A Response to How about demons?: possession and exorcism in the modern world

A Response to

How about demons?:

possession and exorcism in the modern world

I honestly found Goodman’s book both profoundly interesting and, at the same time, a bit unsettling. Because I am a 3rd generation Pentecostal – I found what she wrote about speaking in tongues interesting in a very intimate way. I read with great interest what she wrote about in terms of what she described as a ‘Neurobiology of Ecstasy’ and found it to be very intriguing; especially the studies of what she defined as the ‘suprasegmental elements in linguistics’ of glossolalia, which she described as having carefully studied in a phonetics laboratory (6-7).  I admit that the clinical laboratory scientist in me has thought about doing some form of scientific analysis on recordings of glossolalia – though my own training in no way extends into the realm of linguistics and phonetics.  Even when I was a child, I quickly learned that you could tell when someone was ‘really talking in tongues’ vs. when they were faking it.  It is referred to as ‘being in the flesh:’ when somebody stands up and merely acts like they are speaking in tongues.  When I was a teenager, my brothers and I would play around with each other and sometimes smack each other and say “yaye-son-ah-mah-hoe” – a lighthearted reference to a characteristic phrase that a gentleman in our church often repeated when he was speaking in tongues. We would laugh and make fun of it – but always outside of church. When Vernon McClain would stand up and actually say it – the atmosphere changed and there was a profound power behind his words.

I admit to a degree of disappointment that in her discussion of the history of Azusa Street (55), Goodman left out the issue of Racism.  Parham was a strict segregationalist and would not teach Seymour – at least directly. History records that Seymour often actually sat outside the sanctuary and listened to Parham’s teaching from there. Parham was actually instrumental in the founding of the KKK. The services that were later held by Seymour were criticized in the papers for the “scandalous intermixing of races” because when glossolalia broke out – people seemed to forget they were worshiping along with people of another color. This inclusion would have helped to underscore how profoundly the experience shaped both emotions and attitudes of those involved.

Goodman also seems to speak ambiguously on page 88 where she seems to allude that Pentecostals invite ‘spirits’ into their bodies. Orthodox Pentecostal doctrine expressly teaches that only the Holy Spirit (of the Trinitarian understanding of God) is both worshiped and invited.

Coleman’s “soul hypothesis” (2) provides an interesting introspective into the folk studies project that her book purports to cover and her further stories and doctrines from a variety of other cultures related to spirit possession provide a fascinating backdrop to the exploration.  Again, as a practicing Pentecostal, I felt that there was a lot more that could have been told that would have made significant contributions – such as the doctrine of being given a supernatural spiritual gift after experiencing glossolalia for the first time.  Goodman recalls the pain and the anguish of being possessed by self-described demons (96) and my own experience with the Pentecostal gift of prophecy has in fact caused me at times to have only what I could describe as anguished and tormented experiences – the full scope of which I cannot relate here given space constraints.  Possession by another can be both a beautiful (9) and seemingly horrific occurrence (113). At least I can personally speak to the truth of this.

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Considerations Regarding M. Scott Peck’s Proposed Multidisciplinary Psychiatric Approach, as Described in The People of the Lie: A Defense for Peck’s Inclusivity of the Metaphysical, with reference to a proposed critical necessity for a self-reflectivity in the doubt of the materialist-atheist skeptic.

Considerations Regarding M. Scott Peck’s Proposed Multidisciplinary Psychiatric Approach, as Described in The People of the Lie: A Defense for Peck’s Inclusivity of the Metaphysical, with reference to a proposed critical necessity for a self-reflectivity in the doubt of the materialist-atheist skeptic.

 

The inclusion of an arguable caution against any conflation of dynamics and/or assumptions related to a given topic at hand is intrinsic to the process of ensuring an adequate exploration of any given topic. Any forbearance of such a tendency is non-concomitant to a standard of academic integrity – especially when regarding the inadvertent and/or purposeful inclusion and/or exclusion of presuppositional, psycho-existential, secular/religious ideological frameworks. A radical teleological inclusivity in this regard does presuppose a greater degree of complexity in the scale of a resultantly greatly expanded ontological continuum of possibilities – but it does not ensure, contrary to the insistences of some Secular Fundamentalists (such as so-called ‘New Atheists’ Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens – to name just a few[1]), any impossibility in terms of a proposeable, practical and coherent methodology on the part of the mental health practitioner. Relative Skepticism[2] directed either towards strictly materialist viewpoints or – alternatively – religious/spiritual ones is acceptable, but any skepticism that is – ultimately – nonself-reflective (incapable of doubting the potential inadequacy of its own totality) is at best hypocritical – and at worst, capricious. Thereby consequential to the necessity of such an included Universal Doubt of any Totalizing Sufficiency in a completely materialist, physical/scientific, conventionally non vs, neurotypical diagnostic and interventional psycho-pharmacologic treatment, the possibility of a spiritual/metaphysical approach can at least be hypothetically posited.

 

 

Peck’s Methodology

 

Peck argues that an immutable delineation between a scientific and a religious understanding of psychology is no longer fully tenable (Peck 40), but that rather a multidisciplinary approach must be employed (Peck 38-39). Peck goes though several case histories – which begin seemingly innocuous, and then grow in both their descriptive and argumentational capacity. Peck employs the concept of Love throughout his narrative in terms of it being crucial to an understanding of the general operations of his understanding of what might be considered the ‘dynamics of a theology of “General Metaphysics,”’ which he unapologetically outlines as being contextually grounded within the Judeo-Christian Tradition (Peck 11). Peck explores both macro (Peck 218) and micro (62, 106, 150) models of Personal and Social/Cultural/National Evil as well as the potential pitfalls intrinsic in an unbalanced and irresponsible misapplication of either science (Peck 259) or religious perspectives (Peck 262).


[1] These before-mentioned authors propose a radical exclusivity in terms of a Materialist Atheism, which disavows any use of metaphysical or necessarily spiritual understandings.

[2] For purposes of this argument, it is assumed on the part of the reader that a position of Absolute Skepticism is understood as being an intrinsically self-contradictory state – more appropriately described as Nihilism or a variant thereof, by nature of its non-reflective (non-self doubting) state.

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Modern Monasticism: Personal Journeys and Reflections into Monasticism with general reference to the Benedictine Rule.

Modern Monasticism:

Personal Journeys and Reflections into Monasticism with general reference to the Benedictine Rule.

 

The purpose of monastic renewal and reform is to find ways in which monks and sisters can remain true to their vocation by deepening and developing it in new ways, not merely sacrificing their lives to bolster up antique structures, but channeling their efforts into the creation of new forms of monastic life, new areas of contemplative experience.

 

This is precisely the monk’s chief service to the world: this silence, this listening, this questioning, this humble and courageous exposure to what the world ignores about itself – both good and evil.

– Thomas Merton [1]

 

 

Introduction: Benedictine Monasticism,

An Unfolding Path

 

This is not a traditional paper. Rather then being the fruits of a measure of research and then the subsequent detailing of the finer aspects of a given theological or philosophical concept, it is – in contrast – a description of a journey. It has often been said by theologians and laypersons alike, that Christianity is not as much a religion – as it is a relationship. If one is to therefore frame Christianity within the terms of such a definition – it is arguable that a path of growth/advancement in the knowledge & practice of such, represents less a necessarily advancing knowledge of precepts or dogmatic history – but rather it is marked, more so, by a further walk upon an ongoing path: a continued exploration around the corner on the footpath of faith; a journey not just into the known – but the unknown as well.  In the proceeding pages I hope to relay the journeys, thoughts, and experiences of several members The Company of Jesus[2], a third order Monastic community that operates under the auspices of the Anglican Church.  As well as – but to a much lesser degree – my own. The individuals referenced herein responded to an invitation to participate by way of questions posed by myself to them regarding their monastic experience, spiritual growth, and thoughts on the Rule of St. Benedict in relation to both of these before mentioned aspects of their spiritual journey and associated church ministry. Where a name was not expressly given, I have referenced them by their myspace.com accounts.[3]  An attempt will be made to explore their experiences in light of the Rule of St. Benedict. But it must be noted – there is considerable variance and openness in its interpretation and application; and this aspect itself must be considered in light of the subject. This is not a hard science. It is process and a journey. And more so – it is all about the steady unveiling and deepening of a faith in Christ in the lives of those involved.

 

 

Consecrated Yet Integrated; A ‘Third Order’ is Born

 

When St. Benedict wrote his rule circa 500 A.D., it eventually became the guiding force behind virtually all Latin monasteries outside Ireland. More then just an organizational template – it came to serve as the guiding force behind an emerging communal dichotomy which would serve to guide what it meant to live a ‘monastic life’ for centuries to come. [4] The essence of the Benedictine Rule is essentially Cenobitic in nature[5]; meaning  – in the words of St. Benedict himself – “those who live in monasteries and serve under a rule and an abbot.”[6] It was through the efforts St. Francis of Assisi, though, that the monastic community was expanded to include individuals who desired to be a part of the monastic experience – but who either needed to or willingly desired to remain embedded in the outside world, and not removed away to the confines of a monastery. Because of the charismatic influence of St. Francis, he began to attract ever-larger numbers of people expressing interest in monasticism. St. Francis argued that people should be able to potentially stay were they were in society, and yet learn from the values of the monastics and more importantly, the Gospel in the process. St. Francis wrote an exhortation to the monastic hopefuls who were in situations such as this, which consisted in an encouragement to engage themselves in a lifestyle of penance and the concurrent strict observance of the mandates and assertions made during the reforming council of Lateran IV.[7] It was from this exhortation that the concept of a “Third Order” emerged. Today, many monastic-centric ecclesiastical organizations continue to grow, essentially out of this ‘charter’ or concept. Taking the ideas of the faith of the monastic community that they represent – and not just manifesting them, but influentially radiating their values and ideas, beliefs and hopes – far from the ancient stone walls of their origin and into the hustling and bustling cubical farms and dusty, driven street corners of the modern world.

 

 

A Need For Cohesion & Community

 

The purpose of a participation in such a community is not to develop, what is referred to in the German language as Weltanschauung – or a philosophical view of the Cosmos and Life therein;[8] it is more then just finding an assemblage of rational assertions and guiding understandings. It is, rather, about being a part of a community larger and more important in it’s purpose then one’s own self. This awareness of the importance of community is a foundational precept in Monasticism. The aspect of community is what draws many into the monastic tradition. In his book, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community,[9]  Robert D. Putnam argues that modern, technologically-driven life and it’s ‘know everything’, ‘explain everything’ aspects has not just taken the mystery out of life – but communal collaboration as well. We are isolated and unfulfilled, despite the plethora of ever expanding knowledge all around us. Monasticism offers its explorers both community and mystery, as an alternative to societal alienation and doctrinal searching; binding them together, just as it did in generations past.  Michael[10], a member of The Company of Jesus, writes

 

In the most simple of terms, the two things that have drawn me to where I am are mystery and community. In other churches I’ve been in, these seemed to be lacking. It’s hard to accept something our mind can’t completely wrap itself around, so we build these boxes and try to make them fit. In some ways, some theology, defining and naming something is crucial to trying to comprehend it. But in other ways it can place limits on something that is beyond limits. And community. All churches preach this and extol its virtue, and yet they seem to be quite individually focused. I’ve seen it a lot in the more contemporary worship services. It seems to be all about the individual instead of the whole.

 

Michael echoes the contrast between so called “modern” or “contemporary” Protestant worship and it’s alternate – “liturgical” or “meditative” worship. Monastic worship is tied back into a more Catholic or meditative style of worship; one that seeks a revelation or authentication of self, the Divine, and the relationships of the two, through an introspective thought process inhering back into the Divine. Whereas a criticism of Protestant or Evangelical worship is that it is sometimes more-so purely communal and either reservedly or outwardly expressed through a state of exuberance – worship for the Monastic starts with the Divine and the self and works back into the larger aspect of what “the self” is a part of; that of not just a definable congregation or denomination – but the much greater body of Christ.  This process is not just a blindly acknowledged fact, but one that is actively wrestled with. Most Protestant congregations will sing and worship through a worship leader and then listen to what a pastor says about this or that. It is no small mystery that so many “Rock Star” Evangelists and T.V. preachers are littered across cable television. A great number of personalities are ready and willing to show you how to get to God through them – or ‘their’ ministry. The dichotomy of liturgical worship – or worship through the elements or sacrements – stands in sharp contrast. A monk is viewed less as a leader and more of a servant; the worship inherent in a monastic-style assembly is decidedly introspective vs. the often potentially personality-driven/centric, extroverted style so prevalent in many churches today.

 

 

Contemplation as the Seed of Community

 

The “Rock Star[11]” of meditative monks – Thomas Merton – expressed what individuality was in terms of a Monastic worship dichotomy.

The monk who is truly a man of prayer and who seriously faces the challenge of his vocation in all its depth is by that very fact exposed to existential dread. He experiences in himself the emptiness, the lack of authenticity, the quest for fidelity, the “lostness” of modern man, but he experiences all this in an altogether different and deeper way then does man in the modern world, to him this disconcerting awareness of himself and of his world come rather as an experience of boredom and of spiritual disorientation. The monk confronts his own humanity and that of his world at the deepest and most central point where the void seems to open out into black despair. The monk confronts this serious possibility, and rejects it, as a Camusian man confronts “the absurd” and transcends it by his freedom. The option of absolute despair is turned into perfect hope by the pure and humble supplication of monastic prayer. The monk faces the worse and discovers in it the hope of the best. From the darkness comes light. From death, life. From the abyss there comes, unaccountably, the mysterious gift of the Spirit sent by God to make all things new, to transform the created and the redeemed world, and to re-establish all things in Christ[12]

 

It is through this radically transcendent introspection, through the gateway of existential dread – that one is potentially brought onto a new foundation, of not just community – but also spiritual discipline. Community does not originate as a “genus;” merely another cultural epistemological stratification; I am not a part of a community because I attend such and such a church – rather it becomes the embodiment and natural fruit of an authentic personal spiritual maturity; I am a follower of Christ – therefore it is natural that I am a part of this part of the Body of Christ.  Matthew Byce, a member of The Company of Jesus[13] writes

 

I come from an evangelical background for the most part so I wasn’t exposed to much monasticism growing up. Having opportunity to read a little about it, and make some decisions personally simply as a Christian, I think it’s goals, and purposes make for amazing disciplines which every Christian, simply as a matter of daily practice should incorporate, at least if you’re serious about obedience. I wonder how many Christians we’d have if everyone were a part of a monastic community though. I’m glad for it’s part in the body, but glad too that the whole body isn’t comprised of monastics.

 

 

Rev. Br. Joe Parise C.J. [14]writes

 

I am a Franciscan but I definitely love the rule of Benedict.

What I like the most about it is emphasis on normalcy and stability. It’s not radical. It’s essentially easy to follow and very well balanced. That is needed in every Christian’s life. When I made my vows it was a very intense experience for me. I knew I could only keep them with God’s grace and I have failed many times! My theology hasn’t changed much at all since I became a friar. I was already at odds with much of today’s theology before I became a monk. Particularly the preaching about money that is a favorite of the charismatic church. Give me a break with that crap!

 

In his book, The Springs of Contemplation, Thomas Merton tells the story of being asked by a shopkeeper what kind of toothpaste he wanted. When he told the shopkeeper “I don’t care,” the shopkeeper was aghast. Merton writes, “He almost dropped dead. I was supposed to feel strongly about Colgate or Pepsodent or something with five colors. And they all have a secret ingredient. But I did not care about the secret ingredient.” Merton concluded his observation of the bewildered shopkeeper, that “the worst thing you can do is not care about these things.”[15] Against the hustle and bustle of an ever expanding plethora of choices, direction, and concern; the accumulative din of which seemingly eventually presses not just against the sanity of society – but the denizens therein, Benedictine Monasticism issues a calming alternative: Normalcy and Stability -through a personal mediation of what’s really important; the cogitory authenticity of which is naturally expressed in the dimension of a community that is concerned with more then just the select aspects of individuals, but with the whole of their care, both physical and spiritual.

