Tag Archives: Psychology

Slimeballing, Suckerpunching Misdirection Games

Plutocrat Car

The Butt of a Bad Joke

Jack Welsh coined the phrase  “shareholder value.” Two pieces of the puzzle tilted in capitals favor from this four decade ago event. First, was an emphasis upon the share price. The second was the compensation packages for management.

Washington was not an innocent bystander. Tax cuts, trade policy, regulation all favored capital over labor. Unions were busted. Entrepreneurs were elevated to the mythic status of being job creators.

As a result income inequality is at an all time high.

Some will argue that taxing the very wealthiest of us and spending that money on programs to assist the other 99% of the population is this thing called “income redistribution.” A vocal well paid minority is opposed to this.

We increased shareholder value, we provided good products to customers, we ran executive compensation up 400% but we didn’t compensate labor.

You slime people as anti-business? That is not true. Most of us likes to do good business. Or,you can take your profits to Washington and buy more favors, cut more deals, or elect more politicians to your cause and keep your fingers crossed and hope.

But, one way or another. You either begin disbursing more of your profits to labor voluntarily or you will be forced by pitchfork politics to surrender more of your enterprises profits in the form of taxes.

It is capitalism finding a healthy balance. Our democracy is threatened by all of this. Middle class wages decline, the middle class shrinks and pretty soon we don’t live in a country we even recognize. Doesn’t that feel like what’s been happening? Isn’t that the truth of the way things are now?

If you oppose redistribution you should have been yelling at the top of your lungs while the rest of this was going on right under your own nose. And now that the bill has come due don’t insist there can be no new taxes, don’t pretend the banks don’t need any further regulating, or that the Boards of Directors of a publicly traded entity have treated labor fairly. They had a duty to balance these varied competing forces and provide our society with a mutually profitable outcome. They failed and for not the first time in history they’ll be taxed into compliance.

Eventually the bill comes due. Welcome to life…

The Mystics Guide to Pointlessness

Light Show in Atlanta
Blinded by the light…

“She’s perfect, and you’re perfect, the whole thing is perfect even though you know there is no such thing as perfect and that’s perfect… It’s Fukushima with a happy ending.”

I use the Eastern psychological model when planning a novel. It is simple. Characters can be described as acting in a wholesome and skillful way, or they can act in unwholesome and unskillful ways. Fortunately for the sake of drama most of us make the simple mistakes that make for such enjoyable reading.

The Eastern model of mind allows me to scrub the psychological field of play of all sorts of useless and misleading terms that seem to come overloaded with baggage I don’t need my characters forced into carrying.

My characters inhabit a world of virtue and vice. They lapse into this or rise up to that. We don’t need to have this mysterious world of the unconscious mind of a person accounted for. Those dim corners seldom carry the narrative to much besides confusion.

Most severe wounds leave unspeakable chaos in their wake and untangling it is flirting with pointlessness.

In the world that I live in people succeed and fail all day long in quite ordinary ways. They run red lights. They might lust for someone. Perhaps they don’t offer compassion where they see suffering. We each have some degree of capacity to help or not to help.

A good person isn’t a perfect person. They may well be an awful person who happened into their better nature for a moment in time. We live across a continuum of skillful and wholesome means. There are no endings. There is really more of this incessant doing that keeps happening. The phenomenal is quite exquisite and complexity astounding, but the fewer the brushstrokes illustrating consciousness’s mystery the better. I like the way that sounds even if it is not always true.

Eastern psychology is smudged with a divine simplicity- this is the mystic laughing, it is revelation, the magic of mind unmasked. The spiritual explorer’s for centuries now have traveled into the deepest parts of inner space and have returned with the ultimate fact about the nature of mind. It is at its essence quite simple. Eastern psychologies framework is not complicated. It is based upon how the mind actually works. Imagine that…

 

“How does the world’s greatest lover stay on top of his game? By asking his partners to lie down on the bed first…”

Hot Spring Honeymoon Front Cover
Click and Get a Laugh

 

His depth and wisdom give the reader a surgically precise but comic look into the relationship between the sexes.

