Buddhism, poetry

The Khan is in Tibet/Samyaksambuddha

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‘brug banner

zing skya scales

grinning and bald

under the hooves of small horses

The Khan of all

between the two oceans

 

Mara bleeds into my eyes and

screams into my chest

a breath smelling of

lilacs

and it is so hard to resist

 

The banner of the horse tails

Qoridai

reigns triumphant

the tumens

roam the roads

the beat into the dirt

I look to the west and see only their empire

I look to the East and the North and the South

and I see only their empire

 

samyaksambuddha

nettles and thirst

blasting heat

like Mara belching fire

the air shimmers

and the beggars

sitting lotus

listening

samyaksambuddha

please

I strive

nekkhamma

 

Tibet

is a appendage

of the

Yuan

who possess

the Mandate

of heaven

Taiding

and now his illustrious successor

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Ancient History, Buddhism, poetry

Marajit/War in the North

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these feelings

afflict me constantly

like a persistent chest cold

and there is Mara

and Mara has power over my dreams

I am not hungry enough

I do not embrace agony

 

Ān Shǐ Zhīluàn

and the lord of

the middle kingdom

loses the mandate

of heaven to

Trisong Detsen

of that backwater

Tubo

 

he is without place and without

rage

but he is vengeful

and spiteful

and craves the wine

of life

a god of indigo and honey

Mara

has suzreignity

over my nightmares

thunder

in a blight red sky

 

the beleaguered Tang

rage against

the Xuanzong Emperor

for his

credulousness

regarding those he

trusted

in the North

why must the Middle Kingdom

suffer for one Emperor’s folly?

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Politics

The Poison that is Nationalism

nationalism

Ukraine and Russia are at war, but it is not for the reasons you have been told. The issue is not Vladimir Putin being the second coming of Hitler and wanting to conquer all of Eastern Europe, nor is the problem a western backed cabal of capitalists and neofascists pushing Ukraine into a symbiotic relationship with the West. Both those things may be, and probably are, true to one degree or another, but both are SYMPTOMS of a larger, deeper, and more profound problem: Nationalism.

Nationalism is the irrational belief that the geography of a region has something to do with the moral and existential merit of a people or group of people. It is represented in superstitious worship of national symbols like flags and songs, irrational hatred for those deemed by the leadership to be “enemies”, a paranoid belief that other nations and groups are “out to get us”. Oftentimes this nationalism leads a population to follow its leaders blindly into misguided military (and social/economic) adventures that lead to death, destruction, and privation for the population itself and for victims in other nations. Nationalism is a disease that in its metastasized state can become Imperialism, the complete subordination of the economic, cultural, military, and intellectual engines of the state to the whims of a power structure that wishes to expand its power, and its markets, over as much of the world as possible. The chief imperial states today consist of the United States, Russia, the European Union and China, with many regional “great powers” who dominate others on a smaller geographic or demographic scale. Each Imperial state was born of a certain strain of nationalism, each has its own national mythology and belief in its own exceptionalism, and each wishes to extend and expand its power and reach over other nations and peoples. The Ukrainian-Russian War is not a war of “democracy” vs “tyranny” or “right” vs “left” or “capitalism” vs “socialism”, it is a war between an imperial state, Russia, trying to reclaim a territory on its borders that it sees as part of its cultural, economic, and political “manifest destiny”, and the emerging nation state of Ukraine, which wishes to join the imperial sphere of the US/EU alliance and to assert itself as a regional power in its own right.

The war in eastern Ukraine is like all wars since the advent of the nation state: a bloody conflict declared by powers that be of two (or more) nations and executed by the people of those respective nations. The aim is national expansion or at least national preservation. By “national” read the state, its mechanisms and markets, and its conception of the people living within its borders. The people fight the war not because it is in their direct interest to do so, but because the powers that be have made an argument, or a declaration, that the “other” is the existential enemy of the people of “our” nation, and that to let them win would be to destroy all that is loved and cherished by the people. It is a sort of emotional blackmail that leads people who otherwise would have no stake in such a foolish conflict to give their lives for the national “cause”.

