“Seldom, very seldom, does complete truth belong to any human disclosure; seldom can it happen that something is not a little disguised or a little mistaken.”

-Jane Austen, Emma

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Friday, January 24, 2014

God always answers our prayers

It often seems like an eternity, painful, and utterly frustrating, in getting answers to our questions and in fulfilling our deepest desires. But no matter how seemingly small, or miraculous His response appears to be, the Lord ultimately always astonished us beyond out own comprehension, using both the most unexpected of ways and individuals to solve some of our most puzzling conundrums, curing our anguish.   

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
- George Orwell 

I love Soviet Propaganda pictures. Gems they are.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Done outside of the Hollywood bubble, "The Square" is a must see Netflix original

We are not looking for a leader as much as we are looking for a conscience

What is a leader anyway?

Are they going to offer solutions from the heavens?

They won't do that.

The thing is if we are able to create this conscience within the society, we'll be able to find a good president.

We are not looking for a leader to rule us. Because everyone that went to Tahir is a leader. 
We are looking for a conscience.

-Ahmed Hassan 

Good presidents come from a moral people. Not vice versa. However, more often than not, civilians fall into the mistake of worshiping demigods of particular movements, rather then relying on the more "boring" and sturdy age-old virtues of the past, which gave individuals their moral center in the first place. People can chant slogans, but if they don't understand the meaning of them, the reasoning behind positive change eventually becomes lost. If individuals are set on changing society for the better, then communities have to place an emphasis on building a societal conscience and set of values among its members. Without a unified understanding and agreement of what makes right or wrong, old mistakes are inevitably repeated, and new inroads are never made. After all, the majority of individuals have the ability to obtain and maintain power, and then loose it just as easily, repeating "Roman Empire Cycle." However, it is a lot harder to be a consistently good and honorable person-- or people for that matter.

Check the film out on the official website: http://thesquarefilm.com/about and watch it on Netflix. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Two-dimensional Living

Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
(T.S. Eliot)

While the 21st century provides many opportunities to participate within the three-dimensional space and live a life to its fullest—with more opportunities and advantages present today than in any other era, many, instead choose to believe in and view the world through a two-dimensional lens.

Two-dimensional living though, distorts rather than sheds further light onto reality, distorting both one’s personal life and an individual’s understanding of the world at large.

And, what exactly is two-dimensional living?

For instance, we view celebrities as two-dimensional beings. We see them on TV, in movies, and on magazine covers—the 2D world. However, celebrities are three-dimensional people, not 2D images. They are not flat. They are very real— I mean just ask them if they are, after the umpteenth paparazzi attack. And I know that’s a “captain obvious” observation, but do we really think about or understand the ramifications of constantly viewing them, and many others things in the world from our respective 2D glasses? After all, two-dimensions isn’t reality, but rather a snapshot—and usually a very well-crafted one at that. We see the Vogue photo shopped images, the smiles and the wit, gracing a 2D picture, but the circumstance surrounding that person’s 3D reality is usually quite different.

A 2D perspective and subsequent living habits that accompany it have ramifications in every aspect of our life—not just within our entertainment realm. We spectate at everything, rather than participating in it. From watching TV, sports, movies, engrossing ourselves in social media (here comes the customary Twitter and Facebook shout out) we over time gradually detach ourselves from reality rather than recognizing the truth more. We don’t play soccer—we watch soccer. We don’t go to a play as often or read a book—we watch a movie. 2D realities are even more commonplace within the work environment now, individuals existing on a computer, engaging their reality and with others electronically, rather than through a face-to-face interaction.

