An Otherworld

An Otherworld

Flickering Imagery

by Daniel R. Hirtler on 05/16/12

For the past couple of days, I have been forced to consider the issue of free-will and consent. It has been an issue that needs to be brought to consciousness, and I do address it personally at all times, but, at this time, seeing it from the outside; what amount of free-will do we need to afford others, and at what times is any individual able to consent to acts which affect them?

I am of the opinion that all persons should develop the skills to responsibly direct their own existence. I believe that that includes constructing one's own logic structure and reality to guide one's own existence (that means one's choices need not pass the judgement of any other person, nor of any society). I think it is one's responsibility to set one's own path onto the landscape which is the exterior world, with an understanding of the connections between intentions, acts and consequences. I also feel a strong conviction that one should do so without destroying the paths that others have constructed (to the best of one's abilities).

I think that one's right to act upon one's own will ends where one cannot demonstrate that one understands the objective connection between intentions, acts and consequences. At the same time, one's ability to consent legitimately, to the forces around one is called into question as the understanding of the connection between intention, acts and consequences fades.

I have held this point of view for quite some time, but the issue has been raised for me recently by my newly found perception that this point of view is not only not shared by the people around me, but actually might be entirely rejected by them.

I grew up with the idea that our American society demands a recognition of our affect on each other, and that our actions are constrained by that understanding. Further, I thought, to some degree, our regulation of each other through laws is the manifestation of that recognition. Evidently that never was true, or we have lost, or are losing that sense these days.

I am not referring to the libertarian tendency that seems to have become popular in political discussions, although such things are probably related. I am addressing the choices one makes as one gets old, when one ought to be acknowledging mortality.

I claim for myself (and everybody else) the right to conduct oneself through this existence all the way to death (from this existence) with independence. I do not accept that the society around me can decide whether I choose to try to live or try to die, as long as I make my attempt at life or death consistently with my stated intentions (or alone, if I choose not to reveal my intentions), and as long as I accept the consequences of the actions I take in attempting life or death.

I hear a couple of things that indicate that society may hold a view which simply cuts off our connection to one another. The first point is that one should be allowed to make any decision, without the judgement of others, no matter what logical inconsistencies were used in making that decision. The second point is that those around a person whose decisions are impaired by logical inconsistencies should remain silent out of respect for the individual's right to make mistakes (or conceal their intentions while in public). The third point is that there are only two proper methods of dealing with a person who is demonstrating a disconnect between intention and action; that is to enable, divert, or remove oneself from association with that person.

I do think there is a method of retaining control over one's existence while fitting oneself into the objective world around one (accepting that there is no true objectivity). One needs to have the conviction to defend one's choices and enough conviction to be able to speak of them without lying. Having enough self-respect to lay out one's reasoning, without the fear of having one's core intention questioned, would allow one's system of intentions, one's resulting actions, and the one's understanding of the following consequences to be the subject of outside judgement instead. This would establish healthy boundaries for any individual's ability to consent, and to act on their ow free will. That condition could mark the beginning point of consent (instead of age), and could be used to mark those times when society can take away such rights (insanity), and mark the point at the end of life when consent is no longer responsibly able to be given.

As long as society would restrict itself to evaluating internal consistency in defending the right to determine an individual's own course, the development of a consciousness of life's interdependencies would help all in the society help each other in each individuals attempt at life. Society has never been known to do that for long.

We all occupy a place

by Daniel R. Hirtler on 05/08/12

For all the important public discourse that has been sparked by the "Occupy..." movement, the brilliant core challenge that has been set against our capitalistic society has not been clearly raised as an issue yet. That challenge is that we all (stated as inclusively as anyone can conceive) have a right to occupy space in this world; that our occupation of space cannot be commodified because there is no alternative to our being but that we cease to be.

The occupation of publicly accessible space as a living place raises the issue of a society's moral right to govern the use of public space if there is no provision made within that society to allow any and all uses which members of the public may need or want to participate in.

