22 December 2012

Mystic Science


I debate, a LOT.  To me it’s a sport, something like football to its fans. Debate, regardless of what you may have seen during presidential campaigns, when properly practiced leads us to truth. Because of this I debate everything; in the search for answers, for truth, one uses whatever tools are at one’s disposal.

But recently my tool has been running afoul when I apply it to the phenomena known as “religion” and “spirituality”. It seems that, for most people (theist and non-theist alike) once these topics come up then all logic and reason is thrown out of the window in favor of what I fondly call “stupid monkey syndrome”. We all have it, when pet theories are threatened and all of our time and effort seems to be pointless, and just because it flares up doesn't make us lesser people. It just means that there are some underlying issues that need to be addressed.

I’m not dealing with those issues in this article, no. Rather, I’m addressing something that several people have told me and putting some misconceptions to rest.

Many people say that they've had some sort of “mystical” experience and that they now know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that there is something more to life. All is one, or some variant thereof. This is usually their last ditch, semi-lucid attempt at using logic against my investigation, so I will start with these “experiences” the human brain is capable of generating.

I too have had experiences that were “mystical”. I've had moments and afternoons where I felt a connection to the cosmos, where I could literally feel the breathing and pulsing of life and have a sense of mental clarity about my purpose in the universe. When someone claims to have “seen god” or “felt the holy spirit”, I know full well what they are talking about. It was my own inner experiences that led me to science, after all.

Where I differ from others, however, is that I’m not convinced that what I experienced was truly “metaphysical”. At first glance it seems that way, but I've seen one too many Necker cubes and had way too many false memories to trust appearances. Everyone should know this by now, but we humans have a problem with examining things after we've made up our minds about them. How often have you thought someone was angry or upset, a jerk, or just rude and then, after you get to know them, you realize how wrong you were about them? If you can extend that courtesy to others, then extend it to yourself.

You see, science is NOT some sort of megalithic beast that can be clearly defined. Just like spirituality, science is a method, a WAY of thinking about things. The strength of science, however, is that conclusions can be tested for one’s self, if one is inclined to do a little work for it. Spirituality is unique for every practitioner, so while it is interesting and can be extremely helpful for those who use it, their insights often prove vague or useless to others who may use different terms or paradigms. With science, we have a common language. Words have exact meanings, and formulas describe patterns that are observed in nature and the lab. With science, “I don’t know” is an open invitation for people to try to make sense of it. With religion and spirituality, “I don’t know” is seen as an admission to be avoided at all costs. Don’t understand something? Postulate something like ectoplasm or god and Ta da! Problem solved!

Except that we still are ignorant of what’s really going on. “It must be the work of god” has become synonymous with “I don’t know but I can’t admit that I’m ignorant”.

As I said earlier, I have had “mystical” experiences and have been goaded by them to try to understand them. Because of this I have researched topics like “god” and “spirituality” for quite a while and I feel that I have earned the right to express my (still developing) opinions.

I think that any talk about “gods” is pointless, as we can’t prove or disprove them and at any rate it isn’t like they pop up to help us out in any direct way. Besides, even if they were real, most of them (if not all) have blood on their hands in some way and ALL are immoral by our modern norms. Given the track record of religions and “deities” in terms of loss of life, enslavement of humans, and exploitation of the uneducated by these same institutions in service to a status quo that still alienates people and allows injustice to flourish, I believe that the complete disengagement of people from organized religion and “god” worship is in the best interests of our species.

As far as “spirituality” goes, however… That’s a different story. Certain disciplines have empirically demonstrated that they further development the physical brain, as well as alleviating anxiety, stress, inability to focus, and several other benefits. Not paradigms, mind you, but techniques. Actual, repeatable actions that can be empirically studied and proven. I believe that spiritual practices should be studied so as to refine and perfect any methods that show to support healthy brain development. To ignore the practical benefits of something, no matter how irrational the source, is illogical and unscientific. If we really are ignorant of almost 84% of reality as physicists are starting to conclude, then it would be arrogant to dismiss the bath before fishing for any babies.

