Ponzi Crime Spree

Watching Trump and his legal team (led by William Barr) go about their business, I can’t figure out the end game. They are trying to run out the statue of limitations on tax and insurance fraud by committing obstruction of justice and ignoring Congressional subpoenas? It’s crimes piled on crimes, sucking in more and more people every day, like some kind of Ponzi scheme in reverse.

What do the Russians have on Trump? On Barr? On the Republican Party? Why are people lining up to go to jail?

Papa Bear is not a Bridge Player

The conservative media is playing up the notion that “No Trump” means that the Mueller investigation was a witch hunt.

The fact is that collusion with Russia has been proven in the Trump campaign – people have pled guilty and gone to jail for it.

Papa Bear picked those people to run his campaign. Even if he wasn’t guilty of collusion himself, he acted consciously to prevent the investigation from proceeding. He admitted on national TV that he fired James Comey because the Russia investigation was a “made-up thing.” That has been disproven.

Whether he is guilty of obstruction is unclear – he can always claim that he was simply acting based upon information provided by others. But you would have to be pretty clueless to believe that Trump didn’t knowingly hire a whole team of people that colluded with Russia, all while pursing a major and highly lucrative real-estate deal with Moscow, all while hiding tax returns that will show proof of collaboration in Russian money-laundering.

William Barr’s first act as Attorney General was to force the Mueller investigation to a close, and then give the President a clean bill of health. The Trump team and conservative media are on a full-court press, following Karl Rove’s dictum that “a lie told often enough eventually becomes the truth.”

And I recall the words of Revelation 13:

Who is like the beast? Who can stand up to him?

Woe unto you, America! This is no accident – this is a (P)Resident Evil.

Devotion

So I took the big leap in January, quitting my job to practice hypnotherapy. I have a many-layered plan for building clientele, but after a month have managed to bring only a single person in for sessions. I was sitting in my office yesterday, holding my head in my hands and laughing in bewilderment, thinking “Why is it so hard to bring love into the world?”

I understand that part of the reason is that I don’t have a woman to vouch for me. When a single man projects love into mixed company, the message is often misinterpreted.

Realizing that I was in overload, I took the afternoon off to sit with a tea latte at the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and read some more articles in “Dream Cultures” (Shulman and Stroumsa eds.). I was interrupted by a visit from one of my yoga instructors – we entered into a deep conversation on Revelation and maternal morality.

After she left I came across this in an article on medieval Muslim dream culture. The dreamer is a woman who served as the conduit for her husband’s teaching ministry. This dream is a personal message to her, however:

Again I heard a voice calling me from the bottom of the tree: can you make a pledge to protect this tree so that no hand would touch it? Then this tree is yours. Its roots have stood in sand and soil; many hands have touched it, and its fruit became worthless, then rotted and dried up. But now we have placed the rock around it, and we have nominated a bird over it, to watch over the fruit of this tree. Look!

The bird hopped upwards, climbing from branch to branch; whenever it perched on a dry branch, which looked like dry pegs, it became green and moist, and bunches of grapes hung down from it. The voice said: If you protect this tree faithfully the bird will reach the top of the tree and the whole tree will become green; if not, the bird will stay here, in the middle. I said: I will; indeed, I will protect it!

Even now I weep reading these words. This is what my heart has been craving! To find such a partner for my life!

Science

Science is the well-spring of technology, and we live today in a world defined by technology. The power delivered to us by science has given us to believe that it is the well-spring of truth. In fact, while scientists focus on differentiating truth from untruth, the importance of science lies elsewhere. Part of it lies in the strategies used by scientists, and the impact it has on their personalities. The primary value, however, lays in the assurance that science provides when we use it to project the consequences of cultural investment.

To re-iterate: science is the process of developing languages that accurately model objective reality – or those phenomena that we believe we can present to another for independent examination. In our discussion of objective reality, we recognized that objective phenomena are variable. One of the impediments to organized science is achieving a consensus regarding which parts of experience are significant. In other words: What aspects of the variable experience do we believe are essential to apprehension of the shared experience?

Knowledge

Our growth as individuals and as a society involves a Lamarckian exchange of our interpretations of experience. In much of our everyday interaction, and particularly in transmitting understanding across cultures and generations, we rely upon language to accomplish that exchange.

The paradigms of science, philosophy and spirituality that I explore in what follows are concerned with the development of languages.

Science develops languages that accurately model objective reality.

Spirituality is the negotiation of the boundaries between “I” and “we”. In interpreting our spirituality, then, our concern is with languages that accurately model subjective reality.

Philosophy is properly concerned with clarification of terms, attempting to ensure that we have a rational and consistent basis for communicating meaning.

In coarse-grained terms: Science builds understanding. Spirituality illuminates meaning. Philosophy organizes our understanding of the boundaries between the two.

The alert reader may anticipate my assertion that science and spirituality exist as two endpoints on a spectrum. The endpoints are defined by scales of complexity and fragility.

Science is not a workable basis for negotiating social issues.

Social conflict is an unavoidable consequence of our competitive interdependence. In a physical sense, it is predicated by the evaluation functions that distinguish entities that effectively manage energy from those that do not.

Achieving an evolved capacity to manage energy, however, is a process: the universe did not leap from disorder into maturity. The only way to distinguish between mature and immature forms of matter is some sort of competitive destruction. Ideally, at some point in our future, a natural death will be the endpoint of life. At earlier eras in the development of consciousness, however, when Darwinian experimentation was dominant, more immediate driving functions, such as predation and brute competition for reproductive opportunity, were necessary to hurry the process along.

In any competitive process, the dominant party is the party with the stronger will. The will to live is manifested most directly as muscles, bones and sinew. The will to create is manifested in the power of the mind.

