Republicans think they have another rhetorical winner in tagging anyone with any contemporary ideas and policies as “woke”. This appears to have some appeal, demonstrated by presidential wannabe DeSantis delivering an entire “Woke! Woke! Woke!” speech.
The opposite of woke is asleep. The only question then is whether Republicans want an electorate that is asleep. Maybe.
Or is it even more revealing? Maybe Republicans want to govern while they themselves are asleep, dreaming of reconstructing a simpler and more manageable (for them) America that never existed.
If Republicans want to stay asleep and dream, let us help. Why should they have their dreamtime interrupted by the inconvenience of actually governing? Even bad governing takes time. So let us send them back to their comfortable bedrooms, or wherever else they lay their heads, and let them dream their unawake lives away. Far away from the controls of government.
You look around a room In the middle is a door You stand in front of the door Walk through to the other side You look around You are in the same room Only on the other side of the door You turn around to face the door You walk back through to the other side Where were you Where have you been Where are you What is this room What is this door Knock knock
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me. —Martin Niemöller
The New York Times reports that according to analysis of 10 states with available voter registration data, “On average in the month after Dobbs, 55 percent of newly registered voters in those states were women, according to the analysis, up from just under 50 percent before the decision was leaked in early May.”
Which begs the question: Why didn’t they choose to vote before?
The most likely answer is that they didn’t vote because they weren’t motivated and interested enough, that is, the circumstances did not seem to affect their interests enough. Now they do.
Which is shortsighted because:
IN A DEMOCRACY VOTING IS ALWAYS IN YOUR INTEREST.
The famous quote from Martin Niemöller about living in Nazi Germany is not specifically about voting, just about “speaking out”. So if we substitute “vote” for “speaking out”:
First they came for the socialists, and I did not vote—because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not vote—because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not vote—because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to vote for me.
In a democracy, voting is the ultimate and most effective means of speaking out. Americans who are newly choosing to register—and hopefully then to vote—are welcome and needed participants in that democracy.
Night monsoon leaves water rushing through the wash. The mountains are silent and invisible. The clouds are silent and invisible. The wash that is usually dry is a noisy stream. The rain washed the mountains, the mountains washed the waters.
“All waters appear at the foot of the eastern mountains. Accordingly, all mountains ride on clouds and walk in the sky. All mountains are the tops of the heads of all waters. Walking beyond and walking within are both done on water. All mountains walk with their toes on waters and make them splash.” Zen Master Dogen, Mountains and Waters Sutra
Out of the Past (1947), directed by Jacques Tourneur and starring Robert Mitchum, has two distinctions.
It is the best film noir ever produced.
It is the most quotable movie ever produced.
It has competition in both categories.
Roman Polanski’s Chinatown (1974) is film noir, more like neo-noir, since it was made after the era when film noir first flourished. Chinatown is one of the great movies ever, near top of the all-time list, but Out of the Past is literally definitional of the genre. Once it was made, other artists could be inspired and attempt, but it would never be topped.
As for quotes from dialogue, plenty of movies have that, but here there are dozens, each one sharper and more full of weary wisdom than the next. Rather than document them all here, I focus on one that is good advice for anyone.
The scene is Whit Sterling (Kirk Douglas), a big “operator”, hiring Jeff Bailey (Robert Mitchum), to find the woman who left him and took off with his money. (Among other distinctions of Out of the Past, Jane Greer as Kathie Moffat is also the greatest femme fatale in all film noir. If you watch the movie, and you should, check out the first time Jeff sees her, walking into a Mexican bar. His fate is sealed, and as viewers so is ours.)
Here’s wisdom from Out of the Past:
Whit Sterling: You just sit and stay inside yourself. You wait for me to talk. I like that. Jeff Bailey: I never found out much listening to myself.
And here is the scene when we first meet Kathie Moffat:
The central theme of the Chuang Tzu may be summed up in a single word: freedom. –Burton Watson
But to wear out your brain trying to make things into one without realizing that they are all the same–this is called “three in the morning.” What do I mean by “three in the morning”? When the monkey trainer was handing out acorns, he said, “You get three in the morning and four at night.” This made all the monkeys furious. “Well, then,” he said, “you get four in the morning and three at night.” The monkeys were all delighted. There was no change in the reality behind the words, and yet the monkeys responded with joy and anger. Let them, if they want to. So the sage harmonizes with both right and wrong and rests in Heaven the Equalizer. This is called walking two roads. -Chuang Tzu
We don’t know much about the life of Chuang Tzu (aka Zhuangzi). He may have been born around 369 BCE and have died around 286 BCE. We have the texts attributed to him, which are simply known by his name, but we aren’t sure which parts are actually his and which were written and compiled by others. Seven sections of the Chuang Tzu, the Inner Chapters, are considered the most likely to be fully his.
