The Real Thing

In the West, we tend to live our lives at one remove from reality, relying on images and concepts.

As Tashi Rabgyas said after spending a few months in England, "It's amazing how indirect everything is here. They write about the beauty of nature, they talk about it, and everywhere there are potted plants and plastic plants, and pictures of trees on the wall. And all the time television programs about nature. But they don't ever seem to have contact with the real thing."

[Helena Norberg-Hodge]
Ancient Futures: Learning From Ladakh, p.190

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Then came the age of technology. In the eyes of Indians, white Americans became interested only in the shadows of things and strove to ignore and even deny the realities behind them.

Many researchers and historians have published accounts of American Indians that told of impressive feats and healing techniques, yet contemporary professionals seemed afraid such accounts might contradict "modern science."

The dominant attitude was an insistence that modern methods and views had to be superior to the past, and Indians were prosecuted for their practices, for performing healings, religious rituals and sacred dances.

Modern America had new ideas of religion - popular Sunday morning activity, convenient source of social virtue - but when religion pretended to deal with facts about the universe it became a threat to modern science.

[Doug Boyd]
Rolling Thunder, p.59

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Debord traces the development of a modern society in which authentic social life has been replaced with its representation: "All that was once directly lived has become mere representation." Debord argues that the history of social life can be understood as "the decline of being into having, and having into merely appearing." This condition, according to Debord, is the "historical moment at which the commodity completes its colonization of social life."

With the term spectacle, Debord defines the system that is a confluence of advanced capitalism, the mass media, and the types of governments who favor those phenomena. "... the spectacle, taken in the limited sense of "mass media" which are its most glaring superficial manifestation...". The spectacle is the inverted image of society in which relations between commodities have supplanted relations between people, in which "passive identification with the spectacle supplants genuine activity". "The spectacle is not a collection of images," Debord writes. "rather, it is a social relationship between people that is mediated by images."

Wikipedia
Society of the Spectacle

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It has been shown that concepts borrow their material from knowledge of perception, and that therefore the whole structure of our world of thought rests on the world of perceptions.

It must therefore be possible for us to go back from every concept, even if through intermediate stages, to the perceptions from which it has itself been directly drawn, or from which have been drawn the concepts of which it is in turn an abstraction.

In other words, it must be possible for us to verify the concept with perceptions that stand to abstractions in the relation of examples. Therefore these perceptions furnish us with the real content of all our thinking, and wherever they are missing we have had in our heads not concepts but mere words.

[...] Actually all truth and all wisdom ultimately lie in perception; but unfortunately perception cannot be either retained or communicated.

[...] Therefore, as a rule, the man of the world cannot impart his accumulated truth and wisdom, but only practice it. He rightly comprehends everything that occurs, and decides what is conformable thereto.

That books do not take the place of experience, and that learning is no substitute for genius, are two kindred phenomena; their common ground is that the abstract can never take the place of the perceptive. Therefore books do not take the place of experience, because concepts always remain universal, and so do not reach down to the particular; yet it is precisely the particular that has to be dealt with in life.

In addition to this is the fact that all concepts are abstracted from the particular and perceptive of experience [...]

Wisdom proper is something intuitive, not something abstract. It does not consist in principles and ideas which a person carries round ready in his head, as results of his own or others' investigation; it is the whole way in which the world presents itself in his head.

[Arthur Schopenhauer]
The World as Will and Representation, Volume II, p.71, 74-5

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Rolling Thunder had explained at Council Grove that his training was experiential. In his first conversation with me he said that truth cannot be expressed verbally, that it can only be experienced [...]

"[...] You can't just sit down and talk about the truth. It doesn't work that way. You have to live it and be part of it and you might get to know it. I say you might. And it's slow and gradual and it don't come easy [...]"

[Doug Boyd]
Rolling Thunder, p.37, 71

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Wow, so interesting to read this about Lady Gaga. I see her as the exact opposite of Ammachi, as the epitome of Kali Yuga, the dark mother, a post-modern Madonna accelerating Time Wave Zero with her cut up pastiche videos that flash image, image, image towards the breaking point of narrative and meaning.

I see her as the goddess of Hubbert’s Peak, epitomizing pop culture morphed into its final-last-gasp-stage attempt at meaning making before the entire material culture we live in collapses. I see an emaciated woman that mistakes fashion for femininity as she dwindles away. I see spectacle without substance, a consumable product of the Kali Yuga age.

[Poeting]
Comment on article 'Lada Gaga: The Visionary Rebirth of the Divine Mother Monster'

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You walk into the room
With your pencil in your hand
You see somebody naked
And you say, "Who is that man?"
You try so hard
But you don't understand
Just what you'll say
When you get home
Because something is happening here
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones

You raise up your head
And you ask, "Is this where it is?"
And somebody points to you and says
"It's his"
And you say, "What's mine?"
And somebody else says, "Where what is?"
And you say, "Oh my God
Am I here all alone?"
Because something is happening here
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones

[...]

You've been through all of
F. Scott Fitzgerald's books
You're very well read
It's well known
Because something is happening here
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones

[Bob Dylan]
'Ballad of a Thin Man'

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