Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Wobbly times number 180

Recommended for those who want to break free from the 'norm'.

Australia is huge and still relatively unpopulated.  There's a reason for this.  The reason is rooted in the fact that Australia has a very old surface.  The Bungle Bungles formed some 360 million years ago is not a geographical spot where many people are going to be able to provide food, water and shelter for themselves.  That's just one example.  Here's another:

My road trip with John Tattersall from Perth to Lake Ballard with stops in Coolgardie, Kalgoorlie, The Broad Arrow Tavern, Ora Banda and Menzies. Antony Gormley placed 51 pieces of sculptures which represent casts taken from residents of Menzies, making Lake Ballard one hell of an art exhibit. Sorry about the wind drowning out my excellent commentary on Lake Ballard itself.  

Suffice to say, Western Australia is an awesome exhibit of its own. Its flora and fauna have an amazing resilience to them. I include the citizens of Australia in this description.  You see them depicted, out on the lake, under the moonlight. The starlit skies are to die for. The weather can be harsh and unpredictable. The flies, as you may be able to detect in the film, are ubiquitous during the daylight hours, but seem to disappear as the Sun sets.  There's a lovely tinge of wild and dangerous when you're out there in your swag listening to the wind, looking up through your insect screen.   

Think of a vast, empty, hot, sparsely populated sunny landscape and there you have it: Western Australia and its people depicted as a work of art on dry salt lake.  Makes you want some cool, clear water...


Kindly edited by Jennifer Armstrong.



Thursday, September 11, 2014

Wobbly times number 179

                                                   



Large print is easier for those who are seeing impaired.  

Today's a nice 70 degrees fahrenheit.  Tomorrow?  Who knows? Depends on how far forward you're projecting your tomorrows. I suspect the temperatures during mid-September will be in the 90s F by 2050. That's like the mid-30s for the celsius oriented. 

Still, the lizards are out, snapping up some insects on their quick, lurching hunt. Beautiful, the day is. With Sacred Ibis flying cross the pale blue sky, a gentle breeze issues slowly across the fern leaves. Yes, ferns have leaves.  And our Sun, radiating the brighter light of the coming spring, which this year falls on the 23rd.  I mean the vernal equinox. 

It's September, 2014 in Perth, Australia.  

Liberty is being attacked; but it has always been unpopular with rulers big and small. Liberty was never granted.  Slavery has been imposed by others on us, to various degrees and with our acquiescence within political boundaries of our own making.  Still, we demand liberty. But we have not always had the power to enforce our will. That power has come by degree over the centuries. Our power has grown since enough of us united against chattel slavery.  

Chattel slavery didn't die as complete a death as many of us would like to think during the era of feudalism. French and Spanish ship crews knew that they could be captured and held as slaves by the Moors/Saracens until they were ransomed as they sailed the Mediterranean Sea.  This was a norm during the centuries when the feudalist mode of production prevailed.  Owning and power were accepted as beyond the notion of liberty.  It was the Dark Ages and they are still with us in many ways today. 


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wobbly times number 178

My dialogue with Jennifer on how 
shamanism relates to Bataille, Marechera 
and the upheaval of 60s freaks who 
used psychedelic substances as catalysts 
to transgress the bounds of 
"The Death Culture" while 
attempting to create an alternative 
society; but failed to transcend the 
domination of Capital in the end.




Wobbly times number 177

 Images


For Rosa

Light follows darkness follows light
in the twirl of time around and forward
What was young must get older
while producing young again
Time is moving
Change inevitable
"I was
I am
I will be"




Dialectics of Dialogue

I'm not saying that you have to do it this way.  I'm just saying that your imagination should be exercised, not put into the 'naughty corner'.

Are you crazy?  If we did that, unity would disappear.

Where would it go? Into some safe corner?  Are there safe corners or only places to die?

Ever see a performance of 'The Iceman Cometh'?"

Yeah.  I was thinking of that very same question.

How intolerant we make ourselves.

T'is pity.

Perhaps a little forbearance would be in order.

Yes. Allen Ginsberg advised forbearance.

Wise fellow in many ways.

A gentle, gay spirit, making his way in the world.

Indeed.  Were there more poet messengers.

How about Omar Khayyam...

"Come, fill the Cup, and in the fire of Spring 
Your Winter-garment of Repentance fling: 
The Bird of Time has but a little way 
To flutter--and the Bird is on the Wing."


Interesting.  I can only recite the famous one from memory...

"A Book of Verses underneath the Bough, 
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread--and Thou 
Beside me singing in the Wilderness-- 
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!"







Art Vandemark in 1960 


Drove like a bat out of hell
turned his eyes to switch the dial
as he passed that slower driver
on that bloody hill
smashed head-on
crushed that coming car
Art Vandemark dead
at a mere 16
He drove too fast
and went too far











Friday, August 8, 2014

Wobbly times number 176

Short Stories From Another Time
(The first years of communism)


Abe's reflections






The farms were enormous.  We had decided long ago that divvying up the land into small, personal, but sustainable lots, had become a burdensome time sink.  So, those who wanted to do farm work did that part of our necessary, collective labours to accomplish what we needed from agriculture and what we needed was food and drink.  Still, sustainably produced, to be sure.  The land was important.  It had to be taken care of, like an old friend.  As a result of going large, our productivity grew and our free time increased.

Drink?

Yes, the farmers were in charge of beer production, from the beginning of the cycle, to its end in bottles, for home or just available, fresh on tap from the various pubs which dotted our communities. Parties were spontaneous then.  Wherever they occurred, there was always plenty of fresh beer to quaff and well tended marijuana to toke.  The farmers' product was ours and the products of our labour time were theirs.  Common ownership was understood by all.

