Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Avatars, Cyborgs, and Intellectual Imposters


Social Media Disease #3


A Billion Neos?

In The Matrix, before he takes his waking pill Mr. Anderson assumes his known existence is real; that what he perceives as “he” is, in fact, him. Once so rudely extracted from his Duracell pod, however, Neo learns that he was in fact experiencing life inside a virtual reality; a digital projection of himself inside a computer simulated world: the Matrix. His entire existence was as a digital avatar; a rendition of of himself where everything, his hair, clothes, all of it, was a virtual manifestation how he wanted to appear in his world.

This isn’t far from the character hundreds of millions have created to represent themselves online. From OK Cupid to, of course, Facebook, our digital “brand” all too often has little connection to the physical existence; the flesh and blood human being securely encased, hidden, and safely protected from prying judgmental eyes inside the Pod of Reality.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

On The Hobgoblin


I can’t believe I feel required to type much of this. Yet I know I must. The internet has become the place where reactionary farts reign supreme and, despite being the greatest informational tool the world has ever seen, where thought goes to die.

I was recently pondering “consistency” with friends and we discussed the unshackling benefits of throwing old ideas and beliefs out the window in favor of nurturing your own growth. As Emerson put it in Self-Reliance:

Friday, October 27, 2017

A Mea Culpa



I’ve known exactly what I was going to call this post for several years. Obviously what follows wasn’t delivered by an unexpected lightning bolt from clear blue skies. It’s been simmering for years. Some weeks hotter than others.

As I've said maybe a dozen times by now, something was very, very wrong as far back as 2010. That May, I took an abrupt cyber-sabbatical when the splinter gnawing my core became acutely painful. It didn’t last. The avatar fought back. He won. That’s too bad. I couldn’t understand it then, but have a very good idea why now. For a man who talks about it so often, the ego is strong in this one! Again to be fair, while that was written in 2010 for the blog, the effects stemmed from and were intensified largely (though not exclusively) by Facebook. Aside from toothless stalking threats, I had little idea of what else I was dealing with: my avatar and the Dopamine Drip.  In retrospect this was the first significant twitch in what’s become social media grand mals.

Cyber Space Monkeys


Social Media Disease #2

We are the 21st century's Cyber Space Monkeys. We have to understand and remember this. When social media first hit us a decade ago, there was no manual. No blueprint. No book of social media etiquette. Nothing to warn us of side effects and consequences. That’s because we are collectively writing it. Right now. They'll be studying us in 100-years but while our descendants will have the benefit of hindsight, we’ve been stumbling along blind making predictably ignorant mistakes along the way. God knows I was. And in some cases I was remedially slow, almost clinically retarded, in seeing it.

Facebook exhumes skeletons from the friendship boneyard and obliterates the natural order of things. Over the course of several thousand years, we instinctively figured out that everyone isn't entitled to accompany us thru every part of our lives. People change. We evolve. Grow apart. There's nothing wrong with that! Old friends and acquaintances would once silently fall out of our lives out of neglect. We'd lose touch. Why? It was no mystery. Friendship actually required effort to be maintained. And for many of life’s bit players the effort outweighed the reward. It was an inevitable bump in the road. We knew and accepted it.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Our Virtual Salinas


The Social Media Disease #1

What follows is just the beginning and I’m under no illusion that the overwhelming majority of you still possess anything close to the attention span required to read all of it. Check back when you see "The Dennis Doctrine" for my thoughts on that matter. Unicorns, rainbows and shit. Promise!

Anyhow, this took an incredibly long time to even start and runs in a lane parallel to The Dopamine Drip. As I sit here this afternoon, I still don’t know exactly where to take it, even after two and a half months of psychologically sorting out what’s happened to me, and us, over the last decade. But, I’m on a deadline now. So, as Mickey Knox so eloquently put it, “Let’s roll the fuckin’ dice, Wayne.”

When Avatars Attack


A Recycled Prelude

An excerpt from an earlier post. This tells of what turned out to be a personally profound moment that took place in Phoenix on Halloween, 2016 just before Trump's election. It sets up nicely what you'll see sprouting here over the next several days and/or weeks. 




