Saturday, August 27, 2011

Welcome to the Anthropocene Age; A Monument to MLK Now Stands on the Mall, Like Kubrick's Obelisk, Mysterious & Otherworldly

King’s response to our crisis can be put in one word - revolution. A revolution in our priorities, a re-evaluation of our values, a reinvigoration of our public life and a fundamental transformation of our way of thinking and living that promotes a transfer of power from oligarchs and plutocrats to everyday people and ordinary citizens." Cornel West, Dr. King Weeps From His Grave, NYT, 8-26-11

Welcome to the Anthropocene Age; A Monument to MLK Now Stands on the Mall, Like Kubrick's Obelisk, Mysterious & Otherworldly

By Richard Power

Ponder this moment.

I suggest that it is a turning point in American history.

Not because of any great deed we have marshaled our collective will to accomplish (we haven't and it is unlikely we will), but because of what we have collectively chosen to lie about, even to ourselves.

This week had promised to be a strange one from the beginning, two events were unfolding in stark contrast to the debilitating, amoral kulchur of our political establishment: one was the opening of the Dr. Martin Luther King Monument on the National Mall, and the other was a sustained and significant campaign of civil disobedience in front of the White House (meant to encourage POTUS to decide against the tars sands XL pipeline). But then it got even stranger.

First, on Tuesday, there was an earthquake, a shallow 5.9 that had its epicenter near Richmond, but was felt from Chapel Hill to Martha's Vineyard. The White House was temporarily evacuated. The National Cathedral suffered damage to three of the four pinnacles of its main tower. And perhaps most poignantly, the Washington Memorial was closed indefinitely.

The earthquake that rattled much of the East Coast last week is sparking angry calls from elected officials seeking an immediate reevaluation of seismic risks at two dozen or so commercial nuclear plants around the country, including two in California. Los Angeles Times, 8-27-11

Remember friend, this is the Anthropocene Age, and although we apparently choose to lie to ourselves, the human race now has a hand in the generation of earthquakes.

1. Human activity can cause earthquakes ... 2. Seismic activity has been linked to the injection of waste water from the unconventional production of natural gas using hydraulic fracturing (also known as fracking) ... 3. The petroleum industry is resistant to taking into account scientific and historical data ... 4. Nuclear plants which lie on fault lines intensify the risks of earthquakes ... 5. Industry often seeks to keep information and historical data private ... Nora Eisenberg, Raw Story, 5 things the media isn’t telling you about human activity and earthquakes, 8-24-11

As I write this post, on Saturday night, MSNBC and CNN are offering wall to wall coverage of Hurricane Irene, as it moves into the densely populated metropolises of the Northeast, including New York City, the financial capital of the nation and arguably of the world.

The cable news network coverage has gone on hour after hour, without any mention of the actual context in which this potential disaster is unfolding; that's right, not one word about the Climate Crisis, i.e., the greatest existential threat of our age.

I would dismiss them as fools, but their foolishness is willful, which makes them cowards at best, and quite literally complicit in crimes against nature and humanity.

Hurricane Irene is only a category 1 as it enters New York City, it will not destroy New York, it may not even cause extensive damage there, but that is not the point; the point is this is not going to be the last hurricane that hits New York City head on in the next few years, it is only the first of many, there will be one after another, year after year, as the oceans heat up, and one day probably sooner than later, it will be a category 3 or worse ...

More than a dozen nuclear reactors along the U.S. East Coast are being prepared for potential loss of power and damage from high winds and storm surges as Hurricane Irene bears down on the region. San Francisco Chronicle, Nuclear Reactors on East Coast Brace for Hurricane Irene's Wrath, 8-26-11

... in a city like New York, hurricane-force winds could break windows en masse, especially in the taller buildings ... If the subways were flooded with salt water rather than just rainwater, the salt "would corrode the switches and cripple the system for months or years, and disable much of the communications infrastructure in Lower Manhattan ... The Financial District ... could be inundated ... not only is it full of people who could be killed by a storm surge, but it is also the epicenter of the city, national, and international financial systems ... International Business Times, Hurricane Irene New York: Top 5 Dangers of a Hurricane in the City, 8-24-11

Meanwhile, the official ceremony for the opening of the MLK Monument was postponed; and it is probably just as well.

