July 23, 2017

Source: Feminist Philosophers Blog

July 23, 2017

"We do not go into the desert to escape people
but to learn how to find them;
we do not leave them in order to have nothing more to do with them,
but to find out the way to do them the most good..

I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though I may be lost 
and in the shadow of death. 
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me 
to face my perils alone."

-Thomas Merton

July 23, 2017

if we make it through you
it is only because of you
and if what i say is true
there is no me before you

July 23, 2017

Words and labels can be empowering places,
  to rest and reflect along our way.
But never contract to own permanently what we can borrow freely.
Do not create for yourself the illusion of ownership;
You merely create a new attachment. Additional baggage. Slows you down.
  We cannot in truth own any words or labels.
  We cannot in truth own people, places, things, or ideas. 
But all of these can come to own us, following strictly our own terms.
And they so often do.  



Brenda the Civil Disobedience Penguin v the Sinister Bureaucracy

A Cartoon by First Dog on the Moon



Direct Action (Free) Agent: 1.

Bureaucracy: 0.

If I have a child, name her Simone.




Follow your dreams

wherever they lead,

don’t be distracted

by less worthy feed.


Shelter them, nourish them,

help them to grow –

Let your heart hold them

down deep where dreams go.


Be faithful, be loyal,

then all your life through

the dreams that you follow

do keep coming true.



Adaptation from the poem “Follow Your Dream,” by Cheryl J. Barclay

July 12, 2017

Noam Chomsky on the State of Our Union


NY Times, The Opinion Pages, July 5, 2017

Noam Chomsky: On Trump and the State of the Union

George Yancy interviews Noam Chomsky


Excerpts from the Interview

N.C. = Noam Chomsky

G.Y. = George Yancy

Note: excerpt descriptions in bold print are just me



Chomsky on the role of philosophers

N.C.: I am not sure just what Marx had in mind when he wrote that “philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.” Did he mean that philosophy could change the world, or that philosophers should turn to the higher priority of changing the world?

If the former, then he presumably meant philosophy in a broad sense of the term, including analysis of the social order and ideas about why it should be changed, and how. In that broad sense, philosophy can play a role, indeed an essential role, in changing the world, and philosophers, including in the analytic tradition, have undertaken that effort, in their philosophical work as well as in their activist lives — Bertrand Russell, to mention a prominent example.

G.Y.: Yes. Russell was a philosopher and a public intellectual. In those terms, how do you describe yourself?

N.C.: I don’t really think about it, frankly. I engage in the kinds of work and activities that seem important and challenging to me. Some of it falls within these categories, as usually understood.

Chomsky on the consideration of human suffering

G.Y.: There are times when the sheer magnitude of human suffering feels unbearable. As someone who speaks to so much suffering in the world, how do you bear witness to this and yet maintain the strength to go on?

N.C.: Witnessing it is enough to provide the motivation to go on. And nothing is more inspiring to see how poor and suffering people, living under conditions incomparably worse than we endure, continue quietly and unpretentiously with courageous and committed struggle for justice and dignity.

Chomsky on activism and hope for the future

G.Y.: If you had to list two or three forms of political action that are necessary under the Trump regime, what would they be? I ask because our moment feels so incredibly hopeless and repressive.

N.C.: I don’t think things are quite that bleak. Take the success of the Bernie Sanders campaign, the most remarkable feature of the 2016 election. It is, after all, not all that surprising that a billionaire showman with extensive media backing (including the liberal media, entranced by his antics and the advertising revenue it afforded) should win the nomination of the ultra-reactionary Republican Party.

The Sanders campaign, however, broke dramatically with over a century of U.S. political history. Extensive political science research, notably the work of Thomas Ferguson, has shown convincingly that elections are pretty much bought. For example, campaign spending alone is a remarkably good predictor of electoral success, and support of corporate power and private wealth is a virtual prerequisite even for participation in the political arena.

The Sanders campaign showed that a candidate with mildly progressive (basically New Deal) programs could win the nomination, maybe the election, even without the backing of the major funders or any media support. There’s good reason to suppose that Sanders would have won the nomination had it not been for shenanigans of the Obama-Clinton party managers. He is now the most popular political figure in the country by a large margin.

Activism spawned by the campaign is beginning to make inroads into electoral politics. Under Barack Obama, the Democratic Party pretty much collapsed at the crucial local and state levels, but it can be rebuilt and turned into a progressive force. That would mean reviving the New Deal legacy and moving well beyond, instead of abandoning, the working class and turning into Clintonite New Democrats, which more or less resemble what used to be called moderate Republicans, a category that has largely disappeared with the shift of both parties to the right during the neoliberal period.


