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Bold New Art for Turbulent Times

Psychological and spiritual problems are everywhere – at all ages. It’s all part of the times we are going through. Major changes in society and within individuals. My last post was on Comfortably Numb , which is an attempt to avoid and cover up the pain.

I’ve just learned of an artist who was confronting his own pain head on, as he explored it in his music. Lil Peep was just 21 when he passed yesterday from an apparent overdose. Esquire magazine has a nice piece on him, which I am sure will raise people’s awareness of him outside of his normal audience. This is how I found out about the artist.

GQ magazine also wrote a piece on Lil Peep in August of this year. They saw him as the next step in rap evolution. Obviously there is more to this than one artist, but it’s good to see focus on real evolution.

Lil Peep is being hailed as a new rap artist who is exploring deeper emotions than usually found in popular music. His death is clearly a loss, but I am sure that we will see much more exploration of these deeper issues in music in the future. People are in pain and comfortably numb is not working.

Our modern western society often considers emotions and pain to be self-indulgent and unnecessary. Work hard. Think positive. Get over it. Self-indulgence is always possible with any emotion, but emotions are central to our lives. Emotions are teachers and guides for our lives and they cannot be ignored without paying a huge price. I see this as all part of our accelerating evolution right now. It is only going to intensify and we will get and need more artists like Lil Peep.

Comfortably Numb but the Dream Never Goes Away

Nothing moves me more than music. Pink Floyd has remained one of my favorite bands.

Comfortably Numb is a great song and too often it’s the aim of people in modern societies. And there are more businesses dedicated to this goal  than you could ever count. This is not a new development in the world, but it is being developed into a fine art with all of the distractions we have now.

Bread and circuses was the term used as far back as 100 AD to describe how a population could be distracted from more important concerns to permit politicians to rise to power. I think it has a much wider applicability to our lives in general. Some people value political engagement, while I am more concerned about soul engagement. Soul engagement is exploring within yourself to become more – become the whole person that lies within, as an oak tree is in the acorn.

Comfortably numb blunts that life force within. For me the song speaks to the sleep that so many of us are in, and often seek, away from the call of our souls – the voice within each one of us.

Hello? Hello? Hello?

Is there anybody in there?
Just nod if you can hear me
Is there anyone at home?
Come on now
I hear you’re feeling down
Well I can ease your pain
Get you on your feet again
Relax
I’ll need some information first
Just the basic facts
Can you show me where it hurts?

There is no pain you are receding
A distant ship smoke on the horizon
You are only coming through in waves
Your lips move but I can’t hear what you’re saying
When I was a child I had a fever
My hands felt just like two balloons
Now I’ve got that feeling once again
I can’t explain you would not understand
This is not how I am
I have become comfortably numb

Okay
Just a little pinprick
There’ll be no more, ah
But you may feel a little sick
Can you stand up?
I do believe it’s working, good
That’ll keep you going through the show
Come on it’s time to go

There is no pain you are receding
A distant ship, smoke on the horizon
You are only coming through in waves
Your lips move but I can’t hear what you’re saying
When I was a child
I caught a fleeting glimpse
Out of the corner of my eye
I turned to look but it was gone
I cannot put my finger on it now
The child is grown
The dream is gone
I have become comfortably numb

Written by David Jon Gilmour, Roger Waters • Copyright © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, BMG Rights Management US, LLC, Imagem Music Inc

So the second last line is “The dream is gone”. But here Gilmour and Waters are speaking of the ego’s dream – the dream for the fancy car, or the big house, or the romantic relationship, or the comfortable retirement. That dream often does go amid disappointment and cynicism, but that is just a superficial dream. It can have value and bring satisfaction, but unless it is attached to the deeper meaning that comes from our soul, that dream is empty and it is easily lost because it doesn’t have the firm base beneath it.

Dreams can never “go away”, because they come from a much deeper place within us – our unconscious. Dreams are always speaking to us about what we want and need deep down within us. I think the beauty of this song is that it does point to this depth within us. The song is like a myth or a dream – it speaks a much deeper truth than one might think until one sits with it for a while. Comfortably numb is not the goal of life. It is the band aid that cannot hope to heal the wound. Dreams can heal that wound, but that requires work – individuation – personal evolution.