 We loved it.  Upon deeper reflection, “Everyman” merges with “Everywoman”  to become “Everyone” in a small, dusty desert “Everytown”.

 

Lord of the Styles

Flatbush small

 

 

This moment’s style and fashion is so obvious. House of Cards has it, Veep deploys it, and Silicon Valley is based upon it.

Lenny Bruce skewered the sacred by roasting it atop the fires of the profane hypocrisy’s he alone seemed capable of speaking about.

And for each act taking one tack there is another cohort heading off in another. Nancy Meyers comes to mind, Seinfeld seems to wield this same aim, Nora Ephron… Then, there is the illustrative past including the direction of Frank Capra, George Cukor, and Howard Hawks.

Mel Brooks seemed to relish the hijinks of the soul of the Marx Brothers. Where Lenny Bruce failed at late night television an equally prolific and volatile Richard Pryor found the means of performing in this setting.

An adorable Eddie Izzard seems almost tame. Hedwig and the Angry Inch feature’s a transgender East German singer. The Book of Mormon if you search online will produce a vast stream of essays on the where to draw the line on what is too vulgar or obscene, and what we ought to do when sitting in a theater and what we are watching outrages us.

It is one thing to be the audience and another to be the creator. What seems clear is that once a project is conceived the skill is in working all the way to the edge of the style that the creator has invented. You do shock jock radio? You work to that edge. You do breezy afternoon commuter type banal styled talk radio you work to that side of the dial.

It comes as no surprise that given the crass bombast passing for political discourse that the cultural artistic entertainment community finds itself pulled in the same direction. Better the bomb throwing pugilistic types take their seat at the head of class. Oprah was a one of a kind and she’s off air and done.

Each of us that work’s in the narrative arts allows for some choice to approach. Any can work. We bow to the masters of one kind admiring their skills and talent while we remain on our own path.

The finger to the wind approach vexes integrity. Mel Brooks has to be Mel Brooks, and thank the gods for that. For the moment, at least this point in time, House of Cards, Veep and Silicon Valley are banking on finding their audience share by leaning hard upon one particular edge in a world that is in fact far more diverse than they can afford to allow for. In short there is a limit, every style can only take you so far, and from there you are on your own.

A View from the Nations Capital

watergate

Watergate 

 

If I told you who I had dinner with last night I would have to kill you.

 

Evidently the individual was privy to top secret information. He continuously looked around to see if anyone was overhearing the conversation. He was sure the gentleman seated at the next table was trying to glean nuggets of information that evidently could be used against him.

 

So, I thought perhaps rather than bogging down in the details why not go big, really big, global, and find out what he thinks is going on exactly here on planet earth as seen through the eyes of a beltway insider.

 

First, everybody and everything is bought. Okay, Is it the D’s or R’s? It’s everybody. Who’s doing the buying the banks? Nope… they are silly little intermediaries. Who is it then? It isn’t even the multinationals, they are too small and too weak. It is something more vaguely powerful than all of that.

 

Here was his answer. There are a group of organized syndicates that have enormous capital reserves invested around the globe, they are quasi criminal, decidedly uncoupled to any nation state, and singularly interested in what they are interested in and haven’t the least bit of time for the silly notion of running or managing a country. Got that? Voting rights, abortion, stand your ground, gay marriage… all of that is silliness…. These people are interested in commodities, in offshore tax havens, central bankers doing what they are told, and small countries with no economies having nice little revolutions that might clutter the front pages of newspapers to provide cover and distraction while they go about their merry business of global domination busily vacuuming up all that wealth, all those riches, all that fabulous loot. Evidently this group isn’t into the spiritual thing….

