All posts by Mike Zonta

TRANSLATION ADVENTURE – 11/11/18

Translators: Ben Gilberti, Alex Gambeau, Zoe Robinson, Bo Lebo, Heather Williams

SENSE TESTIMONY:  Evil appears personified.

5th Step Conclusions:

1)  The Absolute unknowable is formless thinking force the I AM Beingness of Truth.
2)  One boundless Truth is here now expressing and impressing One Infinite Mind.
3)  Hence that which is so is the One True Substance, Boundless, Omnipresent Beingness.
4)  All that can appear is the infinite oneness of Truth in and as consciousness.
5)  To come.

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I’ve Always Never Believed In You – featuring Donna Lynne Champlin – “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”


racheldoesstuff
Published on Nov 9, 2018
GET THE SONG: https://lnk.to/ceg4

I’ve Always Never Believed In You
Starring Donna Lynne Champlin
Written by Rachel Bloom, Jack Dolgen, and Adam Schlesinger

Paula:

YOU STAND BEFORE ME A MAN, FULLY-GROWN
READY TO TAKE ON THE WORLD, HEADING OUT ON YOUR OWN
YOU’RE NOW SO THOUGHTFUL, STRONG, AND WISE
I’M PROUD, BUT I’M ALSO SURPRISED
‘CAUSE I ALWAYS NEVER BELIEVED IN YOU
I NEVER GAVE UP GIVING UP ON YOU
DEEP INSIDE, I ALWAYS KNEW
THAT YOU’D EVENTUALLY NEVER COME THROUGH
NOT FOR A SECOND, DID I THINK
YOU WOULDN’T END UP DEAD OR IN THE CLINK
FOR POSSESSION OR ASSAULT OR WORSE, IT’S TRUE
‘CAUSE I’VE ALWAYS NEVER BELIEVED IN YOU
THE MOMENT YOU WERE BORN
THEY PLACED YOU IN MY ARMS
AND I LOOKED INTO YOUR EYES AND THOUGHT,
“WELL, THAT’S A MURDERER.”
I THOUGHT, AT BEST, YOU MIGHT BARELY MANAGE
AND IT WOULD BE MY JOB TO TRY TO MITIGATE THE DAMAGE
‘CAUSE I’VE ALWAYS NEVER BELIEVED IN YOU
I NEVER ONCE DOUBTED DOUBTING YOU
WITH EVERY OPPORTUNITY THAT YOU BLEW
ALL MY WORST FEARS JUST KEPT COMING TRUE
YOU NEVER WERE A TEACHER’S PET
BUT YOU DID KILL A TEACHER’S PET
WITH EVERY HORRIFYING THING YOU’D SAY OR DO
I CONTINUED TO NEVER BELIEVE IN YOU
SOME PEOPLE ARE DESTINED TO FLY HIGH
OTHERS JUST GET REALLY, REALLY HIGH
SOME PEOPLE REACH FOR THE STARS
SOME JUST REACH FOR THE PANEL IN THE CEILING WHERE THEY KEEP THEIR DRUGS
I HELD OUT NO HOPE FOR SO LONG
BUT NOW, I ADMIT I GOT YOU ALL WRONG
‘CAUSE NOW, I ACTUALLY BELIEVE IN YOU
NO LONGER HAVE A TOTAL LACK OF FAITH IN YOU
APPARENTLY, THERE ARE THINGS YOU CAN DO
YOU’RE FULL OF POTENTIAL AND NO ONE KNEW
ALLOW ME TO TIP MY HAT TO YOU, SIR
‘CAUSE YOU’RE NO LONGER A TOTAL LOSER
IT FEELS STRANGE TO SAY IT, BUT IT’S TRUE
I WEIRDLY, SHOCKINGLY, COMPLETELY
BELIEVE IN YOU
I BELIEVE I BELIEVE I BELIEVE IN YOU
YES, I DO
YES, I DO

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The Bay Area Reporter: Obituary