G.Y.: What are the weightiest issues facing us?

N.C.: The most important issues to address are the truly existential threats we face: climate change and nuclear war…”

Chomsky on the connection between religion and social justice work

G.Y.: But what is it, Noam, as you continue to engage critically a broad range of injustices, that motivates this sense of social justice for you? Are there any religious motivations that frame your social justice work? If not, why not?

N.C.: No religious motivations, and for sound reasons. One can contrive a religious motivation for virtually any choice of action, from commitment to the highest ideals to support for the most horrendous atrocities. In the sacred texts, we can find uplifting calls for peace, justice and mercy, along with the most genocidal passages in the literary canon. Conscience is our guide, whatever trappings we might choose to clothe it in.


Chomsky on the demographic composition of the President’s political support base

G.Y.: Yet despite his unpredictability, Trump has a strong base. What makes for this kind of servile deference?

N.C.: I’m not sure that “servile deference” is the right phrase, for a number of reasons. For example, who is the base? Most are relatively affluent. Three-quarters had incomes above the median. About one-third had incomes of over $100,000 a year, and thus were in the top 15 percent of personal income, in the top 6 percent of those with only a high school education. They are overwhelmingly white, mostly older, hence from historically more privileged sectors.

Is Russian hacking really more significant than what we have discussed — for example, the Republican campaign to destroy the conditions for organized social existence, in defiance of the entire world? As Anthony DiMaggio reports in a careful study of the wealth of information now available, Trump voters tend to be typical Republicans, with “elitist, pro-corporate and reactionary social agendas,” and “an affluent, privileged segment of the country in terms of their income, but one that is relatively less privileged than it was in the past, before the 2008 economic collapse,” hence feeling some economic distress. Median income has dropped almost 10 percent since 2007. That’s apart from the large evangelical segment and putting aside the factors of white supremacy — deeply rooted in the United States — racism and sexism.

For the majority of the base, Trump and the more savage wing of the Republican establishment are not far from their standard attitudes, though when we turn to specific policy preferences, more complex questions arise.

A segment of the Trump base comes from the industrial sector that has been cast aside for decades by both parties, often from rural areas where industry and stable jobs have collapsed. Many voted for Obama, believing his message of hope and change, but were quickly disillusioned and have turned in desperation to their bitter class enemy, clinging to the hope that somehow its formal leader will come to their rescue.

Another consideration is the current information system, if one can even use the phrase. For much of the base, the sources of information are Fox News, talk radio and other practitioners of alternative facts. Exposures of Trump’s misdeeds and absurdities that arouse liberal opinion are easily interpreted as attacks by the corrupt elite on the defender of the little man, in fact his cynical enemy.

Chomsky on critical intelligence and the Union’s double standards in the international political arena

G.Y.: How does the lack of critical intelligence operate here, that is, the sort that philosopher John Dewey saw as essential for a democratic citizenry?

N.C.: We might ask other questions about critical intelligence. For liberal opinion, the political crime of the century, as it is sometimes called, is Russian interference in American elections. The effects of the crime are undetectable, unlike the massive effects of interference by corporate power and private wealth, not considered a crime but the normal workings of democracy. That’s even putting aside the record of U.S. “interference” in foreign elections, Russia included; the word “interference” in quotes because it is so laughably inadequate, as anyone with the slightest familiarity with recent history must be aware.

G.Y.: That certainly speaks to our nation’s contradictions.

N.C.: Is Russian hacking really more significant than what we have discussed — for example, the Republican campaign to destroy the conditions for organized social existence, in defiance of the entire world? Or to enhance the already dire threat of terminal nuclear war? Or even such real but lesser crimes such as the Republican initiative to deprive tens of millions of health care and to drive helpless people out of nursing homes in order to enrich their actual constituency of corporate power and wealth even further? Or to dismantle the limited regulatory system set up to mitigate the impact of the financial crisis that their favorites are likely to bring about once again? And on, and on.

It’s easy to condemn those we place on the other side of some divide, but more important, commonly, to explore what we take to be nearby.

Link to the Full Interview & Original Source:

Noam Chomsky on the State of Our Union


Seeds Already There

July 11, 2017

Cori Wong, Ph.D.


On the surface, I get the appeal of highlighting moments that signal a stark separation between recent ends and new beginnings. Enduringlong enough to realize those separating moments can make them feel like monumental achievements. For instance, a dissertation defense. A cross-country move. A new job. A new relationship. Another calendar year. (According tosome metrics, that’s a relatively comprehensive synopsis of my own life over thepast two and a half years.)