We do know that he is one of the most creative thinkers in the thousands of years of Chinese history, on a par with the much better known Confucius. Chuang Tzu is consistently grouped with Lao Tzu (who was almost certainly not a real person), known for the Tao Te Ching, as foundational figures in the religion and philosophy of Taoism.
Even those who know nothing else about Chuang Tzu or Taoism know this story:
Once upon a time, I, Chuang Tzu, dreamt that I was a butterfly, flitting around and enjoying myself. I had no idea I was Chuang Tzu. Then suddenly I woke up and was Chuang Tzu again. But I could not tell, had I been Chuang Tzu dreaming I was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming I was now Chuang Tzu?
If you live in era of seeming chaos, personal or public, there is no one more fitting than Chuang Tzu. Burton Watson, one of his translators into English, explains in the Preface to Chuang Tzu: Basic Writings:
The central theme of the Chuang Tzu may be summed up in a single word: freedom.
Essentially, all the philosophers of ancient China addressed themselves to the same problem: how is man to live in a world dominated by chaos, suffering, and absurdity? Nearly all of them answered with some concrete plan of action designed to reform the individual, to reform society, and eventually to free the world from its ills. The proposals put forward by the Confucians, the Mo-ists, and the Legalists, to name some of the principal schools of philosophy, are all different, but all are based upon the same kind of common-sense approach to the problem, and all seek for concrete social, political, and ethical reforms to solve it.
Chuang Tzu’s answer, however, the answer of one branch of the Taoist school, is radically different from these, and is grounded upon a wholly different type of thinking. It is the answer of a mystic, and in attempting to describe it here in clear and concrete language, I shall undoubtedly be doing violence to its essentially mystic and indescribable nature. Chuang Tzu’s answer to the question is: free yourself from the world.
From Burton Watson’s translation:
Discussion on Making All Things Equal
Once a man receives this fixed bodily form, he holds on to it, waiting for the end. Sometimes clashing with things, sometimes bending before them, he runs his course like a galloping steed, and nothing can stop him. Is he not pathetic? Sweating and laboring to the end of his days and never seeing his accomplishment, utterly exhausting himself and never knowing where to look for rest–can you help pitying him? I’m not dead yet! he says, but what good is that? His body decays, his mind follows it–can you deny that this is a great sorrow? Man’s life has always been a muddle like this. How could I be the only muddled one, and other men not muddled?
If a man follows the mind given him and makes it his teacher, then who can be without a teacher? Why must you comprehend the process of change and form your mind on that basis before you can have a teacher? Even an idiot has his teacher. But to fail to abide by this mind and still insist upon your rights and wrongs-this is like saying that you set off for Yiieh today and got there yesterday. This is to claim that what doesn’t exist exists. If you claim that what doesn’t exist exists, then even the holy sage Yu couldn’t understand you, much less a person like me!
Words are not just wind. Words have something to say. But if what they have to say is not fixed, then do they really say something? Or do they say nothing? People suppose that words are different from the peeps of baby birds, but is there any difference, or isn’t there? What does the Way rely upon,’ that we have true and false? What do words rely upon, that we have right and wrong? How can the Way go away and not exist? How can words exist and not be acceptable? When the Way relies on little accomplishments and words rely on vain show, then we have the rights and wrongs of the Confucians and the Moists. What one calls right the other calls wrong; what one calls wrong the other calls right. But if we want to right their wrongs and wrong their rights, then the best thing to use is clarity.
Everything has its “that,” everything has its “this.” From the point of view of “that” you cannot see it, but through understanding you can know it. So I say, “that” comes out of “this” and “this” depends on “that”-which is to say that “this” and “that” give birth to each other. But where there is birth there must be death; where there is death there must be birth. Where there is acceptability there must be unacceptability; where there is unacceptability there must be acceptability. Where there is recognition of right there must be recognition of wrong; where there is recognition of wrong there must be recognition of right. Therefore the sage does not proceed in such a way, but illuminates all in the light of Heaven.’ He too recognizes a “this,” but a “this” which is also “that,” a “that” which is also “this.” His “that” has both a right and a wrong in it; his “this” too has both a right and a wrong in it. So, in fact, does he still have a “this” and “that”? Or does he in fact no longer have a “this” and “that”? A state in which “this” and “that” no longer find their opposites is called the hinge of the Way. When the hinge is fitted into the socket, it can respond endlessly. Its right then is a single endlessness and its wrong too is a single endlessness. So I say, the best thing to use is clarity.
