This week has been hard and I’ve not been able to complete any but my highest priority tasks, the essentials really. As with any failure, this is teaching me some things. Things anyone could argue I should have learned already, but I wish to respect the process and just keep going. I have a tendency to ruminate on things and have only recently come to accept just how that really does hobble you compared to to learning and letting go. So instead of the elaborate and well-considered post I had started, I am going to honor the commitment and myself and truth by writing this extemperaneous message instead. I want the world to know I am far from perfect and for all the brilliance people sometimes see in me, I, too, sometimes suffer from personal darkness and doubt.
So I am seizing the moment to drop the doubts and fears and blame I’ve had this week. I need to be doing many things and failing to do them well. I struggle to remember it isn’t all my fault but all my time, energy, and choices are. They are all I have and if I want to rise, I must focus on those, not the external world beyond my reach. If I am blessed enough to have a greater destiny, then it will come to me in due time. I need not force anything. Instead I must strive for focus, here and now. That is all there truly is – evolving now. I may be an illusion of sorts but that illusion may have a purpose: to drive forward and take command of the choices and attitude I have going forward.
All can be accomplished in time. The world is too deep and chaotic to ever be fully ordered except by its own nature. Thus we all must find the humility to see and accept that nature without succumbing to the belief that the nature we see is all that is. That is how one ends up like Mr. Putin right now. He is now a political animal trapped in the cage of a losing war. He will likely soon be wishing it could be over quickly, but who really knows? One can have love and compassion for the people of all countries, even in war, without worrying too much about their rulers and leaders.
That is one lesson I learned just this week: Ukrainian President Zelensky is a man who is easy to underestimate. Like most of the free world I have been impressed and moved by his resolve and leadership under such circumstances and with such a history. What I did not know is that, like me, he has a legal education. This gives me a different kind of hope and strength that my past need never be seen in vain, but rather in search of application and response. Time will never cease it’s spontaneous flow, so I must continue to act presently with only the near future in mind and save the further future for my dreams or risk folly once again.
It amazes me continuously how so many act as if they are masters of the world when it is clear to those who look that they are masters of none. Our world would be a much more stable place if so many weren’t acting so often from impulse and delusion. If we want to to be energy independent and not serve Russian and Saudi interests, we need bikes, buses, trains and better bosses, not more drills and rigs. That just doubles down on our problems or the sort-term gains of those pushing them. We must be able and willing, while we still can, to step back and really consider such choices, but of course, America has its own oligarchs and they are the ones truly served by the government these days. Just like in Russia, they only weaken us by putting themselves ahead of those in true need and taking personal advantage of every situation, rather than seeking true solutions.
I know, a bit of a tangent, but let’s be honest: if we struggle against a machine, it is this machine of money and power and selfishness. We need not accept the Manchins and Capitos , and Bezoses of our society for us all to be healthy, wealthy, and free. Indeed, to truly be so, we must all learn the lessons life offers, grow stronger and more independent and remove their power as best we can and relevel American society and then the world to better support ALL humanity. I can see a day, likely far off where the dream of a virtually borderless and peaceful world comes to be – where money and borders are mere accounting mechanisms which have little bearing on individual human beings beyond informing what is needed where, when, and by whom. We must accept that greed will always be a part of the human condition, but I have yet to find a good explanation for why it must be allowed to be the driving force of our lives. I know freedom and equality are mine.
Any and all of us can be heroes with we dedicate ourselves to doing what is right. That is the beautiful thing about heroism and righteousness – not the fake shit people try to force – the hard bitter, beautiful necessary kind like being shown by both Russians and Ukrainians right now. In the intellectual sphere where Americans can demonstrate respect for human equality and freedom, I wish to take this opportunity to speak to the American perspectives on the conflict. I also wish to explore how America may proceed to take responsibility for its past mistakes that helped allow this war and help build a better future, whatever that requires of us. Before that, I feel obligated to make some disclaimers.