We knew that we had to work. That was necessary and sometimes even, what we wanted most to do with our time.  But, most of us relished our free time, away from necessary labour.  In any event, every moment was lived in all its sensuous glory, even when we spent time doing what we all knew was necessary namely, producing food and drink. We were farmers. Of course, there were slackers, ones who didn't apply themselves to the tasks at hand.  They were shunned and ridiculed for a time. Most of them came around to seeing that their lives could be more richly rewarded, if they just did what was needed.  It was their choice as to what task or activity that might be.  In other words, if they did what was needed, they would not be cast outside our association or made poorer, in any significant way, than their neighbours. The others, the ones who refused to apply themselves to the effective labour time required of them to remain in the community were eventually left to fend for themselves in the wild. Community pressure was too much for them.  We did not condone stealing personal possessions from one another and that included stolen time.  If someone refused take their tasks seriously enough to get them accomplished, with the best quality they could provide,  we all knew it.  By quality, I don't mean perfectly, but just doing the job as best an individual could.  And if they didn't, we'd eventually make that person so uncomfortable that they would leave and perhaps, try their luck with another community, although, to be fair, this was unlikely to meet with much success as that community would have very similar standards. As I said, most everyone thought that their free-time was a core measure of fulfilment.


An anonymous producer's observations

We had it good.  We could go to the store and pick up what we needed and still have time left over to acquire things we never really wanted, things beyond our needs.  Online catalogues displayed a thousand choices and all you needed was time to get them.  It was great!  You'd never have known that dresses or tools took so little time to produce as we did when we were using money.  Using time-credits, we got what we needed and even more, much that we wanted beyond our immediate needs.

Anyway, being yourself was the greatest thing you could do.  What did they call it?  Living without dogma?  Yes. That's it.  No veil of tears or puritanically inspired notion over your mind.  You do what you want during your free-time and try as much as possible to combine pleasure with the work which you do in your necessary labour time. Not everyone does the same job every time.  No need for that anymore.

We all had homes.  Some of us actually preferred to live in apartments, concentrated in cities.  But most spread out and lived in the small houses which peppered the countryside.  Of course producers who could do plumbing were necessary.  But that's fine.  Some like to do a little plumbing every once in a while.  Need met with skill was paramount.  What's needed is what's necessary and that is how we design our time.





A Catholic's view


It was kind of like feudalism.  I remember how the people I knew thought it resembled a medieval Catholic nunnery or a monkish order.  I mean there were similarities.  For one thing, what was produced was shared, no one person or group was formed to get more than others.  Arrogance was punished with silence, shunning and physical means--if needed.  Well, that made it different from feudalism.  Even the Church had its hierarchy of power over human time.  Of course, nowadays those who have faith still gather and worship their deities in their own ways.  I still take communion and go to mass.  And our sex lives were so much more easy-going what with equal political power between all men and women being the norm.

Anyway, I liked it.  Of course, I was only a kid then.  In fact, it was great.  All you had to do was put in your 'socially necessary labour time' at whatever was available via the online notice board, providing you could actually do the task.  For instance, some librarians chose to become public transit drivers or anything else on offer.  It was a cinch to get four hours in; which meant you got three hours out of the store of social labour.  

Me?  I actually enjoyed my necessary time spent at our organic farms and with book shelvers  in our libraries.

Organic?  Yeah, all our agricultural produce was farmed organically after the revolution.  The principle of living in harmony with the Earth meant that poisons and non-organic fertilisers couldn't be used anymore.  

Exploitation? You mean the 3 hours for 4 put in?

Naw.

I get it, naw.  That other hour went to those who couldn't contribute anything communally useful.  

End story.  I think I'll smoke a joint.



All tomorrow's lovers:
a reflection by Naomi on the liberation from monogamy


                                                                       

Family was whomever you loved. I had a dozen husbands and a couple of children, four fathers and ten mothers.  Of course, they all had brothers and sisters.  The children were brought up where they they felt most wanted at any particular time and there were plenty who wanted, indeed, needed them around. Of course, when they were babies, all of us went to them and took care of their needs and made sure the others would be around all the time to make sure they didn't get themselves into dangerous situations, like being too close to a solar boiler or electric stove.  Yeah, all of that came naturally and if it didn't, there were always others around, including those contributing their socially necessary labour time in nurseries and kindergartens.

Yes, formal education was still important for us.  Formal just took on another shape.  With the advent of common ownership, the means were there to provide each child with time in school until such a time when students would graduate at whatever level they wanted and were capable of attaining. Supporting this, was all part of what working that fourth hour was about.  Hell, in terms of labour time, it only takes a social minute to make a decent beer.

We blissfully met each other and if we had desires, we fulfilled them right there on the spot.  It wasn't uncommon to see couples making love, although most preferred the privacy of some secluded spot.  I always did.  Which is not to say that there weren't those encounters on those long electric train trips....

I remember reading about the history of State/religiously sanctified monogamous marriage under class rule during my formal education period.  What a mess it turned the lives of so many into.  Many suffered decades of silent desperation. Not that there weren't some good marriages and very successful monogamous relationships then or when we were living during the first years of communism.  Once we established common ownership of the land and the collective product of our labour, the conditions became ripe for love, for what undermined love before were deeply embedded notions and practices concerning property which put a brake on our desires.

Women and children were treated as property of the father in marriage for millennia, all the way back to the time when chattel slavery was the norm.  Of course, this plague on our sensuality also damaged polygamous marriages. Whole societies were permeated with myths about what was 'natural' for how human beings should to relate to each other.  You can see it within their cultural expressions from comedy to tragedy, from novels to painting and film.  It's all there: the history of how fucked up we were.  Fortunately, that was changed by us changing the way we related to each other.  No longer was a relationship a power play. This factor added a deep, ongoing, life/libido changing movement to our lives which carried over to how we thought about the environment and even the non-humans with whom we lived. Life truly became sacred.