 

A monk with the moniker ‘forrestdweller’[16] – who is a part of The Company of Jesus, writes,

 

Monks have evolved throughout the centuries to meet the needs of the society in which they live. I believe one of the most devastating misconceptions the general public has about monks is that they live apart from society. That is not true. Even the Carthusian order, whose monks live in complete austerity and near solitude, are very passionate about the world and are in constant contemplation of the need for our Lord’s mercy in the world. The monks at the abbey to which I belong as an Oblate are very involved in the community in a variety of functions.

 

Monasticism is not about austerity and silent contemplation in itself. At its core it is about drawing nearer to Christ with the assistance of your brothers and sisters through a daily routine of carefully balanced prayer and work. In that regard, it is merely a different expression of the nuclear family. With that in mind, there are many traditions and practices in monasticism that descend from ages past, but none of which are practiced out of legalism – they are retained because they are useful for living a Christian life. When something no longer serves the Christian life it is discarded. As such, most monks are very practical and have allowed change, albeit reluctantly, if careful discernment and contemplation has led them to believe it will be for the greater good of the church.

 

It is this inward authenticity in a faith made real and pushed past the ‘Cultural Christianity’ of today’s religious/political/societal marketplace – that creates what Thomas Merton referred to as a “prophetic community[17]” which speaks past and through the religious consumerism which plagues us today.[18] This timeliness and capacity to speak to the disorder and confusion of the present is evident. Just as it was when St. Benedict answered the call to speak to a different time, which is not all that unlike our own. And just as in his own time, the “Benedictinism that stabilized Europe, that gave a center to it’s villages and a spiritual glue to it’s systems,” truly, “has never been need more.”[19]

 

 

Contemplation Towards Consecration & Ecclesiology

 

In the Benedictine Monasticism, authentic community is birthed through contemplative mediation and an inward, deepening desire for spiritual integrity and authenticity. It is a further fruit of this process, that the dynamics of an ecclesiological mindset (openness to other church/denominational systems), as well as a desire for sacredness and consecration as something to be applied to the whole of one’s experience – not just inside the church walls, but without them as well, is expressed and affirmed in the mind of the monastic practioner.

Rev. Br. Joe Parise C.J. [20]writes of coming from a non-denominational background, and being essentially a Pentecostal or Charismatic monk; integrating into his ministry both the tenants of Benedictine Monasticism, but also the Gifts of the Spirit, as would be understood by non-cessationist evangelicals who refer to themselves as being “Spirit-Filled.”

 

Blending old traditions with new is something that I feel strong about. I love the ancient church and it’s practices but I also love the different aspects of Christianity. I believe that we need the old but we also need the gifts of the spirit at work in the church as well as charismatic worship incorporated into the liturgy. The traditions are fine but we must have the spirit flowing and moving in his church. I did come from a non-denominational background but the Lord led my path here. I learned allot from that group but God’s will for my life and ministry definitely is rooted in monasticism and a more catholic theology. I still consider myself a protestant as Anglicans are, but they are still rather catholic as well. A study of church history will help educate believers on the history of the Christian church and most find that they believe essentially the same things. Basically I am a Franciscan friar, Anglican deacon who prays in tongues, prophesies, moves in words of knowledge, studies church history, preaches through blues music believes in healing and goes to an Anglican church because it is where God has planted me. It is rather a potpourri of things but it is all Christianity.

 

 

Forrest Dweller[21] adds,

 

Within my life, the hardest realization was my need for moderation. I am prone to excess, and even in Christian living such excess can be counter-productive or even destructive. St. Benedict demands moderation and balance in everything – in the work/prayer schedule of the monks to how simple tasks like kitchen details are to be handled. Tempering my spirituality with such moderation so that I lead a well-rounded life was very challenging for me.

 

 

 

 

Further Contemplations: Celibacy, the Cerebrality, Cordiality, and Contemporanity

 

 

The thesis of this paper precludes any in-depth examination of Modern Monasticism; as the unfortunate endeavor of any essayist – when dealing with a complex subject – is to present information with pursuant sparkable interest for the reader, in such as way that is yet concise and still readily perusable. That’s hard when it comes to this subject. To attempt to cover all the bases and yet not write a very lengthy tome; especially in regards to this subject matter; is, for one both interested and journeying into it, a very frustrating endeavor. In a concluding summary of aspects of Modern Benedictine Monasticims, in addition to those already covered – four subjects remain; though other well-deserving aspects can easily be argued for presentation as well. These are, Celibacy, Cerebrality, Cordiality, and Contemporanity. In regards to Celibacy – sex is always a hot topic. It is generally accepted in 3rd orders that Celibacy is interpreted as chastity until marriage and faithfulness therein. But some old school monks argue that you cannot be a monk and be married and sexual,[22] and that such a discipline in one’s life represents more a state of humility then just an abstinence from sex.[23]

 

Another unmistakable component of Benedictine Monasticism is it Cerebrality. It is unmistakably oriented towards establishing a pattern of not just meditation, but also study and research. St. Benedict sets aside guidelines for the traditional lectio divina; which is traditionally understood and interpreted as ‘spiritual reading.’ This ‘directive’ towards a life of study appears in The Rule of Benedict (R.B 48.4) and is generally understood to pertain to a time of memorization and study of scripture. R.B. 48.17-21 warns monks not to play around with or otherwise waste this part of the day. Many churches do not take seriously the idea of committing scripture to memory – and rather just substitute 45-minute sermons on a doctrinal aspect. Benedictine Monasticism reminds us that it is not enough to merely think about doctrine but it must be hidden in our hearts.[24] Otherwise it is just another bit of data floating around in our heads, and may have as much opportunity to influence both us and the lives of those around us as the price of rice in China overheard in a CNN news broadcast. Thomas Merton writes, “They [writers like Peter of Celles] see, quite realistically, and altogether in the spirit of St. Benedict himself, that all life on earth must necessarily combine elements of action and rest, bodily labor and mental illumination.”[25]

 

Another aspect of Benedictine Monasticism is hospitality. In truth, you cannot really understand the lifestyle of a monk until you understand the goal and the essence of how a Benedictine monk is taught to interact with the outside world, especially, any guest of the monastery.  While some may make the assumption that a monk who has chosen to live an ‘enclose life’ – or life inside the confines of a monastery – may be like the odd man at the end of the proverbial suburban block, who never married, has 20 cats, and harasses neighborhood kids who dare trespass his property to get an a forbidden apple from one of his trees, the true essence of a Monk is the exact opposite. Far from disdaining visitors, the reception of guests is actually seen as sacramental act.[26],[27] The Rule of St. Benedict goes to great length to elaborate the reception and treatment of guests; suggesting that prayer be immediately offered up, to place them in the ‘presence of Christ.’[28] Guest are to be treated as Christ and served with a heart geared towards such an understanding of the sacredness of such an act.[29]

 

As in introduction to this paper, I chose a Thomas Merton quote; because it embodies a central element to the essence of Benedictine Monasticism. The Coat of Arms of Monte Cassino – the epicenter of the Benedictine Universe – contains the words “Successa Virescit,” – Cut down, it ever grows again. In the tapestry of the history of Christianity – there are many threads that end; many colors that fade onto unanimity. But Benedictine Monasticism, continues its storied and diverse weavings, and continues to be a part of many past, present, and arguably future movements. When I began the research for this paper, one of the things that impressed me most was the diversity of the backgrounds and present denominational affiliations of many monastic practioners. Many were Southern Baptist or Church of God – and many still continue to attend those same churches. They speak in tongues – believe they move in prophetic gifting and wear robes reminiscent of the centuries of service and piety that they have grounded themselves in. It may be true that many movies and works of literature may ‘shoebox’ a monk – but the truth, in reality and practice, is far from any such perceivable or assumed constraints. They are Blues musicians, Southern Baptist Sunday school teachers, and quiet unassuming housewives who have made vows and followed through with them to serve not just their own family – but the entirety of the Body of Christ. They are people just like you and me – and you might never know it until you saw them in their habit.

 

 

Conclusions

 

Somewhere in the cannon of conventional wisdom; there is an almost universally accepted truth; sometimes – to go forward, you have to go back. In my own spiritual walk, I found myself growing restless – if not, thought it might be a poor and inadequate term: bored. How could I deepen my own existing roots and yet find the further authenticity that I craved? Could I and would I be willing to look for it in potentially unexpected ways? Once I accepted the potential that what I was looking for could potentially be found outside my own ‘denominational sandbox’ – I made earnest efforts to be both jurisprudent and yet open to unexpected opportunities for spiritual awakening and ministry. Many people go searching and get lost literally and figuratively; both emotionally and spiritually. But the proverbial Tolkienian proverb, not all who wander are lost, does hold true; as well as not all who meditate, still have not figured out what they want to really think about. Perhaps these essences might frame the monastic essence of spirituality: searching for authenticity, and mediating upon the work and mind of Christ. The issues of piety, consecration, service, celibacy, cerebrality, cordiality, community, and any other tag words that you could attach to Benedictine Monasticism, or it’s associated kindred traditions, are essentially all tied back to the acts of searching and introspection. Perhaps it is through this ‘language of intent’ that gives Monasticism the continued capacity and authority to speak to past, present and future ecclesiastical generations. The necessity for such never goes away, and in times of flux and instability; the need goes forth as a clarion call for their return. Perhaps it is through this dynamic that both Monasticism and it’s associated Rule of St. Benedict are discovered, explored, and appropriated freshly for each present and encroaching generation. Newly interpreted for a present people – yet ancient in purpose and intent: the strength of generations past finds it’s fiber and glue in the ever present generation – they realize the new and the innovative; the technological and the cultural can never be the summation and foundation for everything. In the end – there has to be more, and Monasticism offers a framework for the discovery of older truths that other previous generations in their own ‘modernity’ found a need to rediscover and reappropriate. You can never be so new – that the old is no longer of any use; especially when the subject is spiritually. For all the strength to be found in forging ahead – the true strength is anchoring oneself in the bedrock of generations prior. This, arguably, is the intent for each new monastic convert, when they don their habit for the first time – and when they make their vows. What was once old – is new again; and what was once thought to be outmoded – is ever essential, if not infinitely practical and potentially desperately needed.

 

The hope of future generations may not lie in the fanciful new technologies of worship or ministry that each in their own time, will discover and try to implement. Every generation prior found itself at the mercy of untried potentials that offered previously unthought-of dynamics. And each, without fail – found more strength in the past – then they did in the future. And so, as the body of Christ moves forward, it will surely almost always continue to do so with a deep meditative intent, and the soft rustle of the habits of a multitude of monks; lost in the contemplative labyrinth of the mercy and justice of God; the reality of an omnipotent God – revealed to a broken and frustrated humanity. The foolish things of God will continue to confound the wise men of the world; and God will continue to use the weakness of those who have given themselves to His work to accomplish His most illustrative, important, and spectacular works.

 

Rev. Br. Joe Parise C.J. [30]writes,

 

 

Monasticism helps keep me grounded on what matters in life. It is also a definite call from God. It’s not for everyone. Most of my friends don’t understand it. I felt the leading of God to it for 10 years before I pursued it. I love it. It suits me and I don’t think I could ever walk away from it. How does it translate in today’s world? It’s the gospel of Christ. The gospel will always be relevant even in these end times. Monastic practice is always in vogue because the gospel always is.I think because of the worldliness of today’s church that monasticism is very much needed today. Desperately so even.

 

I hope this has helped you brother and may God’s peace be upon you.

 

 

“May God bring us all together to everlasting Life” (Rule of St. Benedict, 72).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

 

 

Thomas Merton. Contemplative Prayer.
Garden City, NY: Image Books, 1971.

 

Robert D. Putman. Bowling Alone.
New York, NY: Simon Schuster, 2000.

 

Thomas Merton. The Springs of Contemplation.
New York, NY: Straus & Giroux, 1994.

 

Peter Francis. Hermits: The Insights of Solitude.
New York, NY: St. Martins Press, 1996.

 

Henry Bettenson & Chris Maunder. The Rule of St. Benedict, Documents of the Christian Church.  Oxford, NY: Oxford University Press, 1999.


[1] Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer, pg. 25.

[3] You can access their accounts, blogs, and person details by going to the respective URL (website address) provided.

[4] Hermits, Peter France, pg. 51

[5] Thoughts on the Future of Western Monasticism, Terrance Kardong. From A Monastic Vision for the 21st Century, edited by Patrick Hart, page 65.

[6] R.B. 1.2

[7] Monasticism as a Schola: Some Reflections from the Ivory Tower, Lawrence S. Cunningham. From A Monastic Vision for the 21st Century, edited by Patrick Hart, page 82.

[8] Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer, pg. 69.

[11]Louis Thomas Merton (1915-1968) is by far the most famous monk and prolific writer of both his generation and ours. His work and thought is very pervasive throughout both monastic and spiritual literature.

[12] Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer, pg. 25.

[13] http;//www.myspace.com/matthewbryce

[15] The Secret Ingredient, Kathleen Norris. From A Monastic Vision for the 21st Century, edited by Patrick Hart, page 43.

[17] The Secret Ingredient, Kathleen Norris. From A Monastic Vision for the 21st Century, edited by Patrick Hart, page 49.

[18] The Secret Ingredient, Kathleen Norris. From A Monastic Vision for the 21st Century, edited by Patrick Hart, page 53.

[19] Old Vision for a New Age, Joan Chittister. From A Monastic Vision for the 21st Century, edited by Patrick Hart, page 94.

[22] Thoughts on the Future of Western Monasticism, Terrance Kardong. From A Monastic Vision for the 21st Century, edited by Patrick Hart, page 67.

[23] Thoughts on the Future of Western Monasticism, Terrance Kardong. From A Monastic Vision for the 21st Century, edited by Patrick Hart, page 69.

[24] Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. Psalms 119:11, King James Version.

[25] Contemplative Prayer, Thomas Merton, pg 61

[26] Enclosure: The Heart of the Matter, Gail Fitzpatrick

[27] Matthew 25:35, R.B. 53.1

[28] R.B. 53:4-5

[29] R.B. 36

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Circumnavigating ‘The Circuit of the Different;’ exploring Proclus’ assertions and contestations in relation to Iamblicus & Plotinus – with reference to The Will, Happiness of the Individual, and The Charioteer analogy.

Circumnavigating ‘The Circuit of the Different;’ exploring Proclus’ assertions and contestations in relation to Iamblicus & Plotinus – with reference to The Will, Happiness of the Individual, and The Charioteer analogy.

 

Submitted for Final Exam, Ancient Philosophy 351, Dr. Phillips, UTC, 12.3.07

 

The idea of Free Will is indeed a vexing one. A considerable argument can be made that those who do not struggle with it, as a concept, may in fact arguably be engaging themselves in a subtle form of intellectual/philosophical sophistry, possibly even self-deception. Whether the context is one of humanistic philosophy or Christian dogmatics – or even a combination thereof – it is a deeply contested issue that expresses itself within the dialogs of each successive generation’s thinkers. Before Calvin vs. Arminus, and Augustine vs. Pelagius; the luminaries of generations prior, found themselves very busy affirming and contesting one another’s views on the subject. Reaching back into the early foundations of philosophic thought, we find this same enterprise at work within the school of Neoplatonism. In this paper, we will explore the contestations of Proclus against Iamblicus, in his thoughts and interpretations of Plotinus in regards the Descended vs Undescended soul, free will, the nature and connection of the soul with an understanding of The One, and it’s relations with the allegory of The Charioteer.

 

 

To understand the framework of the discussion, it is necessary to understand Plotinus’ understanding of the “Undescended Soul.” Within the Neo-Platonist philosophic tradition, the Soul has its beginning, or Hypostasis, in the Intellect, which in turn comes from The One. The Intellect is the causual effect of the self-awareness of The One within the expression of the Soul. The Undescended Soul is the essence or part of the One that has not been fully removed or abrogated in the subsequent, concurrent phase changes referred to as the Hypostases that The One has progressed through – from it’s highest expression/state, to the lowest. The stages of Hypostasis are The One (the highest), The Intellect, The World (Universal Soul), The Soul of the Universe, Individual Souls, Nature, and then Matter it’s self.

