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Welcome

NP Journal for experimenting with ideas, Copyright © 2011-2017 LJ Frank. All Rights Reserved. 

 

Narrative Paths Journal

“We think we know but have yet to discover.”  Thomas Aquinas

 

NP Journal for experimenting with ideas was initiated within the context of experiences and rooted in treks, voyages, studies and work. The access, integrative content and design of the journal are evolving with the goal of enhancing the reader’s experience. The views and opinions expressed in the Journal are those of the individual authors.

 

“Narrative Paths Journal is a literary magazine focusing on new philosophies and ideas.”  Uriél Dana

 

CONTENTS

About Us

Brief overview of  the vision and people who offer their insights and expertise. Includes a list of NP Journal Group & Contributors: editor, assistant editor, guest columnists, writers, poets and photographers.

Contact: narrative.paths@gmail.com

Announcements

Introductions and links to evolving ideas, philosophies, trends and reflections on a variety of topics from the arts to the sciences.

Art

Includes some of Frank’s works of abstract expressionism.  Several of his paintings have been donated to nonprofit organizations. Numerous works are on display in business and professional offices and private homes.

Guest Column

The Miracle of Learning & the Seasons of Change by Sue DeGregorio-Rosen.

Inquiries

Philosophical approaches to various artistic, cultural, literary, political, religious, scientific and social matters. Conflict draws our eyes by L J Frank.

Interviews

Strives to offer insightful and thoughtful observations of varying lengths in areas that are engagingly diverse and leaning towards the paradigmatic.  Most recent interview: Medical use of Cannabis, Interview with Sue Degregorio-Rosen, RN, CLNC

NPJ Book Review

Books from the past to the present are reviewed that express the inquisitive and exploratory nature of NP Journal. All reviews are by L J Frank unless otherwise noted.

Publications 

“A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.”  Lao Tzu, Daoist philosopher

Preview listing of L J Frank’s published books with links to retail availability.  Frank is also working on two books.

Now available: The Elusive Mistress of Thomas Paine.

Rhythms

Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home — Japanese poet, Matsuo Bashō

Contrasting shapes of experiences, ideas, dreams and thoughts primarily in the form of poetry and essays. The words amusing, romantic, haunting, disquieting, nonlinear, obscure and existential are a few of the descriptors for these jottings. Most recent: Haunting Clichés and Ghostly Metaphors by L J Frank

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Index

Links to archived Contributors, Announcements, Guest Column, Inquiries, Interviews, NPJ Book Review and Rhythms.

NPJ Briefing

Website news including site usage and visitors by country.

Image for Writings

Credit: Jean Philippe-Cypres, photographer

Conflict – we have arrived at a juncture where breaking news is an anticipated breath. Language at times is a propaganda jungle. Circumstantial – a photo of a dead child washed up on a distant shore, a crowd of people after being struck by a truck, the limbs of a human being lying on a stretch of pavement after a bomb, the raised hands of a man saying he is the final authority, the payment through a blue blood’s hands for a judge to sit on a Supreme Court, the money exchanged in the darkness for distribution control of a drug, the back channels of prison profit, the corporate mischief in the shifting arenas of insurance, medicine, food, banking, policing, military and other less visible machinations. And conflict is also can be found in listening to an individual who is a mistress to a Wall Street executive and wondering how she will maneuver through an unsettling obstacle course and not disappear one night.

There are cyclical genocides, wars, bloody battles, crippling diseases and mass starvation, floods, fires, bombs and vehicle crashes, the list is endless with no priorities. We might turn our attention away as a child might cover his or her eyes.

Random occurs and affects our life on some level even when ignored or across the country or on the other side of the globe from it. Our fate is not in our hands this side of suicide or deciding to join a cause in an arena of violence. No one knows with certainty when our last breath will be taken.

Conflict is an opportunity to make money by those selling a product with conflict purposefully generated for the sake of more coins in the coffer or transfer of property, including being laid to rest. Conflict is money as many a politician or executive or judge may attest to, for the sake of whatever and whomever, as well as his or her own personal empowerment and pocketbook. International banks, countries and independent arms dealers have grown extremely rich through conflict with arms deals among other associated products being respectfully profitable.