Ben reflects on the end of alienation

Loneliness was impossible; but privacy was always respected.  That's the way I remember it the first years of communism.

You see, back in the days of prehistory, we often got very lonesome or so, the literature of the time tells us. Richard Yates was always on about it.  Of course, there were others, many, many others.  Whether they knew it or not, they were describing  something which sprung from the roots of loneliness.

It was in the painting as well.  Edward Hopper's work is a great introduction.  And the psychological imbalances it caused.  My, my.  Loneliness was the silent killer of the era.





In the years after we established common ownership of the wealth we produced. We began to breathe more freely than ever. We also left loneliness behind.  We opened up public space by de-privatising what had been commodified.  Truly, the end of commodification meant the end of bourgeois notions of freedom.  No longer were we tied to the mast of the ship of fools, we were able to go out at any time of day or night and enjoy ourselves at public gathering places.  Nobody was afraid of losing their job or losing the respect of their peers by being themselves.  If one person didn't like another, they just associated with someone else.  Ah, the chimes of freedom were not only flashing, they were positively blazing.

And yet, we could always retire to whatever level of privacy we needed.  For the first time in history, we all had homes.  As all the human race was being well housed in those first years, the cities, as they had been, began to disappear.  We discovered the need for them had been embedded with the needs of class dominated civilisation.  We had no need for 'financial centres' nor had we a landlord class anymore with their petty needs to jack up rents and property prices for their own enrichment over non-property holders.




Zane relects on the end of nationalism


Yeah, it was funny back then.  I mean during late prehistory.  People continued to believe that they'd be liberated if they just had their 'own' political State.  Amazing really.  Even most of the people calling themselves socialist believed, one must say, almost religiously, that national liberation was possible, as opposed to being the dominate ideology of the era, the ideology of capitalists.  

Marx wrote something once when he was in his 20s in which he proclaimed that the State was inseparable from slavery.  And slavery it was, wage-slavery to be sure, but a form of bondage, nevertheless.

How could one feel emancipated under a system based on the dominance of the employing class and the subservience of the producing class under constant surveillance?  

Impossible.  Yet the myth was sown and from it sprouted all sorts of moral verbiage supporting one nation's claims against another.  Nations did nothing, of course. The humans that make them up did.  The dominators told the producers to down tools and pick up the gun for the father or motherland. Patriotism, it was called.  And it's most virulent advocates were the Fascists:

"And above all, Fascism, the more it considers and observes the future and the development of humanity quite apart from political considerations of the moment, believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of perpetual peace. . . . War alone brings up to its highest tension all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility upon the people who have the courage to meet it."  Benito Mussolini

Some saw through it.  But they were treated like lost sheep in the paddock or largely ignored, if they had become somehow, respected members of the community:

"In the World War [I] a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns. How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows.
How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets? How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy? How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?
Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few -- the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill.
And what is this bill?
This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and all its attendant miseries. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations.
For a great many years, as a soldier, I had a suspicion that war was a racket; not until I retired to civil life did I fully realize it. Now that I see the international war clouds gathering, as they are today, I must face it and speak out."  Major General, Smedley Butler, USMC 

Most people, living through late prehistory, knew who Mussolini was and even though they may not have been fascists, most were firm nationalists, as Mussolini himself was.  They most probably never actually knew what the core ideology of fascism was, but they'd heard of Mussolini and Hitler.  Few ever heard of Butler. Butler was a nationalist too; but his critical stance toward the capitalist class was considered too radical to be actively promulgated or memorialised by the liberal or conservative bourgeoisie.

Butler was a 1930s' Republican.  He himself was conservative.  But he was also firmly committed to the sort of democracy the U.S.A. had during his life.  He recognised the imperialist drive inherent in ruling class control of tremendous amounts of wealth.  That drive could only be satisfied with the acquisition of more wealth and with it political power over more people.  Fantasies of empire are dreamt up within the matrix of these sorts of drives.

The point is that nationalism is only important these days as an historical subject.  Today, we live without borders.  The Earth is our home.  The world is classless, democratic and free.  The sovereign individual is where the power lies.  The sovereign State, which sublated the Sovereign monarch, is dead.  Class rule remained.

Cultural variety, far from being suppressed, through our sublation of the nation with its borders, has flourished for, with the end of the nation State, the end of commodity production and sale also occurred. It's not that culture was absent during prehistorical times.  Sure, there was plenty and its best expressions are still regarded as worthy of attentive time.   Why, I'm reading DON QUIXOTE right now.  Last week, I watched a performance of THE DEATH of a SALESMAN, recorded, I believe, in the mid-1950s.

The desire to possess the latest thing was mostly a result of the commodification of everything during prehistory.  Commodified society put a premium on cheapness.  To gain market share was one of THE driving principles and that could, most efficiently be accomplished through increasing the speed of life. Thus, the latest thing could actually be cheaper in constant currency than it had been before.  The question which occurred to many a subconscious was, "Was it worth it?"  And the answer was mostly yes during the last stages of prehistory.  However, this acquiescence had psychological consequences of the sort related to what many see as inauthentic behaviour by some individuals today.  I mean, a sort of generalised malaise was being felt; but one didn't know quite why it was being experienced.

Now, we consciously enjoy what we desire regardless of age but with regard for others and the health of the Earth. Doing harm to either is considered bad form and yes, we still have to segregate some people away from our communities because of their sadistic behaviours.  There is no reason to get physically aggro with another person.  We have what we need and we should realise that we can never possess another free individual. After all, we have no slaves, no bondsmen, no servants. We are all free from any material dependency structure, other than our own mutual need for each other to participate honestly when putting necessary labour time into the production of good and services for our own use.

