Friday, October 20, 2017

X22 Report, “The Insiders Are Getting Out Of The Market, They Know What's Coming”

X22 Report, “The Insiders Are Getting Out Of The Market, They Know What's Coming”

Musical Interlude: 2002, “Falling Through Time”

2002, “Falling Through Time”

"A Look to the Heavens"

“Near the outskirts of the Small Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy some 200 thousand light-years distant, lies 5 million year young star cluster NGC 602. Surrounded by natal gas and dust, NGC 602 is just below center in this telescopic field of view with the angular size of the Full Moon on the sky. 
Click image for larger size.
The cluster itself is about 200 light-years in diameter. Glowing interior ridges and swept back shapes strongly suggest that energetic radiation and shock waves from NGC 602's massive young stars have eroded the dusty material and triggered a progression of star formation moving away from the cluster's center. Of course, the more extended wings of emission in the region suggest a popular name for the complex cosmic environment, The Flying Lizard Nebula.”

"Only You..."

“A wonderful realization will be the day you realize that you are unique in all the world. There is nothing that is an accident. You are a special combination for a purpose- and don't let them tell you otherwise, even if they tell you that purpose is an illusion. (Live an illusion if you have to.)  You are that combination so that you can do what is essential for you to do. Don't ever believe that you have nothing to contribute. The world is an incredible unfulfilled tapestry. And only you can fulfill that tiny space that is yours.”
- Leo Buscaglia

Chet Raymo, “Trying To Be Good”; Mary Oliver, "Wild Geese"

 
“Trying To Be Good”
by Chet Raymo

“A few lines from Mary Oliver's poem "Wild Geese":

    "You do not have to be good.
    You do not have to walk on your knees
    for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
    You only have to let the soft animal of your body
    love what it loves."

I've quoted these lines before, if not here, then elsewhere. When I first read them back in the late 80s, they resonated with what I felt at the time. I had spent part of my earliest adulthood walking on my knees, both literally and metaphorically, seeking to tame what I took to be the animal within. Saint Augustine was whispering in my ear, and Bernanos' gloomy country priest walked at my side. I was ready to follow Thomas Merton into the desert; indeed, I once took myself briefly to the monastery at Gethsemane, Kentucky, where Merton was in residence. That was a journey of more than a hundred miles, and I was busy repenting, although of what I don't know.

As I read those lines from Mary Oliver in middle age, I had long been cultivating the "soft animal" within, immersing myself in the is-ness of things, the flesh and blood, the gorgeously sensual. No more walking on my knees, repenting. I walked proudly upright, with my sketchbook and my watercolors, my binoculars and my magnifier, sniffing the world like an animal on the prowl. I was letting my body learn to "love what it loves." Those were the years I wrote 'The Soul of the Night' and 'Honey From Stone' - the most intensely creative years of my life. The world offered itself to my imagination, if I may borrow another line from "Wild Geese."

And now, another half-lifetime has passed. The soft animal dozes, the body seeks repose. And I think of the first line quoted above: "You do not have to be good." What could the poet have possibly meant by that? Of course one has to be good. In a cell at Gethsemane or on the bridge over Queset Brook, one has to be good. And so one tries, one tries. The soft animal of the body that nature has contrived for us is not fine-tuned for goodness.”
“Wild Geese”

"You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things."

- Mary Oliver

"I Am That..."

Author unknown.

“This Is Our World”

Steve Cutts, “This Is Our World”
Hat tip to Irish at

The Daily "Near You?"

Southend, Southend-on-Sea, United Kingdom. Thanks for stopping by!

"We Have Met The Enemy... And He Is Us" By Chris

"We Have Met The Enemy... And He Is Us"
By Chris

"Warning: I'm going to jump all over the show today. Live with it.

When your umbilical cord was severed, and you'd only just entered this world, you had approximately 100 billion brain cells. At some point in the future (hopefully very distant), an old man in sturdy boots and a trench coat will throw dirt on you and there'll be a whole lot less. Apparently it's like an expiring option. Our cells fizzle and die slowly during the course of our life and then much more rapidly until we're gone. It's basically Black and Scholes inside our skulls.

The thing is, based on the sheer number of neurons we arrive on this planet with, we should all be geniuses at birth. We're not. It takes a good number of years for us to figure out that we shouldn't stick our bits in a toaster... or chew on barbed wire... or play with electricity in the bath while a 2 year old would have no problem thinking those are perfectly reasonable things to do. This is despite the fact that at age 2 our brains are about 80% of the size of a fully grown adult and about 85% by early childhood.

The reasons for this is due to the connections made between neurons - synapses. When we're only 2 years old, we've not made and strengthened these necessary connections in our brains. A child’s brain actually has twice as many synapses as an adult’s brain, and in a process called pruning, the neural connections that are used and reinforced most often — like those used for language — are strengthened, while the ones that are not utilized as much fade and die.