The "Occupy..." movement chooses to set up camp in the locations where it protests. It uses public space to supports the bodily functions that human beings require to perform in order to live for any extended time. As the governing bodies at these locations object (more to the camping than to the ideology), it becomes clear that we, as a society, have not addressed humanity, and its right to exist, in the cultural constructions we have made. We only acknowledge the individual, and only then when that individual controls resources and power. We drive the powerless out of our society, and out of our cities, insofar as we are capable, often to the point of death.

The laws against public urination and defecation are enforced against persons in most cities, while, at the same time, the public has not guaranteed everyone who is in the city, a publicly acceptable place to urinate and defecate. this is a fact that people who are established in a place have long, willfully ignored. It is assumed that everyone will go back into the private realm before they demonstrate the needs of human beings.

What about people who no longer have a private place to go to live. As a society, we do not see having a private place to live as a right. We see it as a commodity. In many places the public may offer some accommodation to the homeless, but it never comes without a cost to the person who is accommodated. In other words, for those who have failed (for whatever reason) to be able to secure a place to be within the society's market system, the society will force those people to participate in that system they failed to negotiate in order to house them. Living in the streets, in the parks, on the buses is made illegal and trying to live in that public realm is made punishable. Hmmm...a market that forces one to buy because no alternative is allowed. What about letting human beings just live.

We, as a society, do organize the public spaces that we create to permit them to serve the common good for which we make them, but we do not take humanity into consideration as we decide the scope of the public realm we create. If we really valued our humanity, and really valued our human privacy as a right which should be enjoyed by all who want it, we would develop a public realm where those things are respected.

Our humanity would be respected by permitting its expression in a meaningful way, in meaningful places, by all humanity, not just permitting the expression of socially condoned thoughts and actions. If humanity were respected, its discomforts would be permitted to be visible for introspection and cultural change once those discomforts were understood.

Our human privacy would be respected  by accepting that keeping one's life out of the way of others is not an obligation, but a choice, and the choice, if taken, should be supported by all of us, as a society. The balance between hiding oneself and being seen should be cherished as a human right, not to be forced into society's mold.

Sadly, most people who talk about this public occupation, reduce it to the stupidly practical. They say that if "some-people" use the public space in the way they need or want to, then "all-people" have their use of those spaces taken from them. It is indeed true that my occupation of any space precludes your occupation of that same space at the same time, but that only addresses a physical fact. The sinister thing those people are actually saying is that when "some-people" use the public space for their individual purpose, then "all-people" have their condoned use of the public space infringed upon. They are saying that the public realm is not maintained for the use of our humanity, but rather for the workings of society's established norms. In reality, order and freedom are both needed in order to manifest humanity into a culture. Once formed, any culture crystalizes and wants to be done with freedom. while we still live our culture should remain formative in order to serve our needs.

We need to talk about the issue of our human right to be, and particularly our right to be somewhere. Many of the issues that are discussed now; the unjust distribution of wealth, illegal immigration, criminalization of private behavior, would be a great deal more manageable and less polarized if we talked enough about our human right to be (here), and started to establish a common picture of that human right.

Funny Thing Happened to Me on the Way to the Bank...

by Daniel R. Hirtler on 10/11/11

I noticed a private security guard stationed outside the offices of Merrill Lynch this morning when I went out for my coffee. He was dressed like a City of Ithaca Policeman in a dark blue uniform. I wondered about it; I thought maybe it was one of the parking attendants for the garage, just hanging out in front of Merrill Lynch while on break; I looked close enough to determine, this morning, that was not the case.

I had to run an errand late this afternoon, and I was surprised to see the security guard still stationed outside the doors of Merrill Lynch. My cynical side observed that Merrill Lynch was certainly doing its part to curb unemployment in protecting itself from the violent Ithaca mobs who were looking to cause Merrill Lynch's destruction. It occurred to me to use Facebook to air that cynical thought.