 

Within the discussion, there are three objections that are given in response to Iamblicus. They are the issue of Free Will, The question of why are people not always happy, and the illustration of the Charioteer.

 

In regards to the question of the Free Will, in relation to his discussion of Iamblicus, Proclus affirms that The One does in fact have Will and that it cannot error, and that the intellect (supposedly) cannot error because it does not come down; but he affirms that it does in fact do this,  thus exposing a flaw in the cogency of the argument. Proclus argues that what is passed down through the subsequent stages of Hypostases it is the manifestation of the previous Hypostasis and not a direct connection back to The One. The Passions, the descended part of the soul, are what are “roused” and perpetrate a state of error; but because the soul is a reflection of The One and not a direct component or identical material substance, it has intrinsic capacity to fail. Proclius refers to the error of those who “follow impressions without reflections” – alluding to those who understand a direct connection back to The One and disavow the Intellect to potentially pervert itself as a result. The potential for a Free Will essentially comes from this fact: we are satisfactorily removed from the One, yet connected through subsequent reflections, back it. There is a component that is undescended but the essence and nature of that connection is of a reflective nature and not an actual consistency of essence. A comparison between this and a modern philosophical application, within the Christian theological sphere – for example, is the idea of Christians being supposedly being unable to sin because of the presence of the Divine nature in their lives. If one were to argue that sin couldn’t be present in the posted substrate of the soul, because it is also elementally composited as being, in part, intrinsically divine in it’s literal substance and essence, a comparison in the two presuppositional thought structures could be aptly made. The Judeo-Christian Orthodox view, however, is that we are made in the image of God – but not the substance; we are like Him (Christ), but we are not as He is. This critical difference of image/reflection vs. connection/identical substance allows for the potential for error, thus Free Will. Contentions for this reality in light of counter assertions have been historically occurent in both respective philosophical/theological traditions.

 

In regards to the question of ‘why are people not always happy;’ it coincides with an understanding of the essence of our relation to the Divine or the One. If we were in substance divinity or The One, we would, in concept, continually personify the characteristics thereof. But being that our connection back to the Divine or the One is of a reflective essence, it is possible, arguably, to, for example, “turn off the lights” and end the reflective relationship/communion. With no lights, as it were, the communicative relationship breaks down. The essence of our connectedness has intrinsic contingencies; the potential abruption of which necessitates a contingent, therefore potentially transient state. This is a concept that is a part of Platonic philosophy itself; that we are not inherently connected, nor can we potentially always be immovably fixed upon the Divine or the best of intentions, as it were; however these are described: as the Divine, as The One, or The Forms, as they are in Aristotle also. We strive for that state and may achieve it – momentarily, by some sense of accumulated, purposeful momentum – but as a relation and/or position, it is not sustainable. The understanding/argument that the state of the connection to the One is one of reflection, and not same state essence, is tied into this understanding.

 

The last contention is that of the Charioteer, which is taken from Phaedrus. In this allegory, the Intellect is represented by a charioteer attempting to command two horses. One horse is the

rational and noble (The White); our reflection of the Undescended reflection of The One – and the other, the embodiment of the irrational and inferior (the Black); the descended parts of our soul, or the Passions.  As the charioteer commands the carriage, one horse is pulled towards enlightenment, the other horse, towards things of a base nature: potential error and irrationality. Try as the Charioteer may, sometimes he is pulled towards heaven, the other times downward. Because there is an ongoing contention, the chariot may reach desired heights, but it cannot perpetually remain there. It cannot always be above- because the other renegade horse precludes a sense of stability. In light of this allegory, Plotinus’ conception of the Undescended Soul and his assertion that the highest part of the soul (intellect) does not descend, is shown as flawed and inadequate.

 

The discussion of Free Will in connection to the nature of our compositional state and the essence of it’s assumed connection back to The One – or the Divine (to invoke a Christian theological context) – extends well beyond just the Platonic/Neoplatonic traditions. Both the Stoics and The Epicureans also express philosophic beliefs as proposed answers to these fundamental and often fervently contested questions of Free Will and relation to the Divine/The One.

 

In the study group that was convened in the interest of working on this exam paper collectively, one of the member of the group was complemented on his ability to remember and understand some of the concepts that others, such as myself, were at the time struggling with. His understanding, combined with a capacity for cogent explication earned him several gracious complements from several people in the group for his contributions and patience with the rest of us. The conjecture was made, in context to the position held by the Epicureans, in reference and in complement to him; “you must have good atoms.” This was a reference to the belief that an Epicurean viewpoint would preclude any allegory of horses or connections back to a “One” or even the Divine; rather the context of such would be prefaced upon the understanding that the soul of a person was composed of ‘Atoms’ being of either good quality or bad quality. In regards to the Will, there are no dynamics beyond the inherent capabilities/propensities of the atoms involved in the composition of the individual/thing in question. In regards to the questions of a permanence or transience of any assumed state of happiness on the part of the proposed individual, the Epicureans would related this to the adherence or disavowal of a life lived under the guidelines of established ethics. Epicureans will essentially argue, that this is “your shot” and there is no “descended” vs “undescended” or, for that matter, any substantial meaning to anything – beyond that qualities of atoms and their continual movement. It is all about Atoms and Pleasure, neither are there any assumed moral or divine behavioral/relational contingencies/connections or reflections. There is essentially no Teleology. It is “all about” doing the best you can, with what you have, and feeling the best you can in the ways you have opportunity. Ethics themselves are not assumed as being static but are themselves dynamic and relative to the nature/propensity of the atoms in question. Being happy is not really a conducive ideal either – rather achieving happiness is a result of an understanding of having achieved authentic pleasure, by express virtue of a correctly appropriated understanding of the surrounding atomistic propensities, relative to the given interplay of the person, the time, and the situation.

 

A second school – which presents an alternate viewpoint to the preceedingly discussed schools/notions of Compositional natures in regards to our connection back to the Divine/The One, the permanence/transience of our happiness, and the dynamics of The Will  – is the Stoics.

 

In relation to the Charioteer allegory, Stoics rather preferred Zeno’s “Dog and Cart” analogy.  It is put forth that there is a cart which represents the Cosmos, and it is being pulled by a horse which is Fate. We are dogs, and we can either get in the car and ride in it, or we can stop and be eventually be dragged by it. We essentially have the choice to either resist or accept our fate, and it is this dichotomy which essentially governs our lives; which comes from a rational, immortal God – but the idioms and outworking of which we are powerless to change and effect. The highest virtue is an acceptance embracement and quality of our relations to this dichotomy, basically, fully following the expectations and capabilities of nature – to pursue this is to essentially strive to achieve the highest good. So – to return to the chariot example – whether you are going up or down, sorta to speak, is not based on the inherent natures of a analogically posited horse, but the nature of the course of the fate as it is provided by God. Happiness is finding and flowing that trajectory and not making assumptions of the good or the bad, descended vd undescended, or even happiness or despair inherent to an such predisposed flight pattern. Happiness, “the good,” and the undescended, are revealed to be going with the flow of wherever that horse; in this case fate; pulls you, and being content and stratified where ever that might be. Where the charioteer might strive to make the good horse the dominant, the Stoics would see disallowing the good or the bad to go farther into either direction; which is referred to as The Lazy Argument; or that is is bad to try hard at either direction, but the best approach to anything is moderation.

 

Future generations of writers, dreamers, philosophers and followers of various and diverse forms of religions, traditions and/or philosophical thoughts/schools will no doubt eternally posit, affirm, contextualize and even reimagine the preceding generations conceptualizations of their relation to either the essence of things as they are, ‘The wholly Other’ – be that a higher form or virtue, The One, or the Divine; and the context and our action and the essence of our choices – be they predetermined or of volitional capacity in relation to all the assumptions of the preceding. This story, past present, and future – is the story of Humanity’s ongoing and contiguous struggle to understand both itself and the forces/realities around it and how they interact. There is no doubt that regardless of where one chooses to place oneself; this story – either on the personal level or the macro socio-historical level – is neither complete, nor is it anywhere near being exhausted. Time and ongoing revelation; should this very element be born out to be a participating dynamic – will continue to deepen, simplify and expand the understanding of not just ourselves  – but our world. The irony of which; the driving force behind such ongoing endeavors may, in the end and in essence, be found to be brought about by the Will of not just of ourselves, but of all of Humanity.

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‘This is Berlin Calling, Dear, Speaking to one American Boy;’ Consequences and Sexual Recontextualizations, subsequent to the Employment of the Feminine Essence in The Battle for the Soldier’s Masculine Mind: Women in Radio Propaganda in WWII

Matthew Lipscomb

Dr. Heather Palmer

Propaganda & Persuasion, 4/7/2011

‘This is Berlin Calling, Dear, Speaking to one American Boy;’
Consequences and Sexual Recontextualizations, subsequent to the Employment of the Feminine Essence in The Battle for the Soldier’s Masculine Mind: Women in Radio Propaganda in WWII

 

 

 

In wartime, most propaganda is centered on the public. This is, however, only one dimension of the equation. Whereas the public is responsible for ideally voting in and out politicians who then set both domestic and international policies (of which war is an integral part) it is, however, the soldier who actually fights. The public’s attention and opinion may change like the weather – but the soldier who represents the ‘boots on the ground’ plays an integral part of a war’s ideological dichotomy. This paper will explore some of the more unique dimensions of sexuality, as it related to the common soldier during World War II and the two principle female radio personalities that soldiers fighting on the Allied side were exposed to:  “Tokyo Rose” -whose radio broadcasts represented the Japanese propaganda attempts to dissuade Allied soldiers from fighting and “Axis Sally” -Tokyo Rose’s German counterpart. This paper will make an attempt to explore various aspects of each, as they related to the media and strategies of WW II and as they related to the wartime propaganda efforts directed towards the sexual pathos and the psychological well being of the American soldier.

World War II represented – in many ways – the largest, most technologically advanced[1] war that has ever been fought, with respect to both its size and its use of technology – especially when contextually compared with previous conflicts. Many of the nations involved were, in and of themselves, the most advanced among peers in regards to culture, music, and technology. The lessons of WW I were still very much on the minds and hearts of military strategy planners. For example, the lessons of the Battle of Verdun (where over 700,000 causalities were incurred on both sides  [in a battle that both military historians then and now both agreed had little or no strategic importance]) still reverberated through the conscience of military men everywhere as a place were men died for no other purpose then to chase the illusive goal of maintaining the respective prestige amoung the nations fighting a given battle to be the victor of it.[2]  This and many other aspects of the previous conflict embodied what came to be seen as a sense of pervasive wastefulness and futility in terms of the management of the previous war’s resources and their ineffectual use of either strategy or modern technology. It became, therefore, a foregone conclusion that the next war would be waged in a more intelligent fashion.  Instead of trench warfare – missiles, special operations, and eventually even nuclear weaponry would be employed.[3] Along with the advanced role of these technologies, an appreciation for ‘the technology of rhetoric’ emerged. The role of propaganda rose to the forefront among these as a crucial tool of war – very much seen as equally important to supply lines, troop numbers, and weaponry capabilities. No longer would men just march at each other and die by the scores – but ideas and speeches against one another would be seen to be just as affective as the chemical warfare and rifles that were used against each other at Verdun.

An integral cog in the Nazi propaganda machine was Joseph Goebbels. Goebbels was the only formally educated doctorate in higher echelons of Nazi leadership – and he brought a systemized, academic-minded efficiency to the usually brute-force wielding Nazi apparatus.[4] The propaganda machine that Goebbels built and ran had many facets and dimensions. One important aspect that was not overlooked, however, was the Nazi propaganda efforts towards the demoralization of the American soldier. The ways and means of this were both innovative and ground breaking – and would (ironically) take on the form of the voice of a woman. On the German side – she came to be known “Axis Sally;” on the Japanese – “Tokyo Rose.”

The reason behind using a woman instead of a man was integral to the notion of gender presuppositions as they related to propaganda dynamics. For the first time, the employment of a ‘Feminine Essence’ would be strategically employed in ongoing propaganda efforts. There would never be a ‘German Joe’ speaking – at least with the presumed efficacy of the soft, sultry voice of “Axis Sally,” as she sought to sooth the American soldier out of their wartime patriotism and dedication.  The sexuality of the female voice – as either an anti- or pro-war stance – was reproduced into other venues beyond just the German’s application of it, as the infamous voice of “Tokyo Rose” also lit up the airwaves; a sweet, young voice who extolled the virtues and noble intentions of the Japanese Imperial army. Meanwhile, the Americans knew that they simply would not be outdone in this venture – by any means. They found a secret weapon in the sultry, German expatriate – Marlene Dietrich. Dietrich was an outspoken opponent of Nazism and was well equipped in both body and in intellect to make use of her own Feminine Essence – once remarking that “In America, sex is an obsession, in other parts of the world it’s a fact.”[5] Her arrival in Hollywood for the filming of Morocco[6] with American actor Gary Cooper, in 1930 earned her official disdain from the ruling Nazi party.[7] When she became an American citizen, it was greatly welcomed by those who were seeking to find a way to counter the German propaganda machine.[8] Dietrich threw herself fully into the American war effort, once ironically commenting that The Germans and I no longer speak the same language.[9]

Dietrich began to record songs for a wartime propaganda effort entitled Soldatensender. In 1944 Dietrich recorded Lili Marlene [10], [11] which was actually part of a black propaganda effort on the part of the American Forces. It tells the sad story of a young woman leaving her soldier as he goes to the battlefield. German soldiers were forbidden to listen to Soldatensender broadcasts and the songs like Lili Marlene that played on it.[12] Love had become the new bullet in the new war.

As Dietrich heated up the airwaves – Axis Sally continued her own radio work. Her trademark call was “this is Berlin calling” – and indeed it was Berlin, and more importantly Goebbels – masterfully speaking though her sultry inflections.  The German Axis Sally was really a woman named Mildred Gillars – a middle-aged, former showgirl from Ohio – who had gone to Germany to study music. Gillars began her wartime propaganda work for the Germans by participating in a program entitled Home Sweet Home – which was designed by the Germans to induce a sense of homesickness on the part of American GI’s.[13] Also known as the “Bitch of Berlin” – she still prominently figures into the collective wartime imagination. A female radio host, with bright red lips is used in an advertising promo for the video game Brothers in Arms, Hell’s Highway[14] and she makes an appearance as a veritable vixen in[15] Spike Lee’s WWII movie Miracle at St. Anna.[16]

Axis Sally always made gratuitous references to the Jews and to the “kikes,” who she claimed were responsible for the war.

 

As one American to another – do you love the British? Well of course the answer is no. Do the British love us? Of course – I should say not. But we are fighting for them. We are shedding our good, young blood for this kike war, for this British war – oh girls, why don’t you wake up.[17]

 

I love America – but I do not love Roosevelt and all of his kike boyfriends who have thrown us up into this awful turmoil.[18]

 

A defeat for Germany means a defeat for America…[19]

 

 

Sally’s Japanese counterpart, Tokyo Rose, stayed equally busy. Tokyo Rose was actually voiced by several different women – the best known of whom was Iva Toguri. Her sultry opening words “Hello there Enemies . . . how’s tricks?”[20] opened up her broadcasts – which usually consisted of subtle discouragements and supposedly requested music.

 

Ann: And now that [?]. The second request is sent in by a roaming bonehead of an orphan, request number twenty-nine. He wants Tony Martin, of all people, to help him forget the mosquitoes and dirty rifles. Well, you know obliging Annie. Tony Martin and “Now It Can Be Told.” (music)[21]

 

Kokyo Rose had an almost amusing quality, referring to her listeners as “enemies,” herself as “Orphan Annie,” all the while reminding her listeners to “be good.”

