Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Harry Potter and the Metaphysical Decompression Chamber

Harry Potter and the Metaphysical Decompression Chamber
I experienced an unusually intense collision of worlds this last weekend. Usually when I read a book, it's a fairly leisurely affair. Of late it’s usually non fiction, philosophy & history, I'll read a few paragraphs, marking lines or paragraphs as I go, and by the end of the page, if not sooner, stop and reflect on what I've just imbibed. I'll often go back to the marked lines, write a comment between the lines or in the margin, and if particularly striking, write something down on a notepad (Paper or PC). Sometimes I'll pick up the pace with a Play, or rereading a section of some previously read fiction, but for the most part the pace is pretty tame.

This weekend however for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the pace went into overdrive. I'd begun revving up by reading the previous book in the series over the course of the week, and had finished it about 20 minutes before the doorbell rang with the delivery of the Deathly Hallows - this was a story that had to be read full immersion speed through to the end. I went out on our deck and dove into it, full immersion from 10:00 am till 2:00 am on Sat, then 10:00 am till 5:00 pm on Sun, all that while I was in the world of Hogwarts(thanks for not making a fuss over my leaving for the weekend Dear!). I was barely aware enough to fold down a couple page corners for particularly striking passages, but for the most part; I was in the book, not just reading the book.

Anyone else have a similar experience when involved in good fiction? When I get involved in a narrative story, I feel as though I'm in the story, similar to a virtual movie running in my head... seeing the characters, the setting, hearing it play out around me. When you bring such a book or series of books into your mind, there is a heightened sensation, a feeling which lingers long after reading the last page - that an entire universe has been created within you, lives within you, has become you ("...once a King or Queen of Narnia, always a King or Queen of Narnia."). In the lingo of the Harry Potter world, we all become a bit of a benign Horcruxe for J.K. Rowling’s imaginative world to live in and through us.

Anyway, minutes after I finished at around 5:00 pm Sunday, I received a desperate call from work "Please, can you come in and help another team on a deadline?!" Here I am sitting on the deck with a beer, the book still in my lap, my head still in the world of Hogwarts, looking back on the story which I had in fact begun years ago reading to my two boys, who have themselves grown up with it (they're still reading - their friends wouldn't give them the weekend off); I was very nearly reminiscing in that world... experiencing the sensation of the qualities of the storybook world being my memories... and then this world butts in and demands equal time.

This really was an unusually intensely felt mixing of worlds. I wonder if whether having not only read the books into my mind, but also having witnessed the movies within theatres and our living room; physically seeing and hearing the characters as they grew up from 11 yr olds to near adulthood, I wonder if that lent an added dimension to the affect? At any rate, it was a very strange sensation, experiencing two worlds at the same time… an odd feeling, having multiple worlds coming into being and colliding with each other ... no billion dollar sub-atomic super neutrino collider required.

I was certainly in no mood for work, but having been in that position myself before, I said I’d come on in, threw on some clothes and dashed off to work.

But what world was I dashing off to? What world was I still contained within? I wasn't in one or the other, I was in an odd transitional space, a Metaphysical decompression chamber. On the one hand there was the world we all know and … love, with its slippery willingness to be seen in shades of grey, and on the other hand the world of clear Right and Wrong, Good and Evil, Metaphysical cause and effect dramatically demonstrated to your conscious awareness - and I was disorientedly wedged between them for several hours while I attempted to navigate between the priorities and features of the two worlds – and did so about as smoothly as a bumper car ride.

Imagination - The Chamber of SecretsMy guess is that something such as a Metaphysical Decompression Chamber is always with you, though rarely as vividly as this. It acts as a go-between for horizontal fact and vertical meaning, a case history and reference library for your Vertical sense, with literature being the most accessible way to see that it's shelves remain well stocked.

When deeply immersed in the poetic imagery of a story, that imagery is especially interweaved into your mind, spider webbing deep links throughout not only along the narrative storyline, but also into your internal references to concepts, feelings, percepts, memories and various other associations, establishing a live link to them all under one imaginative image or another. A crude analogy might be to the ubiquitous Icon button in software programs. They typically displays an image, such as an old memory disc image, and seeing that image, we all know that clicking on it will cause the program to save what you're working on, similarly with the Hero or Villain of a story we all know is good or bad, we don't realize all the behind the scenes actions that image represents. In your computer, clicking that button in your program causes hundreds, even thousands of lines of complex code logic to be executed, items are safe checked, processes are committed to files and databases and saved to disc. In our imaginations, when the image of the hero or villain is skillfully and vividly drawn, it touches or reinforces far too many mental and spiritual associations for us to even begin to enumerate.

In normal situations, the characters, issues and plots of a well told story seem so exceedingly vivid and important, precisely because they associate with all those items in your life which are truly important and foundational to your being. Becoming as deeply involved in a single story for the uninterrupted amount of time such as I had this weekend, I expect activated those many deep ranging links, plus the peripheral items, images of posture, mannerisms, scents, sounds... and on and on and on, bringing the images and their associations to the very edges of normal conscious awareness - it takes a while for that level of excited poetic imagery to decompress and recede to their normal background levels.

Exercising poetic imagery in the normal fashion which imaginative fiction does, I think must help to develop and strengthen a deep warehouse of conceptual, ethical and spiritual experience, such as with which we would all do well to visit often to ensure that its doors remain unlocked and the lights left on for us, day and night. Going to the lengths I did... well... be careful operating heavy machinery afterwards. Or driving winding river bottom roads.

For people such as the reviewer 'Flik' of my previous post, I suspect they that their metaphysical decompression chambers are safely empty, locked down and in mothballs. "How could a broom fly? How could a snake talk? Reality isn't like that, and such things are just silly and escapist!". Imagination and reflection, library cards to the Chamber and your inner Vertical Depths; for people such as Flik who don't use them, no doubt they will find that their cards have lapsed. Those soul piercing and encircling links sunk through you with the permission and aid of imagination, are not activated or exercised, they don't hike the mountains and valleys of their soul, and by neglect, their internal conceptual landscape is eroded into an arid expanse of plains and small hills. Talk about ghost stories... shudder.