The message of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. has no resonance in Beltwayistan; it is as alien to the current political establishment as the obelisk was to the apes in the opening scene of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: Space Odyssey. I am excluding, of course, those who remember and choose not to lie to themselves or their fellow citizens, e.g., the Progressive Caucus, the Black Caucus, and a very few Senators, and a handful of others.

And yes, I exclude POTUS too. He remembers. No matter how ferverently he pretends that he has just as much in common with Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles as he has with us, he doesn't.

He still belongs down here, with the garbage men of Memphis, and those four little girls in Birmingham, and the Kennedy family that gave him a leg up, and the Solidarity movement in Wisconsin, and FDR, who said of the reactionaries and the corporatists, "I welcome their hatred," and ACORN, and Planned Parenthood, and Van Jones and Elizabeth Warren. Yes, he belongs with us. Whether he ever comes to grips with it or not.

I don't know what to say about him anymore, except that I will defend him to the end against the shameless racism of the reactionaries; while at the same time, excoriating him for his tragic choice not to lead.

I keep asking myself what Ralph Ellison, the author of The invisible Man might say about the psychological mystery of Barack Obama's White House years; I keep asking myself what James Baldwin or Nina Simone might say. Surely, they would have a profound insight into where he lives inside himself.

POTUS may be morphing into the Invisible Man, but beloved brother Cornel West has published a powerful OP-ED piece in the NYT, Dr. King Weeps From His Grave, New York Times, 8-26-11:

Militarism is an imperial catastrophe that has produced a military-industrial complex and national security state and warped the country’s priorities and stature ... Materialism is a spiritual catastrophe, promoted by a corporate media multiplex and a culture industry that have hardened the hearts of hard-core consumers and coarsened the consciences of would-be citizens. Clever gimmicks of mass distraction yield a cheap soulcraft of addicted and self-medicated narcissists ... Cornel West, Dr. King Weeps From His Grave, NYT, 8-26-11

Meanwhile, back at the White House, a throbbing, dynamic, flesh and blood embodiment of Dr. King's message: protester after protester submitted to arrest, in acts of non-violent civil disobedience. They are hoping to raise the stakes high enough that POTUS might be forced into the right decision -- for a change.

Bill McKibben: ... this is one place where President Obama has no obstacles to acting. Congress isn’t in the way. He has no obstacles to acting and no excuse for not acting. It will be the biggest test for him, environmentally, between now and the next election. It’s emerged as the single, premier environmental issue right now, that people from every organization and every group are coming to Washington to help with. Amy Goodman Interviews Bill McKibben, Over 160 Arrested in Ongoing Civil Disobedience Against Keystone XL Tar Sands Oil Pipeline, Democracy Now, 8-23-11

But even before Hurricane Irene started hurtling toward NYC, the U.S. State Department (Hillary, hello?) issued its recommendation to POTUS that there was "no evidence the pipeline will significantly impact the six U.S. states in its path." Ah. Another brazen self-deceit. The pipeline will "significantly impact" not only the "six U.S. states in its path" but the entire planet. POTUS is yet to make (or at least to announce his decision). Of course, we could only be pleasantly surprised at this point.

As a child, I laid in the dark, and clutched a little transistor radio, and wept as I listened to Dr. King's words of power; I wept with tears of JOY. And I tell you, as surely as night follows day, just as Dr. King added economic injustice to his portfolio, and also added the Vietnam war (and the profit-driven militarism it epitomized), if he had survived the black ops of 1968, he would have added crimes against nature to his portfolio too. He would not have viewed the Climate Crisis as an inconvenient truth; he would have understood it as an unavoidable moral challenge, inextricably bound together with the others that were so sacred to him.

