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cW  ·  621 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Neoliberalism is creating loneliness

Thanks for this. I connect with your descriptions of the ache of disconnection, even though my situations are all different. I'm rich in friends, even though most of them are scattered so far, and that is its own kind of different pain. Ibuprofen for social pain makes good sense, though I'd never thought of it before. It seems inflammation is the problem regardless, doesn't matter if the trigger is externally or internally initiated. I've been consuming turmeric paste in my coffee to combat inflammation, rhodiola rosea when I need a sanguine shot of energy, and kava kava when I need to chill. It does well enough most of the time.

I really enjoyed that How To Be Alone video. It's beautiful, and contains lots of helpful stuff in it, threads from some of the best traditions which promote solitude. I'm thinking of that Pascal quote right now, “All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone," though I think he was selling it from the negative, rather than positive side. The Buddhist version sees the solitude as the link to the real source of connection, beyond people. That's present in some Christian mystics' thought as well. Not sure if it's what Pascal was getting at though. Regardless, we need a functional web of social interconnection whenever we leave the cell of solitude, meditation, prayer, what have you. That web's not there on its own though, and I find myself hamfistedly trying to pretend it is, or weave together a few inches of it. Playing music with strangers has been the best catalyst for unexpected connection lately.

Are you an Alaskan currently? I've never been, but I have a friend who moved out to Homer. He tells me it's one of the best places on earth.

If you make your facebook ad, let me know. I'd like to see it. You should cc: the guy who wrote the guardian article too, if you do.

cW  ·  1067 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: How Meditation Changes the Brain and Body

Glad you dug it, thenewgreen, and thanks for the post, vile.

In my experience, guided meditations (whether app or audio file or live) can really go one way or another. Some create that extra layer ooli is talking about, making it even harder to escape the thought-snarl, and some surgically detach you from it. Not sure, but probably that style which functions best for one depends upon one. Sam Harris's deployment is some of the most effective I've experienced, personally.

It makes good sense to me, though, that guided meditation COULD work wonders for the one meditating, whether beginner or experienced. As near as I can science my way through this, when it works, it works by engaging the language centers of the brain. These same language centers might otherwise be spooling out an endless torrent of thought, drama, narrative, analysis, and all the rest of that which obscures the bliss of being in the present moment. The guided meditation, if executed deftly, occupies these centers without arousing criticism or accelerating the thought stream. In this sense, in my opinion, it performs the same primary function of the mantra, which drives other words off the tongue/mind by occupying that space, and thereby prevents more complex thought-forms from building in the mindspace. It's much the same principle by which drishti organizes vision and focus in yoga.

Anyhow, that's how it all shakes out for me. I frequently meditate in silence, but as silence is so hard to come by, and also for their many wonderful properties, I frequently meditate to the accompaniment of the singing bowls -- and if the mantra/guide feels absent, toning works well too. Here's a few tracks I have really benefited from:

This guy does some great composite crystal singing bowl tracks:

Emile de Leon gives you 70 minutes, all 7 chakras!

Don't really know if others share these leaps I've offered, but I owe my extrapolations to a great segment on Radiolab concerning language and bliss, and numerous conversations with my behaviorist colleague. Happy transcending.

cW  ·  1505 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Can we cogently refute "stealing is stealing"?

Note: I wrote this essay length reply to thenewgreens post on my smallest laptop in the world workaround, currently my window into the cyberverse. My eyes will take their vengeance on me presently. Meanwhile, I see there is much more discussion here, probably much of which refers to that which I refer, and much more. Hopefully, someday, I'll catch up. Realistically, I won't. Cheers to all nonetheless!