I got most of the way home before I realized that a picture would be a compelling addition to my Facebook Post, so I walked back to take a picture of the rent-a-cop in front of the building with Merrill Lynch's sign directly above his patrol. He saw me as I was trying to get a good composition for my photo, and he immediately went inside of the building. I could see him talk to the receptionist, all the while peering at me through the open blinds. I really wanted that photo, so I waited for over half an hour for him to come out. The security guard didn't come out of the building while I was there, although he also never left his position looking out through the glass.

There were a couple of young people who were interested in what I was doing, and they were amused when I told them about the the scene I was experiencing. They thought posting on Facebook was a good response.

However, while I waited, as I occupied my time posting to Facebook, and while I was waiting for the security guard to emerge, I was approached by a slick man in a cheap dark blue suit and dark Ray-Bans, who wanted to know what I was doing. I told him I was taking photos. He asked me what I was taking photos of, to which I replied that I wasn't going to answer his questions. He persisted, asking me why I wouldn't answer his questions. I told him I wasn't going to talk to him, and he eventually left. I did think the police were going to be the next to come, but they did not.

I do have to say that my cynical thought has blossomed into a resentment about choices. One imagines that the rent-a-cop is an insensitive reaction to the Occupy Wall Street Protest, particularly insensitive in Ithaca, where there is no real pent up anger against this issue in the street. It underscores that things may well have gotten to the place where true class warfare with real violence may be the only way the people who have been sucking our society dry for the past 30 or more years will give any ground to the society at large. Can you imagine the Occupy Wall Street Protest being any more civil and pure of heart than it is - it is a positive miracle; and a positive miracle shining on all the robber barons and their minions. They would do well to respond in a gentle and just way.

Unionize now!

by Daniel R. Hirtler on 08/08/11

Yesterday, George and I took a tour of a coal mine in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The experience made me think about the necessity of organization to be able to hold our individual own in an ever harsher society.

The tour was fun, if weird. Alot of mindless tourists with children, bent on taking some free token out of the mine, entirely oblivious to the story of horrific hardship which was the life of those who mined coal. I was struck by the fact which was presented that the miners were hired as private contractors, paid for product they produced, rather than asked to do a job as employees, whose time was compensated, and not asked to take on the financial burden of the unexpected conditions that are a necessary part of mining. George was the only other person on the tour who found that condition problematic. The tour included alot of dangerous child labor, some animal cruelty, and a heavy dose of racisim. There was no particular reaction from the crowd.

At the end of the tour, while we were waiting for the second hoist car to pull us back to the surface, George was chatting with the tour guide who was waiting with us. Something was said about the unions, and the antagonism and violence which came as the miners became unionized. It started to occur to me, that we have all lost the thread of understanding about the meaning of organization.

Labor organizing, or any other type of aggregation of individual force into something larger is not something that a person needs permission to do, whether in the workplace or any other place. If one can define common interests, it is a human right (to be cherished and defended) to associate with those who share those interests. In the association, becoming one in purpose with those of common interest, will bring with it the force of a group...the larger and more unified the purpose of the group, the stronger the force.

It used to be that it was within the workplace only that one could communicate with the workers in a workplace. With social networking, it is possible to aggregate people with common interests, and their supporters out in public, and, if there is a group who can organize those interests into demands and consequences, it seems like an external, untouchable Union could be formed using social networking tools. It is the threat of mutiny that gives a Union the ability to bargain for workplace conditions, not the permission to unionize. Certainly the early Unions were imposed on workplaces without the permission of the employer.

With our elected government acting as an oligarchy, there is a popular destructive rage developing, which should instead be turned into a time to regroup and rebuild a new alliance among us. Thinking of unionizing ourselves with each other using our new tools of connection might be a good way.

Damaging Head Lines

by Daniel R. Hirtler on 05/24/11

I saw a Prius with a bumper sticker which read, "Tax the Rich", and it occurred to me how much damage has been done to our society by over-simplifying our public discourse to headlines and battle cries.

Tax the Rich. Do they mean that the rich should be taxed instead of taxing the remainder of the citizenry? Do they mean that the rich should be taxed too, as if they do not now pay taxes? Neither of these things are the initial intent of that battle cry, but they are expressed in the statement anyway, and a rational discussion following such a statement is unlikely, since an antagonistic choosing up of sides is implicit in it.