It's not, therefore, entirely about the number of neurons, but rather how they're trained to connect and the consistency of that training. The more connections made with regularity, the more adept we become at whatever that connection provides. If it's a series of connections allowing us to speak a language, then it's no surprise that a 2-year old still struggles while a grown adult manages the task perfectly well while driving a complex machine down the freeway and munching on an apple.

It also explains why a relatively dim Joe Sixpack can be trained to perform a complex task and execute it efficiently (provided he's experienced sufficient repetition of the task). This could be a task which a genius, at first crack, may underperform at. It's true. Repetition is indeed the mother of skill. We should try to remember this.

What else? The terrible twos are pretty awful. You know why? Because at this age we start developing the synapses that allow us to experience emotion. Emotions such as frustration.

So you know what we do? We practice those emotions. After all, if we're to control them we need to strengthen them. It's just a bit of a "terrible" experience for those around us while we're busy "practicing" frustration. But only once we've mastered those experiences and more fully developed, those connections do we begin to learn how to actually control them.

It's a bit like hopping into a supercar when you don't really know how to drive. At first, you're a wee bit out of control, careening all over the place and figuring out how the accelerator works and the breaks and so forth. Eventually, we get the beast under control and we're off.

As adults we can all lapse under stressful conditions. Have you ever been running late for some important meeting and you can't find your car keys? You go into a whirlwind rush. Blind panic. Where the fffff are my keys??? "Honey! You seen my keys?" Your darling loved one answers with, "but I told you to put them on the hook." What's your response? Typically it's something like this:
"You FFFFF!!!
Don't tell me that. Just help me find them."

What's happening in your brain is that your rational brain has completely shut down at this point. In this state you simply can't function rationally. The 2-year old has taken over, and only once you've calmed down can you go about searching for your keys... thinking rationally where you had them last and so forth.

You're literally returning to what a 2-year old experiences when they're still developing those neural connections and haven't fully developed them yet. The 2-year old brain doesn't understand context. It's reverting to our primary DNA, which actually tells us that we're going to die. There's another side to this.

Have you ever been driving along behind some old dotty goat who's trawling along well BELOW the speed limit? You're agitated and then excited when you see that just ahead the lane goes to double lanes. Ah... at last a chance to drill past old Betty in her Suzuki snowflake, 1-point-nothing tin can that's been annoying you for ages. And then, we all know what happens next. Here comes the double lane and Betty, bless her socks, suddenly guns the car and is now going OVER the speed limit. Whaaat?? There is a reason for this. It's all about our DNA.

Back when we were restless creatures scrubbing for roots and berries our social status could have meant the difference between survival and death. It was pretty important that our social status remained as high as we could get it. Those at the bottom of the social rung could quite literally starve. Not pleasant. Today, we're not going to starve but our DNA doesn't recognise that. It still reacts the same way.

We see this in any bubblicous market. In fact, I was cutting my teeth in the investment banking world in London during the dot-com boom and truthfully never understood at the time what was going down. (gimme a break I was just 20-something). EVERYONE was getting in on the IPOs and making fortunes. It was as much a social status activity as it was about making money. NOT participating meant that you were old Betty getting overtaken at speed. Not good says our brain.

There is hope, though. Don't drive yourself around the bend letting your 2-year-old brain run the show. Breathe, relax, and put everything into context. Most of the time you should be doing nothing at all except observing. Good luck!"

"There Comes A Time..."

"There comes a time in the life of us all when we must lay aside 
our books or put down our tools and leave our place of work 
and walk forth on the road to meet the enemy face-to-face. 
Once and for all and at last." 
- Edward Abbey

"Which Rotten Fruit Falls First?"

"Which Rotten Fruit Falls First?"
by Charles Hugh Smith

"To those of us who understand the entire status quo is rotten and corrupt to its core, the confidence of each ideological camp that their side will emerge unscathed by investigation is a source of amusement. The fake-progressives (fake because these so-called “progressives” support Imperial over-reach and a status quo whose only possible output is soaring wealth and income inequality) are confident that a “smoking gun” of corruption will deliver their most fervent dream, the impeachment of President Trump, while Trump supporters are equally confident there is no “smoking gun.”

One camp is confident that the wily Clintons and their army of enablers, from former FBI Director Comey on down, will finally be brought to long-evaded justice for their various perfections of corruption and collusion: pay to play, and so on.

Clinton supporters are equally confident that there is no “smoking gun” that will bring down the House of Clinton, and by proxy, the organs of the Democratic Party.

The implicit historical model each camp is anticipating is of course Watergate, which unfolded with a dramatic inevitability that in retrospect almost seems scripted: a minor burglary led to the hubris of cover-up which led to the destruction of the Nixon presidency.