 

Washington DC is out of control because they want it that way. Capitalism, democracy, the Bill of Rights, constitutional form of government, corporations, free trade, the dollar… all that big stuff? These guys (girls too) transcend all that junk. It isn’t even anything to do with any of that. It does seem to beg the question if this is farce why the NSA? What are we trying to protect ourselves from?

 

And it is the perfect set up. Anyone starts trying to explain this and they are instantly placed into the loony bin of conspiracy theorists, inflammatory the sky is falling types. Nope, keep your head down and keep playing along, any conversation about the puppeteers of the Davos set is sheer folly, you will need to see the head doctor and start taking your med’s regularly. So sanity is a negotiable… sincerity a quaint and quite charming but exploitable character trait. If you raise your voice as our dear friend Edward Snowden has done you are in deep dew-dew… First rule of rules? Don’t speak about the unspeakable.

Anyway, there you go mates, a cheerful little view from a DC insider….

 

Kennedy

HOT SPRING HONEYMOON

 

 

Bambalina was worried near to death. He wasn’t even kind of the same man. If he’d kept working, even at this pace, unfortunate as it may have seemed Fletcher McCrea was going to be stupid rich and rock bottom miserable all at the same time. That kind of paradox could shatter the soul of even the world’s most shallow womanizer’s. The saddest part was the burro could see that Fletcher didn’t much care for his life any longer. Worse yet Bambalina could smell that he wasn’t even bothering to shower. There was no need, he wasn’t going into town and none of his women were driving up to spend the night. He wasn’t even getting drunk. He didn’t even have enough sadness for that.

Day after day he’d worked the tragic end of his sex life, over and over again in his head. The same answer spit out every time. Fletcher McCrea could not conceive of there being any method or means to his being faithful to one woman. It was neither natural to his inclinations nor a kind of way of being he agreed with. For Fletcher’s sex life to work right he needed to be all tangled up with one woman, but just for the night, and then best thing was if he was with a woman, he’d see another he’d have to have, and then he’d start dwelling on the other while he was having intimate relations with the one. His women all knew that. His way of turning his sex life into some kind of relay race was an adaptation, a coping mechanism. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t kind. It was simply the best he could do. It was incomprehensible that when Fletcher McCrea looked out from Pipe Dream Mountain across the open wild Great Basin bottom lands, he was looking as far as any man’s eye could see, and there wasn’t in eyesight another bunch of women ready to take over where all his former girlfriends had left him off.

The Unintended Mood Altering Political Disaster

S. Philip Morgan and his colleagues have identified an interestingly complex effect, after Obama’s election in 2008, Republicans became more pessimistic about the economic future while Democrats remained more optimistic; that optimism or pessimism influenced decisions to have children – to the advantage of blue states.

Claude Fisher, Professor of Sociology U.C. Berkeley

Dana and doug

 

The Red State Blow Back Rag

Well, put that in your pipe and smoke it! I hadn’t considered the effect pessimism would have on red state sex lives. I believe it was the loony Patrick Buchanan that pointed toward this impending disaster. But, if I recall it was his certitude regarding the migratory wave from our southern borders that was going to dilute the conservatives influence over government. After all it was this migratory influx with all that Latin sizzle on the dance floors and between the sheets that would lead to spectacular outcomes regarding birthrates. Conservatives just didn’t move as seductively either on the dance floor or in the bedroom. And with regard to the increase in economic inequality there is now a demographic effect being foisted upon the ever decreasing right winged part of our country! And so perhaps best to consider where our patriotic duty ought to be placed. I am an advocate for win-win outcomes. How about this? Blue state progressives think there are just too dang many people on the planet to begin with, while red state conservatives just can’t get motivated in the sack. So! Let’s just agree that for the moment these mutually opposite forces hold each side in balance. If this doesn’t work we’ll send waves of bad news to the blue states to dispirit the left while sending waves of good news to the red states to lift their spirits and just like that we’ll be right back to what American’s have turned out to be spectacularly good at… stalemate! The best we can do is nothing, and nothing is the nightmare known as an infinite regression. If there is even a kernel of truth to any of this it is time for us to go to the mirror look into your soul and laugh and cry.