Facebook Avatars Escape The Matrix

Jeff and I went to a tiny Halloween get together at his apartment complex and toward the end of the night, the host’s neighbor stopped to chat. Seemed like a decent kid. Personable. Pleasant. Mid 20’s. I didn’t think anything of it. Suddenly, while he and the token liberal/anti-Trump partygoer were having a nice conversation, the liberal gun slinger decided to show off his ideological marksmanship and, out of the blue, yanked his Progressive Facebook Avatar from the Matrix dropping it, meme guns a-blazin’, into the Desert of the Real. The Trump supporter naturally reacted in kind and it predictably, and quickly, devolved from friendly polite banter into The Battle of Arizona and almost a physical fight.

Friday, October 6, 2017

"Unity" Via Division: Releasing Duality's Kraken

Unity Thru Division is rhetorically disguised tribalism on parade. It's subversively releasing the Kraken of Human Duality: the parable of Krishna's battlefield, Revelations, and the egocentrically externalized God/Devil concepts; several interpretations of the same message.


It's not, and never was "prophecy". It's the inevitable written as digestible mythology; probably part of the bloody evolutionary process needed to determine the course of a species divided and fueled by an infantile sense of self-awareness: the ego and its toddler-like perception that the world (all of "creation", really) revolves around it--self-interest and self-supremacy.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Nazis, Hippies, and The Bloody Political Purge


No writer achieves success advising his readers to ignore him. I’ve come to define “success” differently. In this specific case it’s maybe a good idea, especially if you're ideologically pure or identified uncomfortably with my previous Talking Dead post, to click elsewhere. While I don’t mention it often in this post, it illustrates the tangible effects of our cyber mobs and political zombies. It’s also full frontal Toddzilla and amounts to taking the final shot on my aforementioned bender while at the same time serves to purge the one thing that’s been inexplicably safe: Zombie Politics.

If you click, you and you alone are responsible. Consider yourself warned, Snowflake.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Talking Dead: Cyber Mobs 101



Research shows that in 2017, for wildly different ideological reasons, the sooner a writer invokes Adolph Hitler, the more people read it. #TheMoreYouKnow

This needs to be read, so…Hitler. Hitler. Hitler. Hey! Hitler over here!

A Brief Relapse and The Last Bender


I’ll begin this expansive multi-part project with two quick anecdotes.

Over the years, I tried to stop smoking several times. Whenever I found success, I’d kill it by letting myself have “just one”. Yep.  “Just one” Swisher Sweet always turned into ten then another pack of Marlboros.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Plans? Ha!



Perhaps you've heard or read about my confrontations with "plans"?

"We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us."

Perfect. Maybe that's why Steinbeck was Steinbeck:

"When the virus of restlessness begins to take possession of a wayward man, and the road away from Here seems broad and straight and sweet, the victim must first find in himself a good and sufficient reason for going. This to the practical bum is not difficult. He has a built-in garden of reasons to choose from. Next he must plan his trip in time and space, choose a direction and a destination. And last he must implement the journey. How to go, what to take, how long to stay. This part of the process is invariable and immortal. I set it down only so that newcomers to bumdom, like teen-agers in new-hatched sin, will not think they invented it. 
Once a journey is designed, equipped, and put in process, a new factor enters and takes over. A trip, a safari, an exploration, is an entity, different from all other journeys. It has personality, temperament, individuality, uniqueness. A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us. Tour masters, schedules, reservations, brass-bound and inevitable, dash themselves to wreckage on the personality of the trip. Only when this is recognized can the blown-in-the-glass bum relax and go along with it. Only then do the frustrations fall away. In this a journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it. I feel better now, having said this, although only those who have experienced it will understand it."

--Opening lines: John Steinbeck's Travels with Charley In Search of America

Saturday, July 15, 2017

What's Past Is Prologue

This trip started in Vermont, took me into eastern New York around the western shores of Lake Champlain thru Ticonderoga and Plattsburgh to the Canadian border at Rouses Point then south. The original "plan" (ha!) was...stop me if you've heard the before...Maine. The last of the lower 48 I've yet to see.