I want to start this difficult essay with a sobering fact: most of the Russians invading Ukraine right now may still not know they are even fighting a war. It has been demonstrated that Moscow believed they could send a mostly conscripted army into a neighboring country as if it were another military drill. It turns out many of the Russian troops are more surprised by this war than the Ukrainians they are unwittingly fighting. It seems likely, if hard to confirm, that Russian forces have already suffered severe losses and Ukraine is still mobilizing and improving its efforts to counter all Russian operations, even sinister terror attacks by infiltrators behind the front lines. All of this must be taken with due caution as there are obvious reasons for the defenders to misrepresent things to the world as much as the aggressors. On the other hand, the Ukrainian government seems to be taking great pains to live up to the European ideals they wish to claim as part of their independence, being as open and honest as they can be rather than taking advantage of the situation. For this, I do not entirely reject their claims as propaganda. I simply refuse to deny the possibility I am wrong on that. I am first on the side of truth, then on the side of the innocent, and only then on the side of the righteous. I hope the following discussion will demonstrate this. I can and will side against my own country’s government and policies where I can find fault in them.
Enough of the disclaimers now, I hope.
To the brothers and sisters of Russia: Outside a powerful minority that doesn’t have to speak openly to influence things, America mostly wishes it didn’t have to deal with this, either. Most of us want better roads and schools and jobs here at home, not foreign conflicts to send our troops towards. There are lots of Americans who don’t want to have to deal with the Russian government; many others have learned that Putin has kind of a problem for a long time. Despite our complicated histories with each other, most Americans barely give any thought to it on a normal day in what were normal times. Many Americans don’t understand their own Constitution anymore, let alone the NATO charter or Cold War and Russian history. This kind of thing is the challenge of our times, right up there with climate change.
How can the ordinary citizens of the world help each other right the wrongs of their governments without making things worse for each other? How can Americans and other peoples of the world help people like the Russian people be heard, feel secure in your own country to speak with full openness and honesty about whatever you choose, and find happiness and prosperity without further violence? Is there any way the Russian people can undo such an awful political system as theirs without risking everything?
See, whenever there is a major war in Europe, America has tried not to get involved, but America exists because Europe forcefully made itself the center of the world through the same imperialism that inspires said wars and then Americans took that imperialism as an excuse to conquer most of the best land of our entire continent, committing crimes against humanity on the indigenous nations along the way. So, now we are so large and wealthy even our economy alone can tip the balance of power in Europe. WWII basically taught us that even if we try to stay out, that may increase the bloodshed, whereas the Cold War mostly avoided any major war at all by being as involved as possible without taking over directly. We learned to trust our own ideals in away we didn’t before, though many Americans still don’t really understand those very ideals. This is part of how we elected that disaster Trump and then threw him out.
Only a major war could compete for the attention of Americans right now with Covid still around and our own civil strife brewing menacingly. Now we see Ukrainians fighting for their homes and country and families, and we are reminded that our ancestors twice had to do the same, long ago. We want Ukrainians to win this war for their independence, but that doesn’t mean we want ordinary Russians to lose anything. However, we also can’t risk direct involvement because of the nuclear weapons our countries possess. Tet it is hard to see how this kind of thing isn’t inevitable with the nature of the Russian government and no other way to influence that government than by reminding the Russian people of a hard truth: none of us are really separate in this world. We are all connected by cause and effect of a coherent world in which we often live as if divided in different virtual realities of our own minds.
You may not be used to the difference, but in America our rights our so broad that people have died from Covid-19 as they continue to rant about the vaccines being evil – literally their dying breathes defending the lies that killed them. We all have so much to do to be a part of improving the world for the children of today to have something better tomorrow. In America, we must deal with our ignorant assholes like Trump and those who still support him without violating the very rights we are trying to protect. Y’all in Russia apparently need to consider how to free yourselves in much more fundamental ways. In “Captain America: The First Avenger” the scientist who invents the super-soldier process to create Captain America to fight Nazi Germany says to the future Captain, “most Americans don’t realize that the first country the Nazis invaded was their own” and more and more Americans will need to understand that in many ways the same is true now in Russia – Putin invaded your state and turned it more and more against you to settle some argument with us. We will remember that America is relatively safe from Putin compared to the Russian people themselves
If there must be something done with Putin, I expect words and necessities of life will do more than planes or tanks ever could. As an American, there is little I can or should say about the affairs of the Russian people other than that. We do not want conflict with Russia, but we can more than accept many forms of competition. Most Americans also want a world that is diverse and imperfect over some utopian idea of equality. Perhaps one day the world will run on Chinese computers using Russian software bought with American money. Who knows? But we certainly can’t have anything half that good if we remain afraid of each other and allow ourselves to become hostile or our governments hostile in our name.
