I have not read a book that has engaged me so fully in a long time. Chris Hedges cares about the less fortunate and he has actively pursued a more egalitarian society wherever he has reported from. He has worked for some mighty institutions and has been committed to what is authentic of himself and of his employers and his government. He has helped to illuminate how our institutions, politicians, reporters, religions and civilians have gone astray.
From the book. “It takes a “sublime madness of the soul” to fight against the “malignant powers of the world.”
Chris Hedges is an intellectual bomb thrower. The kinds of insights he provides into the troubled state of our democracy cannot be found anywhere else. Like many of our most important thinkers, he has been relegated to the margins because of ideas deemed too radicalor truefor public consumption.
Hedges here speaks up about the most pressing issues currently facing our nation. If we are to combat the intellectual and moral decay that have come to grip American life, we must listen to Chris Hedges and the urgent message he brings in this book.
Im not sure what he is trying to say here. I include this so that I can occasionally revisit it to see if I am able to intuitively realize something from it.
“Now the death of God combined with the perfection of the image has brought us to a whole new state of expectation. We are the image. We are the viewer and the viewed. There is no other distracting presence. And that image has all the Godly powers. It kills at will. Kills effortlessly. Kills beautifully. It dispenses morality. Judges endlessly. The electronic image is man as God and the ritual involved leads us not to a mysterious Holy Trinity but back to ourselves. In the absence of a clear understanding that we are now the only source, these images cannot help but return to the expression of magic and fear proper to idolatrous societies. This in turn facilitates the use of the electronic image as propaganda by whoever can control some part of it. —JOHN RALSTON SAUL, Voltaire’s Bastards1
The Cynics, satirists and “mystics” (circuit V-VIII types) have told us over and over that “reason is a whore,” i.e., that the semantic circuit is notoriously vulnerable to manipulation by the older, more primitive circuits. However much the Rationalist may resent this, it is always true in the short run —that is, to use one of the Rationalist’s favorite words, it is always pragmatically true. Whoever can scare people enough (produce bio-survival anxiety) can sell them quickly on any verbal map that seems to give them relief, i.e., cure the anxiety. By frightening people with Hell and then offering them Salvation, the most ignorant or crooked individuals can “sell” a whole system of thought that cannot bear two minutes of rational analysis. And any domesticated primate alpha male, however cruel or crooked, can rally the primate tribe behind him by howling that a rival alpha male is about to lead his gang in an attack on this habitat. These two mammalian reflexes are known, respectively, as Religion and Patriotism. They work for domesticated primates, as for the wild primates, because they are Evolutionary Relative Successes. Robert Anton Wilson from Prometheus Rising
It is my sense that many global politicians today combine religion with their nationalistic sentiments to promote a regressive world view. It seems to be a step backwards to times when world war was fuelled by this kind of thinking and related efforts at boundary making. Ultimately as a conscious species we are coming to realize however slowly that separating humans into categories of race and/or any other such category is in the end an arbitrary endeavour. Never the less there exists a global reaction from those who experience a sense of vulnerability in this opening to deeper truths and deviant individuals opportunistically address these emotions in impractical and regressive ways that do nothing but encourage greater fear, illusion and reactivity. Gord
There is so much authority that comes out of the existing primary mystical experience that it can be threatening to existing hierarchal structures. – Rolland Griffiths this book can be an opening. Iris read it and said that it has had more of an impact than any other book that she is read in a long time. A really excellent read. For someone who experimented with psychedelics in my teens I was too young to realize and take advantage of the benefits. This book explores and reflects better than any that I have read about the consciousness raising possibilities of psychedelics. While they don’t represent a magic fix they can be part of a door opening and new and more comprehensive and holistic perceiving, envisioning and creativity. Pollan explores this with great expertise. At this late age of Sixty five I have the urge to indulge in some shrooms. Its never too late.
As the title suggests Timothy Leary discusses the process of “ego death” suggesting a link between the experience of ego loss in the use of psychedelics and the process illustrated in the “Tibetan Book of The Dead”. He quotes the German Lama Govinda and his interpretations on numerous occasions. He discusses this process as it relates to an expanded or evolution of consciousness.
However much I believe in and pursue the western utopian ideal that guarantees a life of reduced stress and problems, I pay a price. Mind and Will are exchanged for this guarantee of a future. The reality seems to be that life doesn’t promise guarantees however much our culture dangles that ideal. In the delusion of a “guaranteed life ” Status Quo moves in and demands order; a place where people can build their nests and ensure the betterment of their genetic coils. Morality seems to become an invention that values whatever notion can bring order and justice in the world.
Radebeul, Germany, where I live for parts of the year is a place that is immersed in tradition, convention, culture and delusion. It is a more upper class community on the outskirts of Dresden and people live comfortably here, but its a small piece of Germany as it is in most countries. There is something lifeless about life here and I have often noticed that tendency in these kinds of places and wondered what price is paid for grasping on to conventional cultural ways, however successful one has become in those definitions.
Ive come to an understanding that is less conventional and is much more real for me. I now realize what it was to live as a puppet of culture and I have come to know what it means to be trapped. Most all cultures have expectations of individuals where there is a pressure to compromise the self. Marshall McLuhan wrote “BLESS culture shock as dislocation of Mind.” Ultimately striving to meet cultural expectations seemed to have that affect on me; forcing me to discover new meaning. People still encourage me to find my place in a conventional world, but stepping out from cultural conventions and norms allows me to better live in an informed and authentic way. These days this way is no longer limited to those of a mystical/ magickal mindset, but is a possibility for all.
Living in an authentic way attending to energy and direction within, has itself, been much more life giving than living in a way that attends to external cues and conditioning. It allows for more fundamental aspects of my being to surface and for me to be present to them . William Blakes advice, that “I must create my own system, or be enslaved by another’s.” has ringed true. Its taken a great fall and the need to learn to cope with chaos, but I am grateful for that opportunity that brought me to an opening where I could shed my armour/ shell/ linguistic filter. Its allowed me to become acquainted with the life I now have; to be able to have a generous taste of what it means to access the Self beneath the programming and metta programmer of my brain.
Christopher S Hyatt writes “The rebel with a cause is the person who risks the label of evil when she attempts to remove, or go beyond, the categories of limitation currently believed.”