Obituary: Billye Talmadge

by BAR staff

Billye Talmadge

Billye Talmadge

1929 — 2018

Billye Talmadge passed away October 24, 2018 in Portland, Oregon. Ms. Talmadge was one of the founders of Daughters of Bilitis. She, the late Del Martin, Phyllis Lyon, Helen Sandoz, and more were at the forefront of LGBT liberation in the 1950s and 1960s. They sheltered young lesbians and hired an attorney to help extricate lesbians from jail (it was a jail-able offense in most states to be a lesbian). They held private gatherings in their homes so lesbians had a safe place to meet. Her wise counsel helped many young women to accept themselves. With two Ph.D.s in education she was, at the foremost, a teacher. She won the Golden Apple award for her work with blind and deaf children. Anyone who ever heard her speak will never forget her velvet voice and ability to reach the very soul of those who would hear.

For more information, visit http://bathtubbulletin.com/billye-talmadge-1929-2018/.

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San Francisco Bay Times: In Memoriam

Edith Carney
Edith Carney, the mother of Patrick Carney, who is a founder of the Pink Triangle display constructed on Twin Peaks during Pride, died at age 95 after suffering from interstitial lung disease. Edith Carney died at age 95 after suffering from interstitial lung disease. Always supportive of Patrick, his husband Hossein and her other children and relatives, Edith traveled to San Francisco nearly every year to help with the Pink Triangle. Her positive energy could be felt whenever the display went up. The symbol was used by the Nazis in concentration camps to identify and shame homosexual prisoners, but it has since been embraced by the LGBTQ community as a symbol of pride and defiance, while serving as a reminder of the Holocaust.

Edith was a strong, loving and vibrant force within her family. She also had a successful career, having begun work in real estate at a young age. She was most proud of her family, however, and the Dodgers! As a baseball fan from Southern California, she enjoyed cheering on her team. Many of us at the San Francisco Bay Times were rooting for the Dodgers in the World Series this year, thinking of generous and kind-hearted Edith Carney.

Alana Devich Cyril
Cancer claimed the life of filmmaker Devich Cyril, who in 2016 wrote at CrowdRise: “I recently received the devastating news that I have stage 4 metastatic gastro-esophageal cancer, despite being a healthy 40-year-old woman with no risk factors.” As a creative spirit, she turned her shock and struggle into the poignant film My Life, Interrupted, which was first shown this past June at the Queer Women of Color Film Festival. Her spouse Malkia Devich Cyril is the founder of the Center for Media Justice. The couple devoted much of their time together toward working for civil rights for all. https://vimeo.com/277714367

Erika Luckett
Singer, musician and composer Erika Luckett of our local LGBT community recently lost her battle with cancer. From her performance at the 20th Anniversary of the Nobel Peace Prize Forum to being honored as “One of the 100 Most Outstanding Women of the Year” (along with Oprah, Madonna and Queen Elizabeth) by both The Jewish Post and Modern Woman Today Magazine, Luckett showed how music can transform and unite people across the globe.
http://www.erikaluckett.com/home/

Paul Miller
Miller, who volunteered for numerous LGBT causes, recently died of cancer. A 30-year survivor of HIV, he often worked to help others with HIV/AIDS. Miller was further known for his love of gardening and nature. A beautiful memorial reflecting many aspects of his life in San Francisco, from friends and family to his fondness of hummingbirds, was created by his sisters and placed at “Hibernia Beach,” the corner of Castro and 18th Streets. A Celebration of his Life will be held at 1 pm on Saturday, November 3, at the National AIDS Memorial Grove in Golden Gate Park.

Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz
One of the 11 victims of the shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, Dr. Rabinowitz was known for the dignity and respect that he gave to all of his patients, and particularly those with HIV/AIDS. “Before there was effective treatment for fighting HIV itself, he was known in the community for keeping us alive the longest,” Michael Kerr, a former patient, posted on Facebook. “Thank you, Dr. Rabinowitiz, for having always been there during the most terrifying and frightening time of my life.” The 66-year-old physician initially was not in the basement of the synagogue when the shooting occurred, but his nephew Avishai Ostrin speculated to CNN that “when he heard shots he ran outside to try and see if anyone was hurt and needed a doctor. That was Uncle Jerry. That’s just what he did.”

Ntozake Shange
Playwright Shange wrote numerous acclaimed works, including the choreopoem for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf. The powerful theater piece, which debuted in 1976, tells the stories of seven women who have suffered oppression in a racist and sexist society. Shange said that it was inspired by events in her own life. It earned her Obie and Tony Awards, and is still performed, resonating with audiences worldwide. Born Paulette Williams in 1948, Shange studied at Barnard College and the University of Southern California, where she changed her name to the Zulu Ntozaka, meaning “she who comes with her own things” and Shange “who walks like a lion.” See this Poetry Foundation biography, which lists many of her works: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/ntozake-shange

Billye Talmadge
Born in 1929, Talmadge was a founder in 1955 of the groundbreaking Daughters of Bilitis, which was the first lesbian civil and political rights organization in the U.S. She, along with Del Martin, Phyllis Lyons, Helen Sandoz and other brave individuals, were at the forefront of queer liberation for decades. A teacher, Talmadge earned two doctorates in education and won the Golden Apple award for her work helping disabled children. See Herstories to learn more about her remarkable life: http://herstories.prattinfoschool.nyc/omeka/collections/show/73

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Movie: “In Search of Greatness”


Note from Michael Kelly:

I’ve just read some reviews of this film and watched the trailer on IMDB; it is not yet playing near me.

It looks OK as a film, but one or more of the superstars talking about the how’s and why’s of their success may strike an important chord with some viewers.

–Michael

In Search of Greatness (2018)
Through the eyes of the greatest athletes of all time, IN SEARCH OF GREATNESS is a cinematic journey into the secrets of genius.

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Telling the Truth as a Means of Healing

A new documentary shows how one state is confronting Native American child removal.
dawnland_primary.jpg

 

When we think of the history of forced cultural assimilation of Native Americans into U.S. culture, we often point to residential schools. From the mid-19th to the early-20th centuries, residential schools removed Native American children from their communities, punished them for speaking their home language and practicing their religion, and attempted to assimilate them as working-class members of society. These residential schools are widely known to have been sites of abuse and trauma. But the story of removal of Native American children did not end with these schools. The new documentary Dawnland documents other more contemporary child removal practices and one state’s effort for justice.

In February 2013, the state of Maine launched the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the first government-mandated TRC in the United States. The commission was charged with establishing a more complete account of Native American foster care placement between 1978 and 2012 and with formulating policy recommendations to empower tribal communities and start to reverse generations of colonial violence.

Native American children are overrepresented in the child welfare system. In Maine, in 1972, Native children were placed in foster care at a rate 25.8 times that of non-Native children. They were often placed in non-Native homes, sometimes without any legal proof that their birth parents were “unfit.” Stories like these across the nation led to the passage of the Indian Child Welfare Act in 1978, which legally declared that it is in the best interest of Native American children to stay within their families or tribes. ICWA recognizes the potential damage that child removal does both to the children and their tribe as a whole: How can a tribe continue to exist if it cannot pass on its language, cultural traditions, and history to the next generation? As gkisedtanamoogk, co-chair of the Maine Wabanaki Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission, reflected in Dawnland on child-removal practices, “You take away a people’s understanding of who they are, their self-sufficiency, and you replace it with nothing.”