To my Ukrainian brothers and sisters: We in America see you and are overwhelmed with joy at your bravery and ideals, even as we are shocked and pained by the suffering you endure so tragically. I, for one, am sorry we failed to find a way to avert this. It may never have been in our power to do without something worse taking its place. That is a question only higher powers can answer and we all share the human dilemma of never getting such a revelation. However, we will continue to do what we can as best we can. this may mean that only our arms and funds can be allowed to reach you. Just know that some of us would be willing to join you directly in the fight, if such action made sense and was needed. We are so impressed that this may not even be needed. We thought that you might need us worse than France or the United Kingdom did over 100 years ago. In your tenacity and cunning to defend yourselves, we see a reflection of ourselves that some of us are afraid we may be losing. Thank you for showing us and the world that free, fun-loving people defending themselves are the most terrifying enemy of all. We hope this tragedy will at least educate the other tyrants of the world that the best they can hope for against free people is peace because war against freedom and democracy will always be their end.
In keeping with that, I hope that America will commit even more to the peace that follows that it has to the war. I hope we can use our brains and distance to offer wise counsel to Europe as to how peace and security can be offered and trusted by ALL nations, both you and Russia. That is the great tragedy: by trying to fairly offer aid and defense to small countries we have given the larger country its own pretext to fear. Our greatest leader once said “the only thing to fear is fear itself” and he offered this wisdom when fear of the last European war threatened to sideline us against the coming of the second despite it, by comparison, to be an obvious threat to our country, too. I do not believe that Putin will last long enough or have the power to so attack another country after Ukraine. I will thus resist calls to directly interfere with Russian affairs beyond aid to Ukraine in this conflict. While I disagree with my President that Americans shooting at Russians is automatically World War 3, I respect his care not to test the theory that it might. I simply believe that Russia will evolve from this and we owe it to all to right our negligence in allowing conditions which led to Putin’srise to power there.
That, not NATO, is America’s real sin here, in my opinion. After the collapse of the Soviet system we rushed in to try and make money and prove our ideas as fast as possible. This instead allowed the utter destruction of true law of any kind there. Gangsters and thieves stole the vast wealth of the Russian people for themselves, creating the kind of desperation a man like Putin could exploit to take total control. I understand also that some of this is also about Russian history and culture. If Russian politics are to change, its culture must change. America and the rest of Europe can not do that. We can only continue to try to demonstrate our cultures and values and how many nations may still act as one world when called to do so. We may be able to offer material encouragement for improvements in legal and political culture in Russia before they are fully implemented and demonstrate our honesty and commitment by making good on those promises once Russia’s promise begins to be truly realized.
The rest of the world is watching us all. We must accept that ideals can’t be used as pretexts for power anymore. They are promises to ourselves and each other and are more valuable than anything else because they are the only things shown to have the potential to end all unnecessary suffering and end all violence between human beings. They are the best of us – our legacy to future generations. We should not discount them or abandon them. We must instead learn to trust them and take risks to keep them. If we can risk ourselves to make peace, that is so much better than doing the same to win ashes through war.
I would apologize for not writing more, but that would be a misrepresentation or a twisting of the facts. In truth, I haven’t PUBLISHED anything here, but I have been writing a lot – just not finishing much that feels right for this blog. That’s life, I guess.
I probably don’t have enough readers for it to matter, but publishing regularly is an important step to getting views and regular readers. Ergo, I can and will be focusing on improving my process and circumstances so that I publish more. One thing I am going to do is focus more on the inspiration of the moment – not getting bogged-down in the more abstract ideas that are really deep background, anyway. Just the spark of thought, in a cheerful, accessible way.
We all need a leg up to get where we’d rather be, and maybe some encouragement if we thought we were there before falling from our saddle. I know I have. Just this morning, I got some very upsetting and frustrating news: I am back in virtually the same place I was three years ago after spending hundreds of hours and hundreds of dollars to get past a certain point in my professional life. But that is life, you know?