Well, thanks for looking out for my interests, my friend, and I hate to do any injury to my theoretically possible future self/career, but at a moment like this, it would be simply perverse not to adduce the following:

Copying is Not Theft

The fact that it doesn't serve my personal economic interests would be no worthy excuse not to confess the following: the foundational problem here is that ownership (the basis by which theft can be assessed) is itself nothing more than a contingently necessary mass-hallucination. It has no self-evident qualities, no a priori claim upon being. It might as well have been a dozen other ways, and in fact, it has. Even among societies which have participated in the belief in ownership, modern western notions of ownership remain distinct, the most highly augmented and elaborate. This distinction reveals primarily the importance of ownership, i.e., the regulation of access to stuff as a means of controlling reality, to our society. The most fantastical of these notions, the furthest abstracted from any basis or grounds in material reality, is that of intellectual property. The above video does a brilliant job of illustrating this fact, along with a hilariously nursery rhyme-esque ditty and animation to boot, which is why I love it so much, and am so delighted to share it. The laws that protect intellectual property serve to reward and thereby fuel visionaries (and any of those legally capable of appropriating said-visionaries breakthroughs), and as such, we must regard it as a powerful tool for discovery and progress. This rationale is, however, entirely utilitarian, and therefore contingent. It has no basis in reality, and is in fact contrary to what we see in the natural world, wherein discoveries, developments, evolutions, etc., are distributed, disseminated, inherited, etc., equally, and without any thought for compensation or establishment of paternity.

I ought to say that the difference between taking bread and taking files of music/what have you does demonstrate something significant about different kinds of ownership, as defined. While the taking of bread for the hungry is palpably more urgent, it also deprives the former bread-holder of actual calories. Dude now needs another loaf. On the digital download side of things, we see no urgency of acquisition, but also no deprivation of anything previously held. The mp3 is the digital equivalent of Jesus Christ's loaves and fishes, broken 5,000 times and still remaining entirely whole.

I do believe it is important to support our artists, and I am incredibly grateful to all those who have, and who will, support my own artistic endeavors. However, I would argue that to protect my own wellbeing, and indeed the vitality of our culture, we must take a different tack than that which our production/consumption based society would offer us. Instead of regarding our art as units of production, which are expected to go out into the market and return us ducats from faceless consumers in whereverland, as would a pair of tennis shoes or a smartphone or a spool of floss, we might regard it as a vital medium which connects us all, and in which we all are welcomed to have ownership, not the ownership of exclusive access, but the ownership of active participation, of engagement, and of the enfranchisement which attends active engagement.

Someone once said (and I think it was Billy Corgan, though I can't track it down ... any help?) that the music industry had basically invited the scourge of illegal downloading by pushing its artists for so long to make songs which were ever more disposable. The pop song is meant to hook you on the first listen, infect you on the second, and sicken you on the third. That way you'll be ready to welcome the next one. So what if we instead create work that is meant to outlast us, and welcome a community of listeners to be as actively engaged as were any of Shakespeare's rambunctious penny audiences?

I'd like people not to download music illegally, but not because I think it's theft, or because I think it's wrong. Rather, I'd like them to consider what they are cheating themselves out of by not committing to the works of art they are consuming, and how much more rich will their experience of it become once they show up and participate in the experience, and contribute, not just financially, which is an expression of what we value, but also with their focus, their thoughts, and their vital life energy. We don't have to swallow the modern Western faux-divides of audience/performer, connoiseur/virtuoso. This is something we're meant to do together.

cW  ·  1917 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Ask Hubski: What is the perfect cocktail for multiple occasions?

I'm going to have to go ahead and disagree with the author's choice. The Negroni? I mean, don't get me wrong: I _love_ a good Negroni. And we may well want to pose the pregnant question of what in the world we mean by a "perfect cocktail." But if the criteria of broad appeal is central, then the Negroni is out like a brown shirt in the spring of '45. If I had a shilling for every time someone ordered one based on its color, only to pull a curdling grimace on the first swig and demand a something-tini in its place, well ... I'd have at least a few schillings. Possibly enough to buy me a Negroni.