We exist – happily, I would assert – in the era of the mind. Science is the tool that we use to predict the outcomes of our creative practice. However, within the limits of the possible and the boundaries of the probable elucidated by science, there is enormous variability of choice. The competition of wills determines which of the realities available to us is manifested.

That competition is a spiritual affair. The negotiation of the boundaries between “I” and “we” includes our personal relationships, government and the arts.

Many of those activities involve exchanges of value that overwhelm the resources we can bring to bear to monitor and analyze causes and effects. For that reason, science alone will never be enough. We need coarser concepts and a basis for analysis that transcends the narrow focus of science. Spirituality addresses that need.

Fortunately, my apprehension is that reality has provided us with mechanisms that enable us to negotiate our futures with surprising efficiency. They have escaped our understanding, in recent history, because they have not fit the framework of established science.

Types of Reality

Thus far we have been developing a framework that supports the organization of personal and cultural development. In a nutshell, we should seek to use Lamarckian methods to achieve the conversion of magical thinking into understanding through respectful rational inquiry.

The thoughtful reader will note that there is no moral content to this statement. My goal, however, is to present a convincing argument that moral conduct has concrete physical advantages. Morality is a defensible philosophical abstraction that follows from the physics of spirituality.

To clarify the structure of that analysis, we should first consider the nature of our interaction with reality. I will make a simple distinction, that eventually will be seen to be a matter of personal discipline. I distinguish objective reality and subjective reality.

This distinction between objective and subjective is critical to establishing a framework for organizing our thoughts about reality.

Objective Reality

Objective reality consists of those phenomena that we believe, in principle, we can present to another person to establish a shared basis of experience.

This appears to be a slippery definition. Objective reality consists of things such as our car, Yosemite Falls, a fire, and a kiss. But are those things constant? Do we mean our car in the hour before or after we had take-out at the burger stand? Do we mean Yosemite Falls in Autumn, or in Spring?

The supposition of objective reality is that some component of those experiences is consistent when time and place is varied – enough that we can recognize when a similar or related experience occurs. For example, the experience of Yosemite Falls during any season is a basis for relating the experience of Victoria Falls. In fact, it may be a key element in relating the experience of Victoria Falls to someone who has never been there.

At some level, the supposition of objective reality is simply the supposition that objects and events exist independently of our awareness (conscious or otherwise).

Subjective Reality

Subjective reality, conversely, consists of those phenomena that we believe we cannot present to another person as a basis for shared experience.

Subjective reality consists largely of our emotional and intellectual response to experience. It includes the feelings that we have when we kiss, the apprehension we have of the geology of Yosemite Falls, and the memories that are evoked by a fire.

Why do we believe that we cannot share these phenomena? I am going to assert later that we can come to share many subjective experiences. However, there are two things that make them unreliable as a basis for shared experience. First, we change. The first kiss of youth cannot be re-experienced with our later lovers. Our awakening to the apprehension of intimacy can never be repeated. Secondly, even identical twins will spend some time apart, having independent experiences. Those independent experiences establish a store of associations that affect our subjective responses. While there is conditions under which another’s subjective responses can dominate our own (such as when we allow ourselves to be intimidated by anger), under most conditions our neural encoding will dominate the sympathetic response to our partner’s.

Accomplishment

What holds true for a community of people holds for us as individuals. Our ability to manifest our intention is determined by:

  • our understanding of the principles that control the behavior of the system we wish to influence,
  • our ability to formulate plans, and to use those plans to anticipate actual outcomes, and
  • our ability to take concrete actions to implement our goals.

We refine our judgment by evaluating the outcomes against our intentions. When we analyze ahead of time, we are better able to relate our experience to the point of failure: principle, plan, or implementation. As that skill evolves, we may say that we become more adult in our application of skills.

Achieving adulthood of this type is a difficult accomplishment. It requires a transition to a state of excellence, in which our personal energies are coupled effectively to an environment that responds to and manifests our will.

We describe individuals that achieve this level of skill as accomplished. They manifest physical, intellectual and spiritual grace: they use only the minimum number of motions, ideas and emotions necessary to accomplish their goals.

I experience delight in the presence of such skill and panache. This delight can be the delight of relief, such as when a parent realizes that a child is eating without distributing food around the room. It can be the delight of wholeness, as when we watch two newlyweds on honeymoon able, for perhaps the first time, to devote their attention and skills fully to the delight of one another.

Or it can be the delight of resolution – of seeing a difficult problem laid to rest by skilled practitioners under deft leadership. This marriage of accomplished individual(s) to worthy goal is recognized as an accomplishment.

As we advance, as individuals and as a society, we evolve an array of techniques for accomplishing our goals. Scientific inquiry is one, as is a mechanical tool. Force of personality is another, \as is financial management.

Given a goal, how do we choose the best technique? This is the essential problem of management.

In our discussion of science, programming and engineering, we tackled this analysis through analysis of the various goals, their embedding context, and the skills of the disciplines.

A large part of the goal of these early chapters is to clarify the applicability of the three paradigms of human intellectual endeavor. Each of the paradigms addresses a specific set of human goals, in an applicable context, and requires us to employ certain skills. Individuals will possess varying degrees of native capacity in each area, but I hope to describe general practices that can be used to focus the will to broaden and improve our skills.

In the process, I hope to demonstrate how self-accomplishment – our capacity to manage ourselves – is linked to accomplishment in the larger sense. While this might seem obvious, it should be remarked that our society has substituted energy – the capacity to entrain other people in our wake – with accomplishment. The looming consequence of this error is social disorder and dysfunction, and perhaps global ecological collapse.