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Summer-2002
Issue 22

Putting Campaign Finance Reform On The Ballot
By Lloyd Marbet

Apathy, An American Tragedy of Global Proportions
By Brian Bogart

“You Can’t Eat Money!” Interview with Granny D
By Peter Moore

Risk-Benefit Profile of Commonly Used Herbs: Legal & Otherwise
By Rick Bayer, MD

Leaving Home:
Lessons in Listening

By Ness Mountain

Alberta Abalone, Not the Pearl-On the Invisibility of Everything that Matters
By William P. Benz

What Democracy? (Part 1)
By Harry Lonsdale

The Healing Art of Tarot
By Toni Gilbert

Radical Astrology
By Emily Trinkaus

Dreams of Kindness, Love & Grace
By Carolyn Berry

Meditation Practice
By Debrah Kristine Harding

Who Is My Family, Really? The Projective Tendencies of the Mind In Dreams and Reality
By Paul Levy

Alberta Abalone, Not the Pearl
On the Invisibility of Everything That Matters
by William Benz

It’s sure getting harder to know exactly what has and hasn’t happened. I do hope you’ve been noticing. Just think of all that’s occurred, stupendous or otherwise, from say, December 11th, 1999. Or rather, let’s don’t. Let’s hold off on that for a spell. I’m sure most of us aren’t looking for another Instant Replay. Haven’t we all seen way too many? Especially, all those devastating Instant Replays of September 11th. Replays of what happened, compliments of the Nightly News, the Powers that Be, and assorted Evil Agents of Unknown Origin. Considering the degree of Concordance among the three, sure makes one wonder about the exact nature of their difference.

Instant Replays? I’m certainly not pushing for a rehash of what I’ve been through. Not only because it was rather Hellish, but more importantly for the simple and somewhat profound reason—it didn’t happen. Nothing did. Absolutely Nothing.

I know that sounds farfetched. It sure would be disconcerting if all our blood, sweat, and tears of the last 24 months were in fact, Not. But it’s true. You gotta trust me on this one. Or better yet, trust the Self you tend to keep in check because it knows a hell of a lot more than you’re taught, cajoled, or battered into believing it doesn’t. Understand?

Of course, you do. But if you don’t, or if you need a bit more time to ease out of it, you’ve got it. Here, we’ll have mutual permission to go over it, again and again, until we both get it straight.

Oh, in case I didn’t warn you, this article doesn’t follow the usual spoon-fed delivery system we’re taught to expect and consume. Nor is this a pitch for a workshop promising to deliver happiness. For the next few pages, we’ll both have to do our respective best to co-create any understanding found here. This only appears to be an article I wrote and you’re reading. Understand? Don’t worry, if you want to say Yes, I won’t tell a soul.

If I’m not making sense, it’s not because I’m not. It’s just because you & I & nearly everyone we know are enveloped in a Daze, an oozing quagmire of intentional deception. The emphasis here is on the word, intentional. Intentionally deceived, bamboozled, or anesthetized into harried compliance is distinctly different from wallowing around in a haphazard befuddlement of no particular design. Without clarity on this point it will be impossible to understand exactly what’s happening, or not.

Have current events left you feeling confused? Great! That’s a good sign. It means you’re paying attention. Attention is a luxury that few allow themselves. Most people go around pretending they have a handle on it all. Most deal with pervasive confusion by manufacturing personal surety.

We don’t like to be confused. It keeps us from projecting the aura of competence we wish others to know us by. By sidestepping Dissonance we appear more on top of the Game. At least, on the surface. Which during times of pervasive confusion is where most prefer to dwell. Experience your confusion and you appear a mess. Hide from your confusion and you appear just fine. In the Germany of 1933, ein Volk (the People) convinced itself things were getting better by collectively hiding from the truth that they weren’t. When the chips are down, and the hand you’re dealt is a flat out loser, Fascism appears an attractive alternative.