Yet decades after the passage of ICWA, Native American children are still removed from their homes at a disproportionately high rate. Between 2000 and 2013, Native children were removed at 5.1 times the rate of non-Native children in Maine. This is one reason the commission was formed. The commission, along with the advisory group Maine-Wabanaki REACH, or Reconciliation Engagement Advocacy Change Healing, began collecting stories in 2013. For the next two years, they gathered testimony from state child welfare staff, children who were placed in foster care or adopted, and parents in Maine’s four remaining tribes who had their children taken away. Dawnland is both an intimate lens into the personal and communal impacts of child removal practices and an exploration of the conflict that arises when White communities and communities of color jointly confront historical trauma and racism.

Dawnland, directed by Adam Mazo and Ben Pender-Cudlip, 2018

These tensions play out in real time in Dawnland. One  community event for gathering testimony did not have a high turnout, so members of Maine-Wabanaki REACH asked staff from the commission to leave the room to ensure all participants were comfortable sharing their truths. This did not go over well with the commission staff, the majority of whom were White women. REACH co-director Esther Anne Attean defended the decision, saying that the goal of truth-telling is “not about making White people feel welcome.” She argued that part of being an ally is recognizing when you need to leave the room and allow Native peoples the space to share their stories as a form of healing.

We are left to ponder: Whom is this truth-telling for? Is it to educate White people on colonial violence and how it continues to harm indigenous communities in Maine, or is it for the Native participants to heal and be heard? Can it simultaneously be both, or should one be privileged over another?

Though child removal is a sensitive and at times traumatic subject matter, conducting research and making recommendations is the easy part. Sustained healing and an assertive confrontation of colonial and White supremacist violence are much harder. But as the commission’s executive director, Charlotte Bacon, reflected in the report, “None of us is exempt from that responsibility.” We have a collective responsibility to address the ongoing violence of colonialism, and the impacts of child removal on tribal communities and tribal survival.

An elementary report card for Georgina Sappier (Passamaquoddy) from Mars Hill elementary in Maine for the years 1947–53. Photo by Ben Pender-Cudlip/Upstander Project.

As the testimony of children removed from their homes makes clear in the film, changing policy alone cannot end the impacts of colonial violence. The commission focused specifically on Native American children in foster care from 1978 to 2012—after the passage of ICWA. Whether intentional or not, racism from foster parents and racism from child welfare staff continues to traumatize Native families.

“My foster mother told me that I was at her house because nobody on the reservation wanted me. … And that she would save me from being Penobscot,” Dawn Neptune Adams said in the film. She also said she had her mouth washed out with soap when she spoke her Native language.

Like Adams’ foster mother, not everyone sees distancing Native children from their tribal cultures as violent. As with residential schools, some view it as benevolent. Jane Sheehan, a retired child welfare worker who worked in the system for decades, is shown in the film saying that “two sneakers for the feet is sometimes more important than learning an Indian dance.” Intentionally and aggressively confronting racism—particularly unintentional racism coming from ill-informed rather than overtly hateful viewpoints—must be addressed in any truth and reconciliation effort.

Tracy Rector, a producer for the film, is hopeful that Dawnland can help with this process. “In the majority of the screenings to date, the audiences have been primarily non-Native and more specifically White,” she told me. “The vast majority of these audience members often comment that they were not aware of the policies involved in colonization, the boarding schools, or forced adoption and foster care. I see and hear in these discussions that we are building allies.”

Dawnland makes clear that any effort to empower tribal sovereignty and right historical wrongs—what some may call reconciliation—must center indigenous leadership and indigenous healing. While it remains to be seen how Maine and its tribal communities will continue to work toward justice for those most affected by violent child welfare practices, truth-telling is a vital and historic first step. And non-Natives must be willing to listen deeply. As activist Harsha Walia asserted: “Non-Natives must be able to position ourselves as active and integral participants in a decolonization movement for political liberation, social transformation, renewed cultural kinships, and the development of an economic system that serves, rather than threatens, our collective life on this planet. Decolonization is as much a process as a goal.”