With little effort one can find hundreds of opportunities to access conflict on the Internet, television, radio or hard print or just listening day-to-day conversations about work and home life or shopping for groceries or medicine while the cost of life rises. Someone is always making money off of a conflict. It appears in diverse forms from fake news to actual events on a city street or between political actors and their funders or a senior being kicked out of his or her home or the veteran that returned from battle and found himself living under a bridge.

Conflict is a natural aspect of life and at times is interlaced with the humane attribute of compassion that one might encounter among strangers and loved ones. Though one must at times step back to recognize it – a kind gesture that begins in the simplest of forms. It’s the courtesy of recognizing you as a human being by another and not to be exploited and degraded by an act of inhumanity.

Stack Overflow

The Hidden Power of Stack Overflow: How a Website You’ve Never Heard of Is Holding the Web Together

By

Photo: Getty ImagesImage

Let’s say you’re relatively new to coding. Maybe you’re studying it in college, or you’ve just started at an entry-level position after attending a five-week coding boot camp. You’re writing a function in C or Python or Javascript or whatever language you prefer. For some reason, the code isn’t compiling or it hits a snag at line 281 and the terminal outputs some arcane gibberish like “AttributeError: ‘foo’ object has no attribute ‘bar’.”

So what do you do next? You could double-check and see if you missed adding a semicolon at the end of a line. You could perform the classic occult coding ritual of running the script a few more times and hoping that it’ll just work. You could give up entirely and pour yourself a drink.

Or maybe you do what is now the standard troubleshooting method across the profession: You paste the error message into Google and search for it, crossing your fingers in hopes that a website called “Stack Overflow” will come up in the results.

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Erotic Art of the East by Philip Rawson (1968) Primitive and otherwise ancient cultures, not being as technology diverse as today (read 1960’s) and even more so in the 21st century, relied on a more culturally direct and poignant translation of the sensual in life.

In these explicit photos of sculpture and paintings from Ancient India, China and Japan among others is an appreciation for love for the sake of love, pleasure for the sake of pleasure and the art of sexual fulfillment within the context of cultures that seemed ahead of their time (or our time) in some respects. It was not pornography. The term had yet to be invented. Some of the art depicts consensual sexual deviation as a private ceremony for the sake of banishing anxiousness.

This work explores an array of erotic art and it’s cultural meaning and the context in which the art was produced. One example is in which Rawson explores the world of the erotic through art – an entire temple such as the Black Pagoda with its hundreds of erotic sculptures (Orissa, India) is dedicated to love. Yet the temple was left uncompleted.

As much as this work is erotic and explicit, it’s highly symbolic. Even Taoism possesses a cryptic sexual symbolism through its language. The author explores Hindu and Buddhist influences among others with thoughtfulness. Whether it was polygamy or polyandry or homosexuality or other sexual pleasure society didn’t bother to condemn or voice displeasure if it didn’t have an effect on property.

The spiritual and physical in life are woven together as the erotic, sensual and sensuous played an active role in beliefs of a higher consciousness – only to change when the dogmas of a faith or a belief and the subsequent politics focused towards the control of people’s behavior to conform to one’s own position of power and finance do we see changes.

Reason for Being, A Meditation on Ecclesiastes by Jacques Ellul (1990) When I first read Ellul’s work, I felt as an existentialist I was in an existential conversation about the meaning of life rather than being engaged in the plethora of “touchy feely” as well as sensitive and “solemn” interpretations from various theological perspectives.

I reread this book among others every so often as I gain something each time I examine it from a philosophical view. In Ellul’s case, he was an attorney and sociologist by training and emerged as a significant 20th century philosopher that had spent decades ruminating about the meaning of Ecclesiastes.

The author of Ecclesiastes is identified as Qohelet and that all is vanity* in life. Ellul quotes the French author, George Bernanos who wrote: “In order to be prepared to hope in what does not deceive, we must first lose hope in everything that deceives.” Ellul offers an intriguing and at times a delicate but disarming interpretation of Ecclesiastes.