Do you know why 350 is the most important number in your life and the lives of everyone you love? Go to for the answer.

Richard Power's seventh book, Between Shadow and Night: The Singularity in Anticipation of Itself, is now available. Here are links to purchase it from, or from CreateSpace.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Finding the False/True Teacher Within

Every mind-world is a bubble, every bubble bursts.

Among the somnambulists, those most lost in the dreamscape are the ones who imagine themselves to be waking the others.

If you "think" you "know" this, be especially careful; because the mind-world bubble that bursts for you will be the one that thinks it knows that every bubble bursts.

There are two kinds of false teacher. There are those who just pretend, and there are those who have beguiled themselves. One is despicable, the other delusional. Both begin falling from great heights before they even know it.

I laugh inside when people quote Nietzsche. I cut my intellectual eye-teeth on Nietzsche - at the age of twelve. He taught me how to punch and kick my way out of hell. He was my first guru, my first mirror of the truth.

Twenty years later, I dreamt I was at a banquet hall in 19th Century Vienna. There was much music and waltzing. Someone grabbed me by the arm, and said, "Come, come, you must meet Herr Nietzsche, he's visiting from Basil." As I shook Nietzsche's hand, I saw his whole life flash before me. Ironically, he was the younger man. My wisdom had moved on.

And just as he had once carried me, I would now carry him; just as he once protected me, I would protect him, just as he once explained me to myself, I would explain him to the world.

In Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche wrote: "... if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you." That's it. The abyss. No one wants to go there. But there is nowhere else to be. And so, we build mind-worlds that burst like bubbles.

And the false teacher within is always there, ready to welcome us into a new mind-world bubble. Sooner or later, it too will burst.

There is no net. Only the next bubble. If you let go of bubble-making, well, you find yourself in a yawning abyss.

The true teacher has nothing to offer you but this abyss. There is nothing else a true teacher could have found. Of course, no one wants to hear this. So it is not as popular as bubble construction, and probably never will be. It's not a viable business model, this showing people the truth of the abyss.

And where does this leave me? Who am I to say this? I am just someone who took a road less traveled. Wherever I go, this abyss moves with me, gazing at its own face on the rock walls of the cave inside me. I laugh, and the abyss laughs with me.

The abyss is the samadhi tank of the whales, I tell myself; and at the center of the Milky Way, there is a huge black hole, just as at the center of NGC 1097 and most other massive galaxies.

-- Richard Power

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Plutocracy Does Not "Promote the General Welfare." Foolish Military Adventures Do Not "Provide for the Common Defense."

Cornel West: ... The Heritage Foundation has been spreading lies to justify indifference toward poor people for three decades as part of the right-wing intellectual assault on working and poor people ... The Heritage Foundation supports the counter-revolution in the name of oligarchs and plutocrats. We want to be part of the fightback, and there’s millions out there who want to be part of the fightback, as the oligarchs and plutocrats attempt to squeeze all of the democratic juices out of the American social experiment ... So black folk find themselves in a dilemma: how do we protect [President Barack Obama] against the right-wing attacks and at the same time keep him accountable, especially when it comes to poor and working people? Unfortunately, Tim Geithner and [the Obama] economic team have nothing to do with the legacy of Martin King, have indifference toward poor and working people. [POTUS] listens to them, hence he’s rightly associated much more with the oligarchs than with poor people. We hope he changes his mind. We hope he gets a progressive economic team ..."A Declaration of War on the Poor": Cornel West and Tavis Smiley on the Debt Ceiling Agreement, Democracy Now, 8-9-10

Plutocracy Does Not "Promote the General Welfare." Foolish Military Adventures Do Not "Provide for the Common Defense."

By Richard Power

Consider our current dysfunction.

