If you woke up tomorrow, and your internet looked like this, what would you do?
Imagine all your favorite websites taking forever to load, while you get annoying notifications from your ISP suggesting you switch to one of their approved “Fast Lane” sites.
Think about what we would lose: all the weird, alternative, interesting, and enlightening stuff that makes the Internet so much cooler than mainstream Cable TV. What if the only news sites you could reliably connect to were the ones that had deals with companies like Comcast and Verizon?
On September 10th, just a few days before the FCC’s comment deadline, public interest organizations are issuing an open, international call for websites and internet users to unite for an “Internet Slowdown” to show the world what the web would be like if Team Cable gets their way and trashes net neutrality. Net neutrality is hard to explain, so our hope is that this action will help SHOW the world what’s really at stake if we lose the open Internet.
If you’ve got a website, blog or tumblr, get the code to join the #InternetSlowdown here: https://battleforthenet.com/sept10th
Everyone else, here’s a quick list of things you can do to help spread the word about the slowdown: http://tumblr.fightforthefuture.org/post/96020972118/be-a-part-of-the-great-internet-slowdown
Get creative! Don’t let us tell you what to do. See you on the net September 10th!
this is the key phrase for me in Margaret’s post – “Because we live in a world dominated by extroverts, we often feel guilty for not fitting in, for not behaving in the ways others expect us to. Think of the lone salmon fighting its way upstream. This is how it often feels for the introvert, striving to find his/her way back to the Source, fighting against the expectations of the collective. But the salmon can only do what is in its nature (see blog on Life of Pi), as can the introvert. The salmon might disappoint the schools of herring that want him to join the fun of swimming and dancing together, but there is no point in the salmon feeling guilty. In fact, guilt can ravage the soul of the introvert, tearing the flesh off his back. As long as your actions are not damaging someone else, you must do what you need to do without guilt and without shame, and honour the calling that carries you forward towards your true home.”
Notice I didn’t say the “successful” introvert. Self-help books abound on how to be successful: The 10 Habits of a Successful Leader, Seven Ways to be an Effective Leader, The 8 Habits of the Self-Made Rich, How to be a Success and Achieve Abundance: 8 Steps to Achieve Your Goals, etc. Frankly,these titles just make me feel tired. It recently occurred to me that all of these type of self-help books are geared towards extroverts and achieving success in the outer world. What about introverts? For most of us, just having and retaining an okay presence in that world takes up a great deal of our resources. So this blog is for the introverts.
The outer world that dominates western civilization is very yang or masculine in its orientation. We live in a culture that values power, control, domination over the other, war, one-upmanship, aggression, competition, status, speed, technology and…
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I had never heard of Adam Purple and his garden. What a great story posted by Sebastain K!
(read more about it at the Youtube link – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VfBvdzgQxY)
Dahr Jamail writes in his article, ‘On Staying Sane in a Suicidal Culture’ of meeting Joanna Macy – Buddhist scholar, Eco-Philosopher and activist. Over tea she opened a door that began a process that allowed him to express the emotions he was carrying from his work as a journalist covering the Iraq war. He later attended a workshop led my Macy during which she said,
“The most radical thing any of us can do at this time is to be fully present to what is happening in the world.”
He then related,
“For me, the price of admission into that present was allowing my heart to break. But then I saw how despair transforms, in the face of overwhelming social and ecological crises, into clarity of vision, then into constructive, collaborative action.”
Jamail’s article explores Joanna Macy’s ‘The Work that Reconnects’ and how her project allows one to see the world with clear eyes, walking the middle path between destruction and rebirth.
“Never before in history has humankind found itself amidst such a convergence of crises: runaway ACD [anthropogenic climate disruption], the global economy in chronic crisis, deepening militarism and surveillance, and a growing lack of food and water as the global population continues to explode.
While a great percentage of the population remains unaware that upward of 200 species are being made extinct each day, even greater numbers of people are ignorant to the very real possibility that humans may well be included in that number some day, whether it be from global thermonuclear war or runaway ACD.