Abaki Beck wrote this article for The Good Money Issue, the Winter 2019 issue of YES! Magazine. Abaki is a free-lance writer and researcher passionate about Indigenous community resiliency, public health and racial justice. She is a member of the Blackfeet Nation of Montana and Red River Metis. You can find more of her writing on her website.
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Lucy McBath Wins Georgia Congressional Race Against Karen Handel

Note from Michael Kelly:

I made some small donations to help Democratic women in the election, and Ms. McBath in particular because she is from Georgia. I didn’t really know her story until now, and I think many in our community will find it moving.

I know that Congresswoman-elect McBath is just one of the many new Congress-people who ran because of some particular social event or issue that mobilized them. It gives me hope.

–Michael  

Image

Lucy McBath defeated the Republican incumbent, Karen Handel.CreditCreditLynsey Weatherspoon for The New York Times

By Astead W. Herndon (NYTimes.com)

Lucy McBath, the gun control and racial justice activist whose son was killed in a 2012 shooting, is now headed to Congress, after winning a razor-thin election decided Thursday morning.

Ms. McBath defeated the Republican incumbent Karen Handel, who only last year won a closely watched special election in the same Georgia district. Though Ms. Handel did not concede the race until Thursday morning, Ms. McBath, who is also a former Delta flight attendant, claimed victory in a statement released Wednesday. The Associated Press officially called the race for Ms. McBath on Thursday morning, with her lead at just under 3,000 votes.

“Six years ago I went from a Marietta mom to a mother on a mission,” she said, referencing her teenage son’s death. Jordan Davis, Ms. McBath’s son, was 17 when he was shot and killed by a white man at a gas station after refusing to turn down the volume of the rap music playing in his car. The man was later convicted of first-degree murder.

The win furthers the advantage in the House for Democrats, who could see more gains in several still-too-close-to-call races across the country. The district, once held by Newt Gingrich, was initially thought to have been out of reach for Democrats, but tightening polls in the campaign’s final weeks pushed the National Republican Campaign Committee, the House political arm, to run several new advertisements in the district in support of Ms. Handel.
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Ms. Handel won her seat during a special election in 2017.CreditCurtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, via Associated Press

“It is clear I came up a bit short Tuesday,” Ms. Handel said on Thursday morning. “Congratulations to Representative-Elect Lucy McBath and send her only good thoughts and much prayer for the journey that lies ahead for her.”

Ms. McBath was once thought to be a long-shot candidate even among members of her own party, and had even first planned to run for state or local office. Now, she will be the first nonwhite person to represent Georgia’s Sixth District, a section of the state overwhelmingly filled with white and affluent voters.

[Read more about Ms. McBath here.]

“At the end of the day, whatever you think about me; whatever happens or whatever I become in the future, I’ll still always be Jordan’s mom,” Ms. McBath said during a campaign event last month.

Her win defies conventional wisdom of how minority candidates must campaign in order to gain traction in districts predominately composed of white voters. While some had advised Ms. McBath to dilute the most explicit parts of her son’s murder, she believed it was integral to telling an authentic story about her life and experiences, she said.

“What I’m doing today is still mothering his legacy,” Ms. McBath said last month. “I’m extending what I would do for my son to my community.”

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A13 of the New York edition with the headline: Winner Is Declared for Congressional Race in Georgia. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe
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Against Self-Criticism: Adam Phillips on How Our Internal Critics Enslave Us, the Stockholm Syndrome of the Superego, and the Power of Multiple Interpretations

By Maria Popova (brainpickings.org)

adamphillips_unforbiddenpleasures.jpg?fit=320%2C479

I have thought and continued to think a great deal about the relationship between critical thinking and cynicism — what is the tipping point past which critical thinking, that centerpiece of reason so vital to human progress and intellectual life, stops mobilizing our constructive impulses and topples over into the destructiveness of impotent complaint and embittered resignation, begetting cynicism? In giving a commencement address on the subject, I found myself contemplating anew this fine but firm line between critical thinking and cynical complaint. To cross it is to exile ourselves from the land of active reason and enter a limbo of resigned inaction.