Campari is a wonderful amaro, but it is an acquired taste on the order of Islay scotch, if not beyond. And in a society of palates trained predominantly to the hooks of the pleasure trap, bitter is the odd man out on the flavor quadrant. Sorry, escarole, and sorry Campari too.

It's not a problem, of course. The celebration of acquired tastes guarantees us delightfully uncluttered avenues. I just don't see the value in pretending such a stinky cheese is going to be a crowd-pleaser.

And speaking of crowd-pleasers, I'm going to have to say bravo to all of you. Every single one of the cocktails proposed makes a better "every wo/mans" cocktail than does the Negroni. The White Spider, the French 75, and (biases declared) the Dark and Stormy are my exemplars.

Against my better judgement, I'll submit the (fresh) margarita for consideration, as it is remarkably popular despite its broad range of flavors offered. As it contains tequila, it may well lose critical volume in terms of appeal. However, anything universally appealing is bound to achieve such only by sacrificing intensity and nuance. Hence, pabulum. So, in short, the quest is broken (which makes it that much more fun to pursue.) And upon that broken quest, I'll pour my margarita.

cW  ·  2069 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The Fool-Proof Seven Step Hangover Cure

Glad you enjoyed! And thanks for reading. I do find that, as a night of revelry goes on, the mid-way hydration becomes increasingly difficult to hang onto. I think you're right, that part of the problem is that, when confronted with two liquids, one simply water, the other a magic potion, the choice seems obvious. Not that we really choose in the instant to shun the path of hydration. Rather, I think we're magnetically pulled toward the cocktail/beer/wine moreso than toward the humble glass of h2o, because, if it's a well-made beverage, it just offers a lot more breadth and depth of flavor. It also usually contains enough calories to verge on "meal in a glass" status, and therefore wins out in terms of that kind of satiation, too.

For all of these reasons, I recommend drawing the water into rhythm with your libation of choice by viewing it differently: It's not in competition with your Manhattan. It's the negative space in your Manhattan. It's the rest between the trumpet blasts, the palate calming, palate cleansing intermezzo that allows your cocktail to taste, with every sip, exactly as delicious as it can.

Also, from a meditative standpoint, I look at the long, leisurely pull from my tumbler of water as a reminder that the evening is unhurried; that I am incredibly well positioned, and quite blessed, to have delicious and consciousness-altering concoctions arriving before me, say nothing of whatever else will follow. It's the plateau where I lounge and regard from a state of repose the dazzling experiences which are flowing in my direction. And from there, the whole evening opens up, and seems to breathe with space and liberty.

Don't know if any of these mental tricks will help. If not, repairs are always well within your grasp!

Regarding rhymes, and the order of drinking they prescribe, I think they're useful to a point, but (as is often the case with conventional wisdom presented in aphorism) woefully oversimplistic. There are also many different versions, some of which seem in conflict with one another. ( Here's one of my favorite versions, which makes fun of the whole idea of the thing).

There's also the german version, about beer and wine:

"Bier auf Wein, das laß sein. Wein auf Bier, das rat' ich dir"

and the rough translation is so great, because it feels so German to me: Beer after wine, leave it be. Wine after beer? I recommend it!

The simpler the wisdom, the more situations it overlooks. These directives offer a basic starting point to keep novices from erring badly, but those who know the ropes can certainly execute more daring maneuvers, and gracefully. If I had to replace these quotes with something more broadly useful, it would be this: the more different types of alcohol you consume, the greater your chance of a catastrophic reaction. Keep it simple, and in general, work in one direction. Going back and forth numerous times between categories fermented and distilled will probably lead to pain.

Beyond that, there's a nearly infinite realm of personal variance. Gin disagrees violently with some, even those quite acclimated to liquid culture, while it treats others quite handsomely. So I guess the answer differs for everyone, which is why it really is a good to know your poison, which in turn requires that one do as the ancients recommend, and "know thyself." (Only just that?) At any rate, these rules of thumb have helped quite a few people minimize their pain, which makes them alright in my book.