 

That’s all for now, enemies – but there will be more of the same tomorrow night, but until then, this is orphan Annie, your number one enemy, reminding you G.I.’s to always be good – goodbye now!”[22]

 

I know that you still hate us – but don’t let that hate infect you, it poisons the whole system.[23]

 

Tokyo Rose not only attacked the patriotism of American soldiers, but also used her Feminine Essence to instill the fear of sexual impotence upon her listeners. Many listeners no doubt, at the mention of sex, would nervously wonder where exactly the truth really ended and the lie seriously began.

 

You poor little Marines, I wish you could spend the night with me. I am a little Japanese pin-up girl. But it wouldn’t be any use. Your officers won’t tell you because they want you to take these atabrine pills every day. . . .

 

Your officers don’t dare tell you—but I will—that when you swallow those bitter little pills, they will not only turn you yellow for the rest of your life, but they will also prevent you from ever being able to make love again.[24]

 

 

Kokyo Rose and Axis Sally represented a unique form of propaganda in a war, which raised the bar in terms of its level of technological sophistication and ideological complexity. In addition to the white and grey propaganda that the state department was creating with Marlene Dietrich, attempts at outright black propaganda were employed though their own created character of “Operation Annie” – whose final on air sign off was a carefully scripted act that seemed to show that the Allied Forces had finally found where she was broadcasting, and were seemingly overrunning the studio – while she was still broadcasting. This was intended to instill fear in the enemy – that there was simply no way to tell how quickly the Americans could barge in at any moment, anywhere.

“Radio Annie broadcast for 127 nights. It finally signed off by pretending that Allied troops had caught up with the rebel broadcasters. Listeners suddenly heard shouting in English and sounds of a scuffle. The German announcer cried out for someone to play a record. Then Annie’s theme song rolled, and abruptly fell silent.” [25]

 

 

Propaganda was no longer merely someone trying to convince you that you were merely right or wrong in terms of your support for the military agendas of the Axis powers or the Allied response to them[26] – but the entire enterprise was given a distinct, inescapable sexual dimension. The sweet and sultry ladies that populated the radio airtime of American soldiers could not be written off as easily as those of a ranting officer or fellow shipmate. The sexuality and sensuality that their voices represented marked an attempted penetration into the psyche of the soldier that a man’s voice could not otherwise accomplish. There were radio personalities that engaged in propaganda that did use men, such as James Joyce – otherwise known as Lord Haw Haw – who worked for German radio propaganda efforts against Great Britain, and who was hanged after the war for treason,[27] but they lacked the attention that Axis Sally and Tokyo Rose garnered – at least in terms of the traction that they held in the soldier’s imagination. It can be argued that this was because of the unique sexual dynamics that the female voice employed over and above the rhetorical dynamics intrinsic to that of the male archetype.

Regardless of the arguments or the claims made by the female voice, as a general rule, because of the disarming vulnerability concomitant with the archetypical Feminine Essence – the male listener would archetypically find the medium of the feminine voice to incorporate a disarming essence; an aspect intrinsic to its presentation. Regardless of what was being said – if the voice was beautiful and feminine (especially in the sexual sterility of the battlefield and military life in wartime) it served to ensnare his imagination and his sexuality.

Sexuality is an extremely important motif, one that must be considered when examining the psychology of the male soldier in wartime. One movie that explored this was the movie Enemy at the Gates.[28],[29] Enemy at the Gates features the issues of both propaganda, love and sexuality as central themes to its plot. Jude Law plays a famous sniper, Vassilli Zaitsev, who is used by the desperate Soviet military to create a propaganda story around him that will help rally their desperate troops against the German juggernaut – in a bid to keep the strategic city of Leningrad from falling into enemy hands. Based on a true story, it contains a famous love scene – in which mutual love interests Jude Law and Naomi Weiss (who plays Tania Chernova) have sex – one that is arguably a cinematic masterpiece in terms of its portrayal of the stark contrast between sexual intimacy and the brutal loss of all privacy because of an exceptionally stark and brutal wartime situation. In the film, Vassili and Tania silently and surreptitiously make love in the middle of an underground bunker, dirty and disheveled from combat operations – whilst surrounded by their sleeping comrades.[30] Here, the passion and intimacy of the human spirit finds a way to express itself – even amidst the horror and confines of the battlefield.  Even on a larger scale – with the entirety of their civilization literally crashing down around them; depriving them of the security and concomitant consolations of all its structures, rituals and assurances – the insurance of any sense of stability (such as a marriage would represent) is unattainable in present or any perceivably immediately forthcoming circumstances for them. In this sense – the furtive, illicit passions they share embody this stark disillusionment with any kind of normalcy; aptly illustrating these stark configurations on a meta-level for the viewer, following the arch of their story, as it is told in the movie. The passion of the characters of Vassili and Tania still find expression and release – even in the stark realities of day-to-day survival and death. There is no white wedding or marriage bed. There is only a soiled cot, surrounded by fitfully sleeping men – many of whom will themselves be dead in the following days. While such an event might very well light up the fantasies of the lonely, male soldier – deprived of any love interests, or even females otherwise and likewise staring death in the face daily – the story of the force and power of their love and their innate and subsequently repressed sexuality, still seeking release, and searching for expression and subsequent interpenetrative vulnerability – equally provides an adequate background to the sexual imagination of the soldier – who though turned into a killing machine, remains inescapably vulnerable via his own undeniable sexuality. In what might be termed an existential counterpunch – Vassili and Tania make love and in doing so, build an island of refuge and beauty over and against the horror and chaos surrounding them. The creative essence of sexuality – no doubt serving as a vehicle for renewal and refuge within the traumatized imagination of the soldier – would find great traction in such illusive but deeply cherished metanarratives.

This is important, for in the case of the beautiful voice on the radio, she became a proxy for all of this: a non-existent physical intimacy, masquerading as one capable of emotional or intellectual connection and escape where (outside of a wartime script writer’s Hollywood imagination and cinematic license) any actual physical, or even relational intimacy, or presumed standard of sexual moral conduct was simply beyond the conceivable.  In lieu of any female interrelation at all – the base nature of human sexuality will force a vulnerability – or at least a very deeply engrained enjoyment of her communication – regardless of what was being said by her – or even how geographically or geopolitically detached she might be.  These powerful sexual forces served to empower the seemingly innocuous and innocent playfulness of the females taking their positions behind enemy microphones.  But far from being innocent – these female voices echoed not only across the airwaves, but also through the unconscious sexual drives of millions and millions of men who would hear them and in doing so, be exposed to their subtle but inescapably powerful dichotomy as it radically impacted the dynamics of ethos, pathos, and logos as they related to the propaganda they represented.

But how? – one must ask. The utilization of the Feminine Essence and its employment within propaganda efforts represents a veritable unchaining of Eros within the masculine psyche of the soldier. And through this, as Freud might argue, the unpredictabilities of the impulsivity of human nature are potentially unmoored from their Apollonarian, steadfast, logically-mediated anchors.[31] By virtue of this tapping into this unbundled sexual essence of the sexually repressed and isolated soldier – each of rhetorical modalities are subsequently irrevocably transfigured by the earthiness of the Chithulian.  Or are they? Or could this transfiguration-reconfiguration (taking place either on such a high meta-level, or at such a deep subconscious, foundational level) be such as that its own effects are as equally hidden to the degree that the preexistent, innately repressed sexuality was predisposed to hide itself to, to begin with. Perhaps soldiers who were predisposed to a degree of promiscuity already – would by virtue of this fact, thereby be more so prone to preternaturally  ‘go rogue’ ideologically, consequent and subsequent to it? Those with a disciplined sexuality already – would they merely continue on in a likewise equally disciplined state? Or is it that these guidelines of discipline and control are merely stressed in such a way as to tempt some sort of sublimated sexual rebellion? Regardless of its exact form – this destabilization metanarrative prefigures any sense of assured and fully confident sense of infallibility. Perhaps it is this secondary effect: the thrill of such a dangerous, rhetorical engagement – that serves as the essence for a ‘thrill ride’ on the part of the soldier in listening to her to begin with. Could she be a kind of sublimated ‘sexual fling’ with a tinge of the excitement – but none of the assumed consequences? It may have been this specific essence that made her so enjoyable to listen to: that she was kind of a forbidden kiss that the soldier could sneak and not suffer a consequence, as he would – as if he were kissing the German beer hall girl on the cheek behind his commanding officer’s back.

Either out of a destabilzation process, or the procurement of a seemingly risk-free thrill – to listen to her was to listen to the voice of one’s own sexuality – speaking out of one’s own psyche and though the radio’s speaker – and in doing this – the soldier could potentially receive (either consciously or unconsciously) a third dichotomatic aspect: that of sexual release.  This itself – may be the most potent and powerful dynamic that compelled many a soldier to listen. Though many soldiers would certainly have done anything to be in the arms of their own loved ones – many would also have certainly fantasized about taking the proverbial German beer hall girl to the proverbial hayloft themselves. Certainly this did happen – but certainly not as often, as to the degree that it was fantasized about. And while listening to a sultry German or Japanese girl toy with your sexuality might not have the full affect of toying with her in the hayloft or rice paddy would – it did offer, nonetheless, some degree of release. And amid the horror, death, and the sense of the whole of civilization and its concomitant societal archetypes of order, all equally seeming to be crashing down around them at all points – it was, nonetheless, some degree of both release – and distraction.  But was this what the enemy had intended? Was a beneficent ‘sexual release’ and ‘emotional distraction’ what Goebbels would have intended or even wanted? Probably not. But it must be said – that such an unwelcomed aspect of the employment of the Feminine Essence in military propaganda would fall under the rubric of its own intrinsic, sexual-Chitulian unpredictability: neither friend, nor foe, would ever be able to be full recipients of its benefits.

For her war efforts, Marlene Dietrich was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is one of the most prestigious and highest kinds of awards a citizen could be given. Dietrich described the accomplishment of being awarded it as one of the greatest things she has ever done in her life. [32] Her love for her own native country never abated, however – and many believe they can hear her love speaking for Germany when they hear her sing, I still have a suitcase in Berlin.[33],[34] Her love for her country indeed never waned – and she described the pain that she had experienced in leaving her beloved homeland in tearful descriptions, “The tears I have cried over Germany have dried. I have washed my face.”[35]

When Germany finally fell – everyone started looking for the ‘bitch of Berlin’ – and the wanted posters went up everywhere. Eventually, she was found and arrested. Mildred Gillars was tried for treason – and eventually served two and half years at the Frankfurt-am-Main Allied prison camp in Germany, and then 12 years at the Alderson Reformatory for Women in West Virginia. She was paroled in 1961, and became a teacher at a Roman Catholic convent. She died in 1988 – and was buried in an unmarked grave among the graves of the WW II veterans – many of whom, no doubt, had heard her voice wooing them to an altogether different place in life, in their own past.[36]

Tokyo Rose’s fate would ironically also lead her into the arms of the Americans as well. Ikuko Toguri would also be put on trial for treason, and likewise convinced for her actions during the war. She served six years and two months of a ten year sentence in the same penitentiary as her counterpart in propaganda, Mildred Gillars, in the Federal Reformatory for Women at Alderson, West Virginia. She then returned to Chicago and worked in her father’s shop. She was pardoned by President Gerald Ford on January 19, 1977 and passed away in 2006.[37]

The lessons of the usefulness of the female voice and its inescapably attendant Feminine Essence – as well as the consequences and ramifications that it has within both within Propaganda and the Masculine Conscience, as it relates to human sexuality, were not lost when WWII ended. Indeed – as later conflicts erupted – the soothing voices of women returned to the airwaves once again. American soldiers in the jungles of Vietnam heard their own modern day itineration of Axis Sally and Tokyo Rose when Hanoi Hannah lit up their radios. Just like Sally and Rose had played big band music, Hannah brought her own twist to playing Rock and Roll –songs that had themselves been forbidden by the United Armed Services from being listened to or played.  Against the wishes of many a commanding officer the refrains of We Gotta Get Out of This Place[38]was often heard echoing through the camp.
There is no doubt – that wherever there is a war – and men are there fighting; somewhere there will be a radio, and without a doubt – the enemy will be speaking on it. It won’t be the voice of a skilled propagandist. He will be sitting in the shadows, guiding the broadcast – and perhaps even writing out its content. Before the mike, there will be a soothing, beautiful voice…one of a woman – offering beautiful, softly spoken lies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

 

 

1-love-quotes.com. http://www.1-love-quotes.com – Marlene Dietrich – The tears I have cried over Germany have dried. I have washed my face. 11 April 2011 <http://www.1-love-quotes.com/quote/850081&gt;.

 

About.com. Song Lyrics in German and English. 11 April 2011 <http://german.about.com/library/blmus_hknef_kofferE.htm&gt;.

 

Amazon.com. Amazon.com: Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson (9780679735793): Camille Pagilia. Amazon.com. 11 April 2011 <http://www.amazon.com/Sexual-Personae-Decadence-Nefertiti-Dickinson/dp/0679735798&gt;.

 

American Public Media. American RadioWorks – Battles of Belief. American Public Media. 11 April 2011 <http://americanradioworks.publicradio.org/features/wwii/b1.html&gt;.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another Nickel in the Machine. The Execution of Lord Haw Haw at Wandsworth Prison in 1946. Another Nickel in the Machine. 11 April 2011 <http://www.nickelinthemachine.com/2010/02/the-execution-of-lord-haw-haw-at-wandsworth-prison-in-1946/&gt;.

 

Central Intelligence Agency. A Look Back…Marlene Dietrich: Singing for a Cause – Central Intelligence Agency. 11 April 2011 <https://www.cia.gov/news-information/featured-story-archive/2008-featured-story-archive/marlene-dietrich.html >.

 

diffen.com. World War I vs World War II . 11 April 2011 <http://www.diffen.com/difference/World_War_I_vs_World_War_II&gt;.

 

FBI. Federal Bureau of Investigation – Iva Toguri d’Aquino and “Tokyo Rose”. 11 April 2011 <http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/history/famous-cases/tokyo-rose/&gt;.

 

Gortemulder, Anneke. The Battle of Verdun 1916 – the greatest battle ever . 11 April 2011 <http://www.wereldoorlog1418.nl/battleverdun/index.htm&gt;.

 

Gutenberg-e.org. Miss Yourlovin: Chapter 5. Gutenberg-e.org. 11 April 2011 <http://www.gutenberg-e.org/pfau/chapter5.html&gt;.

 

Historynet.com. Axis Sally: The Americans Behind That Alluring Voice >> HistoryNet. 11 April 2011 <http://www.historynet.com/axis-sally.htm/1&gt;.

 

IMDB – The Internet Movie Database. Marlene Dietrich – Biography. 11 April 2011 <http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000017/bio&gt;.

Internet Movie Database. Enemy at the Gates (2001) – IMDb. IMDb. 11 April 2011 <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0215750/&gt;.

 

—. IMDb Video: Enemy At The Gates Trailer. IMDb. 11 April 2011 <http://www.imdb.com/video/screenplay/vi2163409689/&gt;.

 

—. Morocco (1930) – IMDb. Internet Movie Database. 11 April 2011 <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0021156/&gt;.

 

Last.fm. Marlene Dietrich – Lili Marlene (3:05). 11 April 2011 <http://www.last.fm/music/Marlene+Dietrich/_/Lili+Marlene&gt;.

 

Lee, Spike. axis sally movie clip from Miracle at St. Anna. Spike Lee. 11 April 2011 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBraIulf1OM&NR=1&gt;.

 

—. Miracle at St. Anna – New Movie by Spike Lee (iHD). Spike Lee. 11 April 2011 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJ-XtII4SdQ&feature=fvwrel&gt;.

 

Militaryimages.net. Neville_Chamberlain_and_Adolf_Hitler_Peace_in_our_time.jpg 535×757 pixels. Militaryimages.net. 11 April 2011 <http://www.militaryimages.net/photopost/data/612/Neville_Chamberlain_and_Adolf_Hitler_Peace_in_our_time.jpg&gt;.

