Monthly Archives: March 2011

review of ‘zeitgeist: moving forward’

over the weekend i watched the third in the series of zeitgeist documentaries, zeitgeist: moving forward. i ‘enjoyed’ (well as much as one can ‘enjoy’ movies telling us why we’re fucked in the ways that we are) the first two movies, although i found myself disagreeing with the solution first presented in zeitgeist: addendum: a resource-based economy, as demonstrated in the venus project. it just seemed too utopian in its vision and much too dependent on technology.

in moving forward, the idea of a resource based economy seems to have been kicked up a notch from addendum. but here’s the thing: the film is absolutely right in what it says about human nature and about how the monetary system will basically be the root of our demise. the first two films were right on in unmasking religion, christianity in particular, as a tool of control, as well as in the questions asked about 9/11, and in its explanation of how the federal reserve system works, to our detriment. the creators of this film series have nailed our society’s problems on the head, and then some. it’s the solution presented where these films are lacking, in my opinion. and i’m not one to necessarily present better alternatives; i’m not that smart. i think ultimately  solutions will work themselves out, out of necessity, as we cross various bridges. whether or not the solutions humanity comes up with will be enough to save ourselves remains to be seen. but, i think the energy that has obviously gone into the thinking about the venus project has been wasted, because this solution is only viable to someone who grew up on and believed what he saw on the jetsons. this well-meaning energy needs to go instead into planning for the future based on the way things are now, not working with a clean slate, which is pretty much the premise behind solutions presented in the film. (the earth exists with the same number of resources currently in existence, but i’m not sure about the number of people or what happened to the cities and/or countries currently in existence.)

in moving forward, jacque fresco, the mastermind behind these ideas, suggests building cities with different rings, or zones, designed for various activities. one of my questions is, what happens to the cities that exist now? are we going to raze all currently standing cities so these perfectly round cities with populations of 50,000-ish can be built? and each of these cities has an agricultural belt, where the city’s food (presumably vegetables?) will be grown in high rise one-acre gardens. with these gardens ringing the city, providing the city’s food needs, supposedly you wouldn’t have to go outside the city to get food ever again. if everyone in the city is a vegetarian, that is. a vegetarian diet is not an ideal diet, no matter what its pundits say. so, are you going to raise livestock in these high-rise towers? that would take factory farming to a whole new level (no pun intended). and it seems that some sort of artificial lighting would be needed in a high rise farm, because all sides cannot be optimally oriented towards the sun, which means some sort of power source would be needed. maybe it would be solar, maybe not, but solar energy requires extraction of resources as well (for panels). the devil is in the details.

additionally, this example of a resource-based economy is much too dependent on technology. it is suggested in the film that computers be used to globally monitor resources (the global monitoring thing kinda smells like big brother to me), so that resources can be shipped to where they are in short supply anywhere on the planet. but when the grid goes down, computers (and ipads and e-readers and smartphones and that big flat-screen telly, etc.) are going to be pretty useless, except maybe for use as doorstops or paperweights. and driverless cars, and trains that can get from china to new york city in an hour – it’s all basically wishful thinking bullshit. it seems there are more pressing needs than getting from point a to point b in the shortest amount of time, just because you can. (plus, what about the idea that it’s really all supposed to be about the journey, not just arrival at the destination?)

this utopian fantasy of fresco’s is still based on extracting resources from the earth on a massive scale. however, just because you have the ability to keep track of a resource and where you think it needs to go doesn’t mean the resource is available to be used to begin with. the fact is that any solution to the problems the people of this planet face (once the world economy collapses/the grid goes down) will have to deal with people learning how to do things for themselves, by hand, locally, and not dependent on a system whose home base may be on the other side of the planet. this means learning how to do things like growing and raising food, sewing and mending, even bartering and trading skills. besides, we don’t really have the time to wait for dr. fresco to build these magical cities that will solve all our problems for us with the push of a button, while we currently continue to grow more distant from one another, even with the world at our fingertips via the internet. we have to solve our own problems: ‘we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.’ and i fear that we may even be too late on that front, but no matter, there are some of us who see what’s going on and realize that we need to do what we can, while we can.

so, overall, i do support the zeitgeist franchise, in that it is waking people up and getting us to at least think about taking control of our own destinies. but i wish it would leave it at that, or at least offer realistic suggestions on how to do so, without proposing another system of control (which i think is rather ironic since much of the content of these films is about exposing the control world systems have on us). honestly i didn’t watch the last 45 minutes of moving forward (which is nearly 3 hours long), because my thought was that the solutions offered were pretty much non-workable. maybe i’m too quick to judge, who knows, but it seems to me that with converging global crises a very real matter, we just don’t have the time for this fantasy foolishness. we have work to do.

