Monday, January 23, 2012
In the Leigh of the Storm
“Because we all share an identical need for love, it is possible to feel that anybody we meet, in whatever circumstances, is a brother or sister. No matter how new the face or how different the dress or behavior, there is no significant division between us and other people. It is foolish to dwell on basic differences, because our basic natures are the same.” — Dalai Lama
So our little Occupy group met with Colorado Springs City Council member Tim Leigh the other night. He came to meet us at our regular haunt, graciously provided by independent local business the Cafe Corto.
Tim is an affable dude, and our meeting seemed to go well, at least in the sense that we were able to develop a rapport with him and come away with a sense of friendliness, if not friendship. Tim is a self-described member of the 1%, an appellation that derives from specific statistics involving wealth which has acquired connotations as a result of Occupy that Tim may not be so quick to embrace. Fact is, i really don't know enough about the guy to decide for myself whether or not he deserves application of the darker connotations or not. The group at the meeting is as diverse as any formed in October's Occupy crucible, and as has been characteristic of the movement in general, each in attendance holds individual interpretations of just what Occupy is, and what we mean to accomplish. Good ol' Thomas, in the course of his regular series of uncontrolled and only marginally civil outbursts, vehemently denied we constitute a "movement." Others sought mostly to find little political fulcra with which to pry at Tim's scales, (in case he's a shape-shifting alien, i suppose). None of this was surprising--we are a group dedicated to disruption of the entrenched, monied status quo, working within a rough framework of fairly aggressive expression worldwide, if nothing else.
Tim weathered the various clods of dirt whipped up by the wind as one might expect from either a politician, which label he denies, or a very rich real estate wheeler-dealer, which would be ludicrous to attempt to gainsay. I don't have the motivation to dig up lots of facts about Tim Leigh's business dealings, but we know well enough that his name is on an awful lot of buildings around town, and he lives on a tidy and isolated landscaped lot up on the Mesa, where the houses are all overpriced, the better to keep the riff-raff away. His house is almost certainly bigger than yours. No one is apt to be shocked by those minor revelations. In fact, his now predictable assertions to be "in the same boat" as we would be fairly ludicrous to the casual observer, except that i think he's right on the money with that one, though perhaps not as he sees it. Thomas asserts that we are an issue-driven--something not a movement--and he's right about issues, at least in part. Tim is himself in a political position and making plenty of sounds i recognized as definitively politician-like in spite of his disavowals of the label. Focus on issues seems to be relatively comfortable, and certainly easier than addressing the grand thematics that permeate Occupy to the chagrin of some of its more terrestrially grounded aspirants, as well as its critics. As a result our conversation with Tim was often side-railed into issue oriented lulls, at least in my mind, though i acknowledge the importance of issues as well. I'm just a grand theme kind of guy.
Tim had a few disturbing things to say about a few issues, like his statement that fracking in eastern El Paso county is "inevitable." He said a few intriguing things as well. I bet he already regrets toying with the notion of giving OCS a building. He even let slip his own secret fears that the whole economic system might collapse. One thing that immediately raised lots of hackles, oddly enough, was his bemused question about the religious orientation of us Occupiers. And there's the rub. Or at least one big one.
I promised to eschew incidental reporting for a while, and i am. Really. This may seem like reporting, but it's otherworldly speculation. I suppose Chet will handle specifics well enough. Tim demonstrated a bit of a dichotomy one comes across in the Occupy phenomenon by stressing issues and suggesting ways for us to work with the System to get things to work out our way. This response to Occupy crops up all the time, both externally and internally. I met with a foreclosure working group in Denver last weekend, and spoke with a "constituent advocate" in Senator Michael Bennett's office last week. The dichotomy arose there as well. The thing is, lots of people, including lots of Occupiers, are trying to figure out how to work within the System, however it may manifest, to change Things for the better. This is the ground where one finds the crossover between Occupy here in America, and the Tea Party. Again, everyone has a different take, but many express the thing as a desire to return to the Constitution, or to reclaim the "American Dream," "End the Fed," get money out of politics, or whatever, within a range of tactical thinking from addressing Congress and local pols, through--well, shooting Congress and local pols.
On the other hand, there's a big batch of us that see the problems Occupy engages as rather beyond systemic reach and veering into if not fully established as spiritual issues. Although some at our meeting took auto-umbrage at Tim's query, i think he asked the question in good faith, (ahem), and had worked up a rather bemused state for himself about our expression and motivation. Tim, you see, is a "pragmatist," he says. He works the old system like a farm pump, and out comes serviceable, if foul-tasting, water. We look like Jesus freaks or something, to him, idealistic apotheoses.