I mean I love my Amazon Prime Justified marathons. Let’s be honest. And 2D interfaces whether they be computers, TVs, movie screens, phones (the list goes on) all have their place. However, when people start to live more in cyberspace than within real space, it’s only a matter of time before we subject our 3D life to the 2D perspective that we, ourselves, have become more accustomed too. Everything, whether a person or situation, soon become either more exaggerated or unnecessarily under-exaggerated. We become obsessed with talking-heads and their opinions, mimicking everything they say, while under-valuing our neighbors more real, and perhaps more accurate perception.  We begin to hear more statements like, (as someone is pointing at a movie screen), “She has the perfect life,” (or while listening to the headlines), “That politician is a womanizing-whore-SOB-DC bureaucrat.” When you view reality from a 2D lens it becomes even that much easier to jump to conclusions and make sweeping generalizations. We see 10% of a person or a situation.  And over time, this limited 2D viewpoint, something which once we only engaged with occasionally, becomes more and more oft, until this 2D perspective metamorphoses into our tangible day-to-day reality.  

Although we acknowledge to our peers and family members, that of course we know that “nothing is real on magazine covers” or that “Facebook is a “false reality,” do we truly internalize those messages within ourselves, or do we yet again take another Instagram of a sunny beach in CA, while really harboring angsty feelings behind our camera phone.

Our modern world is more akin to the medieval variety wherein artists communicated to the viewer using two-dimensional space, rather than though painting three-dimensional compositions. The many Madonna and Child icons you find in early Christian cathedrals attest to the more common 2D perception of the era. While these folk viewed their God in the 2D realm, the reality of God is of course incomprehensibly beyond any dimension and understanding. And while we cannot understand the complexity of God, shouldn’t we at least try to get as close to that reality as possible. For, I believe that while God is not only infinite and vast, he is also very personal and intimate and wants to help us. Don’t those sentiments echo more of a 3D vibrancy rather than a 2D abstraction? This statement isn’t an all-out-call to arms against early Christian art, however, I do believe that because most Medieval folk viewed religion through such a limited lens, they in turn created more distance between themselves and their maker, rather than less. Just as we cannot truly assess the worth of an individual through a 2D picture on a magazine cover, the secrets to godliness are also not quite as simply depicted in a 2D icon. The daily hash out of “some folks go to heaven” and “some to hell” is not what all religious sentiment entirely comprises. However, because people have become so accustomed to viewing a simple 2D reality, it increasingly becomes that much more difficult to recognize and find the real thing—the actual God, the real person.

It wasn't until the Renaissance, when the likes of Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci began sculpting, inventing, and painting 3D objects, that suddenly a richer, more vibrant universe seemed possible. This humanization of art enabled people to relate more easily to their God and surroundings, rather than feeling further alienation. Humans, at last, became a little bit more than the mere mortals whom Zeus played around with, but rather God’s children—beings worth protecting and loving. These Renaissance masterpieces possessed vast dimension, gaping-in-awe angles, and filled a space which had rarely been explored or depicted.  Perhaps, now, when greeting St. Peter at the gates of heaven you will at least be a little closer to recognizing the Patron saint in his Michelangelo-esque form, rather than confusing him with John, the cashier from the local Whole Foods.  Because you had a taste for the real thing before, you can now recognize it later--when it means more. 

Three-dimensional living not only sustains and provides a more intimate and realistic environment, but also provides a greater depth, joy and satisfaction in life that can never be found within the hollow, insubstantial, and anxiously unfulfilled 2D realm. You can stare at the picture all you want, but you will ultimately will always come away with either a flawed, or at most, a basic understanding of the individual. She has brown hair and green eyes. And while you can even read a statement she says, you will still never be able to ascertain the exact meaning or emphasis the individual really ascribes to it. The need for more person-to-person interaction, or at least living that involves more participating and less spectating is necessary for a rich life. Duh.

2D information communicates necessary information—true, but ultimately that is its ultimate and final function. I post pictures to my Facebook and write quipping phrases in emails, but that limited form of interaction with others will never replace real meaningful interaction. Whether it is by phone, or if you are lucky, in person. Letters can be infused with 3D meaning as well, but unfortunately modern lingo has suffused the previous poetry which once inhabited letters and correspondence of the past.