Living in those moments, the experience of transition often feels more excitingly palpable and present than other stretches of life – atime of change invites thatunique mixture of reflection about what is and has been and hope for what is yet to become. It encourages letting go of hang-ups and moving on – unburdened – from the challenges we have (or have not quiteyet) overcome. And the opportunity appearsripe toset out into a still unknown future, which,thanks to the…

View original post 1,388 more words


From a Letter to a Dear Friend

From Simone Weil, to Gustave Thibon


“Dear Friend,

It seems as though the time has now really come for us to say good-by to each other. It will not be easy for me to hear from you frequently. I hope that Destiny will spare the house at St. Marcel- the house inhabited by three beings who love each other. That is something very precious. Human existence is so fragile a thing and exposed to such dangers that I cannot love without trembling. I have never yet been able to resign myself to the fact that all human beings except myself are not completely preserved from every possibility of harm. That shows a serious falling-short in the duty of submission to God’s will.

You tell me that in my notebooks you have found, besides things which you yourself had thought, others you had not thought but for which you were waiting; so now they belong to you, and I hope that after having been transmuted within you they will one day come out in one of your works. For it is certainly far better for an idea to be associated with your fortunes than with mine. I have a feeling that my own fortunes will never be good in this world (it is not that I count on their being better elsewhere; I cannot think that will be so). I am not a person with whom it is advisable to link one’s fate. Human beings have always more or less sensed this; but, I do not know for what mysterious reason, ideas seem to have less discernment. I wish nothing better for those which have come in my direction than they should have a good establishment, and I should be very happy for them to find a lodging beneath your pen, while changing their form so as to reflect your likeness. That would somewhat diminish my sense of responsibility and the crushing weight of the thought that through my many defects I am incapable of serving the truth as I see it, when in an inconceivable excess in mercy it seems to me that it deigns to allow me to behold it. I believe that you will take all that as simply as I say it to you. In the operation of writing, the hand which holds the pen and the body and soul which are attached to it with all their social environment are things of infinitesimal importance for those who love the truth. They are infinitely small in the order of nothingness. That, at any rate, is the measure of importance I attach in this operation not only to my own personality but to yours, and to that of any other writer I respect. Only the personality of those whom I more or less despise matters to me in such a domain…

I do not know whether I have already said it to you, but as to my notebooks, you can read whatever passages you like from them to whoever you like, but you must leave none of them in the hands of anyone else…If you hear nothing from me for three or four years, you can consider that you have complete ownership of them.

I am saying all this to you so I can go away with a freer mind. I only regret not being able to confide to you all that I still bear undeveloped within me. Luckily, however, what is within me is either valueless, or else it exists outside me in perfect form, in a place of purity where no harm can come to it and whence it will always be able to come down again. That being so, nothing concerning me can have any kind of importance.

I also like to think that after the slight shock of separation you will not feel any sorrow about whatever may be in store for me, and that if you should sometimes happen to think of me you will do so as one thinks of a book one read in childhood. I do not want ever to occupy a different place from that in the hearts of  those I love, because then I can be sure of never causing them any unhappiness.

I shall never forget the generosity which made you say and write to me some of those things which warm and cheer us even when, in my case, it is impossible to believe them. They are a support all the same- perhaps too much so. I do not know whether we shall be able to go on corresponding much longer. We must, however, think of that as unimportant…”

-Source: Gravity and Grace, Simone Weil, 1952



What is my relationship to Simone Weil?

Simone Weil is my most beloved and esteemed philosopher queen, and she is my Angel of Death. Simone’s love for me is so powerful as to have the capacity to greet me at my own bridge across the void long after her death, and long before my own, though none of us can know not the day or the hour of the greatest hour of the greatest day of our life. Simone gives me the most precious gift I can ever have hoped to receive from a beloved, she teaches me a New language in my native tongue, only so that I may prepare myself to perceive and receive a Love even greater in magnitudes of power and magnanimity than her own. But we cannot receive what we do not perceive, and perception of Truth draws only from it’s own source. It takes practice and a willingness to let go of the familiar and the comforting we seek from the master’s tongue, and trust instead that Truth is powerful enough to transmute itself within you and in dialogue with you teach you anew how to speak Truth through your own Native tongue. Trust what is Good in you that yearns for Truth at increasing magnitudes of courage that greet each of your fears from weakest to strongest for only an instant before they begin dissolving the way only dreams do, the longer you no longer attend to them. Do not fear the void or confuse the feeling of God’s absence, we are comforted by even the absence of those we love most deeply and truly and unconditionally. Our salvation requires we wade through an hour of darkness, there are years for questions and for mysteries and for heartbreak and for confusion and there are years for answers and understanding and new magnitudes of revelation and Love. I cannot ask of anyone to take God purely on Faith, that would make of me worse than a hypocrite, but I can say risks are necessary for salvation, and taking risks in the direction of unconditional Love, for an Other or Others or for Truth, these sorts of risks taken in a spirit of humility and with a willingness to be vulnerable to suffering and discomfort (heart or mind) and through extreme adversity, can do much of the heavy lifting.