One reviewer, who while not reaching very deeply into the story, nevertheless noted about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,

“... true to its roots, it ends not with modernist, “Soprano”-esque equivocation, but with good old-fashioned closure: a big-screen, heart-racing, bone-chilling confrontation and an epilogue that clearly lays out people’s fates.”,
even if that person didn't take note of the Vertical elements deeply woven into J.K. Rowling's stories, I suspect that their own metaphysical decompression chamber is humming along behind the scenes very serviceably.

Flik on the other hand, would probably sympathize with one idiot commenter who actually yearned for more of a 'modernist “Soprano”-esque equivocation' in the last of the series, it opined that the clarity of the story and its ending was "...dissatisfying..." and that the epilogue was "Very disappointing, but probably necessary to avoid the clamors for more sequels.”

They'd prefer something more 'reality based', no doubt.

Such dislike of moral clarity, and a preference for conflicting little 't' truths over the sound resolution of deeper Vertical Truth - marks them as the type of person who while they may move their eyes over the pages of imaginative fiction, does so only for escapist purposes, they run from exploring deeper into Life and Truth, preferring flat, horizontal diversions and the confusion of mimicry instead 'They muddy the waters so that they may appear deep'. They have far much more in common with Flik who disdains the imaginative, than with the reviewer who found the story thrilling and satisfying; I can't help suspecting that they entertain few substantial thoughts on their own, and so have fewer to compress or decompress, their day to day decisions based on little 't' facts and figures - dragging on flat and the hollow; I'd not be surprised to find sports cars, extreme sports and many fashionable leading edge items being stuffed into the empty spaces.

Coming down from the heightsThose first few hours after I finished the book, I was experiencing a palpable sensation that metaphysically, my worlds were strangely intermixed – evil wizards and plots to rule the world were jumbled together with traffic lights and work to be done. One world where Good and Evil is so clearly delineated, and another where the later can still so easily hide behind what seems of no consequence, an easy shortcut, letting things be – not rocking the boat.

A very, very odd sensation, and in coming out of this state, I think that there may also be a danger in thinking (encouraged by our culture) that since most of your day to day actions will not be visibly stamped with labels of Good and Evil, or battles with dark wizards, that it is somehow insignificant. I strongly disagree. To the question of whether imaginative Literature, or the Vertical depths are themselves really real, and are they of any real value? Can fantasy and imagination be of any real worth? As Harry asks of a ghostly apparition,

“Tell me one last thing,” said Harry “Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?”
“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

Still, for the next time this happens, I think it might be handy for me to have a checklist to follow for exiting my Metaphysical decompression chamber a little more smoothly. Some things of course are fairly easy to deal with, such as,

1. Reach for your laptop, not your magic wand.

But others may not be quite so obvious. Such as,

2. Just because he no longer has a visible name and form, beware not to lose track of the Villain. Fiction, especially imaginative fiction, clarifies Good and Evil, and you must be careful not to let that clarity fade away with the illusions of fiction. Evil, in all of its shades, is always looking for an easy mark; the ones who are convinced it doesn't exist, being the easiest of targets. For those who don’t keep that thought clear in their mind, a grasp of right and wrong can simply slip away. This exchange from the Deathly Hallows seems relevant here, one professor cajoling another, an evil thug in professorial robes to one who is the very soul of teaching:

"...and we'll say they forced her to press her Mark, and that's why he got a false alarm... He can punish them. Couple of kids more or less, what's the

"Only the difference between truth and lies, courage and cowardice," said Professor McGonagall, who had turned pale, "a difference, in short, which you and your sister seem unable to appreciate."
A quality book allows a name tagging of characters to trace such characteristics to, but just because there is no convenient single character to assign the temptations and hurdles thrown up before you in day to day life to, don't assume that detecting and overcoming them will be anywise less important to the outcome of your story. Seeking shortcuts and easy power lead to inner ruin both here and there.

3. Focus on what's real, but don't let yourself be disillusioned, that too can be fatal. Just because magic doesn’t flow from mixed up Latin phrases, don’t miss the Magic around you, or forget that some of the most magical things in daily life require deliberate steps, and some flair, to produce the correct 'spell'. Remembering to follow not just logical sequence and frequent fact and premise checking in your thinking, but also an artistic eye to the rhythm and context of your surroundings is vital to produce Intelligent results, as opposed to the merely clever, and what is more magical than that? Leaving the Vertical out of your Horizontal actions, can lead to devastating error, even though your truncated, out of context 'logic' may seem sound. See most any wackademic article for an example. And of course, forgetting to delight in your family, forgetting to keep what is truly valuable first in mind, can be every bit as deadly as failing to produce a patronus charm while the dementors swirl down upon you to suck out your soul.

4. Remember that just because Time is not abbreviated as in story, such devices as plot and cause and effect do still operate in your life – visible only if you know to look for them. In this world, you don’t often get that heady sensation of seeing how deeply it matters what is thought, said and done, as you do in story. While your daily life may not be reinforced with suspenseful plotting, don’t be discouraged, remember that while you no longer have a tangible narrative compressing time and place to reveal a clear chain of events, that chain is nevertheless there - and binding upon your fate, and others.

Simple things like speaking up when you hear someone speaking nonsense, or returning the extra change a cashier accidentally gave back to you, can be the strongest magic of all, and may have huge reverberations not only in your life, but in the plots of your children’s (as well as cashiers and other onlookers) lives. At Hogwarts they concentrate on Spells and chasing down and defeating Evil; at work you concentrate on writing good Code, at home, on exhibiting good manners and sound behavior.

It is enough to keep your feet firmly on the ground, your head needn't be down there as well. Don't get lost in illusion, but don't try to rid yourself of it too quickly either; when you come out of a good book, or even a movie, those images that stay with you might be very useful for keeping you focused on what is really important, rather than what is merely practical. Enjoy humming the theme song, walking a little straighter and taller, go ahead and spend a moment to think deeper or even daydream about the Good, the Beautiful and the True, such thoughts range deeper into you and carry you farther forward into time than I think we might imagine - and shaking them off the moment the book or movie is over just might give you a case of the Metaphysical Bends, potentially fatal to a well lived life.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Harry Potter and the Literature for Children vs. the Childish Literati

If you've stuck your head out your door or into the worldwideweb recently, you'll be aware that the final book in the Harry Potter novels is due for release shortly, and there is also a movie of the fifth book in the series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which has just opened. I enjoyed it, even more so the second time. My only frustration was realizing that each scene was missing 20 minutes of material from the book, but that’s also the explanation why they kept strictly to the core of the story, instead of straying. It was done well, taut from start to finish. Dicentra has a good review & link to another review by Orson Scott Card.