Now, we get what we need from the social stores of goods and services.  But right after we abolished the State, we still hadn't developed the trust we have today in each other.  Back then, we used logged in labour time during necessary tasks, operations, services and so on.  By 'logged in', I mean there was tracking system in which how much labour time you put in, was put into an account which you drew from when you visited a social store for material goods or received a service.  Most people were able to contribute something for the use of all.  The ones who weren't able to produce anything useful were taken care of on the basis of their needs as much as any average producer was.  Nobody had a lot; but some had more than others because they put more productive time into the social store.  All labour time wasn't equal either.  Those who worked in more dangerous and physically exhausting jobs were allowed to count their single hours as e.g. two hours. More free-time was the incentive and the average work day was the norm-- 4 hours 3 days a week or a 12 hour day per week or  4, 3 hour days.  Time was left to the individual.  


                                               
We really struggled with authority..a reflection by Mary




Authority was changing.  We dealt with it all the time back then.  The leftovers of the old social relations kept cropping up.  At first, rape still existed.  Yes, even after we'd established a communist society.  Still, the psychology of dominance and submission was within many of us.  And, many of us were passing it along.  Loyalty to the authority in order to prevent chaos.  This had been the sine qua non of class society's rationalisation for the authority of the authorities as long as their domination became embedded in our own sense of justice.  What an ideal, 'justice'.  All sorts of contents can be shoved into that category and with political power, it becomes all that more convincing.

As time passed and all the dependency structures which we had participated in, both mentally and physically, started to melt away, the more irritated we became with them.  The authoritarian shibboleth began to crumble.  The very idea that a freedom could be based on dominance was absurd, especially when you began to realise it in everyday life.  People you met no longer thought of you as a rival for your job, you place, your status in short, for what you thought of as being, 'your possessions'.  What a blessed relief this was.

                                                                                 


When common ownership became the norm, boredom seemed to disappear.



One of the main things people used to think about communist society was that it would be boring. Everything would be the same, flat, grey and without definition.  As it turned out over the first few years, we became even more defined as individuals. As individuals, we finally had power over our needs and wants.  Gone were the ads telling us that we could be all that we could be if we just purchased this or that.  Gone were the amplified voices who served the ruling class. Instead, everyone's voice was expressed and heard at the same level.  This was the negation of domination not the initiation of boredom.

When one was saying something sensible, others who agreed would use the counsel given well in their own discourse with others. As a result, we became more, not less, our own selves as individuals.  Oh not in the sense that we saw others as rivals for our freedom.  Our freedom was guaranteed by our power to control what we produced and determine what the nexus of need and our own expended labour time was for, whatever we felt we needed, we would have to help put in the time necessary to produce whatever it was.

We revelled in our free-time; but as the years passed, many of us became more and more enamoured with spending our time doing things which would push us outside our Earthly pleasures and into the hostile environment of outer space.  Projects, we called them.  The main project was to terra-form as many planets and moons of our solar system as possible, leaving the others to small colonies of those who would devote time to gathering scientific knowledge about the planet, moon or asteroid.  Some were quite into that.

Jack Andersen comes to mind.  He became fascinated with Europa's global oceans of water.  Spent years there, with about fifty others, examining, experimenting and publishing his observations in "The Solar Journal".




A reflection by
 Ilana Ben Amos 




It just occured to me that I drink beer to be closer to my father.  No, not through genetic testing.  I knew who my father was because I was brought within a monogamous family. I don't think my parents crossed the sexual line with others after they were married.  In fact, I'm confident of it.  But that's another story.

My father drank beer.  I can still remember him swishing around in his mouth before swallowing his beer.  Have you ever done that?

I do it sometimes.  That reminds me of my father too.  And, the practice does lend the palate a greater variety of flavours to savour.  Works with wine too.  Swishing and chewing your wine, maybe not all the time, but every once in awhile, especially when trying a new vintage will bring out more to be appreciated.

An increased sensuality emerged after the revolution.  We began to really taste life.  No more did we feel obligated to spend our lives figuring out the tax system or even doing our taxes.  Some peoples' jobs, thus their labour time, were tied to advising and accomplishing feats of wonder with the tax system.  That's how absurd life had become.

After the revolution, there were no taxes to figure out.  One hour of our time at work we gave gratis to support the services we all depended on, services which did not directly produce wealth; but which helped us remain healthy, educated and entertained.  Whatever other time we put into necessary labour, we decided ourselves,for that time would allow us access to the social store. What a revelation it was to know that only two seconds were socially necessary to produce a fine ale.  Our productivity had finally been turned into free-time for ourselves.



Jean describes some of how her life is changed since our classless democracy was established.





See that concrete pier out there in the ocean?





That used to be where the coast guard boats tied up between rounds of performing their duty of keeping the borders secure.

The borders--what were they?

We were insecure then.  This was before the revolution and even after it, we were a mess, still dominated by many of the insecurities which plagued us before the State was abolished and with it, borders.  Politically owned territory became Terra, our planet.  The same was true for all of the former political States.  The Earth was ours because the social product of our labour was now ours to control, to plan and to distribute.

That goes through my mind as I gaze at that now unused pier.  It's not totally unused.  A very few people are always fishing from it.

The fog comes in, blanketing the coast.  The air grows cold.  Night descends.  The fog horns still bellow, out there in the grey mists, "Waaarrrrrrrrrrning.  Coastal shore close by."

I live in the geographical space of the state formerly known as North Carolina.  Marines and Coast Guard personnel were stationed here, once upon a time. We no longer live cooped in political States needing to protect borders.  We live on a borderless Earth.

