Connecting the Dots

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treebeard's picture
treebeard
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Connecting the Dots

May the discussion continue:

 

I don't usually read or post on this thread since I have felt for a long time that AGW is a forgone conclusion. Kudos to Mark for continuing to debate intelligently the nay sayers.  Any efforts to inject rational thought into the public debate is a good thing.  The individual change of our living habits that we are all striving for is important, but as we all know, if change does not occur on a global level we are all cooked (pardon the pun).  Great idea to open this up more publicly.

Discussions that connect the dots are great, love the comments regarding Naomi Klein (also a fan of her writngs). I would agree that raw capitalism is about as disructive a force as the planet has ever seen with its commodification of everything. I do believe that the impacts of AGW will need to ratchet up a bit more before we will start to see more (some) concerted action.

Interesting comments about depression. Watching the video broke my heart.  I know we are individually responsile for our own actions, but in a way I feel we are all collectively responsible for his death by our collective lack of conscientiosuness that makes it so painful for those who are awake to be in the world.  My wife has accused me of being a bit depressive, she may be right.  I do believe that John does have it the wrong way round thou, perhaps I misunderstood you.  I would say that I am depressed because I can see rather than I see because I am depressed.  It would be hard to be at all conscience and not a little depressed about it all.  The challenge for me was taking perception deeper to see the inner relationship between all thnigs that gave me a connection and grounding that provided balance to my life.

I had to leave wesern philosophy and its mechanistic and reductionist view to get grounded. That mechanistic and redcutionist western reality is the step child to the commodification that gives rise to the desructive forces of capitalism. They are one and the same point of view.  All native peoples who have and had a rather different view of reality had a rather different relationship with the natural world.

Thoughts?

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John Lemieux
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There can be a secret strength in depression

Hi Treebeard, and thanks for moving this discussion to a new thread.

Part of my comment was in reference to the book, A First-Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Illness by Nassir Chaemi. You can check out an article about this book in the Wall Street Journal. It's called; Depression in Command. (I'm fairly new to using computers and I need to learn how to provide links ect. sorry)

Just so you know I have no problem accepting that a mentally healthy person could become depressed after becoming aware of the seriousness of our current "predicament". But I find it interesting that Chaemi says that depression has been found to correlate with high degrees of empathy and to encourage the trait of realism. He says that "normal nondepressed persons have what phychologists call "positive illusion" that is they possess a mildly high self regard, a slightly inflated sense of how much they control the world around them. Mildly depressed people, by contrast, tend to see the world more clearly, more as it is."

I'm aware also of how persons that become awakened to the "mess" may be accused of being negative by others that don't yet understand. And I also believe that we really need those rare people that can see these painful truths to help us find possible solutions. Or perhaps to simply help us learn how to come to terms with this situation. Chaemi says that  "great crises leaders are not like the rest of us; nor are they like mentally healthy leaders." He points out that the perfectly competent and sane Neville Chamberlain couldn't handle the approach to WWII, and had to relinquish leadership to the manic depressive, and sometimes suicidal Winston Churchill. Abraham Lincoln, Mohandas Gandi, and Martin Luther King Jr. also showed signs of serious mental instabilty and he believes that they were greater leaders than any normal people could have been. 

And in reference to your last comment, I have a quote I like to share;

"The only way to keep this planet, our one and only home in the universe, from being ultimately ravaged and devestated is to change our worldview and heal our sense of separateness. Unless we can manage that breathtaking feat all careful application of technology, all well intentioned regulations, all the unbridled cleverness of which we are so proud will do little to delay the final outcome, and nothing whatever to prevent it." Bohdi Paul Chefurka

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treebeard
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Do we need a diagnosis?

John,

Thanks for your comments, all very well said. It is difficult to comment on Chaemi's book having not read it, but from what you said it sounds like Nassir is straddling two worlds. He is using the language of western science to describe "depression" and "clinical depression", but at the same time seems to be saying that those who are depressed are so because they are more connected to reality. One would think that in the normal western paradigm those connected to reality would be considered normal, where those living in an illusion (even if it were possitive) would need to be "diagnosed" and "treated". Then we have the apparently true nromal, which are those habituated, stable and happy within the context of the culture in which they live. I don't know how far he goes with his conclusions, does he go as far to say that the "depressed" person is normal, its our culture that is insane? To tie in Naomi Kleins comments of a political nature, perhaps better to be a happy consumer than an unhappy citizen?