Thanks again for reading!

cW  ·  2136 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Robert Bly reads "the scolding Rumi" (I don't like it here)

Well, I'm by no means an expert in either Rumi or Bly, but I'm very happy to offer my thoughts. Explication of poems is always fun work, even though (perhaps because?) it's inherently inconclusive.

(here's a written out version, for reference:

The speaker in this poem, possibly a version of Rumi, possibly a projection upon someone else, is badly out of sorts. In a new place where he doesn't know anyone, I imagine, and based upon lines 3 and 4, probably stranded apart from his beloved. It's impossible to tell from the verse whether the new place is really so awful, or whether it's just new and strange. I myself have been acclimating to a new city and other strange life shaping events over the last five 8 months, which is one of the reasons this poems speaks so strongly to me right now. I've been dealing rather continuously with what I call, the Doors phenomenon, i.e., that people are strange when you're a stranger. And the speaker in Rumi's poem may be enmeshed in the same.

Either way, the speaker indulges in scathing attack upon this new place (well, dismissal, really), to which he attributes his unhappiness, going so far as to imply that it lacks any spiritual dimension, (lines 5 and 6), which is clearly a part of what would make a place worthy, in Rumi-land. We see similar allegations leveled against places/times in the work of other poets, who each find fault with a lack that they would consider appalling. Wallace Steven's "The Disillusionment of Ten O'Clock" comes to mind, in which he paints a sad picture of a place or culture lacking in all imagination.

In the fifth and sixth strophes/paragraphs, Rumi is taking someone to task. I'm not 100% on this, but I think it may be himself. (His desire body, he's just addressed in the 4th strophe, would be a personification of his pining. Alternately, he may subscribe to a belief in the very real existence of this projection, something akin to an astral body. I'm not really at all sure of Rumi's cosmology or metaphysical defaults). Either way, I think it may be this version of himself that he scolds in the final two strophes of the poem. He is scolding himself for pursuing ephemeral, insubstantial pleasures, which may have brought him to where he now is, where "i don't like it here," and where he is apart from his beloved.

Imagine a guy in a strange town who gets loaded and sad and lonely and misses his girl, and suddenly everything around him seems unbearably strange and shabby. I guess, in a single sentence of reduction, that would be my overview.

But how about you? Does any of that sound like a good fit? Any idea who he's referring to as "the great Chinese Simurgh bird?"

cW  ·  2177 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The Results are In.

This is a really interesting thread. Alas, the whole discussion relies on some really shifting and non-determinable factors, each of which is chocked full of myriad possible causes. Why is hubski predominantly male? (Assuming that the test group was representative, and that it _is_ in fact predominantly male -- this is probably the least of all necessary leaps to be found in this discussion). Well, if it is predominantly male, then it might just be so because it's predominantly male.

I don't mean this just as tautology, or as blatant circular reasoning for its own caddyshack-esque sense of pseudo-zen. I mean rather that many situations are self-perpetuating. To whatever extent that styles of communication/objects of inquiry or interest are at all gender-specific or determined (and of course behind each of these quotients stands a rat's nest of conflicting evidence and well-informed, well-reasoned opinion), these patterns are likely to perpetuate themselves and to reinforce existing lines of demographic composition.

Fortunately, this is a community created (largely) by a consensus of contributors. The only guidelines (and these are really only enforced by practice and example, rather than by edict) are that subjects be raised for thoughtful consideration and discovery, and that discussions be conducted with at least civility, if not collegiality. If anyone would like to suggest that these orientations are at all gender-exclusive, I'm willing to hear your argument (as I'm willing to hear just about any argument), but I think you'll be facing an uphill struggle. In short, the field of play is open, and hubski will continue to define its identity as it continues to grow and change. I am personally refreshed by how much lucid discourse can be found on this site, and how little space or attention is given to trolls, to vandals, or to any other variety of cyber-bully. Regarding diversity of viewpoint, not just of gender, but of all varieties: bring it on!