Like most of my "date's" fathers as a teenager, Maine clearly hates me despite having never met me. I've aimed for it no fewer than three times with three failures. At the end of June I actually started in New England! At least this time I didn't end up in Idaho. Progress?

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Dopamine Drip & A Mushroom Miracle



Grab a Twinkie. You're about to learn more about your friendly virtual Toddzilla than you're entitled to. Whatevs. I think my example may be of some use.

As I’ve greatly disconnected, I’ve become more tuned in to reality. People, places, and things that can be physically touched. But, as my focus returned and I mindfully moved away from the Dopamine Drip of social media’s constant barrage of likes, comments, and ceaseless manufactured “outrage”, I came to feel naked!

With the commitment to ending the reflexive pursuit of the virtual mob’s approval came an uncertainty as to what to do when not seeking validation! To quote that shitty 90’s band, how bizarre!

Not really. Strap in.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

7/5/17: Springfield, VT - Steinbeck Heard (Video)

The second (post-epiphany) part of the day. A more in-depth debrief is here.

7/5/17: Springfield, VT - Steinbeck Screaming (Video)

This is the first of two distinctly different parts making up this Wednesday (7/5) in southern Vermont. The trip begins "taking me", again, and its course has nothing to do with my silly "plans" (ha!). Again. Unfortunately, I hadn't realized it quite yet. Funny things, expectations! Perhaps I'll just pack the book next time.

Part of the after-the-fact debrief is here. In the meantime, have some fun at my expense. I did! 

And drive your damn cars!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

7/4/17 (3): Waterbury to Springfield, VT - Jerking the Wheel



Adventures In Waterbury

I wasn’t “getting anywhere” so around 2:30 I abandoned my roundabout in favor the interstate. My initial instincts: solid. The ramp blew. Hard. No way anyone could stop. After half an hour, despite the blister on the ball of my foot barking, I chose to walk the mile and a half thru Waterbury in hopes of better luck with Route 2 from the other end.

These little New England towns are intoxicatingly Mayberry, especially when they crackle in the summer sun with July 4th patriotism! I enjoyed chatting up an elderly couple sitting on their porch who asked all sorts of questions as I waddled past, then another chat with some folks who’d noticed me earlier. These two were stereotypically “New England”, congenial but not “too” nice, and walking away I’d come to see how conspicuous I’d become loitering in their tiny town. One unaccustomed to the appearance of drifters!

7/4/17 (2): Colcester to Waterbury, VT - Amy & The Beacon



Bob dropped me off in comfortable territory: a large rural Mobil station that happened to be alongside US-7, the road with whom I’d begun the trip almost a week before, and a short walk from I-89.

Mostly out of habit (I had Subway and plenty of water from earlier), I took a lap around the store to see if I wanted anything and caught the attention of three kids whose age I couldn’t judge. They could have been anywhere from 15-21. Seeing the backpack, they said something to each other then the brave one asked, “Are you just out traveling around to see what’s out there?”

“Yeah. Pretty much. Somethin’ like that,” I chuckled without bothering to break stride.

“Whoa. That’s like…inspiring.”

7/4/17 (1): Alburg-Colcester, VT - Daddy Mammon's Consumerist Plantation



Part 1

I'd arrived in Rouses Point feeling rejuvenated! The stomach bug…so familiar by then I’d named it Ticonderoga’s Revenge…had passed and I was ready to attack my old friend Route 2 and make my way to Maine.

Things began perfectly and generated optimism. It took just 10-minutes to hitch a ride across the bridge spanning part of Lake Champlain back into Vermont and Alburg, a little town on an islet surrounded on three sides by the lake and attached by land only to Canada.

Monday, July 3, 2017

7/2 & 7/3/17: Whilehall, NY to Alburg, VT - Around Lake Champlain (Video)

Freed from Ticonderoga's Revenge, I finally leave Whitehall, make up for lost time, and resume my relentless obsessive hitching pursuit of Route 2 and Maine.


