January 14, 2013 § 10 Comments
Rachael Rice is an Oklahoma-born, Vermont-bred dream coach, artist, digital media maven, teacher and dreamcatcher maker — featured in the likes of People Magazine– living in Portland, Oregon. We met at an event offering free workshops for women — I was leading a poetry workshop and she was teaching a class on making dreamcatchers. Her creations and creative spirit alike are inspiring to behold.
Rachael, I’ve been calling 2013 the year of the dream. I saw the other day on your Facebook page that you’ve coined the same term! Dream actualization is in the air! Transformative culture is on the rise. What are your thoughts on this moment of history in which we find ourselves and the role of the dreamer in the modern age?
Well I think it’s some pretty intense karma to be alive now. I mean, now we really know about the consequences of our actions: how unlimited growth doesn’t work in a closed system like Earth, how coal and combustion engines make polar bears grip their tiny ice shards. We have more awareness than ever of the scope of human suffering — AND potential.
I choose to put all my energy into working with others who are building whatever is coming next. I don’t get real upset about politics because I don’t think the answers to the world’s problems are going to come from the government (although it would benefit greatly I think from a presence of women commensurate in proportion to its electorate) — I think the answers to the world’s problems will come from creatives: artists, dreamers, song-singers, and the like.
So I began to notice that I’d sit down with someone to talk about her website, and we’d end up talking about whether or not she wanted kids, or the fact that she really wanted to forgive her sister, or quit her day job and be a writer. So the conversation about branding quickly turned to the Big Dream, what we want out of life, and I found that I was pretty good at using the online branding process to help clients achieve more clarity about what they really wanted to be doing. Now I have a group of women that I coach in what I’m calling Dream School: A Solopreneur Salon for Creatives. We get together and use various tools — everything from smudge sticks to Danielle Laporte’s Desire Map to Seth Godin’s blog to Tara Gentile‘s writing about money to Pixie Campbell‘s SouLodge animal wisdom teachings. It’s a very spiritual, very practical approach to running a business as a creative person.
Well the dreamcatcher originated with the Ojibwa Nation and were often used above a child’s cradle, as a mobile to capture and filter out the bad dreams (there are various iterations of this theme). The Pan-Indian movement of the 60′s and 70′s saw the dreamcatcher popularized as a uniting image, and it has certainly become quite commercialized and appropriated by white girls like me since then. I grew up in a time when “multiculturalism” was part of arts education and I learned to make them in Oklahoma, much as you would learn to make snowshoes or Ukrainian eggs.
Then I became a public school art teacher and explored all manner of indigenous and non-western art and craft. Now there’s a lot more mindfulness (or there should be) around cultural appropriation so I understand it’s tricky to create art inspired by Native American imagery. The spiritual nature of the objects I create exists only as an expression of what I think is beautiful, I claim no heritage other than the space occupied by my own heart. They are not marketed as sacred objects (though they are to me, but so is my guitar). I use mostly salvaged materials, and as much as possible I source my feathers from happy birds on farms. I donate to the Native American Youth and Family Association of Portland, as a token of thanks.
What advice would you give to people trying to break through issues of anxiety, depression, creative stagnation and/or self-doubt?
I share this issue. I would call it a spiritual assignment. I’ve had some serious trauma in life that has resulted in the need for clinical support. I do believe in therapy (I’m a fan of the alphabet soup evidence-based therapies like CBT, DBT, and especially ACT). But therapy is like food, you have to try a lot of it to find out what you like. And some of us need medication, as over-prescribed as it is. Prozac is my friend. I haven’t tried ayahuasca yet but certainly psychedelic drugs have influenced my capacity to wonder.
I love 12-Step work, because of its accountability, and its helpfulness in dismantling egoic narcissism. You don’t have to believe in God(s) to have a higher power, you know? I adore the work of Pema Chodron, Thich Nhat Hahn, Eckart Tolle and all those folks talking about the nature of the soul. I think body centered practices like EFT tapping, yoga, and other healing modalities can get to places that talk-based therapies can’t reach. You know, none of these approaches work unless you’re really willing to be very, very VERY uncomfortable. And a lot of people aren’t. They’re very attached to their stories about themselves, their Pain Bodies, the narratives imposed upon them by the operating system downloaded into their bodies by their DNA, their parents, their society.
