Short-term savings, long-term costs

Wal-Mart's lengthy struggle to open in New York City has hit fresh problems -- a controversial report that said America's biggest discounter does not just sell cheap, it makes neighborhoods poorer.

"The overwhelming weight of the independent research on the impact of Wal-Mart stores ... shows that Wal-Mart depresses area wages and labor benefits ... pushes out more retail jobs than it creates, and results in more retail vacancies," [...]

New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio calls a possible Wal-Mart store in New York "a Trojan horse."

"It looks appealing to a lot of families who are hurting but it turns into a big problem in the long term because of the net elimination of jobs," de Blasio said.

Despite the poverty in East New York and Brownsville, many residents are against the stores setting up here."It would be a disaster," said Mark Tanis, owner of an East New York shopping market about three miles from a proposed sites. "It would have a detrimental impact on our area."

Tanis said he fears a product he sells for $20 could sell for as little as $12 at Wal-Mart and drive him out of business.

East New York resident Darryl Williams, 43, echoed the view of many, saying, "Cheap things would be nice but if it's true that we'll end up with even fewer jobs, that's not good." Courtney Laidlaw, 22, who lives near the two possible locations said, "We have become a society of bargain shoppers and having a Wal-Mart locally will definitely be beneficial.

"The small businesses that can adapt to the socioeconomic times that we live in will find a way to survive. Wal-Mart is just an alternative destination, not the only destination."

In Brooklyn, one of the loudest anti-Wal-Mart voices has been City Councilman Charles Barron from East New York, who has been leading demonstrations.

"We don't need Wal-Mart (which) has a history of destroying the local economy and hurting it, not helping it," he said.

"Wal-Mart draws ire even in poor parts of Brooklyn", Yahoo News


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Closed                               -                      Open
Certainty                           -                      Uncertainty
Solid                                 -                       Liquid
Known                              -                       Unknown 
Actuality                           -                       Potentiality
Rest                                   -                      Motion
Attach                               -                       Detach
Being                                -                       Becoming
Control                              -                       Chaos
Fragile                               -                       Resilient

Come from the safety of your castle,
there's somewhere else for you to be...

Come lose your self in the forest,
and sink it in the sea ...

In narratology and comparative mythology, the monomyth, or the hero's journey, is the common template of a broad category of tales that involve a hero who goes on an adventure, and in a decisive crisis wins a victory, and then comes home changed or transformed.

The concept was introduced in The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949) by Joseph Campbell, who described the basic narrative pattern as follows:

A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man

'Hero's journey'

< --------------------- 0 ---------------------- >

There is nothing, neutral point, ground zero. And then there is something, which is always a departure from zero, in one direction or another.

Things have a tendency to remain the same, to (appear to) be balanced. In order for a thing to change it must go through a period of unrest, a transformation. This may be a great disturbance.

The hardest thing is always transitioning from one balance to another. For example, when my leg was injured it was always most painful when I going from being still to moving. Once I'd grown accustomed to either state it was fine; only the transition was painful. Getting out of bed/getting into bed. It's fine once you're out, fine once you're in.

We see this pattern everywhere. In sports, for instance, in order to raise our level of fitness we must push ourselves beyond current boundaries, or "overload" as it is known by weight lifters. Overloading involves placing the body under stress, giving it something it is not used to in order to adjust its norms. After a period of transformation we reach a new balance, a new level of fitness.

It is the same with stretching: our muscles will have a default length, which is really the length that our day-to-day activities (our environment) require them to be. In order to lengthen them we must continually stretch them - i.e. engage in new activities that require them to be a longer length. If we keep up these new activities - if our stretching becomes part of our day-to-day routine - then our muscles will remain at this new length. As soon as we stop stretching, our muscles will adapt to the new circumstances: they will shorten.

Stretching is like Acting. If our default mode is primarily selfish, then in order to counteract this we must "stretch" regularly - in other words, we must make a conscious effort to be unselfish.

We must understand what our default is. Default seems to be defined by environment. We can see strength as our ability to stray from our default, in other words our ability to Act or change. Through Acting we come to know our weaknesses; these are like ceilings on our ambitions, or boundaries beyond which we cannot stray.

In order to reach a new destination, you must be prepared to sail the turbulent seas.