It must be terrifying to live in a country where Leaders manufacture horrific events in order to gain control over every aspect of their people’s lives. By becoming masters of fear and racial hatred, a government can coerce its citizens into compliance. It’s simple. First, encourage citizens to deny their confusion. Next, declare an Axis of Evil. Finally, finish up by eliminating all means of unbiased information, public criticism, and legal redress.

Does this all sound rather familiar? Rather political? I don’t mean it to be. I honestly don’t. I consider this musing, this cognitive exploration, quite Spiritual. But independent of either label, the point is we’re being collectively taught to feel less apprehension when marshaled into single files of believing what we’re told.

Back in the days when we voted our Presidents into office, it was harder to pull off a National Snowjob. But now with a single program broadcast on all channels, GroupThink is as simple as watching TV, or reading the newspaper, or receiving stock options, or buying on credit, or trying to forget how a uniform set of fears was so thoroughly inculcated into our Psyche, both private and collective. Those programming this Fiction believe they run the whole show. And you know what? They’ve got most of us believing that’s true!

Sure, we’re allowed the Illusion of Choice. We’re always free to dial into a paralyzing ennui, or switch channels to its twin—a fully approved and patriotically sanctioned Rambo-ism. Either way, it’s Spiritual Capitulation. Headless, and we’re easier to herd. To herd like sheep back to their good old days! To that encapsulated mindset of the 50’s, so loved by the Leaders of the Free World. Back to the Daze we fought so hard to shake off in the Liberating Frenzy of the 60’s. Back to before that Glorious Time we caught them off guard. Back to the Daze.

It’s a terrifying flashback! Scruffy VP Nixon pimping for a Military/Industrial Complex. The Kennedys sowing Dreams of Camelot to placate the masses. Johnson promising Victory in Vietnam. Nixon, a Crook. Peanut Farmers. Hostages. Actors at the Helm. The whole Charade intentionally trampling our Potent & Personal Dreams by substituting the Phantasm of Insipid Prosperity—that cornucopia of material wonders doled out to all who stop asking questions. Don’t worry. Just sit back in your cubicle and fill your mind with happy thoughts. Or take a break from thinking and go shopping. Or forget you have a mind at all and watch TV. Sit back and turn your government over to Hollywood’s Best and his CIA sidekick! Turn it over and rest assured it won’t be turned back.

Now, don’t start confusing me with an ordinary conspiracy freak. I told you my intent is not inherently Political. I’m not specifying any force or names behind the scenes pulling our strings. Let’s just say, I feel it’s temporarily advantageous to refrain from such accusations. The fabricated demand for specificity in naming the cause or agent of one’s captivity is one of the more insidious incongruities in the Fantasia we call America. It’s like being forced to play a shell game and then accused of being paranoid because you can’t specify how you were swindled.

We needn’t think of Conspiracy as defining a single group. There’s competi-tion on that side as well. The only thing they share in common is their wish for the rest of us to remain in the dark. Much of their power comes from our ignorance of their histories. They tend to keep it in the Family and we’re not part of the Clan and never will be.

Let’s return to my premise that Nothing Happened. Accepting this hypothesis, even temporarily, may have far reaching benefits. For instance, your recent mental breakdown isn’t that serious, once you recognize how far the rung of what’s considered sane was lowered. And that painful loss of all that CA$H? That Bounty that Wall Street scammed you into believing was piling up on your behalf? That didn’t happen either. Why? Because having less of nothing can’t be considered a loss. True depreciation presupposes that a height existed from which value fell. Scammed is scammed. To your pocket book it doesn’t matter who placed the blinders on. The pea wasn’t under any of the shells! No matter how closely you watched’their dexterous manipulations, you were a loser from the start. So lighten up! Take your gain where you find it. Some people waste their whole lives learning this one!