The powers that be in nation states are themselves guided by the powers that be within the power structure of the larger imperial states and the corporations and interests who depend on them and who support them. In this case Russia, under a nationalistic and paranoid leader, wishes to expand his power base and sphere of influence and to make himself look like a conquering hero to the people and the elites of his nation. This is also based in an all too Russian fear of being invaded and dominated by other powers. They are pitted against an pragmatic alliance of the US and EU Imperial systems, who are attempting to absorb Ukraine into the Neoliberal economic sphere and the Neoconservative military and cultural paradigm. Stuck in the middle is the smaller, but no less nationalistically driven, state of Ukraine, which after being dominated by Russia for centuries is now taking tentative steps towards creating its own national mythology and mission. There is no “right side” in this conflict, and there is no “winner” possible; the outcome will be one Imperial State or another gaining temporary advantage in the great chess game that is international affairs, while the people will suffer the consequences. There is nothing “radical” or “new” or “21st Century” about this war. Imperial states have always used proxies to fight, they have always stoked ethnic and national tensions in target nations, and they have always tried to manipulate the media message in their favor. The only thing that is different now is the technology involved and the paranoia and anxiety of a world that is slowly beginning to realize that nationalism and free market capitalism are the two evils that are turning the world into a hell-scape for most of its residents.

The ambitions of Imperial states often culminate in world wide, or region wide, conflict. This has happened ever since the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars and continues to the present day. We have not seen a calamitous, world wide conflict since the end of the Second World War, but that does not mean it cannot, or will not, happen. Events such as those transpiring in Ukraine point to the fact that the world is still in thrall to the religion that is nationalism. Until we realize that we must unite as PEOPLE and not as NATIONS in order to reject the idea of separateness and profit over people we will never be able to “solve” or “win” conflicts like that in Ukraine. There are no winners in the great game of nationalism, only profiteers and power brokers.

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poetry

A Lark

Columnes_-_Gran_Mesquita_de_Kairuan

Hark! I am a Lark

A blessed spark

of inspiration on a dullard’s own

canvas

his eyes jacinths

his teeth

dancing dalliances with

unipeds

grinning three-eared coney

peace and violet and aquamarine fractals

Alhambra

the ides of Spain

Submission kef

in smoke of pleasure

a red paparchy

spilt like silk

onto Iberian plains

gadroon guilt saucers

and porcelain cups

from Cathay

passionate blue

dragons in common with the

gonfalon on the stone wall

Hail! I am a Nightingale

body ooidal

though still taking flight

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art, Philosophy, Science

Santayana’s Folly

untitled-1969

We must not fall into the trap of seeing the world as a teleology, or worse, as a function of an unmoved mover. We must, as Santayana implores, look to the past in order to not repeat it, but we often misunderstand this dictum. Events as they are do not seek to move forward with a preordained or mechanical certainty for want of human agency. Events, history, movements, revolutions, are all aspects of human agency. The world will behave according to the laws of nature unless acted upon by human beings, and even then we must remember that humans are animals and a part of nature. So perhaps we must reword our original preposition: Events as they are will move, and any perceived direction is a projection of human need, fear and desire. Humans are self-obsessed animals, self-aware of their own awareness, captivated and intimidated, overwhelmed, by their potential for agency in the natural world. We are apes and subject to the sort of whims and whimsy, and instincts, of that class of organisms. We are pattern seekers and have indeed created a world for ourselves that exists, within our own minds at least, independent of the realities of nature and physics. Philosophy is a wish the human mind makes, a striving for order in a system that is inherently chaos. We are instinctually inclined to see chaos as a negative state of affairs, but it is neither “good” nor “bad”; chaos is, and that is all there is to it.

There is no good or evil, there is only cause and effect. We do and then that which is done upon acts in response. We are conditioned, as social animals, to see the good in the group we belong to. The violence done by, or in the name of, those who we associate with is not seen as violence, but as a reaction against a constant war that rages around us and against us. The world is a “dangerous” place for “our sort” and this is and has always been true. Humans will do anything, convince themselves of anything, in order to feel safe in the group, safe in the community, safe in the society. We all live in a spotlight that we believe is projected only onto ourselves. This is not narcissism, this is a sort of human naturalism, a built in mechanism that had its place in our development. It undermines us now only because we chose to attempt to transcend the purely animal and to achieve something that would allow us to “not repeat history”. We cannot help but “repeat” history because we will always conform to our natures. It is as much in our nature to create as to destroy, to rage as well as to love, to learn as well as to stick our heads in the sand.

But, we can make a change in the application of our personal, and collective, agency in order to better our own circumstances and those of our fellows. One can live well and live healthily, safely, and comfortably without violating the laws of nature. Nature allows for human comfort and happiness, but it will never allow human utopia. The problem the philosophical systems we have created (and continue to create) and let run rampant is that all are based on the premise that the human is perfectible. What we fail to realize is that the human animals already is perfect, at least insofar as perfection has a place in nature. We are what we became, and we became what we are because of natural forces. Natural Selection is not wish fulfilment, and it does not act so much as it exists. Species change over time, we are all transitional forms, changing not out of some “striving” to “become”. Firstly, nature does not strive, nature acts and reacts according to the laws of nature, and nature does not become because there is nothing to become save for what is at the moment, and that moment changes constantly. Nothing is now how it was a moment ago.