My advice is to stay away from alcohol and read about Acceptance & Commitment Therapy. Get a sense of the Observer Self that’s there all the time, no matter how you’re feeling. Cultivate gratitude. Every single day. We have every modern convenience, every imaginable advantage. If you don’t believe me, go turn your water on and off. There is no excuse to not have a life that is meaningful and rewarding, full of connection and service.
We over-emphasize the mind in our culture. We think it’s important to not have negative thoughts a lot. Well, some of us were programmed to have a lot of negative thoughts. That’s not such a big deal. The sun will become a red giant and in 10,000 years none of it will matter, you don’t have to take your negative thoughts and feelings so seriously. Pay attention to the activities that make time fly by, to the things that give your life meaning. And choose behaviors that align with those things, no matter what your mind may be doing. This will often be really uncomfortable. It’s the yoga of the development. But the amazing thing is that, if you choose different behaviors, you’ll have different feelings!
Try to view all your relationships as assignments from your soul. Entertain the possibility that your soul chose this body, and these circumstances, at this time, to best learn how to be at home in your own heart.
You’ve described yourself as a “living, breathing dream catcher.” I love this idea. Can you describe for us how others might achieve this?
Figure out how you want to feel (specifically, not just generically) and identify actions that create those feelings. Like, I want to feel expanded, inspired, abundant, divinely feminine, and useful. I can’t feel that way and have a normal day job. But other people can.
My new thing is to buy the coffee of the person behind me in a drive-through, especially if I’m feeling particularly contracted around money. It shifts everything for me, and I get to drive away before they can even thank me! Awesome!! Abundance is a feeling, and I have plenty. Pay attention to how your body feels in reaction to your environment. To the food you eat. To the conversations you have. If you’re unsure of your soul’s purpose, try to help others in some way. Be of service. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Surround yourself with people who make you feel more like yourself. I spend 80% of my time alone, and that’s ok. I’m sensitive. Always be asking, “why do I want this?” And notice, right in this moment, you are safe.
Is there a particular philosophy by which you live your life?
I dig engaged Buddhism. I think it’s important to know the land we walk on, to re-indigenize ourselves: where my water comes from, what plants are edible, who was here before me, from which direction do storms blow in. I believe in forgiveness.
What would you say is your number one inspiration?
The natural world. Or Lady Gaga. It’s a toss-up.
September 22, 2012 § 28 Comments
“The whole universe exists inside you. Ask all from yourself.” ~Rumi
“And we, we who embody the local eyes and ears and thoughts and feelings of the cosmos, we have begun at least to wonder about our origins — star stuff contemplating the stars, organized collections of ten billion billion billion atoms, contemplating the evolution of nature, tracing that long path by which it arrived at consciousness here on the planet earth, and perhaps throughout the cosmos.” ~ Carl Sagan, Cosmos: Who Speaks For Earth
Ken Carey had been off the grid for a decade, living a simple farm life in harmony with nature, when, in a state of high fever, he penned the slim classic Starseed Transmissions in 1978. Carey’s description of the experience proceeding his dictation echoes the transpersonal state of transcendent awareness long reported by mystics:
“Everything that touched my senses, every nuance of sound and light, every object in the room felt as intimate to me as the lungs through which I breathed, as inseparable, as personal. Insights did not come as flashes but as things I had always known, truths so obvious it was hard to believe I could have forgotten them.” (The Starseed Transmissions, introduction, 1995 edition.)
The narrator identifies itself as a force that “comes from the Presence where there is no time but the eternal now,” describing itself as a member of a race of spirit beings who have been evolving alongside humanity in a parallel universe of non-form:
“We are you, yourself, in the distant past and distant future. We are you as you were, would have been and still are, had you not fallen from your original state of grace.”
The angelic messenger from the stars describes this falling from grace, not as moral corruption, but as the state of fear and disconnection humans entered as they became lost in the” materializing process,” forgetful of their spiritual counterparts and interconnected origins. In effect, the book purports to be a voice from the realm where our spirits wait, calling us home.
The narrator describes a state of harmonious connectivity in which humanity would flourish:
“In the fallen state of consciousness, each human being functions in disregard of the song of Life that is going on in others. There is no harmony, no direction, no arrangement. You are like the random notes of an orchestra before the conductor unifies the instruments in symphony. The Grand Conductor is calling everyone to attention, calling now to remembrance of unity and purpose, reminding all that the time has come to stop tuning separate instruments and begin to accept the direction of One who understands the whole.