Hence, Macy believes nothing short of a radical shift in consciousness is mandatory.
“What I’m witnessing is that this uncertainty is a great liberating gift to the psyche and the spirit,” she said. “It’s walking the razor’s edge of the sacred moment where you don’t know, you can’t count on, and comfort yourself with any sure hope. All you can know is your allegiance to life and your intention to serve it in this moment that we are given. In that sense, this radical uncertainty liberates your creativity and courage.”
Read Dahr Jamail’s article here.
(From the publisher)
“Barbara Ehrenreich is one of the most important thinkers of our time. Educated as a scientist, she is an author, journalist, activist, and advocate for social justice. In LIVING WITH A WILD GOD, she recounts her quest-beginning in childhood-to find “the Truth” about the universe and everything else: What’s really going on? Why are we here? In middle age, she rediscovered the journal she had kept during her tumultuous adolescence, which records an event so strange, so cataclysmic, that she had never, in all the intervening years, written or spoken about it to anyone. It was the kind of event that people call a “mystical experience”-and, to a steadfast atheist and rationalist, nothing less than shattering.”
The following is an excerpt from her interview with Terry Gross on the radio show, Fresh Air –
EHRENREICH: I got on a very poorly planned skiing trip with my little brother, who was 13, and a high school friend, and for some reason spent the night in the car in Lone Pine, California, a very little town at that time, and I got up that morning, went out of the car, the others were asleep, and started wandering around the streets of Lone Pine, and something happened.
It was – the only words I can put to it after all these years are that the world flamed into life. Everything was alive. It was like there was a feeling of an encounter with something living, not something God-like, not something loving, not something benevolent, but something beyond any of those kinds of categories, beyond any human categories.
And this lasted – I don’t know how many minutes this lasted in its full intensity. We went on from Lone Pine – for inexplicable to me reasons we went into Death Valley and spent the afternoon wandering around in Death Valley, which was on the way to L.A. And the experience continued there in the desert, though not quite as intensely.
GROSS: Let me read something else that you write about in your book. You write that if you had described it, what would you have said, that I had been savaged by a flock of invisible angels, lifted up in a glorious flutter of iridescent feathers, then mauled, emptied of all intent and purpose and pretty much left for dead. I mean it sounds, you know, both beautiful and violent, like you were mauled. That’s a very physical word to use.
EHRENREICH: Uh-huh. You know, if you read accounts of other people’s mystical experiences, and I only did that in the last couple – decade or so, both religious people and nonbelievers, I find that that sense of a violent encounter is also there. Among one of the most religious would be St. Teresa of Avila, and she certainly describes a loving God, whom she very much adores. She was of course writing for her – the Inquisitors.
But she also describes it as a violent kind of encounter, and what she sometimes felt like, that she had been just ground down to her bones by what happened. Or to take a more secular example, Philip K. Dick, the science fiction writer, the American science fiction writer, had a mystical experience that he wrote quite a bit about, and he said it was less like feeling enlightened by the Buddha or something than it was a little bit like being mugged.
…In the months that followed that experience in Lone Pine, I went back and forth. I had seen something, I had seen something amazing, it was an encounter, to finally deciding, no, this was a psychiatric episode. I’m a rational person. I have no rational way, other rational way of explaining this. It has to do with some kind of biochemical imbalances, some kind of messed up neuronal circuitry, and I decided that that’s how I was going to leave it.
I was never going to tell anybody about this because I didn’t want to, didn’t know how to, and on top of that I was just going to go on with my life and try to forget about it. So that was my solution for many years.
GROSS: When was the last time you had an experience like the ones you described that you could interpret as mystical or as a symptom of a psychiatric disorder or somewhere between the two?
EHRENREICH: Well, I no longer interpret them as symptoms of a psychiatric disorder. That’s what happened as I evolved from a, say, from my late teens into my 60s, is turning this over and over in my head, learning a whole lot of other things – for example, about the many, many people who have had what look like very similar experiences.