Wow. This is just AWEsome. I guffawed at least a couple of times.

For starters, let me just say that I'm responding here after just having read Wright's diatribe, and will respond further after checking out the rest of the article. In short, invective aside, I actually agree with most of Wright's assessment of the academic establishment of poetry, poetry as career with its own version of the corporate ladder, as opposed to the solitary and profoundly consuming discipline/devotion/meditation that is poetry. Despite the findings of many contests, prizes, journal editors, reviewers, and program admission boards the world over, poetry isn't something you win at. And if, by chance, one thinks it is, then perhaps what one is pursuing is something entirely other than poetry. We might think of a Visible Poetry vs. an Invisible Poetry, a la Augustine.

Of course, Wright blunders grandly into one of my favorite pitfalls so prominently practiced in writing programs and indeed in all aesthetic arenas, which is to assume that a) there is a universally recognizable standard which sets apart good from bad from mediocre verse and that b) clearly, one's own tastes conform perfectly to said standard. That he takes that tumble doesn't surprise.

What is really somewhat staggering, appalling, even while it induces gleeful cackles, is the pure vitriol of this rant, and the ranter's willingness to attack individuals personally, cruelly, and by name -- also without offering any substantive argumentation, it should be noted:

"Any subdoormat MFA poet, like Melanie Braverman, by being a nice mommie can succeed at Brandeis because real talent means nothing now"

... nothing but ad hominem there, for example.

Also, it seems quite clear from the profusion of glaring typos, that Wright is FBRWI (facebook-raging-while-intoxicated). Whether it was whiskey, wine, pills, or merely rage that impaired him, he was clearly not operating with half a writer's keyboard prowess when he dashed this off.

However, despite what may amount to offenses against human decency, Wright never herein performs outside of the office of a poet, either by being cruel, by throwing a tantrum, by committing logical fallacies, or by hurling sobriety to the wind. In fact, he may have been performing that role all the more deftly, one of the many reasons why poets should always be watched closely -- if, that is, anyone at all is paying attention to them. And flinging about abuse, as television is constantly reminding us, is one of the best ways to draw a crowd.

Regarding MFA programs, I remain powerfully ambivalent about them. Olive and I spent a good decade of mutually administered therapy decompressing and recovering from the many small wounds, disillusions, delusions and disservices we received while there, yet all the while, we never stopped uncovering new insights and invaluable experiences we'd acquired along the way. I suppose that an MFA Program is like any major life trauma in this way.

The problem of how to display a society's properly high value of poetry in the academy without creating an artificial and inorganic from the top down version of what should be a function of natural human culture remains unsolved, and to my knowledge, relatively few are even aware of it, or consider it to be a problem. I am glad that the establishment of poetry exists, and I am glad to be operating apart from it.

We studied with Carolyn Forche, as a sidenote. I'm certainly not going to make any statement about her financial or social standing in life, or anyone else's, for that matter. She was kind to us, though, I feel like I should mention, and we both took valuable insights away from our studies with her. Also, while I'm not interested in ranking the importance of her verse against all that of the last hundred years, I do consider it a valuable contribution.

cW  ·  2533 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Letters to a Young Mixologist
forwardslash, your catch 22 is a tough one. if i hadn't been introduced to delicious cocktails by friends, i doubt i'd ever have tested the waters, let alone gotten far. there is a way forward though, and it's a good deal easier to find on account of all the ongoing cocktail hoopla.

in case it helps, i'd like to weigh in on your dilemma: pay for overpriced cocktails at the bar. i know the dollar per ounce economy screams against it, but the value of know-how is triply important here. early on in my own backward self-education, i sat down with a friend who knew nearly as little as i did, and we tasted our way through ten or twelve different important spirits. we had no idea what we were doing, and as a result, everything tasted awful. i'd guess it took me the better part of a decade to undo the stigmas formed in that ill-advised tasting.