“As you begin to pay attention to the direction of the Conductor within, you will begin to play to the rhythm of the Planetary Symphony, harmonizing with the others of your species and with all of life.” (Ken Carey’s, Starseed Transmissions.)
In many ways, Ken Carey’s Starseed Transmissions echoes Timothy Leary’s “Starseed: Transmissions from Folsem Prison,” published five years prior. Obviously, the names are similar, though it is unclear whether Carey had ever read Leary’s piece. It seems unlikely that Carey would have been exposed to Leary’s short, pamphlet-like work, as Carey was undergoing a decade long media fast on a farm in rural Missouri at the time of writing Starseed.
The central theme of both starseed works is that humanity’s destiny lies in the stars. Both imagine a future galactic human, evolved past our current point, who would ascend into the heavens and begin what both texts describe as our true quest…An image we see appearing even earlier, in 1968, in the last scene of Stanley Kubrick’s acclaimed “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
So according to Ken Carey’s angelic/extraterrestrial messenger, we are all Starseeds. We all have other worldly origins and the homesickness we feel is spiritual in nature, a longing for divine reconnection.
The primary criticisms lobbied against starseed-identified individuals is that it is escapist, and originates out of the desire to feel special. Though many starseeds keep their thoughts about their identity to themselves for that very reason, there are many who build elaborate sites detailing rank, home-world histories, etc.
Usually those who get into details of hierarchical order describe a “Galactic Federation of Light,” the “Galactic Council” or “The Ashtar Command.” Many channelers claim to be in touch with beings from other planets in our solar system, describing a leader named Sunat Kumara – details about which a surprising number of people agree. Personally, I don’t relate with these very specific renderings — but perhaps those people who do, have reason to do so.
Scott Mandelker, Ph.D. author of From Elsewhere: Being ET in America, notes ”… I found that within the group of people who recognized themselves as cosmic visitors were individuals both clear and confused, humble and grandiose, active in service or passive in self absorption. Like any other group of people, I found all types – yet those who I considered a bit off-balance did not detract from the genuine reality of extraterrestrial incarnation. Even ET souls are not perfectly enlightened — and even less so when they take human form!”
Yet many “men and women…never spoke about being from such and such planet, unless somebody directly asked them. They had no need to impress anyone with rank or title… They made no big deal about being different; they were too busy teaching, writing, healing, counseling, creating, planning and organizing activities that might be of benefit totheir community.” (SOURCE)
Lately, ET culture has gone so mainstream that Katy Perry is singing pop songs about alien abduction: In “E.T.” she describes the ambiguity, fear and romantic draw surrounding this newest of cultural obsessions: “You’re so hypnotizing/Could you be the devil?/Could you be an angel?…”
The chorus is particularly troubling: ”Kiss me, kiss me/Infect me with your love and/Fill me with your poison/Take me, take me/Wanna be a victim/Ready for abduction…”
While most likely just a sign that the fringe-dweller’s sci-fi fascination has reached mainstream status and is currently “on the collective mind,” many find the weird romanticization of abduction propaganda-esque.
Predator/prey imagery, featuring wild carnivores chasing and consuming defenseless herbivores, are spliced in among eroticized alien-human relations, resulting in Perry appearing, in the last scene, with goat-legs. She is also notably featured as a romanticized Gray alien being flung through the far reaches of the cosmos, imploring Kanye West, playing an alien, to “take her, infect her with his poison, abduct her,” etc.
Perhaps the somewhat grotesque portrayal of cosmic themes in videos like Perry’s is due, less to nefarious connections, and more to the inevitable sensationalism and debasement of consumer-based production.
However, imagery like this, combined with the perceived onslaught of alien invasion films in the past decade, have many wondering if they are being brainwashed or desensitized in preparation for a coming ET event. There are numerous online sites dedicated to keeping an eye on the progress of this theory.
It is possible that both the creepy, conspiracy “alien agenda” angle and the love-based-starseed-in-service-to-the-planet slant are two sides of the same coin. Perhaps the love-based starseeds have come in special numbers at this time as a line of defense. But it’s easy to get lost in labyrinthian conspiracy theories…
Panning back from this micro-focus, we see that it is not so odd that we should be culturally obsessed with our identities in relation to the larger galactic picture…
We are the first waves of humans, that we know of, to have come of age in an era where space travel is a natural part of life, and images of our place in the universe, via Hubble Telescope photography, is available for everyone to see.