For those few, if there are any, among my beloved that can trust in me, then you can know what I say to you now is true, there are ways to Love beyond the void that are not yet revealed to us. There are perhaps countless paths, I took the path of Love and everything is more beautiful and joyful and captivating and mysteriously soluble now for me than at any point previous in my imagination. These gifts came to me while I waded, lovingly, through difficult absences, periods of acute grief and prolonged mourning, and the sometimes seemingly (but somehow, through infinite mercy and grace, not certainly) overwhelming senses of absurdity, abandonment, meaninglessness, and needlessness of suffering. If nothing, do not lose faith in your capacity to love, attend to this capacity, challenge and nourish it in new ways, observe what love means to you at ages 3, 7, 17, 21, 27, 31, and so on (it is both the same and it is different, no?) how what is True in it is there from the start, and feeds off itself at every juncture the heart opens itself once more to risk.  When a child, eyes and heart wide open, tells you I love you, who can doubt the purity in truth and conviction of that love? And yet, they are still learning love, our understanding magnifies, deepens, expands inwardly and outwardly, with each risk we take to love with less conditions and ego constraints than before:

Never allow yourself to love anyone any less in the present than at anytime before. Plateauing in your love for someone is (I think, perhaps possibly) permissible, but deepening and expanding through the worst adversity are better preparation to perceive the vastness of God’s Loving when even the darkest hour comes and you find yourself suddenly and without question of certainty gifted that Love in a magnitude of Abundance beyond anything our current imagination can conjure.

Now every now feels better than any of the best feelings I have felt in even my most cherished and precious dreaming throughout this life and at any moment prior. 

Do you see? There is nothing to fear.

For every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under Heaven (Ecclesiastes). The most stubborn mysteries reveal themselves in their right hour. We have only to wait and to train our attention, and corral it so as to act and speak always from a place of compassion, integrity, honesty, transparency, kindness, generosity, charity, good will for any whose suffering we can sense clearly or acutely and be present for and alongside. Stay as far away from judgments of rightness and wrongness as you can; God did not greet me in those fields, so I can say only that the truth in these words now viscerally stirs up feelings of absolute gratitude from deep within me:

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” 

-Jalaluddin Rumi

The most universally accessible process language for love I know of yet, that provides a clear, practical, secular, and intellectually palpable  (i.e. religiously neutered, in the case of present day academic cultural pageantry) approach to one’s own mindfulness training and awareness magnifying (consciousness-raising, spiritual awakening, spiritual liberation, coming to Jesus, finding God, worshiping the Love fairies, whatever your Native tongue, whatever, sequences of words are mere conduits and the more hollowed out the better) is by steady, deliberate, reflective, and continuous practice of the non-violent communication skills, as developed by the psychologist, Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, and detailed most accessibly and comprehensively (to the best of my present knowledge) in his book, Non-violent Communication: A Language of Life. Non-violent communication offers concrete communication guidelines that, practiced continuously, intentionally, and with all the passion to acquire a new vocation one can muster, draws in and fixates your attention on the present most morally salient aspects of compassionate communication in interpersonal exchanges. If you get good enough at it, then over time, you can sense and observe yourself gracefully floating away from the field of judgments of rightness and wrongness, and this disciplined directing of attention and creative energy will bears fruit for you and for everyone you who comes in contact with you. Acquiring and mastering the skills of non-violent communication can be understood strictly as a net gain. Imagine treating it like you would learning a New language that is required of you solely and exclusively in order to re-establish a long lost intimate connection, conversation, and a communion of souls between you and your most beloved, living or deceased. We are not here to judge each other, trust me, we are all readily badly good at that, by judging one another or playing politics so seriously we are sustaining Hell on Earth, hell is fueled by determinations of others’ moral blameworthiness (judgments), guilt, resentment, self-righteousness, anger, hate, self-loathing, insecurity, and at the center of all this, Fear:

“The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but it is really fear.” -Mahatma Gandhi

It is a deceptively simple equation: We are here to learn how to love each other as best we can learn how. I say deceptively simple because I know now that there is always more to learn above love, some of it so surprising as to render the miraculous altogether sensible, so I focus on learning love now more than anything else. Most of this may sound strangely familiar to you, as Simone’s words, initially so strangely sequenced to me, were simultaneously radically familiar to transmuting faculties operating within me, from beyond me, for because of me.

Truth lies to random fate to teach it virtue, to teach it faith.