But cross it we do, perhaps nowhere more readily than in our capacity for merciless self-criticism. We tend to go far beyond the self-corrective lucidity necessary for improving our shortcomings, instead berating and belittling ourselves for our foibles with a special kind of masochism.

The undergirding psychology of that impulse is what the English psychoanalytical writer Adam Phillips explores in his magnificent essay “Against Self-Criticism”, found in his altogether terrific collection Unforbidden Pleasures(public library).

dalimontaigne35.jpg

One of Salvador Dalí’s illustrations for the essays of Montaigne

Phillips — who has written with beguiling nuance about such variousness of our psychic experience as the importance of “fertile solitude,” the value of missing out, and the rewards of being out of balance — examines how “our virulent, predatory self-criticism [has] become one of our greatest pleasures,” reaching across the space-time of culture to both revolt against and pay homage to Susan Sontag’s masterwork Against Interpretation. He writes:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngIn broaching the possibility of being, in some way, against self-criticism, we have to imagine a world in which celebration is less suspect than criticism; in which the alternatives of celebration and criticism are seen as a determined narrowing of the repertoire; and in which we praise whatever we can.

Our masochistic impulse for self-criticism, he argues, arises from the fact that ambivalence is the basic condition of our lives. In a passage that builds on his memorable prior reflections on the paradox of why frustration is necessary for satisfaction in romance, Phillips considers Freud’s ideological legacy:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngIn Freud’s vision of things we are, above all, ambivalent animals: wherever we hate, we love; wherever we love, we hate. If someone can satisfy us, they can also frustrate us; and if someone can frustrate us, we always believe that they can satisfy us. We criticize when we are frustrated — or when we are trying to describe our frustration, however obliquely — and praise when we are more satisfied, and vice versa. Ambivalence does not, in the Freudian story, mean mixed feelings, it means opposing feelings.

[…]

Love and hate — a too simple, or too familiar, vocabulary, and so never quite the right names for what we might want to say — are the common source, the elemental feelings with which we apprehend the world; and they are interdependent in the sense that you can’t have one without the other, and that they mutually inform each other. The way we hate people depends on the way we love them, and vice versa. And given that these contradictory feelings are our ‘common source’ they enter into everything we do. They are the medium in which we do everything. We are ambivalent, in Freud’s view, about anything and everything that matters to us; indeed, ambivalence is the way we recognize that someone or something has become significant to us… Where there is devotion there is always protest… where there is trust there is suspicion.

[…]

We may not be able to imagine a life in which we don’t spend a large amount of our time criticizing ourselves and others; but we should keep in mind the self-love that is always in play.

But we have become so indoctrinated in this conscience of self-criticism, both collectively and individually, that we’ve grown reflexively suspicious of that alternative possibility. (Kafka, the great patron-martyr of self-criticism, captured this pathology perfectly: “There’s only one thing certain. That is one’s own inadequacy.”) Phillips writes:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngSelf-criticism, and the self as critical, are essential to our sense, our picture, of our so-called selves.

[…]

Nothing makes us more critical, more confounded — more suspicious, or appalled, or even mildly amused — than the suggestion that we should drop all this relentless criticism; that we should be less impressed by it. Or at least that self-criticism should cease to have the hold over us that it does.

But this self-critical part of ourselves, Phillips points out, is “strikingly unimaginative” — a relentless complainer whose repertoire of tirades is so redundant as to become, to any objective observer, risible and tragic at the same time:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngWere we to meet this figure socially, as it were, this accusatory character, this internal critic, we would think there was something wrong with him. He would just be boring and cruel. We might think that something terrible had happened to him. That he was living in the aftermath, in the fallout of some catastrophe. And we would be right.