But the latest movie is not what I wanted to talk about here; rather, I’d like to talk about all the talk about them. There has been an enormous amount of commentary about both the movie and the upcoming book, and about the value they do or do not have - whether or not they are another nail in the coffin of the literature of western civilization in general, or its salvation.

Now, there are a number of people who don’t like the Harry Potter books, not due to some dislike of imaginative fiction in general, but because they just find no appeal in the stories, and that is fine, I’ve no quarrel with them.

However a significant number of the commentaries are by sniffy toned folk, seemingly intent on impressing us with their maturity, declaring that they are not going to be sucked into wasting their time on anything which has words such as 'leviosa!' strewn throughout its pages, and not only magic but anything so silly as a school of wizarding and magic!

Oh Pish posh! A fine example of this type of twit is the aptly named 'Frik Els' not knowing what the frick a Frik is, I can honestly say that I've no idea whether it is a he or a she – so I can deliver a nice cheap, yet honest insult, by referring to Frik as in It. Somehow this seems rather appropriate. From its review:

"I'VE BEEN ABLE TO avoid reading one of the 325m of JK Rowling's
escapist novels sold, despite pressure from people I thought were

Escapist. Ah. I suppose that's because it uses imaginary settings, wizards and fanciful characters? One yearns to hear its take on Dante’s Divine Comedy, or George Orwells ‘Animal Farm’ “dead poets leading people through the rings of hell, or talking pigs running farms – how unrealistic, what escapist foolishness!”.


It continues:

" ...as for Harry Potter getting children to read literature again,
that's like saying SMSing encourages writing skills.”

I’m not so sure you can point to a chain of book types leading to others, such as “Pot leads to Heroin!”, it’s due more to the readers awareness and inclinations. My own bibliohistory began with Tom Swift Jr. books, then pulp westerns, Stephen King, Patricia K. McKillip, Frank Herbert, J.R.R Tolkien, Shakespeare, the Greeks, Montaigne, and so on. It is not so much a case of one leading to another, as one type of book became insufficient to fill me up, and I looked for something more. Once I discovered Literature, lesser ones wouldn’t do, except maybe as occasional minor distractions. I don’t know if readers will seek “higher” literature after reading Harry Potter, but I suspect that after having enjoyed the real thing (more on that below), I am pretty confident in saying they are unlikely to be satisfied going back to something like R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps.

“ I'm just glad that the films take a bit more than two hours, while skimming
through 600 pages of Anapneo!, Carpe Retractum!, Waddiwasi! and Levicorpus!, to
name just a few spells, may just waste a whole afternoon. "

A whole afternoon is its estimate for the time needed to ‘skim’ a 600 page book? Doesn’t sound like the voice of much experience, does it? Skimming through 600 pages in an afternoon may be appropriate for business or computer programming books, but attempting such a thing with literature, good or bad, is a guaranteed inoculation against the possibility of encountering worthwhile thoughts or other such uncomfortable experiences.

Doubtless Frik has enough vaccinations against all forms of reflective thinking to avoid any thoughts outside the workaday world, studiously keeping to 1 + 1 = 2 (though algebra might still give him the shivers) must be so very comforting.

C.S. Lewis, in his excellent “An Experiment in Criticism”, noted that those imagine-ifobic folk that seem intent to show that they alone are focused on the important issues of the day, that they are mature, realistic and deeper than those who indulge in ‘escapist’ fiction and fanciful tales, it is they who are the ones recklessly in flight from the deeper and more important issues.

The truth is that nothing is more escapist than that fiction which strives for the utterly realistic, or that non-fiction fully determined to be serious and above all, humorless. A certain degree of immaturity clings to them with their insistence on limiting their thoughts to only those things which realistic behavior in daily life applies to, the image of a 13 year old sniffing at a toy as “kids stuff” comes to mind.

What they don’t seem to realize is that people are much more easily deceived by those things which ape ‘realism’ and seriousness, it is the simplest of things to mask falsehood as accuracy (truth really doesn’t apply for such folk), it is the simplest thing to concoct a selective set of out-of-context facts and statistics to convince people that their accelerating in the passing lane is actually jeopardizing the world’s very existence (Global Warming anybody?)

They are deaf to what C.S. Lewis, Dante, Aristotle and so many others knew, that the Poetic or as it’s being called here, fantasy, is much better suited to illustrate what is True, by using situations which are obviously not real, in such a way that what is True in them is not encumbered by being associated with simple transitory facts.

It is simple to quote rain fall measurements and random effects of clorofloro carbons and conclude that the end is near, but it is nearly impossible to imagine a plausible lie in opposition to Dumbledore’s ‘The time is coming when we all shall have to choose between what is right and what is easy’, or Harry’s ‘We’ve got something Voldemort doesn’t have – something worth fighting for’. Difficult trying to imagine ‘Remember, what is easy is always the better choice over what is right’, or ‘Voldemort is angry, hateful, friendless, keeps followers only by the threat of destruction – wouldn’t we all prefer that kind of life to one of associating with friends, family and loved ones?” Doesn’t quite work, does it?

It is the fool insisting on the realistic, who is the escapist – desperately seeking to escape consideration of the deeper truths which are the pervue of literature, reflections of the Good, the Beautiful and the True, this is what Literature, whether set in an actual or fantastical landscape, is concerned with weaving its readers into.

Frik goes on to illustrate this odd fetish for ‘realism’ by making a desperate grab at tying the movie to its own flattened view of reality:

"Heavy-handed political analogy also makes its way into The Order of the Phoenix. Written at the time when Britain and the United States were preparing to invade Iraq, Rowling takes swipes at government and media propaganda and the stifling of dissent. I don't know if Rowling included those themes for the sake of her adult readership, but in 2007 it loses all impact."
I can honestly say that that is a ‘thought’ which never occurred to me while reading any of the Harry Potter books, and being a sympathizer of the vast right wing conspiracy, that is something I’m usually on the lookout for. I submit that anyone who takes Harry Potter as some type of allegory for the details of current events, rather than an illustration of what is timelessly true behind the events of any age, is seriously twisted.

