Archive for November, 2011

The Decay of Mindfulness

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

Mindfulness:

Mindfulness is very much like what you see with your peripheral vision as opposed to the hard focus of normal or central vision. Yet this moment of soft, unfocused awareness contains a very deep sort of knowing that is lost as soon as you focus your mind and objectify the object into a thing. In the process of ordinary perception, the mindfulness step is so fleeting as to be unobservable. We have developed the habit of squandering our attention on all the remaining steps, focusing on the perception, cognizing the perception, labeling it, and most of all, getting involved in a long string of symbolic thought about it. That original moment of mindfulness is rapidly passed over. It is the purĀ­pose of vipassana meditation to train us to prolong that moment of awareness.

Mindfulness is masculine. It is powerful, it is direct. Mindfulness is focused, but focus is not its vehicle. Mindfulness inherently excludes that which the feminine aura predicates its existence on: squandering of attention, labeling, cognizing attitudes, and becoming mired in rambling and compulsive reassertion of perception.

In other words, mindfulness is the anti-feminine.

Mindfulness, while diffuse, and randomly but evenly dispersed, like cosmic dark matter, beams with the intensity of a laser beam. Mindfulness comprehends the sliver of the moment and creates an impermeable barrier against superfluous occurrences outside the present. This is why it is the anti-feminine.

One great lie, repeated often, is of the miraculous and mystical female ability to multitask. I don’t know where or how this grand falsity was sparked to life, but it is furthest from the truth. Women are the worst multitaskers I know. The lie has been in place for so long, women now believe it to be true as well. They rely on this falsehood to bask is an air of non-existent multitasking glory, and no one dares to call them out on it. People just accept the lie. Women are terrible multitaskers. I’ve never met a woman who was a good multitasker. Counter-intuitively, mindfulness is a necessary precursor to adept multitasking. Multitasking goes awry when the mind becomes muddled with divergent trains of thought, and sensory input are allowed to run rampant without constraint by the practiced path of a narrow and singular focus.

Modernity and technology sabotage mindfulness. They are contrary to mindfulness for they erect a chasm between our mind/body and the cohesive wholeness of a pure soul. Our attention is twisted and pulled in all electronic directions and the distinct moment becomes distended and impaled upon the landscape of modernity and its global distractions. The Here and the Now become the There, the Everywhere, the Tomorrow, the Yesterday, and the jumble of scattered life refutes mindfulness.

The next time you see someone walking like a dead stone while they are lost in their smart phone’s messages, remember this is the image of the decay of mindfulness.

Manual transmissions, mindfulness, and involvement in living

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

 

It’s been almost a month that I’ve been back.

 

After about 6 1/2 years of enduring and dissolving into the mentally sluggish, unthinking and disconnected automatic transmission driving experience, I’m finally back in a manual transmission ride. It’s been a long time. I missed stick shift but didn’t realize just how much until I began driving it again about 3 weeks ago. This is what happens. You become complacent and unmindful after years of driving an automatic transmission. The insidious nature of automatic transmission distances you from your car, from your driving…it is a shield from involvement. It makes you lazy and lets get by without concentrating on your driving so you can divide your attention between the cell phone, that Chinese take-out or the caramel macchiato. See, this is what we’ve become. A race of half-involved, half-thinking lowlife multi-taskers unable to put our complete attentions to things.

 

Driving a manual transmission draws you into a harmonious co-existence with the workings of your car while raising your comprehension of the road. Manual transmission allows a human/machine synergy to meld into place. You are performing a mechanical function which science has long made extinct. Manual transmission drivers are sputtering their last collective breath with our latest driving generations. In 1985, manual transmissions equipped about 22% of all new vehicles. The number in 2012 is estimated to be around 6%. Imagine voluntarily choosing to do something that places you in a population segment represented by only 6% of people? Furthermore, imagine this “thing” you willingly do is avoided by most people like the plague, so much so that people actually pay a little more to avoid?