 

National Archives. Youtube – “TOKYO ROSE”, TOKYO, JAPAN, 09/20/1945. National Archives. 11 April 2011 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMfR9OXQywE&gt;.

 

Paglia, Camille. Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson. New York: Vintage Books, 1990.

 

Pfau, Ann Elizabeth. Miss Yourlovin – GIs, Gender, and Domesticity during World War II. http://www.gutenberg-e.org. 11 April 2011 <http://www.gutenberg-e.org/pfau/detail/8-14-44transcript.html&gt;.

 

Squidoo.com. Dietrich or Marlene, Falling in Love Again. 11 April 2011 <http://www.squidoo.com/marlenedietrichbio&gt;.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The German Way. Marlene Dietrich – Biography | The German-Hollywood Connection. The German Way. 11 April 2011 <http://www.german-way.com/cinema/bio-marlene-dietrich.html&gt;.

 

Ubisoft Games. Axis Sally – Brothers in Arms, Hell’s Highway. 11 April 2011 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2woZPf8oaoI&feature=grec_index&gt;.

 

WGBH Boston, PBS. The American Experience. America and the Holocaust. People & Events | Joseph Goebbels (1897-1945) | PBS. 11 April 2011 <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/holocaust/peopleevents/pandeAMEX98.html&gt;.

 

Williams, Beth. Marlene Dietrich: Not My Germany. 11 April 2011 <http://www.williamswebfolio.com/DietrichBio.html#Hello&gt;.

 

Yourtube.com. Axis Sally (Mildred Gillars) – Home Sweet Home 18-05-1943. 11 April 2011 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4INW7fgSqXQ&gt;.

 

Youtube.com. Berlin Calling – Axis Sally. 11 April 2011 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49FV-njfp5s&gt;.

 

—. Enemy at the gates sex scene. Youtube.com. 11 April 2011 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fi9cYU_k-tc&gt;.

 

—. Marlene Dietrich sings Lili Marleen in German. 11 April 2011 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MO0lUXnAs-U&gt;.

 

—. Peace in our Time September 1938. Youtube.com. 11 April 2011 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmH5A6QsqRY&gt;.

 

—. Tokyo Rose WWII Japanese Radio Propaganda. 11 April 2011 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfthhdvbSDw&gt;.

 

—. Youtube.com – Eine Koffer in Berlin – Marlene Dietrich. Youtube.com. 11 April 2011 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-BLoI-0aFc&gt;.

 

 


[1] It should be pointed out that wars have been fought on a more technologically advanced scale – but nowhere near the scale of WW II.

[26] This of course, formed the core essence of why the war was fought. Historians agree that America and Great Britain were essentially forced into combat against the Axis powers. An almost ridiculous amount of effort went into efforts to prevent a conflict, including Neville Chamberlain’s infamous “peace in our time” speech, in which the British Government went to great lengths to placate and prevent war with Germany – only to see Germany regard them as null and void.  (http://www.militaryimages.net/photopost/data/612/Neville_Chamberlain_and_Adolf_Hitler_Peace_in_our_time.jpg) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmH5A6QsqRY)

[31] In her book Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson, Camille Paglia agues that the masculine-essence archetype represents an “Apollinarian” – or orderly, structured and predictable metanarrative that stands in distinct contrast to that of the Feminine Essence, or Chithulian archetype. Paglia argues that the Chithulian represents the opposite of the masculine-Apollinarian – in that it represents unpredictability, danger, disorder, and earthiness. (http://www.amazon.com/Sexual-Personae-Decadence-Nefertiti-Dickinson/dp/0679735798)

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Moving the Mountains – A post-Propagandized View of the Socio-political & Economic-ecological dialogues involving Mountain Top Removal Mining

(Please note, this includes a ‘supplemental resources’ section, along with footnotes and the bibliography)

Matthew Lipscomb

Dr. Heather Palmer

Propaganda & Persuasion, 3/10/2011

2nd Paper: Moving the Mountains – A post-Propagandized View of the Socio-political & Economic-ecological dialogues involving Mountain Top Removal Mining

(Corrected Version)

“Whenever a theory appears to you as the only

possible one, take this as a sign that you

have neither understood the theory nor the

problem which it was intended to solve.”

– Karl Popper, Objective Knowledge:

An Evolutionary Approach (1972)[1]

         Few issues supercharge the emotions as much the issue of Mountain Top Removal. Hailed as a cost-effective[2] and safe way[3] to retrieve the coal necessary for the continued sustenance of the American national economic infrastructure,[4] as well that the creation of suitable areas for economic development[5] (especially in places such as the seemingly ever-contiguous mountain-filled state of West Virginia[6]) – it is thoroughly demonized by most environmentalists, seemingly without any kind of allowable exception[7]. This paper will attempt to deconstruct the propaganda dynamics intrinsic to the ongoing conversations regarding the issue as well as make an attempt to undertake an exploration of the way that it is related through different sectors of the media, respective to both size and general political inclination. Is it a practice that has any proper place at all in the ‘cannon’ of acceptable mining practices[8],[9] – or – is it a mind-numbingly horrific and irredeemably destructive practice that irreparably destroys Mother Nature?[10] This paper will make an attempt to find an objective standard for the interpretation of the facts. The reason for this is based on the assertion that to gain an introspective analysis of the dynamics of the conversation – the message must be decoded, in terms of the biases relative to the sources of the respective articles of information and their related conjectural assertions. In this sense, this paper will attempt to find a ‘post-propaganized’ or non-propaganda influenced position – while also attempting to cast a light on the propaganda dynamics of each side. The goal, therefore, is essentially two-fold – in that an examination will be made of the propaganda dynamics, but also the importance of the issues that serve as their respective ideological motifs.  In the battle for the minds and hearts of ideological constituents – there are rarely those who can rise above the cacophony of the war of ideas: the tug of war between the ‘deep frames’ that battle for legislative protection and action. Is such a thing possible – without devolving into the world of academic ivory tower-speak? Or can we arrive at a non-demagogical conclusion?

         It is an established fact that procuring energy is a costly endeavor. In truth, there are no ‘good’ or ‘easy’ solutions.[11], [12] Wind power – though highly touted as an alternative – remains both costly[13],[14] and ineffective.[15] Hydroelectric power is equally problematic, as it is fraught with potential destruction for the environment for the areas that they encompass.[16] The future viability of nuclear power is being aggressively questioned everywhere.[17] Everyone wants a solution that creates zero discomfort for all involved. It is an incontrovertible fact that this option simply does not exist. This results in a veritably intolerable situation, due to the fact that the questions, implications, and decisions loom both large and offensively against the hopes, dreams, and visions; assumptions, politics, and ideologies of everyone involved. This is commonly referred to as a ‘stasis problem’[18],[19]  – and it is the resultant ‘search for stability’ that is the driving force behind the fervor and intensity between competing ideologies and their concomitant propaganda efforts.

         It is certainly true are that there are in fact some issues that one can afford to ignore. For instance – it is quite possible to detach oneself from any thought towards the civil war going on in Libya,[20] especially if one has no friends or relatives either living there or in the United States Arms forces. Electrical power generation, however, is an issue that, without question, affects everyone. Unless you are a hermit living in the woods – electrical power is critical to your day-to-day life. Something that some people fail to remember is that, even in the years of its early implementation, electrical power proved to be extremely controversial. As talk radio personality ‘professor’ Micho Kaku stated in a recent NPR interview, early critics of electrical power argued that electricity would burn down people’s homes and that people would be unexpectedly electrocuted in their own living rooms. Kaku points out that these outlandish assertions were exactly right – and that all these things really do happen, literally somewhere to someone, every day – but that despite this, we cannot imagine life without electricity.[21] A neighbor’s house burning down and a mountain being forever destroyed may seem like completely incongruent events – but it can be argued that they are, in essence, like-in-kind in their respective ways as well: each was forewarned as potentially inevitable, transpired, and in the collective societal consciousness of some people – accepted as perfectly reasonable, given the relative tradeoff: plenty of electricity. In this sense – this dire warning of the past – seemingly echoes into the future: the cost of continued energy production will be immensely costly to us – but will continue to pay it, without ever even blinking? Will we agree to burn down our own homes in a figurative sense?

         It is arguable, that the larger perspective of mainstream media adheres to this collective sense of there being a sense of an ‘immanent domain against the permanence of nature’  – or that sacrifices have to be made against our environment in the name of progress: we have to be willing to have a few houses burn down; willing to lose a few mountains. This is the consistent backdrop to the majority of discussions in the main stream media about any and all forms of energy procurement and their attendant affects: they are necessary evils – regardless of how evil they in fact are. Many argue that such an argument is representational of the fallacy of special pleading;[22] when someone makes an argument for something claiming objectivity and neutrality – yet still operates from a guiding ideological presupposition.

         If traditional media suffers from a ‘group think’ in terms of overlooking the personal and environmental cost of mountain top removal – then there is, in fact, a dynamic within the media that does serve to naturally evolve and exert itself as an antithesis to it. This dynamic is often expressed by way of the so-called ‘new media’.

         Whereas ‘old media’ has seemingly been comfortable with this potential for of contradictions[23] – the new abhors it.[24] The tendency to embrace the pain and cost in lieu of attaining a subsequent aggregate benefit, along with necessary pain – is owing, perhaps, to the possible platonic ideal that ‘there is a sacrifice to be made to participate in modern culture’. We are understood to give up certain freedoms to enjoy others. This dynamic has been criticized as a veritable totalitarianism-enabling substrate by many political thinkers such as Karl Popper.[25]  One reason that the new media is more reactionary, may owe to the fact that it is generally made up of networks who are smaller both in organizational and purpose-related dimensions – whereas traditional media creates content for the express purpose of filling its pre-ordained, time-slotted moment of dispensation within the larger organizational structure. NBC News, for instance, is a part of a larger organization and shares both resources and potential agendas along with those who would also be behind the production of any given number of their network-related shows. This potentially vast collection of individuals and potentially conflicting, collaborating, or otherwise co-mediating ideologies represents a ‘veritable soup of thought’ that can give expression to a variety of ideological expressions, at any given time, or even imposed financial situation. The ontologically-smaller organizational unit of the New Media stands in contrast with this. Some entities in new media (such as bloggers) can even be considered ‘lone wolves’ because many are essentially ‘one-man ideological shops;’ and have radical freedom to pursue esoteric and even obscure ideological tangents and presuppositions for as long as they can hold their respective pursuer’s fascination. Such inclinations would rarely ever be encouraged by a news desk editor. In fact – in Old Media, reporting assignments are often assigned, and many reporters spend considerable time pursing news reports that they have no personal interest or fascination with at all. Some may argue that this is representational of the strength of the Old vs. the New Media – whereas others will argue that having a passion for ideological presuppositions brings clarity and intensity to both the creation and delivery aspects of media content.

         But how does the new media tend to operate from an ideological perspective? owHowThe so-called ‘new media’ however – is less egalitarian in relation to a cost-benefit dynamic, and less bourgeois in their utilization of it.  In this understanding, they are certainly more proletarian; more ‘working man’: more focused on what the experience is like for the blue collar worker in his or her respective working environment; furthermore, without any consideration, one might argue, for the burden of all the technological resource management that must go into the sustainment of literally everything behind their job: electricity. This potentially conflated, pedestrian view might be considered a non-dialectical understanding of cost-of-fuel-acquisition/generation vs. benefits of the availability of cheap and pervasive electricity; and by this nature – potentially has a singular focus that potentially permeates the whole of its ideological perceptual-interpretive continuum. This archetypical essence plays out through various concepts of this socio-economic demographic – as it relates to their sometimes-myopic concerns. New media may endorse windmills – as long as they are ‘not in my backyard’ – because of the noise pollution they create[26]. They will tout hydroelectric power – as long as no trout are being blocked from seasonal upstream migration.[27] The benefits of this – is that they can provide a laser-like focus on the gravity of the issue(s). The drawbacks are that they sometimes offer no solution other then ‘something else, somewhere else:’ the often derided ‘nimby’[28] mentality.

         If the voice of ‘nimby’ looms large and pervasively in the discussion between mountain top removal and other alternate forms of energy – those both traditional and those innovative/renewable – the intensity of the New Media voice – whether it is speaking potentially in a constructive manner – or a relatively myopic & selfish one, owes its power to distinct and relatively recent changes in the ontologies of media power. No longer does one need a million dollar video editing system – once owned only by news companies and their regional affiliates. Now, all you need is couple thousand dollars and you can buy an HD video camera, a Mac Book Pro laptop, and a video editing suite. A few more hundred dollars buys the html/website builder Dreamweaver – and fifteen dollars a month buys a website where videos and editorials can be posted online for others to see. In the old model – the entire world tuned into one of a handful of nightly news desks. Now  – the world browses facebook accounts, thousands of blogger websites, twitter feeds, or whatever new modality that the internet has recently spawned: social media, news parodies[29] and other ever-evolving, innovative expressions. It is also very important to point out the grass-roots oriented, even ‘lone wolf’ new media entities are not exclusive denizens of any particular block of the ideological-political spectrum. Indeed – they show up all along its continuum, sometimes focuses on all types of issues, both singular and those multidimensional.

         But in what ways does mass media function as propaganda? The older, larger news aggregates generally, arguably function from the before-mentioned Platonic Social Principle. In terms of issues – they might even be described as Aristotelian (in terms of their thought processes as they would relate to complicated issues) – as Aristotle was understood to have once said “the mark of an educated mind is to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”[30] These dynamics of allowable compromise for the purposes of creating a mutually held social contract (Social Platonism) and allowable contradictions in ideas discussed within it (Aristotelian Intellectual Diversity) informs both the function and power of mass media in terms of that which is generally larger and more established (such as the traditional networks).  Because of the grass-roots nature of the “new media” – and especially owing to their own self-sufficiency (in terms of ownership and direction) – they are sometimes ‘the rouge agents’ in shaping political discourse and the control of politics. This same contradiction – in terms of huge differences between Old/New Media expressions (both in power-ontologies[31] and ideological-content derivitatives[32]) – is, in a sense, sublimated into the whole of the larger discourse; as for those who hold to the Aristotelian view of the inevitable consideration of opposed/oppositional positions[33] (if not the crucially necessity thereof) – diversities of power and ideology make for a greater strength in terms of the political and ideological integrity and sustenance of the whole. To others – however – this is just sophistic, ivory tower, academic double-speak; engineered for the rich, powerful, technocratic bourgeois to foist their agendas upon the unsuspecting proletariat.  It might be argued that, because of this – the ‘old media’ is more comfortable alongside the ‘new’ then the ‘new’ is alongside the ‘old’. Whereas the old may see the new as being conducive and informing – the new may see the old as, at best, merely being in the way – and at worst; deceptive, manipulative and intrinsically evil.

         Mountain Top Removal activists incorporate a distinct dimension of emotion into their efforts. As most mainstream coverage will provide a dichotomatic (intrinsically two-sided)/dialectical [the two extremes guide and form a new synthesis/path]) approach[34] – their manner of presentation almost always appeals directly to the heart;[35] a technique which is often accused of being an Emotional Appeal Fallacy.[36] Indeed- when they are at their very best – Mountain Top Removal documentaries literally pull at the heartstrings.[37] But is this a viable approach? What of the spate of accidents and deaths in underground mines?[38] Can these issues merely be resolved to poor safety and compliance[39] on the part of mining operators?[40] Despite its environmental impact – is it safer – regardless of the efficiency and affectivity of any reform of present mining safety law?[41] In addition to this – the recent earthquake in Japan and the subsequent nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant,[42] have caused a tremendous backlash against both present and future nuclear power generation ambitions.[43] As a backdrop against all of this, Coal Advocacy remains in high gear.[44] Most fatalities come from deep mining efforts. A new ‘reality show’ by Spike TV gives a nitty, gritty in-your-face reality television-oriented picture of life in the mines.[45], [46]          Surface mining has proven to be much safer. If it is imperative that coal be acquired, as it obviously is (at least for now – environmental/political/economic realities aside) then is it worth endangering (and thusly, eventually losing) more lives to save more mountains? Some may argue that this represents an Appeal to Fear or Scare Tactic[47] Fallacy. Others would argue that deep mine fatalities have and will continue to be incurred – even in the face of thorough mine safety regulation, arguing that the only way to get coal with maximum potential safetly is to stay out of deep mines and that the idea of surface mining being much safer for those mining it is in no way an Inductive Leap Fallacy – or the product of Non Sequitor or Hasty Conclusion[48] thinking.