An Outrageous Black Lie
Should the Harry Potter books be considered Literature? What is it that marks some work as Literature, and others not? Whether it is Children’s literature or not, is irrelevant, the themes and situations, plot & characters, and to some extent the language used and so forth may themselves indicate whether or not a story is to be considered Adult or Children’s literature - but in either case, if it is literature, it will be worthwhile and worthy of being read by children as well as by Adults.

More relevant, is whether or not the story touch upon a significant number of what Mortimer Adler called the Great Ideas? Does its contents handle thorny implications and dilemmas associated with issues of character and virtue, the complications of living in community and with the law - of what is Right and what is Wrong. How does it approach the question of authority and the questioning of it? Does it treat of the Good life, and do so respectfully, and does it mark the wasted life and do so in a fashion that does not ultimately glamorize it? Does it illustrate the importance of living a life with and in Meaning, does it draw your imagination - either explicitly or implicitly - towards consideration of the Good, the Beautiful and the True? Does it employ Humor, and if so, does it use it in the services of the Good, the Beautiful and the True - or in opposition to them?

In short, does the story deal with the issues of living a life of choices and the importance of striving to choose well?

Is it's story, it's plot, well constructed, or does it pointlessly recite a meaningless stream of images from 'reality'? Does it manage to seem plausible not only within the world it constructs, but also without conflicting violently with the world without, which you must read it from?

Does its language... please? Are its sentences constructed in such a way as to give delight in their reading? Do you wish to savor the language? Does the author succeed in being Eloquent? Perhaps most importantly, does the language successfully affix the stories significant points and thoughts to your soul?

These are the questions which should be in mind when considering whether or not a work of literature is worthy of being considered literature.

Those familiar with the Harry Potter books know that these issues are the very fabric of J.K. Rowling’s plot, setting and characters. They Great Ideas are not delivered as platitudes, such as Polonius’s ‘neither a borrower nor a lender be’ and other disconnected truths strewn out as parting good luck charms to his son in Hamlet (Act 1 scene 3), here they are almost innocently raised in the first of the books, and through succeeding books they are developed along with the maturing of the characters. The Great Ideas and conflicts are more and more seen to clearly stand out in the choices the characters must make, inexorably driving the story forward as these issues and their implications become clearer and clearer.

I literally began reading the stories as bedtime stories to my two boys. That continued through the second book, and by the time third book was released, neither had the patience to wait for bedtime for me to read it to them though occasionally they'd have me read parts of them out loud because they liked my 'voices'(Proud Dad strokes ego, puts back in box). Much as I enjoyed reading them to them, that ceased to be the reason I read the stories by the end of the second installment.

Perhaps above all, the books are thoroughly delightful to read - and they certainly succeed in affixing their major themes and points to your soul. Lines such as "there is coming a time when we will all have to choose between what is Right and what is easy" is shot through with truth and relevance and is memorable in and of itself.

J.K. Rowling was recently quoted in describing her books as “ "profoundly moral", adding: "I think it is a lie to pretend that even children of 11 don't have to make moral decisions. I think it's an outrageous black lie."” I couldn’t agree with her more.

Literature and the difference between children's literature and childish literature

What, one wonders, would the sniffers who denigrate J. K. Rowlings books point to as proper alternatives to them? What do you suppose Frik considers to be worth its time reading?

Books and movies which deal with 'adult' themes? Perhaps stories which deal with the descent of a man's soul into a wasted conflict of alcoholism, drugs and illicit sex, perhaps? Betrayal? Compulsive obsessions, perversions, violence and the pointlessness of life? These are what, more than anything else, you’ll find as the major themes of modern ‘Adult’ literature.

Are these really Adult themes - or settings which, though they are undoubtedly unsuitable for children, are far more childish than adult in nature?

These books, pre and post modern, focus and turn upon issues in which the characters have utterly failed to identify a need for morality or principle in their lives, have failed to choose between Good and Bad in an adult manner. It is safe to say that if these characters of ‘adult’ literature, and probably their authors, had ever been presented with the great ideas, they must have turned away from them, not wishing to exert the effort of mind or soul to properly consider them. They would and did refuse them any place in the forefront of their minds as they crawl through life, preferring instead to do that most childish action of all, choosing to do or not do, because of the immediate gratifications perceived to flow from their present actions.

These so called adult stories are nothing more than the illustration of lives flushed past the issues of the great ideas, and into the sewer of immaturity and pointless animal like existence.

Is that Literature? Not even close. Are those who praise it to be considered literate in any meaningful way? Nah, just childish literati, to whom you are well advised to shout ‘Expelliaramus!”

Sunday, July 15, 2007


I've been tagged. This is my first tagging, so I'll give it a shot. The rules are:

1. Let others know who tagged you.
Gagdad Bob at One Cosmos, who was tagged by The Gates of Vienna
2. Players start with 8 random facts about themselves.

3. Those who are tagged should post these rules and their 8 random facts.

4. Players should tag 8 other people and notify them they have been tagged.
I believe most of my list has already been tagged; I'll try extending it to Wit Nit and DeepThought.

1) As a kid, I wanted to be an Architect; I used to build models of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings and of the World Trade Center out of balsa wood and plastic sheeting. Of course my standard teen side then kicked in by lighting them on fire and blowing them up with firecrackers.

2) I pulled out of going to school to be an architect, when after a year of drafting, I realized I'd go insane spending hours drawing detailed sketches of pea gravel and rebar. I sometimes wonder how life might have changed had CAD (computer aided design) been widespread at that time.

3) I went to college at UNLV looking for Prof Kingsfield from The Paper Chase “I’m going to take your skulls full of mush, and teach you how to think… like lawyers”, but found a collection of uninspiring high school teachers with bigger rooms instead. So, still intent on gaining an education, I left college and joined a band full time.

4) Our first real booking was going to be 3 weeks in Lake Havasu, with entry into other circuits. We had friends help pack up all our gear into U-Haul trucks and trailers, drove down there, and the bar people recognizing us from our trial show a month earlier, said "Hey! Good to see you guys - what are you doing here?"