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same shit different year?

what a difference a year makes, right? 52 weeks ago today i moved out of what had been a cute little house i had shared with someone who at one time had been one of my best friends. i was moving into a temporary situation where i was to sleep on my sister’s couch, with my cat who didn’t like other cats (of which my sister had three), working 15-20 hours a week at the b&n with the possibility of a second job on the horizon, but not certain. even if the second job came to pass (which it did), it was only seasonal work, and i had no idea what was going to happen once the season was over. my plan for spring/summer 2010 was to find a room rental that was month-to-month and would allow me to keep my cat. at the end of the season, if i didn’t have a ‘real’ job, i’d pack everything and go to new orleans and see what happened. fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how one looks at it), in a relatively short amount of time i got a ‘real’ job (with benefits and everything! please note the sarcasm attached…) with the state of kansas and was able to move back to kansas city.

so things have gone relatively well since my return to the city. i have a decent job in a medical academic library, and my current living situation i couldn’t have planned better if i tried. (actually, during a reading with my psychic last year shortly after my move, she told me that i had ‘created’ this ideal situation in my head, and made it happen, something she said i have a real ability to do. hmmm.)

on the surface, it all seems pretty sweet. i basically could work this current job until retirement (20-25 years!), after which i’d have a nice pension, and in the meantime, i could buy a cute little house in the volker neighborhood, and live happily ever after, maybe as part of a happy couple, maybe as a single old maid librarian-ish person with a bunch of plants and cats. point is, most people would look at my current situation and tell me i’m set. hell, if i were a normal person, i’d think i was set.

last weekend, talking on the phone with one of my best friends, i told her that i was thinking of doing all that, buying a house and settling down. her initial response was, ‘you want to spend the rest of your life in kansas city?’ when she put it that way, well, um, no. and that question and answer have been gnawing at me all this past week. i mean, it even kinda had before, but i had pushed my doubts under the rug. i figured i could buy a house here, and ‘bloom where i’m planted’, literally and figuratively. a cute little fixer-upper with a decent sized backyard would provide me with the space to do the urban farming thing, and i could work full-time to keep the roof over my head. never mind that i have hated the past two winters here, swearing that i needed to live somewhere warmer (new orleans?). never mind that while i do have friends here, finding freedom-loving sustainability-minded integrally-informed people with decent taste in music (no lady gaga allowed!) here in the nation’s breadbasket hasn’t been easy. never mind the fact that even though i have a good job, it has its pitfalls, namely that there are days where maybe i do 2 hours’ worth of work in an 8 hour day, and those two hours (or four or seven, but never eight) consist basically of my moving bytes of information from one computer to another. and i tell myself that i’m helping out society by giving current and future medical professionals the information they need to help people get healthy, but most of the information i’m moving about is nothing more than folks with a bunch of letters behind their names spouting conventional wisdom, and you can look in any doctor’s office waiting room, or even just take a look at people walking down the street, and you will see how far conventional wisdom has taken us. but i digress…

a couple of weekends ago, my roommate had a birthday party at which one of the guests included a professional psychic. after most of the guests had left, he gave readings for the few of us that remained. in my reading, i got several major arcana cards, which are the cards that indicate major life changes. (the 56 card tarot deck contains 22 major arcana cards. i drew six of them out of the ten cards contained in the celtic cross spread.) the cards i drew included the wheel of fortune, which the psychic told me indicated that something very good was about to ‘fall into my lap’; the magician, which he said indicated that my powers of manifesting were very strong, and i was good at getting what i wished for (which kinda backs up what my regular psychic said last year); justice, which he said indicated that i needed to take advantage of this upcoming opportunity because i passed it by in a previous lifetime; also, the hermit, the hierophant, and the lovers (reversed, which is just my luck) were pulled.

so, what does it all mean? even though i’m more settled down and things seem more stable this year, is it a case of same shit different year? maybe this current job is a temporary situation designed to get my feet firmly planted on the ground before making the next move. but what is that next move? i still want the little homestead where i’m raising veggies and chickens and making my own soap and knitting in front of the fireplace in the winter (some place where it’s not snowing every other day), and if i *must* work a regular job, it’s only for 20 hours a week, preferably in a library setting; otherwise i also make a little money writing about whatever it is i’m doing. i think some really bad shit is about to go down over the next few years, on a planetary scale, and there’s no reason to believe that the united states will be spared any of what might happen.  i don’t want to get all doom-and-gloom, but i think the ‘little homestead’, whether urban or rural, will be the best way to protect myself and whoever happens to be around it with me (because another piece of this puzzle is that i don’t want to do this alone). really, i’m not doing this for that reason, i genuinely love the idea of raising my own food and taking care of my own needs (whether by growing it myself or through barter/trade/etc. with others), and being more in tune with nature’s cycles, and more in tune with other people, and with reality. but there are definitely practical reasons why i’m interested in all this too. so we shall see. as i try to do with all matters, i put all this in the universe’s hands, and wait to see what happens next…

mixed reaction

i hate to actually say this out loud (or type it, as it were), but is god trying to get my attention? first there was the cross dream from the other night. i didn’t feel bad about the conversation i had with ‘jesus’ in the dream (and still don’t). but i (foolishly) wonder if what happened this morning on the bus is somehow related to the dream, and if so, what message might god be trying to send me.

