Archive for April, 2012
In the world of Google upheaval that I have lived through in the past couple of months, I have consumed my share of Diet Mt. Dew and aspirin. So to cure my headache and to continue to contribute to all that is good in the real estate conversation, I offer you the first of hopefully many Jeff Foxworthy style best practices that I am seeing in the real estate industry.
I have entitled these posts, “You might be a Bloodhound if…” I think it is appropriate.
The first entry is from a friend in Manhattan Beach Ca who has what I think is one of the classiest videos to introduce himself ever. Try competing with the sincerity and the authenticity of this REALTOR:
Seriously. Go to the page…click the video and please share your thoughts.
I personally think that this type of video connects in all the right ways with a consumer. It would if I was the consumer.
Would love your feedback. (And NO I did not do the video. He sent it to me for my thoughts. grin
You might be a Bloodhound if…you create a video to connect with people like this. #justsayin for those of you twitterers..grin15 comments
Yesterday, I made a video discussing some of the ideas in Man Alive!. At one point, I mention Leonard Cohen’s line, “They’re gonna hear from me,” so I thought I would salute the song it comes from, Anthem.3 comments
Rick Danko, the third great voice in The Band, the too one easily overlooked. All three of these men are gone now, and the world is a poorer place.
Extract from Chapter 12. The love of Splendor is the life divine.
There is one more idea I want to take up with you, and I think it is the most demanding one I know. You had to wrap your mind around the self, after being told all your life to despise it, and then I sprung the notion of self-adoration on you. I undermined just about every dogma you have ever heard about, and then I made you eat anarchy-pie and like it – or at least not spit it out. And now I plan to make you stretch even farther, to go with me where no philosophy of reason has ever gone before.
Where might that be?
But, but, but… Heaven is for theologians. Heaven is for priests. Heaven, every smug academic will sneer, is for wishful thinkers who can’t handle the infinite hell that is human life on Earth.
I think you might be able to guess what I think about a claim like that. If theological pronouncements about ontology and teleology are intellectually useless, invalidities defended with insipidities, so, too, are the metaphysical opinions of modern philosophers, academics, artists, journalists and politicians. If you hate the self, in time you cannot fail to hate life as well – your own life and all of human life. You will not be able to stop yourself from sneering at joy, at hope, at ambition, at every value the fully-human life requires. You will look for nothing but evidences of failure and despair in the world around you, and your one, unique, irreplaceable human life will become the infinite hell you insist you see everywhere.
But what if you were to point your mind in the opposite direction?5 comments
“My biggest mistake was loving you too much — and letting you know.”
“Why do the best things always disappear?”
“Yeah, yeah, you know I sure wish I could yodel like Yoko!”
I was a teenage photo geek, and I used to spin up side two of “Before the Flood” and play it all night in the darkroom. The three voices of The Band — Levon Helm, Rick Danko and Richard Manuel — have been ringing through my head for most of my life.
“They should never have taken the very best.”
Further notice: The man behind the drums has left life’s stage.3 comments
Extract from Chapter 11. Indomitable you.
We all know that slavery is abominable, a vile and vicious practice, indefensible on any grounds. And yet we may not know – or may know but do not want to admit we know – that many, many slaves, throughout human history, have clung to their captivity and vehemently resisted manumission – freedom. And while you may want to insist that you would never prostate yourself like that – begging to be chained, begging to be abused, begging to be despoiled – precisely what is it you are doing when you sign your tax return? When you mail in your property tax check, paying, over and over again, so that the brute of the state will not confiscate the land you allegedly own? What are you doing when you show up, hat in hand, in one government office after the next, begging for permission to stay alive for one more day – so that today’s earnings can be expropriated just like those of the day before and the day before that, on and on for every day of your life?
There are a lot of different things I can say, when I meet people, to find out if they are still capable of thinking with the clarity of mind of any normal five-year-old, or if they have walled up their minds in some dank dungeon of mindlessness. This is one of my favorites, a truism that sorts the sheep from the shepherds from the living minds just like that:
Every time you lick a stamp, you’re kissing the master’s ass.