That was not the greeting we were looking for. Seems new ownership took over the week before, chose a new direction for the club & cancelled all bookings. Unfortunately for us, we'd all quit our day jobs the week before as well. Back in Vegas, we tracked down the agent who 'handled' us - large knife handles conspicuously displayed from our pockets (they were actually butter & table knives, but they looked impressive), and managed to get a smattering of scattered bookings for the next few months, but we were in trouble. Scattered bookings in Nevada, can mean driving hundreds of miles to such scenic wonders as Tonopah (200 miles), Ely (400 miles), Reno (400), Kingman Az (100 miles), Winnemucca (500), Needles Ca. (115 miles) & Various desert parties (Kegs, generators & flatbed trucks out in the middle of nowhere), etc.

5) The Drummer and I were splitting a house rental in a less than savory area of North Las Vegas, where we practiced in the living room - we supplemented our 'income' by throwing open the doors to neighborhood friends (roadies & groupies) to watch us practice & hangout - price: food (loosely defined, mostly hot dogs & popcorn) and beer. Ma & Pa Harvey were less than impressed with my plan for upwardly mobility, but were amazingly wise and supportive about it. Course they didn't know about Steve's plan to help supplement our income - he took it upon himself to begin growing a massive pot plant, seemingly crossbreeded with a strain of sequoia.

Luckily after he made a few profitably prunings, some of our neighborhood 'friends' discovered the red leafed sequoia & harvested it while we were out - roots and all. Steve was devastated, I was relieved, and we focused on a new method of income supplementation - wearing our "LiveWire" band trench coats to various all you can eat buffet's on the strip, always walking out several pounds heavier than when walking in. Amazingly capacious pockets in those old ankle length army trench coats.

6) The day job I quit was as a lathe operator at Cardinal Steel, making stainless steel bolts for nuclear power plants. Nothing like having slinky like spirals of steel whipping out at you, showering you with cutting oil for 8 hours a day, to make you eager to quit your day job.

7) I've pan-handled for chicken franks in San Deigo. Another less than effective agent, booked us into a club whose stage wouldn't even hold our drum set, let alone the full band. We fired the agent, and decided to stick it out there, if you're going to be stranded and out of work, on the beaches north of San Deigo (at least as it was 20 years ago) was the place to do it. We did the ol' get out the guitar's & lure the locals to support the new poor starving artists. It worked, and we made that our home for June through December. A very interesting time.

8) I am amazed that, even taking into account all the things my kids don't realize I know about the things they think they've managed to keep secret from me, how they've managed to do much better than I did in general, Academically and even friendship wise. And how strong my parents were, and smart, knowing when not to try to 'save' me from my choices - the area of North Las Vegas I first moved out to was far from the upper middle class world they raised me in - and how effective the most profound lessons they taught me were, simply by living as they did, and being who they were. I was one lucky kid. Hopefully I'll be able to pass those lessons on.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Culture, on The Face of it

On a recent exchange at Webutante's site (you've got to see the comments by Australia’s Prime Minister Howard at the end! Fantastic!), in which she defended Howard, and had some scorn for the Bush administration who had their women scarf-up for a visit to a muslim shrine, a commenter took her to task for 'fearing' to respect (translation: kowtow to) muslim sensibilities. Vienna VA asserted "...Muslims will never be able to impose Sharia law here.”

To which I responded by asking "Why not?"

Vienna VA also found it reassuring to note that "...most Muslims don't even want to live under Sharia law..." That is likely true. Including in those places where it currently rules. And how is that supposed to be reassuring? Again, to the refrain "it couldn't happen here", I ask, why not? Why couldn't it happen here? What would stop it? Politely acquiescing to their eagerly offended sensibilities? Please.

Vienna VA further responded "Uh, I don't know. I'm guessing because the 295 million people who live here and aren't Muslim won't accept it?", and asked for one citation, law, etc of sharia law passed in our history, to justify our being being 'fearful' or I suppose contemptuous of the scarfed Bushies.

Quick recap. No matter the name of the 'War on Terror', it is a war on Islamic Fundamentalism. That our Administration would appear at an Islamic dedication, decked out in deference to its sensibilities - in disregard of our sensibilities as a nation attacked and wounded by those who REQUIRE their females to wear scarfs and potato sacks, is I think INEXCUSABLE, DISGUSTING and all around unacceptable.

Is it likely that our 295 million people are going to bow to sharia law anytime soon? Perhaps not. Frankly, that's so far from the point as to not even make the target range. The point is, that that picture is going to be viewed by numerous gunny sack attire imposing islambies, and they will be heartened by it. That alone is outrageous.

The obvious interpretation of the picture is that we seek their approval, seek their acceptance of us, seek to have them acknowledge that we have pleased them and are perhaps nice people after all.

In a time of War. Asstounding.

But we've got worse problems than the islambies to worry about, we've got ordinary people running around thinking things will never change, and all change is good, just be nice & be happy. Our real problem, is that this viewpoint is the one most prevalent among the cultural media, is the face of our popular culture - and That is something to worry about.

Numbers Don't Mean Squat
What Vienna VA and other members of the culturally clueless don't seem to grasp, is that a culture is not led by the opinions of its majority. A culture is led by those who effectively position themselves as its public face. It doesn't take a majority to impose the rules. It only takes an active, vocal minority to make demands and threaten those who disagree with them, to denigrate them - to put their face forward as THE Face, into your face, and with a majority who will not only let them do so, but will accept the denigration and embarrassment over their disagreements ("Gas guzzling, SUV Driving...", "Energy hogs.", "More concerned with comfort...", etc) in order to just get along, to not make waves, with just that and no more, the vocal minority will easily be able to rule - they will be perceived as the public Face of the Culture.

Webutante said "... to me political correctness and appeasement is generated by a deep and unacknowledged fear not to confront and make waves."


What leaders, good and bad, have always understood - and what the rest of us never seem to grasp, is that those who make up the culture, are only a very small slice of the population. Those who appear to be the guiding lights of the culture make up an even smaller slice of them. They are the ones who set the tone, or seem to, which the entire population will then seek to march in step with - even those who fancy themselves as the 'counter-culture' busily take note of the popular beat, in order to be out of step with it - making themselves if anything even more slavish than the simple follower.

For those who take comfort in the reassuring nods of their leaders and the accompanying phrases such as ‘it can never happen here’, just what is it that they think secures the 'culture' they live in? Numerical advantages? How many people are aware that the US Revolutionary war was supported by only a fraction of the populace - a third at best? That Hitler was voted into power by a small percentage of the population - which nevertheless was larger than the opposition groups? It wasn't because the majority of the people agreed and was with them, it was because a majority of the people weren't aware that they were the majority, and so they just went along with those few who they mistakenly took to be the majority.