Often overlooked in this history is the key roles played by insider informants (such as Deep Throat) and the wider political demands for greater transparency the scandal triggered. The Church Committee ended up investigating the illegal campaigns of the FBI and CIA against the anti-war and civil rights movements (COINTELPRO etc.), and a small dent was made in the federal government’s decades-long reliance on official secrecy to cover up official corruption, collusion, malfeasance, lies, etc.– the ugly underbelly of agencies protecting the Empire from any inconvenient leaks of truth.

I submit that Watergate will not be the template for the multiple investigations being pursued in the present. It seems highly likely to me that who and what gets taken down by the investigations is much less predictable than in the Watergate template, which distilled down to an escalating campaign of cover-ups and stonewalling which simply compounded the crimes previously committed.

I submit that the investigations launched with an implicit intent of bringing down selected targets may well end up destroying people and institutions that weren’t in the crosshairs. The reason why this seems so likely is that the entire status quo is corrupt: the fraud, pay-to-play, lies and collusion are institutionalized and system-wide, and once some investigation drills a hole in the dam of secrecy and collusion, the hole may quickly widen as the fetid gush of hidden truths pours out.

In other words, when the entire status quo is corrupt and hiding its collusion, gathering evidence to nail one target inevitably tugs loose other threads, threads that the original investigators reckoned could be safely left untouched. It doesn’t work that way, folks. Insiders end up releasing more than investigators bargained for, and all it takes is one insider and one journalist who isn’t beholden to a colluding-insider corporate boss to widen the hole in the dam into a veritable flood.

Longtime readers know I have long made the case that the Deep State has fractured into competing camps. For example:


Public investigations are one field where this conflict plays out, but unfortunately for the players, it’s a game that’s easier to start than to control. For this reason, I predict the current investigations will widen and take a variety of twists and turns that surprise all those anticipating a tidy, narrowly focused denouement. Which of the many rotten fruits will fall first? How many will fall by the time the investigations have burned through a corrupt status quo that’s exquisitely vulnerable to a single lightning strike? Only one lightning strike is needed to ignite the combustible corruption and trigger a conflagration tha quickly escapes the handlers’ control. If you want a recent example of this dynamic, consider Harvey Weinstein, a mere brush fire that may well spread further and faster than the handlers expect.”

"How It Really Is"

"Donald Trump: The First ‘Brand' President"

"Donald Trump: The First ‘Brand' President"
by Bill Bonner

"‘Trump did this…’ ‘Trump did that…’ The news media can barely keep up with him. Sometimes, the calumnies against the president are idle gossip. Sometimes, they greatly understate the magnitude of the crime. He ‘disrespects’ a dead soldier, says one report. He ‘thinks he owns a Renoir,’ says another. He bombs a military base in Syria (with which we are not at war) because he thinks its government has gassed its own citizens (which it didn’t).

Brand made flesh: As we explored yesterday, the White House is controlled - barely - neither by party, nor by ideology…nor even by a coherent biped. It is home to a brand, made flesh in Donald J Trump, and made president by the Electoral College. The significance of this needs to be put in perspective - like putting a nun in front of a whorehouse - to give it scale and clarity.

We do so now hoping to get a better picture, connecting the dots between Trump, the Deep State, the evolving US government, and its fake money system. We will go slowly, if you don’t mind, making a wide, flanking movement, to get the largest view. Let us begin with the news…

One of the top items this morning is the death of the latest GOP attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare. From The Hill: ‘24 hours later, Senate health deal all but completely dead’. What was this deal? Who would have benefitted? At whose expense? States? Insurance companies? The long-term ill? The young? The old?

Our hearty congratulations and deep sympathies to anyone who has taken the time and trouble to figure it out, if it were possible. Here at the Diary, we came away from reading the news as ignorant as we were when we clicked on the story. Without hours of study, deep meditation, and divine revelation, you cannot possibly understand what they are talking about.

Dripping with swamp scum: But for every ZIP code full of people without a clue, there are a handful of insiders in the Washington DC area who know to the penny how much they were going to make from it. For example, there was said to be $110 million in the program for ‘advertising’ - for encouraging people to get something for nothing from the feds, as though that were necessary.

From our experience in the trade, most advertising is probably a waste of money. And for advertising something like this - without any clear objectives and no known return on investment - you might as well just put the money directly into the pockets of the media cronies who will end up with it. Surely, on Wednesday morning there was more than one PR hack looking forward to getting his hands on that money; most likely he had already put a down payment on a new house in Chevy Chase, and an advance tuition payment for his son at Tufts.

An obvious point: It is not possible for the average citizen to know what the government is up to. Only the insiders, the lobbyists, and the swamp critters know. But we go further: It is not possible for Congress to know either.

Whence cometh that $110 million figure? Why $110 million and not $120 million? What difference will it make? It may be big money to us, but there is probably more than that in small change under the seat cushions in the Senate lounge. Who would get it? For what? What good would it achieve? Not a single member of Congress knows.