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One of Maurice Sendak’s illustrations for the Brothers Grimm fairy tales

Freud termed this droll internal critic superego, and Phillips suggests that we suffer from a kind of Stockholm syndrome of the superego:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngWe are continually, if unconsciously, mutilating and deforming our own character. Indeed, so unrelenting is this internal violence that we have no idea what we are like without it. We know virtually nothing about ourselves because we judge ourselves before we have a chance to see ourselves (as though in panic). Or, to put it differently, we can judge only what we recognize ourselves as able to judge. What can’t be judged can’t be seen. What happens to everything that is not subject to approval or disapproval, to everything that we have not been taught how to judge? … The judged self can only be judged but not known. [We] think that it is complicitous not to stand up to, not to contest, this internal tyranny by what is only one part — a small but loud part — of the self.

The tyranny of the superego, Phillips argues, lies in its tendency to reduce the complexity of our conscience to a single, limiting interpretation, and to convincingly sell us on that interpretation as an accurate and complete representation of reality:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngSelf-criticism is nothing if it is not the defining, and usually the overdefining, of the limits of being. But, ironically, if that’s the right word, the limits of being are announced and enforced before so-called being has had much of a chance to speak for itself.

[…]

We consent to the superego’s interpretation; we believe our self-reproaches are true; we are overimpressed without noticing that that is what we are being.

With an eye to Freud’s legacy and the familiar texture of the human experience, Phillips makes his central point:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngYou can only understand anything that matters — dreams, neurotic symptoms, literature — by overinterpreting it; by seeing it from different aspects as the product of multiple impulses. Overinterpretation here means not settling for one interpretation, however apparently compelling it is. Indeed, the implication is — and here is Freud’s ongoing suspicion, or ambivalence, about psychoanalysis — that the more persuasive, the more compelling, the more authoritative, the interpretation is, the less credible it is, or should be. The interpretation might be the violent attempt to presume to set a limit where no limit can be set.

Here, the ideological wink at Sontag becomes apparent. Indeed, the Sontag classic would’ve been better titled “Against an Interpretation,” for the essence of her argument is precisely that a single interpretation invariably warps and flattens any text, any experience, any cultural artifact. (How tragicomical to see, then, that a reviewer who complains that Phillips’s writing is too open to interpretation both misses his point and, in doing so, makes it.)

What Phillips is advocating isn’t the wholesale relinquishing of interpretation but the psychological hygiene of inviting multiple interpretations as a way of countering the artificial authority of the superego and loosening its tyrannical grip on our experience of ourselves:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngAuthority wants to replace the world with itself. Overinterpretation means not being stopped in your tracks by what you are most persuaded by; it means assuming that to believe one interpretation is to radically misunderstand the object one is interpreting, and indeed interpretation itself.

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Illustration by Kate Beaton from To Be or Not To Be, a choose-your-own-adventure reimagining of Hamlet

Cuing in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, that “genius of self-reproach,” Phillips considers the cowardice of self-criticism:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngTragic heroes always underinterpret, are always emperors of one idea.

[…]

The first quarto of Hamlet has, “Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,” while the second quarto has, “Thus conscience does make cowards.” If conscience makes cowards of us all, then we are all in the same boat; this is just the way it is. If conscience simply makes cowards we can more easily wonder what else it might be able to make. Either way, and they are clearly different, conscience makes something of us; it is a maker, if not of selves, then of something about selves. It is an internal artist, of a kind… The superego … casts us as certain kinds of character: it, as it were, tells us who we really are. It is an essentialist: it claims to know us in a way that no one else, including ourselves, can ever do. And, like a mad god, it is omniscient: it behaves as if it can predict the future by claiming to know the consequences of our actions (when we know, in a more imaginative part of ourselves, that most actions are morally equivocal, and change over time in our estimation; no apparently self-destructive act is ever only self-destructive; no good is purely and simply that).