Ellul notes that the author of Ecclesiastes devotes much focus on money and work. He quotes Qohelet, “I turned to all the works my hands had made and toward the work I had done to make them and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind, and there is no profit under the sun.” Ellul sees the author of Ecclesiastes viewing work having value that must be deeper than money and power.

Yet, no matter what course one takes in life all is vanity. “Ideologies, idealism and utopias” turn humans away from the spiritual and instead offer us fleeting material objects. At the same time these ideals and utopias produce the vanities to be found in the money we make, the work we perform and the politics we play and so forth. “What profit is there for a person in all his work which he does under the sun?” There is none, especially in terms of the material.

For Jacques Ellul to understand Ecclesiastes one must begin perhaps with the “fear of God” while realizing that all wisdom and knowledge disturbs the human spirit and resolve. “I applied my heart to understanding wisdom and to understanding madness and folly, and I knew this also is a pursuit of wind.” Ellul uncovers the ambiguities of this work and leaves us with more.

Numerous works, as noted, have been written about Ecclesiastes. Ellul’s meditation is provocative as he addresses the brutal, heartless nature of human existence and asks why. To what end? He looks at the book’s structure and content and offers his read on it. This is not necessarily a brightly optimistic meditation as some claim though it is quite thoughtful and offers insight to Ellul’s mind – he suggests that there is a value in our relationships and our work that transcend the material world and moves from an ontological to an existential approach and reflection. Paradox is one of the words used to describe the nature of the writings at times.

Reason for Being is an intellectually stimulating read. The author’s opinions remain relevant in a world that appears to hang by an existential thread. I will add that the author sees a glimmer of “hope.” Ecclesiastes is a read that offers multiple meanings depending on the filters of one’s experience and knowledge.

* In the Hebrew text of the Tanakh, vanity is translated as futility or emptiness.

I have learned so much about miracles, as we witness the seasons of change. I have learned to live, instead of die. I have learned that no matter how many times I extend myself to others, that others will take what I give them, some will appreciate a warm cup of tea, and that others may throw that tea in my face, for no good reason. I have learned how to duck. I have learned that kindness and empathy is my miracle to share, I am still learning that not all humans like to share and I am grateful to continue to learn.

I guess that is because, logically speaking, I am still a nurse, I am still a mother, a wife, a grandmother, a sister, but most of all, whatever I continue to learn, I am still me. I will continue to share gifts, with a no-return policy to enforce. That is my miracle to share.

Miracles reveal themselves through so many others that we can choose to learn from. St. Francis of Assisi, and many of the other saints like him, have shown us that he was a channel of a higher power, he took no credit for that, because that, in itself, is truly a miraculous state of being. He placed himself in an influence that is of high awareness, opening himself to the invisible force and transformed his own influence to that of what assists others to become healers, to walk in the path of grace. As a channel, you are a wondrous miracle, for many to embrace.

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each one of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” Albert Schweitzer (1875 – 1965) Noble Peace Prize – Winning, Medical Missionary and Philosopher.

I am an avid reader, for those of you that do not know me. I try to read most anything of structure, anything about nature, why we are different, enlightenment – I want to understand the miracles of the human element. I want to understand what makes us, at times, disregard others, because it’s too painful to do anything but.

This is truly a new year of cleansing for me, as I wander into these years of evolutionary wisdom that comes with age. The year to practice logic, to advance my understanding of the whys and the what’s and understand that it’s ok when people leave, some by choice, some through death, and some by a negative energy that I have learned to recognize through trial and error. But I am still learning. I will keep reading…………..

I have learned that behaviors on the part of others tend to cause my dominating or submissive ego to react, because for every action there will be a reaction. I have learned whether I tend to more predominantly rely upon submissive or dominating behavior. But most important, I am recognizing the parts of egocentric thinking is never a reasonable mode of thinking, however “natural” it might feel.

I hope to reach a stage where I become skilled in identifying my own egocentric thoughts, and refuse to make use of the rationalizations I could easily concoct to justify them, when I have learned so much more about the miracles of life.

Miracles are a revelation, miracles are the change of seasons, miracles are the gift of life. We all witness miracles, we are all miracles as children, wonders and magical. We grow into the miracle of life, a truly beautiful experience to behold.