Do we need a diagnosis (in the traditional sense of that word)?  Isn't the very act of labeling a "condition" creating the division or sense of separateness that bohdi Paul Chefurka (I am not familiar with his writings but am basing my comment purely on the comment that you provided)  warms against.  The violence, separation and madness of current western cultures is so deeply built into our perceptions and language that it becomes difficult to untangle.  I am hesitant to go to deeply into this because it can get to be too complicated and confusing, but suffice it to say that the rational mind makes an excellent slave and is very necessary and usefully tool, but makes a very bad master.  To use a simpler metaphor, in our pursuit of knowledge only (the most important word in this sentence is only), we have destroyed wisdom. The scientific community has done its part in giving us the research and knowledge that we need, why do we not now have the wisdom to act?

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nickbert
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John Lemieux wrote: I'm aware
John Lemieux wrote:

I'm aware also of how persons that become awakened to the "mess" may be accused of being negative by others that don't yet understand. And I also believe that we really need those rare people that can see these painful truths to help us find possible solutions. Or perhaps to simply help us learn how to come to terms with this situation. Chaemi says that  "great crises leaders are not like the rest of us; nor are they like mentally healthy leaders." He points out that the perfectly competent and sane Neville Chamberlain couldn't handle the approach to WWII, and had to relinquish leadership to the manic depressive, and sometimes suicidal Winston Churchill. Abraham Lincoln, Mohandas Gandi, and Martin Luther King Jr. also showed signs of serious mental instabilty and he believes that they were greater leaders than any normal people could have been. 

Reminds me of a quote from the comedian Christopher Titus:

"Screw normal. You know why? 'Cause if you're normal, the crowd will accept you. But if you're deranged, the crowd will make you their leader."

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Mark Cochrane
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Reconnected

Not the dots alas but my computer at home..... Had a post half way done Saturday night, then everything went south.

So are we in a time when some level of depression could be considered adaptive? In the current world situation is the depression mourning for what cannot be or fear of what may be? My sense is that initially most are overtaken by fear. Denial is the temporary remedy but it cures nothing. Action such as Chris and others recommend means some level of implicit acceptance of the predicament we find ourselves in. Only if we accept that the future we were brought up to expect is gone can we mourn its loss and move on, in time.

Treebeard, I agree that we need a different philosophical framework to ever achive a sustainable society, the question is how do we get from where we are to that collective epiphany? Can we provide enough coffee to wake global consciousness or can such a paradigm shift only come through truly hard lessons?

I'd be interested in your source of solace. I study systems and see underlying dynamics that don't seem apparent to most. Seeing connections within and between ecosystems, climate and Earth systems quickly disabuses one of any deterministic predictions of the future, the hallmark of reductionism. There are probabilities and possibilities and the best we can do is to keep our finger on the pulse to decide when certain possible futures are dead or born. This doesn't have to be fatalistic however as we still have the ability to try to steer our collective future toward less unpleasant possibilities. My fear is that we as a species cannot react to anything short of apocalyptic certainty, my hope is that once the concept and necessity of truly sustainable lifestyles enters a sufficient percentage  of the collective consciousness that we will start to focus our creative nature on real solutions. At this point much seems bleak, I have to admit, but we are capable of remarkable change (for good or ill) when focused on an objective.

 

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treebeard
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Feel the Pain

Mark,

I don't think that you ever stop feeling the pain of the situation that we are in.  The greater the awareness the greater the pain.  But there is a sweetness to it that gives way to compassion rather than fear, anger and violence.  I do think that you have hit it right on:

I study systems and see underlying dynamics that don't seem apparent to most. Seeing connections within and between ecosystems, climate and Earth systems quickly disabuses one of any deterministic predictions of the future, the hallmark of reductionism.