Conscious stretching and Acting is only necessary outside the bounds of a structured community. It is the action of a responsible individual. Within a structured community, we stretch and act automatically without knowing that this is what we are doing. In other words, we are constantly stretched to the right length in order to function in harmony with our surroundings. The necessities of this kind of life demand as much. Currently the individual must Act because he is not contained within a harmonious community, and he must carry various ideals within himself.

There is currently little motivation to Act or to stretch. We live in such comfort that we may not see the necessity of staying in good shape, either physically or ethically. There are supports that will catch us when we fall and that will prevent us from having to feel the consequences of our ill-health. We have devices that keep the body comfortable and that prevent it from having to exert itself; and we have devices that prevent us from having to be ethically responsible and that remove us from the outcomes of our ethical indiscipline.

Our default, as defined by our environment, is imbalanced, unhealthy. It is in poor shape, both physically and ethically. The individual who decides to depart from this default - who begins to stretch and Act in order to 'get fit' - will be fighting an tough battle, and may have to fight it alone. In departing from the general default - from the general requirements of his environment, his culture - he becomes an aberration; an obsessive; a misguided fool; a curious novelty. It is much easier to maintain a level of fitness if we are surrounded by others who are also striving to remain at this same level, or to reach higher.

Society sets the default. If the individual is displeased with this default then he must depart from the conventions of the society. He will be at odds with many "normal" things. If we live in an ethically excellent community - in other words, a community that is in balance with itself and with its environment - then we need no longer stretch and Act because our default will be sufficient. This is why the traditional community required little stretching or Acting. The traditional community hovered around the "0", the point of balance. The individual did not need to strive for excellency, this was a communal undertaking, a communal default.

Hormesis is when a bit of a harmful substance, or stressor, in the right dose or with the right intensity, stimulates the organism and makes it better, stronger, healthier, and prepared for a stronger dose the next exposure. That's the reason we go to the gym, engage in intermittent fasting, or caloric deprivation, or overcompensate for challenges by getting tougher.

[Nassim Nicholas Taleb]
'Hormesis Is Redundancy'

Hormesis, on the social scale, means “letting people experience some, not too much, stress, to wake them up a bit.

Hormesis can be likened to what Evans and Read call “endangerment” of agents in social systems which “is productive of life, individually and collectively”. Erik Hollnagel and David D. Woods also note the need to provoke complex systems in their epilogue to Resilience Engineering movement’s first publication: “Resilience requires a constant sense of unease that prevents complacency”.

This exact formulation also connects the resilience discourse with High Reliability Organization theory, as formulated by Karl Weick, with its emphasis on chronic unease, fear of complacency, and attentiveness to weak signals.

[Rasmus Dahlberg]
'Resilience and Complexity: Conjoining the Discourses of Two Contested Concepts'

This process of directing energy out of familiar into new and unfamiliar paths, as a means of changing the manner of reacting to stimuli, implies of necessity an ever-increasing ability on the part of both teacher and pupil to 'pass from the known to the unknown'; it is therefore a process which is true to the principle involved in all human growth and development.

[F. Matthias Alexander]
The Use of the Self, p.85

[...] creative thought must always contain a random component.

The exploratory processes - the endless trial and error of mental progress - can achieve the new only by embarking upon pathways randomly presented, some of which when tried are somehow selected for something like survival.

[Gregory Bateson]
Mind and Nature, p. 200

[...] a major revision of one’s construct system can threaten with immediate change, or chaos, or anxiety.

Thus it often seems better to extort confirmation of one’s anticipations – and therefore of the system that produced them – rather than to risk the utter confusion of those moments of transition. 

[George Kelly]
'The threat of aggression', in Clinical Psychology and Personality: The Selected Papers of George Kelly, p.  283

Peterson: That structure - verse, chorus, verse, chorus - out of what did that originate?

Andreyev: That’s an extremely old form. There are baroque forms, such as the Rondo or the Ritornello that have a similar form, where you alternate one fixed element that keeps returning the same way, and a secondary element that gives you a certain degree of relief [and] contrast with the preceding element.

Peterson: That’s a chaos/order interplay […] Why the three chord structure?

Andreyev: A three chord structure is the bare minimum you need in order to have any kind of harmonic tension. In tonal music you have a very simple and effective polarity between what’s called the tonic and dominant degrees, and that’s something that basically structured the entire classical period, and the baroque period as well to a degree.

[…] it’s a way of setting up an extremely rudimentary story. You start with a region that is established, that you have as your home base, and then you modulate to a different harmonic region; and through this process of modulating, you move from your home base to somewhere else. And that creates a tension, a nostalgia, and a need for resolution.