The Ayn Rand/Aryan Christ Cult formerly known as the Republican Party distorts POTUS into what they want him to be, i.e., a radical, anti-American, leftist; meanwhile, POTUS contorts himself into what Wall St wants him to be, i.e., what used to be called a moderate Republican in the 1990s. And so REALITY, with its legendary liberal bias, has been marginalized, along with the majority of the American people, who favor raising taxes on the rich and protecting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid from corporatist raiders.

Listen, corporations are not people, and money is not speech. (Go to Move to Amend to act!)

It is not "austerity" that we need, it is sustainability.

Robert Reich who has been talking to people in the administration, says that there has been a deliberate decision to focus on the wrong issues, knowing that they’re the wrong issues ... And in Europe, says Kantoos Economics, a low inflation target has become a sacred icon even though all evidence – including the experience under the gold standard! — says that this will be fatal ... I’m still trying to make sense of this global intellectual failure. But the results are not in question: we are making a total mess of a solvable problem, with consequences that will haunt us for decades to come ... Paul Krugman, Economists Agree: Failed Policies 'Making a Total Mess of a Solvable Problem', New York Times, 8-10-11

If not spent on the good, "wealth" creates nothing but misery for all (including the wealthy in the end). Plutocracy does not "promote the General Welfare." Foolish military adventures do not ""provide for the Common Defense."

While 68.3 million Americans struggle to get enough food to eat and wages are declining for 90 percent of the population, US millionaire household wealth has reached an unprecedented level. According to an extensive study by auditing and financial advisory firm Deloitte, US millionaire households now have $38.6 trillion in wealth. On top of the $38.6 trillion this study reveals, they have an estimated $6.3 trillion hidden in offshore accounts.
In total, US millionaire households have at least $45.9 trillion in wealth, the majority of this wealth is held within the upper one-tenth of one percent of the population. David DeGraw, Meet the Global Financial Elites Controlling $46 Trillion In Wealth, AlterNet, 8-11-11

The human race can either choose to consciously evolve away from these absurd notions and harmful behaviors, or Gaia will choose to consciously evolve away from us.

But we continue to drive our "civilization" with fossil fuels instead of clean, renewable resources (e.g., sun, wind, tides, geothermal); in the process, we are destroying the planetary climate on which we depend. Likewise, we continue to predicate our political and economic life on the barbarism of corporatism and predatory capitalism.

A true civilization would be predicated on the oneness of all life and fueled by green energy. This is the future to articulate, and to live toward, collectively and individually.

Canada and the United States are now the center of Bizarro World. This is where leaders promise to reduce carbon emissions but ensure a new, super-sized oil pipeline called Keystone XL is built, guaranteeing further expansion of the Alberta tar sands that produce the world's most carbon-laden oil. "It's imperative that we move quickly to alternate forms of energy - and that we leave the tar sands in the ground," the U.S.'s leading climate scientists urged President Barack Obama in an open letter Aug. 3. "As scientists... we can say categorically that it's [the Keystone XL pipeline] not only not in the national interest, it's also not in the planet's best interest." The letter was signed by 20 world-renowned scientists, including NASA's James Hansen, Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution, Ralph Keeling of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and George Woodwell, founder of the Woods Hole Research Center. Stephen Leahy, Welcome to Bizarro World, Inter Press Service, 8-11-11

Do you know why 350 is the most important number in your life and the lives of everyone you love? Go to for the answer.

Richard Power's seventh book, Between Shadow and Night: The Singularity in Anticipation of Itself, is now available. Here are links to purchase it from, or from CreateSpace.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

In Forgetting the Lessons of Vietnam, Watergate & the Great Depression, America has Forgotten Herself; Maybe She Will Remember This Song

Frida Kahlo, Love Embrace of the Universe (1949)

Oh, a storm is threat'ning
My very life today
If I don't get some shelter
Oh yeah, I'm gonna fade away

War, children, it's just a shot away
It's just a shot away
War, children, it's just a shot away
It's just a shot away
Gimme Shelter (Mick Jagger, Keith Richards)

In Forgetting the Lessons of Vietnam, Watergate & the Great Depression, America has Forgotten Herself; Maybe She Will Remember This Song

By Richard Power

Can't you feel it?