If called upon, some ‘expert’ would slither up to a microphone, dripping with swamp scum, and justify it. He would solemnly report that, without the appropriation, all the devils of Hell would be unleashed upon us, and all of Western civilization would be in danger. Later, he would settle into a comfy leather booth at the Capital Grille and count his money.

Self-serving larceny: You may think this $110 million advertising budget escapes notice only because it is so trivial. Surely, larger programs get a thorough scrutinizing from the people’s representatives? But you would be wrong…

Recall that no member of Congress even read the O’care bill, even though it affected nearly one-sixth of the economy. As former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi famously put it at the time: ‘We have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it.’

The bill was duly passed. Seven years later, we still don’t know exactly what’s in it. In this context, we look at another news dot. From the Los Angeles Times: ‘In kicking his top priorities to Congress, President Trump is setting the stage - intentionally or not - for weeks of messy horse-trading that may culminate in a year-end standoff to avoid another government shutdown. His own flip-flops on key issues have left lawmakers unable to trust the White House’s leadership and uncertain how to resolve the most thorny policy disputes.’

So, what do we see? Perhaps wisely, the executive branch is incapable, and uninterested, in the details of legislation. It is busy distracting the voters. Voters, meanwhile, are easily misled, easily confused, and too busy trying to keep up with their Facebook updates to know what is really going on. Nor can the legislative branch possibly manage the minutiae of complex programs, or resolve the many conflicts that arise between ideological claptrap and self-serving larceny.

Where does that leave us? Who actually governs? What kind of government is it? And what does this have to do with the world of money, which is our beat here at the Diary? As always, more to come…”

“Worst Stock Market Crash Ever Is Coming”

“Worst Stock Market Crash Ever Is Coming”
by RT

"Thirty years ago Wall Street slid into the abyss, suffering the biggest one-day market fall of over 22 percent. Since then the Dow Jones has risen from 1,738 points to an all-time high of over 23,000, raising fears another historic crash is on the cards.

View of the floor of the New-York Stock Exchange where the 
Dow Jones dropped over 500 points, 19 October 1987

On October 19, 1987, stock markets around the world crashed, shedding billions in value very quickly. The crash began in Hong Kong and spread to Europe, hitting the United States after other markets had already declined by a significant margin. The Dow Jones Industrial Average which comprises the 30 largest US publicly traded companies, lost 22.6 percent of its value that day.
Analysts have been warning recent stock market moves look eerily similar to just before 1987’s ‘Black Monday.’ Investors also raised concerns steep valuations might mean a correction is overdue.

RT talked to Keiser Report host Max Keiser about the root causes of the 1987 crash and the possibilities of another market meltdown. Today’s stock market has parallels to the 1987 market, said Keiser, adding that “valuations are at historic highs.” “The Fed (and central bank counterparts) are pumping money, and sentiment is wildly bullish.”

Keiser says to understand what happened with the market we have to recall the global financial crisis of 2008. According to him, “unprecedented amounts, over $20 trillion in cash, was printed and thrown at Wall St. creditors to repair their technically insolvent balance sheets.” “There was no reform or attempt to reign in the crooked behavior of bankers at all. In turn, they interpreted this as a ‘green light’ to keep doing what they had been doing that led to the crash; namely, engage in extreme, reckless borrowing to speculate.”

A former stockbroker, Keiser said that now in 2017, the debt pyramid has never been higher. “Just one indicator of this would be the sovereign bond market in the US and UK that are trading at multi-hundred-year highs thanks to the Ponzi-economics of central bank debt monetization (printing money and buying back their own debt).” Talking about the risks of another Black Monday equities crash, Keiser said it is impossible to say exactly when “this truckload of market risk explodes but it’s 100 percent guaranteed and will be by far the biggest loss of wealth ever recorded.”

He added that “countries like Russia are smart to be loading into Gold and initiating crypto strategies ahead of the 'bond-pocalypse' and equity inferno.” Individual investors should be doing the same, Keiser said."
And over it all, a best-estimate of $2.2 QUADRILLION in global derivatives "bets."
Can you say, "Margin call."? Good luck, and...

"Into the Cold and Dark"

"Into the Cold and Dark"
by James Howard Kunstler

“It amuses me that the nation is so caught up in the sexual mischief of a single Hollywood producer when the nation as a whole is getting screwed sideways and upside down by its own political caretakers. Behind all the smoke, mirrors, Trump bluster, Schumer fog, and media mystification about the vaudeville act known as The Budget and The Tax Cut, both political parties are fighting for their lives and the Deep State knows that it is being thrown overboard to drown in red ink. There’s really no way out of the financial conundrum that dogs the republic and something’s got to give.