And that’s about where I stand on the issues. Opinions change as more information becomes available, of course, and I expect mine to be subject to these laws. I highly recommend giving yourself permission to be wrong, and to then re-examine EVERYTHING you thought you knew about these “gods”, “spirits”, and “experiences” that you have. You never know: you may end up proving scientists wrong!

24 August 2012

Have You Seen My Info? (or, Identity for Sale)

Due to the corporate push to make credit card applicants out of every one of my customers, I recently quit Sear's. I was tired of being told that I wasn't doing a good enough job, so I figured what the hell, let's just look for a better job. Preferably one that doesn't involve me hawking credit cards for minimum wage ($7.25 at the time of this writing).

Today was supposed to be my last day, and my boyfriend told me that it would look good on my work history if I went to work. Deciding to test that hypothesis, I called the Human Resource department as two different employers seeking information about me as an employee. What I was told and went through really has opened my eyes to how the corporate world works.

First I called as a "Mr Hatcher" asking to verify that I worked at Sears. I was told that I did not work there (even though I am on the schedule on this, the final day of my two weeks' notice). I kindly thanked HR and hung up.

I texted my boyfriend and was told that he too thought it weird. After half an hour I called back as a "Judy" seeking information about an applicant. I was directed to a 1-800 number that was "manned" by a computer. The computer, after an ungodly amount of prompts, told "Judy" that she needed to go online to www.theworknumber.com in order to verify employment status and what not.

Feeling rather tiffed at this point, "Judy" went online only to find that to get information about her "applicant" would cost $20.

This is where I will pause to flesh out a thought. If a business can "earn" $20 for granting another business access to my information, why am I not earning a royalty for said info? Why is a business allowed to make money off the private information of its current and former employees while said employees are only earning minimum wage with no hope for a pay raise?

I spent nearly half an hour trying to figure out how to beat the web site program, but it was in vain. After raging for a few moments, I decided to flip a coin and let Fate decide whether I would attempt to make a "good impression" on a business that doesn't give a damn about me.

I'm at home now. Fate spoke. I hope they weren't counting on me, but then again, they had put me in the slowest section that hardly sees the light of customer activity. I think they will manage.

But my eyes have been opened to the nature of this business world now. It really is a racket designed to benefit those with the most money while we normal people work for a wage that is designed to keep us in poverty. Oh, and the credit apps we hawk? They make Sear's money regardless of whether the applicant is approved or not, and our $2 kickback per app is gutted by a 45% tax since it falls under the heading of "commission".

So what have I learned from this experience? Number 1: Sear's is a horrible place to work. If it comes between you working at Sear's or being homeless, I highly recommend being homeless. At least then you don't have the indignity of being a mindless drone that is sucked dry of energy and life for the sake of a sinking ship.

Number 2: Corporations engage in activities that may be legal, but they are far, far, FAR from ethical. Would you find it acceptable to be charged for information about the work history of an applicant to your business? Wouldn't you prefer to just call Human Resources and be told "Billy worked here from X/XX/XX to Y/YY/YY, and we would hire him again"?

Number 3: Fate is a really weak excuse to stay at home. It's far better to have a legitimate reason, such as protestation at the inability to get a reference of any sort from your former employer while they demand you show up to work for them at $7.25 an hour.

But really, this exercise in stupidity has shown me that not only do I have to decide whether or not I want to play by their rules, but also that if I want a job I have to accept the corporate world's abuse of human dignity and life. This is really frustrating to me because I believe people are more important than money, more important than a minimum wage job that refuses to pay them what they are worth. I believe the time has come for us to rise against the corporate model and demolish it. I personally hate money and the monetary system, but if we are going to do it in this country (USA) I say we invest in Mom and Pop stores that made possible the corporate world. At least then business will have a human face again.