I mean, I guess I probably shouldn’t be talking. After all I am writing this entry on a computer, while listening to Spotify, and watching the BBC version of Sherlock Holmes. Whoops. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

thanks Mumford and Sons. you guys are real gems

Roll Away Your Stone 

I have tendency to sing out loud with the radio wherever and whenever (much to the dismay of my more socially aware friends). I was listening to this song by Mumford and Sons recently and was attempting to sing along but, found I was just mumbling some random SAJ nonsense. 


Anyway, I looked up the lyrics and found out what they were actually saying. Its a REAL gem.  That's all. 

Roll away your stone, I'll roll away mine
Together we can see what we will find
Don't leave me alone at this time
For I am afraid of what I will discover inside

'Cause you told me that I would find a hole
Within the fragile substance of my soul
And I have filled this void with things unreal
And all the while my character it steals

Darkness is a harsh term don't you think?
And yet it dominates the things I see

It seems that all my bridges have been burnt
But you say that's exactly how this grace thing works.
It's not the long walk home that will change this heart
But the welcome I receive with every start

Darkness is a harsh term don't you think?
And yet it dominates the things I see
Darkness is a harsh term don't you think?
And yet it dominates the things I see

Stars hide your fires
These here are my desires
And I will give them up to you this time around
And so I'll be found
With my stake stuck in this ground
Marking the territory of this newly impassioned soul

Hide your fires
These here are my desires
And I will give them up to you this time around
And so I'll be found
With my stake stuck in this ground
Marking the territory of this newly impassioned soul

But you, you've gone too far this time
You have neither reason nor rhyme
With which to take this soul that is so rightfully mine

Monday, January 6, 2014

Keeping the Divergent element alive in society and why being different is important

You might have died on the front line, member of the team, but did you really know what you fought for?

Where are the reasonable people?

These days, whether in the midst of, or as witness to the many discussions occurring online, in person, on the phone, or as seen in the daily MSNBC/Fox News/insert-other-network-here roundup, certain voices are being sidelined and silenced.

This isn’t a call to revolution just yet. Put the banners away people.

In fact, you probably wouldn't even know which particular people or group I refer to. You weren’t aware of them being discriminated and sidelined in the first place. Because while some of them do get noticed— the-march-to-the-beat-of-their-own-drummer folk—the Lawrence of Arabia’s and the Nelson Mandela’s of the world type, most of the people from this particular group will never attain worldly acclaim. It is hard to classify them, because they don’t belong under a true title, and therefore harder to address their problems—but it is necessary nonetheless, because these individuals are crucial. They are necessary for both society’s survival and continual edification.  I can’t categorize them. These folks are too different and un-box-able, and thus, will never fit. Their personalities are located too much in the the middle of the Venn diagram, rather than leaning toward one particular side. These individual are too complex.

So, just by nature of who they are, and because society usually doesn’t like to deal with individuals more akin to a cryptex from the Da Vinci Code, preferring the simplicity of a Disney Lizzy McGuire type, their breed goes unnoticed and over time sidelined. They are just too difficult to deal with. These individualists have no advocacy group or Super Pack to ensure financial security or lasting success though, which makes them all the more likely to become extinct. In fact, these folks left their ideological flags and mantras at home today, and because they did so—these people won’t be heard, or it will take a long time to notice them. They only shout when needs be. They are Divergent. They are independents.

Go home Joe Lieberman. No one wants you.

Didn’t anyone tell you? Purple is so not the color for 2014. It wasn’t for the year before either, or the year before for that for that matter…….

Who are these people then and why do we need them?

These people are a mixture of colors. These people agree with some of the social issues that their liberal-leaning friends espouse--#Bartlett4America2014. But, they also give kudos to their conservative contemporaries and colleagues as well. Sometimes the old guys really do get it right. But these “different” individuals are more of an endangered species in the 21st century than commonplace. And, even if perhaps there are more of these diversifying thinking types, than what currently there appear to be, for most of these sorts of individuals, their lives will be separate from others. They will remain so until becoming more comfortable in expressing themselves, gaining some acceptance and security from fellow peers.