Many of us have been waiting for these tensions to express themselves by blowing up the artificially levitated stock markets. For about a year, absolutely nothing has thwarted their supernatural ascent, including the threat of World War Three, leading some observers to believe that they have been rigged to perfection. Well, the algo-bots might be pretty fine-tuned, and the central bank inputs of fresh “liquidity” pretty much assured, but for all that, these markets are still human artifacts and Murphy’s Law still lurks out there in the gloaming with its cohorts, the diminishing returns of technology (a.k.a. “Blowback”), and the demon of unintended consequences.

Many, including yours truly, have expected the distortions and perversions on the money side of life to express themselves in money itself: the dollar. So far, it has only wobbled down about ten percent. This is due perhaps to the calibrated disinformation known as “forward guidance” issued by this country’s central bank, the Federal Reserve, which has been threatening - pretty idly so far - to raise interest rates and shrink down its vault of hoarded securities - a lot of it janky paper left over from the misadventures of 2007-2009.

I guess the lesson is that when you have a pervasively false and corrupt financial system, it is always subject to a little additional accounting fraud - until it’s not. And the next thing you know, you’re sitting in the rubble of what used to be your civilization.

The ever more immiserated schnooks who make up the former middle-class know that their lives are crumbling, and may feel that they’re subject to the utterly overwhelming forces of a cruel destiny generated by a leviathan state that hates and despises them. And of course that is exactly why they turned to the Golden Golem of Greatness for salvation.

Alas, Mr. Trump has not constructed a coherent strategy for defeating the colossus of fakery that drives the nation ever-deeper toward the cold and dark. He has a talent for distraction and disruption, though, and so far that gave cover to a whole lot of other people in power who have been able to stand around with their hands in their pockets doing nothing about the sinking state of the nation.

Now, the vaudeville act is coming to a spectacular conclusion as the trappings of Halloween go back in the closet and the pulsating, LED-studded Santas go up on the rooftops. Every ceremony of American life seems drained of meaning now, including the machinations of government over the budget and taxes. The revolution to come out of this frozen swamp of irresponsibility will be the messiest and most incoherent in world history. Nobody will have any idea what is going on outside the geo-storm of failure.

About the only thing one can say for sure is that the American life which emerges from this maelstrom will not look a whole lot like what we’re living in today. I remain serenely convinced that when it finally passes, the air will be fresh again and the sun will shine, and a lot more people will know what is real and what is not."

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Greg Hunter, "Weekly News Wrap-Up 10/20/2017"

"Weekly News Wrap-Up 10/20/2017"
By Greg Hunter’s USAWatchdog.com

"The mainstream media refuses to cover the real Russian collusion and treason story. If you watch the MSM, you will not hear that President Obama and Hillary Clinton signed away one-fifth of U.S. uranium production with what looks like bribes to the Clinton Foundation in the form of “donations.” The FBI, under Robert Mueller, knew all about the shady Russia deal and ignored it. The second in command at the Justice Department, Rob Rosenstein, also knew about it as he investigated part of the kickbacks and bribes surrounding the deal. Fast-forward to today, and you have Rosenstein hiring Robert Mueller to investigate Trump and collusion with the Russians in the 2016 election. There has not been a single person charged after a year and a half of “investigating” by Mueller. There are calls for these people to step down and an investigation be started on all involved in this uranium deal. You cannot make this stuff up.

The U.S. Navy and South Korea are conducting war games around the Korean peninsula. North Korea has slammed the warship gathering as a “rehearsal for war.” Meanwhile, Russia is warning the U.S. not to “back North Korea into a corner.”

There is one all-time high after another in the markets these days. Why are the markets so exuberant since the economy is not growing at a rate above 2%? It’s so crazy it’s like a cartoon. Is it because the Fed will have a new and even more dovish Chairman soon when Janet Yellen’s term ends? Are things about to turn up because of Trump, or is it a super nova stock market top getting ready to blow into a black hole? Renowned Yale economics professor Robert Shiller is warning 1987 could “happen again.”

"Join Greg Hunter as he talks about these stories and more in the Weekly News Wrap-Up."

X22 Report, “The Economic Indicators Are Piling Up & They Are Pointing Towards A Collapse”

X22 Report, “The Economic Indicators Are Piling Up &
 They Are Pointing Towards A Collapse”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYok6sybQek
Related:
X22 Report, “The Event Warning Meter Has Hit Code Red”

Musical Interlude: Gov't Mule, "Soulshine"

Gov't Mule, "Soulshine"

"A Look to the Heavens"

“Find the Big Dipper and follow the handle away from the dipper's bowl until you get to the last bright star. Then, just slide your telescope a little south and west and you'll come upon this stunning pair of interacting galaxies, the 51st entry in Charles Messier's famous catalog. 
Click image for larger size.
Perhaps the original spiral nebula, the large galaxy with well defined spiral structure is also cataloged as NGC 5194. Its spiral arms and dust lanes clearly sweep in front of its companion galaxy (bottom), NGC 5195. The pair are about 31 million light-years distant and officially lie within the angular boundaries of the small constellation Canes Venatici. Though M51 looks faint and fuzzy to the eye, deep images like this one can reveal striking colors and the faint tidal debris around the smaller galaxy.”