         Everyone who has spent a degree of time in the American workplace has eventually (at least once) been in a meeting with a supervisor or upper management, where multiple problems and respective solutions were presented. Sometimes such a meeting goes well – and all parties agree on the beneficence of adopting a certain, agreed upon approach. However – sometimes, no one agrees on how to properly deal with the situation – and the supervisor responds with arbitrary heavy-handedness; I simply just don’t care how it gets done – it just has to get done, regardless. There is no doubt, that this is the backdrop to the current situation regarding the acquisition/mining of coal and its use for power generation. The prospects for a unified front, in terms of a mutually agreed on energy policy is becoming ever more elusive. The voices for and/or against virtually every dimension of energy creation/provision – are sounding more and more shrill. This only adds the divisiveness and the frustration that the issue provokes. Regardless of how present choices can positively influence the long-term or even short-term future – the present situation is unchangeable. Coal must be mined – and mined in vast quantities. It is desperately needed now and right now. If disparate ideological groups can find a presently illusive consensus, then there can be a choice. Perhaps – a choice sooner – rather then one much later. But continued bickering and ideological intransigence potentially only serves to exacerbate the problem and delay potential solutions. With an ever-increasing demand and a dearth of innovation – supply will potentially diminish exponentially – and unless Americans are prepared for radical or even catastrophic event inducing-like power reduction scenarios, then more and more desperate and even drastic measures will be employed. When rolling blackouts are being employed to conserve energy – it is less likely that anyone will care about any mountains anywhere being destroyed in whatever way.

         Much of the old/mainstream media remains pragmatic and solutions-driven. Much of the new media, because of its grass-roots and emotionalism, remains bound to a single-issue mindset. ‘Nimby’[49] becomes ‘Notnaom’[50] or even ‘Nehnae’.[51] It is my honest opinion that great fault lies on both sides. Both are committed to a no-nonsense, no-compromise approach to the ideological opposition. It is unlikely that this will ever fully change into a different kind of arraignment. This may truly prove to be one of the great American Tragedies; it is fearful to consider how far down a self-destructive path we will literally fall – before we start to make necessary and critical decision toward a better, more truly responsible future regarding both our energy consumption and our acquiring of respective sources.

         But how does this intractability, in terms of a relational rapprochement, resolve back to their respective roles as ‘forums for public debate’? Is there actually any dialogue taking place? Or is one merely ignoring the other – while still shouting out its own agenda? It is likely that the issue of Mountain Top Removal suffers from a very real stasis problem: the task of finding solid, defendable definitions/positions is and will remain extraordinarily difficult. Part of this problem owes to the essentially situational dynamics. Another part owes to the people involved themselves. Both people and businesses often operate on presuppositional metanarratives that inform their respective ideological orientations – which function outside of and regardless of secondary, specific situational contexts. There are businessmen and women who believe that the only force that should ever guide a business is the search for the ‘almighty dollar’. On the environmentalist side, there are activists who unashamedly co-opt the environmental discussion for the purposes of an advancement of their own political ideologies/power quests. Potentially, they care absolutely nothing about the environment – and only see it as a tool to advance their way of seeing things. In recent years, many Socialists and Marxist-oriented thinkers have openly become self-referential in this regard; openly calling themselves ‘watermelons:’[52] green [environmentally-oriented] on the outside, red [Socialist/Marxist/Leftist/Progressive] on the inside.[53] In this regard, such behavior is counterproductive to any constructive public debate.  When manifest in such forms, there is little room for any actual discussion, only the pursuit of foreordained and previously adopted positions and agendas. Furthermore – the ‘co-opting’ of such issues by political parties – who see them only as representing means-to-power ontologies – represents a profound abuse of them. When the issue is something that is an essentially sacred public trust (as is the intrinsic nature of such things, regardless if the public is cognizant of the reality or not) – then it inflicts even more ruthless damage to the dichotomy of public involvement and awareness. If – for instance – Global Warming were proven to be a systematically orchestrated fraud on the part of corporate and/or political opportunists; engineered with the express purpose of creating opportunities to exert more control over and corporate financial beneficence from the common public, then when a real and credible threat evolves – it will be readily dismissed by those who were previously victimized by those they would then see warning them. It is not a question of whether or not political ideologues and corporate interests have in fact employed subterfuge to advance ideological and financial objectives. Rather it is only a question of how many, and if that number has been significant enough to actually be of any influence in terms of any global or national corporate/political power ontologies.

         There is, however, also a multiplicity of dynamics that potentially supersede such ideological ‘hardheadedness’ on the part of those who disdain any actual conversation betwixt oppositional parties. In terms of the larger public discourse, such entities may inadvertently and non-purposefully advance the conversation out of no willingness[54] to do so on their own part. No one person or agency can possibly control, coordinate or predict all possible outcomes. There is always the potential for an independent dialectic to emerge in the imagination of the public, one beholden to the ongoing ‘firefight’[55] – which, potentially, can serve as a sort of archeological tool, in terms of its excavation of ideas and explorations of past, present and future possibilities. Even if all who are doing the talking refuse to listen to each other – those in the public sphere, existing on the periphery of the conversation, can and often do listen in on what is said. And it can be argued that it is these passions and imaginations that most genuinely (and appropriately) guide the conversations forward and potentially create new solutions. This ‘meta-level dialectic’ is perhaps the most unpredictable, yet most crucially important dynamic in both the issue of Mountain Top Removal, a host of other thorny issues.

         A second reality is that not everyone genuinely dislikes hearing what the opposition has to say. Within some vectors of the conversation, a true inter-relational, communication can spark the dialectical light, in such a way that it actually can cast an innovative light into the shadows.  The how and when such a dialectic is present – when it is inadvertent (and embodied within the imagination of the peripherally observant public) and when it actually is a shared experienced between parties openly and aggressively seeking a mutually beneficial synthesis[56] between their respective Hegelian thesis/antithesis counterparts – cannot be accurately predicted. In fact, it is very likely that any attempts on the part of a strong-armed agency acting as a ‘fairness agent’ to force such parties to create a dialectic synthesis/degree of communication, would probably force it (the dialectic) to only manifest only on a larger meta-level: only as a tool to be embraced or rejected, on the part of the potentially ‘disinterested observers’/the public watching the gridlock from a distance. For this reason – it is likely that any use of a ‘Fairness Doctrine’ would merely degenerate into ‘fairness procedures’ weighing heavily either to the thesis or the antithesis sides – and not into the desired ‘synthetic mean;’ where they actually meet together and create something genuinely new. It is the opinion of this observer, that the only real foundation that can be found, in terms of continual ontological assurity, is a genuine dialogue between the two.

         In terms of any media bias, I was unable to locate any resources that purported to be able to consistently demonstrate where any mainstream newspapers consistently demonstrated bias. I did find an article where the allegations were made against a newspaper, but after a couple of days, the page on the site that made the accusation seemed to have gone down mysteriously.[57] For several weeks, I did make an effort to carefully look for any references to “Mountain Top Removal” in the local papers. On Wednesday, March 23, 2011 the Chattanooga News Free Press did run an article from the Associated Press entitled U.S. opens coal area to mining. The article appeared on page A9. It does not reference Mountain Top Removal specifically – but rather eluded to the area as being in the Powder River Basin. It stated that 40 percent of the nation’s coal comes from Wyoming, that the area is expected to yield 758 millions tons of coal, and that it will subsequently take 10 to 20 years to fully mine.  The article references the current Japanese nuclear crisis and “coal’s own baggage – especially when it comes to climate change,” further stating that coal from the Wyoming’s Powder River Basin accounts for 14 percent of all U.S. carbon dioxide emissions.[58] The article makes no reference to any local environmental impacts. Online research revealed several websites detailing the nature and history of the Powder River Mines, both governmental,[59] and apparently advocacy-oriented.[60] There is apparently some degree of concern among local Indian tribes regarding water quality issues,[61] and an article in the San Francisco Chronicle by Sierra Club[62] Executive Director Michael Brune, wherein he describes the recent licensures as “giveaways,”[63] and references research related to mercury poisoning that claims that coal results in 300,000 otherwise preventable birth defects.[64] Another article by Earthworks states that the EPA has “confirmed drinking water contamination by toxins”[65] because of ‘fracking’[66] efforts at the Powder River Mines. Efforts to contact local activist groups, such the Sequatchie Valley Institute[67] did not yield any results. This, of course, may be owing to the limited amount of time during which this project was carried out.

         In closing, my family traces much of its own history along with the history of West Virginia.[68],[69] A part of this history is that of the brutal, and savage logging that took place in the past.[70] Those who never had a chance to ever even see them, can only imagine what the virgin forests of timber would have looked like. They can only be dreamed about in terms of their immeasurable beauty. They are gone forever.[71] Recent studies submitted and published online by the West Virginia Forestry Association contend that “Forestry as profession” has been wrongly villainized[72] and that many of the topics related the state’s logging history have been misrepresented and inappropriately contextualized.[73] Will this eventually also be the story of West Virginia’s mountains? Will they be relegated to an explanation that they were appropriately done away with – in the name of progress? We cannot afford any knee-jerk reactions when it comes to any form of energy production – or the way that it is respectively procured.[74] Environmentalism must have sincere[75] and unadulterated passion. Anything less cannot be tolerated. It is intellectually disingenuous to claim that all mining in any form is a form of rape. If Mountain Top Removal is to be considered, then it must be considered and weighed in terms of all its benefits and costs thoughtfully and thoroughly. If the past provides any clue towards the future – the future depends on it more then we can know today.


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Supplemental References

http://www.patc.us/history/archive/virg_fst.html
A website that covers the history of some of the logging operations that took place in West Virgina, as well as how large many of the old growth timber that was cut down.

http://www.msrlha.org/

The Mountain State Railroad & Logging Historical Association

http://www.shaylocomotives.com/surviving/SLc-Survivors.htm

In order to log the mountainous regions of West Virgina, a specialized type of steam locamotive was invented, which featured a worm-gear driven drive assembly, vs. the classic steam engine setup.

http://www.counterpunch.org/roselle01262010.html

Photography of Mountain Top Removal projects in process.

Launch statement of Green Left

(From http://thewatermelon.wordpress.com/headcorn-declaration/)

Green Left has been launched as a network for socialists and other radicals in the Green Party of England and Wales. It will act as an outreach body that will communicate the party’s radical policies to socialists and other anti-capitalists outside the party.

Green Left (GL) is based on the assumption that capitalism is a system that wrecks the planet and promotes war. A green society must be based on economic, political and social justice. GL in short works to promote ecosocialism as a solution to our planetary ills.

GL supports the democratic structures in the party and encourages transparency, accountability and engagement in all organs of the party. We also see the Green Party as a ‘bottom up’ political organization where the principles of the membership are paramount and not a ‘top down’ one where a self-designated political elite decide on policies and principles.

GL aims to increase and improve the international links of the Green Party, building links with radical greens and ecosocialists across the planet. It will work closely with members of other European Green Parties to reform the workings of the European Green Party structures that must be democratised. Green politics must realise the slogan ‘think globally, act locally’ by linking practical local campaigns to global issues of ecology, democracy, justice and liberation.

GL aims to act within the Green Party so as to raise Green Party politics to meet the demands of its radical policies. Green politics needs to be based on dynamic campaigning and hard intellectual groundwork to create workable alternatives.

GL aims to build regional campaigns and contribute to coalition-building through coherent alignments and open discussion with progressive anti-capitalists. The movement that is required to address the issues across Britain, Europe and the world will not be the sole preserve of one party. The movement requires the development of united action by progressive forces including organisations formed by working people to defend their interests in the workplace. Within this diverse movement GL will stand firmly in favour of the libertarian and democratic traditions of ecosocialism.

It is vitally important that the Green Party works to develop the continuing peace, environmental and social movements. An orientation to organised working people through the Green Party Trade Union Group (GPTU) also requires maximum support from GL, with the emphasis on supporting radical and rank and file currents in the unions. Likewise, GL should seek to promote organisation and solidarity amongst currently unorganised and marginalised groups.

GL will work to enhance Green Party contributions to demonstrations, marches and other solidarity events. Greens must be active on issues that affect ordinary working people in their everyday lives and aim to be known as amongst their strongest defenders.

While GL is keen to build links with members of faith communities, and to fight alongside them against intolerance and discrimination, it will not compromise on human rights – including issues concerning women, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities, and people with disabilities.

Since the activism of William Morris in the Social Democratic Federation and Socialist League in the late nineteenth century, there has been an ecosocialist tradition in Britain. Green Left believes that ecosocialism provides an alternative to a society based on alienation, economic exploitation, corporate rule, ecological destruction and wars. Our analysis demands that in the best tradition of the historic left we ‘agitate, educate and organize’ to build such an alternative.

The time has come for drawing together forces that can present a serious challenge to the disastrous neo-liberal project. We believe that ‘another world is possible’, based on ecological and socialist values. In conclusion, Green Left would work to enable you to live in a society based on peace, ecological balance, economic equality and inclusion.


[1] Karl Popper, Whenever a theory appears to you…(Karl Popper), 30 9 2010, 28 3 2011 <http://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=433737&gt;.

[2] Fossil Fuel Resources, Fossill Fuel >> Featured >> Coal Frequently Asked Questions, Fossil Fuel Resources, <http://fossil-fuel.co.uk/coal-frequently-asked-questions&gt;.

[3] Fossil Fuel Resources, Fossill Fuel >> Featured >> Coal Frequently Asked Questions, Fossil Fuel Resources, <http://fossil-fuel.co.uk/coal-frequently-asked-questions&gt;.

[4] West Virginia Coal Association, 2010 Coal Facts, 2010, West Virginia Coal Association, 3 2011 <http://www.wvcoal.com/201012182463/2010-coal-facts.html&gt;.

[5] West Virginia Humanities Council, e-WV | Mountain Top Mining, 28 3 2011 <http://www.wvencyclopedia.org/articles/1530&gt;.

[6] According to Mountain Top Mining: Viewpoint, published by Walker Cat, previous mountain top removal projects have resulted in numerous economic developments such as Twisted Gun Golf Course, Logan County Airport, Mylan Park Baseball Fields, Boone County Wetlands, Southern WV Recreation Area, Southwestern Regional Jail, Mount Olive Prison, and the community shopping Mall in Bridgeport, WV. Are all projects that resulted from the land reclaimed for development, which prior to mining was unusable for any developmental potential. West Virginia Coal Association & Walker Cat, Mountaintop Mining Viewpoint –, 28 March 2011 <http://www.wvcoal.com/attachments/909_WALKER%20MMV%20LOW%20RES.pdf&gt;.

[7] CNN Politics, Protesters arrested outside the White House – CNN, 27 September 2010, CNN Politics, 28 3 2011 <http://articles.cnn.com/2010-09-27/politics/white.house.protest_1_mountaintop-removal-coal-mining-protesters?_s=PM:POLITICS&gt;.

[8] SBA Office of Advocacy, Stream Buffer Zone and Related Rules, 2009, SBA Advocacy, 28 March 2011 <http://archive.sba.gov/advo/laws/comments/doi09_1216.html&gt;.

[9] Planet Energies, The future of coal: disadvantages and advantages of coal, 28 March 2011 <http://www.planete-energies.com/content/coal/future.html&gt;.