The miracles of the four seasons are the miracles of change, embrace that change as each season passes, so will we.

The Age of American Unreason by Susan Jacoby (2008) Prescient in style and substance Jacoby exposes the rise of irrationality and unreason in public affairs. The author as other intellectual historians have noted distinguishes the difference between the remarkable characteristics of the “Founding Fathers” in which there were a disproportionate number of learned men that helped establish this country.

My take: Today the number of truly learned individuals in positions of power are decreasing in number. Are these people of influence street savvy, greedy and political? Yes. Are they learned? No. Do they care about the people – the old man, the widow, the unemployed, the homeless or are they just the ”folks?” Our language in describing each other and the world around us affects how we treat each other as human beings and our environment.

This book is also prescient in that it places the 45th President’s existence into a context of the rise of unreason. Propaganda and doublespeak are mainstream. Human irrationality has supplanted human reason. Causes of this state of affairs are varied but roots in a video culture, religious fundamentalism and greed are disturbing.

“Americans are alone in the developed world in their view of evolution by means of natural selection as “controversial” rather than as settled mainstream science.” Religious fundamentalism, hate groups, racism, misogyny, nationalism, police state and self-entitlement are siblings of unreason to name a few. Was Nietzsche correct in assuming that hope is a hoax? Context.

The author traces the history of America and the value of knowledge. The challenges the country faced were the pseudosciences people indulged in to satisfy their insecurity, while rationalizing wealth and poverty. One is not wealthy because one deserves to be wealthy yet that’s what many a wealthy person would have you believe. (Social Darwinism)

Being able to distinguish the difference between science and pseudoscience with the “fruits of the scientific method” being set aside was part of the confusion for the man and woman trying to make a living with no safety net. The 1930’s witnessed a change in offering security for the plight of nameless faces working in factories and plowing fields and thanking their God for food on the table.

Over the course of the years and decades in displays of both intellectual and anti-intellectual indulgence there were moments that offered deeper insight into the malaise of culture and mere survival such as the 1960’s. The culture of distraction and greed that rose again with a boost of energy in the 1980’s and found a home in the 2000s. Social media have become a blessing for those seeking immediacy over knowledge and memory.

This work covers a substantial amount of territory from a significant  intellectual perspective. At times slightly dense but always revealing, whose theme is “the erosion of memory and knowledge.” The author is not optimistic.

“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be” – Thomas Jefferson, 1816

 

US CONSTITUTION 

 Article I, Section 9, Clause 8

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

 

Article II, Section I, Clause 7

The Domestic Emoluments Clause or the Presidential Compensation Clause, provides: “The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.”

 

Parabola – The Search for Meaning

The Enigma of the Search, by David Appelbaum

How can we live without the unknown before us?’ —Rene Char

1. Every search begins in poverty. Something is needed. Something is lacking. But knowledge is too poor to know what, so a search also begins in not knowing.

 

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Forbidden Rites, A Necromancer’s Manual of the Fifteenth Century by Richard Kieckhefer (1997) “Possessing” a rather thick medieval collection of books this one may be considered the most insightful in terms of practice. This is part of a History of Magic series. (For a general overview of magic in early Europe, The Rise of Magic in Early Medieval Europe by Valerie J. Flint is a good introduction.)

That said, having in one’s possession magical writings even in the late Middle Ages, was considered a wicked practice for it was felt that “you are what you read.” The fear of necromancy and of necromantic writings was considered an obsession. A man by the name of Bernard Délicieux, a Franciscan friar during the Spanish Inquisition, was charged with murdering the pope along with other charges, all but one of the charges were dropped, after he recanted. The charged not dropped was treason against the French king (for possessing a book of necromancy). He died following much torture in prison in 1320. Doubt was not allowed.

Context is everything and the church wanted to have the final say, though priests and clerics were practicing magic from the initial formations of their religions. Ritual and rites are forms of control, guidance and yet those rituals and rites opened the door to the forbidden.

This work is about magic with “practical” applications. The Latin portion of the text and the translation might serve as a handbook for magic but one’s knowledge of Latin would also come into play. This is a scholarly work. It includes an English commentary of the full Latin text with a detailed analysis of content as well as historical context and how it compares to other necromantic texts of the late Middle Ages. The original manuscript for which the book is based is preserved in the Bavarian State Library in Munich.