Are You a Scanner?

As a certified scanner I just came across a new term – “scanner”. Better late than never. And we all know that labeling people is just “wrong”. Or is it? But we label things all the time. That’s a girl. That’s a table. That’s my pet monkey. You just don’t want to use a label to create rigid boundaries. The girl can play hockey and grow up to be an engineer. You can sit on the table. And if I had a pet monkey, I’d teach it to play fetch.

Here is the author Barbara Sher talking about the scanner personality feature. She has written several books on the personality feature. I think of it as a predisposition or a mental approach to the outer world. Some people are the opposite of a scanner – they naturally focus on a narrow field and enjoy becoming an expert in that area. The world needs both types at the extreme and as in all aspects of humanity there is a range – tall people, short people, and everything in between. Everyone’s approach has value, to themselves and to others.

 

I just ran across this term “scanner” today, because I am a scanner. A hat tip to Marta at Climbing the Cliff blog. Her post on scanners enlightened me. She blends this insight into the INFP personality type that comes from MBTI – standing for Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. It’s a system to examine a person’s personality or approach to their environment based on four criteria. I’ll be talking about it more in the future – another way to understand yourself and others.

I identify strongly with this idea of a scanner. I’m interested in almost everything. I find it hard to focus on one subject. I don’t have attention deficit disorder. I was able to focus in school, but I can get pretty bored with a subject once I have exhausted it’s novelty for me – I’m always looking for more and deeper. Overall I’m not capable of being bored. I have hundreds of books and at any one time I’m often reading about ten. I’ll be reading a book that refers to another related book and I’ll chase after that rabbit trail and often read the two books together, along with others. It sounds more chaotic than it is – I’m used to it and I find most books don’t hold my interest for the entire book. It’s not unusual for a book to have a few really important ideas and then they just bang on those for the rest of the book. So I might read half the book and then stop. I may return to it or not. And there are lots of books I keep returning to because they are so complex, deep and interesting that I can never be bored by them.

Sher talks about an inability for scanners to settle down within a single subject or area. At one time that was true for me. I certainly saw an arc in my thinking and my exploring, but the focus was not there. There were a number of ideas that I kept circling back to, even years after first coming upon them, but from the outside my approach seemed pretty unfocused.

That has changed, and it was another scanner who revealed my focus to myself – Carl Jung. Jung was interested in more subjects than most people could possibly juggle in a lifetime and he went deeply into all of them. But he realized his focus early on in his life – depth psychology and the process of individuation – the process of a person becoming whole. I see the process of individuation as ultimately the process of the evolution of each one of us. Here I am in my scanner mode – making this post more complex as I tie other things in…sigh. But I cannot look at a subject without seeing the connections to many other subjects. I want to understand the biggest picture that I can.

But I have come to a focus. It’s like my decades of scanning finally brought me to my central focus and here I am. Like Jung, I will always be a scanner, who is constantly on the lookout for new knowledge that is relate-able to my core ideas and purpose. Steve Jobs was also a scanner – a dropout who hung around his old college studying calligraphy of all things. That went into the computers he developed and his eclectic approach shaped the entire computer industry. Jobs was no single minded computer geek – he was interested in too many other things to hold just to that side of the business. Jobs and Jung did develop a deep focus, but they used their scanner approach in service to that focus.

The video above, by Barbara Sher is a good introduction to her ideas, but I can’t say that I completely agree. At one point she implies that the scanner mode is creative in a way that the non-scanner mode may not be. I understand why she is saying that. She is sensitive that our culture worships the idea of focusing and not the more eclectic approach that appeals to us scanners. “Put away those distractions and get to work!” Much of the misery of school when you are a young is the emphasis on “hard work” focusing on a single task. That works for some people, and I was able to cope with it, but for many scanners they really don’t like to work like that. And those people can be made to feel stupid or lazy, despite being very intelligent and creative. But a focuser can be just as creative as a scanner. It would be tough to be an accomplished artist in any field, if you can’t focus to develop your skills and your craft in service to your art.

I now consider myself to be a scanning focuser – haha. I have found my focus, thanks to Carl Jung, and yet I must continue to scan, as he did. You may be a scanner like I was (and didn’t know it until recently) – a scanner looking for a focus. You may find it, or not – don’t worry – the journey is the destination. As Steve Jobs said: “If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking.”