Whether or not you believe the surrounding mythos, it seems significant that sites like www.starseed.net has 7000 + members; www.ashtarcommandcrew.net boasts a community of over 10,000 members! The shared goals of those identifying with this burgeoning movement of cosmic consciousness is consistently transformational in nature. All feel innately within the core of their being that we live in a time of great change, great potential and certainly, also, danger — though it is the possibility upon which most choose to focus their energies.
People associated with transformational culture invariably feel that they have a mission to be of service to the planet at this time. Inevitably there is a call towards compassion, justice, harmony, community, freedom, self-expression, environmental awareness, personal growth, the presence of the divine within all things and the connectedness of all humanity. Whether these worthy goals are fulfilled, or remain intentions only, the inspiration behind them seems culturally progressive.
Whether these galactic generations feel the affinities they do because their souls are truly extraterrestrial, or because the stark gap between their ideals and the reality of the world makes them feel alien to modern culture, seems less important than the fact that this is a genuine, far-reaching movement with apparently positive ideals.
In many ways cosmic language has replaced religious terminology. People will say “one with the Universe” in the same way that they used to say “one with God;” terms like “universal love” replace phrases like “God’s love.” This is just semantics. Understandably, many in the cosmic generations feel the word God has been abused in the name of unloving principals. In these cases, secular language feels more fresh and personal, but it is no less mystical a statement to assert one’s connection with the universe, particularly when most mystical traditions agree that God is within all.
On a personal note, as a child I had never heard of of”star children” or “starseeds,” yet I felt instinctively that I was from elsewhere and that I was on a mission. I also saw a UFO as a child, in broad daylight; a slim silver disc, which appeared not horizontal but upright and emitted a beautiful rainbow contrail. The sighting was serendipitous, as I only saw it fly over my head because I had slipped on a rock. I’ve had other paranormal experiences throughout my life — clairvoyance, seeing energy and auras. So in light of this, I do find this subject — which I can easily imagine seeming totally “out there” for many people — fascinating.
Whatever the details, we find ourselves now in a unique position: the first series of human generations to grow up knowing what our galaxy looks like; knowing there are more galaxies than grains of sand in all the worlds beaches, and as many possible worlds. We feel ourselves in the growing pains of transforming from what humans have been, to all we seek to become.
*Parallax Give-Away: make a comment on this post (click on “comments” under the title) and win a copy of Ken Carey’s Starseed Transmissions. (Names of all who comment will be placed in a drawing, one name selected.)
August 11, 2012 § 17 Comments
Some part of our being knows this is where we came from. We long to return. And we can. Because the cosmos is also within us. We’re made of star-stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself. ~ Carl Sagan
We are stardust ~ billion year old carbon. We are golden ~ caught in the devil’s bargain. And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden. ~ Joni Mitchell
Long before man went to the moon, he looked up at the stars and pondered his place in the cosmos.
Many a soul has looked up to the shimmering panorama of the night sky and felt a kinship, perhaps with a certain star or constellation. Many experience a sense of longing, as if some key to their existence might be hidden there.
It’s not just a poetic line. In a very real way we are made of stardust.
All the elements necessary to create life — carbon, nitrogen, iron, to name a few–were first forged in the nuclear furnace of a stellar explosion. And so every atom in the human body came, originally, from a dying star, propelled outward into the universe.
Countless books, movies, songs and legends reflect our sense of kinship with these burning bodies of celestial light, so seemingly different from our own bodies of flesh and bone…From radio hits about being “all made of stars” to Native American oral traditions, which describe human origins and helpers from the heavens.
In the past century, we have witnessed a renaissance of human thought, now aided by the information age. At the same time, we have seen an incredible amount of bloodshed and suffering. Is it getting better or getting worse? Apocalyptic prophesies abound. But so does talk of an awakening.
Over the past half century, connected with this idea of awakening, the terms “Starseed,” “Starborn,” and “Star Children” have become a part of the fringe cultural dialogue.
The idea has formed within this multi-generational conversation that some souls are “not from here.” Many mystically inclined would argue that none of us are spiritually “from here,” and the starseed concept is compatible with this idea. The theory goes that these souls, the starseeds, have incarnated more often in other solar systems; that earth is not their home planet.