 

Don’t know about them. Manual transmission driving is great. Especially since modern manual gearboxes are built so well now; the shifter is precise and buttery smooth. The clutch pedal is light and the immersion you experience in the driving experience is spellbinding. I’ve heard some rumors that manual transmission cars are in fewer accidents than automatic transmission cars, per mile, which is an important standardizing frame of reference (important when we are comparing 2 variables separated by a prevalence of 90-10). I can’t find any back-up for this mythological NHTSA study, but aside from the usual reasons many might make for such a statistical relationship, the main reason why a manual transmission driver is less accident-prone is simply because he (or she) is deeply involved in the driving process. They are paying attention and mindful. Automatic transmission saps your mind of awareness and removes you from the road. Not paying attention to the cars shifting allows you to ignore the engine, the brakes, the steering…don’t trivialize the power of a car’s shifting in the feedback it offers to the smooth operation of a motor vehicle.

 

This is why people don’t like stick shift. People don’t like the added burden of driving which frankly, should be a burden. Driving 3,000 pounds of steel should not be effortless, but in this day and age of space technology filtering down to our driving experience, people seek to be as isolated from the driving experience as possible. I’ll take a stick shift any day! The ability to slow a car down without brakes or to literally nub it into a gliding curve by releasing the clutch slowly is a sensation you don’t feel in an automatic. With a manual transmission, you are part of the driving experience, not a disconnected byproduct, but the foible of modernity is the sense of disconnectedness which we seek and that we vainly assume elevates us to some lofty level of superhumanness, but only turns us cold and dead.

 

People are not only seeking estrangement from the act of driving a car, they want to be insulated from all sorts of unpleasant experiences and science is seeing to it that this is possible as long as there is a buck to be made. Driving a manual transmission is to truly “enjoy the ride.” A manual transmission keeps your perspective healthy. The car predominates over you, which is how things should be. An automatic transmission deludes you into believing that you triumph over the car, which is deadly.

 

 

Five decades of pure lust

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Notches on the bedpost is such a mundane concept. It’s a number any guy can throw out there, but it says very little, doesn’t it? As a simple integer, it lacks context or that special descriptive nuance which earns appreciation. A guy who says he’s had sex with 85 women is obviously up for some sort of stud status. But knowing only this, I can only picture 85 faceless, anonymous female figurines who have paraded across his bedroom stage. Were they young, old, pretty, ugly, handicapped, obese, anorexic…who the hell knows this stuff? And who will find out? It’s difficult for a man who’s had his fair share of bedpost etchings to remember them all. I’m hardly a stud, but I seriously cannot remember my first time. I just can’t. I’ve been asked and drawn incredulous looks when I am unable to answer this question. So it’s not likely most men can give a detailed summary of the characteristics of all the women they’ve had sex with. Many encounters happen while drunk, so there are many memory voids to be overcome. There are probably many instances of sex men would prefer not to ever repeat. I mean, we’ve all had our bad days. Those vulnerable moments of quiet desperation, or those erratic moments of youth in which you didn’t care about anything other than simply getting laid.

One popular marker which guys fret over is age. What is the oldest and the youngest, or which was the oldest or youngest relative to the his age when the sex happened. This is interesting to me as well, but the other day as I thought of this nonsense, it occurred to me that there is another perspective we can use when examining the age of our conquests which adds a historical tinge to our ruminations.

Which decades have you had sex with?

Ah, this requires some thought, doesn’t it? It’s not a foolproof notion because many times we don’t know think about her age in terms of decade of birth. We can estimate her age at the time if we don’t know it, but we don’t think of it in terms of “she was born in 1976.” There are a lot of blind spots when contemplating decades. Still, after putting my memory to work and reenacting many of my conquests, I was able to narrow the range to the 1940’s, 1950’s, 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s for myself. I’ve been with women spanning five decades. It would be a nice touch if I could add the 1990’s to this list, but my bedpost notching days are behind me and I don’t think this will come to fruition. Still…

1940’s:
This was one incident, I believe. I don’t recall sleeping with any other woman born in the 40’s. I was about 31 or so and drinking at a dive in Hollywood during a weekday. I had the day off and this old lady started making eyes at me from the other side of the bar. She was not unattractive, but she was assuredly not Joan Collins, either. We talked a little and then I left. As I drove out the parking lot, she was standing near the driveway and waved me over. She asked if she could get a ride home. She lived nearby. We stopped at a Rite Aid and I bought some more booze then we went to her apartment. She was weird, she had jars of dead animals floating in formaldehyde all around her apartment. She was 53 and we commenced to do our thing while animal corpses surrounded us. I saw her at another Hollywood bar, years later, while I drank with some friends. She must have been very close to 60 and she looked it.