[10] Coal River Mountain Watch, Save Coal River Mountain! | Coal River Mountain Watch, 28 March 2011 <http://www.crmw.net/crmw/savecoalrivermountain&gt;.

[11] NPR, Are Nuclear Plants Safe? Environmentalists Are Split, 28 March 2011 <http://www.npr.org/2011/03/28/134863507/are-nuclear-plants-safe-environmentalists-are-split >.

[12] Diane Rehm Show, Japan’s Nuclear Crisis and Its Impact on the Nuclear Industry, 17 March 2011, 28 March 2011 <http://thedianerehmshow.org/shows/2011-03-17/japans-nuclear-crisis-and-its-impact-nuclear-industry-0&gt;.

[13] Windustry® & Great Plains Windustry Project, How much do wind turbines cost? | Windustry, Windustry® & Great Plains Windustry Project, 28 March 2011 <http://www.windustry.org/how-much-do-wind-turbines-cost&gt;.

[14] Robert L. Bradley Jr., RENEWABLE ENERGY Not Cheap, Not “Green” – The Problems of Wind Power, 27 August 1997, Cato Policy Analysis No. 280, 28 March 2011 <http://www.mensetmanus.net/windpower/cato/probwind.shtml&gt;.

[15] Clean Energy Ideas, A Wind Turbines Impact On The Surrounding Environment, 28 March 2011 <http://www.clean-energy-ideas.com/articles/wind_turbines_impact.html&gt;.

[16] Alternative Energy Sources, Disadvantages of Hydropower – Not Just Water Over the Dam, 28 March 2011 <http://www.alternative-energy-resources.net/disadvantages-of-hydropower.html&gt;.

[17] NPR, Is Nuclear Energy The Best Alternative? NPR, 23 March 2011, 28 March 2011 <http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=134794862&gt;.

[20] Fox News Corporation, Obama Defends Military Mission in Libya, Says U.S. Acted to ‘Prevent a Massacre’, 28 March 2011, 28 March 2011 <http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/03/28/obama-delivers-address-nation-libya-intervention/ >.

[21] “Some people might not be all that excited about these new technologies, Kaku admits. They might be frightened. But he points to the example of electricity — when it was first introduced, people found it intrusive and dangerous. And the dangers were real; electricity does cause frequent deaths and fires. “And you know something? We love it,” Kaku says. “You get used to it. And later you say to yourself, how could I have lived without it?” From NPR, No Flying Car, But How About An Invisibility Cloak? : NPR, 28 March 2011, 28 March 2011 <http://www.npr.org/2011/03/26/134600339/no-flying-car-but-how-about-an-invisibility-cloak&gt;.

[22] Reading and Writing for Civic Literacy, The Critical Citizen’s Guide to Argumentative Rhetoric, pg. 294. Donald Lazere, Reading and Writing for Civic Literacy, The Critical Citizen’s Guide to Argumentative Rhetoric (Boulder: Paradigm Publishers, 2005).

[23] Youtube.com, Youtube.com – Mountaintop-Removal Mining CNN LOVES BIG COAL, 8 June 2008, 28 March 2011 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqeqVx29DMc&gt;. Youtube.com, Youtube.com – Mountaintop-Removal Mining CNN LOVES BIG COAL, 8 June 2008, 28 March 2011 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqeqVx29DMc&gt;.

A CNN video story that seems to be fairly balanced in its presentation of both sides.

[24] Democracy Now!, The Struggle Against Mountain Top Removal: Leading Activist Mike Roselle Continues Fight Against Destructive Coal Mining, 9 April 2009, Democracy Now!, 28 March 2011 <http://www.democracynow.org/2009/4/8/the_struggle_against_mountaintop_removal_leading&gt;. An interview with Earth First co-founder and activist Mike Roselle by Democracy NOW! From April 08, 2009.

Earth First is considered a terrorist organization by the Anti-Defamation League, because of their sponsor of so-called eco-terrorism. Anti-Defamation League, Ecoterrorism: Extremism in the Animal Rights and Environmentalist Movements, ADF, 28 March 2011 <http://www.adl.org/learn/ext_us/ecoterrorism.asp?learn_cat=extremism&learn_subcat=extremism_in_america&xpicked=4&item=eco&gt;.

[25] “Some of the most heated discussions of the politics of Plato’s Republic have surrounded the charge of totalitarianism famously advanced by Karl Popper (in The Open Society and its Enemies). Like the other “isms” we have been considering, totalitarianism applies to the Republic only conditionally, depending on the definition of ‘totalitarianism’ offered. But it is worth thinking through the various ways in which this charge might be made, to clarify the way the philosopher-rulers wield political authority over the rest of the city.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Plato’s Ethics and Politics in The Republic (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy), 31 August 2009, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 28 March 2011 <http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/plato-ethics-politics/&gt;.

[26] Clean Energy Ideas, A Wind Turbines Impact On The Surrounding Environment, 28 March 2011 <http://www.clean-energy-ideas.com/articles/wind_turbines_impact.html&gt;.

[27] Wild Trout and Salmon Genetics Laboratory, Division of Biological Sciences, University of Montana, Missoula, MT 59812, 2010, LUKAS P. NERAAS and PAUL SPRUELL, 28 March 2011 <http://golab.unl.edu/teaching/Lindoia/ Neraas2001_FragmentationRiverine.pdf>.

[28] wordnetweb.princeton.edu/, WordNet Search 3.0, WordNet Search – 3.0, 2011 March 2011 <http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=nimby&gt;.

[29] Coal Comfort – Margaret Palmer – The Colbert Rerport – 1/18/10 – Video Clip | Comedy Central, 18 January 2010, Comedy Central, 28 March 2011 <http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/261997/january-18-2010/coal-comfort—margaret-palmer >.Mountain Top Removal from the perspective of Stephen Colbert.

[30] The Quotations Page, Quote Details: Aristotle: It is the Mark… – The Quotations Page, The Quotations Page, 28 March 2011 <http://www.quotationspage.com/quote/1152.html&gt;.

[31] Here the term ‘Power-ontology’ refers to any given one of the various expressions of power expressed in various but archetypically unique but groupable ways. For instance, a media company leverages/exerts various types of power; Propagandal (ideological), Advertisement (refusal to air/accept advertising from certain ‘controversial’ advertisers, and Social (writing in social or atypical social norms as normal or lampoonable into sitcom scripts).

[32]  The generated media content and/or Power-ontologies directly (or indirectly) derived from individual (as in the case of very small [lone-wolf] “new media” content proviers) or corporate-entity ideological/”corporate culture” (those held on a large-scale, group-think level) presuppositions.

[33] See previous quote regarding the ‘…ability to entertain a thought without excepting it.”

[34] Youtube.com, Youtube.com – Mountaintop-Removal Mining CNN LOVES BIG COAL, 8 June 2008, 28 March 2011 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqeqVx29DMc&gt;.

[35] Bill Haney, The Last Mountain, Bill Haney, 28 March 2011 <http://thelastmountainmovie.com/&gt;.

[36] Reading and Writing for Civic Literacy, The Critical Citizen’s Guide to Argumentative Rhetoric, pg. 291.

[37] Coal River Mountain Watch, Save Coal River Mountain! | Coal River Mountain Watch, 28 March 2011 <http://www.crmw.net/crmw/savecoalrivermountain&gt;.

[38] MSNBC, Mine owner ran up serious violations Massey Energy and its CEO center of political controversy, 6 April 2010, MSNBC.com, 28 March 2011 <http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/36202623/ns/us_news-life/&gt;.

[39] United States Department of Labor, Coal Mine Safety and Health , United States Department of Labor, <http://www.msha.gov/programs/coal.htm&gt;.

[40] Forbes.com, Massey’s Long History of Coal Mine Violations, 6 April 2010, 28 March 2011 <http://blogs.forbes.com/energysource/2010/04/06/masseys-long-history-of-coal-mine-violations/&gt;.

[41] West Virginia Coal Association, Mining Symposium 2011 Draws Huge Crowd | Latest | News, 11 February 2011, 28 March 2011 <http://www.wvcoal.com/201102112644/Latest/mining-symposium-2011-draws-huge-crowd.html&gt;.

[42] ABC News, Japan Nuclear Crisis Close to Stabilizing, U.S. Official Says – ABC NEWS, 21 March 2011, ABC NEWS, 28 March 2011 <http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/japan-nuclear-crisis-close-stabilizing-us-official/story?id=13184684&gt;.

[43] NPR, Imagining the U.S. Without Nuclear Power, 24 March 2011, NPR, 28 March 2011 <http://www.npr.org/2011/03/24/134827595/imagining-the-u-s-without-nuclear-power&gt;.

[44] West Virginia Coal Association, 2010 Coal Facts, 2010, West Virginia Coal Association, 3 2011 <http://www.wvcoal.com/201012182463/2010-coal-facts.html&gt;.

[46] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wk4PB8rHjq4 Trailer for Spike TV’s Coal.

[47] Reading and Writing for Civic Literacy, The Critical Citizen’s Guide to Argumentative Rhetoric, pg. 290.

[48] Reading and Writing for Civic Literacy, The Critical Citizen’s Guide to Argumentative Rhetoric, pg. 292.

[49] ‘Not In My BackYard.’

[50] ‘Not On This, Nor Any Other Mountain.’

[51] ‘Not Ever Here, Nor Anywhere Else.’

[52] Jane Watkinson, Ed Miliband’s speech and politial fruit making (progressive watermelons), 20 September 2010, 28 March 2011 <http://janespoliticalramblings.wordpress.com/2010/09/28/ed-milibands-speech-and-political-fruit-making-progressive-watermelons/&gt;.

[53] Green Left, ecosocialist manifesto << Green Left, September 2001, 28 March 2011 <http://thewatermelon.wordpress.com/homepage/&gt;.
Please see attached “Headcorn Declaration.”

[54] Huffington Post, Mountain Top Removal, Huffington Post, 28 March 2011 <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tag/mountaintop-removal >.
A search on the liberal-leaning Huffington Post reveals a large collection of articles with a decidedly strong bias against Mountain Top Removal.

[55] Jeff Biggers: Governor’s Sit-In Day Two: Why Kentucky Can’t Wait, 12 February 2011, Huffington Poset, 28 March 2011 <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeff-biggers/governors-sit-in-day-two_b_822327.html >.An example of a typical Mountain Top Removal advocacy article from Huffingtonpost.com

[56] CNN, The battle over Coal River Mountain, 7 October 2008, CNN, 28 March 2011 <http://articles.cnn.com/2008-10-07/us/coal.river_1_coal-river-mountain-watch-mountaintop-removal-coal-miners?_s=PM:US&gt;.

An article from CNN that discusses one groups attempt to advance the idea of wind power over the destruction of a mountain for its coal.

[57] http://endmtr.com/2010/03/04/boycott-the-logan-banner/ (Offline at the time of this writing – found during initial research for this paper.)

[58] Chattanooga News Free Press, “U.S. Opens coal area to mining,” Chattanooga News Free Press 23 March 2011.

[59] U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT, Powder River Basin Coal, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT, 28 March 2011 <http://www.blm.gov/wy/st/en/programs/ energy/Coal_Resources/PRB_Coal.html>.

[60] PE and Ken Wicker Dr. Robert Peltier, http://www.prbcoals.com, PRB Coal Group, 28 March 2011 <http://www.prbcoals.com/pdf/PRBCoalInformation/Power-Oct03-PRBCoal.pdf&gt;.

[61] Missoulian.com, Northern Cheyenne Tribe wants water pollution limits in Powder River Basin, Missoulian.com, 2011 March 2011 <http://missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/article_4566099e-8772-11de-8a85-001cc4c03286.html&gt;.

[63] Michael Brune, The Powder River Basis: A big coal giveaway : Michael Brune : Bright Lights, San Francisco Chronicle, 28 March 2011 <http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/mbrune/detail?entry_id=85773&gt;.

[64] EPA.gov, EPA.gov, 2011 March 2011 <http://www.epa.gov/mercury/exposure.htm&gt;.

[65] Earthworks, Earthworks – EPA Confirms Drinking Water Contamination by Toxics Used in Hydraulic Fracturing, 14 August 2009, 28 March 2011 <http://www.earthworksaction.org/PR_EPApavillionDrinkingWater.cfm&gt;.

[66] PSFK, What the frack? US natural gass drilling method contaminates water – PSFK, 28 February 2011, PSKF, 28 March 2011 <http://www.psfk.com/2011/02/what-is-fracking.html&gt;.

[67] Sequatchie Valley Institute, Sequatchie Valley Institute – research and education is sustainable living, 28 March 2011 <http://svionline.org/&gt;.

[68] Matthew Lipscomb, Facebook, 28 March 2011 <http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=414606034932&set=a.36956129932.43676.662019932&theater. >. Veteran’s Memorial in Parsons, West Virgina.

[71] Andy Hilz, Logging the Virgin Forests of West Virginia, 28 March 2011 <http://www.patc.us/history/archive/virg_fst.html&gt;.

[72] West Virginia Forestry Association, West Virginia Forestry Association – Forestry Fact Sheets, 28 March 2011 <http://www.wvfa.org/forestry-facts-sheets.html&gt;.

[73] “By the end of the 19th century, West Virginia was overwhelmingly a state of largely self-sufficient farms. It was never clear-cut from border to border by lumber barons as is often stated. Perhaps as much as half the state was in farms before the advent of the lumber barons.” West Virginia Forestry Association, 2001, West Virginia Forestry Association, 28 March 2011 <http://www.wvfa.org/pdf/factsheets/FACT%20SHEET%20%20No.%201.pdf&gt;.

[74] USA Today, Knee-jerks and nukes, Cal and Bob agree that despite the chorus of hand-wringers, it would be foolish to give up on nuclear power plants in the wake of Japan’s tragedy. USA TODAY, Thursday, March 24, 2011, pg. 11A. ,” USA Today Thursday, 24th March 2011.

[75] What ‘Earth Hour’ backers don’t have: a real vision. USA TODAY, Thursday, March 24, 2011, pg. 11A.

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Propaganda & Persuasion – Final Essay Letter passively utilizing propaganda techniques

_______________________________
***Author’s note – ***
This is an essay which was written and submitted as a letter. The stated goal of the assignment was to write a letter describing my experience in the class and then to also subsequently employ the various elements of propaganda and persuasion that had been covered in the class. I felt compelled to make this clear – that in light of these requirements, this writing is more of an act of creative writing then an actual personal letter, therefore, there is a degree of artistic licensure at work here; which (to some) may be very obvious – and to others, less so. The things I write about myself may or may not be true explicitly or relatively; and there may or may not be some very personal subjective or objectives things related. But don’t read too much into it – because I won’t comment here those things that I just pushed farther out in a creative reach – if not for anything else, then to just have some fun, for no other reason then that I could.  I will say – however – that all the footnotes are actual, and the research and history related to Tillich are also factual.

Thanks for reading – and I hope you enjoy it!

-mbl
_______________________________

 

 

Dear Dr. Palmer,

 

I spent a considerable amount of time thinking about the questions that you asked of me in terms of the writing of this letter. It presupposes as degree of introspection to reflect upon the quality of one’s own writing, and – as it as turned out – this semester has in fact entailed a much greater amount of writing then has been required of me in previous semesters – which had, in turn, honestly already affected a significantly reflective consideration of the process of my writing. And while I am confident that I have written more papers and longer papers between Propaganda and Persuasion & Satanism, Witchcraft, and Spirit Possession then I have ever had to before, I am also confident that when you are pushed to your limits – that this is the place wherein you will generally, authentically find both your own strengths and your limitations: when discipline structures and capabilities are strained, and even – at times – altogether systematically fail. It is somewhat of a cultural idiom that ‘that which does not kill you – only makes you stronger.’ Many a comedian and burnt-out college student has issued an earnest corollary: that ‘all that is a lie – it does not make you stronger – it just leaves you somewhere between dead and alive.’ I think that the truth really does lie somewhere in between the two. It may not be a stretch to argue that – in a true Hegelian sense – they may both be true, and that the truth between them is something altogether different in its own nature, itself. Perhaps it is in this ‘half-deadness’ that we find more life – or what we might speak over ourselves in more confident moments, as some kind of existentially grounded strength that does come – only when a part of you really does die. Writers – and the present soul is certainly no exception – are most prone to this dance toward a self-styled sense of self-delusive self-absorption. Our own worlds flow out of the Rumpelstiltskin that is our own creativity; our own demon-driven muses – wherever they may be, in whatever form they may take. We cannot always tell our own straw – or the gold that we have in fact spun – from the same. Many a writer has lost their moorings to alcohol and other self-medications in their quests to either keep their mental looms threshing – or to painstakingly try to separate the gold from the straw. For some, it truly is easier to write a 60-page paper – then it is to trim a mere 10 pages from it.  How then can one find the strength to edit one’s own words – when we are ourselves are most blind to their quality?

