Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Night Frolic — Are You Still Dreaming?

It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, 
that prevents us from living freely and nobly.
 ~ Henry David Thoreau

Adbusters Corporate Flag

You know, about the Dream. The American Dream: Justice, Freedom, Equality? Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Oh, that's right, the American dream has fizzled along with your investments and savingsif you've been so lucky as to have saved at all.

Really though, are you still dreaming?

Or are you weary to your bones?

The dream, as James Truslow Adams wrote in his book, The Epic of America, is the "[...] dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement..."  Yes, life should be better for all. It should, dammit. Now wake up from the dream. (If you are, in fact, still dreaming.) Because that dream is over. Poof.

Things are beginning to get a little ugly on Wall Street (as if they were not already grotesque). And elsewhere. Police and protesters are clashing across America. Our government's leaders praise the youthful anti-establishment protests overseas, but in AmericaLand of the Free, Land of Hope and Promisepeaceful activists are being arrested and even run down by police scooters. Who knows what's next.

"...It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it..." 

I'm dreaming...

I can't help it, I wonder what's gone wrong.

Our young have taken to the streets in an assemblage of civil disobedience, giving temperate expression to anger. I pray it remains peaceful. They do, we do, of course, have every right to protest. As we should. We must rise against corporate greed and confront Wall Street, the banks, the thieves with their crimes! After all, our government (ha!) simply won't do it. They won't. They prefer to bail out the thieves. With our money.

We are still a nascent country. We are still trying to find our way and we are floundering. Worse, we are drowning in our own greed. And make no mistakeit's not just Wall Street or big corporate or the banks. It's a two way street. Greed runs both ways. Greed throws rationality out the window. Greed takes hostages and then forgets about them. Disposes of them. Makes casualties of them. Greed never looks at the fine print. Greed signs contracts while disregarding consequences. Greed makes ill-advised and just plain wrong decisions. Greed gives bogus advice.

"...It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position."

What we are sorely in need of, as individuals and as a nation, is self-actualization. You laugh. Bwahaha! I mean it,  we need to get ourselves self-actualized and but quick. Has our collective dream become solely the pursuit of mounds of money? Does that trump all?  I think not. (Though many's the time I've been mistaken.)

The disparity between the wealthy and poor is profoundly absurd. And no matter how one spins this dubious distinction when it comes to a full stop it is transparently clear that it's a dizzy and thickly layered black blotch against humanity.

I'm still dreaming...

What if, my OWS and Working America and Adbusters friends and All those interested in reformand I don't care from where the financial backing comeswhat if we considered doing more than just hanging around financial centers throughout the country. Now that OWS has gained momentum, what if the cause were to  use the cash to find us a new leaderhell, we should All use our cash for that purposeto broaden the candidate pool (the pool obviously ought to be emptied, political parties sucked down the drain, cleaned and re-filled with a fresh, clear, odorless solution), and not another politician chained to big corporate and financial institutions, but someone, some thing, who's nested in the loamy grass of the earth. Someone, some thing, that understands the heart and soul of a country, its people, it's greatest desire, its dream—we could search Thoreau's woods and root him outand what if we stood him firm on packed soil (though he may not come so willinglywho, what, in their right mind would)—brushed him off a bit and tossed him into the pool (which has been cleansed of its greedy, beastly, sell-your-soul-to-the-devil political system that has never truly represented We the People)? What if? What if we rewrote the whole damn system?! Our new earthly candidate won't need to answer to or feast with the great corporate powers that be. The People will back him! You think he'll get eaten alive like a vegetable? The People will back him! He will serve humanity. Humanity will feast!

Uh, I am having night sweats. I am turning and tossing...

Oh, dang, I just woke from my dream!

... But it's all right, it's all right
You can't be forever blessed
Still, tomorrow's going to be another working day
And I'm trying to get some rest
That's all I'm trying to get some rest.

* * * 

Paul Simon turned seventy yesterday. When he wrote  American Tune back in the 1970s our country was in high turmoil. We were in the midst of the Vietnam War, the Pentagon Papers were laid out for public consumption and horror, and the Watergate scandal sealed Nixon's fate. The American people had been mislead and violated. 

History does have a tendency to repeat itself.