Each of us has our own way in.  When I was young, growing up in NYC, I was a dyed in the wool atheist.   The city was culturally alive but environmentally dead.  In my early teens our family moved out to the "country" (rural suburbs), the mirror opposite of the city, environmentally alive but culturally dead.  I think that sharp contrast of conditions allowed me to perceive deeply and directly the extent to which the natural world is alive, in a very intense way.  That for me was the ticket in.  I never have dropped my rigorous adherence to the scientific method, but I have found over time that the reductionists who call themselves "scientists" have abadoned true scientific reasoning for a kind of materialistic dogma that ignores rational thought.

I think that there is a reason for this, in order to dominate the natural world in the way that we do, you first have to objectify it, take its life away mentally, reduce it to dead material matter, before you can live with brutal domination that we reign down upon it.  The same thing you see in the lead up to war, the objectification and dehumanization of the enemy, before the violence can begin.

I did take a tour into eastern religous traditions and became a certified yoga instructor.  It was an interesting detour into the scientific study of the inner workings of the human mind and body.  I still do practice yoga for the basic health benefits, but felt uncomfortable the adoption a different culture that a really intense practice would seem to require. But it did give me a more nuanced insight into the functioning of the human mind that I still find useful.  I have found from that experience that rational mind so celebrated by our culture is a powerful tool, but used by itself out of context with a connection to the natural world becomes a celebration of power itself. That level of imbalance leads to the kind of violence that we see in the world today.

I have found those "scientists" in the envronmental movement have made the transition away from power for powers sake through a deep and nuanced understanding of life and the interconnectedness of all things.

In any ecosystem, to much of any nutrient is a polutant.  In a way, all the fossil fuel has been an excessive cultural and environmental nutrient that has both poisoned the air and oceans as well as distroted and destroyed normal cultural frame works.  Excess energy in our cultural system has again allowed a disconnection from the natural world that is extreme. Again you see the same celebration of power and wealth to the detriment of all other values.

So where does that leave us, what is my solace? I think that all of this was and is a necessary part of the evolution of human conscientiousness.  The celebration of human power and the rational mind without  a countervailing perception of the whole and our place in it will push near the point of our own extinction.  It is the peril of our own death that is the only force powerful enough to wake us up, nothing less will do (coffee may help, I don't know).  The development of human will and rational thought were critically important steps that led us out of an even deeper darkness before that, and that birth process came with much pain.

Everywhere around us you see the hunger for a more direct connection to our local environment and communities and a complete distrust of our larger institutions.  I don't think that you can have the creation of the new without the destruction of the old. The destruciton of the old is both a learning process and a cleansing process that provides fertile ground the opening for new structures to come into place.

The question that I struggle with, is how do we create a new system that can grow virally beneath the collapse of the existing system. A place for people to fall into as the current structures come apart.  I think that there are a couple of good examples, one is Cuba, which went through a great transition when the Soviet Union collapsed, which in short order figured out how to organically grow most of their own food by abandoning the industrial model developed by the Soviets.   The second is Detroit, abandoned and consumed by industrial giants, is at the beginning of a kind of renaissance. The local poor starting gardens on abandoned lots, creating their own community again (great movie - Urban Roots).

It is depressing to spend long hours at the office that keep me away from home, out of the garden and away from friends, making money to survive in this decaying system.  All the while listening to news (digging for the real news actually) of accelerating climate change, depleting resources and economic collapse.  At some point it will be time to take the dive out of the old into the new.  Timing the wave can be a bit terrifying.

I do love this hopi prayer and prophesy, I posted this on this site before, but I don't remember on which thread:

 

You have been telling people that this is the Eleventh Hour, now you
must go back and tell the people that this is the Hour. And there are
things to be considered. . . .

Where are you living?
What are you doing?
What are your relationships?
Are you in right relation?
Where is your water?

Know your garden.
It is time to speak your truth.
Create your community.
Be good to each other.
And do not look outside yourself for your leader.