According to Scott Mandleker, Ph.D., author of From Elsewhere: Being ET in America, recurring themes among starseed identified individuals include feeling alien to contemporary human culture; disconnection from, and even disgust with, accepted norms…a deep spiritual longing and the sense that, not only is there more to life than meets the eye, but they have a mission to fulfill. Many have had extra-dimensional or ESP encounters, which have affirmed their sense of differentness and sensitivity.
There is usually a strong connection with nature and the stars, an interest in space, science fiction, other worlds, ancient cultures, environmentalism and human potential…perhaps even homesickness for a place they’ve never known in this life.
Many starseeds feel they have chosen to forget their other worldly origins in order to grow up on human terms and blend into the culture — though most feel the intention was to eventually “wake up” to their true calling as paradigm-pushers and ‘spiritual beings having a human experience,’ (as the Pierre Teilhard de Chardin quote goes.)
Though in some rare cases, starseeds feel they’ve been exiled to earth, the majority feel their intergalactic mission stems from the compassionate desire to help nudge humanity onto the path of its destined awakening.
Starseeds, without fail, intuit the civilizations from which they’ve come have moved beyond earth’s current state of divisive turmoil into a phase beyond war, disconnection and bloodshed. For this reason, starseeds invariably find themselves looking to serve humanity, choosing vocations which center around healing, teaching, human potential, the arts, environmental assistance and social outreach.
Most feel their own path of awakening, their spiritual journey, is of utmost importance in order to truly live the new paradigm they wish to exemplify.
Though the stuff of science fiction, and many would say wishful thinking, the phenomenon has been felt by so many isolated individuals, unprompted – only later to be united by a website, a conversation, or a book — that it truly deserves some investigation by the open minded among us. And it could be science fiction itself is a product of productive starseed types, exploring inner worlds which lead them inevitably to worlds beyond their own.
The most common take on this intuitive knowledge is that these interstellar souls have come as artists, visionaries, dreamers and pioneers of thought to assist in humanity’s impending rebirth, to act as midwives through the inevitable labor pains.
Psychedelic icon Timothy Leary may have been the first to use the word “Starseed” in his short work, “Starseed: Transmissions from Folsom Prison.”
He penned “Starseeed” while serving time on charges of marijuana possession, for which he was issued a 95 year sentence — an unheard of amount of time for the crime committed. While officially held on drug charges, at the hearing the judge remarked: ”If he is allowed to travel freely, he will speak publicly and spread his ideas.” (Jesse Walker, “The Acid Guru’s Long Strange Trip.”)
President Richard Nixon had earlier labeled Leary “the most dangerous man in America.” (“Tim Leary, Pied Piper of Psychedelic 60′s.”) To have the president of the United States call a pacifist author-philosopher by this title should tell you something about the repressive state of affairs in which free thinkers find themselves.
Yet the irrepressible psychedelic spiritualist continued his work from jail, writing in 1973:
“This signal is being transmitted from a cell in Folsom Prison, which is the Black Hole of American society [...] Some cosmologists suggest that Black Holes [...] may be passageways to another universe, just as the manholes in Paris lead to a world beneath the street. Well, the maximum security prision is a fine place from which to scane the universe [...]
“Out here, beyond good and evil, one sees America in pain, injured nervous systems propelling robot-bodies in repitiuous, aimless motion along paths labeled rights and wrong…”
Yet Leary remained fiery with optimism:
“The entire universe is gently, rhythmically, joyously vibrating. Cosmic intercourse. This is a message of hope and interstellar love from the Black Hole. Irrepressible optimism. Yes, it is true that repressive pessimists now control planetary politics. This is a larval phase.”
At this time, Leary had begun receiving what he believed were telepathic messages from outer space, presumably the genesis for “Starseed.” He began to see man’s true means of spiritual transcendence as coming from the stars:
“[...].certainly the anticipation of ‘saucers’ transporting humanoid bodies is naive. It is more likely that extra-planetary contact will be received by the instrument which was designed over three and a half billion years ago to pick up electro-magnetic vibrations. The human nervous system itself [...]
“This message of neurological resonance can be censored, imprisoned but cannot be crushed because it comes from within, from the DNA nucleus inside each cell, from the evolving nervous system. The Higher Intelligence has already stepped on planet earth and its script is writ within our bodies, emerging in every generation.” ( Click this link to read the full piece online.)
(He did end up getting an early release, after five years, and resumed his energetic career, this time with emphasis on man’s place within the cosmos.)