And then comes Simon with his textured and rhythmic, So Beautiful or So What, which the Rolling Stone declared "His best since Graceland."

The road to America's self-actualized soul is littered with obstacles. The journey is long. The GPS is our collective conscience. I hope we never lose sight of it: our destinationour Dream. I hope we've enough fuel to get us there. 


  1. "The GPS is our collective conscience." Great line Jayne-great post. FYI, I participated in a blogfest today and you were part of it.

  2. "the pool obviously ought to be emptied, political parties sucked down the drain, cleaned and re-filled with a fresh, clear, odorless solution"

    No truer words have been written. Flush 'em all. Powerful post today, and moving music.

  3. Superb reflection, analysis and plea, Jayne. Am going to post on FB. . .

  4. Greed- it's human nature. I find it ironic that included in the list of demands from the protesters are: $20/hr. minimum wage, free college education, immediate across the board debt forgiveness...Hmm, sounds like we're all being a bit greedy.
    This eerily reminds me of the late 60's when we were protesting 'the establishment'. Our country is experiencing growing pains once again.
    As the Crobsy & Nash song Deja Vu says, ♫ "We have all been here before" ♪

  5. great post Jayne. Wish I had an answer. maybe there aren't any as long as we remain greedy.

  6. I've been madly in love with the lyrics and music of Paul Simon since I was a teeny tiny girl. Thank you for sharing. I wrote a piece on my EcoGrrl Words blog about the state of the world as it relates to some of the Occupy events occurring, etc. Materialism is so ingrained in our society in so many ways, isn't it? I'm always amazed at how simplicity isn't the first way of addressing economic crises. What we think we need is often so different than what fills us, you know?

  7. Powerful post, Jayne.

    When did happiness start to rely on owning "stuff"?

    Instead of education, like taking an art course, learning to play and master an instrument...

  8. Tim- Thank you. You know, it's that old parental line--let your conscience be your guide--Jiminy Cricket style. I don't have a GPS in my car, but I still know which side of the road to stay on, and the little compass tells me if I'm headed in the right direction. ;)

    Part of a blogfest and not there? Darn I hate it when I miss stuff like that! I'm going to stop over later to check it out...

  9. Nessa- Wouldn't it be great to just start all over? Clear the decks! Back to ground zero. I think we're ripe for that. ;)

  10. Oh Penelope- Thank you so much. I think that may be my very first FB repost! Thanks for sharing it there.
    Just wish I had actual answers. :)

  11. Leonora- Exactly! Greed is spread thick all around. There are no boundaries. When I first started writing this post it was entirely different, and because I felt like I'd send the wrong message, I scratched it.

    But it was something like this: In the late 80s I worked at a law firm closing loans for a small Boston bank. I reviewed all the papers w/buyers/sellers/attorneys--whoever showed up--and answered questions which were typically about loan adjustments, if any. I always reserved plenty of time so everyone could read the loan docs. Do you think anyone read the fine print? No. Never. They wanted the house. Just don't default, I heard many an attorney advise. People, who probably should not have, jumped into jumbo loans. This wasn't predatory lending. These weren't uneducated people. Everyone figured they'd always have a job and there'd never be a problem. Did they have a nest egg?

    The purchase is a risk. Just like investing is a risk. Don't do it blindly or if you're unwilling to deal with consequences. Not saying that Banks shouldn't "work out" in times of trouble! But it take two...

    The American dream is illusive.

    The activists' demands are unrealistic, but I do think, especially, that we need to revamp our college tuition. Let's face it, is a four year degree really worth a quarter million dollars of debt?

  12. Ellen- Exactly. And greed is human nature, so how do we eradicate it? I've no answers either!

  13. EcoGrrl- Me too. Gosh I remember singing Kodachrome at the top of my lungs in the backseat of our paneled station wagon. That man is a national treasure.

    Materialism. You've heard of unschooling? I have to de-brainwash/recondition my kids constantly from the mind bending commercials that tell them this or that is really cool, and if you don't have it then you're not all that.

    I think they kind of get it. It's easier with the boy, but girls--they are brutal. Your whole self image can be wrapped up in a pair of Ugg boots, and if you don't have them, if you have, for instance, Bearpaw boots instead, then you are definitely not all that. I tell my daughter: You are not shoes. You are more than shoes.