Something discovered and put into practice by activists (left and right) has been the tactics of abrasively vocal minorities presenting themselves as majorities with a claim to the moral high ground. Ideally, that claim to the moral high ground will be legitimate, as with Samuel Adams when he was a pioneering practitioner, but all they really need to succeed is for there to be a majority who don't want to confront such people, and who will shruggingly accept that square-peg-into-the-round-hole-ifying phrase:"...No, I don't like them either, but still, they do have a point...."

Yep, I'm sure they do... and they're going to poke you in the eye with it.

The proregressives reached positions of power in this country, and successively achieved their agenda's, not because the majority of The People agreed with them... but only because the people either accepted that they had a point, or were willing to accept that they knew better and had "more proper larn'in" than they did, and most of all were afraid to have them appear to the public face as 'square', 'out of touch', 'old fashioned'.

The great sin of the MSM is that they not only allow this Face, this thinness of culture to continue, they propagate and participate in it (yes, there is more, much more to it than that – see some of my earlier posts – but this is how it appears on the face of it). In many ways, the last well balanced debate in this country was over the original adoption of the constitution. The Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers were marvels of principled thought coupled with passionate reasoning. Nothing like that has occurred since. Not the Lincoln vs. Douglas debates, not the civil war or Slavery, not over westward expansion or acquiring territories in Hawaii or the Philippines, not over either of the Roosevelt’s 'Deal's' or the world wars bracketed by them or anything else since.

Since that time we've mostly had to make do with a culture no deeper than its Public Face - an expression, a smirk, scowl or sniff – perhaps with an accompanying sound byte, which substitutes for, and wins all arguments. By talking down, over & shouting down an unamplified opposition.

But what few of the top leaders consider (publicly at least) - yet which I think all secretly fear - is that their power rests entirely upon the populations willingness to accept that their leaders know best, and that they themselves know very little, it rests on their willingness to feel embarrassed that they don't themselves know or have an interest in learning all the claptrap that the leaders profess, and that they will willingly bow to their threats and demands. It rests upon Nock’s & Isaiah’s Remnant not discovering that they are more than they think.

The leaders dread and fear this, because one single well placed refusal, can bring all their posturing and power lunches to a screeching halt. If the population hears one among them say 'No', listens to what's behind that 'No', realizes that there are others who think their same hidden thoughts and who also takes note of those same 'silly' and 'simplistic' facts and pick up on them, then the leaders positions are doomed.

Moral, Immoral or Not Even
On the face of it, you'd think that Westerners in general and Americans in particular are Immoral on the whole, or amoral at the very least "5% of the population but use 25% of the worlds resources!", "SUV Driving, gas guzzling, over concerned with their childrens sports teams", etc. Someone on another site had asked 'What one word would you use to describe America?'

My answer was: Moral.

But embarrassed about it.

And though the will to be moral is deeply ingrained in us, even still today, its verbal understanding is for most of us, exceedingly thin and is easily swayed; we can be led around by anyone who has a sense of conviction, a claim to wider understanding who can sell us that he has already done the research so we don't need to, and has found that 'it is the right thing to do'. The leader who can consistently and sincerely proclaim that, appear confident in that - wins.

It takes a lot of blatantly contrary facts piled up to make us open our eyes and think it through ourselves, and go through the distracting work of determining that he's wrong, and to realize what needs to be done, must be done, after all, we've got families & jobs & hobbies we'd much rather spend our time on. Churchill said Americans are a people who will inevitably do the right thing - but only after exploring every available alternative. He knew us well.

Culture's like ours don't fall by force of arms or decree - they fall by acquiescence, acquiescence to some small set of ideas whose far reaching implications and importance they completely fail to grasp. Usually catch phrases that seem to mean one thing, but are use to smuggle in something quite the opposite. "Got to be able to laugh at yourself", "Don't be Selfish", "Who am I to judge?"

Case in point, the much lamented state of civil discourse.
Most people didn't even realize that manners, civility and respectful behavior had been ejected from the public sensibilities until the late 1960's and early 1970’s, when their children began to curse them out and give them the finger while at the same time demanding that they have their holey jeans or college bills paid for.

As a culture, we were comfortable seeing ourselves as people like the Hardy's of the popular 'Andy Hardy' serials in the early 1930's with Mickey Rooney, where the kids were somewhat mischievous and precocious, but good, civil and respectful and where Dad was the wise Judge Hardy who could be counted on to help put things right in the end.

From there, the Dad's began to become more bumbling, the kids more and more ill-mannered, the elderly and authorities more and more infantile. There can be traced a very gradual, but nevertheless dizzying descent from the Hardy's to 'Ozzie & Harriet', to 'Father Knows Best' to 'I Love Lucy' to 'Andy Griffith' to 'Family Affair', to 'Happy Days', 'M*A*S*H', 'Mork and Mindy', 'Roseanne', 'Married With Children', 'The Simpson’s' and 'The Family Guy', and it happened in an Historical blink of the eye.

It was accomplished largely through one of a small set of Ideas, through the eye-rolling, scowling, admonition "Oh, come on, you've got to be able to laugh at yourself! Don't take yourself so seriously.' With no deeper consideration of what that could mean, the public bought it. It seemed to have a point, sounded ok, ‘what’s the harm in that? and besides, that mocking, eye rolling glare they give me when I object – I don’t like that, and laughter is the best medicine’. But the public didn't realize that they didn't mean laughter in the healthy, uplifting manner they all imagined, but laughter in the derisive, digging, cutting, destructive way of mocking all that you hold above you, that you admire and revere - laughing in that way that secretly says 'I don't have to live up to that, I only need to pull it down and step on it.', and get away with it with a laugh.

People who aren't taught to thoroughly examine their ideas and beliefs - won't. They are open to rule by the facial twitch of those in the fore face of the culture.

There is a reason that the schools do not teach the Federalist & anti-Federalist papers. As Aristotle says, a Liberal Arts education is best for a people who seek to be free and govern themselves as free people. A different Gov’t, such as an Oligarchy or Tyranny, would require a different people and a different sort of education in order to produce a different type of people, a people better suited to that Gov't's needs ('Hello Dewey, well Hellow Dewey!' – and Peabody, Allcot, Wundter… look them up, you’ll be aghast).