Saturday, July 1, 2017

7/1/17: Poultney, VT to Whitehall, NY - Bill's Ark (Video)

This video is in no an adequate representation of the day but, then again, I'm no videographer. Consider this a placeholder until I properly write it up. 

"The weather unleashes a left hook and and is counterpunched by a level of  unsolicited generosity & humanity that would sooth any savage cynic. Including this one. Top to bottom, days (and people) like this are why I choose to travel this way."


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

6/28/17: Emerald Lake State Park, VT - (re-re) Retargeting Maine (Video)

Day #1 of 2017's delayed travels. This day went much the same as 2008: it began with Chris having to make a phone-based return and ended at a previously unknown state park. The 2008 similarities didn't end there. 

  

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Quixote's Primer




Prelude: This will sound familiar. What you’re about to read is both a time capsule and an invitation to watch a natural birth. Without the screaming…wait…there is eventually screaming involved. Ok. Fine. Without the blood. Most of this was left in the archives as an undistilled work in progress, one I intended to revisit over the last 7-8 years in order to edit it for clarity—both mine and yours—but, as often happens, I just moved on and clarified on the fly. 

It was originally hatched in Port Townsend, Washington as a large part of my 9/19/09 birthday post but I quickly retracted when I realized this idea, Quixote, was enormous. That’s an inadequate word. It’s literally (proper use!) impossible to overstate the impact and effects it would have on me over the next decade. 

The concept was conceived as a simple observation of the human experience. But over the years it’s proved to spread well beyond the confinements of inner dialogues and identity. As social media’s bubbles inflated, Quixote has been weaponized as the exploited means by which people intellectually isolate themselves away from unpleasant intrusions on comfortable, egocentric personal narratives and world views. Don’t be mistaken in believing that Quixote is specific to one cave or the other. It tramples truth wherever it inconveniently sprouts.  Yes, Moonbeam. Even inside your magically evolved crystal bubble.

I’ve added some contemporary 2017 meat, but the bulk was written in early-mid October, 2009 at the end of a life changing summer. Anything added or cut was for brevity (ha!), clarity and fun; the basic concept has slightly evolved over the years but very little; I’ve changed my name more often than I’ve altered the foundation lying beneath what lies beneath. (That was not added for fun.) 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Karma Is Not Your Bitch



"The trouble with self-delusion, either in a person or a society, is that reality doesn't care what anybody believes, or what story they put out. Reality doesn't "spin." Reality does not have a self-image problem. Reality does not yield its workings to self-esteem management."-J.H. Kunstler
I violently disagree that truth is subject to the whims of ego. Since returning home, repeatedly reflecting on some nagging ideas has pushed me over a threshold. I am moving quickly into a room shared with a rude abrasive bitch calling herself Personal Responsibility and away from the escapist fairytale that "The Fates" are so preoccupied and impressed with glorious ol’ me that they only live to provide a precious lesson-a-minute from their classic handbook The Magical Meaning Hidden Inside the Mystically Mundane. No, I suspect we're required to evolve and learn without constant spoon-fed intervention from The Universe.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Consultation Plague

**This was originally the last section of the previous post. But I'm weary of 2,000 word posts. Consider the split an act of mercy.**




The last paragraph in my previous post was hard-earned. It literally (proper use) took years to get there because at the outset I unintentionally became caught up in the entertainer's praise-performance-praise cycle without being completely aware it had happened. Facebook took over for the old blog making matters worse, then I was convinced to follow the Toddzilla X "brand" path in 2012 and the dopamine cycle spiraled out of control when my life became a product to be marketed online...The Matrix Marketplace. Depression and a generalized and growing innate anger predictably set in as I tried to broaden my appeal via video production and podcasting. The only sustained respites between 2012 and when I discovered the wonders of depression-busting powers of psilocybin last April: traveling.