The Republican method of turning all of public life into a war of the rich against the rest of the country, in order to shift our country's resources into the control and benefit of fewer and fewer of us does not work in reverse, unless the rest of us want to resolve this problem in the style of the French Revolution.

The issue of paying for the society we want starts with stopping and really thinking, using the best part within us, realizing our true relationship to one another, and what it could be if we developed a trust in each other. That would give us a basis to discuss our public expenditures. Would we then choose to invest so heavily in the military, and so lightly on the care and development of humanity?

The second part of paying for the society we choose, is to understand that the economic burden of the society is not as easily borne by all of us, although we all have a responsibility to help keep our society going. "Tax the Rich", leads one to think that the burden of paying for government should be borne by the rich alone. This might be possible in a society that has allowed the distribution of wealth to concentrate in so few hands, but even if that were functional, that scheme leads to a worse society, not a better one. Tax each citizen what each can citizen can afford equally, in other words, tax progressively in light of social and economic inequalities. That bumper sticker on the Prius meant to say that, but the all the words wouldn't fit, and we are left with a call to meet unfairness with compensatory unfairness.

During the "discussion" about allowing the Bush Tax Cuts expire, such oversimplification lead to the inexplicable resolution we experienced. Somehow, although the government's deficit and the public debt were considered to be ultimately imprtant public issues to resolve, letting the tax cuts expire on excess income was untenable if the tax cuts for initial income were left in place during the extreme recession we are experiencing. That proposal was, in fact, not taxing the rich, but taxing excess income at a rate that was considered, in more conservative times to be sustainable. Leaving the tax cuts for initial income made sense in light of the dramatic hard times the economy is demonstrating, however, if that seems too hard too think about, I would have imagined that all the tax cuts would have been allowed to expire, so that the government could start on the track to sustainability. I believe that that did not happen because the "discussion" never progressed beyond the catch phrases offered by both sides.

Each day, the societal construction we were born into seems to crumble further through the willful neglect of all its participants, perhaps in the hope of a brave new world, presented to us in shining completeness. I would suggest, that there is much in the battered old world that is great, and that it is worth looking at it seriously and to renovate it consensually using what is best of us. That brave new world may present itself to our human detriment.

Human Obsolescence

by Daniel R. Hirtler on 03/24/11

During the past two years of economic collapse, I found myself trapped in a little open spot under alot of economic debris. I had no architectural work as a sole proprietor, and no real potential to get architectural work in someone else's architectural office having been self-employed for so long at a higher level of competence than was wanted for employee positions.

I occupied myself with developing the parts of my profession which I had not spent enough time while employed. I launched a web site with a portfolio and blog. I developed an exhibition addressing the issues of sustainable architecture. I pushed my library project, the icon of my architectural career, forward a great deal. Of course, since these activities did nothing to add to my support; it was salvation that I am partnered to a man with a successful career.

I am recently recovering from that long period of no professional work, and it is interesting to note the feeling of inadequacy that comes from a long break in any activity. There is a sense in the prospect of being asked to practice my profession, that the things I know, and the ways I have worked in the past are not useful in the present - that times have changed and I am obsolete.

In the actual activities, it is revealed, that my skills are at least as good and useful as they were before, and it is a thrill to ply them as a sole proprietor again.

I identify that using my skills as a sole proprietor is the key to my usefulness. I have projects to work on, and I am useful to them as long as I define the scope and the competence of the work that will resolve them. All my career, it has been indicated to me that the issues I take on are really not that important to spend time on. Of course, after those issues are resolved well, the outcome is lauded, but that doesn't make those issues any more important to spend time on in the future, in the eyes of those who would manage time.