The thing is, I’ve still learned a lot from my failures. I’ve learned the most about myself and how success is sustained. Part of success is defining it for yourself. The other major part is being in the right position to make that attainable and realistic. Turns out, I still haven’t quite found that for myself when it comes to that goal, but the key insight from my falling short may very well be that my heart was never in it for that because its really in other things that are equally important, maybe even more important given where the world is at today.
I know I want to be a happy, healthy member of a just community. Only a small sliver of remedial justice comes from courtrooms these days. Whereas, all justice is rooted in healthy human hearts and minds. That’s where the greater work is, and that’s where I want to be in my work.
Despite bitter claims to the contrary, I have been writing for myself for some time. It is past time that I begin to make something of it which I can share with the world. Truth is a funny thing – the more and more you pull at it, the more there is pull at. Yet, I find I never tire of the pursuit of truth, so long as I can find joy along the way. Truth be told, not all truths are joyous, but facing the pain in some truths leads to the pleasure and joy of the enlightenment we can gain from facing them.
I remain a very fallible person. In fact, as I get older I find it harder to tell whether I am even growing wiser or more foolish. I hope it a sign for the former that I increasing find the concern humorous, if not worthless. We each have one life to live, and I have always intended to live it. The challenge for me, rather, is that I realize now that our fallibility is no weakness. Human frailty is simply a matter of limitations which all life shares with us – likely for good reason. So I must make choices and accept that I may not do everything despite a certain boyish desire to do just that.
Perhaps that is why I keep coming back to writing: on the blank page anything is possible. Many lives may lived in excerpts of imagination. Problems may be posed and answers analyzed. Most of all, I find that it is in the crafting of ideas through language that I feel most myself, even as I play at being someone – or something – else entirely. I recently realized that the key for meaning in life may be in facing the assured hypothetical: what if this is it – all you ever do – and no one else cares: was it worth it?
As it regards writing and a few other activities, I can answer an unequivocal “YESSSS!” because if nothing else I feel a little better as a being in this strange existence every time I even try regardless of the results.
Of course, then there are those wonderful moments when it becomes apparent that a connection to another mind has been made. These thought-sparks I am compelled to throw catch fire in the ready hearth of another mind previously less inclined. That is one of life’s greatest rewards by itself.
Hello, All: I see that I am off my normal schedule. Our times are turbulent and my time to write here is short. What I can say is that I am still writing but the requirements of the project may limit my personal exposure. However, it is a cause I believe in and involves an action I will have plenty of opportunity to speak on later more openly.
In the meantime, I want to write shorter prose here about related topics raised on as close to a daily basis as I can. Today, I want to address the scourge of fatalism and the power and importance of hope. I am repeatedly reminded of the central relevance to these two concepts from all over the world, and especially in my home region of central Appalachia.
Fatalism is an awful disease on the human soul, a pernicious belief in one’s own powerlessness and low worth to the world. It sees to me a close, in-bred cousin of cynicism, that universal rot on human spirits. Through infection of fatalism one is most likely to focus on those few simple pleasures available while spirally in one way or another to an early grave. No one deserves that life, yet some seem to choose it on some level. Their choices suggest they’d rather live a shameful, deleterious dance with chance than accept that struggle is essential to goals worth pursuing and that such struggle is not exile from happiness or joy.
Quite the opposite, I say. Despite what I have been through – enough to cause me to question the point of my own existence at one point – I have more hope and strength and will to struggle forward in a just cause than ever. Not only have I found proof in the world that my goals and cause are right, but that the world depends in many way s on some measure of mission success. Even if I am so unlucky as not to see much of it’s completion, I will be satisfied in my efforts. They were real and I mattered as more than a mere cog or internet dunce.
Everywhere I look I see the signs of the injustices that plague our world and have for most of history in some form. Alongside these very real pains I see everywhere such suffering need not have happened save for the untreated instability and insecurity in the perpetrators. I still despise wrongdoers, even as I believe my country has lost touch with what is really right and wrong in any reasonable sense. Instead, most Americans follow along with what the rich and powerful tell them is more or less distasteful and thus worthy of punishment. The powerful own the wrongs of our time in proportion to their wealth and unwillingness to apply it for justice rather than their own interests.