It wasn't until last year when I embraced that this (and later on my photography) isn't a "product" to be submitted to the mob for mass-appeal and approval or, worse, to be marketed in The Matrix Marketplace, that I could ultimately embrace that my message is micro-niche: intended for “my people". The Unbearably Splintered. The rest?  They're never going to get it. Why bother? Great question. Fuck ‘em.

Destination: Death

THE DELUSION OF THE ENLIGHTENED LIFE

Life’s a journey along a series of uncharted paths where only one thing is certain: death is the unavoidable destination.  There are few certainties. Etch that in stone.

This terrorizes our species of bald apes. With a sense of consciousness and its attached ego still stuck in its wailing infant stage, we cling to various mythologies conveniently placing us at the Center of the Universe™ and providing the comforting illusion that we’re cheating death. All we have to do: behave, believe, and deliver Mammon Tribute to the pulpit or kill an infidel! My concern is no longer escapist religion. Some people need it. I understand that and some days even empathize!

(But, honestly: “if something’s too good to be true…”)

That being said, the sad effect of embracing the Universal Sky Daddy Delusion is it often prevents the faithful from properly valuing our most precious commodity: life. And, embracing their journey for what it is.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Plan Less. Live More.



Along with an infamous "Hostility Toward Wealth" Facebook post that destroyed some deep friendships, this has probably become my favorite thing I've written. It's from March or April 2015 and written inside my tent in Salento, Colombia. I have to admit, and with only a slight, forced degree of humility: its nice to be able to inspire yourself! Thanks for the organic reminder, Mr. Campbell.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

On Fear (Archive, 2009, 2011)

Slightly edited excerpt from "That Uppity Ego"
August 16, 2009


Fear

Since Michigan, this is a topic I seem to be contemplating and discussing quite frequently. Fear is a never-ending fight and if we cower too often it can cripple and make us a prisoner of our own mind.

I find it hilarious when people tell I'm "courageous." Someone famous wrote, “None but a coward dares to boast that he has never known fear.” I have known more than most! It's had a history of paralyzing me. I made a mistake in not publishing the back-story from 2004-2008, before Running with the Wind. I will correct that eventually, but it literally took me those 4-years to hit the road primarily due to fear. The “what ifs” consumed me. I was never prepared enough, never had the right equipment, or the destination was not right because too much “might happen.” Much of that was due to a lack of confidence, a major source of fear. In the weeks leading up to my departure in May 2008 I repeatedly shredded myself in my journal about the fact that I KNEW I was an obvious coward with nothing but big talk and bigger ideas, and I was sick of feeling powerless to do anything about it. This is from April 20, 2008, exactly one month before I began this little adventure:

Friday, June 2, 2017

Updating the Operating System: γνῶθι σεαυτόν

Reworked and updated excerpt from Navigating the Rubicon (9/2009)




The Trailhead

I've never written much publicly on my lead-up to this personal Odyssey. I always say it began in August 2004. In 2005,  I read a biography on Jean-Jacques Rousseau which introduced me to  the idea of unfettered commitment to truth and the phrase Vitam Impendere Vero which loosely translated means “truth before everything, even at the cost of death."

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Abyss (Archive, 2011)


 “He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.”  
-Nietzsche, Beyond Good & Evil




I’ve never read much Nietzsche, and likely never will. I tried getting thru Thus Spake Zarathustra and couldn’t. However, these two sentences have helped articulate something that I’ve struggled with for nearly two years: The idea that when you dare to confront and examine the darker, less flattering parts of life, the Abyss, your own darker, less flattering traits are inadvertently revealed to you. I believe one of the most difficult and important choices one can make is whether we choose to see what inhabits our own depths. It’s the stuff of mythology, and nearly derailed me.

Nietzsche’s Abyss was introduced to me by Henry Rollins via my favorite podcast, WTF with Marc Maron. Despite being a comedian, Maron’s conversations typically pivot toward insightful, introspective examinations of our shared, needy, frail egos and how they influence our choices and relationships. In other words, how we’re all more alike in our fucked-upitude than we care to admit!