I decided I’m going to go with being sane, that I encountered something. It’s something that a lot of people encounter, all sorts of people. And I want to understand better what that is, what happens to us when we have these experiences and what, if anything, we are running into.
GROSS: What are some of your theories?
EHRENREICH: Well, I give speculations at the end of the book. You know, it helped that in the intervening years here I spent a great deal of time learning about religion and learning, for example, about the varieties of religion that preceded, and many survived, well into the age of monotheism.
And, you know, there’s almost no creature that hasn’t been a deity for some sort of people somewhere on Earth at some time: animals, animals/human figures – these deities generally are not good. That idea of a good deity tends to go with monotheism, or at least Zoroastrianism.
So there was apparently a lot of experiencing the world as alive in a way that we do not see it now. If you think of animism, it’s called a religion, I think that’s actually an odd name for it, but it’s considered the most, quote, primitive religion. But what it is is people seeing the world as a living presence, every part of it, and that rings true with my experience.
“In this universe, we process time, linearly. Forward. But outside of our space-time, from what would be a fourth-dimensional perspective, time wouldn’t exist. And from that vantage, could we attain it? We’d see, our space-time would look flattened. Like a single sculpture with matter in a superposition of every place it ever occupied. Our sentience just cycling through our lives like carts on a track. See, everything outside our dimension, that’s eternity. Eternity looking down at us. Now, to us, it’s a sphere. But to them, its a circle….” – Rustin Cohle in True Detective
“From the dusty mesa, her looming shadow grows
Hidden in the branches of the poison creosote.
She twines her spines up slowly towards the boiling sun,
And when I touched her skin, my fingers ran with blood.
In the hushing dusk, under a swollen silver moon,
I came walking with the wind to watch the cactus bloom.
A strange hunger haunted me; the looming shadows danced.
I fell down to the thorny brush and felt a trembling hand.
When the last light warms the rocks and the rattlesnakes unfold,
Mountain cats will come to drag away your bones.
And rise with me forever across the silent sand,
And the stars will be your eyes and the wind will be my hands.”
‘Far from any Road’ – The Handsome Family
David Lang’s ‘I Lie’ opens the Italian film, ‘The Great Beauty’ setting the stage for a series of contrasts between the sacred and the profane, the sublime and shallow, past and present, nostalgia and regret, youth and old age, yes and life and death – ultimately asking what is the great beauty of our lives. How do we distract ourselves from it and recoil from the fear of loss and hide behind the masks of cleverness and routine?
The music in this film is haunting and beautiful and I began to search out the pieces that so were so integrated in the story as to become part of the main character’s interior state of longing, even if he was not yet fully conscious of the decisions he was destined to make before the film ended.
In looking for this opening piece of music, I also discovered this other work of David Lang’s which was not in the film but is for me just as moving, resonating back to the themes of ‘The Great Beauty’. In ‘death speaks’ Lang explores our relationship with death, how it awaits us all. It is a subject that many of us shy away from, do not want to think about. Yet we are always one breath away from it. It is the thing our culture flees from, wants to hide from view and tries to cover up by emphasizing a perversion of youthfulness. We are a culture of immature adolescents in adult bodies. There are developmental stages many of us have yet to grow into and the embrace of death is the one doorway we must pass through eventually. Here is ‘you will return’ the first song in his 6 song cycle.
(you will return – from death speaks)
Below, Lang discusses how he came to create ‘deaths speaks’ and his collaboration with contemporary classical and rock musicians to complete this work.
(From his program notes for ‘death speaks‘)
“death speaks was commissioned by Carnegie Hall and Stanford Lively Arts, specifically to go on a program with the little match girl passion. The opportunity came without many other parameters, so there were a lot of questions I had to answer. Would the new piece be for an existing ensemble or some group I would assemble for these performances only? Would it relate to little match girl, musically or emotionally, or would it start from its own place?”
“Something that has always interested me about the little match girl story is that the place where we are left emotionally at the end is so far away from where the match girl is. We are all weeping at the end and yet she is happily transfigured, in the welcoming arms of her grandmother in heaven. The original story switches starkly back and forth at the end, between her state and ours, perhaps in order to show us just how far away from redemption we are; it is [Hans Christian] Andersen’s way of making us feel left behind.”