The Catch-22 in the Face of Culture
The still beating heart of American character, together with our incessant self questioning and freedom to do so, are still in a position to change the face of Culture in this land. The guiding lights of Culture are in power only as long as those charged with upholding them - We The People - believe and respect them, defend them over and above the murky and embarrassing alternatives (such as studying the issues for ourselves – yech!)... but when enough suspicion is raised that the majority is actually right in what they secretly suspect... then trouble is a brewing for the leaders.

When the silent majority stirs to an issue, the 'leaders' of that culture quaver and cave in, and the recent amnesty bill is a case in point. The difficulty We The People have, and which those same leaders well know, is that the We The People will go back to sleep once we see that things have been put right, and we will be difficult to stir us up again (or at least it has always been that way… in the past). That’s why they were so surprised that after dropping the issue for a week, We The People were still pissed off when they tried to revive it again the following week.

Still though, we do tend to go back to sleep to things which don’t interest us, and it is difficult to rouse us to their relevance.

Difficult, that is, unless we listen to and discuss things that the Faces in our faces might otherwise have wished that we had. Hence the special anger directed towards Talk Radio and the Blogosphere (on either side). Vocal Minorities, in order to seize and keep a hold on power, require that communication be as limited as possible to a one way conversation - from them on high, to you down low.

Any sign of actual two-way communication, public dialog, is anathema to those who seek and wield power for powers sake.

Talk Radio, the Internet and the Blogosphere flies right in the Face of that. They aren't used to us getting right back into their face. When you see the kowtowing, PC-speaking, West abandoning and America deriding fools peddling their crap with a straight face - stick yours right back in theirs. For the first time in history the remnant doesn't need to wait until after their culture is gone, they can asert themselves in realtime for eachother to see and recognize before it's too late.

Talk Radio, the Internet and the Blogosphere are tailor made for flying right back in their Faces.

Ain't that a shame?

Thursday, July 05, 2007

A True Anti-American Viewpoint

You'll need a strong stomach for this, as Michael Yon brings the news we should be seeing, a true view of what our soldiers face in Iraq, with Bless the beasts and children.

Whether or not America can bring about a 'Democracy' in Iraq, this polar opposite of American ideals must be utterly crushed, destroyed, and wiped from the face of the earth. Al Qaeda and its think-alikes can not be allowed to thrive, particularly in a part of the world so vital to our interests.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Celebrate the 4th of July, Support P.E.T.A! (People for the Ethical Treatment of Americans)

231 years ago, the leaders of America agreed upon a declaration of their principles in order to officially recognize and universalize their scattered actions into one common cause. Those scattered actions of Samuel Adams exhortations, the Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere & Lexington/Concord, Patrick Henry's '...but as for me, give me Liberty - or give me death.", Bunker Hill, all of these came together, 'From out of many, One' as a principled stand against tyranny, and for ... what?

What were these scattered words and actions, what were their purposes whose motivating principles unifying could be unified under Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence?

The smart set (meaning self-stupid-ifying ideological proregressives) would have us believe that it was for taxes (ostensibly), but even more so to further line the pockets of rich merchants and slave owners - and to a majority of the Signers, they could point to the facts of their lives and situations as support for their sophistry.

As is the case with most facts stripped from context and principle - they Lie. Most foully, they do lie.

The American colonies were settled by people seeking to live their own lives as they saw fit. I won't say they sought religious freedom, for as with the Puritans (who came later), at best they originally sought the freedom to impose their own religious tyranny. The Virginians (who were here first) came for gold and adventure. All of them found Reality. Stark and unbuffered by established traditions and aristocracies. Here in the wilds of America, they found only primitive savages, wilderness and need.

Those conditions, coupled with the mother country of England being distracted by continental concerns, left the colonists free to discover the razor of reality - what is false and useless, must be discarded. What is Good and True, and that most rare of things in a colony - the Beautiful, must be valued, guarded and promoted. The cream of western civilization was taught to their children, the classics & the Bible, and the new English/Scottish philosophers.

Slowly over the next 150 years, these conditions formed a hardy people. A people one part civilized and one part wild. That one part civilized, was civilized mainly by way of those virtues and ideals which didn't conflict with the one part that was wild. They didn't necessarily know what they knew, but beneath the knowledge they did have, through lessons of daily conduct, they learned the lessons of character formed of realities razor, through which they knew true Freedom.

That knowledge of freedom knew the folly of license, just as the Aesop’s ants knew that the foolish grasshopper would soon become their food. They had the lessons of civilization, knew of the necessity of Law, as only those who are confronted with the spectacle of savages and unvarnished reality can know it. They had distant memories of the best and worst possible in the rumors of civilization far away, and held the best of them as something to aim towards. They had a Goal - to survive and prosper, and they had the clear parameters of savagery or desolation to guide them. The Puritans early experiment with communism taught them all the harsh lessons of the feebleness of collective authority and 'ownership' of property, over the community of Individuals secure in their rights of Property, working individually together in community.

These lessons were learned and known in their spirit and conduct, even if they didn't know it in written understanding. They knew the True Freedom of freedom boundaried by reality and law. And they knew what it meant to stray from them.

Into this world 150 years in the learning and making, the attentions of the mother country, and of Europe, returned to them. They fought the French and Indian war with and for the British. And then the British sought to have them help to pay for it. For the European, insulated from the follies of bad economics and tyranny by millennia of established traditions, they thought nothing of their impositions.

Through the lessons of dealing with the Indians, and the wilderness, the colonists knew in their bones, the folly of forcefully trampling upon the sacred rights of property, of thinking that laws issued against the tide would stop it, immediately had their backs up. They couldn't well say what they didn't like about it, but they knew something was seriously wrong.

Into that void of being able to put into words what they all understood, came James Otis, Samuel Adams, John Adams and Dr. Joseph Warren. And they were soon followed by John Hancock, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine and so many others, all of whom form the body of the Founding Fathers. They put into words and deeds what they all already knew, that proper, civilized men dealt with their fellows ethically, or not at all.

Those who chose to act unethically, to act against Nature and Natures God, against Reality, was either a savage or a tyrant - and both unworthy of respect. Worthy only of defiance, and defying a European Tyrant entailed the use of cold steel and the risking of your life and your sacred honor.