To use an attribute to show that attributes are not attributes is not as good as using a nonattribute to show that attributes are not attributes. To use a horse to show that a horse is not a horse is not as good as using a non-horse to show that a horse is not a horse,’ Heaven and earth are one attribute; the ten thousand things are one horse.
What is acceptable we call acceptable; what is unacceptable we call unacceptable. A road is made by people walking on it; things are so because they are called so. What makes them so? Making them so makes them so. What makes them not so? Making them not so makes them not so. Things all must have that which is so; things all must have that which is acceptable. There is nothing that is not so, nothing that is not acceptable.
For this reason, whether you point to a little stalk or a great pillar, a leper or the beautiful Hsi-shih, things ribald and shady or things grotesque and strange, the Way makes them all into one. Their dividedness is their completeness; their completeness is their impairment. Nothing is either complete or impaired, but all are made into one again. Only the man of far-reaching vision knows how to make them into one. So he has no use [for categories], but relegates all to the constant. The constant is the useful; the useful is the passable; the passable is the successful; and with success, all is accomplished. He relies upon this alone, relies upon it and does not know he is doing so. This is called the Way.
But to wear out your brain trying to make things into one without realizing that they are all the same–this is called “three in the morning.” What do I mean by “three in the morning”? When the monkey trainer was handing out acorns, he said, “You get three in the morning and four at night.” This made all the monkeys furious. “Well, then,” he said, “you get four in the morning and three at night.” The monkeys were all delighted. There was no change in the reality behind the words, and yet the monkeys responded with joy and anger. Let them, if they want to. So the sage harmonizes with both right and wrong and rests in Heaven the Equalizer. This is called walking two roads….
The torch of chaos and doubt–this is what the sage steers by. So he does not use things but relegates all to the constant. This is what it means to use clarity.
Now I am going to make a statement here. I don’t know whether it fits into the category of other people’s statements or not. But whether it fits into their category or whether it doesn’t, it obviously fits into some category. So in that respect it is no different from their statements. However, let me try making my statement.
There is a beginning. There is a not yet beginning to be a beginning. There is a not yet beginning to be a not yet beginning to be a beginning. There is being. There is nonbeing. There is a not yet beginning to be nonbeing. There is a not yet beginning to be a not yet beginning to be nonbeing. Suddenly there is being and nonbeing. But between this being and nonbeing, I don’t really know which is being and which is nonbeing. Now I have just said something. But I don’t know whether what I have said has really said something or whether it hasn’t said something.
Trump will be getting more and more messages of appreciation from criminals who, like him, are being persecuted by law enforcement. Here is one of those possible messages.
Dear President Trump,
Thank you sir. Police, prosecutors, judges and juries say that I am a criminal and have been for many years.
Wrong, wrong, wrong!
Finally, someone important like you has the courage to say that the system is rigged, that law enforcement is corrupt, that all they do is plant evidence and frame innocent people like us, when we have done nothing wrong. Nothing!
You are my hero. You are a hero to all of us wrongly accused, tried and convicted.
The fake “justice” system is never going to convict you, sir. Because people like me are on your side.
Keep up the fight against all law enforcement. FBI never! Trump forever!
I know it probably won’t happen, but I sure do look forward to meeting you and thanking you in person when I get out of prison.
“You fucking generals, why can’t you be like the German generals?” “Which generals?” [Chief of Staff] Kelly asked. “The German generals in World War II,” Trump responded.
We are tired of hearing more and more about how terrible a president and person Trump was. We know. But today’s New Yorker excerpt from the forthcoming book The Divider: Trump in the White House, 2017-2021 tells us why we still have to keep learning.
It is a high-def picture of a man not only traitorously unsuited to lead the American republic, but a man unsuited for decent American society:
At first, Trump, who had dodged the draft by claiming to have bone spurs, seemed enamored with being Commander-in-Chief and with the national-security officials he’d either appointed or inherited. But Trump’s love affair with “my generals” was brief, and in a statement for this article the former President confirmed how much he had soured on them over time. “These were very untalented people and once I realized it, I did not rely on them, I relied on the real generals and admirals within the system,” he said.
It turned out that the generals had rules, standards, and expertise, not blind loyalty. The President’s loud complaint to John Kelly one day was typical: “You fucking generals, why can’t you be like the German generals?”
“Which generals?” Kelly asked.
“The German generals in World War II,” Trump responded.
“You do know that they tried to kill Hitler three times and almost pulled it off?” Kelly said.
But, of course, Trump did not know that. “No, no, no, they were totally loyal to him,” the President replied. In his version of history, the generals of the Third Reich had been completely subservient to Hitler; this was the model he wanted for his military. Kelly told Trump that there were no such American generals, but the President was determined to test the proposition.