“Finding Stillness in the Storms”

“Finding Stillness in the Storms”
by Christina Feldman

"We are emotional beings living in an emotional world. Stillness is rarely our first response to the waves of emotion that sweep through us. Feeling helpless within emotional storms, we come to believe that expression and action are the only means to alleviate the tensions of anger, fear, and panic. Even happiness and love appear to require action or expression for us to believe in their validity. The many forms of rage that scar our communities- road rage, supermarket rage, surf rage, institutional rage- all bear witness to the compelling power of our emotions. In the grip of an emotional storm, we feel we must do something to express it, but we are just seeking to rid ourselves of the tension surrounding the emotion. Catharsis is effective in alleviating this tension, but it is a poor substitute for freedom. We honk our car horns, shout at our colleagues, feud with our neighbors, and then feel a welcome relief, yet we must also live with the consequences of our actions. We feel despair as the temporary relief wears off and we revisit the familiar patterns of tension and conflict.

Is it possible for us to find that quality of unshakeable balance in the complexity of our emotional landscape? Can we question the assumption we carry that the world and the ten thousand things in it hold the power to enrage and depress us, or make us happy, and acknowledge that all our emotional waves begin in our own hearts and minds? If we do not question this belief, then we are a prisoner of those ten thousand things. We delegate to them the authority to govern our emotional life and freedom.
Someone told me the story of the gamut of emotions he experienced in the aftermath of being mugged. Rage, anxiety, feelings of powerlessness, and the desire for vengeance arose in a crescendo of intensity. After a time he realized that the mugger was in charge of his life. He thought about him, obsessed about him, feared him, and opened the door for the mugger to govern his heart. As he began to explore the depth of those feelings, to accept them and befriend them, he began to reclaim his heart and freedom. Vaclav Havel, the poet and statesman, wrote, "Hatred has much in common with desire. With both comes fixation on others, dependence on them, and, in fact, a delegation of a piece of our own identity to them. The hater longs for the object of his hatred, just as the lover longs for the object of his love."

Probing beneath the Surface: The second step in discovering emotional integrity and freedom lies in our willingness to probe beneath the concepts we use to define the emotional process. We use the words "angry," "sad," "happy," "jealous," and "fearful" to describe a many-textured experience that is impossible to describe by a single word. It is akin to describing a painting by its title. Our concepts, imposed upon a fluid, unfolding process, refer to the past and serve to interrupt the quality of attention we bring to that process in the present. We are tempted to define our identity by the concepts we impose upon our emotional life. We might refer to ourselves as an "angry" person, a "fearful" or "anxious" type, and come to believe these definitions to be the truth.

Probing beneath our concepts and descriptions, we come to understand that emotion is not a fixed preordained state arising from nowhere. All our emotions involve our bodies, feelings, memories, associations, and thoughts in an unfolding interaction that is so rapid it takes remarkable attention to perceive. Some time ago, I was about to get into a taxi, when another cab roared up. The driver jumped out and began berating my cabdriver for stealing his fare. Within moments the two men were shoving each other fighting for my suitcase, and throwing racial insults, and ended up grappling on the ground. After the fight had broken up and I was installed in the taxi, the driver began to pour out the story of his life; the endless injustices he'd been exposed to, the insults he'd endured, his struggles to support himself. He told me, "I am an angry man." Where was the beginning of his anger? It probably began before he was even born, an inherited legacy. Where did his anger live- in his body, in the feelings provoked by the encounter in his thoughts and perceptions? The anger passed and another wave of emotion began- hurt, fear, and anxiety- another unfolding process.

It is the very speed with which our emotions rise and overwhelm us that makes them so daunting. Feelings, memories and associations, thoughts, reactions, and words cascade upon each other, leaving us stunned and helpless.  Into this process we learn to introduce interest, investigation, and mindful awareness. The closer we can come to the beginning of an emotional wave, the greater the degree of balance and understanding we will discover. We learn to bring an alert, calm presence to the sounds, sights, thoughts, and sensations that touch us, to sense the feelings that are evoked. We notice that small feelings lead to small thoughts that arise and fade away without effort. The intense feelings we describe as loneliness, fear, anger, and excitement lead to an equal intensity in our thoughts and the degree of imprisonment we experience.