I don’t want to literally eat the rich: I imagine their flesh would be too oily and full of awful chemicals anyway. I want from them the means for the rest of us to have some material security and for them the same mental and emotional strength I and so many other more normal people have found through life accepting the struggle which makes success meaningful. In some way I want to trade: the wealth for the experience of truly living as part of something bigger than yourself.
If we all knew our food, medicine, shelter, water, rights and time were otherwise secure, do you really think we would need to debate endlessly whether to protect our planet by treating it as we would like to be treated and actually treat each other?
The real trouble with gender is it’s shallow. Masculine, feminine, or non-binary, so much of what we end up talking about is mostly appearance. Arguably every concept of identity other than the self alone is simply how others see us, not who we are. At the same time, we are social creatures who do engage each other and we can only appreciate what we can somehow experience. So we must see and hear what we can and try to understand. This is the essence of empathy and without it the single biggest similarity between any two people will always be how little we actually know about anyone so long as we continue to place value in such limiting concepts. What we need is to let go of relying on generalizations of groups of people to understand individuals.
Sure, there are components to what we call gender that matter. I’m not writing this to argue that it means nothing, only that gender is given more meaning than it deserves. We all have varying tendencies to conform to certain patterns of behavior, including how we groom, dress, eat, talk, and even pass our time. Some of it is based in our biology – hormones, mostly – but most of it is taught. Taught because of old ideas of who and what we each should be. Yet before it all we are separate creatures in a complex web of life connecting us to more than just communities or even humanity. What is necessary is to reframe the very idea of gender as less a specific code of conduct and more a very basic generalization with some vague use, especially for the less mindful or worldly.
Gender, it seems to me from all my introspection and reading on the topic, used to serve a social ordering purpose that helped keep communities productive that might have degraded otherwise. What’s needed to understand how something so reductive and general could be useful to the whole community are two factors: that humanity’s success has largely been marginal for most of our history, with a great deal of inefficiency and regular setbacks, and the difficult fact of life itself that in the end continuation is all that matters for the sake of a species’ evolution. There is no dues ex machina to save a species that evolves into a corner or has bad luck – whatever works, no matter the apparent morality, is what goes on.
Morality is a human creation, and while it may never decide exactly who carries on the lineages and who doesn’t, it very much seems to distill those principles we can understand and promote that increase the number of people who do pass on their genes and knowledge overall. If you return to the notion that we are social, it makes the most sense that that which is best for all of us are deeper insights into how to treat each other that do not rely on who we are or the things we do which do not directly affect the well-being of others. Instead, we must trust that the best value in anyone’s identity is found in letting us each be and not forcing anyone to try and be something else. Either we can add to society in some way or we clearly subtract. Only rarely are people so anti-social and unproductive as to be a total detriment, and to the extent we do not yet know how or why this kind of person comes to be, there is still value in that existence, too, if only as a living subject of consideration and study.
What can I say? That seems infinitely better than demanding shallow compliance to whole patterns of behavior based on the needs of the shallowest among us when instead we can demand gender be only a baseline to begin the conversations that truly reveal who we are underneath.
A wise man once said, “life is an MMORPG on hardcore mode; you cannot succeed trying to play it alone and you only get to play it once.” Like it or not, we live in a world of worlds now. The possibilities are beautiful and terrifying. While we have whole new mediums of expression and experience partially unbound from the limits of objective reality, so too are we confronted with the classic temptation to avoid the struggle of life for the pursuit of mere gratification. Worse of all, in my humble opinion this week, we are failing to engage a very harmful idea that life can be “played” in only the first-person perspective. I will confront this idea by elaborating on what I mean as it relates to the spectrum of experience from video games most specifically to human experience and behavior most generally, making some stops along the way to consider some relevant ideologies to the central idea: the real power of the human mind is not self-awareness, but social-intelligence.