And though I’m sure there’s now a law against saying so, 9-11 didn’t happen. Or at least, not in any meaningful way that any of us can fully comprehend. Not because we’re dumb. Nor because we’re callous or indifferent to the very real and enormous suffering caused by those horrendous atrocities. We simply can’t be held responsible when Pipelines of Info Spam are crammed into every orifice of Our Knowing. A responsible citizen must be an informed one. Informed by responsible informers, not national Media hacks on the take.

There’s another 9-11 that few of us even know ever happened. This one in 1973. In Chili. An Atrocity in which the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende was brutally overthrown at the instigation of a foreign power. Guess Who? www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB8/nsaebb8i.htm

Speaking of Responsibility, who really was responsible for our 9-11? I honestly don’t know. Do you? Can we ever really know for sure? Osama bin Laden? Well, sure! Of course! I guess. That’s what I’m told. I don’t know the guy personally and certainly never wish to! All Religious Fanatics give me the creeps! Especially, those having worked for the CIA. I just hope he’s not another reincarnation of Marinus van der Lubbe. History often repeats itself. If you don’t know who Herr van der Lubbe was, you may wish to look him up in your German history book (circa 1933). History does … often repeat itself. www.historyplace.com/worldwar2/riseofhitler/burns.htm

As I mentioned earlier, in a Daze of intentional ambiguity it’s a dead end trap trying to name the Bogeyman. Ambiguity’s goal is befuddlement—Power through obfuscation. Add a liberal dash of deniability and what’s truly happening might not be, not.

Oh, by the way, I don’t make mistakes in using double negatives. When I use them it’s for their double truthfulness. This is a TEST. Here we can practice recognition of doublespeak, or at least, become aware of its presence. To do so, we’ll have to learn to think for ourselves, outside their box. In the years ahead this may be the most essential skill you don’t want to be without.

But thinking outside their box isn’t easy! Having been boxed from the very beginning, it’s difficult to be sure when we’re out. I’m afraid for most of us it’s a lost cause. I know it would be more polite to say something like, “It’s never too late to wake up”. But it’s later than we think. This intentional deception is gaining momentum. I’ve already seen the Searchlights of Nuremberg flashing on our horizons. Once citizens are caught up in terri-fying events, unbiased and moral analysis is difficult. Especially, in a country were foreign policy and military actions prefer to be covert. The best time to stand up for Democratic principles is before they’re taken away. In the final stages of advanced Disease, proving the cause is less important than taking the cure.

Thinking outside their box is a definite step towards healing. But doing so can be a full time job. And since we’re stuck with jobs that tend to swallow our days, where will we find time for the task? First, by not wasting the present reacting to every Red Herring foisted upon us by Corporate Media. Second, by avoiding the Negativity and Hopelessness this Info Barrage is intended to induce.

It’s so easy to sink into Negativity. In one form it can be very liberating, though most often it produces little more than paralysis.

In the interest of emphasizing the former, let me suggest a few things we can do in Defense of Our Personal Homeland.

Last Thursday
Seeing living examples of those less Caught is a great way to become less Boxed. It’s not necessary to agree. This process is not about imitation. That would be another box. By seeing the personal freedoms exercised by others, we can select those most essential for our own Liberation.

Where can we go to see this? There are actually many places, but from within a box there may appear few.

If you live in Portland, there’s somewhere you can go on any Last Thursday—the Art Happenings on NE Alberta Street, official and otherwise. I don’t say this in the spirit of Boosterism. Nor am I advocating the unexamined benefits of Gentrification. It’s just a place where some of the wildest, living examples of being outside their box can be seen. Some may call it Art. I call it Edgework—at the Edges of the Box breaking out. Art is an elusive entity. By the time someone points and says,—“ART”, it’s usually long gone. On Alberta Street it wanders about on the loose. You don’t even have to pay to have it boxed, I mean wrapped.