despite surface appearances, bar economics work in your favor, at least when you're finding your footing. sure, you'll pay anywhere from 2 to 8 times the amount per ounce for liquids consumed, but you won't need to buy a full bar's worth of high quality ingredients, which is in fact what it takes to ensure a pleasant first trip on the cocktail trolley.

what will be your first drink of choice, the first one that really makes you say, “aha! so this is what everyone’s going on about!” it’s hard to say, really. it could be a vodka tonic. or it could be a sazerac, a mai-tai, or a top-shelf margarita. take yourself out to a properly-stocked bar, and you’ll have all of these options at your disposal. once you know what you like, you’ll have a much shorter list of ingredients to collect in order to assemble a personally tailored home bar. in the long run, you’ll save loads of money not buying costly bottles you’ll never use.

the important thing, right off the bat, is to make sure you end up at the right kind of bar. what’s the right kind of bar? well, it’s a place that carries a wide variety of high-quality spirits, of course. again, i know this generally means higher cost. but if that cost is justified by quality ingredients and know-how, each additional dollar is likely to return value at an exponential rate.

more importantly, the right kind of bar is the one sporting good staff. any bartender who knows his/her craft should be able to mix a good drink, but that goes without saying. more importantly, a bartender should be able to talk you through your options, and should be eager to do so. i, for one, have always enjoyed consulting guests that haven’t gotten to try much. the potential to delight in this situation is really grand. i start by asking what types of food they like. what flavors do they enjoy, and what sensations would they rather avoid? within the span of a 10 second interview, i generally know exactly where to start them out.

so, if you find yourself in a deafening mob of thirsty clubbers, struggling to flag down a sneering barstaff of too-cool-for-school twenty-somethings who can barely hear you and don’t seem to care, it’s probably best to shove off and head down the way. you should be getting value for your business, and part of that value is professional advice.

as a general rule, don’t trust bars that use pre-made mixes or bottled citrus juice. if they tell you their whiskey sour contains whiskey and sour mix, the door will probably turn out to be your best friend in the room.

the ready availability of fine establishments will depend entirely on where you live, and what center of urban culture is nearest to you. the booming cocktail renaissance is working in your favor though, and decent watering holes are beginning to crop up in the tiniest of towns, in the unlikeliest of places. anyone who tries to tell you “you just can’t get a good cocktail outside of NYC or san francisco,” is just flashing their “i’m pretentious, ask me how” badge, right along side of their “i have no idea what i’m talking about” badge.

if you’re bent on sussing it all out on your own, the best way to proceed is to decide which base spirit to tackle first. to keep it simple, i’d limit the crowd to vodka, gin, tequila, rum, and whiskey. each of these base spirits offers an entire family of wonderful libations to be explored, but you may want to audition them in these drinks (ordered according to base spirit): vodka tonic/vodka gimlet, gin and tonic/gin gimlet, margarita, mojito/daiquiri (the classic recipe, that is -- watch out for frozen smoothy versions, which have very little to do with the original), whiskey sour/manhattan. these are some very basic drinks, and i’ve chosen them just because they each showcase the qualities of their base spirit. once you’ve picked a favorite starting point, the world will be yours to explore.

looking for a quick and easy recipe guide? i’ve always been impressed by the intuitive arrangement and thorough scope of the internet cocktail database ( ) they may not have all the hip, new-fangled, and elaborate recipes and techniques you’ll find employed in the most cutting edge cocktail labs and retro-speakeasies of the day, but you won’t be wanting to use liquid nitrogen right off the bat anyhow, i’m guessing -- and they’ve got the basics well covered. their approach is straightforward and their recipes are clear. also, you can search for recipes by base spirit as well as by name.

sorry for the long reply, but i hope some of this helps. and thanks for throwing in on this one!