Peterson: One thing that made me think about, is the proclivity for small children to do that, with their mother in particular. The space around the mother is defined as home territory, partly because mother is familiar, but also partly because if something goes wrong and mother is there, mother can fix it. So there’s a zone around the child when the mother is there, where there is access to immediate resources that will fill in where the child’s skills are lacking.

And then what the child will do after obtaining sufficient comfort from being in the presence of mom, is to go out far enough into the world, driven by their curiosity […] to discover new information and extend their skills by pushing against the unknown. And when they either get tired, or when they go out far enough so that negative emotion as a consequence of threat predominates, they run back to their mother.

Its a microcosm of the hero’s journey, which is a journey from a safe and defined place out into the unknown, and then a return […] to stability.

[Jordan Peterson and Samuel Andreyev]
'Interview with Composer Samuel Andreyev'

Hero worship was an act of “true religious loyalty," the hero an embodiment of the spiritual exuberance and vitality that in Carlyle's idiom went by the name of wonder. The prototype of the hero was the prophet.

Carlyle's admiration for great men - Mohammed, Shakespeare, Cromwell, Frederick the Great - divided him further from those who counted on the weight of institutions, traditions, and social habits to provide continuity and discourage rash social experimentation.

Heroism was disruptive, in Carlyle's view. Its value lay precisely in its unsettling effect on habits and routine. It divided men and women more often than it brought them together.

Carlyle understood the dangers of hero worship more clearly than his critics have given him credit for. He understood that hero worship turned into idolatry when it attached itself not to the hero's insight but to his false claim of supernatural credentials.

At the same time, he praised the "indestructible reverence for heroism" as an important expression of the capacity for wonder and saw the modern disparagement of heroism, accordingly - far more freely expressed in our own day even than in his - as one of the more ominous among many ominous "signs of the times."

[Christopher Lasch]
The True and Only Heaven, p.232, 236

It’s all right for once, in the exuberance of youth, to celebrate mere vital excitement, la joie de vivre as a protest against humdrum solemnity. But to make it systematic, and oppose it, as an ideal and a duty, to the ordinary religious duties, is to pervert it altogether.

[William James]

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The End of History

Kali Yuga : (Devanāgarī: कलियुग [kəli juɡə], lit. "age of (the male demon) Kali", or "age of vice") is the last of the four stages that the world goes through as part of the cycle of yugas described in the Indian scriptures.

The other ages are Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga and Dvapara Yuga.

Hindus and Sikhs believe that human civilization degenerates spiritually during the Kali Yuga, which is referred to as the Dark Age because in it people are as far removed as possible from God. 

Hinduism often symbolically represents morality (dharma) as a bull. In Satya Yuga, the first stage of development, the bull has four legs, but in each age morality is reduced by one quarter. By the age of Kali, morality is reduced to only a quarter of that of the golden age, so that the bull of Dharma has only one leg.

A discourse by Markandeya in the Mahabharata identifies some of the attributes of Kali Yuga:

In relation to rulers

* Rulers will become unreasonable: they will levy taxes unfairly.

* Rulers will no longer see it as their duty to promote spirituality, or to protect their subjects: they will become a danger to the world.

* People will start migrating, seeking countries where wheat and barley form the staple food source.

In human relationships

* Avarice and wrath will be common. Humans will openly display animosity towards each other.

* Ignorance of dharma will occur.

* People will have thoughts of murder with no justification and will see nothing wrong in that.

* Lust will be viewed as socially acceptable and sexual intercourse will be seen as the central requirement of life.

* Sin will increase exponentially, whilst virtue will fade and cease to flourish.

* People will take vows and break them soon after.

* People will become addicted to intoxicating drinks and drugs.

* Gurus will no longer be respected and their students will attempt to injure them. Their teachings will be insulted, and followers of Kama will wrest control of the mind from all human beings. Brahmins will not be learned or honoured, Kshatriyas will not be brave, Vaishyas will not be just in their dealings and Shudras will be allotted unreasonable 'caste-based' duties which they will avoid.

'Kali Yuga'

Our system has already passed its flowering.

Some time ago it reached that summit of blessedness which the mysterious game of world history sometimes allows to things beautiful and desirable in themselves.

We are on the downward slope.

Our course may possibly stretch out for a very long time, but in any case nothing finer, more beautiful, and more desirable than what we have already had can henceforth be expected.