Don’t you just love New Things that emerge from the demand to be only One Thing? It’s such a dynamic process. Keep coal under pressure long enough and voilà—Sparkling Diamonds! Stress out a Plant and it develops Defenses. Bigger Leaves. Different Colors. Potent Fungicides. Demand that People interact in One Monotonous way and they’ll go out and find a whole new set of holes to jump in and out of. Some may call it Abomination! Others, the Source of True Creativity! You can judge for yourself. Or, learn to live outside of Judgement. Remember, this is supposed to be fun. So lighten up! And when times are getting you down, and Negativity is making you a terrible choice to stay at home with, try slipping outside their Box. Come wander where Edges are dissolving!

In the last year I’ve seen eyefuls wandering the streets of Last Thursday. Weird stuff. Thought provoking People, insighting to Riot! People doing things because they can’t help it, instead of doing things for a buck. It’s both infectious and functional. If you only try and talk the Beast into changing its ways, you’re likely to get your head bit off. But showing the Beast your own Beastly Nature is substituting an Opened Eye for a Blind One—it’s almost Biblical! Your true role is more than passive observer. Knowing this can be a Saving Grace. A Grace that teaches you to see, then encourages you to do. So open your eyes and join the fun.

Do you know that it’s not always a crime to be in your Birthday Suit on the Streets of Portland? Well, neither did I. But last Summer, as I was heading home from a Last Thursday, a contingent of Stark Nudity appeared—The Naked March. Beyond being a great solution for those times when you have nothing to wear, it was liberatingly risqué. But just as I was wondering if I should lose my pants, police cars came in from all directions with lights flashing. I was freaked! Mass arrests! People thrown to the pavement! Their bare bottoms thrashing in First Amendment protest! But nothing happened. The police just pulled over, parked, and looked on with the rest. A Black woman rushed up to a patrol car screaming, “Arrest Them! Arrest Them!” “For what?” asked a Sergeant. “For indecent exposure! Being naked!” “This isn’t a crime in Portland,” he replied. “On the street?!” she screamed in total disbelief. “There’s no law against being nude like this on the streets of Portland,” he informed her politely. Mind you, many of these marchers were Young White Women. I don’t think a group of Naked Black Men parading in the West Hills would receive the same judicial indifference. So before you try going in the Buff, it may be prudent to consult with your attorney.

This is just one example. There were many: The Dandy Lions’ gender bending, tart serving, Trashion Clothes for Walking the Edge. A Transforming Power Station living out its Subterranean Dreams. An Exquisite Corps, dressed in Scarlet to open our eyes. Refrigerator Magnets by the Lone Re-arranger of Plastic Toys. Wish Granting Fairies. Exotic Manuscripts from the Mysterious Indus. Tarot Readers. Lamps by Lam, Bearer of Light, so departed airline stewardesses can Dance again. Sushi served on Bodies of the Nude (get there early and pick your Inari off the parts you love the best!). Black Poets, Playwrights, and Painters of Soulful Art. With Jazz and Reggae as back-up. Masks and Drums and the Gyrations of Belly Dancers. And numerous other titillating offerings Too Wild, Too Legal, Too Rule Bending for the Box-Bound to talk about!

This is Revolutionary Stuff. Especially, when the expected rule is for all ART to be like a Pearl—rare, expensive, and the exclusive property of the Rich. If a person wishes to adorn their abode with Costly Art, that’s no skin off my nose. But when they attempt to aggrandize their investment through artificial means of Exclusivity, they destroy the Wellsprings of Creativity. I know they’re upset. I’d be too, if my Options had Discombobulated in the Ethers of Enron.

But we all must face the Repercussions of our Fantasies. Face to Face, in that place where the Movers and Shakers and those pushed out all tremble at forces beyond their control. Where the Box begins to dissolve.

I’ll see you there!

William P. Benz is an Artist, Writer, and Poet living in Portland, Oregon. He Specializes in the Design of Information Filters, the Surfacing of Mental Models, and the Creative Reintegration of Defective WorldViews. For more info, visit his WEB Space at www.aracnet.com/~wpbenz. Or send email to wpbenz@aracnet.com


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