To take the Starseed Test, click here! (Normally, I don’t put much stock in these, but this is a good one, composed by licensed psychologist and writer, Scott Mandleker, author of From Elsewhere: Being ET in America, which we’ll examine in the next installment of the Parallax starseed series.)
November 26, 2011 § 35 Comments
“It is advertising and the logic of consumerism that governs the depiction of reality in the mass media.” ~ Christopher Lasch
“Who covets more, is evermore a slave.” ~ Robert Herrick
So named to imply the state of profit for retailers known as being “in the black,” Black Friday, which should perhaps be renamed Bloody Friday, is getting darker every year.
in 2008 a 34-year-old Long Island Wal-Mart employee was trampled to death by a crowd of product-and-savings-crazed customers who pushed the door off its hinges before the store was open, chanting, “Push the doors in.”
“She was competitive shopping,” quipped Los Angeles Fire Captain, James Carson. But it has apparently become a bloody sport.
In San Leandro, California, a family was accosted by two men demanding their recently purchased products in a park. In what could be called misguided attachment, the family refused to fork over the loot, and the assailant opened gunfire. The victim was rushed to the hospital in critical condition.
In a less bloody but equally poignant example of the madness, a grandpa in Phoenix, Arizona, was slammed to the ground by amped up police for putting a game in his waistband to lift his grandson up over the crowd.
People are blaming the economy, but in this author’s opinion that’s a flimsy excuse. We’re not talking about food here. We’re talking about stuff. Gadgets, games, flat screen TVs. These are luxury items. And yet the madness is being framed increasingly in the light of class.
A conspiracy theorist might point out how much more convenient it is for us to turn on each other than to recognize the problem of our blatant overconsumption.
Yesterday, The New York Times, for instance, commented that,”Budget-minded shoppers will be racing for bargains at ever-earlier hours while the rich mostly will not be bothering to leave home.”
The rich, and also the wise, not willing to suffer the bloody sport of “competitive shopping” in the name of material acquisition.
In an article for Business Week elaborating on the class angle, Dan Beucke discusses the subject with Marshal Cohen, the chief industry analyst of The NPD Group, which studies consumers and retailing:
“Time and again, Cohen saw consumers whose shopping reach had exceeded their spending grasp. A credit card maxes out and a member of the shopping party is sent outside to collect another card from the waiting car. Or the cashier offers up a sub-total and the shopper starts striking items until the bill fits the cash on hand.”
The story is supposed to illustrate the budget-strained struggles of a pressured working class. But is there a deeper story going on?
It seems more symptomatic of a mentality that people are willing to spend their last dollar on, go into debt for, “stuff.”
Again, these are luxury items people are buying. They are not necessities. The perversion of the American dream has resulted in a bloated, yet ever-hungry consumeristic monster.
The only difference between the Black Friday people pinning sales clerks against the wall in their rush to snatch their plastic prize and the consumers who stay home and buy their shiny toys another day is spectacle.
To call this simply an issue of recession is to read the situation on a very superficial level. Rather, we must assume it is indicative of a gross misplacement of priority. What else can we call it when people become so crazed for things that a fellow human being becomes just one more obstacle between themselves and an XBox?
As economist Paul Heyne notes, ”The gap in our economy is between what we have and what we think we ought to have – and that is a moral problem, not an economic one.”
“Experts in ancient Greek culture say that people back then didn’t see their thoughts as belonging to them. When ancient Greeks had a thought, it occurred to them as a god or goddess giving an order. Apollo was telling them to be brave. Athena was telling them to fall in love. Now people hear a commercial for sour cream potato chips and rush out to buy, but now they call this free will. At least the ancient Greeks were being honest.”
And so we, as conscientious dreamers, must ask ourselves, as the crazed shoppers of Black Friday do not, what are we really hungry for? And what should we truly be feeding that hunger inside?
I say feed it experience, feed it human relationship, feed it books (you don’t have to buy them, go to the library!) feed it art (every museum has a free admission day!) feed it good music (in the city weekly papers, there are always free music events!) Feed it the sound of the wind in the trees, and rivers running. Feed it campfire stories, the sky and the stars. Feed it significance through reading, thinking, dreaming. Feed it love. Feed it beauty. Feed it knowledge.
We are hungry, but as a nation we are stuffing ourselves with metaphorical and literal junk food. If you’re reading this, you already know this. So what can we do?