1950’s:
Without going into extreme details, I was 26, she was about 39, which was not a big deal. Our affair was intermittent. We saw each other every few months. What was a big deal is that she was the mother of a “close acquaintance” shall I say. Utterly immoral and depraved. I didn’t say illegal, OK?

1960’s:
The decade I was born, and you might think, the decade I would share the most kinship when it comes to women. My ex-wife. ‘Nuff said.

1970’s:
One of my strongest relationships. Owing to my youthfulness (immaturity), I tend to get along very well with 1970’s women.

1980’s:
I went through this “stage” during my early 40’s. Let’s call it a mid-life crisis. I believe I was acting out the immaturity I never got to fully express because I married before I was ready, before I ripened. Whatever the case, this was a Craiglist date with a 19-year-old girl who just wanted a free meal. It was very thinly-veiled prostitution, just without the open exchange of money. Our motives were implicit in this little date of ours. “You scratch my back, I scratch yours” is how it went and I didn’t realize it until much later. We both got what we wanted and we never spoke again. She was into video games and pointed out that her dad, who liked golf, was just 3 years older than me.

Cloud Governance: a humble proposal to overthrow our Republic

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

As you can tell, I’m pretty fascinated with the concept of cloud computing. Cyberspace’s ability, in practice and in theory, to bring global humanity into one mass of interacting units coalescing into a singular mind and psyche. Initially, I bemoaned this apparent march toward the death of individuality as outlined in my theory of the “hive mind” and I’m still uneasy about it. However, I believe it may also offer some benefits and freedom from archaic forms of society and governance. Cloud computing, or future derivations of it, are the future of a hybridized human/computer society. Whereas the initial appearance of a global internet was peppered with individualized points of individual participation, I believe the future of the “cloud” will entail loss of identity, loss of individualism, and blending together as one common mass, the beliefs and values of mankind will be expressed as one personality within the cybercloud environment.

So it is in this vein that I’d like to make a proposal now that the circus of the United States Presidential election looms one year away. The rumblings and posturing of establishment politicians has begun and the white teeth are gnashing and the big hair is pointedly heralding the resurgence of trash talk and sweet promises. The political season of bullshit is stirring. Platitudes and manufactured appeals to our apathetic sense of self-governance have begun trickling out the media’s orifices. This is just the beginning. The predictable pattern will ensue over the next year. Sound bytes, cosmetic showboating and regurgitation of faux idealism and palatable appeals to our well-being, and that of our children, and their children, and the politicians will talk big and float upon the grandest of noble concepts because it’s all one big marketing push, the election season.

Disaffection is the lucid voters natural reaction to the flock of commercialized politicians who have been selected to appear to engage in the meaningless periodic political contests. Politicians have absolutely nothing to offer us. Rather than immersing ourselves in toil and sweat to take our government back, we lazily buy into the cult of celebrity which permeates the political arena. We proudly succumb to the (R) or (D) mentality, we bolster it by voting for these showmen, we donate to their idiotic, plastic campaigns, and get worked up into an ideological fervor because we trust that all our excitement and $20 donations mean something. This is our stake in government. We get out what we put in, and too many of us put nothing in other than symbolic gestures of Party allegiance which the Parties eat it up because our indifferent involvement is precisely what allows them to continue pulling the wool over our eyes and doing as they please while they make publicly bloated displays of “working” for our good, but they don’t do a thing for us because we don’t hold them accountable. A lazy electorate breeds lazy elected officials. If Americans took a keen interest in the shenanigans of their rulers and felt strongly about it enough to experience real offense at the amount of malfeasance politicians and their elite signatories are guilty of, the politicians and CEO’s would be hanged, drawn and quartered.