    But friends and name brands have so much more power.

    Bearpaws are simple, just as good, and a heck of a lot cheaper. ;)

  14. Antares- Thank you! Since we started to feel that owning stuff meant amassing wealth like the wealthy!

    In reality, owning stuff makes us slave to stuff. And makes me really jittery. I'd much rather be taking a course, or creating art. ;)

  15. Jayne, this post made me remember the 60’s, yes I’m that old, and the excitement and turmoil of trying to make a change. The rallies and chants, assassinations and arrests, young people rising up and speaking their minds, all of it creating a collective consciousness aiming at the slippery target of world politics.
    There was a hint of innocence to it all. We were fledglings with perhaps too much flower and not enough power. Yet, it was a time of power because people were learning to speak again.
    Since then we’ve slumbered. We, the Baby Boomer generation, who slid naked in the mud at Woodstock, and burned our bras and draft cards in Washington DC., have fallen fast asleep in our king sized beds with our bellies full on fast food and our minds numbed with mindless TV. We’re dreaming sweet dreams but unfortunately we’re awakening to a nightmare. We need to wake up again before we will ever realize our dreams.
    Jayne, I believe you’ve stirred me up. Quick, my Xanax!

  16. Leah- I kept asking myself, What took us so long? I mean, the bubble burst quite a while ago, now.

    It does seem futile, though, at times--rising against world politics, big corporate, government. Especially our egotistical government. Imagine questioning their motives? Or lack of thought. Or any law or system they've put in place. The audacity! People, we are a democracy! We live in a free country!

    Oh, it's so good to see audaciousness spreading around the country. I have to admit, Leah, I stirred myself up writing this! I was a kid in the 60s and I remember being excited by our little revolutions, but I couldn't really be a part of them. I can this one! And the internet augments it nicely, don't you think?

    Let's go get 'em! ;)

  17. And I dreamed I was dying. I dreamed that my soul rose unexpectedly.
    And looking back down at me, smiled reassuringly.

  18. There are so many voices and so much to voice in the Occupy Wall Street protests that it's easy to make fun of them (us), easy to dismiss the lot as a bunch of whiners. But whereas it might seem greedy to "demand" a certain wage, it is not unreasonable to work for a living wage for honest work, in a world that has instead obscenely rewarded those who drive wages down, all the way to China, and kept the profits for themselves. That is evil.

  19. You really did a great job on this piece! I don't know exactly what to make of the protesting just yet, but it's clear that things are certainly changing...I hope for the better.

  20. Well boy howdy, you're a writer aren't you?!? (Hint: yes. :))

    Stories -- I mean literally fiction, novels, etc. -- come to their authors in one of two ways, depending on the authors' psychology and temperament:

    (1) They have a story idea their mind has been working away at for some period of time (years even). Before they sit down to write, they research what they need to know right then. And they think and research (and maybe outline) some more. And more. And then they write it.

    (2) The story comes to them almost whole, unbidden, from what they're currently soaking their minds and souls in. They're reading somebody else's book, or watching TV or whatever, and boom! beginning, middle, and end sort of jump out onstage ready for rehearsal. Bystanders could almost hear the thunderclap (if they had superhearing) at the moment. Dazed, the author starts writing and looks up -- weeks, months, years later -- and the story's somehow done, or very nearly so.

    Political/Social change happens in analogous ways. Type-1 politics is issue-driven -- what specifically must be done? what will it take to make it happen? etc. Type-2 politics is more mysterious: it suffuses the collective gestalt... until suddenly, y'know, things happen. The two approaches can complement each other or not (we don't all have to practice both).

    I sorta feel like we've been Type-1'ing for way too long. I think it's about time for some Type-2 reflection, symbol-conjuring, absorption of Everything Going On, without for now getting distracted by details. And for that reason I welcome OWS's apparent materialization from thin air.

    That "Rewrite" piece is amazing, and it earned you perhaps your first share on Google+. :) Even if it hadn't been preceded by your writing, I'd have said it was worth a visit to SubSol. That we got the writing along with it, well, how much goodness can a site visitor ask for?!?