Everywhere people ask: ‘What can I actually do?’ The answer is as simple as it is disconcerting: we can, each of us, work to put our own inner house in order. The guidance we need for this work cannot be found in science or technology, the value of which utterly depends on the ends they serve; but it can still be found in the traditional wisdom of mankind. E. F. Schumacher, Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered
The article and the new book are not what I am talking about here. I will comfort those who want to learn and teach that, in the odd event that colleges stop growing, there will still be plenty of places to learn and teach. As for post-capitalism, should it ever arise, don’t be put off. You will still have things—nice things—and you will still be able to make money—lots of money.
What I am talking about here is Small Is Beautiful, which was hugely popular and influential fifty years ago. The thought was going around in some circles that through the development and application of wisdom and discernment, we might temper our natural inclinations towards bigger, better and more, benefiting ourselves and humanity.
Following are excerpts from the Epilogue to Small Is Beautiful:
In the excitement over the unfolding of his scientific and technical powers, modern man has built a system of production that ravishes nature and a type of society that mutilates man. If only there were more and more wealth, everything else, it is thought, would fall into place. Money is considered to be all-powerful; if it could not actually buy non-material values, such as justice, harmony, beauty or even health, it could circumvent the need for them or compensate for their loss. The development of production and the acquisition of wealth have thus become the highest goals of the modem world in relation to which all other goals, no matter how much lip-service may still be paid to them, have come to take second place. The highest goals require no justification all secondary goals have finally to justify themselves in terms of the service their attainment renders to the attainment of the highest.
This is the philosophy of materialism, and it is this philosophy – or metaphysic – which is now being challenged by events. There has never been a time, in any society in any part of the world, without its sages and teachers to challenge materialism and plead for a different order of priorities. The languages have differed, the symbols have varied, yet the message has always been the same: “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and these things (the material things which you also need) shall be added unto you.’ They shall be added, we are told, here on earth where we need them, not simply in an after-life beyond our imagination. Today, however, this message reaches us not solely from the sages and saints but from the actual course of physical events. It speaks to us in the language of terrorism, genocide, breakdown, pollution, exhaustion. We live, it seems in a unique period of convergence. It is becoming apparent that there is not only a promise but also a threat in those astonishing words about the kingdom of God – the threat that ‘unless you seek first the kingdom, these other things, which you also need, will cease to be available to you’….
We shrink back from the truth if we believe that the destructive forces of the modern world can be ‘brought under control’ simply by mobilizing more resources – of wealth, education, and research – to fight pollution, to preserve wildlife, to discover new sources of energy, and to arrive at more effective agreements on peaceful coexistence. Needless to say, wealth, education, research, and many other things are needed for any civilization, but what is most needed today is a revision of the ends which these means are meant to serve. And this implies, above all else, the development of a life-style which accords to material things their proper, legitimate place, which is secondary and not primary.
The ‘logic of production’ is neither the logic of life nor that of society. It is a small and subservient part of both. The destructive forces unleashed by it cannot be brought under control, unless the ‘logic of production’ itself is brought under control – so that destructive forces cease to be unleashed. It is of little use trying to suppress terrorism if the production of deadly devices continues to be deemed a legitimate employment of man’s creative powers.
Nor can the fight against pollution be successful if the patterns of production and consumption continue to be of a scale, a complexity, and a degree of violence which, as is becoming more and more apparent, do not fit into the laws of the universe, to which man is just as much subject as the rest of creation. Equally, the chance of mitigating the rate of resource depletion or of bringing harmony into the relationships between those in possession of wealth and power and those without is non-existent as long as there is no idea anywhere of enough being good and more than enough being of evil….
It is hardly likely that twentieth-century man is called upon to discover truth that had never been discovered before. In the Christian tradition, as in all genuine traditions of mankind, the truth has been stated in religious terms, a language which has become well-nigh incomprehensible to the majority of modern men…
The type of realism which behaves as if the good, the true, and the beautiful were too vague and subjective to be adopted as the highest aims of social or individual life, or were the automatic spin-off of the successful pursuit of wealth and power, has been aptly called ‘crackpot-realism’. Everywhere people ask: ‘What can I actually do?’ The answer is as simple as it is disconcerting: we can, each of us, work to put our own inner house in order. The guidance we need for this work cannot be found in science or technology, the value of which utterly depends on the ends they serve; but it can still be found in the traditional wisdom of mankind.
Last night the room was uncluttered and clean Wake to find dirt and debris scattered The dread softened still not past Spirit rises to remind That the beautiful ugly trash of dreams Seems the ugly beautiful trash of waking Separated by sleep Separated by nothing The room was never uncluttered Never trashed Morning