I think I am obsolete, in that quality is not ordinarily valued in our society. It is more important to get alot done in a short period of time than it is to consider what should be done, and how it should be done to serve us and our society best.


democratic power in electronic social networking

by Daniel R. Hirtler on 03/24/11

I have written about the great tool we have in social networking sites like Facebook. Sharing information with our "friends" expands the world we occupy, and diversifying our sources of information helps us identify untruths that are given to us to believe. I wrote about this during a glut of online petitions that were circulating, where our individual voices could be aggregated to voice a hope for the direction of our society now.

Since then, having responded to the petitions, I have been deluged with email messages which are not particularly clear in what action is desired to be taken; some lead one to believe that one should sign petitions over and over again (on the same issue), others urge some individual action with one's elected official, and, at the core, most want financial support to continue the good work.

The garbled message can be worked on with clearer communication. One can have one's opinion about the usefulness of direct contact with one's representative, but the thought I want to address involves the solicitation of funds to support traditional lobbying via the social network.

In reality, the groups which have been taking on these important battles, have taken these issues on as special interests. Their goal is to pursuade public policy to conform to a particular form, the form that they champion. They have used particular issues that particular people care about to develop a force around what they propose. This is a traditional method of getting what "you" want, which, I believe, is not going to be effective in the coming age.

All of the follow-up action "needed" after the initial on-line petition assumes that no elected official can be trusted to be persuaded by information. It assumes that the votes of elected officials are always open to purchase from the highest bidder (or the faction which can cause the most pain). If this is true, then each and every issue that one cares about, requires one's undivided attention. All other issues will be lost.

I believe that the democratic power that exists within the electronic social net-working tool is its ability to form our own thoughts clearly about the whole world we inhabit, and for us to act upon our developed values. The follow-up to the shared links, the blogs, and the on-line petitions ought to be fundraising for organizations who will gather, catalog, and disseminate the information that we will need to have at our fingertips when we exercise our right to vote for elected officials.

As far as I am concerned, we should express our values and desires in the public realm, and, through the process of us working together as a group, government makes decisions and takes actions. Those decisions and actions may never reflect our individual values and desires, but hopefully they would have been heard in the debate leading up to them.

Our power to aggregate is in our ability to choose wisely. Armed with the information about a candidate's past behavior, and a realistic sense of the past events of this world, one could vote for candidates who express our individual values and desires. If we trusted that if we voted on that information, and voted for the best scenario, our social network ties could help us see that we would not be alone in our values and desires, and the force that those values and desires could, if aggregated, become dominant sometime (soon?). All the election season propaganda in the world couldn't sway the outcome of an election if we were not swayed in our well founded opinions. Elected officials would be silently held accountable for the stands (or lack of stand) that they took on real issues - nothing should be forgotten.

To sum up the functions rightly served by people who want to enhance the democratic power of electronic social networking:

  • Create and link web sites that catalog the facts and ideas that move through the internet.
  • Find ways of teaching research literacy on the internet, to increase the functionality of ordinary people.
  • Create a space for thoughtful consideration on issues through the faith that people are able to make good decisions when they are equipped to do so (and those good decisions may not agree with "yours").
  • Don't distract from the large quality of life Issue with all the single issues.
  • Always speak about the power of aggregation of individual choice through association (rather than accommodation) which becomes a reality through electronic social networking.

Cultural Stroke (not of luck)

by Daniel R. Hirtler on 02/18/11

The behavior of americans still amazes me, and I still long to be made French. The acceptability of some of the negative public reactions in the public discourse surrounding the impending deunionization of Wisconsin really shocks me.

I can understand how the rich, particularly the rich who clawed their way to the top, dehumanize the ordinary worker, but I cannot understand how ordinary workers and the poor take the lies that the rich put out in the media and internalize it as their own - they spout hatred of themselves as their own thoughts now (having strangely put themselves in their overlords' place). This is an example of relativity turned into a weapon of mass destruction.

I can see two explanations for this, both of which manifest serious cultural illness. The first is that most people are actually life slackers and they condemn others who are in the position of what they know themselves to be. The second is that our culture has succeeded in alienating its members to such a degree that each individual truly feels that he or she is really not like any of the others in his or her position, and therefore, if he or she has hopes and dreams and personal energy to meet the demands of life, then the others do not.