The author covers the nature of necromancy based on his research including the issues between magic and religion. Rituals and rites are discussed in-depth – illusionist experiments, love, favor and madness: psychological experiments, divinatory experiments, formulas for commanding spirits, and the magic of circles, spirits and spheres and so forth.

An example of the historical effect of magic is in the words we use such as “charm” and “fascinating.” The author delves into the language and the force that it holds over our emotions and thoughts. In areas of divination he also shows roots in Jewish sources among other ancient cultures and the use of such things as oils and incantations as well as prayer. I am also reminded of Elizabeth Butler’s Works on magic and its influence.

From a modern perspective it’s intriguing to see how far we have or have not progressed in our understanding of what influences us even today and the effects what we might perceive as being possessed by our own words. As noted, this work is scholarly and exceptional in its research – especially insightful for those with an interest in such matters and I would add, the effects of rituals on the human mind and subsequent actions.

The Temple in the House, Finding the Sacred in Everyday Architecture, Anthony Lawlor, AIA (1994) “Each room contains a mythic universe.” Robert Sardello. This is one quote among dozens in the margins of this fascinating work on “finding sacredness in common places.” Among the books piled on my shelves from years past is this is a particular gem that possesses the insights one might find in the religious historian and philosopher, Mircea Eliade’s work From Primitives to Zen.

Lawler, an architect, with the insight of a philosopher offers a perspective on how to achieve the sacred in our dwellings and “reflect the transformations in consciousness” people experience and seek in the buildings they inhabit. He writes of the intimate partnerships the human mind has with its architecture. Once we create within our mind the architecture and then transform into a physical structure, those buildings we design and build and share, in turn shape each of us and our personal lives.

Lawler suggests that “The spirit of the building is revealed through the architectural forms that give it structure.” And, “by receiving and reflecting the information we feed into them, building elements become repositories for out thoughts and feelings.” In a sense our structures reflect our search for fulfillment. By creating sacred spaces we offer an opportunity for more personal connections to our surroundings. Nature, body, mind and our architecture become one – our personal spaces are reflections of our soul and our soul is essential to our humanity.

This is a meditative work on how we all are connected on a sacred plateau of experience through our architecture. Our personal and public spaces can offer hope to seek a deeper understanding of meaning to life through our architecture while appreciating our relationship with our environment – “What you see, you become,” as the Vedic proverb observes.

A very good philosophical resource with supportive illustrations – architecture is the both science and meditative understanding of creating dwellings in which we live and work while acknowledging our interconnectedness on a metaphysical plane of existence and the energies around us.

Martin Heidegger, Between Good and Evil by Rudiger Safranski (1998) Martin Heidegger had a primordial mind. He was a thinker in the more provocative sense of the word.

I purchased this book when it first came out and have on occasion returned to it for a fresh understanding of this extraordinary intellect. As a reader that has collected and read more than a dozen works about Dr. Johann Faust and written one about some fragments of his writings in novel form, I was reminded of this 16th century character in Heidegger and his relationship with evil and how his philosophy evolved and affected other major philosophers, e.g., (Hannah Arendt) and theologians (Paul Tillich) among others of the 20th century.

And through Safranski we learn how complex the man was who sought to be a “master of beginnings.” This work delves into the inner working of his mind while exploring his life in all of it’s ambiguities, contrasts, flaws, contradictions and searching. The reader journeys from Heidegger’s seminary days to his relationship with Nazism and Hitler and his evolution in reason to arrive on a deeper level of thought that was in marked contrast to the society in which he lived.

“Human value is interrelated to the value creating process.” And, “A state of affairs becomes a state of values.” This biography may provoke the reader in re-examining the state of affairs in the world today and especially the nature of nationalism and the move toward unrestrained authoritarianism.

In Heidegger’s mind we possess the existential understanding of viewing and being within the world at the same time. For me it means being in the audience and knowing you are in the audience yet you are observing yourself on stage as an actor participating in the action. Reality is something that one constantly and philosophically is a participant and observer of, albeit through the filters of individual and cultural experience. Truth appears malleable but ultimately must be based on evidence.