Then he clasped his hands together, smiled, and said, "This could be a
good time! There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and
swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on
to the shore. They will feel they are being torn apart and will suffer
greatly. Know the river has its destination. The elders say we must let
go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes
open, and our heads above the water.

And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate. At this time in
history, we are to take nothing personally, least of all ourselves. For
the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey come to a halt.

The time of the one wolf is over. Gather yourselves!
Banish the word 'struggle' from your attitude and your vocabulary. All
that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.

We are the ones we've been waiting for.

 

 

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John Lemieux
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treebeard's picture
treebeard
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A very strong reminder

Great clip, not at all long.  Reminds me very strongly of the beginnings of my own journey out of the depths of the left brain into the right. Nice way relating reductionist versus wholistic thinking.  Very articulate, well done.

Curious that for a while at the peak of the reign of the left brain, we forced left handed people to write with the right hand.  Materialists, whether "scientists" or the religious right are both literalists and perfectionists of the same camp.

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John Lemieux
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Jill Bolte Taylor, My Stroke of Insight

Hey Treebeard,

I'm glad that you liked the presentation by Ian Mcgilchrist. Arthur Robey has also mentioned the book, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Master_and_His_Emissary by the same person. I have read parts of the book and I hope to get more time to read it all. I started to read about the subject of Autism and the Lateralization of Brain Function many years ago when I was living with a brilliant young boy who was identified as having a Non Verbal Learning Disability. That is similiar to Asbergers Syndrome http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asperger_syndrome

I find this subject extremely interesting and very worthy of discussion as I believe it relates it relates our current crises of unsustainable economic growth and to what I believe is our current "progress trap" predicament. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progress_trap

Perhaps you have seen this but the Harvard trained brain scientist Jill Bolte Taylor did a great Ted Talk about her experience of suffering a devastating left hemisphere stroke and about her amazing recovery.

Her book is called My Stroke of Insight, A Brain Scientists Personal Journey

Her Ted Talk is here; http://www.ted.com/talks/jill_bolte_taylor_s_powerful_stroke_of_insight.html

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treebeard
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Jill Taylor

My wife had run across that talk and pointed it out to me, it has been a while since a watched it.  It is a rather amazing story.  I will watch it again.  What I always find more amazing is the lack of impact on the general media and collective human perception of reality such information generally has.  So much has been discovered that has overturned the rigid and mechanistic newtonian view of reality (left brain), but still it persists so tenaciously. What does get picked up in the media circus echo chamber is so ridiculous, its not worth commenting on any more.

I agree with your last comment on the global warmng thread.  God bless Mark, he has more patience than I have. I guess that work needs to be done, but when the conversation, as it often does, loses its logical flow, how constructive is it.  There is so much propaganda out there that has so many bamboozled, their not really arguing against global warming from a rational point of view.  They fight against global warming because Glen Beck has convinced them that its a liberal conspiracy or some such nonsense.

If you go deeper than that though, of course it all comes out of fear and the inability to accept personal responsibiiity for the mess we are in.  Much easier to find a boggy man to blame it on, project the shadow, and then fight against that.

I think that the only way forward is to opt out of the mainstream economy.  That option continues to be foisted on people against their will.  As the ranks of the long term unemployed continue to swell, the black economy will continue to grow.  Perhaps we should reverse the terminology and call the "mainstream" economy the black economy.  It is after all based on coercion, exploitation and violence, what Catherine Austin Fitts would call the tapeworm economy.

When we become economically dependent on each other outside the "system", we can start go beyond just having a conversation. Maybe it starts with small stuff like greeting cards, reusable shopping bags, small articles of clothing.  Small sustainable and local.  Then the economics of the transaction then come to be in proper balance in the equation, and not the driving force in our lives and relationships.  Do it now with friends and neighbors.

Perhaps we should start our own pledge, "I will, whenever possible, purchase the necessities of my life from a place that I can look the creator of what I have purchased in the eye. And I too will endeavor to generate my livelyhood in the same fashion."  And we could follow it up with, "I will take no more out of the circle of life (in demented western world speak - the "economy") than I conribute back in my own turn and will endevour to leave the earth a better place than I have found it."

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