HOT SPRING HONEYMOON

The saddest part was he didn’t much care about the size of his bank account. It turned out not to be the reason for his happiness. Worse yet Bambalina noticed he wasn’t even bothering to shower. There was no need, he wasn’t going into town and none of his women were driving up to spend the night. He wasn’t even getting drunk. He didn’t even have enough sadness to do that.

 

The Truth of the Thing

“I asked Norman Mailer which of the other art forms he thought being a novelist was closest to. “Acting,” he said.

Under the Influence, Andrew O’Hagen.  April 27, 2013 Financial Times

Petaluma Turning Basin

Following the River, Guided by the Light

WHAT WE USE

Most of us are familiar with the list of elements that the novelist utilizes in the building of a story. Here and there the best of the writers point at one element or another. How a character reads off the page influences our sense of the truth of the thing. Their behavior allows us to be swept along trusting that what will happen corresponds to our understanding of humanity. And so the actor/writer feels their way into the scene. We inhabit the scene and stake out what a character would do if placed in circumstances such as those we find in a story. What may not be as obvious is that regardless of the premise, the plotting, the outline, character sketches etc… there remains the task of entering into the realm of the situation. We net out the truth and dispose of what rings false. Most of it is by trial and error. Sometimes we nail it on the first attempt while at other times the task eludes us completely and we are forced to reconceive the entire circumstance we’ve concocted. Story proceeds by characterization. From there anything can happen so long as our expectations of how that person might act or speak rings true.

HOT SPRING HONEYMOON

“Hazel Harwood! I aim to peel you like an apple, lick you like a lollypop.”

Hazel froze in her tracks. She knew that voice. She slow turned and bent down picked up first thing she could find. It was a rock.

Keefe smiled and waved his arms wild like over his head.

She threw that rock at Keefe as hard as she could.

Keefe was so excited that she’d noticed him. “Ain’t she something…”

Slow Down You Move to Fast, You’ve Got to Make the Morning Last

1939 Chevy......almost exactly same engine as 1955...Oh yeah that's me

Running the mile in less than four minutes, we knew it could be done we just didn’t know what it might mean.

Now the rate of change seems to sweep whatever it is we are doing now into the dust bins of our present. So we sit with one foot in the present while we mock the latest release as almost but not quite right.

We are so drowning in fact that fiction is deemed quaint and irrelevant. Where and to what do we point? The modern man is an immigrant? Is he a banker? Is he toiling at a job that no longer exists or is soon to be outsourced?

To offer a perspective on what it is that is happening our audience needs to hold some collective grip; a shared experience. Since we have shattered, blue and red, Wall Street and Main Street, D’s and R’s, independents and libertarians, and these only describe a fraction of what has been shattered, the whole of what is being broken into pieces is even more sacred, more ancestral, more human and more at risk than any of that.

Here each individual offering, each solution is slapped down and stomped out. Some writers offer chaos theory, others comedy, still others give it a shot, but before the shot is given a chance to hit its mark the mark has moved; the rate of change is like that.

There is so much disappointment. I can barely find a movie I want to see. There is hardly a politician I want to vote for. There is not a tax I like, and not a birth control device I can put the whole of my faith in.

How do we explain this? I’m not a skeptic. I am not fatalistic. I’m not even pessimistic. But, if in foreground is my perky self and in the background is a world that is unable to manage itself, a world that is unable to control itself, its industries, its politics, its aim and future?

If you were going to write about the world you see and try to speak to all of us, not just some, but the whole of humanity, to help shape us, warn us, change us, evolve us, inform us, what and how in the world might you do that, now that you know that what you have to say falls upon a world imprisoned by the sheer rate of change.

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