“When Heidegger spoke about the “releasement of things” in our life, he was referring to technology. He saw no reasonable solution to the effects of technology. His concern was contemplative thinking. Technology can not do that for us. His mind ultimately would return to the “primordial” state of human consciousness.

The author gives examples of Heidegger’s thinking, his “backslidings” and  “brilliant insights” along the way in this journey of this unusual man and solitary mind that has influenced so many thinkers from the 1930’s to the present moment. This is an intellectual biography written with sensitivity without sparing the man and his flaws.

I Put A Spell On You: The Autobiography of Nina Simone (1992) Periodically a life has jazz written into its genetic code before the artist emerges years later. The rhythms are not discernible except to the artist. They are at times steeped in human suffering.

As an amateur listener of jazz on FM radio I never connected the rhythms with the person or his or her background until later seeing them in person on stage or in a bar or on television. There were exceptions. On the radio I would just like to close my eyes and listen to the sensual and sensuous rhythms. It was filled with sexuality and spirituality. Both very human and instinctual with words only in part expressing the depth of emotion.

There were moments that I would listen to a Miles Davis or Dave Brubeck or in this case , Nina Simone. What’s fascinating is I never connected her face with the voice, the person with the music that I saw decades ago not recognizing who she was at the time until later when I was told by a friend who said he noticed I was there in the crowd and she was nearby. I didn’t learn this until several years ago. Little did I know.

Be that as it may, my musical interests varied as I liked baroque and jazz. Both had ambiguous elements for me. And ambiguity is essential for an interesting life, which is probably why I was drawn to Simone’s music even though I would not always identify the name or face with the music though the music and rhythms affected me.

In her autobiography Simone writes from painful, tragic and spiritual experiences. Her rhythms are the coarseness of life’s rhythms for which she articulates so very well. Her story is raw as was the 1960s – as one decade of examples of rawness exposed. Simone felt the depth of an inner struggle and the suffering comes through in her music. Whether it was jazz, blues, folk this artist’s passion is expressive and yet hidden, painful yet uplifting, tragic and angry yet compassionate. She was a seeker – her music expresses the desires surrounding loves lost.

One plays the game with the cards one is dealt. That’s all that can be asked of anyone with compassion and love being deciding factors. As noted, Simone was a seeker her entire life. This work is an insightful struggle for human dignity for a person and her place in life.

Image for Writings

Credit: Jean Philippe-Cypres, photographer

Life is messy feels like a cliché, but then try living a paycheck away from the streets. Until you experience poverty you have little room to judge the impoverished while going home to a warm house, apartment, condominium or dwelling made of canvas. Shared bodily warmth, someone who understands you and is able to tolerate differences and laugh with you can be a mislaid premium in life. The rawness of existence may be measured by the conflicts that haunt and claw at your soul of which some are not of your own doing.

There are those conflicts that exist within and there are those that have been strategically placed in your life. The latter are the ones that are initiated in the most unexpected settings from the marbled floors and soft colored velour couches of a hotel’s boudoir to the high back brown leather chairs of an ambassador’s office with glasses of whiskey, vodka or wine in hand. Irrepressible and irresistible revolutions and wars of the 20th and 21st century have been planned in both settings.

The defining nature of irrepressible and irresistible is the prefix “irre” meaning “not. The intellectual and emotional architecture of irrepressible and irresistible is complex. Causation and correlation are matters of statistics. Much happens outside political cabinet rooms and academic auditoriums of discussion. Peace is not as profitable as an AK 47. Nuclear is apocalyptic and ends the profit.

Irresistible and irrepressible have interlinking qualities on the secular stages of a concert hall to the pseudo religious dais of a legislature to the philosophical altars of a human mind. Conflict can be strategically placed within the heart by the propaganda of those outside you.

To resist the propaganda of conflict not of your own doing is a courageous act of conscience, particularly in the midst of the theatrical machinations of the ruling classes that are ambiguous at best, and in which truths based on evidence may become lost in irresistible and irrepressible economic and political tactics.