There is obviously no reason for mail delivery to be a state monopoly, no reason but mindless tradition and the inertia of thoughtless habits-of-mind. And there are obviously many good reasons for every sort of communications business to be handled by free-market enterprises. And yet you kiss the master’s ass with every piece of mail you send or receive, and the master rewards your obedience by piling vast hordes of unkempt, slowly-meandering union men on your shoulders, paying them at least five times what their skills and abilities are worth and conferring upon them million-dollar retirement plans – to be paid for by your hard work. You may have to subsist on oatmeal and ketchup when you come home for the last time from your working life, but every functionary of every branch of the state will be doing just fine – at your expense.
And you glance at me briefly and then you look away. You smile weakly and you shuffle your feet and you look this way and that and then you say, “Oh, well, you know…” I do know, alas. I live just as you do, half-free, half-slave, smiling and shuffling and trying not to notice too mindfully when I find myself begging – again – for the privilege of living my own life in my own way. I want to live, and so I volunteer to live as a slave. I want to have a nice home for my family, nice things for my wife, good food for us and for our pets. And so I kiss the master’s ass again and again – and so do you. I don’t care how much money you make or don’t make. I don’t even care if you yourself are a government functionary. If you are not living off the land – completely “off the grid” – as a feral human being, you are complicit in your own despoiling. You are a voluntary participant in your own enslavement.
And isn’t that a dainty dish? Just now, government functionaries at all levels of the state are desperate to figure out how much more wealth they can squeeze out of you – how many more sweetheart deals they can bilk you for, how many more lavishly-paid “jobs” they can give to their friends, how many more votes they can buy from grasping welfare slaves with your income. Here is the question they should be asking themselves: What will you do when you have had enough of being bilked and milked and pushed around?5 comments
I made a catalog of the means by which people gull you into betraying your own interests and values. Paul Kelly sings the soundtrack:
If this don’t make you dance, you need some Gin and Juice.
Extract from Chapter 10. A mindful catalog of mindlessness.
I like to play a philosophy game I call Backstory. I will look at someone – anyone I happen to see – and try to project backward in time to the past causes of that person’s present-day appearance. Toddlers and young children will have sweet faces, almost always, with no deeper meanings to be discerned. But older children and adults will have had many experiences in their lives, and those past events will have written an emotional history in the lines of their skin. Your mama told you, when you glared and grimaced at her, that your face would freeze like that, but neither one of you knew she was right: The facial expressions we wear most often – habituated Mothertongue emotional reactions – inscribe themselves into our skin. I can see those habitual expressions in the people I am watching. Their clothing and their manner will tell their stories, too, and it is interesting to me to try to suss out their histories, just by looking at people from a distance.
I stress that this is just a game. Every living organism, human or not, is in a certain sense a laboratory specimen to me. I am not cruel or intrusive in any way, but I watch everything I am blessed with the opportunity to see, and I learn everything I can from the behavior I observe. In consequence, I can tell you from having run repeated tests that a toddler at around eleven months of age is just about as clueless as dog, when it comes to finding a toy hidden under a shirt, but that same child at thirteen or fifteen months will be able to identify the toy by the distortion of the fabric of the shirt, where the dog will not be able to “see” it, even though the dog actually should “know” by its much better sense of smell that the toy really is there. That’s subjunctivity in its most basic form – the toddler “seeing” an entity that is not immediately obvious to his eyes, identifying it by its much more abstract geometrical shape – and this again is a bright-line distinction between the kind of epistemological method appropriate to a proto-human mind and the method “unthinkingly” deployed by a mere mammal.
I wish I could tell you that I see a lot of Splendor when I play Backstory, but I don’t. I see the basic ingredients of Splendor in the faces of toddlers and young children, but in older children and adults, mostly what I see are accretions of pain – not always full-blown Squalor but way too much of the squalid. But how could this not be the case, given that virtually all of the people I see are trying with all their will and all their mental might to live down to moral philosophies that no one can practice fully without committing suicide – without slaughtering the self of the body because they cannot ever manage successfully to slaughter the self of the mind? This is awful, outrageous, unbearably tragic. But in the long run, nature is just. If you damn your mind and your self completely enough, for a long enough span of time, you go to hell. You just don’t die to get there.
Extract from Chapter 9. The high cost of mindlessness.