So first, let’s make sure the non-gamers know what I’m talking about. There are many very different kinds of video games. Here: I primarily want to compare the experiences and resulting inferences and behaviors of two categories of them: multiplayer games played with other people and solo games played by oneself. The key difference between them then should mostly be intuitively obvious. In a single-player game, every aspect of the experience is coded and tailored for the perspective of the individual, whereas, the multi-player game of any kind is processing the inputs of many people and mediating the results back to all those players. One offers an open opportunity to leave reality behind while the other has to more objectively model reality with its subjective experiences in a more objective space. I want to be clear: I love single-player games. I am not criticizing them. What I seek to critically consider here is some of the culture and personal reactions to this format and how to address that intelligently.
So we have the individual. In many ways he or she is capable of independent survival in a hostile world, at least for a time. We think for ourselves, eat our own food and digest it. We have our own eyes and ears and so on. We are each slight variations on the same general model which is self-contained as an organism in an ecosystem. Even better, up to a point we are each capable of adapting to a wide variety of ecosystems and aren’t bound to too specific a niche in any of them. We are usually mobile and self-possessed. The human being is a marvelous thing on its own. However, we are also each small and fragile in the grand scheme. We don’t live extra long or avoid disease or accidents or disasters. In so many humbling ways any one of us can fail any time and there is yet no real evidence that the universe cares at all so as to not gobble us up in its maw and turn our matter and energy over to any other organism or process in it.
How then has humanity seemed to take over the planet Earth?
Though each CAN function as one individual to survive, anyone who has experienced a true team can tell you that we really thrive together. When each of us can focus one a narrower set of tasks and really apply our full energy and intuition and insight to them without worrying about the other factors beyond our zone of action, then we can all perform much better than any of us could have doing it all ourselves. On one hand, this is grade-school stuff, but on the other it is the secret to happiness and success in life above all else.
It’s not even just what the process of team work produces, but the security of knowing that if effort is given for a time there will be time, energy, and resources to spare, even for unfortunate turns of events. This is a happiness and freedom that can’t really be had any other way. We are wired from thousands of years of success in a harsh, cold world to appreciate each other, seek each, other, learn of each other and ourselves and act together. I can say from experience that people who care for and trust each other can take on complex tasks under pressure with striking efficiency to the point words are almost an afterthought all together. This isn’t something possible when driven by basic individual greed. It’s so much more than that. It takes understanding of circumstances, the task at hand, compassion and knowledge of each other, and a commitment to focus totally on the shared goal and meeting the requirements of one’s role in doing it. This is social-intelligence.
I fear that the single biggest issue in American society and perhaps every modern, industrial society is that the trappings of wealth and power from the success of thousands of generations has left us doubting whether this is still the way or not. However, I have faith that everything that is still truly good in our world does in fact come back to this phenomena of people loving each other and working together, only our culture has been influenced somewhat to accommodate alternative approaches which give the false appearance of even better results. Of these approaches I only feel the need to mention this one judgment on them: they lack soul, and that should tell a moral person all they need to know to see how they can be improved by returning to the original human way of cooperation.
So to close I want to ask for help with an experiment: I suspect that I can’t see all the ways my writing of this post could be improved, so by all means tell me how I could make it better. Call me on my grammar, ideas or whatever you think could add to the quality of the post. Maybe I use too any words to say what I’ve said. If you write, then share a link or info to look it up, and I’ll be happy to do the same. Not required, just an offer. I want to write more and the challenge I have found is that I don’t know a lot of other writers well to keep my mind in that game and find the motivation to keep it up consistently with improvements.
It’s a journey like everything else, so I might as well say hello to my fellow travelers. That’s how I want to avoid the first-person fallacy.
The Internet is basically just a nuclear reactor TRYING to go critical every day forever. It’s toxic, energetic, and to those safe from it, enormously profitable. While hardly a new phenomena, the latest Star Wars controversy is another bright, dangerous reminder of how the internet and the humanity that teems across its infinite digital expanse have gone horribly wrong in new and awful ways. Somebody needs to try THINKING about this, so here I am.
So if you aren’t a fan or just have that much of life: recently the Star Wars franchise has been making its way into live action television. Most recently, the creators have turned their attention to restoring the luster to and invigorating the story of one of the original movie’s most enigmatic, bad-ass characters: Boba Fett. While his childhood is explored at times through previous animated projects, “The Book of Boba Fett” is a live action series taking off from the return of this iconic anti-hero’s reintroduction from apparent death in season 2 of “The Mandalorian.” While many have praised the show in many ways, unlike the series that launched it, “The Book of Boba Fett” has seen the unfortunate return of the franchise to its previous toxic relationship with it fans. I don’t say this lightly, but like most good tragedies, this story of our world has villains on both sides.
