Overwhelmed (April 14, 2012)
I have been exhausted/overwhelmed recently; here's why.
I confess to being overwhelmed, and as a result key aspects of the blog have suffered. I tend to avoid personal commentary for two reasons: 1) my life is very average and uninteresting and 2) I am wary of being perceived as reaching for some sort of sympathy. I do not have to walk five miles to gather firewood or collect water every day, so my life is incomparably easier than those of many humans.
But our advanced post-industrial society has a number of debilitating features that tend to overwhelm our equilibrium. Life with modern conveniences is easier in the obvious ways, even as it is riddled with less visible sociopathologies.
I will risk a personal commentary if I feel the need to explain some shortcoming in the blog, as this seems to be part of the duty of anyone posting public journalistic content. Readers who choose to make financial contributions to the blog are the backbone of this enterprise, if I may call it that, and so it pains me to have fallen months behind in acknowledging them on the site and with private emails. To everyone who has generously donated to oftwominds over the past three months without acknowledgement: I apologize for this lack of response and ask for your understanding.
I also apologize to all email correspondents who have not received the reply they deserve.
The cause of this shortcoming is my single-minded devotion to the writing of Resistance, Revolution, Liberation for the past six months. This required setting aside most of my other duties, and the task has completely exhausted my mental, emotional and physical resources.
This is a peculiarly unsympathetic state of affairs, for the world is awash in books--hundreds of thousands of new ones enter the market every year. The world certainly does not need another book, and so anyone idiotic enough to derange himself with the writing of one has little grounds for sympathy.
Writing a book of ideas is like writing a symphony: it starts with an inspired snippet of melody snatched from the very air around us. But turning that few seconds of melody into the scoring of a dozen different instruments playing for 30 minutes is a gargantuan task. The creator must make a leap of faith that there is some value in the original melody and in the complex development of it, even as he/she understands that the fate of 99.9% of all such creations is benign neglect or active disapproval.
Ultimately a symphony or a book is an extended form of self-expression. The benefit, if there is one, is its completion to the satisfaction of the creator. Yet no one who has gone through this massive undertaking wishes their work to be unheard or unread; rather, that their work be heard or read is their fondest dream.
All such works are tossed on the seas of Fate. Most sink into the inky depths without a trace. Everyone who undertakes the task knows this, and so our resulting depression looks like nothing more than whining: after all, what did you expect?
Resistance, Revolution, Liberation is "important" (whatever that means) because it teases apart and illuminates the sociopathologies of our society, culture and economy. We are constantly told that our stressed-out state of being overwhelmed is "all in your head," the result of some individual failure that should be addressed with medication, pop psychology or motivational lectures by various gurus.
But what if our state of being overwhelmed is the causal consequence of living in our consumerist-State system? What if the system itself is nothing but an overlay of sociopathologies?
The tragic irony of this is that we are all so overwhelmed by daily life in this system that we lack the mental and emotional strength to analyze its sociopathologies.
The irony is especially rich for me, because at the end of a 12-hour work day, I too just want to escape into a film, nature program, history book, etc. By 8 o'clock in the evening, I have no energy for reading the book I just wrote. Confronting the systems that grind us down is more than we have energy for by the end of the day, and so the system endures unchallenged.
Every writer writes the book he/she wants to read, and this is certainly true of Resistance, Revolution, Liberation: A Model for Positive Change. But any such analysis of the sociopathologies that constantly grind down our well-being and equilibrium can only be understood if the reader has sufficient inner space, time and emotional resources to devote to the task of understanding novel ideas.
This is why so many are drawn to the same old tired ideologies of failure: the idea that all our problems would go away if only all the X (Democrats, Republicans, rich people, homeless, etc.) would just disappear. It takes no mental energy to repeat these dead-end ideas. To absorb new ideas requires time and mental energy--precisely what so few of us have in the current system in which we never catch up.
The same can be said of writing: it takes little mental energy to repeat dead-end ideas that have carved out deep pathways in the shared mindset and immense energy to formulate coherent new ideas.
There is a financial component to this state of being constantly overwhelmed, and I address this in the book as well. In a debt-dependent economy ruled by a financial Aristocracy partnered with an Expansive Central State, the cost basis of living constantly rises even as real income (adjusted for inflation/loss of purchasing power) declines. The bottom 90% are overwhelmed by life partly because their expenses are rising while their incomes are declining, and the top 10% (the Upper Caste that serves the financial/State Elites) may be gaining income but they too are overwhelmed by their ever-expanding workload.
I am mentally and emotionally exhausted by the task that I chose; no one imposed it on me or even asked me take it on. It was the predictable result of a gargantuan task, but one I nonetheless underestimated. I am slowly finishing the last project, the print edition, and hope to have it available on Amazon in a week or two.
In many ways our system is based on relentless promotion and self-promotion. Here is another irony: having expended all my resources on completing the book, I have zero energy or interest in promoting it. I know its "success" (whatever that is) depends on a thousand people promoting it on their Facebook page, blog, reading group, etc., yet I find myself utterly listless about promotion. I am beyond caring because I am too exhausted and overwhelmed to care. I will post the book's introduction and part of Chapter One here on the site, and that's all I can manage in the way of promotion.
That limited effort more or less guarantees the book will quickly sink into the inky depths, but that is beyond my control. Even worse than zero promotion--if that's possible-- is the book's distance from the mainstream. Mainstream ideas are easily digestible because they are already known; ideas far from the mainstream are "difficult" because they are unfamiliar and very likely uncomfortably challenging.
Most of the ideas in Resistance, Revolution, Liberation will only make sense in ten years, when the Status Quo's internal contradictions and self-destructive dynamics will finally shatter the facade of sustainability and normalcy. But by then, the book will be resting on the bottom of the sea, long forgotten.
The whole situation is ironic on multiple levels.
I hope to catch up with all that I have set aside for six months over the next few months, and your patience, readership and support are very sincerely appreciated. Here is a snippet from the book:
Itís easy to confuse faith and political ideology. We resist changing our understanding,
as we experience this transition as instability and insecurity. But changing our minds
does not require changing our faith; rather, the firmness of our faith--in our Creator,
in truth, in our ability to help others and prevail--is the bedrock that gives us the
discipline and resolve to confront the brutally unwelcome facts of our circumstances
and make coherent plans accordingly.
R.I.P. Titanic: 14 April 2012 - 14 April 1912.
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We are like passengers on the Titanic ten minutes after its fatal encounter with the iceberg: though our financial system seems unsinkable, its reliance on debt and financialization has already doomed it.
If this recession strikes you as different from previous downturns, you might
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