The first explanation would presuppose a great number of people in our culture who accept themselves as worthless and despicable. That explanation is also not really plausible because the behavior of slackers is to scheme to get by without having to do the work that is needed to get by legitimately. It is work of a different kind. That type of work is best done under the cover of others scheming too. A slacker would tend not to draw attention to scheming and slacking because it diminishes the likelihood of his or her own success scheming and slacking.

The second explanation is actually visible in nursing homes in the interpersonal relationships between the patients. Each patient sees his or her stay in the nursing home as an aberration, and cannot see anything in common with any of the other patients; so much so that the other patients are not really human to him or her. No real community develops between the patients.

If it is true that isolation has brought us to a state in which we have no empathy for people who are in our own position, one would wonder where we place our empathy, if we have any left to us. I think we develop an empathetic relationship with the images of our own hopes for the future. Sadly, our image making capacity is culturally limited, and our ability to hope is confused with the desire for the cozy feeling of security, and all of it is molded by the mind-numbing volume of media which is presenting us the messages of the rich. The result is empathy of the (decent) ordinary man for the (selfish) rich.

Since the highest good of capitalistic endeavors is to bargain for the best position, I do not see how anyone can support taking away a worker's right to bargain collectively to obtain the best contract with his or her employer. Furthermore, it seems hard to connect deunionization with an ability for an employer to reduce expenditures unless the employer intends to use that newfound power over worker to diminish the workers' living and working conditions unilaterally. What person would be in favor of that? It certainly should not be a worker!

Perhaps we need a cultural strike, to get a little free time back, while we still have a little bit of humanity left. As we strike, we should get to know each other a little bit, to see that humanity resides in others too. While we are at it, maybe we could find something in our american culture that is worth saving. If not, I think we are a culture in the final state of decline, and not long for this world.

Grey Gardens

by Daniel R. Hirtler on 02/04/11

We watched the Documentary, Grey Gardens, a couple of days ago, and the relationship of the occupants to the house struck me in that the rooms of the house no longer held any functional names for the two women. All functions were presented as happening together, wherever the two women were. As dramatic as the images in the documentary are, I think that many people experience the collapse and overlay of the functions of their life as they age. In the case of Mother and Daughter Beale, both ended up sleeping in one room of the 28 rooms in the house; and in their sleeping room they lived and ate.

The documentary only went so far, never once showing the location or condition of the bathroom(s?). There were allusions to running water in that a washing machine had been brought into the house, with the indication that it was supposed to function. It would have been interesting to see the location and condition of the bathroom to understand exactly how much their use of the house had changed from the norm. How much privacy did they require from each other to live in the relationship they had.

Part of the fascination of Grey Gardens for me is the planning of houses for old age. In the case of the Beales, it appears that there was a rotten family dynamic that caused the physical destruction of the house and the family because of withholding money, approval, and simple kindness. Edith Beale had a career kept from her, she withheld kindness and attention from her husband who left and starved the house of resources, and both parents withheld approval of their daughter to the point of frailty and life paralysis. This dynamic led to a house which was uninhabitable, and human relationships that were limiting.

Working on developing nurturing relationships in one's family should be one's goal, and although they will always be odd, consciousness and empathy for one's family will lead in a healthy direction. What I am writing here, though, concerns the physical home.

When one thinks of a dwelling, one tends to group one complete set of features that are necessary for a group of related individuals to live independently from other groups of people. If one limits one's view to a single person, all the necessary the components could be placed in a single open room, since privacy is, at this core state, not an issue. As that individual manifests cultural conceptions, the desire for the separation of parts of life from other parts becomes felt, and the room might not want to be so open, and if the individual is social, and wants to permit guests into their space, the desire for privacy is layed over the desire for separation of functions.

It is when one adds additional dwellers into the habitation that the need for distinct rooms presents itself. A separate place to sleep, a room to separate oneself from the others, a common eating a sitting space to permit those other privacies, a private place to bathe are all desirable cohabitation features.