Because you never trained your mind to think about the ontology of human nature – don’t fault yourself for that; no one else did, either – you thought they were just talking about you. You’ve known your whole life that you yourself have never been able to live down to the perverse ideas of “virtue” that evil philosophers and their mindless minions have never tired of preaching at you, but you thought the fault was yours alone. You thought that, since everyone incessantly repeats these inverted moral prescriptions, everyone other than you must be conforming to them, as well, and it must be you alone who is defective. You could not succeed in condemning – damning – your life and still living it, so you called yourself a “sinner” for committing the awful crime of continuing to live as a human being after insisting to yourself not just once but a thousand times that the self – the cardinal value in the uniquely-human life – is evil. How could you possibly claim to be good if you could not ever seem to do the things you insisted to yourself are good?
You didn’t know that nearly every other human being swims in that same steaming sewer of longing and shame, each one of them perpetually and persistently failing to uphold “virtues” that are – by diabolical plan and intention – impossible to practice. You didn’t know that no one can practice those perverse ideas of virtue – because no entity can both be and not-be itself. That is the essential statement of ontology, the law of identity, and we can characterize virtually all of moral philosophy, until now, as anti-ontological teleology: You should be only what you cannot be. But that proposition is inverted, too. What virtually all theologians and philosophers have insisted, for all of human history, is that you should not be the only thing you can be – a self, a being of rationally-conceptual volitionality, a free moral agent.
Why would they make such perverse arguments – not just false, but comically, ludicrously, insanely contrary to plainly obvious fact, now that we have fully disclosed the facts of human nature? Why would they do that?
In order to enslave you. And guess what? It worked.
They said the only good human is a mindless human, and – man alive! – did you deliver the goods!
Extract from Chapter 8. The integrity of art.
When I talk about Mothertongue and Fathertongue, I know that many people are straining to divide them up in their minds, to separate them and to regard them somehow as being opposites. This is understandable – it’s the way our minds like to work, in distinct categories – but it is incorrect. A genetic Homo sapiens becomes a human being when he masters Fathertongue, but none of us ever stops communicating in Mothertongue.
For one thing, since Mothertongue consists of bodily expressions of internal emotional states, we are “communicating” in Mothertongue all the time – even when we are all alone. For another, Mothertongue is necessary to many types of human social concourse – when we want to communicate love or hate, affection or indifference, trust or suspicion, admiration or contempt, reverence or ridicule, pride or shame, satisfaction, boredom, fascination, derision, impatience, joy, anger and countless other emotions. For still another, Mothertongue is essential to demagoguery and other forms of deception: I can say one thing – or a noisome nothing – in words and simultaneously communicate a different idea in facial expressions, verbal intonations or bodily posturing. And for still one more thing, Mothertongue is the essence of art.
A great song for Morality Day with Man Alive!. This is Clay Walker doing “Then what?”
You live an easy life, and that has made it easy for you to be thoughtless and glib about your values. You say things like “Whatcha gonna do?” and “Life’s a bitch and then you die,” and you don’t realize that you are making outrageously misleading statements about ontology and teleology – about your own unchangeable nature as a human being. If you are casting about in your mind for a slang expression that would have meant something to the father of Fathertongue, the man who gave you the first treasure in that huge cache of incomparable wealth that you could never have produced on your own, try this on for size: “Some days you eat the bear, some days the bear eats you.” But even that doesn’t fit, because once the bear eats you, it’s lights out. Game over. Forever.
When you are starving, there is no room in your mind for cynicism or boredom or superciliousness or ennui. You don’t waste your time crafting ridiculous arguments conflating unlike things, and you don’t deface, deride, damage and denigrate the very values you need to sustain your tenuous survival. A starving human being can think of many different things, but it seems hugely unlikely to me that any of those notions would win the approval of the smug jackasses down at the Student Union. They – and you – have the luxury of living off of a legacy of inherited wealth, in the form of the accumulated intellectual and economic power of thousands of years worth of carefully-curated Fathertongue. And like most heirs of unearned wealth, they have lived their lives – at least the life of the mind – as unrepentant wastrels.