So maybe you too are a scanner or perhaps you’re a “focuser”. Whatever you are, embrace it, use it, grow it, grow beyond it.

 

 

 

Pop Culture Riff number 1 – David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace is a sensitive soul who left us too soon. I wrote about him previously in regards to his brilliant commencement speech. 

I have yet to come across anything of his that is not worth pondering. So I will set out this brief video of a portion of a much longer interview.

He talks about being alone. I consider being alone and quiet to be absolutely required for our growth, and it is something in our culture that we must actively seek.

I am calling this my Pop Culture Riff number 1. I intend this to be a regular feature here. Popular culture is full of gold – some deep and some not so deep, but much that points to the bigger meaning of life. There is a lot more in popular culture than we realize until we open ourselves up more to the messages and currents of thought.

Check out David Foster Wallace here. I have only started to mine his brilliance. There is so much out there that is worth exploring, but you have to dig a bit to find it. I want to to do that for you and for myself, as we explore deeper evolution and the bigger meaning of life.

Social Evolution is Often Driven by Social Radicals

Evolution can only happen when the established order is upset – at least a bit. At times the established order is blown up in some way and often that comes about from the actions and ideas of a single person. No one can have this effect without the society being ready for it, but a single person can light the fuse.

I maintain that the biggest part of human evolution happens within the individual, but you can’t ignore social evolution. Social evolution supports individual evolution and it’s the evolution of the individual that leads to social evolution.

Radicals are people who don’t accept the current social order or structure. These radicals don’t always have a positive effect in the short run, but they’re essential to social evolution. I’m not speaking of political radicals here – politics is usually a fight for power and control. Those elements of politics work against evolution, at least in the short run. I am speaking of social radicals.

Martin Luther was such a radical. He precipitated the fracture of the Church, away from the central control inherent in Roman Catholicism. I’m no expert on the man and reading Wikipedia, he certainly had some ideas that were far removed from liberal and loving, from our current perspective, but he was born over five hundred years ago – times change. Regardless. He was a remarkable man.

I ran across an article about him in the New Yorker magazine – How Martin Luther Changed the World. He was a controversial figure and still is, but he helped to catalyze a massive change in the world. It was inevitable that human evolution would fracture the power of the church and we see that continuing today. Fewer people today identify with any institutional church or religion, yet many people seek a spiritual path in their life. Martin Luther helped this process that serves our individual natures (and evolution) better than a large institution. In his day, there was no institution bigger than the Roman Catholic Church. He took them on directly and fearlessly as a priest, monk, scholar and writer.

The invention of the printing press, around 1440, was a radical development, leading to a massive jump in our evolution. Luther was a bit of a scribe – according to this article, one third of the books printed in Germany in the first half of the 16th century were his. He was an early media star and his ideas and his writing skills obviously resonated. Some say that he helped to launch the modern age by speaking truth to power and helping to dismantle the overreaching power of the Church, as a person who brought his ideas to a wide audience.

How Martin Luther Changed the World is a fascinating piece about a person I really didn’t know much about. He was undoubtedly a complex person, but evolved enormously during his life. He criticized the practice of priests not marrying and found no references in the bible to require it. He want on to marry and to have six children. Luther comes across as a man open to his own evolution. In this article, Joan Acocella writes:

When he writes to a friend, soon after his marriage, of what it is like to lie in a dry bed after years of sleeping on a pile of damp, mildewed straw, and when, elsewhere, he speaks of the surprise of turning over in bed and seeing a pair of pigtails on the pillow next to his, your heart softens toward this dyspeptic man. More important, he began to take women seriously. He objects, in a lecture, to coitus interruptus, the most common form of birth control at the time, on the ground that it is frustrating for women. When he was away from home, he wrote Käthe affectionate letters, with such salutations as “Most holy Frau Doctor” and “To the hands and feet of my dear housewife.”

So here is a man who, early in his life, took vows to remain celibate, and later became concerned about the sexual satisfaction of his wife. That is an inspiring piece of individual evolution. This is all part of our deep evolution. I support the radicals in our midst, who see a better way, and move toward that without violence, but with ideas and actions. I think it’s important to understand and appreciate the pioneering people who have come before us – the ones who have helped to open the doors for our own evolution. I think they can inspire us to advance our own evolution and that of our culture and society.