This is a franchise known for its themes of light-and-dark and in the internet era this theme has shown itself more and more amongst those people who claim to love it. You’d think that a children’s’ saga about the power of good and the fight against hate would have chill adult fans – and you’d be right – but you’ll never know that online where there is a new fight raging across the internet every time new content comes out. This essay is a case study in the dynamic and an attempt to look beyond the material to the players and the game. While this may seem to be about a character in a show, it’s important to realize that if this dynamic can so easily exist over a work of pop culture, it could be devastating – and perhaps already has been devastating – if it occurs over something more real to more people.
Now to get to the meat of the issue at hand. Boba Fett began his character arc as a flat villain, a mysterious and effective bounty hunter willing to work for the evil empire or repugnant crime bosses depending on who paid better. Now, he has taken a turn in his life by facing death at the hand s of a conquered foe’s dear friends who risked everything to rescue their beloved smuggler and brother-in-arms. Though this changes Boba, it can’t erase his past. Arguably the most notable shadow from that past is the bounty hunter who taught Fett everything, just to kill him and make a point: a Duros named Cad Bane.
Cad Bane is easily one of the most interesting villains in all of Star Wars. He is cunning and ruthless, fast, deadly, and well-prepared for any adversary. He always looks out for himself, no matter who works for or with. His return to Fett’s story and debut in live-action is nothing less than a minor pop culture event for the ages, at least. Now given the real-world drama it has inspired, it is a cultural event of significance.
As you can see, artistic license is taken with the details of the design, but all the fundamental elements of the design are there. It is truly a marvelous moment to behold in “The Book of Boba Fett” whether you know the character or not. Truly one of the best Western scenes ever put on film, let alone in a space opera spin-off.
But why does this matter? Isn’t this all a big waste of everyone’s time? Well, the truth likely depends on your point of view. From a a brutally pragmatic perspective, all art is arguably a waste of time. Yet, an uninspired life is hardly worth living. No, this episode in the nerd sagas can matter to all of us as a microcosm of much more common patterns we are all increasingly a part of, especially online. Consider the geopolitical or ethnic divisions of our world and species from the broadest possible scope and its not too hard for most of us to see that they are really no less silly: they are just much bigger and thus harder to maintain in view with an objective perspective.
So here’s my take: I think part of the dynamic here was the significant number of people that vocalized their dislike of the live action look compared to the animation and gave a vague basis for other people to assume this fan project was catering to that demand to prove a point. It wasn’t, and that was pretty obvious to those of us who stepped back and looked closer. I must admit I immediately had a bad feeling about it as soon as I saw it – this kind of thing has happened before. For one, I think people really do confuse criticism with negativity and thus any negativity, no matter how juvenile, must be worth sharing. By all means, people can have their opinions, but that doesn’t mean those opinions are valuable to anyone else who’s worth much to the whole. I know that’s a little judgmental, but in my defense, a little judgment can go a long way. So long as we judge ideas and behavior and reserve judgment on the vast and nuanced complexity that is every individual over time, it’s worth it.
For the rest of us, I think there are some critical lessons that be taken from this and other episodes of the pattern of conflict. Attachment is natural and can be healthy, but part of healthy attachment is appreciating its limits and pitfalls. We should not confuse something we appreciate and value with ourselves. Similarly, we must be careful not to over identify with sides of a dispute. By all means, pick a side when the mood strikes you, but even if the dispute is important know when to walk away – when to walk away from the conflict and even when to walk away from your team. In the end, the team will always win over the individual unless the individual remains independent enough to get off the wagon. This isn’t weak: it is the epitome of personal strength and character. Virtue is arguably finding that balance between living with people and living without them as best benefits life as a whole.
Isn’t that really all we want: to flourish together?