if he is trying to get my attention, i don’t believe the message is as obvious as the casual observer to the whole thing might think. here’s what happened: a cute young lady of color, probably in her early 20s, boarded the bus and paid her fare, while casually chatting with the driver. i didn’t think anything of that, but realize now that she was probably asking permission for what she was about to do. there were no seats on the bus, so she stood at the front, and asked how everybody was doing this morning. most everyone replied with some version of ‘fine’ or ‘good’ or ‘blessed’. then she asked if anybody on the bus needed prayer, to which no one responded, so she then said, ‘well, i’m gonna pray for y’all anyway, that god will provide whatever it is that you need.’ and then she started preaching, about how god had done so much for her, and for all of us, and how if we’re not living for god, we’re going to hell. then she prayed aloud, that basically everyone on the bus would repent and be saved, if they weren’t already. most of the people on the bus had their heads bowed and eyes closed (but not me). at the end of the prayer, ‘in jesus’ name’ of course, she thanked us for her time and was silent for the rest of her time on the bus.

so, my reaction to this? first i was pissed off that she was intruding into my thought space. plus, how dare she assume that everyone on the bus believes the same way she does. the majority of passengers on this particular route are black, which as a racial group tend to be pretty religious on the xtian side of things, so that was a safe bet for her, but still. i was pissed, especially when she started talking about living for god, and hell. i wanted to exclaim, like i did in my dream, ‘it’s all a fucking metaphor!’ then i calmed myself down by thinking about this being a blue/amber thing, and considered that maybe she is at a point in her life where she needs this belief structure to make sense of her world. maybe god, as she sees ‘him’, really has rescued her from some bad situations or a bad lifestyle, and feels that everyone else ought to know all the good god has done for her and could do for them. i get that. i was certainly as zealous as she, especially about not wanting folks to go to hell, when i first became a born-again christian back in 1985. so i could respect that and started being a little less pissed.

once she started praying, i felt tears well up in my eyes. actually, i suddenly had this huge urge to just start bawling my eyes out. what stopped me was the fact that i ride this bus daily, and while i see most of these people every day, we’re mostly essentially strangers. yes, i was worried about what they would think of me. then, even while she spoke, i was trying to figure out why her praying affected me so. one conclusion i came to was that it touched me that someone cared enough to pray for me, and the other people on the bus, all strangers to her. she put herself out there for us, and seemed quite sincere about it.

on another level, i think god, not big daddy god in the sky, but the ground of all being, used this incident to get my attention. over the last few months, i’ve not done much praying or meditation or even study of spiritual matters. it’s not that i need to go live in an ashram or a convent, but just that i do need to remember the divinity present in all people and things. today on facebook, one of my friends posted a link saying something about ‘if you want to see the fingerprint of god, look at a godly man or woman.’ i say (and almost commented to him), if you want to see the fingerprint of god, look at the person right in front of you, ‘godly’ in the world’s eyes or not. here’s a controversial thought: even hitler is a part of the fingerprint of god. (stay with me here: i’m just considering the idea that god encompasses all things, good and evil, and that evil, in its own way, is nothing more – and nothing less – than god’s shadow side.)

so, i am eating the fish i need and spitting out the bones from this encounter. when i got off the bus, i surprisingly (to me) thanked her for her prayer and her heart. (her response? ‘praise god!) i’m taking this as a reminder to pay attention to the divinity i see all around, even during mundane activities such as my morning commute. and i pray that god/the universe/the ground of all being will use this young woman to bring more light into the world, and that she will grow into an ever-expanding knowledge of who and what god really is (and isn’t).

rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated…

hi strangers!

i’ve been around, really i have, but you know of my tendency to ignore the blog for months at a time. i’m back, for however long it takes. (however long what takes, who’s to say…)

a couple of nights ago i had a disturbing dream. i get the first part of the dream, which involves my mother, and i even get the second part of the dream, because i’m just stating what i believe to whomever i’m talking to in the dream. what i don’t get is what the two parts mean to each other. and maybe they are completely unrelated, as things in dreams often seem to be. anyway, here’s the dream:

I am riding in the backseat of a car that my mother is driving, recklessly. We are on a busy two-lane highway, and she is weaving in and out of traffic in both lanes, almost causing several near-misses. I can see in the rearview mirror that other cars have run off the road because of her erratic driving. Finally, we do hit another vehicle in the other lane, head-on. (Ordinarily in a dream like this, I would wake up immediately before or during the impact of the crash, but did not in this instance.) The dream fades to black momentarily, and then picks up with the erratic driving once again.

We pull up into the driveway of a house where there are people we know. (Some other stuff happens at this point that I vaguely remember, and then…) The person I am talking with in the front yard suddenly runs into the house because he sees a man walking alongside the highway, carrying a huge cross on his back. I just stand there and wait for the man to approach me. He looks like Jesus, and his eyes seem to be on fire. He plants the cross in the ground, and then somehow manages to chain himself to the cross. I say to ‘Jesus’, ‘You fool, it’s a metaphor, it’s all a fucking metaphor! The cross symbolizes our egos, and your death is symbolic of us finally dying to our egos! Anybody can chain themselves to a cross, but the real work is coming down in one piece!’ And I continue to rant along these lines for a little bit. ‘Jesus’ unchains himself from the cross, puts the cross back on his back, and continues on down the road.

yeah, so what do you think about that? am i going straight to hell because i yelled at jesus?