11 July 2012

Dark Blue (No Doubt)

When I was a teenager, No Doubt was my band of choice. Something about the way Gwen's voice merged with the bass and drums, the ska feeling of the music, the way the lyrics really seemed to apply to my life... All of it really just made me feel as though I was experiencing something greater than myself. The music made me feel as though I could get through whatever Life or my mother threw at me. I would listen to their CDs for hours on end, the repeat button being my best friend as I wrote page after page after page after page of story, of dialogue and detail. Music was, and always has been, an accompaniment to my artistic process.

Now, after several years have elapsed into adulthood, I find myself returning to that place where I began to write. Music once more entwines itself around my life, every step, every stroke of the pen set the the rhythm of some song that moves this spirit inside me. It is the gentle hand stroking my contours as the words and deeds of other people flow through my body into the squiggles on the page. It is as familiar a friend to me now as Aksel and Luis, Elora and Gamma. The emotions they wish to feel spring from the moods and harmonies that spring from the music that fills this mind-space.

"Unlike you, I had it easy...
You're dark blue...
Stained from previous days..."

As I sit here and listen to Dark Blue by No Doubt, pulling the track back to start to let the bass guitar strum my heartstrings, I find myself remembering memories that have no images, no context. There are just the raw emotions of desire, of distance between two hearts that were rent asunder. The roar of the bass vibrates through my being, fishing from dark depths the strangest fish my imagination could create. They are a synthesis of the yearnings of my idealism and the gashes, inflicted by reality, that have scarred up nicely.

Whose memories are these? I wish that I could take credit for them, that I could claim them as my own, but I am only an observer to something bigger than my own ego. Just a conduit, I suppose, a vessel for some holy/profane spirit to pass through and animate the world of possibilities.

I wish that I could explain myself in a way that everyone understood. I wish that I was understood by those closest to me, rather than being looked at in that way that betrays limited understanding. Kangaroo syndrome again, perhaps? I don't know. All I know is that there is something deeper, more mysterious, of which we all know yet of which we are completely ignorant.

"I don't know where it is, but I know how to get there." --Dhao

In exploring Art I've found that the world is pregnant with possibility, alive with every color and shade. Certainty shrinks, while awe at the majesty of the Universe grows. Is this Madness? Is this what leads the Magus to quiet contemplation? Questions that may ultimately be meaningless.

All I know is this: I've come home, and while I don't recognize the decoration, I recognize the house.

23 June 2012

Only You Can Legalize Marijuana

I have had the pleasure of meeting several wonderful people over the years; people who have shared their happiness, people who have fed me when I was hungry, and people who have been there when the periodic crises of existence wash up dock-size ruins on the beaches of life. So many kind-hearted people who, like you and I, have their families and jobs and everyday hurdles to leap. These men and women work hard to earn a decent living, yet some of these people have been hit hard and dealt extra hurdles that some of us don't have to deal with.

Sure, you can sweep it under the rug, you can claim to be tired after work, that you'll get to it later, but the simple fact is

                Your reluctance to exercise civil duties is the reason someone sets in prison tonight.

That's right. There are thousands, if not millions, of people who were just as hungry, tired, or apathetic as you are, and because they happened to smoke a harmless herb they were arrested, tried, and convicted to spend a large chunk of their life in the same building with convicted rapists, murderers, gangsters, and thieves. Several have lost their jobs, their homes, and some have even lost their families over this intolerable prohibition.

The fact is that anyone who smokes marijuana is a criminal, under the current laws. That means several people you know, perhaps even the ones for whom you care most, are in the same category as Jeffrey Dahmer, O.J. Simpson, the Koch Brothers, Charles Manson, and the Boston Strangler. Yep, that's right. Bobby at the office, the one who works his ass off to support his pregnant wife and two kids, is no better than the scum who hold children down and put things where they don't belong.

All because you have been to lazy to get up and vote to legalize a plant that's safer than coffee.

Shame. On. You.