The Divergent or “different” individual understands that no one group possess the entire truth—and one entity never will. Whether these entities I refer to are of a political nature, entertainment conglomerates, businesses, or government institutions makes no difference. Conformity and ideological assimilation occurs just as easily in Hollywood, D.C., or at the local PTA meeting as anywhere else. Groupthink is a mass problem, not solely reserved for either the exclusive or the common. When individuals only stick to the “pack” or adhere to the “group” mentality though, crucial progress for humanity becomes lost, because no one (or few did) took the road less traveled by—everyone took the common thoroughfare. Whoops. Farewell Michelangelo.

The only way to discover which portions of the “group” are correct and which are diseased or misinformed, is to perform your own research on the matter. Do your own digging—and not just a garden shovel full, but a real excavation. I mean Scully and Mulder really were onto something—“The truth is out there.” Key phrase: out there. You have to move— the truth is out there, it’s not found here (as you constantly refresh your Facebook feed). It means you have to actively search for it. You have to think about it. You have to analyze it. You have to put it into action. You have to play the devil’s advocate once in a while. You have to try the truth, and then try it again. Does it work?

 Indeed, the truth is out there—but it’s going to be a looonngg journey. And at times you are going to hate yourself—wishing you really would have chosen the blue pill, rather than the red. So pack up. Head for Mordor. Find out where the aliens abducted your sister to. Save Panem. Go find Private Ryan. And for Pete’s sake when you come back tell the rest of us what it is all about. So we can learn something too, and take our own roads less traveled by, using some of the lessons you learned.

Discovering truth requires sacrifice, alienation, and aching loneliness at times though. Hence, there is a reason why the majority of the populace hunker down into their comfortable ideologically-driven Lazy Boy chair—because it’s easy. There is no going out there to find it—and in subsequently doing so you produce nothing of significant worth. You just sit here. Here is a place where quoting the party line is always easier. Bashing someone everyone already bashes is safer. Loving someone everyone already loves is so much easier than loving someone everyone hates. Why do we hate them?  

Finding the truth is harder. Try it. You could win nothing and lose everything, but the opposite might also occur. And if no one recognizes your genius, or your bravery, or your differentness in this lifetime, maybe someone will make an epic Paramount Pictures movie about it in the future, saturated with the tracks from a John Williams-type, and staring—I don’t know someone. Or maybe from all of your errors, and mistakes, someone else can pick up where you left off—and head off on their own journey. At least we are getting closer now. Closer to fulfillment, closer to happiness, closer to something that is always better than—well this—stagnation. There are no guarantees on this journey though. People might build a Lincoln-esque Memorial to you, or one day skim your name down a list of ancestors while looking at genealogical records on FamilySearch.com.  

It doesn’t matter though.

And forgive me if I sound bleak, or harsh, but everyday whether it be in the political realm, religious, entertainment arena, or even when choosing the damn color for the sofa covers—someone has to take a specific side on the issue, and per typical, you not only have to choose now you need to have your decision go along with the crowd as well. You have to pick a team. You have to fit into the mold of from-wherever-you-were-born. You have to belong to a certain party and if you don’t—well, then, you lose.

Right now, you’re brave by society’s standards if you fight alongside your brethren, in following the leader, always remembering to look ahead into the future. Technological advancement has made us faster at choosing things, and more efficient in conducting our daily business, but it has also shortened our attention span, and made us more prone to mass homogeneity. Picking a team, because everyone else you know is on that one, or not thinking about anything because it requires too much thought isn’t bravery though—it’s blind conformity. You might have died on the frontlines, member of the team, but did you really know what you fought for?

Of course, we will all agree with, and belong to various groups throughout our individual lifetimes and this is how it should be. I am not heralding a call for anarchy. Abandon your post. The world is a lie. Throw yourself off a tower. We do need organizations. Organizational entities and factions, to a certain extent, are necessary for societal cohesion. But, when organizational goals become more important than valuing individual opinion and belief, and when celebrating diversity becomes more of a trite, politically infused statement, rather than an actual truism—society has a problem.

So, go out. Solve it.