  21. Munk- And I dreamed I was flying
    And high up above my eyes could clearly see The Statue of Liberty,
    Sailing away to sea...

  22. Murr- And they are, sadly, being dismissed. But isn't it usually like so at the beginnings of every revolution? Whiners. Loafers. Get a job!

    Yes, there are jobs to be filled, and there are Americans who won't work in the fields pulling up potatoes for 7 bucks an hour. Those Americans have been coddled their entire lives, and I highly doubt they are part of OWS. The Americans that make fun of the OWS movement--well, we could easily dismiss them as being fed by a silver spoon since they were first able to stomach solids.

    But that's neither here nor there, is it? What OWS is addressing, and they'll get a hold on it soon, goes way, way back. Yes, to whole different administration, but the fact is, is that our government has gotten us into this mess with the old subprime business, and Wall Street was more than happy to help them. Reform!

    Occupy on!

  23. Elizabeth- Let's hope they are changing. This certainly can't be ignored any longer!

  24. JES- Google+, thank you for that. :) I set up an account there a few weeks back but haven't had time to really work it yet.

    You're analogy is brilliant. Agreed! I have to say I likely fall into the Type 2 sort. Stories come to me when I least expect but I'm certain from a place that I've been exploring--consciously or subconsciously. And politics has always been a mystery, though it's become much more transparent.

    Things been happening too long without redress. We are ripe for OWS and I hope they materialize in a big, seamless concrete way where nothing falls through the cracks. Time to lay it all on the line (you know--the sidewalk--the one we were afraid to step on).

    Occupy Providence happens tonight! Wish I could partake, but I promised the kids I'd take them to their school's faculty play, and nothing would please them more than to see their teachers all goofy on stage. And I know those teachers would happily occupy Providence if they weren't committed to theatre this evening.

    Oh, big shows in little Rhody tonight! ;)

  25. Damn girl you get better and betterer....great post that does appeal to my ideas about parity, justice and workers rights, amongst other things..
    oh and i see you are an adbusters
    i found that publication a few years ago and admire greatly Kalle Lasn's editorial prowess....
    on the dreams part i refer waaay back to rilke where he writes
    'i live not in dreams but in contemplation of a reality that is perhaps the future'
    Fantabulous post :)

  26. In the short term there can only be doom, the way things are structured in the US.

  27. I haven't heard much about any OWS protests happening here in Chicago, but that could just be because of my refusal to watch the news. Also, with Bryan in town, it would be hard to distinguish reality through those rare moments of sober clarity. Will have to see what the haps are in town here.

  28. excellent point on your leaders applauding the arab spring but not supporting ows.

    rhymin simon 70! wow, time flies when we're having fun.

  29. The finance acrobats on Wall Street and similar streets around the world got a warning in 2008, but they didn't catch it, because governments came in to save the party (using ordinary people's money). It's high time that people protest against this insane system of greed. I've nothing against people getting rich by building industry and creating real jobs for the society, but the money shuffeling is just meaningless and unproductive.

    Cold As Heaven

  30. Dan- Adbusters--they do great work. And love how they're covering OWS. Have you seen the Chris Hedges video? March on, baby!

    Love that Rilke. ;)

  31. Laoch- Oh my! It does seem so doesn't it? We are sliding... into... the big... dark... abyss... NO! OWS won't let it happen. We won't let it happen. Will we? ;)

  32. Brandon- Wouldn't I love to toss back an amber w/you and Bryan. Especially in Chi-town.

    In Chicago's south side, the OWS movement is called Occupy the "Hood". Seriously!

  33. Billy- It can't be that he's 70. That's a lot of time gone by. Yikes!

  34. Cold- "I've nothing against people getting rich by building industry and creating real jobs for the society, but the money shuffeling is just meaningless and unproductive."

    High time for protests, indeed! So pleased it's gone global. :)

  35. Somehow I feel we will, we can, find our way through awakening, through the self-actualization you mentioned. I we managed to become people who fit that description, we would not be in this mess. What is the saying, If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything. We've been misled to believe life is an exterior, rather than an interior process. A gross over-simplification, but a step in the right direction. The only thing we can control is ourself. xo