What's really disheartening is that several of you have drank alcohol in your lifetimes. Some still drink, some have stopped and now take anti-depressants, and almost all of you think that the current ways to regulate alcohol and prescription and OTC drugs are fair.

Meanwhile, Bobby was just pulled over on his way back from his co-worker's place. Joe works in the same department and sells weed on the side to make a little extra so that he can pay his child support and still have enough to live on.

Bobby had only bought a quarter of an ounce of weed for him and his wife to smoke. She has morning sickness so she takes a hit in the morning to combat the nausea, while he smokes at night to unwind after pushing paper and dealing with his asshole of a boss all day.

"Do you know why I pulled you over?" the officer asks Bobby.

"No, sir," Bobby says to the officer.

"Your tail light is out. I need to see your license and registration," the officer says.

Bobby panics, remembering that he had put the weed in the glove compartment. Same place as his registration papers. The officer waits politely while Bobby feels his intestines clench in fear.

I know you may be saying that Bobby should not be buying weed. Even I would be saying that, but only because it's probably low quality weed that was grown in Mexico, and I support only Made in the USA products.

The fact is that during the 1920s alcohol was treated exactly as marijuana is now. Prohibited. Punished. Drinkers were treated like Bobby will be when the officer sees the weed in his car. Everyone stood back and let the Law send their friends and family and coworkers to jail. Their crime? Drinking alcohol. Refusing to do as they were told.

They were exercising their right to pursue happiness, as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States of America and the Declaration of Independence.

It's the same thing now. As the judge finds Bobby guilty of possession of an illegal drug, Bobby thinks about how all of this pressure to conform has put his pregnant wife in the position of caring for their kids and earning an income. The morning sickness still hits her, and now the stress is wearing her down. She looks as though she has not stopped crying since Bobby called her from jail. She will have fresh tears all day.

Meanwhile, you're piddling on the 'net. You're listening to your music. You're playing your games. You're saying you're too tired from work to listen, to care about the welfare of another person.

I'm tired too.

I'm tired of knowing good people have been ruined by your egocentricity. I'm tired of knowing most of you drink and smoke weed yet don't try to help those who get caught. I'm tired of knowing most of you will find a way to rationalize the fact that Bobby's family is going through hell and nobody cares.

This is changing now.

You are going to educate yourself on the issues surrounding the "war" on drugs. You are going to sign petitions and vote to legalize marijuana because you're tired of your tax money being used to house prisoners rather than pave the roads and educate your children.

You are going to check out groups who are working to legalize pot, and you're going to do everything in your power to help them.

Because you are a good person. Because you care about your fellow humans. Because of your religion, your belief (or lack thereof) in a higher power.

We are going to make sure that Bobby's story remains fictional, that his wife can stay at home and focus on their children and her health. We're going to do this because only a hateful bully would make Bobby's story a reality.

We are going to change the world for the betterment of all.

17 June 2012

Marriage Is an Equal Rite

In case you haven't read my other blog posts, I am very much against special rights for hetero-sexed couples. I accept them for who they are, even if I disagree with the heterosexual lifestyle. I just believe that they are asking for special rights when it comes to marriage. As this is America, I believe everyone should have equal rights under the law.

When it comes to heterosexuality I understand that straight people have it difficult. Everyday they have to decide to stay in their lifestyle. Every time they meet someone new they have to worry about their dirty little secret coming to light. I know that being straight is hypothesized to be dgenetic, but does that mean that they have the right to marry their opposite sexed partner? I mean, most rapists are straight, as are pedophiles and murderers. Should people like that really have the right to be legally recognized?

No, I think not. I think that all those heterosexuals who say marriage is between one man and one woman should be rounded up and herded onto a remote island. Once there we could drop food once in a while. It wouldn't be long before they raped and murdered themselves, so we wouldn't have to spend much money in the long run.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

As you no doubt can tell, I believe the above arguments to be (oh, what's the polite word?) silly. Arguing against hetero-sexed marriage and homo-sexed marriage is just an exercise in wickedness really. Those who disagree with same-sex marriage are usually the same people who are racist, elitist, and hateful. Every argument I've heard against same-sex marriage is religious in origin; absolutely vile, it is. If God hates gays why does he make them to begin with?