We esoteric Occupiers, as one might call us, don't see any hope at all from within the System, or at best, very little. (I'm willing to entertain the possible viability of the U.S. constitution, for example, if only because of its inherent malleability). We aren't especially interested in, for example, the slick approach of establishment solutions to the foreclosure crisis where the government throws grease on the banking cartels' bone-grinding machinery, setting up programs that allow mortgage holders to continue to be pillaged, a little less uncomfortably. Or policies that allow politicians to bray like drunken mules over the reductions in increase (!) in toxic emissions over the next fifty years when we all know damn well that the rate of extinction of species will have the very cockroaches fighting over table scraps soon enough to make fifty years seem a shaky proposition. Or bullshit excuses about some XX-anianstani or another that's supposed to be aiming another batch of invisible weaponry at us while cartel honchos hop on a plane for Jerusalem so they can watch the fireworks from there, and record their profit and loss at close quarters.
We don't like the damn crooked, snaky, backstabbing, cheststabbing, competitive, might-give-you-a-break-after-i-get-mine-otherwise-fuck-you-and-yours System, and really, we figure that even if it sounds ridiculous to many we've come to a point where abolishing the System is the only way to save our now tenuous hold on viable life here on Earth. We don't see much pragmatism in working within the System in an effort to abolish the System. In fact there's some concern that the thing may collapse on your head, doing it that way. There's a real sense of unobtainability in working inside the System, akin to the application of Godel's Incompleteness Theorem i posted earlier. It really seems to us fringe thinkers that the best one can do by working within the System is to expose it's inherent, indivisible, insuperable bankruptcy.
I've been criticized, (by an Atheist that simply couldn't tolerate discussion of Anything outside his Box), for attaching Undue significance to certain ordinary terms by targeted capitalization. Here in this very post, i've capitalized the terms, "System," and "Things," in order to attach significance to them that i don't see as undue. I'm really not so sure what Tim Leigh, or even other Occupiers mean when we bandy those terms about in conversation so very casually. I strongly suspect, though, that their use is far more fluid and troublesome than we notice until we condemn our fellows for misstatements that only derive from failing to recognize one another's usage. So let me explain that i am not restricting the Terms to ordinary usage involving mere political or financial systems or things, but expect them to be interpreted in a kind of supra-dimensional sense where the mundane is enfolded into a set batch of meaning we can't really plumb so well.
The point is we need a new System if Things are going to work out for Us. Get it? I've often said that i'm part of the 100%. That includes Tim Leigh, whether or not we can trust him. It includes N-eeew-t Grinch-rich. I includes, say, Eric Holder the U.S. AG that has the sheer balls to hire on in his current capacity, straight off the payroll at Covington & Burling where he helped big bankers commit the crime of the millennium. No shit. There's just no way to trust a guy like that. But we're all in this boat together, alright, even if some of us are busy drilling holes in the bottom. This System where we steadily compete to see which of us can screw the most of us over simply isn't working. And i don't think we can come out any better if we simply rearrange the game board a little so we can screw Holder, instead.
A different Eric, this one a dear friend, says i oughtn't to hesitate to speak "for Occupy" in the media, and expresses discomfiture when i say i can only speak for myself. But i can't always speak for everyone. Not all Occupiers agree with the idea that a spiritually oriented re-imagining of Human consciousness and interaction--a Paradigm Shift--is central to our focus. But it is, because no political ideology is apt to rescue us from ourselves. We humans have soundly fucked Things up. We have the wherewithal to fix our messes, but only if we completely and utterly rearrange our values. Sometimes we Occupiers still need some rearranging, too, and the business of demolition of our own hoary paradigms and approaches has been uncomfortable already. It's not so likely to get much easier, either, but here we are at sea together. We'd best all put our drills away.
All these themes are in earlier posts, and i expect they'll come up again. We esotericists could be wrong about it all. The huge body of science professionals warning of impending and serious environmental dangers could be completely wrong, or even manipulated by power-grabbing globalists, (though that would fall within the scope of this notion of System over system). Being wrong about the imminence of karmic backlash doesn't negate the ethical reality that we just don't do each other right. That we're simply way to caught up with our own rather infantile egos. We really don't think the numbers are to easily deniable, though, so even though we know this business of attempting to shift the consciousness and motivation of the entire species is absurdly grandiose and improbable, what else can we do? Do or die, it is. And when the whole Thing collapses, hopefully some of us will still be standing. If it does, and we are, Tim, Newt, and Eric are all welcome to stop by for a sandwich, if we still have one. Same goes for those Occupiers alienated by differences of opinion. In the meantime, we mean to fight the Dark aspects of the System tooth and nail, both from within and without.