We are classless, as we have been since we made the revolution.  Now we see each other as human beings.  There are no illegals as there are none of the old legalities when it comes to citizenship of a particular area of the planet, designated by its ruling class as a State. No, we are all citizens of this planet now.  We are all Earthlings.

Maryiana Yohana from Nueva Santiago



You ask me how things changed after the revolution in relation to Patriarchal monogamy. Well, the revolution changed our conception of love. Love is everywhere, we all share it. I knew this before the revolution, but it was hidden by Capitalism. Loads of people used to think that humans were mostly nasty and selfish. After the revolution, the meaning and the practices of love changed, and we all had doubts about how it should be… 

During the first few years, I was busy building the theory and the praxis of Communism. Well, I wrote loads of propaganda and theorized a lot, I enjoyed it and made me feel useful. But the main changes came from the day-to-day praxis… Like Anarchists have always said. 

It happened with Patriarchy. I thought it was deeply ingrained in us, particularly in my culture, in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean… I was wrong. Self-management of resources meant that everybody was involved in decisions and actions; chauvinism, like classism, just faded in a few years, as everybody got a voice and the community applied reverse hierarchy dominance…

Yes, I didn’t question things back them. I was seeing the good of it everywhere. Feeling free from Patriarchy, I didn't have any trouble with sex and partnership. I had regular or occasional sex with many. Most young people did quite a lot of this, I think. In a way, the regularity of the sex was an expression of the closeness of the relationship, though not always…
Generally, our society extended the idea of what “romantic love” was: the “romantic” connotations decreased and the “companionship” or “fun” connotations became stronger, something like that. Romantic love got dissolved in the general “brother/sister” relationship. Sex lost some of the implications that it used to have, not when it came to emotions (expression of emotion increased), but in relation to strings and obligations. Stuff like “exclusivity” and “for life”, so important to “love” “Hollywood style” (as we used to call it as a critique to Patriarchal love)… Well, most people felt very strongly that these should change, but everybody seemed confused about how. Many of the people who were married stayed married, others split up...
Looking back, I think that we just started applying the old rules in a more flexible way. This was easier with self-management as a daily practice… and the extended family being already part of who we were as a community. I mean, before the revolution family was not just a couple and their children, it included all close relatives. Also, we used to marry more than one person in our life, or we would live with them, and they became part of our families, often even if we split up. This was normal already. We were officially monogamous , but we used to cheat on our partners, both men and women; it was supposed to be bad, but it was also common sense that people, couldn't help but to do it, only angels could. 

It still makes me laugh, yeah, we would make a lot of drama about it, but most people would still do it quite happily. Friends would help with the hiding of affairs, of course. So, in a way, it was a relief to everybody that we could just “sleep” with whomever we wanted, and nobody would have the legitimacy to be upset about it. As the requirement for “having” a partner also faded, all the upset people became much more chilled about it, I believe. Not everybody wanted to go having sex with different partners all the time, anyway. Most people stayed with one main sexual partner most of the time, for shorter or longer periods of time, very much like in the old times. 

Children were taken care of by the extended family, as they used to. But now, more in a relaxed way, since nobody was into stress by lack of food or security. So, people wouldn't stay together because of the children or out of a sense of duty… These pressures eased for everybody once the new conceptions were generally accepted and practices in decision making and social relations changed. Our natural ecosystem was favourable and we didn't have the problems of a densely populated society… Things were smooth.
Now, I know it’s more open, but back them, we were also quite open, because the idea of what was good for yourself and others had changed: no person or animal could be private property any more… They were our companions in the management of our relationship with nature. Still, monogamy as “companionship” prevailed. Most people would do, as in the old times, “serial monogamy”, and their old husbands or wives or boyfriends or girlfriends would remain part of their families, and the families even increased their members more than in the old times, because people changed couples more often and would stay close to their old partners more often, so more people became the second, third, fourth partners…, who they would still love so much, and every one of them would be accepted as a new member of the family and didn't have to stop being so. Same with the uncles and aunties and cousins that were your closest friends and your blood brother’s closest friends, and that kind of thing… It all was what we used to do, but more of it, so the concept of family got extended, and that was very healthy I think. This settled the foundations for what we do today.
Not that I don’t have criticism to the way we understand love and sex these days. I think that people still wanting to marry is a sign of the old religious and property rules. Yes, we are free regarding to who we have sex with, but still we engage on a “sanctioned love” ritual. Nonsense, in my opinion. I mean, I had some sort of “husbands” myself, not really any wife, I mostly like men… But I didn't call them husbands. I didn't believe that anybody or anything should make me live according to their rules: I rule myself well, thank you very much. I didn't need a ritual, a social sanction, for my love of nature or society or family or comrades, or a partner. I rather performed the daily rituals of love in relation to all of them, creating them every day, also questioning and changing them all the time. 

I believe that there is still a sense of self-sacrifice in the concept of marriage, a sacrifice to something higher, starting with society. I believe that marriage is still a possession ritual. It also establishes a separation from the rest of society; people who marry tend to do fewer things independently within the community than those who, instead of marrying, just “are” together in different ways.
On the other hand, the fact that we all live in big, dynamic, changing extended families makes partnership easier to “break” and easier to maintain than it was in the old times. Surely the link between sex and companionship has changed a great deal. This makes sex much more egalitarian and fun than it used to be! It also makes changes and conflict easier to face (there are many advisors and mediators in the houses and in the community!). Things are so much better than before the revolution… 

I once thought that the nature of love would never be understood… Now, I am sure that we understand it much better than before. More importantly, even if we still need further change (change is all that is permanent, as they say), I believe that we share much more love than we had in the last millennium. A huge improvement! 





Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Wobbly times number 175

Only Lovers Left Alive


In "Only Lovers Left Alive" Jarmusch puts John Hurt in the role of Christopher Marlowe, nowadays a reclusive writer living in Tangier. Seems Chris was the real writer of HAMLET and other works attributed to William Shakespeare. The script goes differently, according to Jarmusch in his latest flick. Jim is both the script writer and director. As we learn in "Only Lovers Left Alive", Marlowe faked his reported early bar room fight to the death to conceal his real being as vampire and, the literary genius feeding Shakespeare his plays. This is an old theory (not the vampire part) surrounding the true authorship of the great Shake's plays and poems. To be sure, there are other theories in with regard to the authorship of RICHARD III along with the others; but this is Jim playing with that notion.

According to Jim Jarmusch, it is now 450 or so years on and Marlowe is still alive in Tangier. He is still writing, still in a kind of self-imposed exile, much like Paul Bowles was in the Tangier of his time. And like Bowles, Marlowe the vamp has mentored a local Moroccan writer trying to make his way up into the world of recognised writers.

“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery - celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from - it’s where you take them to."

[MovieMaker Magazine #53 - Winter, January 22, 2004 ]”
― Jim Jarmusch


And then we have the two main protagonists: the lovers left alive after centuries have rolled by.  And, spending their time amongst the most imaginative, creative minds of whatever era they happened to have lived through.  Of course, their names are Adam (played by Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton).  

Oh yes, Adam and Eve expelled from the Garden due to their tasting of God's forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge.  

No, not quite that pair, but what a pair! These two have been married since the mid 19th century. They are vampires and both know Marlowe.  Eve lives in Tangier and regularly commiserates with Marlowe. Adam's digs are in Detroit. He lives the lone life of the brooding artist. When Adam gets suicidal enough to purchase a special hard wooden bullet he can shoot into his heart, Eve, who does not know about his bullet purchase, senses it after a video phone call.  Eve is not only sensuous, she's a master sensor when it comes to almost anything, including inanimate objects.  Just a touch of say a violin will bring out its history. After a super sonic re-reading of her personal library,she gathers enough books to fit into her two suitcases and takes the first night flight (mai oui) out of Tangier to Paris and from there by red-eye to Detroit. 

The film is sprinkled with wise asides and humour; but at the centre of all the dialogue is the notion that something is awry on the planet. What's rotten in Denmark and across the globe is, to our dear vampires eyes, the utter lack of appreciation amongst the 'zombies' for their own creative geniuses in the arts and sciences.  But this is an old problem, Eve observes as she tries to quiet the suicidal impulses of Adam.  It's just that Adam sees and attempts to demonstrate to Eve, through the empty architecture of Detroit, a metaphor for where the human race is taking the planet now that it has industrialised nature.  In a way, Adam senses the commodification, the cheapening of all that surrounds him as humankind takes itself down the road to environmental collapse.  But Eve won't have it.  She sees the decay, but points to nature's irrepressible life force.  Detroit will come back, she says.  It has water and where there's water life will reappear.  

Adam and Eve are intellectuals.  They observe and create as their very good friends amongst the human community have done: Newton, Galileo, Shelley, Wollstonescraft, Schubert, Byron (although he was a pompous ass, according to Adam).  Their portraits adorn Adam's wall.  According to Adam, imagination is dying in the modern age and he and Eve and one assumes Marlowe are surrounded by 'zombies', meaning most of humanity.  But, in case you thought all vampires are creative, sensitive geniuses, Jarmusch throws in a visit by Eve's little sister, Ava (Mia Wasikowska), a vamp from LA--zombie central, according to Adam.  

Ava may be hundreds of years old; but she acts very much like a spoiled, contemporary teen consumer.  As soon as she arrives in Detroit, she begins appropriating everything which she takes a fancy to: Adam's precious music collection; his stash of disease free O negative blood and even his supplier friend Ian (Anton Yelchin), the one who gets him musical instruments and as mentioned, his customised wooden bullet.   

It might be worth having a toke before seeing "Only Lovers Left Alive". The music in this movie is fantastic and what the heck, Adam, Eve, Ava and Christopher are all indulging in O negative. 


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Wobbly times number 174






AUTUMNAL REFLECTIONS



Nakedness is good, but as we get older, we appreciate more clothing.... for ourselves anyway.



Disturbing the constant noise of industry via overflying jets. Our electric lives will be much quieter, not to mention cleaner.  Just think of the air you’re breathing.  When will this environmentally benign future become the norm?


My glasses are showing spots.  Must clean them.  That’s one thing I have power to accomplish. Yeah sure, we recycle the tissue used in the ‘yellow bin’.  We also flush the toilet.  Well, some of the tissue gets recycled.  What happens to the sewage?  Make it into drinking water?


Meanwhile, the jet fuel trails spread tiny, tiny droplets on the lawns and roofs of ‘our’ part of town. Gravitation’s like that.  


I sit on the back veranda.The voices from over the taller-than-I-am fence are mostly not in English. The family next door has young children.  The tone is gentle from ‘over there’, except that day when I heard the monologue of a phone call.  The man was expressing his anger at being called something he didn't like and being threatened.  He was irate.  But that whole conversation only lasted a couple of minutes. Other than that, the family sounds from next door are quite happy, especially issuing out of their child and her friends.

The autumn breeze blows from the south.  Temperatures are again warm, not scorching.  It’s March 20th, the equinox as I write this paragraph. The sound of a stick being used to hit a rock comes from over the fence separating me from my neighbour. The tiny lizards are no longer present in number. The sandgroper has stopped ‘singing’ in that darkly insistent cicada way. Our backyard sandgroper sang every hot summer evening ‘round 7:30 and he didn't charge a cent; just sang away into the night blackened sky, undercover of the vegetation.