Into that understanding, Thomas Jefferson, at the request of a committee of the best of the Colonists, put that understanding into the immortal words of the Declaration of Independence.

Review the sacred document well, and you will find it to be a declaration of and by Patriots for the Ethical Treatment of Americans, ethics which they knew and understood, learned deeply and well through the school of the Good, the Beautiful and the True - of Reality, and the Spirit which runs through it.



WHEN, in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's GOD entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the Causes which impel them to the Separation.

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their CREATOR, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate, that Governments long established, should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security. Such has been the patient Sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the Necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The History of the present King of Great-Britain is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid World.

HE has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public Good.

HE has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing Importance, unless suspended in their Operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

HE has refused to pass other Laws for the Accommodation of large Districts of People, unless those People would relinquish the Right of Representation in the Legislature, a Right inestimable to them, and formidable to Tyranny only.

HE has called together Legislative Bodies at Places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the Depository of their public Records, for the sole Purpose of fatiguing them into Compliance with his Measures.

HE has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly Firmness his Invasions on the Rights of the People.

HE has refused for a long Time, after such Dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining, in the mean Time, exposed to all the Dangers of Invasion from without, and Convulsions within.

HE has endeavoured to prevent the Population of these States; for that Purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their Migrations hither, and raising the Conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

HE has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

HE has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the Tenure of their Offices, and the Amount and Payment of their Salaries.

HE has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harrass our People, and eat out their Substance.

HE has kept among us, in Times of Peace, Standing Armies, without the Consent of our Legislatures.

HE has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

HE has combined with others to subject us to a Jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by our Laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

FOR quartering large Bodies of Armed Troops among us:

FOR protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

FOR cutting off our Trade with all Parts of the World:

FOR imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

FOR depriving us, in many Cases, of the Benefits of Trial by Jury:

FOR transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended Offences:

FOR abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an arbitrary Government, and enlarging its Boundaries, so as to render it at once an Example and fit Instrument for introducing the same absolute Rule into these Colonies:

FOR taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

FOR suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with Power to legislate for us in all Cases whatsoever.

HE has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection, and waging War against us.

HE has plundered our Seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our Towns, and destroyed the Lives of our People.

HE is, at this Time, transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete the Works of Death, Desolation, and Tyranny, already begun with Circumstances of Cruelty and Perfidy, scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous Ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized Nation.

HE has constrained our Fellow-Citizens, taken Captive on the high Seas, to bear Arms against their Country, to become the Executioners of their Friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

HE has excited domestic Insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the Inhabitants of our Frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known Rule of Warfare, is an undistinguished Destruction, of all Ages, Sexes, and Conditions.

IN every Stage of these Oppressions we have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble Terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated Injury. A Prince, whose Character is thus marked by every Act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the Ruler of a free People.

NOR have we been wanting in Attentions to our British Brethren. We have warned them, from Time to Time, of Attempts by their Legislature to extend an unwarrantable Jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the Circumstances of our Emigration and Settlement here. We have appealed to their native Justice and Magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the Ties of our common Kindred to disavow these Usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our Connexions and Correspondence. They too have been deaf to the Voice of Justice and of Consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the Necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the Rest of Mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

WE, therefore, the Representatives of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in GENERAL CONGRESS Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political Connexion between them and the State of Great-Britain, is, and ought to be, totally dissolved; and that as FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which INDEPENDENT STATES may of Right do. And for the Support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of DIVINE PROVIDENCE, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honour.

John Hancock.
GEORGIA, Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, Geo. Walton.
NORTH-CAROLINA, Wm. Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn.
SOUTH-CAROLINA, Edward Rutledge, Thos Heyward, junr. Thomas Lynch, junr. Arthur Middleton.
MARYLAND, Samuel Chase, Wm. Paca, Thos. Stone, Charles Carroll, of Carrollton.
VIRGINIA, George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Ths. Jefferson, Benja. Harrison, Thos. Nelson, jr. Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton.
PENNSYLVANIA, Robt. Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benja. Franklin, John Morton, Geo. Clymer, Jas. Smith, Geo. Taylor, James Wilson, Geo. Ross.
DELAWARE, Caesar Rodney, Geo. Read.
NEW-YORK, Wm. Floyd, Phil. Livingston, Frank Lewis, Lewis Morris.
NEW-JERSEY, Richd. Stockton, Jno. Witherspoon, Fras. Hopkinson, John Hart, Abra. Clark.
NEW-HAMPSHIRE, Josiah Bartlett, Wm. Whipple, Matthew Thornton.
MASSACHUSETTS-BAY, Saml. Adams, John Adams, Robt. Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry.
RHODE-ISLAND AND PROVIDENCE, &c. Step. Hopkins, William Ellery.
CONNECTICUT, Roger Sherman, Saml. Huntington, Wm. Williams, Oliver Wolcott.


THAT an authenticated Copy of the DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCY, with the Names of the MEMBERS of CONGRESS, subscribing the same, be sent to each of the UNITED STATES, and that they be desired to have the same put on RECORD.
By Order of CONGRESS,

JOHN HANCOCK, President.

The various HE’s and For’s may have changed between then and now, but the principles remain the same, and the necessity of defiance should be apparent to us now, just as it was to us then. Thankfully, today there is no need in this land for the use of cold steel against the tyrants among us and in our capitals, but the need to defy tyrants, to put into words the usurpations and offenses, and the statement of Principled words for what we all know and understand – remains very much the same.

Perhaps the recent amnesty bill will stir us again to defy tyrants, perhaps more is needed – we shall seek to keep the need alive and clarified.

Long live the Spirit of 1776.

Monday, July 02, 2007


19 years ago yesterday, I became a Dad.

It was a little unnerving. I'd just watched two pitocin jockey obgyn's casually slash open my wifes belly, flop out her guts onto her while they discussed fishing - it seemed that I was the only one aware that this was an emergency - more slashes, and then they pulled out a wriggling baby boy. A minute later the nurse handed me the swaddled creature and - though the experts assure me its not possible, just an odd coincidence of muscle spasms - he opened his eyes, looked into mine & reached out one hand and grabbed my nose - then went back to his annoyed wrigglings and whinings.

Yesterday went much better than it did 19 years ago.