As people in our culture, which is based on individuality, age, often it is not desirable to dwell with others again. Those people are often established in homes which are family size. as time passes, their life patterns change from what was familiar when other people were around them, to a set of patterns that would suit a person who lives alone. The differentiated functional spaces of the whole house lose their function over time, and all the functions of life start to move together into smaller and smaller areas of the original house. From the point of view of the original family, life has degenerated, and this condition is a disease. I would suggest that the disease that is manifested is that the process is subconscious only, and issues of hygiene and order are left unaddressed in this spacial collapse.

In the larger scheme, if were understood that one retreats to a single room some time after one becomes alone, and "Grandma's Room" is the natural order of things rather than the inevitable conclusion of the elderly begrudgingly coming to live with their children, then one could see the opposite happen. Grandma could retreat into smaller and smaller areas of her home, while establishing parts of her family in the home to move her family and herself to the next generation.

The alteration to spacial thinking that would need to be considered would be the diffusion of the features necessary to living into the individual rooms of the house. Each bedroom would be seen as a a dwelling, grouped around a set of common rooms which would permit the individual to be self sufficient, while living safely around other people.

Thinking in this way of nurturing both individual and family, I wonder how many families of individuals would benefit.

We do this (out of Control)

by Daniel R. Hirtler on 02/03/11

I am rereading George Orwell's 1984 while listening to Laurie Anderson's Homeland, after having made another journey through Terry Gilliam's Brazil. These works impressed me as representative of the spirit of the world I knew at the time I originally read them, but they all seem like literal descriptions of our cultural methods now.

I am writing about the experience now, having gotten through the part in 1984, where Winston Smith, the protaganist, is thinking about truth and memory;  how one can hold truth, where one's ability to verify facts is taken away; where systematic contradiction of the truth transforms holding to a truth from an act of reason to a dangerous, crazy act of belief.

In the book, the government routinely changes the record of the past to suit present circumstances. What one can look at of the past is then consistent with the information that one is told about the present. Although one's memory tells one that one is being told lies, one is faced with the powerful force of the constructed reality conveying to one that one's memory is faulty; that one didn't really understand in the first place. This works in an environment where people are separated from each other (by fear, competition or lack of free time) so that they can no longer compare each others' memories to maintain a consistent understanding of the events of the past, and assign a useful meaning to them. Truth is what one is told, and is momentary, instead of being a layered discovery of durable stuff.

Since 9-11-2001, when the whole country was bullied by our government to stop thinking entirely, and when the people of our country were harrassed by fear into individual shells, it has become impossible to use reason and common sense to conduct ourselves in life here, in this country. That the events which were reported can not have happened in the ordinary old world is of no cosequence to ordinary people of today. Those people are prepared to act on information that is inconsistent with the way the world was understood to work previously...reasonable motives, capabilities, consequences are all turned on their head to drum up hatred and actions of self destructive revenge.

Information which is reported is made to disappear, and the person who remembers it is made out to be crazy. It may have started with the Rudy Guliani's voice seemingly participating in the permission for the controlled demolition of Building #7 (who even knows how to describe that fact, whatever it was now), but now it has developed into the creation of fact through the inter-referencing of talking points as displayed by the Republican Party and the Conservative Media.

Since we weren't keeping score when we heard about Guliani talking to those in charge at the world Trade Center using terms which represent controlled demolition, just before the building collapsed, it is truth chilling to note that that report need not be addressed now for veracity and meaning since it is said not to have existed.

Likewise, since we cannot verify everything that is said to us, if it is all fabrication, and has been made to look plausible through the mechanism of reference, how can we make any judgement about the truth and righteousness of the actions which occur around us. Every one of our actions become likewise ungrounded (and ineffectual).

Life is pretty miserable now, so becoming fearless, developing friendships, and confiding in humanity, first to reinvest life with meaning, and second to build up the nurturing power of humanity doesn't seem to me to be a bad bet to make life better now, and develop a new world which includes us.

In a time when we are being told to accept less, it would do us all alot of good to expect and demand more, and be kinder to each other as we do it.