The road leads downhill. Historically we are, I believe, ripe for dismantling. And there is no doubt that such will be our fate, not today or tomorrow, but the day after tomorrow.

[Hermann Hesse]
The Glass Bead Game, p. 356

In fact, the texts that discuss the Kali Yuga and the Age of Kali also declare that the norms of life, valid during epochs in which divine forces were more or less alive and active, must be considered as cancelled in the final age.

During the latter there lives an essentially different human type who is incapable of following the ancient precepts. Not only that, but because of the different historical and even planetary circumstances, such precepts, even if followed, would not yield the same results.

For this reason, different norms apply, and the rule of secrecy is lifted from certain truths, a certain ethic, and particular “rites” to which the rule previously applied on account of their dangerous character and because they contravened the forms of a normal existence, regulated by the sacred tradition.

[Julius Evola]
Ride the Tiger, p. 9

The Hegelian Alexandre Kojéve believed that the end of history would be marked by the definitive abandonment of all the hard questions. Humanity itself would disappear, but there would no longer be any conflict:

If Man becomes an animal again, his acts, his loves, and his play must also become purely “natural” again. Hence it would have to be admitted that after the end of History, men would construct their edifices and works of art as birds build their nests and spiders spin their webs. . . .

“The definitive annihilation of Man properly so-called” also means the definitive disappearance of human Discourse (Logos) in the strict sense. Animals of the species Homo sapiens would react by conditioned reflexes to vocal signals or sign “language,” and thus their so-called “discourses” would be like what is supposed to be the “language” of bees.

What would disappear, then, is not only Philosophy or the search for discursive Wisdom, but also that Wisdom itself.

Schmitt echoes these sentiments, albeit with rather different conclusions. In such a unified world, “what remains is neither politics nor state, but culture, civilization, economics, morality, law, art, entertainment, etc.”

The world of “entertainment” represents the culmination of the shift away from politics.

A representation of reality might appear to replace reality: instead of violent wars, there could be violent video games; instead of heroic feats, there could be thrilling amusement park rides; instead of serious thought, there could be “intrigues of all sorts,” as in a soap opera. It is a world where people spend their lives amusing themselves to death.

Such an artificial world requires a “religion of technicity” that has faith in the “unlimited power and dominion over nature . . . [and] in the unlimited potential for change and for happiness in the natural this-worldly existence of man.”

For Schmitt the political theologian, this “Babylonian unity” represents a brief harmony that prefigures the final catastrophe of the Apocalypse. Following the medieval tradition, Schmitt knows and fears that this artificial unity can be brought about only by the shadowy figure of the Antichrist. He will surreptitiously take over the entire world at the end of human history by seducing people with the promise of “peace and security”:

God created the world; the Antichrist counterfeits it …. The sinister magician recreates the world, changes the face of the earth, and subdues nature. Nature serves him; for what purpose is a matter of indifference—for any satisfaction of artificial needs, for ease and comfort. Men who allow themselves to be deceived by him see only the fabulous effect; nature seems to be overcome, the age of security dawns; everything has been taken care of, a clever foresight and planning replace Providence.

The world where everything seems to administer itself is the world of science fiction, of Stephenson’s Snow Crash, or of The Matrix for those who choose not to take their red pills. But no representation of reality ever is the same as reality, and one must never lose sight of the larger framework within which the representation exists. The price of abandoning oneself to such an artificial representation is always too high, because the decisions that are avoided are always too important.

By making people forget that they have souls, the Antichrist will succeed in swindling people out of them.

[Peter Thiel]
‘The Straussian Moment’

What are you selling?

Well, I tried to tell them nice as I could, but I had to explain to them that you don't go out to the Indians with something to sell, not religion, not politics, not modern science or products or anything else, because that's not where it's at when you're dealing with Indians.

The white man's always got to be selling something - peddle, peddle, peddle, proselytize and propagandize.
Maybe that's why you people here can learn a thing or two, because you don't have anything to sell.

[Doug Boyd]
Rolling Thunder, p.83


Daily training in the Art of Peace allows your inner divinity to shine brighter and brighter. Do not concern yourself with the right and wrong of others. Do not be calculating or act unnaturally.

Keep your mind set on the Art of Peace, and do not criticize other teachers or traditions. The Art of Peace never restrains, restricts, or shackles anything. It embraces all and purifies everything.

[Morihei Ueshiba]
The Art of Peace, p.50


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