 

Please note – The New Yorker Magazine is a wonderful source of intelligent writing – it requires a paid subscription to access all of it’s content, but it does provide for a number of free articles before you have to subscribe. I have taken the plunge myself. I am not paid by them or by anyone. Evolution and individuation are their own reward.

The Bigger Meaning of Life

I’ve been exploring the meaning of life here at mashupsoup.com but I want to refocus my efforts. I’m torn between writing deeper pieces and alternatively, to post news, ideas, and reviews with shorter comments as well. Those two things don’t mix well in a single blog.

So I’ve decided to have two blogs on my central theme – the bigger meaning of life. I consider it to be the biggest meaning of life, but for now I’ll leave some room for…expansion. I can’t rule out that there is something bigger, but for now, I think this is the biggest meaning of life.

I believe that the bigger meaning of life is what I like to call, deep evolution. This is an evolution that goes way beyond Darwinian or Neo-Darwinian ideas about evolution. This deep evolution operates at numerous levels from the cells and the DNA in our bodies, all the way up to humanity, as a whole. Deep evolution works on culture, technology, knowledge, human institutions, gender, and many other areas. There is tremendous overlap and synergy as, for instance, technology, culture and gender evolve and affect one another in a big mashup to help drive the evolution of humanity. Some factors are bigger than others, but it’s impossible to separate any single factor. It’s a mashup!

But the biggest and most important site for this deep evolution? The individual. Each one of us is a unique mixture of ideas, talents, experiences, intentions, shadow aspects, gender and more factors that we could ever count. All those parts are expanding in complexity and number. Look at gender – at one time male and female defined the category. Now? Gender is a much bigger category – certain to get bigger with subtler and more fluid boundaries.

Change happens in two ways – trends and cycles. Some things come and go. Color schemes come and go out of fashion. I don’t miss dusty rose and dove grey from the eighties, but they might come back. Shudder. Alert – I have noticed a light pale pink showing up at Ikea. But the increasing complexity, richness, and yes, messiness of life, is a trend that I only see continuing and accelerating. There is no going back. Pockets of society may, and certainly individuals can try to go back and resist change for a while, but, we are witnessing the evolution of humanity, as has never been seen before.

I’m not trying to convince anyone with this short piece – or even with my two blogs. Right now, I want to set out my thinking and the basis for my blogs. My two blogs will expand on my ideas and no doubt those ideas will evolve as the world and I evolve. I invite you to join me in evolution, as we all pursue the bigger meaning of life, in our own personal way. I am writing and exploring at my blog because I want to encourage our conscious evolution.

Ultimately, I see the evolution of humanity and the evolution of each one us as being inevitable – we are all living in an age that is demanding our evolution. Not so long ago, life and culture changed slowly and generations of people lived much of their life as their parents had. Now we have no choice – we are all forced to adapt and evolve. I think this evolution is a good thing. I believe that deep down, each one of us has a soul that is calling us to evolve and express our self in a unique way. After all, I see evolution as the meaning of life – the purpose of life. So I embrace my personal evolution, as well as that of my fellow humans and humanity as a whole. Making our evolution more conscious will only be good for us all.

The evolution of the individual – each one of us – is both the biggest driver of human evolution, and its most obvious manifestation. This personal evolution is intimately involved with human psychology and I credit Carl Jung as my greatest teacher in this. Carl Jung was a profound thinker who explored the depths of the human psyche. He and his students, and those he has inspired, have explored the human psyche and its evolution in a more profound way than any individual or school has before or since. I will be exploring many of Jung’s ideas and those developed further by those he taught and inspired. I’ll be exploring many ideas and many people on my two blogs, but so far, I’ve not found anyone more inspiring, more original, more deep thinking, yet more practical, than Jung. He is the sort of genius who only comes along very rarely. He has already had a profound effect on psychology and human culture, and with our ongoing and accelerating evolution, I only see his contributions and legacy continuing and expanding.