Can a hedge fund get me to work or look after my elders? Those are the kinds of questions West Virginians should ask Senator Manchin this week and every week until the Senator gives us an answer. He risks sinking a just, once-in-a-generation infrastructure investment plan that puts the American People first over the corporate tax rate? Should we accept worse roads so the wolves of Wall Street can keep their bonuses from their shell games? I say Manchin is trying to play the Nation. I think he is attempting to con us into believing this boardroom “Democrat” working for Republican donors is the only reasonable person in his party or D.C.. Nothing could be further from the Truth. We all need the American Jobs Plan.
The vast majority of West Virginians hardly care about the corporate tax rate, except to know that it is too low. Between transportation, insurance, and rent in America, most of us don’t have substantial emergency savings, let alone capital assets. Yet the big businesses and money-men have been raking in record profits and building unheard of reserves of wealth for years as Americans struggle to get things like clean water and humane elder care. So who is Joe really representing here?
Now Manchin can play hero without facing the costs of inhumane priorities. The GOP will happily maintain fraudulent opposition pandering to small-minded selfishness; blessing corporate profit and private grift. Thus Joe can keep money in his class’ collective pocket, possibly still enable a bill that will help all Americans, and be rewarded for it at the polls back home for looking tough and smart. Maybe some of my fellow Democrat voters are ok with games, but I am not. West Virginia should demand better.
Who are you? Or for that amtter, who am I? No, no . . . your name is not WHO YOU ARE. Your name is simply a label by which that person recognizes the recognition of other persons. Your name may not tell you anything about the answer to the question. Maybe it does, or maybe you aren’t sure what it says. All are ok. We all want to feel good about the answer to that question, and yet…the harder you think about it, the more difficult it can be to answer.
I’ll admit that I find myself in an unusual place in my life. I know I have a strong mind and body and I want to be … of use? A part of … something? I keep finding wholes in this sense. And it can suck. Especially when you aren’t sure where you are in the economy or society anymore (thanks, plague!). But I have also learned that that’s ok. Generally, we only run into this kind of issue it seems when something disrupts life enough to encourage us to look and we end up with enough time that we really get into the intellectual weeds. It feels disorienting to realize there is no solid ground beneath our sense of self that the ground literally below our bodies. In some ways the answer is clearest when we may otherwise feel most lost.
We are the interplay between our bodies and our environments stting atop this most amazing aparatus that is the rest of our minds and bodies. They are us, not really separate, but “I” within is the post which seems most plausibly apart. I’ve come to think that’s what it does: the ego is that which takes the myriad mingling minutia of existence at the human scale and does something few, if any, other certures do and tries to separate, and sort, and figure out that which is.
However, this is in some ways very illusory to experience. I am an intellectual – maybe neurotic – person myself. It is as much a hindrance as help sometimes. At this point in my life – when I am realizing that the career I thought I wanted may not really be right for me at all – I find all of this is as familiar as it is scary. I’ve been deconstructing my world and things in it since near the beginning. So if this finally gets me to see how what I have done has made a trap for my self, I can just as naturally go about unmaking it. I am not my choices so much as the actions those choices lead to. Choice may very well be part of that illusion of self. Actions, however, are only ever done once and those may add to a role I play in events bigger than myself. How can they not?
As the Bard said, “all the world’s a stage, and the men and women mere players” which is to say that we all are doing things – playing roles, if you will – all while none of us can really be sure we know at all what we are doing. If we are strict about it, we can be certain that we don’t really. At best we may do a role we have so prepared for that we may do so for a brief time with a grace worthy of applause and a bow at the end. That’s it. That’s all. Ourt greatest claim to identity is not “what” we think we are. It is what we do.
So you may be a drunk. Yet, tomorrow you may a drunk fighting for that first day of sobriety. Or you may be a student who even now is becoming a teacher amidst your fellow students. Likewise, the accountant may be a singer, or a poet a theoretical physicist. Who knows what the limits of the possibilities really are? Well, you do so long as you are present and honest. The real limits have nothing to do with this moment, but our will to commit to an action which is also a long series of actions building on one another. And then somewhere out of that you find a life and maybe even a legacy. No one alive has seen Beethoven, but most of us have heard him because he wrote some of the most enduring music in all humanity.
One final note: there is something about a role which satisfies in a way things never can.