Ultimately, things like One Million Moms and the Defense of Marriage Act are examples of a minority demanding special rights. A small group of Americans wants something special to be reserved for only one class of citizens. This is not only unethical, but un-American. It's like Jim Crow, but instead of being used to punish a group for being themselves, it is being used to set up some kind of bridal boutique elite.

If you truly believe that everyone is equal before God and the Law then it's only reasonable that you support same-sex marriage. To sit on the fence is merely to be a coward, and in the home of the brave there is no room for cowardice. Do the right thing. Agitate for equal rights for everyone.

14 June 2012

This Is Not an Article... Just a Note

So I've been working on several pieces of story over the last two weeks. I have another story up on Amazon (entitled "Yartir Defeats the Devourer"), have a third almost ready for the editing stage, and this morning I have spent the time fleshing out and reminding myself of the characters that I will be writing about very soon (as in, I want to start writing it now).

If you've taken the time to read any of my stories (either by purchasing them for $0.99 on Amazon or reading some of the free ones on Gay Authors... Check the link list on the top right hand of the page or click here), then you are already familiar with Yartir, Stonefoot, Rolling Rock, Shafon, Gamma, Alec, Elora, N'athir, and several other characters that inhabit this mind of mine. In fact, if you've read them you are probably wondering where the stories are going to go (all in due time, dear readers... I promise it will be good!). This other story I've started working on will fit in with the Outlaw/Machinerys cycle of stories, and while I plan on writing a few short stories to set up characters and events, the majority of the writing will center on a novella/novel type story that tells the tale of the Beckoner Luis, the Dhijob (pronounced "Gee-yohb", with a soft "g") Aksel, the Death Worker Bartholomew, and several other characters who will eventually play into the story of Gamma and Engedi.

If you haven't read any of my stories, then shame on you! :) You really should catch up so that you too can let me know what you think of the characters and where they should go. You see, I'm not only writing a mythos. I'm also creating a place where people who love stories can connect and be a part of the creation process. This is meant to be a chance to bring people together, and I would like to formally invite you to be a part of this dreaming. I want to introduce you to real magick, to show you that Art is not something abstract, but a living, breathing thing that connects us with beauty and reason.

Yeah... It's Idealism. But with the world of myth and story we can travel through Ideals and perhaps glimpse something bigger than ourselves. Consider it a chance to see God moving on the waters of the deep, or something like that. :)

Are you ready? Set? Read on! 

12 June 2012

That Twilight of the Soul

It's another one of those weird times, I suppose. Another moment in which everything is soaked in the whiskey-light of the afternoon sun. The cat is sitting on the record player, watching the world outside of the window.

Got another story uploaded to Amazon. This one is about a magician solving an ancient problem and how every Magus must overcome his or her or its own inner destructive urges. I wrote it a while ago, but just now polished it up and fleshed it out. I guess in a way it's my own attempt to stop being so destructive to myself, a way to finish what I start so that the Universe can act on it and take me where I need to go.

That's what's so weird about this time. It flows so differently than the 9-5 world. An hour's worth of work here may be worth ten hours wages later. Yeah, it's a gamble, but anything with money will be a game of chance; besides, if it's a gamble, then shouldn't I bet on myself?

Believe in yourself. Someone has to. I'll believe in you too, so you have two people on your side.

In the past, we believed that the only measure of success was in following the rules. I'm writing now to say that there are no rules, there is no "proper" way of doing anything. Make it up as you go along. I promise that it all works out exactly as it is meant to.

_let him/her/it with kenning hear_

-Thank you for your support. It's because of you that I feel the strength to continue walking this road. -( Raijen )-