But there is no involvement. Civic alienation allows the masters to continue bleeding us dry.

My proposal: that we refrain, en masse, from voting or involving ourselves in the 2012 Presidential election. Boycott 2012! I’m done with the charade. I’m done voting for the D.C. celebrities and their multi-million dollar dolled up campaigns. Let’s bring on Cloud Governance. Away with career politicians and economic masters.

Cloud Governance will be run by every adult citizen who chooses to participate and each voice will be no less or no more important than any other voice in the Cloud. All voices in the Cloud will carry equal weight. Action will follow the majority. Cloud Governance is faceless, nameless and utterly egalitarian. Republicanism is archaic and fraught with corruption. Cloud Governance will do away with it. In the Cloud, there are no communal or financial agendas other than pursuing and enacting the Governance of the majority. Our government will respond to the disembodied mass of cyber-participant citizens. Personalities, tensions and oratory will have no place in the Cloud Governance. Cloud Governance is like being governed by a neutrally calculating computer program, but it still reflects our desires and humanity which are constantly fed in by our participation in the Cloud. The Cloud’s manifestation is part human, part machine.

It has no teeth and no heart which establishes its superiority to human politicians.

Happy Birthday to me

Friday, November 25th, 2011

Oh Jesus. I turned 47 today. How does this happen? One way to look at becoming older is that while it is not the most pleasing twist of life, it is preferable to the alternative. You either live and accumulate age-related physical degeneration or you don’t live and years pass but your cold corpse is unaffected. Either way, 47 is a turning point because you are unquestionably on the downward side of your 40’s. Didn’t I just turn 40 yesterday? It seems so. The oft-repeated refrain: why do the years seem to shrink as you get older?

Why does time seem compacted?

Obviously, the nature of Time does not alter for our Earthly existence. We do not dart around the surface of this planet at the speed of light; time is a constant for all intents and purposes.

I feel as if my 40’s have flown by more rapidly than any other period in my life. The days fly by faster. Shit unravels quicker than I can put it back together. I can’t keep up with the furious pace of time. One minute of time at my age seems to equal what 30 seconds might have been when I was 16. How can this be. Since the measurement of time is uniform, it’s obviously our perceptions, the relativity of time’s units that are altered and distorted through our aging viewpoint. Time is a static, measurable unit from our lumbering 3-dimensional perspective, but science has demonstrated that time can also be a fluid element that is contingent on many other factors.

I’ve used this analogy previously. I think of time as a measurable unit in the same way I think of weight being one as well. Twenty pounds, measured on Earth’s surface, is always 20 pounds. However, assume 2 scenarios. First, you must lift 20 pounds upon waking from an bad night’s sleep while fighting a cold. The weight will seem much heavier than a second scenario in which you’ve just completed a 45 minute weight training session of dead lifts and bench presses. Now 20 pounds will seem almost light and feathery. Same weight, entirely different perspectives. This is a contrast we accept without deliberation or bafflement. Weight is a natural extension of our daily perceptions. However, time is nebulous and difficult for us to comprehend as an object. Time is ethereal, without body, and seemingly diffuse. We can’t wrap a physical measuring tool around it. Clocks are mysterious mechanisms which measure indirectly and by proxy.

Time flies for me. The days swiftly leave me in their dust and 1 year becomes 5, and then 10, and then I start to sense some apprehension at turning 50, and I know the next 3 years, like the diminishing point of a pyramid, shrink exponentially as part of a cohesive and perpetual structure. The nature of time is to shrink as years and experience compound. In our youth, the pyramid is its widest, and with each passing year it shrinks, and by the time you’d made it halfway up the pyramid, the level you’re on is much smaller than the first. Like a coil, large and vast fragments of life diminish, giving the impression that time is racing when in fact it is the ascending structure of time that is narrowing.

As a minute shrinks, the impression it leaves on our bounded reality is that of briefness, and thus the minute is smaller and we judge time in terms of an ounce because it’s all we can do with our limited senses.