“This reminded me of certain other stark comparisons between the living and the dead. I remembered the structure of Schubert’s beautiful song “Death and the Maiden” in which the text is divided in half; the first half of the song is in the voice of the young girl, begging Death to pass her by, and the second half of the song is Death’s calming answer. This seemed to be the same division as in the Andersen story — the fear of the living opposed against the restfulness of death.”
“What makes the Schubert interesting is that Death is personified. It isn’t a state of being or a place or a metaphor, but a person, a character in a drama who can tell us in our own language what to expect in the World to Come. Schubert has a lot of songs with texts like these — I wondered if I assembled all of the instances of Death speaking directly to us then maybe a fuller portrait of his character might emerge. Most of these texts are melodramatic, hyper-romantic and over-emotional; one of the knocks on Schubert is that he often saved his best music for the worst poetry. Nevertheless, I felt that taking these overwrought comments by Death at face value just might lead me someplace worth going.”
(Franz Schubert by Wilhelm August Rieder)
“I went alphabetically in the German through every single Schubert song text (thank you, internet!) and compiled every instance of when the dead send a message to the living. Some of these are obvious and some are more speculative — Death is a named character in “Der Erlkönig,” the brook at the end of Die Schöne Müllerin speaks in Death’s name when it talks the miller into killing himself, the hurdy gurdy player at the end of Winterreise has long been interpreted as a stand-in for Death. All told, I have used excerpts from 32 songs, translating them very roughly and trimming them, in the same way that I adjusted the Bach texts in the little match girl passion.”
(Die Erlkoenig by Carl Gottlieb Peschel)
“Art songs have been moving out of classical music in the last many years — indie rock seems to be the place where Schubert’s sensibilities now lie, a better match for direct storytelling and intimate emotionality.”
“I started thinking that many of the most interesting musicians in that scene made the same journey themselves, beginning as classical musicians and drifting over to indie rock when they bumped up against the limits of where classical music was most comfortable. What would it be like to put together an ensemble of successful indie composer-performers and invite them back into classical music, the world from which they sprang?”
(Shara Worden – Still from pain changes)
“I asked rock musicians Bryce Dessner, Owen Pallett, and Shara Worden to join me, and we added Nico Muhly, who, although not someone who left classical music, is certainly known and welcome in many musical environments. All of these musicians are composers who can write all the music they need themselves, so it is a tremendous honor for me to ask them to spend some of their musicality on my music.”
You can listen to the entire work below. Lang comments on the last track
“My piece depart is also a meditation on death. A group of doctors in a French hospital felt frustrated that they could do so little to comfort the relatives of the departed. They imagined it might help if the bereaved could see their loved ones one last time, in a calm and peaceful setting. With the help of the Fondation de France they commissioned Italian artist Ettore Spalletti to create a morgue, and they commissioned musical scores from the composer Scanner and from me. What I think is most noble about this project is not that the space or the music can really make the pain any easier to bear, but that the doctors felt morally compelled to try everything in their powers to ease the suffering around them. It’s a beautiful idea.”
THE WELL OF GRIEF
Those who will not slip beneath
the still surface on the well of grief
turning downward through the black water
to the place we cannot breathe
will never know the source from which we drink
the secret water, cold and clear
nor find in the darkness glimmering
the small round coins
thrown by those who wished for something else.
– David Whyte
Watch this then listen to this conversation.
Darkening of the Light Book Trailer with Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee http://youtu.be/Zomjgch7nZU
Recently, Werner Brandt from the Work that Reconnects sat down with Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, a Sufi Mystic, to discuss humankind’s spiritual responsibility at this time of planetary transition.
To heal the split between spirit and matter, Llewellyn says, we are to witness what is happening, feel our grief (because it is an aspect of love), turn toward Earth’s regenerative power, and honor our bond with what is sacred through small caring action.
Click here and scroll down the page to the 46 minute interview. You will find nourishment.