The feelings we experience determine how we feel about the world, other people, and ourselves. In the same way that we insist on being "someone" through our self-definition, we are also prone to categorizing the world in terms of "friends" and "fiends."  If we feel isolated from the world we will tend to be hostile or suspicious. If we feel happy and secure within ourselves there is little that threatens us and we tend to touch the world with kindness. In freeing ourselves from the burden of self-definition, we also liberate others from the images we have formed about them. There is the possibility of seeing anew, approaching each moment of feeling as if for the first time, and each encounter with the willingness to learn. When we cease to conceptualize ourselves or others, healing can begin. Letting go of the concepts through which we attempt to define our experience, we can explore the interwoven threads of an emotion. Sensing the changing nature of our feelings, we have the possibility of stepping away from the extremes of succumbing and overcoming to a simpler relationship of exploration and connection.”

"Making Your Best Guess"

"Making Your Best Guess"
by Arthur Silber

“We are not gods, and we are not omniscient. We cannot foretell the future with certainty. Most often, cultural and political changes are terribly complex. It can be notoriously difficult to predict exactly where a trend will take us, and we can be mistaken. We do the best we can: if we wish to address certain issues seriously, we study history, and we read everything that might shed light on our concerns. We consult what the best thinkers of our time and of earlier times have said and written. We challenge everyone's assumptions, including most especially our own. That last is often very difficult. If we care enough, we do our best to disprove our own case. In that way, we find out how strong our case is, and where its weaknesses may lie.

Barring extraordinary circumstances, we cannot be certain that a particular development represents a critical turning point at the time it occurs. If we dare to say, "This is the moment the battle was lost," only future events will prove whether we were correct. We do the best we can, based on our understanding of how similar events have unfolded in the past, and in light of our understanding of the underlying principles in play. We can be wrong.”

Chet Raymo, “Telling Stories: ‘Real’ Life”

“Telling Stories: ‘Real’ Life”
by Chet Raymo

"If the doors of perception were cleansed everything 
would appear to man as it is, infinite."           
 - William Blake

"I have just finished reading Brian Greene's new book, “The Fabric of the Cosmos”. As with his earlier book, “The Elegant Universe”, he does a damn good job explaining the almost unexplainable - string theory, braneworlds, multiple universes, and all that. None of this stuff has an empirical basis, and is not likely to for the foreseeable future. So does it qualify as science? Well, yes, barely. Because in principle at least experiments are possible. We should value the wild speculations of the theoretical cosmologists precisely because they are pushing the limits of what is imaginable.

We live in an imagined world. Some parts of that imagined world are so tightly bound to sense perceptions that we call them "real." The chair I'm sitting in is real. Atoms are real. The common ancestry of humans and raccoons is real. Strings and branes and multiple universes are not yet real, but they spring from the same storytelling tradition. Democritus and Lucretius told stories of atoms long before atoms were real.

It is ever for us as it was for the singer in a famous poem by Wallace Stevens: 

"Even if what she sang was what she heard...
there never was a world for her
 Except the one she sang, and singing made."

So, what is the real? My own views on the matter were given shape when I was young by the poet Wallace Stevens. More influential was a book I read as a graduate student, the physicist-philosopher Henry Margenau's "The Nature of Physical Reality" (1950). Margenau uses a simple diagram to illustrate the conceptual maps we make of the world. Down the middle of the page he draws a vertical line that he calls the "perception plane." It is the locus of our immediate sensations of the world - sights, tastes, odors, touches, sounds - the interface between the world as it is and the world as we know it. To the left of the line is the world "out there," which we know only through the windows of our senses. To the right of the line Margenau draws circles representing "constructs" - names, descriptions, or ideas we invent to make sense of our perceptions. The more abstract the construct, the farther the circle from the line.

Immediately adjacent to the perception plane are constructs that correspond to direct sensations: "blue," "bitter," "pungent," "brittle," "shrill." The construct "dragonfly" is a bit further from the perception plane, but not very far away. I feel a sensation on my finger ("tingle"), I see a color ("blue"), a quality of light ("iridescent"), a shape ("long and narrow"). I name this ensemble of sensations "dragonfly,"

As my experience of the world increases, the construct "dragonfly" becomes enmeshed in a web of other constructs at varying distances from the plane: "insecta," "Jurassic," "mitochondrial DNA," etc. Resilience and interconnectivity of the web are the defining characteristics of the real. "Atom" is bound to the perception plane by a dense and sturdy web of constructs. "Cosmic strings" and "branes" are way out there, far from the perception plane, dangling by a gossamer thread.

Perception and cognition are hugely complex processes, endlessly debated by psychologists, neurologists and philosophers. Margenau's simple schematic of connected constructs is itself only a construct, a useful way of describing the devilishly complex business of perception and cognition. The important thing is to realize that our ideas about the world are not the same as the world itself (a point often missed by true believers). Nevertheless, only the most obtuse idealist would hesitate to call "dragonflies" or "atoms" real."

The Daily "Near You?"

Lexington, Massachusetts, USA. Thanks for stopping by!