Half a century after Eleanor Roosevelt’s memorable admonition that “when you adopt the standards and the values of someone else … you surrender your own integrity [and] become, to the extent of your surrender, less of a human being,”Phillips urges us to question the superego’s despotic standards:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngThe superego is the sovereign interpreter… [It] tells us what we take to be the truth about ourselves. Self-criticism, that is to say, is an unforbidden pleasure. We seem to relish the way it makes us suffer [and] take it for granted that each day will bring its necessary quotient of self-disappointment. That every day we will fail to be as good as we should be; but without our being given the resources, the language, to wonder who or what is setting the pace; or where these rather punishing standards come from.

Under this docile surrender to self-criticism, Phillips cautions, our conscience slips into cowardice:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngConscience … it is the part of our mind that makes us lose our minds; the moralist that prevents us from evolving a personal, more complex and subtle morality; that prevents us from finding, by experiment, what may be the limits of our being. So when Richard III says, in the final act of his own play, “O coward conscience, how dost thou afflict me!”, a radical alternative is being proposed. That conscience makes cowards of us all because it is itself cowardly. We believe in, we identify with, this starkly condemnatory and punitively forbidding part of ourselves; and yet this supposedly authoritative part of ourselves is itself a coward.

The most virulent and culturally contagious form of this cowardice, I would argue, is the resignation of cynicism — a resignation Phillips traces to the punitive system at the root of our culture’s moral framework, in which good behavior is incentivized largely through fear of punishment for bad behavior. This effort to foster the constructive by the destructive, he suggests, ends up turning us on ourselves as our fear of punishment metastasizes into self-criticism. (The cynic bypasses the constructiveness — that is, refuses to do anything about changing a situation for the better — and rushes straight to inflicting punishment, be it by insult or condemnation or that most cowardly and passive-aggressive fusion of the two, the eyeroll.)

Phillips returns to the central paradox, arguing for the importance of overinterpreting our self-critical conscience:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngHow has it come about that we are so bewitched by our self-hatred, so impressed and credulous in the face of our self-criticism, as unimaginative as it usually is? And why is it akin to a judgement without a jury? A jury, after all, represents some kind of consensus as an alternative to autocracy… We need to be able to tell the difference between useful forms of responsibility taken for acts committed, and the evasions of self-contempt… This doesn’t mean that no one is ever culpable; it means that culpability will always be more complicated than it looks; guilt is always underinterpreted… Self-criticism, when it isn’t useful in the way any self-correcting approach can be, is self-hypnosis. It is judgement as spell, or curse, not as conversation; it is an order, not a negotiation; it is dogma, not overinterpretation.

Our self-criticism, to be sure, couldn’t be entirely eradicated — nor should it, for it is our most essential route-recalculating tool for navigating life. But by nurturing our capacity for multiple interpretations, Phillips suggests, self-criticism can become “less jaded and jading, more imaginative and less spiteful.”

Unforbidden Pleasures is a magnificent read in its entirety, exploring such strands of our psychic complexity as desire, disappointment, indifference, and idealism. Complement this particular portion with Albert Camus on happiness, unhappiness, and our self-imposed prisons, then revisit Phillips on why our capacity for boredom is essential for a full life.

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“A Glitch in the Matrix” – Jordan Peterson, the Intellectual Dark Web & the Mainstream Media


Rebel Wisdom
Published on Feb 15, 2018

Journalist David Fuller made the first full documentary about Jordan Peterson, and also used to work at Channel 4 News as producer and reporter for over a decade. He takes a close look at the recent viral interview with Cathy Newman and uses this cultural watershed to unpack the deeper political, psychological and archetypal levels of the clash.

Background to the ‘making of’ – in this Medium article: https://medium.com/rebel-wisdom/a-gli…

Rebel Wisdom is a new platform making films about the biggest ideas – if you found our work valuable, please consider sponsoring us on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/rebelwisdom

http://davidfuller.tv/

For more great films check the Rebel Wisdom website: http://rebelwisdom.co.uk/

Links:

Rebel Wisdom: Jordan Peterson, Truth in the Time of Chaos
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjqXX…

(Submitted by Ben Gilberti, H.W., M.)

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