Jung, above all, saw that each one of us is on a special journey of personal evolution that he called individuation. Jung held that the individual’s personal journey in this, was her or his own. Most, if not all, of his psychology was in support of this personal journey of individuation, because that is how humanity will evolve. Of course, our personal journey of evolution is supported by society as it too evolves. The evolution of gender in western society has supported the evolution of individuals within that society as people find it easier to pursue their personal concept of their gender role. In that, each one of us is liberated in our pursuit of our deepest desires and goals, and in that, we evolve. In turn, that personal evolution supports the social changes, in accelerating waves of evolution. For me, Jung holds a special place in all this deep evolution and I will be writing about him and his ideas more than most.

Individuation is not the whole of our individual evolution, but I consider it to be the deepest aspect of our personal evolution. It carries with it the most profound effects and value to our lives. Each one us evolves personally in many ways, with our education (formal and most valuably, otherwise), our relationships, our work, our leisure, and many other factors. Our personal evolution over our lifetime is multi-layered. But at the core of our selves is the potential for individuation as Jung set out. I am no expert on that process, but I am committed to a journey of first hand experience and I have begun that.

Ok – I think it’s time to bring this to a close. I just wanted to set out my central idea and the territory – essentially, everything, because everything is connected – but everything from the perspective of deep evolution. Our human evolution includes every aspect of our lives. I think that observing this world and our own lives through the lens of deep evolution puts things in a perspective that is most helpful to support our life. As I’ve developed these ideas over the past almost two years, I have found that this deep evolution view allows me to better understand the world, my place in it, and better understand the events in the world, as well as in my own life. Both my life and the world makes a lot more sense to me with this deep evolution perspective.

I’ll be exploring this deep evolution – the bigger meaning of life in two blogs. And making our evolution more conscious in support of this bigger meaning of life.

Mashupsoup.com will look at the issues more broadly with shorter pieces. Often those posts will be comments on current events or interesting writing and ideas that I come across.

I like to consider this to be mashup soup for the soul and its evolution.

Soulsbuffet.com will look at the central issues in my concept of deep evolution in greater depth – longer pieces.

I am using the term “soul” to be our highest self or the core of our being.

In these two blogs, I want to further develop and explore the idea of this deep evolution. I also want to encourage people to consider these ideas and most of all, I want to stimulate your own evolution in the way that best serves you. I’ll be writing about personal, as well as social evolution, but again, our own personal evolution – individuation – is, for me, the most important aspect of deep evolution. Biological evolution operates most fundamentally at the level of the cell and human social evolution operates most fundamentally at the level of the individual.

It all adds up to deep evolution – the bigger meaning of life.

Where you are is what you were.

This is a thought that popped into my head today. Thank you universe. It is a riff on the ideas of Abraham-Hicks.

Esther Hicks is a channeler who speaks wisdom gained from outside of herself. I think we all do that. She speaks for guides who she says reside in the non-physical.

Who cares. If I read wisdom on the back of cereal boxes, it would still be wisdom. The source does not matter.

So, “where you are is what you were.” This is a metaphysical and psychological brute fact. Where you are at any point in your life comes as a result of the person you were in the past – the things you did in the past – the thoughts you entertained and focused on in the past.

We all tend to focus on our lives in the present and woe is us – or I guess, woe are us. Why can’t things change? Why can’t we find love. Why can’t we find more satisfaction in our life. Why can’t we make more money to be more comfortable? Why can’t we be healthier?

Abraham-Hicks reminds us that we must focus on our desires and intentions without focusing on our immediate reality. Focusing on what is, simply reinforces the thoughts and actions of our past that led up to these conditions that we are wanting to change. It does not help us to evolve.

I’ll be speaking much more of this, but I wanted to get this out there.

“Where you are is what you were.” Sit with that. And then think something different.

Welcome to the Future – Inspiring

There is nothing to add to this. This remarkable woman can speak for herself just fine. I intend for my life to be inspired by hers.

Alma Kocialek graduates from York University in Toronto, studying gender and women’s studies – at age 89.

 

Patti Smith and David Lynch Riffing on Creativity and Stuff

I raved about Twin Peaks and David Lynch and here he is in a brief conversation with the great Patti Smith. It would be amazing to share an evening with these two, but at least there is eight minutes here and Twin Peaks.

