesh the growing tiger population, facing a scarcity of traditional food animals ( due in part to human incursions exploiting resources), have turned to humankind as an easily obtained substitute, killing and eating one or more villagers a week.

This got me thinking about the food chain. While we may entertain the notion that we, humankind, have an advantage, a superior position among our animal neighbors in securing our piece of the environmental pie, upsetting the natural balance would seem to be a dangerous ignorance. Logic would have us focus on providing necessary habitat and resources for survival of all species. When one species grows and exploits the earths finite resources beyond what is fair to all, perhaps limits should be imposed.

Just wondering if we might not have a moral obligation, you know, in terms of the health of all earthly inhabitants to encourage the tigers to eat the villagers.

Resisting the Inevitable

Doing my daily stretching regimen the other day and finding it occasionally painful has gotten me thinking about the inevitability of the physical downslope I’m descending. Ageing has a way of putting one’s physical prowess into perspective. Memories of the stamina and flexibility that once were mine have become distant.

So, as a counter measure to deal with this somewhat depressing realization I’ve obtained a wrist mounted device that measures my daily physical activity. I get encouragement sent to me online if I meet certain daily parameters. The device functions as a personal trainer to keep me on task, keep my physical activity reasonably high, keep the calories burning. This athletic enterprise has me, for the time being, feeling pretty good about my physical health, stamina and weight stability. My daily exercises, though, aren’t getting any easier. I remain aware of the reality of my situation, that the best I can hope for is to maintain an equilibrium for awhile.

I’m not giving up. Better, I think, to at least stay mobile. I’m determined to use it until I lose it.

Upon Reflection

I’ve been reading about the history of the mirror: how the idea of ‘reflection’ took on new meaning over time.

Humankind has, of course, been aware of the reflected image since pre-historic man first gazed into a still pond. The dangers of such a discovery became apparent in Greek mythology when Narcissus, realizing his beauty, became obsessed with his reflection, fell into despair his love of self could never be requited, killed himself and was reborn as a flower (curious but fitting, I suppose).

By the Renaissance pretty much everyone had access to mirrors. It didn’t turn all Italians narcissistic but the focus on personal appearance brought about by the availability of the reflected image profoundly affected the way people everywhere thought about themselves. Gazing into a mirror makes the gazer aware of his (or her) unique oneness. Social relationships become more complex. The individual, aware of her (or his) physical attributes easily assumed an expectation of relative worth beyond the status assigned by other means such as social rank, wealth or useful contribution to society. Visual presentation: grooming habits, manner of dress hair styling became increasingly significant and for some cultures border(ed) on the ridiculous.

I must admit to remembering preening in my teen years. Now I purposely avoid mirrors whenever possible. But, as my physical appearance has become less photogenic I find my psychological well-being not as dependent on visual presentation. One of the advantages of ageing, I guess.