Irrepressible conflict historically in America referred to the conflict between slavery and the labor of a free man. Irrepressible conflict were words used by Senator William H. Seward in a speech delivered in Rochester, NY, October 1858. The speech is noted in, among other works, Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals. Seward spoke eloquently concerning the catastrophic “collision” between slave and the labor of a free man being inevitable. It was a conflict between opposing forces.

Others before Seward spoke of the issue in one form or another that no country can remain both free and slave; examples may be found among the works of Thomas Jefferson, Henry Clay and Daniel Webster. Prior to these men one can delve into the conflicts brought about by Martin Luther’s ideas and the Reformation, Jacque Rousseau and the Renaissance and Thomas Paine and the American and French Revolutions, and before…the list is quite long.

The 20th century witnessed diverse emerging types of conflict that proved to be irrepressible while exhibiting examples of irresistible impulsiveness. The late 1920’s and 1930’s began witnessing a conflict that focused on “the negation of the individual.” Freedom was found in “slavery-hood” amid the words spoken by the dictator. Heinous acts were committed in the name of an almost cultish belief that transcended the ordinary man and woman on the street. A feeling of the surreal encircled the human conscience. It was called fascism but the name is misleading and has morphed into many soft forms.

Irrepressible and irresistible have been clothed in a new fashion and the boutique of the conscious is caught between want and despair. Internal clashes in different countries occurring at this moment are forging a new destination as the irrepressible tacitly feeds into the irresistible, e.g., home-grown terrorists, cyber warfare, population displacement, bank rolled weapon and drug sales, mass incarceration in private prisons and sexual slavery among other outrages that are the surface of a deeper problem concerning survival and want.

The 21st century is bearing witness to irrepressible conflicts and irresistible impulsive behavior. Conflict and impulse are non-linear. The future is profoundly uncertain. It requires fashioning the irrepressible and irresistible into strategic policies for greater openness, tolerance, communication, literacy, education and meaningful work with a survival wage and less on fanning the flames of despair, want, greed and conflict. It’s global. The clothing of an open and tolerant mind and international civil societies has been stained.

In the fall of 1932 in a street off Woodward Avenue in Detroit, Michigan as the Great Depression descended like an ominous cloud on people’s conflicted lives, my father, a young teenager at the time, heard a man in a breadline utter, “I was grasping for time, but there was none remaining.”

Pew Research Center        Global Attitudes & Trends

1. Language: The cornerstone of national identity

Of the national identity attributes included in the Pew Research Center survey, language far and away is seen as the most critical to national identity. Majorities in each of the 14 countries polled say it is very important to speak the native language to be considered a true member of the nation.

Roughly eight-in-ten or more Dutch, British, Hungarians and Germans believe the ability to converse in their country’s language is very important to nationality. Canadians and Italians are the least likely to link language and national identity. Nevertheless, roughly six-in-ten in Canada and Italy still make that strong connection.

In U.S., many say speaking English is important for being ‘truly American’

In the United States, about half of all immigrants were proficient in English as of 2014. Most Americans consider such language facility to be an important attribute of U.S. nationality. Fully 70% of the public says that to be truly American it is very important to be able to speak English, and an additional 22% believe proficiency is somewhat important. Just 8% assert that English is not very or not at all important.

U.S. generations differ on whether English proficiency matters to being an American. Among people ages 50 and older, 81% say such language ability is very important. Only 58% of those ages 18 to 34 place an equal premium on speaking English.

Americans with a high school education or less (79%) are more likely than those who have graduated college (59%) to voice the view that speaking English is very important to being a true American. Similarly, white evangelical Protestants (84%) are much more likely than people who are religiously unaffiliated (51%) to strongly hold such views.

There are virtually no racial or ethnic differences on the importance of speaking English to be truly American: Roughly seven-in-ten whites (71%), blacks (71%) and Hispanics (70%) agree it is very important.

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Double Think

Moyers & Company

 

Bill Moyers and Henry Giroux on Trump’s Threat to Democracy everywhere!

Bill reflects on Trump’s tweet storm and shares Henry Giroux’s remarks about George Orwell, authoritarianism and Donald Trump.

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