They are both utterly unique artists. If you aren’t familiar with either one – don’t wait.

Patti Smith sang at the Nobel Prize ceremony for Bob Dylan. Of course she is known for much more, but this is a real showcase for her.

It was a brilliant performance, made more human when she restarted, after being overcome by emotion.

Great and Deep Art on TV

There was a time when talking about deep art on television would lead to laughter or derision.

And then came Twin Peaks.

It debuted in 1990 and ran for two seasons. David Lynch and Mark Frost produced the series that broke all the molds, but it’s David Lynch who has to get the greatest credit for the mind-bending originality of the show. He eventually left the show, frustrated by the constraints of network television. After a disappointing second season, it was cancelled. Lynch’s artistic vision was hampered by the network wanting a more traditional resolution to the central story.

The series revolved around the discovery of the body of the homecoming queen, Laura Palmer. FBI agent Dale Cooper, played by Kyle MacLachlan is called to the small fictional Washington town to investigate. Mystery abounds in the town of Twin Peaks and in the surrounding woods. Cooper is not afraid to dive deep into the mystery. Twin Peaks is a mill town full of weird and colorful characters, and intriguing story lines – very soap-operaish at times. The show was addictive because of all those intersecting story lines. But Dale Cooper is both the center of the plot and the moral center of the series.

In a recent brief interview with MacLachlan in Esquire, he describes his character:

Cooper is maybe my favorite character. There is a lot in him that is similar to me: his enthusiasm for coffee, Douglas firs, and doughnuts. He tries to figure out who people are before he makes a judgment about them. He’s the eccentric in the middle of an even crazier world, but he’s your point person. He’s all you’ve got going in.

Dale Cooper is one of the most complex and sympathetic characters in recent memory. He is a good person, with an awareness of the shadow side of life. He is a standout in a richly textured show of fascinating people and mystery. He is our guide, but he is as perplexed by the dark world he has entered, as any of us. But he is a brave explorer.

Twin Peaks was an amazing show for people who had grown up with formulaic shows to entertain you, sell stuff or put you to sleep. Twin Peaks was much greater in its ambitions. It played with depth psychology and it’s major themes, in a highly stylistic way. The music by Angelo Badalamenti with David Lynch, is as important as the visuals. The soundtrack drives the mood and the meaning of the narrative. The Twin Peaks music has almost given birth to a genre of music within the ambient category. There was an explosion of this kind of music composed in the 90’s and early 2000’s, which continues to this day. This music is timeless and often sounds like a moody soundtrack to some movie not seen, but imagined.

The new series just began and it is a wild ride. It is available with on Crave TV in Canada and Showtime in the U.S. I’ve seen the first three episodes. The new series is not a sentimental return to that smaller town of characters caught up in a murder mystery surrounded by soap opera shenanigans and intrigue. The new series is weirder, darker, broader, and certainly it will be deeper. There is apparently 18 hours of this in total and I’ve seen the first three. Characters have returned, with Dale Cooper still number one and we are still in Twin Peaks, but we’re also in New York City, Las Vegas, and a smaller town in South Dakota so far. I recommend that you watch at least part of the first series before embarking on the second, although for some people at least, the second one will stand up on its own. It would really add to the second series if you have a sense of the characters and the moods of Twin Peaks. The actual story lines are less important than the broad outline of the story arc and the explorations of the human journey. Cooper, the central character of the new series remains that, but he’s a lot more complex, as the final scene from the first series suggested.

We’ve come a long way in the last twenty-five years and Twin Peaks has been part of the popular culture evolution. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the new series, but it will not be a simple or gentle journey. Who knows what effect the new series will have on TV and popular culture? But this is not your parents’ Twin Peaks. David Lynch is too original for that.

To fully understand the greatness of Twin Peaks you would have to ignore the last twenty five years of television that was profoundly changed by Twin Peaks and with it, the realization that television could produce art. You can’t fully understand the importance of any person or event after the fact, unless you experienced life before that person or event. Twin Peaks was such an event, but it remains a compelling and entertaining experience. Watch the old episodes – particularly the first season, if you can, before David Lynch and Twin Peaks returns. And if you haven’t already, any of David Lynch‘s films deserve your attention. He is a gifted filmmaker.

 

 

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