"Why the Imp in Your Brain Gets Out”

"Why the Imp in Your Brain Gets Out”
by Benedict Carey

"The visions seem to swirl up from the brain’s sewage system at the worst possible times - during a job interview, a meeting with the boss, an apprehensive first date, an important dinner party. What if I started a food fight with these hors d’oeuvres? Mocked the host’s stammer? Cut loose with a racial slur?

“That single thought is enough,” wrote Edgar Allan Poe in “The Imp of the Perverse,” an essay on unwanted impulses. “The impulse increases to a wish, the wish to a desire, the desire to an uncontrollable longing.” He added, “There is no passion in nature so demoniacally impatient, as that of him who, shuddering upon the edge of a precipice, thus meditates a plunge.”

Or meditates on the question: Am I sick? In a few cases, the answer may be yes. But a vast majority of people rarely, if ever, act on such urges, and their susceptibility to rude fantasies in fact reflects the workings of a normally sensitive, social brain, argues a paper published in the journal Science“There are all kinds of pitfalls in social life, everywhere we look; not just errors but worst possible errors come to mind, and they come to mind easily,” said the paper’s author, Daniel M. Wegner, a psychologist at Harvard. “And having the worst thing come to mind, in some circumstances, might increase the likelihood that it will happen.”

The exploration of perverse urges has a rich history (how could it not?), running through the stories of Poe and the Marquis de Sade to Freud’s repressed desires and Darwin’s observation that many actions are performed “in direct opposition to our conscious will.” In the past decade, social psychologists have documented how common such contrary urges are - and when they are most likely to alter people’s behavior.

At a fundamental level, functioning socially means mastering one’s impulses. The adult brain expends at least as much energy on inhibition as on action, some studies suggest, and mental health relies on abiding strategies to ignore or suppress deeply disturbing thoughts - of one’s own inevitable death, for example. These strategies are general, subconscious or semiconscious psychological programs that usually run on automatic pilot.

Perverse impulses seem to arise when people focus intensely on avoiding specific errors or taboos. The theory is straightforward: to avoid blurting out that a colleague is a raging hypocrite, the brain must first imagine just that; the very presence of that catastrophic insult, in turn, increases the odds that the brain will spit it out. “We know that what’s accessible in our minds can exert an influence on judgment and behavior simply because it’s there, it’s floating on the surface of consciousness,” said Jamie Arndt, a psychologist at the University of Missouri.

The empirical evidence of this influence has been piling up in recent years, as Dr. Wegner documents in the new paper. In the lab, psychologists have people try to banish a thought from their minds - of a white bear, for example - and find that the thought keeps returning, about once a minute. Likewise, people trying not to think of a specific word continually blurt it out during rapid-fire word-association tests.

The same “ironic errors,” as Dr. Wegner calls them, are just easy to evoke in the real world. Golfers instructed to avoid a specific mistake, like overshooting, do it more often when under pressure, studies find. Soccer players told to shoot a penalty kick anywhere but at a certain spot of the net, like the lower right corner, look at that spot more often than any other.

Efforts to be politically correct can be particularly treacherous. In one study, researchers at Northwestern and Lehigh Universities had 73 students read a vignette about a fictional peer, Donald, a black male. The students saw a picture of him and read a narrative about his visit to a mall with a friend. In the crowded parking lot, Donald would not park in a handicap space, even though he was driving his grandmother’s car, which had a pass, but he did butt in front of another driver to snag a non-handicap space. He snubbed a person collecting money for a heart fund, while his friend contributed some change. And so on. The story purposely portrayed the protagonist in an ambiguous way.

The researchers had about half the students try to suppress bad stereotypes of black males as they read and, later, judged Donald’s character on measures like honesty, hostility and laziness. These students rated Donald as significantly more hostile - but also more honest - than did students who were not trying to suppress stereotypes. In short, the attempt to banish biased thoughts worked, to some extent. But the study also provided “a strong demonstration that stereotype suppression leads stereotypes to become hyperaccessible,” the authors concluded.

Smokers, heavy drinkers and other habitual substance users know this confusion too well: the effort to squelch a longing for a smoke or a drink can bring to mind all the reasons to break the habit; at the same time, the desire seemingly gets stronger.

The risk that people will slip or “lose it” depends in part on the level of stress they are undergoing, Dr. Wegner argues. Concentrating intensely on not staring at a prominent mole on a new acquaintance’s face, while also texting and trying to follow a conversation, heightens the risk of saying: “We went to the mole - I mean, mall. Mall!”

“A certain relief can come from just getting it over with, having that worst thing happen, so you don’t have to worry about monitoring in anymore,” Dr. Wegner said. All of which might be hard to explain, of course, if you’ve just mooned the dinner party.”
http://www.nytimes.com/

Related, and highly recommended:
"The Core of Evil: Edgar Allan Poe Updated for the 21st Century"
http://brintmontgomery.blogspot.com/