Maybe, it's better to be undercover for awhile, especially when you're attracting attention. Then again, maybe being undercover is part of the reason why there are so very few sandgropers, at least around where I live. A lot of fossil fuel being burnt in these parts and that means 'modern man' worming his way into ever greater expanses, filling up terra nullus with the stench of private property without constructing the necessary infrastructure to promote sustainability.  


I'm told capitalist women amount to a handful of that class and there are certainly very few landlords amongst them. Negative gearing gives them hope though. Of course, this situation will have to be remedied. Glass ceilings will need smashing! Then, after a period of time, the equality under the law, which we all (NB: privilege i.e. men) seek, shall be theirs as well. Bourgeois democracy will be in full bloom.


And now, on to more important things like whether you've been able to shit today or how clean the clothes look, blowing around on the line in the Sun. But, you're dominated. You know that when most of your time awake is devoted to serving someone else's needs, that's servitude. Of course, you do this within monogamous family couplings when you care for children. All fine and dandy, although I think there are better ways to organise the caring act of child rearing so that less time would be needed to be taken out of the parents lives. None of that will happen until we gain control of what we produce. All of which brings us back to the question of time domination and how that is related to freedom.





So, off we go, like knights errant, into the world to set things right. Our nobility shines so brightly that we don't need armour. Is the old "Onward Christian Soldiers" hymn roiling around our my mind?


Whew!

Not me. I'm a realist so, I don't do anything other than to think about doing things. The thought of attending some mass event of the masses in some ways makes me feel tired. Tired of the endless complaining about the lack of left-liberal heft in the government programs due, of course, to a perceived lack of morality amongst some policy makers. Ditto, foreign policy. Tired of holding those damn signs while singing 'follow the leader' chants: "They say cut back/We say fight back!" or another of my really old favourites, "Prisons are concentration camps for the poor!"...with emphasis on the 'fight' in the first chant and pretty much the word 'prisons' shouted most loudly in the second.  


But, at the end of the day what happens? Bed and another day of normality, however normality is constituted for you at this moment in the historical continuum. One has paid for one's sins--fifty amp fuses have been blown. Forgiveness is forthcoming. Time to blow some gauge. Onward to the next demonstration and, the one after that, while in between going to work, playing cog in the soft machine. 


Well, you have to "play your role" now, don't you. No question. Otherwise, you're liable to fall off the rails and we wouldn't want that to happen now, would we?


Where are we going on these rails? It might be a good idea to ask that question every once in a while, as that journey eats up so much of our time. What is the 'good life' other than time well spent?  


"Trained free!" to the tune of "Born Free" bounces 'round my mind.


And so it goes. Another day and night of cookie cutter-like sameness. Our choices have been made in advance by people we don't know, who are basically only in it for the money and the political power over us which goes with it. They now only need advertising time from us in one way shape or form--pour those ads into our eyes and ears, direct connections to the mind. Yes, market share, that's what IT'S all about.


Well, that and family, of course. Caring is so often missing outside and all too often, inside the family. Well, caring deeply, let's say. Caring whether the relative lives or dies for example is sure sign of familial caring. The first rung, really. The top rung, of course, would be to live within a loving family, for caring is actually quite important in terms of well-being, not only of the individual; but the social i.e. between individuals, which create what I conceptualise as 'social relations'. The more caring spreads, the better, the healthier society will become. But not the false caring of buying stuff to satisfy our commercially induced wants.


Alas, in this day and age, the family structure itself is becoming problematic in terms of well being in general and particular. As more individuals have time to become aware of the dangers in terms of their future abilities to exercise freedom, the more wariness grows in terms of the monogamous family structure both before and after marriage. Thus, the marriages become more shallow, brittle and short. 


Still, the societal imperative remains : Meaning in life is defined as 'raising children well'. A good goal, to be sure; but one which is increasingly fraught with difficulties rooted in the very social psychological character structure we are told from the year of our birth to accept: The prime directive of that character structure is for the individual to lose sovereignty to the social relational power structure which exists between masters and servants. The French have this saying, "To understand all is to forgive all."


Ok. So, how does this come about? Well, our social relations, the way in which we interact with each other are profoundly determined by how much power each individual has. The question is: Where does this power emanate from?


In the beginning (currently being pegged at 195,000 years ago), whenever that was for the human race, we had a lot of sex.  It was a survival adaptation which we had used with great success.  It must be remembered that the human race/homo sapiens nearly became extinct more than once; the last time being from 70,000 years ago to about 18,000 years ago when the great ice age ended.  We didn't have to wait around for some annual hormonal signal which told us it was time to reproduce, as our animal kingdom cousins, the gorillas did.  No, sexually, we were closer to our other cousins, the bononbos. In the process, we'd gone beyond that fetter on reproduction.  We reproduced during the entire year in any month we lived as adults.  Saved us as a species. Nature was a dangerous place to live in during the palaeolithic age. And after all, self preservation is the main drive amongst living things, plants and animals alike.  Our near constant sexual desire combined with our superior ability to reason make us the dominant species on the planet today.  And yet, nowadays and really, since the advent of private property and class domination, we fight our sexuality everyday using our reason. Makes us a bit neurotic and may lead to stimulating more acute mental problems.  


You see, our reason is tied psychologically to what Freud called our superego. And our superego is formed by the mores within the cultures we are brought up in and those cultures are all dominated by the social relations of unequal power amongst individuals.  All power between individuals is political by definition. 