History cannot repeat itself as there is nothing to repeat: nature exists as a perpetual “is” and this is a result of laws we have discovered and continue to discover. Heraclitus was right all along, in a simple all too human way. One cannot step in the same river twice because the river is never the river, it is only the sum of the constantly moving atoms that comprise what we see as a flow of water, that we wade into for refreshment and pleasure, which we call a river, and which we bestow with the attributes and the attitudes of what we have decided comprises a “river”. We see parts where there is only a whole, and this is fine, for an animal, natural. The ape will reach for the brightest fruits, and he will choose from those only the sweetest. This will serve the tree as much as it will serve the animal, for it will spread its seeds as far as the animal will sojourn and make the kingdom of the trees that much more diverse and vital. Change is the only constant, a constant being only that which human beings have decided will (or must?) transpire based on what they have observed.

Science is that human propensity for observation refined into systems and measures that allow us to glimpse the fine print, and past drafts, of natural law. Our most noble attribute is the need to explore and to learn from that exploration. After this primary value is the penultimate, Art. Art is the human propensity for taking in what we observe in the world, filtering it through the unique contents of our individual minds, and expressing it through creative activity and behavior. Art is the ultimate human commentary on nature; where science quotes, or attempts to paraphrase, art rhapsodizes,criticizes and excoriates. Art allows us to create something that is our own and to try our hands at being in control of nature, God over the universe (and God is only our self-obsessed conception of ourselves projected onto the chaos of nature) or at least a little creative universe of our own. Art allows us to express emotion, as much blessing as curse for our ape minds, without inflicting our emotions on our fellow creatures. Art can rage as much as it can sing. Without science art would have no mythology to draw upon, without art science would have no music to inspire us. We reached for the Moon, and traveled thereto, not just because we observed it as an aspect of nature, but because its light has inspired a thousand tall tales, and gave mood and color to countless works of art. Apollo 11 was propelled as much by poetry as much as by rocket-fuel

 

Art thou pale for weariness

    Of climbing heaven and gazing on the earth,

Wandering companionless

     Among the stars that have a different birth,

And ever changing, like a Joyless eye

    That finds no object worth its constancy?

All this, then, is Santayana’s folly: it is not possible to learn from the past because the past is only a flawed human perception of the present. The philosopher was far more on point, if not in such a broad way as his assessment of the past, with this comment on human agency


An artist is a dreamer consenting to dream of the actual world.

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Philosophy, Politics

Art And The Revolutionary Society

Futurism_Exhibition_Overview_vidstill_1

There is no such thing as a “Marxist society”…Marxism is a philosophy of materialism and human development. In a Socialist society the people would own the means of production and would democratically control the allocation and application of the fruits of labor. Profit would be an alien concept as it would be superfluous to the needs of the people, needs that would be met by the just use and distribution of the products of labor. The goal would be to move towards the elimination of want, or else to have a system in place where those who want are provided for in a just and human way according to their needs.

I do not have the answer to the question of what such a society would look like in detail as it has not come about yet, the foundations for such a system have yet to be built. That is where the aspirational, and revolutionary, nature of Marxist-Leninist philosophy and analysis is essential. the debt of history: the debt accrued when the fruit of generations of labor and innovation and thought culminate in an ingenious new application, therefore negating claims of proprietary ownership of the new application. One aspect of this application is the human artistic urge.

Art In Relation to a Revolutionary Society.

Art does not originate from the secluded person and mind in order to re-enforce the sacred seclusion (genius) of the artist. art exists to create the chance for an a priori secluded (genius) mind to connect with others and enjoy their thoughts and affection and company. art is not a product of loneliness but a way to overcome loneliness, the way the inherent uniqueness and loneliness of the artistic mind tries to connect and interact with the world. artists do not seek out the acclaim of the people, they seek out their company, they seek to become a part of the “ordinary”, the “society” through a gift of their inherent quirk, their art. art is communication failing all other communication; art is speaking, alienated from words, in the hope of achieving compatibility with and acceptance from the Other, other people, an object that can only be approached by the artistic (or autistic) mind through a gift of subjective creation. The artistic (or in many cases autistic) mind thinks “I cannot be you, I cannot be the Other, other people, I cannot relate to you as a person, therefore I will give you myself in art, a token of the chaos and constant creation and destruction in my mind, a piece of art (autism) and through your appraisal and appreciation of that piece you will come to know something of me and I will be be able to relate as the Other, other people, and for a brief moment be free of the need to create and to swim in chaotic thought”

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