And the truth of the matter – and I’m willing to acknowledge it, even if you are not – is that the only reason you are willing to attend to what I have to say now is that the people you trusted to manage your inherited wealth of Fathertongue have squandered your legacy behind your back. You are not staring starvation in the face, not quite yet, but there is an icy dread in your gut suggesting to you that things could get very ugly very soon. I am not a kind man, not at all, but I am not so cruel as to say, “None so deserving.” But, brother, you really did ask for what you fear you are going to get, and, if you do, you’re going to get it good and hard. You have time to learn to do better. While you are still alive, you always have time to learn to do better. But I think you ought to get very serious very quickly. Starvation is pass/fail, with no retakes if you blow the test. If the world turns against you, it will not give you an A for effort, and it will not grade your performance on a curve.
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Extract from Chapter 6. Evaluating values.
We like to think of human history as a clash of great men, their hair flowing in the breeze, their muscles rippling, their eyes fixed firmly on the horizon. In reality, virtually all of the so-called great leaders of history were just like our fearless leaders in the present day: Chiseling, conniving, endlessly grasping grafters, each one striving with all his crafty cunning to go one-up in the sleaziest possible way on all the others. We celebrate and revere the most successful career criminals of each human epoch, and we forget entirely the brilliant minds who actually produced all the riches we take for granted.
Still worse, we fail to note that each one of those renowned thugs was backed up by a scheming little shaman, a full-time professional rationalizer of evil, whose job it was to tell the same transparent lies to the boss thug and his henchmen over and over again, to assure them, again and again, that their actions were righteous because they so obviously were not, to keep them from drowning in the liquor they had to swill to quiet the cognitive dissonance within their own minds. That shaman – first a high-priest, later a theologian, still later a philosopher – was also tasked with the vitally important job of gulling fools into believing that a brute like Alexander the “Great” was a greater benefactor to humanity than a genius like Socrates. Just about everything you know of human history is a testament to the success of that shaman and his intellectual heirs.
Your values are inverted, and I can demonstrate this with an example very close to home. For your whole life you have been told – and you have probably believed – that the United States Constitution is a grand and noble document that exists to safeguard your liberty. In reality, it is a sort of peace-treaty drafted by three corrupt political factions in early America. The owners of the newly-erected factories in the New England and Mid-Atlantic states wanted to impose high tariffs on goods manufactured in England, thus to make their much-shoddier products more appealing to American buyers. Planters in the Southern states wanted legal protection for and official sanction of the despicable practice of human slavery. And poor ordinary people wanted “free” land, to be expropriated by the U.S. Army from the Native Americans who had occupied it thereto. The liberty-loving revolution of 1776 was contorted into a rent-seeking coup d’état by 1789, and the whole wretched abomination was rationalized in The Federalist Papers – which you very probably pretended to read in high school or college.
I cite that example not to criticize you but simply to draw your attention to the fact that you are being lied to most of the time by philosophers and other so-called “thought leaders” – and for the most part you don’t know it. What you learned best, in your very-costly education, was a contempt for the mind and for the works of the mind – and this is precisely what the philosophers who taught your teachers wanted for you to learn. You were taught to cherish anything and everything that does not matter in the uniquely-human life and to despise the one thing that does matter – the human mind. A dog will defend its food and a lion its lair, but not only will you not defend your self, you join with all your fellow men – “We’re all in this together!” – in heaping scorn on your sole means of survival. You are the only type of entity in all of existence capable of conceptually identifying the values your life – your self – requires. And you are the only creature capable of failing to do what your life requires.
This is not an observation to be proud of, but it is yet another demonstration of how much you are unlike other living things. The philosophers, theologians, academics and other would-be “thought leaders” who make it their business to convince you to despise your identity as a human being will insist that humanity’s greatest stain is to be found in the hydrogen bomb. What better proof, they demand, could there be of the incomparable evil that is rationally-conceptual volitionality – free will – than an artifact of the mind that can destroy all life on Earth? The human mind is pitiful, pathetic and corrupt, they insist, an ape’s brain with delusions of grandeur, And yet, somehow, it can contrive the means to exterminate all life in a flash. That much is funny, as all contradictions are funny once you unpack them, but they don’t know the half of it. If we were to collect enough random junk in space and throw it all at the same target, we could create a new star – a self-sustaining nuclear critical mass. How much more like a god must we become before we will deign to worship the awesome power of the human mind?