In the bracing and vitalizing words of fellow journeyer Terrence McKenna:
“We have to create culture, don’t watch TV, don’t read magazines, don’t even listen to NPR. Create your own roadshow. The nexus of space and time where you are now is the most immediate sector of your universe, and if you’re worrying about Michael Jackson or Bill Clinton or somebody else, then you are disempowered, you’re giving it all away to icons, icons which are maintained by an electronic media so that you want to dress like X or have lips like Y.
This is shit-brained, this kind of thinking. That is all cultural diversion, and what is real is you and your friends and your associations, your highs, your orgasms, your hopes, your plans, your fears. And we are told ‘no’, we’re unimportant, we’re peripheral. ‘Get a degree, get a job, get a this, get a that.’ And then you’re a player, you don’t want to even play in that game. You want to reclaim your mind and get it out of the hands of the cultural engineers who want to turn you into a half-baked moron consuming all this trash that’s being manufactured out of the bones of a dying world.”
What form does this take? You decide.
For me it takes the form of writing this blog and informs the direction of my work. It takes the form of conversations with fellow journeyers and conscious decisions to identify, and sometimes curtail, the buying urge that’s been implanted in my brain via psychological programming. Of recognizing and celebrating my difference from mainstream consumer-based culture and its distorted value system, and in further investigating how I can be part of creating something better.
For George Carlin, it took the form of fantastically searing philosophical comedic diatribes:
December 24, 2010 § 18 Comments
“We are the music-makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams. ~ Arthur O’Shaughnessy
We live in a world of dead men’s dreams. Our reality, the society that has been conditioning our perception from the day of our birth, is a construction built upon a construction built upon ideas from other minds, long dead. Their creations compose our world and make up the maps of our psyches, a collective human inheritance.
Today, staring at a red light in the shape of an arrow, waiting to get on the freeway, I was suddenly struck by my — and everyone’s — trancelike acceptance of the symbol. I noted how automatic my responses to the direction had been: I stopped calmly and waited until the light turned green, a perfectly reasonable thing to do, except, in that moment, I felt unusually aware of the lab rat-like nature of my obedience. Stranger still, I realized I had never noticed the phenomenon before, because it had always been that way.
Green light: go. Red light: stop. Yellow: slow down. It’s as if we are on a motorized conveyer belt with an array of endless arrows telling us where to go. Apart from the occasional miscalculation, our roads, our cities, our skies, run like the inside of a well-oiled machine. Sitting there, waiting for the arrow to go green, I imagined looking down from an airplane at the grid-work of cities, the straightness of sidewalks, the neat ribbons of car rooftops. Stop. Go. Cogs and wheels. The machine of the city, like the inside of a clock.
It is no wonder I feel most peaceful in nature — a thing not of man, pure; from before him and beyond him.
Our education starts young. We are groomed for the world from the age of three or four: sit quietly, yield to authority and accept the accepted view of reality. Anything that falls outside of this perimeter is systematically dismissed. If we persist in perceiving differently, the acid rain of materialist reality is released upon us “for our own good.”
We aren’t taught to ask questions but rather to regurgitate articulately. We go to school and learn the rules. Then, when we’re of age, we get a job and try to play the learned rules better than our peers so we can make money and survive.
In a basic sense, this rule playing to survive is the only option given us. The alternative is homelessness, insanity. There are other options, of course, and many brave souls do live the unfettered life of the irrepressible spirit within these thinly populated margins. But it’s damn hard, against the grain, and the majority of people get funneled into the general conveyer belt of The System, spending all day at work in order to afford the house or apartment they leave empty five days a week to go to work.
As we all know, but rarely stop to consider the wild absurdity of, part of the Education involves some very highly regarded paper notes printed by The System to represent worth. We are told that some of these notes are worth more than others. Some are worth enough to exchange for a yacht and others are worth enough for only a cup of coffee. The only difference between these two notes is the symbols on their faces.
I think despite our Education everyone has had the passing thought that we’ve been duped. As we all know, this Monopoly money isn’t even backed by it’s worth in gold anymore. Though gold has its own hollow ring — you can’t eat it, it provides no information, and functions solely as a signifier — at least it has a tangibility. But The System ran out of gold years ago, and just kept printing bills. So after spending all day at work we are given a handful of Monopoly money for our trouble. “Here ya go!” says The System, patting Its worker bee on the head. “Some nice crisp colored paper!!! Isn’t it pretty?”