A few weeks ago, around nine million were facing starvation in the Horn of Africa. Now it is approaching 13 million. The number going hungry is bigger than the entire population of Belgium – with some two million children under five malnourished, and, says the UN, at least 30,000 dead. Two million East African infants are now starving, Independent, 8-7-11

It is not as far away as you tell yourself. Ooh, see the fire is sweepin' / Our very street today / Burns like a red coal carpet Mad bull lost its way ...

Because I choose to live in reality (lower case "r"), I do not turn away from the sorrow and horror of the world; I bear witness, & I act, even if the only action open to me is witnessing with my consciousness and voice. This witnessing changes the world, and even if that change is imperceptible, it is powerful. Because I also choose to live in Reality (upper case "R"), I do not allow the sorrow and horror to steal my joy or defeat my love. Without love, the witnessing would have no courage; without joy, it would have no clarity.

I didn't think the USA could forget the lessons of Vietnam or Watergate, but it did.

The 38 deaths in Saturday’s helicopter crash in Afghanistan include 31 Americans, making this the deadliest day for U.S. forces since the war began. The tragic loss of American lives might be worth the sacrifice if it was making America safer, or if our presence was significantly improving the well-being of the Afghan people. But neither of these is true. Medea Benjamin, Common Dreams, 8-6-11

The spectacle is even coming to frighten the sponsors of the charade. Corporate power is now concerned that the extremists they helped put in office may in fact bring down the edifice on which their own wealth and privilege relies, the powerful nanny state that caters to their interests. Corporate power’s ascendancy over politics and society—by now mostly financial—has reached the point that both political organizations, which at this stage barely resemble traditional parties, are far to the right of the population on the major issues under debate. Noam Chomsky, In These Times, 8-5-11

Rape, murder! / It's just a shot away / It's just a shot away"

So it should not surprise me that the USA has also forgotten the lessons of the Great Depression.

Since Reagan, Republicans have been on a “starve the beast” campaign – by which they mean eviscerate the government by taking away as much revenue as they can. Starving the beast has been the biggest bait and switch con game that has ever been perpetrated on the American people. And the most tragic. John Atchenson, The Beast Is Starved: Welcome to the Next Great Depression, Common Dreams, 8-4-11

The floods is threat'ning / My very life today / Gimme, gimme shelter / Or I'm gonna fade away

How could the USA have forgotten these painful and important lessons? How could this have happened?

America has forgotten herself. Oh, the goddess still stands in the harbor, holding aloft her torch. But because the
hollow men are blind to her presence and deaf to her message, it is as if she were not there.

And unless she finds Herself again, not even "36 Earths" could save us.

Even if areas dedicated to conserving plants, animals, and other species that provide Earth's life support system increased tenfold, it would not be enough without dealing with the big issues of the 21st century: population, overconsumption and inefficient resource use. Without dealing with those big issues, humanity will need 27 planet Earths by 2050, a new study estimates. Stephen Leahy, AL-jazeera English, 8-4-11

I tell you love, sister, it's just a kiss away / It's just a kiss away

Rolling Stones - Gimme Shelter (1969)

Keith Urban & Alicia Keys - Gimme Shelter (LIVE EARTH 2007)

Angélique Kidjo w/ Joss Stone - Gimme Shelter

Patti Smith - Gimme Shelter (2007)

Do you know why 350 is the most important number in your life and the lives of everyone you love? Go to for the answer.

Richard Power's seventh book, Between Shadow and Night: The Singularity in Anticipation of Itself, is now available. Here are links to purchase it from, or from CreateSpace.

You can also visit Richard Power author's page at