I currently speculate that the roots of the whole imbalance in political power between the genders are to be found in the revelations which would have become conscious amongst humans as they first engaged in animal husbandry, which I'm pretty sure occurred in time before the advent of agriculture circa 10,000 B.C.  My hypothesis is that for what seemed an  eternity to homo sapiens, it seemed that children, the lifeblood of the clan, came from women.  Men had no role in this miracle. Women gave birth. And they gave birth to children who resembled clan members. Our extended family's survival depended on women.  The mystery and power of women were worshipped.  




And then came the knowledge of how to domesticate some of the wild animals existing around us in nature. Granted, some spots on our planet didn't have animals which could be domesticated. The same went for agriculture e.g. wheat, rye and oats weren't to be found just anywhere on Earth. However, a very large part of our developing knowledge of animal husbandry would have involved KNOWING that without males, no females would give birth.  I think that knowledge would have been a real, shall we say, scientific revelation to men and women.  Traditional matriarchal religions, based on the notion that women were the saviours of the clan or tribe, would have begun a slow decay and eventual collapse in their importance to the human mind after the advent of our discovery that animal husbandry was a possible survival strategy beyond mere hunting and gathering. But, how would this knowledge develop in terms of social relations and how would that tendency be strengthened with the advent of the discovery of agriculture as another science of our survival?  

I think that the combined developing, scientific knowledge concerning sex/gender and reproduction played into the reorganisation of human society on the basis of property ownership. This really took hold after a long transition going from about 8,000 B.C. to 3,000 B.C. in the Middle East. Debt, caused by farming failures of one sort or another, led to domination of one person over another. The seeds of the social revolution from classless tribalism to class domination is firmly based on the appropriation of the product produced by through collective labour time of the producers be they the debt slaves of 3,000 B.C., the serfs of feudal times or contemporary wage-slaves.  Thus, the political State is born, the governing engine of class rule, the rule of the appropriators of the collective product of social labour time.  

The smell of cloves is in the air.  Someone is smoking clove cigarettes over the fence. A woman's voice, probably speaking on the phone as I hear nobody else. English is not being spoken.  

Why do Australian sports' stars have to wear uniforms adorned with capitalist ads? American sports' stars are not forced into this ignominy.  Check it out.  It's 2014.  Who's ahead in the game?  Could it be that Australians are even more sold on commodification than Americans are?  No, I doubt it.  It's just that the emphases are different within each class dominated capitalist oriented culture.

Imagine a culture where the commodity was not king.  Even better, imagine how sports or any other endeavour could manifest itself without the buying and selling of commodities being associated with it, a culture built around the principle of social and individual need.  A culture where team players weren't traded like commodities in the marketplace; but were just attached to their teams through loyalty. 

Our first task as we imagine such a place would have to be to define our social needs.  What are they?  Well, we need food, shelter and well, why reinvent the wheel?  Let's just use Maslow's old hierarchy of needs.



                                                                      


Let's look at the basic needs at the bottom of Maslow's pyramid.  Breathing, for instance. How do we fulfil this social need?  Well, it would seem that we do so by providing air.  But, we don't provide air.  Air is a given of nature.  What we do to the air is another matter.  If we introduce toxic pollutants into the air, it becomes unbreathable. So, according to the principle of providing air as a social need (as opposed to commodifying it for sale in a society based on buying and selling), as a rule of thumb, we do not put toxic pollutants into our air. Right now, we can't decide to do this because we don't have control over the introduction of toxic pollutants into the air.  The State does; but the State is class ruled and the class which rules has a lot of toxic which we help produce in exchange for the wages we need to make a living. These commodities are sold and go into the air. And the commodities to be sold grow and 'growth is the ideology of the cancer cell' and capitalism and its apologists worship cancer. Thus, the Earth has cancer and that cancer is a system which must be uprooted.


However in a commodity free society, a society based on the principle of producing wealth merely for use and need, we democratically decide that we need to breath non-toxic air. After all, we are born with a drive to survive so it all fits.  Will we recognise that our survival depends on realising this in the practice of our daily life?

What about those commodities though?  Didn't they fulfil some human need?  Otherwise, how could they even be marketed?

Let's take coal, for instance.  Coal fulfils human needs by providing us with energy to heat our homes and power our electricity producing plants.  Of course, there are other needs it fills; but let's focus on those two.  

We can break them down into two questions: 1. Can we heat our homes without coal in some other manner i.e. do we need coal to produce what we need, energy? 2. Can we produce electricity without using coal?

The answer to both questions is obviously, yes.  But that yes must be filled in with content. And the content is found within the sorts of means of producing electricity and heat. What other means of producing electricity and heat do we have at our disposal, ones which do not put toxic substances into the air or indeed the environment as a whole?  

And so the public discussion begins, a discussion which can only have a limited effect in the society based on buying and selling commodities.  Why?  Because that society will become class dominated as it was beginning to be in 3,000 B.C. and is now, under the rule of Capital, and the interests of society as a whole will not be given as much political weight within the State as those of the people who own lion's share of the wealth being produced, some of which is tied up in the production and sale of coal.  

Let's say we decide democratically to produce our heat and energy using wind and solar power. Next, we have to determine whether we have the resources and know-how to carry out such a transformation. In the meantime, we'll have information about how much energy we can use over the transition and adjust our need accordingly. Next, we have to determine whether the negative effects of using wind and solar can be dealt with without harming our general needs.  


See. It's easy. So, why aren't we doing it?

Our immersion in social relations of power is the short answer: power which is mostly over us, gets into our minds and produces a sense of 'norm'. We adapt to our cultures and our cultures are all based on dominance and submission by us to our masters within the totality of societal dynamics. This totality is composed of the family, the workplace and the laws of the State. And so totality goes, until the system breaks down. In the final analysis, the reason why we're not changing the mode of production is bound up with the conservative impulse tied to survival summed up through shallow, commodified reason by that old aphorism: "If it's not broke, don't fix it."