Once we are equipped with our colored paper symbols, we are bombarded by advertisers who seek to steal our image of ourselves as we exist without their product, and sell it back to us, “upgraded,” in exchange for the paper notes we have earned with our labor. Far from inspired to grow vivid dreams, we are encouraged by media everywhere to overeat bad food and shop our cares away. It’s not personal, it’s marketing. But how many commercials does an average American watch in a lifetime? Billions. It would be impossible to be completely unaffected by such a bombardment.
MBG recently underwent some criticism for creating a commercial that literally burned the image of their logo onto the inside of movie-goers retinas, utilizing the phenomenon that happens when you look at the sun and then close your eyes, leaving an ‘after-image’ for several moments on the inside of the eyelids. But how different is this really from what regular commercials are doing everyday?
In this world of advertisers who steal our images of ourselves, this time of speedy sound bites and cheap entertainment, a newer/bigger/faster culture of diversion seems to be developing. Writer Nicholas Carr speculates that our constant Internet trolling is remodeling our brains to make it nearly impossible for us to give sustained attention to a long piece of writing. He wonders if modern man’s addiction to technology is weakening his ability to engage in deep thought.
Tests show that internet perusal activates the “seeker” instinct in man left over from foraging days, so that when a quest for online information is initiated, the promise of obtaining a new nugget of social interaction or trivia sets the dopamine flowing in our brains. But research suggest that, chemically, the actual payoff is less exciting than the anticipation. In affect, an obsessive loop can be activated, leaving us continually pressing the lever for another crumb.
Modern culture seems to do everything it can to ignore feeding the imagination. While some films do generate spectacular visuals, and even mental-emotional exploration at their best, movie-viewing is a passive experience. The image is generated for us by other minds, and viewers become happily immersed in an alternate reality. With the rising popularity and marketing push behind 3D movies, today’s cinema experience is beginning to look more and more like a “feely” out of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.
“Going to the Feelies this evening, Henry?” enquired the Assistant Predestinator. “I hear the new one at the Alhambra is first-rate. There’s a love scene on a bearskin rug; they say it’s marvelous. Every hair of the bear reproduced. The most amazing tactual effects…”
In our tick-tock world we are encouraged to function like clockwork, prescribed medication when we aren’t integrating well with society, and given our jollies at the feelies.
“We have been metamorphosised from a mad body dancing on hillsides to a pair of eyes staring in the dark.”
– J. Morrison
For centuries, the medicine men and women of ancient indigenous cultures have utilized the dissociative affects of psychotropic substances to step outside of the hive mind and brush with possibility; to travel in inner space and bring back dreams and stories to stimulate the imagination of the tribe. I find it interesting that these substances, which might open up new ways of thinking, are illegal in our culture, but consumption of the cancer-causing distraction of cigarettes and the numbing agent of alcohol is legal and actively encouraged (shades of 1984‘s Victory Gin.)
What is to be done then, once it becomes clear that we are living in a reality inherited by long dead others? The first thing is to step outside of it as much as possible. Awareness is key. And then what, after deconstruction? Endless analysis? What really can be done? Society will not disappear. Enter The Dreamer.
The role of the dreamer is the same as the philosopher, the artist, the social critic, the wizard or shaman, and s/he has had the same noble destiny for all of time: to stimulate the imagination of society.
During times when philosophical complacency runs high and value for the arts and the humanities runs low, it is the moral and metaphysical obligation of every Dreamer to speak their truth as best they can in whatever medium most excites them. It is the destiny of every Dreamer to bring aliveness to the mechanized time, provocation to the complacent culture.
In order to engage in the original thought necessary to provide the world with stimulating observations, The Dreamer must affectively step outside of the mental grid of society and perceive the world from a birds eye view.
We must question everything we have been taught and hereto assumed. We must seek new information of worth and be on a constant mission to set the imagination on fire. There is so much beauty available, so many notes left behind by others before us who have questioned the way we live. To combat the mechanized plastic consumeristic worldview infiltrating our minds everyday from the outside, we must consciously seek experiences that feed the soul.
We must give ourselves time to dream, to exist in undisturbed silence and nature, to ruminate on our lives and question reality.
As the advertisement-driven Western World slowly succeeds in covering the globe with McDonald arches and brand name blurbs, as people become more and more addicted to the instant gratification of pop technology, we are increasingly in danger of losing the impulse to dream. Without vision, without self-questioning, we lose our way.
Dreamers are in high demand these days. This is a call to arms. Can you be a professional dreamer? I for one am certainly going to try.