Friday Endorsements 4.18.14
Here we are, next Friday already. It’s like time is looping in, eh? Or spiraling out, not sure which. We have a show coming up, pop that sidebar if you live in Newark, NJ - Saturday, April 26th at the Index Art Center! Sunday the 27th, too, at Union Pool in Billyburg Brooklyn. We’re going to bring all our special forces, special forces…
But where are we now? Looping in, spiraling out?
It’s not Friday, its the resonance of Friday.
It’s not endorsements, its the spirit of endorsements.
So, yeah. My endorsement is complicated today. I’ve spent all spare time in last 2+ weeks on the above endeavor. So much has come from it, so much I’ve been itching to discuss or apply in a useful way. Paying close attention to what’s going on in Ukraine this past month has brought frustration, anger, sadness, even fleeting moments of glee - and has through it all been profoundly informative.
As to how far along I am in my self-directed re-education process, I’d say I have a way to go. This topic is like a giant onion and bound up in it are questions involving mono-polar global political power, self-determination on a personal and collective level, 20 plus years of absolutely devastating US foreign policy, EXTENSIVE propaganda from every direction imaginable, East/West relations, Non-alignment Movements, Capitalism, Communism, Terrorism, Russian Orthodoxy and Islam pit in opposition to post-modern liberal Western ideology, Putin’s career moves and his rise to huge popularity in Russia and many other countries of note, the destabilizing of the petrodollar, increased fracking on US soil for shale oil, and the list goes on infinitely.
I certainly don’t want to soapbox all over my developing opinions, which forever and always are to be considered in process, but I very much crave discussion on this topic. I’ve been amazed at how little I knew, what I had understood incorrectly.
Some observations so far…
Over the past few months, while out and about, I have noticed a bit of what is called ‘Russophobia’, which would be the un-informed or irrational fear of/or disgust with Russia (whether that be centering on social issues or political ones), mostly around Olympic times and mostly regarding the issues of LGBT rights and Pussy Riot, but as far as my experience goes it has been mild. Unfortunately, more predominant seems to be a lack of interest.
If you “got beef” with Russia, for whatever reason, it’s probably a good idea to sincerely meditate on the issue and sort it out as clearly for yourself as possible. There’s a load of brain science that helps illustrate how unconscious biases (confirmation bias, bandwagon effect, false-consensus effect, etc) are the main hooks for propaganda of all ilk, but we can safeguard ourselves with attention and curiosity. I’m always trying to ‘de-bug’ myself by noticing these narrative hooks. So sneaky.
I have to make one thing clear: based on what I have been able to find, the US media and government has been non-stop lying, twisting, and obfuscating damage-control throughout the entirety of the Ukraine crisis.
Hence why I am advocating anyone with an interest in global affairs or social ethics look into this themselves, take a little time out to dig, and discuss it!
I think we should all be talking about it. The more I learn, the more this inevitably leads to the question of action. What is to be done? How? What can I do here, what can I do with the people I know? What can I do in communication with others around the globe? In what ways can we use our bodies and minds to foster and breath life into inspired innovations to problems that link us all together round this hot rock falling through space?
I’ll end with a few resources I’ve found useful. Skip if you want to avoid getting more of a sense of my Current Personal Pinions on the topic:
1) Be sure to watch some of recent speeches and addresses coming from the Russian government. I spent hours this week watching Putin, Lavrov, Pushkov, and others speak and I have to say, for me, to watch them has more than once provided a quick shock that gave me a burst of energy to keep digging. It’s a style and spirit of public address quite different from the ‘talking point’ theatrical grandstanding usually seen in the U.S. And to watch them speak to the EU and Western political/media folk really highlights the extreme level of absurdity in the behavior of the latter two, and the restraint and measured wit of the former. That’s what I’ve seen and read so far.
Did you notice that after yesterday’s Geneva de-escalation agreement between the US – Ukraine – EU – and Russia, each representative gave private media addresses at the same time in different rooms? At a diplomatic peace agreement press address! Lavrov mentions that this was at the behest of the other contributors to the talks (ie Catherine Ashton and John Kerry). Just simply stating this in passing, Lavrov lets the situation speak for itself.
At the PACE press address, reporters cut the various Russian leaders off, repeatedly imploring them to speak in English, and storming out of the room en masse. After finishing what they had come to say, in Russian, the floor was opened for questions to the few remaining. A question which had already been answered was asked in French. Immediately, the point was remade in fluent French.
It seems to me that the Russian leadership understands all too well that you can’t win an information war waged by grandiose liars, but with patience and restraint you can facilitate the amplification of said grandiose lies until they explode in the faces of the liars. Carlos Castaneda referred to this practice as ‘Stalking Petty Tyrants’.
I’m not saying you’ll see the same thing that I see in these videos, but you should watch some of em anyway: Rabid Danger Freaks or Reasonable Sounding Humans? Neither? And you’ve got a lifetime of U.S. presidential and Secretary of State addresses to compare/contrast to for super fun! Remember this?
Here is the statement made by Vitalii Churkin to the UNSC April 12 2014
And here is President Putin’s Address regarding the reunification of Crimea
**p.s. it’s hard practicing a detached attention when millions of people are in direct danger of civil war today. But I think the above aspect is an important part of understanding why things have gotten to the place they have, and where they seem to be heading in the future.
2) Finding the above public addresses probably would have been pretty tough had I not found a blog titled ‘The Vineyard of the Saker’. This is a blog run by an ex-military analyst who has since turned his efforts to anonymous armchair analysis of various world events as they unfold (often with a focus on military analysis, for obvious reasons). He lived in Moscow during the 1993 constitutional crisis, and has a number of key sources in Russia. He has a huge readership since he started covering the Ukraine crisis, and has been mirrored on some pretty prominent sites like Chris Hedges’ Truthdig. His commenters are proving to be a wealth of information, as well, often massing 60 to 100 multi-linked comments in hours time. He is focusing on daily SITREP analysis of Ukraine, and getting important addresses and videos translated or dubbed.
You may find that you disagree with his analysis, or you may be turned off by his being an Orthodox Christian unafraid to use scripture to illustrate a point (remember Russian Orthodoxy is an important piece of this puzzle, so don’t conflate it with any version of Christianity you’ve experienced in the US) but you will find that he is a tireless generator of resources and links that one can utilize to jump in whatever direction so chosen. I particularly recommend his series titled ‘Russia and Islam’ which can be searched for from the main page.
3) If you haven’t listened to Victoria Nuland’s now infamous phone call, please do. This is the voice of one of our foreign policy leaders. What do you hear?
To the people of Ukraine in the days and weeks ahead, as well as to all who pay close attention to this struggle and contemplate it from the ‘zone of silence’: may your yoke be easy and your burden light!
Nina Simone at the Montreux Jazz Festival
A few months ago, I decided it was about time for me to dive into Nina Simone. Many of the musicians I love often cite her as one of their most powerful influences and I needed to see what she was all about. One afternoon, I was pondering what track to begin my exploration with, and started with her 9 minute live recording of Sinner Man (no video, only audio). Initially, I was tickled, but not blown away, as I expected to be. About 2/3rd’s of the way through the song, there was a moment where the piano player played a little flourish that nearly took my head off. I perked up and listened closer. The band had come to a sort of breakdown in the song and I started hearing her breathing. Then she started clapping, completely out of time and yet somehow still very with music. You could almost hear spirits welling up inside her. The song ended and I knew I was onto something autochthonous, something coming straight from the source.
I bought her ‘best of” collection and she sang to me for a few weeks during my commutes around the city, becoming more familiar with her burnt velvet voice and her ferocious piano playing. I felt like I was getting let in on some huge secret. LIttle did i knew, my mind had yet to fully fathom what this woman could do.
A short while later, I was looking for a live video of Ms. Simone to really get a grasp on what that may have been like. I found this:
This video is a collection of her performances from the Montreux Jazz Festival, and here lies the golden bleeding sun of her material. She is simply bewitching. You can practically see the ghosts and gods moving through her, tearing her this way and that, effortlessly bubbling with all the emotion and energy available to one who really taps into that ever elusive source. This, to me, is the most important and hardest thing to do in life. She has tapped in and is such a palpable conductor; speaking in tongues, moving with grace, ripe truths about humanity flying off the cuff as quickly and fluidly as her hands move over the keys of that lucky piano. She is completely bare. She is completely aware. The look in her eyes is haunting.
Do yourself a favor, take and hour and a half, turn the lights off, commit to it, and watch this performance.