If the editing is the praxis – then the theory that precedes it must certainly be The Muse. And to properly engage and tame the practice – you have to have some grasp of the rudimentary nuts and bolts that transfer the creative power from imagination to worlds[1] upon a page. Any creativity-mediating adjudicatory rubric necessarily resolves backward to its own creative foundations for the writer. To best edit – I must better know my own muse. I have to go back to the source. Some may argue that this is an archetypical tautology – and not an authentic teleological root. It does entail a risk to assume this creational ontology – but it is a risk I am quite willing to take. If to speak of the Muse is to speak of something real- then it is nothing less then the ultimate propagandist of the soul. It is an argument and a persuasion that should be sought – even at the risk of accepted, outright self-detriment and deception. The alternatives for the deeply creative soul – are without a doubt – much far worse.

There is a gentle irony – that the birthplace of many muses is nothing less then the womb of eros. In her paper “Woman” and the “Primitive” in Paul Tillich’s Life and Thought, Some Implications for the Study of Religion, Tracy Fessenden agues that all of the esteemed Christian theologian’s work may actually be his own attempt at being a veritable King Midas[2] with his own renegade, perpetually libertine and overt sexuality.  Fessenden quotes Rollo May, from his book Paulus: Reminiscences of a Friendship, “One of the qualities with which [Tillich] endow[ed] eros, and the loved woman, [was] the capacity to constitute him as a being,” and Tom Driver, from an article in New Republic that he wrote in 1973 –

 

Tillich’s pursuit of women was a search for the Eternal Feminine. Whether he was exclaiming over the “10,000 women’s legs” in Berlin, whether he was reading pornography, or whether he was seducing the latest woman of his life, he pursued the image of La femme éternelle, the shadow side of the Christian God, so deep in shadow that she cannot even be mentioned in systematic doctrine.

 

Fessenden goes on to unpack – not necessarily attempting to understand the entirety of the reason behind it – the seldom spoken, but albeit true nature of one of Christianity’s most respected theologians; that in a very real sense –he was literal the embodiment of a dirty old man.

If properly framed – Tillich may perhaps be properly understood in a two-fold way; that he understood the propaganda of his own muse and secretly abdicated any sense of self-control to the rule and reign of what he must have felt was his one, true, and sincere ground of all creative being. Indeed – the fact that a fellow theologian Reinhold Niebuhr once sent a student of his to see Tillich – only to have them return, saying that Tillich had overtly sexually groped them – seems to be stuff of wild and crazy gossip. That it happened – has been substantiated.[3] Fessenden points out that Driver argued that the “lurid details” of Tillich’s “secret sexual life” certainly had “no place at all in his theology,”[4] but argues against him, writing

 

I argued that Tillich the connoisseur of prostitutes and pornography and Tillich the systematic theologian might be seen to converge in, for example, the musings on the erotic resonance of “woman” in The Socialist Decision, the image of the ground being as life-giving and life-extinguishing womb in Systematic Theology, or the sexualizing of primitive ritual and art in The Demonic.[5]

 

According to Tillich biographers Wilhelm and Marion Pauck, Tillich regarded his overt sexuality as a

 

“…means to productive intellectuality…he did not want to pay the high price of the loss of nature, the demonic, the world of art, intuitive truth, and mysticism….deprived of the experience of the erotic, whether actual or sublimated…he could not produce.”[6]

 

Brevity and the personal nature of my own search for my own muse precludes a protracted discussion of its nature and my own historical searches for it – misadventures included. I will say that I do someday hope to write something of it – in what may evolve under the title of The Firefly Effect: Capturing and Being Captured by the Muse/Power of Love – but it is an extended conversations that I will save for space elsewhere.

I must concede, however, that throughout the duration of the semester, the dynamics of my own muse, and the constant creative output that was required of me were constantly on my mind. Concomitant to this – was the irony of the mysticism (and perhaps the seeming ‘witchiness’ of my own convictions of the dynamics of what might be considered an ontology of muses – but also how all of these resolve back to the very basic elements and tenants of Propaganda and Persuasion themselves. Unfortunately – at this time, I am unable to find any documentation or transcripts of a program that I heard online, while listening to NPR. The host was interviewing the director (I believe) of one of the national zoos, and the topic of her discussion was “Sex at the Zoo.” She argued – very convincingly, I might add – that almost all of the relationship dynamics that are observed in the sexuality of humans, can, surprisingly enough, be found “almost in spades” to use her exact words – in the animal kingdom. Perhaps this is the most amazingly pervasive, profoundly disturbing and immensely powerful element that I have taken away from this Propaganda & Persuasion; that all of our abstract and lofty philosophical extrapolations and endless terminologies may be rooted much less in cultural phenomena and societal potential – but more so in the functional nuts and bolts of our life itself. In my presentation – I made the short exclamation that Life was Propaganda. I stand by this assertion. In his book The Technological Society, Jacques Ellul, argued that as part of the ongoing evolution of our own society – we are increasingly subjugated by the technical and standardization of the ‘routine’-ized.  The terms “routinization of charisma” is a terms synonymous with German Sociologist Max Weber[7] – but for Ellul, it means much more then the charisma of a leader being made predicable and safe for a culture and the movement behind it – but more so (potentially) the very creative essence of culture itself.

 

Nothing belongs any longer to the realm of the gods or the supernatural. The individual who lives in the technical mileu knows very well that there is nothing spiritual anywhere. But man cannot live without the sacred. He therefore transfers his sense of the sacred to the very thing, which has destroyed its former object: to technique itself. In the world itself, technique has become the essential mystery, taking widely diverse forms according to place and race. Those who have preserved some of the notions of magic both admire and fear technique.[8]

 

I think that there is a critical truth here. I believe that it is possible to cogently argue that the one defining characteristic the embodies any approximation of what one might remotely consider “American Exceptionalism” is necessarily contingent upon a responsible and jurisprudent acceptance and (furthermore, for that matter) practice of a ‘mystical heart’ on the level of the individual citizen – collectively expressed as a whole. There is a whole fleet of contingencies that I would argue should be articulated – for a full defense of this; which are beyond the fully and acceptable expectation of this letter – but I nonetheless assert it to be true. I assert that this is our one and only salvation to save us from ruinous and mindless adherence to mind-numbing, spirit-crushing, existentially-abusive totalitarianism: that there is and will always be some form of a foundation ‘beyond ourselves’ that we may not be able to always understand or even subjectively appropriate – but we necessarily – simply must honor and celebrate. I believe that this is Tillich’s theologically fabled “ground of all being:” the foundation that can never be shaken – when everything else is shaken.[9] It is also expressed in Kierkegaard’s ‘Knight of Faith.’[10] I believe that the greatest power in society rests upon the level of the individual. I believe that democracy, propaganda, and ethics form a trifecta – the unifying power of which has always been, and must always be, an individualistic mysticism that is not a form of blind fideism[11] neither an all-encompassing rationalism. If these two things can be approximated as extremes – then again, the truth is in the dance between: the dialectic that forms when they are thrust together. My own work, has traditionally revolved around these presumptions. I believe that these cannot be proven directly – but only (as Kierkegaard argued) by indirect subjective exploration.[12] Kierkegaard, in some of his early works, employed what he referred to as ‘indirect communication’ – or, essentially ‘deceiving a person into the truth.’[13] Kierkegaard would write a book about something and purposefully fail (as a technique of Propaganda and Persuasion) at making a case for a given point. Having failed (or appeared to have failed) the reader would then be implied to provisionally accept the opposite dichotiomatic position; where Kierkegaard would want them to be, in terms of his true agenda. Kierkegaard was, more or less, my ‘gateway drug’ into the world of Philosophy – and then subsequently later Theological studies. It should be added – that in many aspects, the idea of theological studies can not be separated from the art of persuasion and ideological assertion. Apologetics[14] is the artful term for what would otherwise be considered religious propaganda.

I confess that I struggle with the idea of writing from an ‘apologetic’ standpoint – and that the general spirit of my writing, seems to more naturally flow from what might be considered a ‘prophetic’ or ‘corrective’ dimension. The passion that drives my writing – is built more so on the desire to rebuild a foundation, as it were – then to try to argue for its existence to begin with. Though it may sound inexcusably non-pastoral to say it – I am not as much interested in arguing or persuading those who do not believe to do so – but rather my passion to it speak to those who already do – and to help them find a way to either take it to the next level – or get back on the level that they should be on to begin with.

I feel that I have made efforts to be more ‘multidimensional’ in my writing – because I know that there are moments in time when the writing can and should seek to write towards the audience. I know that I have enjoyed what I felt was a degree of rhetorical freedom in writing for this class – as I have been able to employ ideas and frameworks which I could assume to be already understood, and I did not allocate extra space to their ‘unpacking.’ One weakness – however – in my writing, is that I took too much liberty in this regard, and over-assumed. This is represented in the corrections that I have made.

In terms of writing to you of the grade that I feel that I potentially deserve – I will take a radical chance and I will admit to the following: that I believe that A’s are all too often given out. An “A” should represent an uncommon meta-intelligence; capable of asserting a degree of stasis, in an otherwise unpredictable pedagogical relation. For instance – I once read that Kierkegaard, when he was a young school boy, was told by his sternly patriarchal father, that he did not want him to be first in his class – but that he wanted him to in fact to be third place in the allotted grade positions. This meant that the young Kierkegaard did not only have to know how good of a student he had to be (to be number one) but he had to selectively ‘scale’ back his demonstrated academic performance, not just by one degree, but by two – respective to the perceived pedagogically-adjudicated positions of two of his classmates. He had to know how smart they were  – and then subsequently play “adequately dumb” insofar as he would place just below them. This is a form of intelligence that extends beyond the classroom textbook – and into a knowledge of how and in what way one’s own intelligence compares in capability to select other individuals. I believe that an “A” should be awarded to students who can demonstrate a ‘meta-capability’ in terms of interelatory persuasional dynamics. I will further take a radical risk – and assert that if I have adequately demonstrated an appropriate form of ‘meta-capability’ – then, potentially, I might be deserving of an A. For your consideration – I will likewise make a bold assertion, and ask the question – have I influenced you? Perhaps in an even bolder statement – have I been able to be a form or expression of a muse unto you? Have I pushed your own creativity or spirituality into new places by virtue of giving you the book on mysticism or creating the posters for you – have I demonstrated an ability to recognize and then subsequently harness your creational energies, and then concomitantly with responsibility, persuade them to advance to a greater level? I do not believe that one need always know that their muse is in fact functioning in that given capacity. A muse has an intrinsically felicitous nature by virtue of what it is to begin with. If I have been a great asset to you, as a student, in addition to above average quality work – then I would humbly ask for an A. Otherwise – I know if you have not received a benefit in our teacher-student dichotomy- that I am only deserving of a B.

 

 

Sincerely and Respectfully Submitted,

 

 

Matthew Lipscomb


[1] ‘Worlds’ is intentionally used here – and not a potentially presumed ‘words;’ as it is voluminous aggregates of words that serve to create these singular worlds.

[2] “Woman” and the “Primitive” in Paul Tillich’s Life and Thought, Some Implications for the Study of Religion, page five.

[3] “Woman” and the “Primitive” in Paul Tillich’s Life and Thought, Some Implications for the Study of Religion, page five.

[4] Ibid, page three.

[5] Ibid, page three.

[6] Ibid, page four.

[8] The Technological Socity, pg. 143.

[9] http://www.religion-online.org/showbook.asp?title=378 (The Shaking of the Foundations by Paul Tillich).

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Propaganda & Persuasion – Comments on an Interpretive Heuristic with Reference to George Bush’s Post-9/11 Speech

Matthew Lipscomb

Dr. Heather Palmer

Propaganda & Persuasion, 1/27/2011

Comments on an Interpretive Heuristic with

Reference to George Bush’s Post-9/11 Speech

 

 

 

1) What is the main claim/thesis/idea?
The main claim that is made is that there has been a radical shift in the way that the world works. This has been referenced (elsewhere) as a ‘pre-9/11 mindset.’ Essentially, President Bush is outlining the reasons and the necessity for a shift in thinking, or the adoption of a ‘post-9/11’ mentality on the part of all americans.

Where exactly is it stated (textual references)?
“All of this was brought upon us in a single day — and night fell on a different world, a world where freedom itself is under attack.” “And night fell on a different world” invokes a specific imagery that the world is now a very different place then it was before. (Italics are mine in the reference.)

What type of claim is it? (fact, cause, evaluation, and/or policy)

I think that you can argue that this is initially a fact/cause claim with a correspondingly mutual element, insofar as I think that you can also argue that, subsequent to this, there is also the insinuated secondary dichotomy of an ‘evaluation/policy’ procedure, which is also correspondingly argued to be at work. In terms of an ‘ontology of power,’ there is a definite teleological flow that one can argue is thereby presented. You could argue that the speech is actually presenting an argument for a fact, cause, evaluation, and policy metanarrational archetype.

Historians will point out that this has a strong grounding in historical, socio-political, ideological dynamics – in terms of a being a reproducible effect, which may or may not (in the past) have actually functioned within the control of any one delineable ‘agent of asserted power.’

In WWI and WWII it is easy to show how ‘agents of asserted power’ tried to yield influence toward the accomplishment of certain goals; contextually within this frame of understanding: that of trying to get a given country either into a state of military conflict or, instead, trying to keep them out of it. For instance, take into consideration the political figure of Joseph Kennedy (who was decidedly pro-German/Nazi), and the correspondingly ‘liberal’ theological figure of the Rev. Harry Emerson Fosdick. Each were unabashed apologists for Nazi Germany and sought to keep America out of a war with them. The foil, which overtook and ultimately frustrated their efforts, was the bombing of Perl Harbor – which served as a “Fact.”  The “Cause” of this fact – hence became that America was an inalienable partner in an ontology of power in terms that it had been brought into a relationship with another power, which was in this case, the Japanese Military. The subsequent “Evaluation” of this change in terms of a ‘changed state’ of relationship between these two powers, was the there had been an change in terms of America’s presupposed invulnerability in the ideology-cost differential extant in the ontology of power between the two nation-states. No longer could an idea merely be discussed over cigars and poker.  Bombs had fallen. Ships had been sunk. Ideology was now understood to have definite economic and nation-wide consequences – both immediate and inescapably long term. Pacifism was no longer tenable either as table talk or in the halls of international diplomacy. Neville Chamberlains now infamous “peace in our time” quote was seen as patently ludicrous – if not delusional. The “policy’ was then that a state of war was declared. All of this can be seen from a rhetorical standpoint – but (I believe) caution must be exercised as to not cause an academically-induced myopia.  A purely rhetorical analysis may suitably expand upon what may be describable as a sort of ‘archeology of knowledge/understanding’  – or an unpacking of discursive (between the conventional forms of) truths – but it should (I assert) be necessarily incorporated also into a historical context; which prevents an understanding of the situation from becoming purely subjective and detached from the objective realities that faced the participants in this given historical situation.  This same ideological dynamic is essentially a repeat of the sinking of the Lusitania – in terms of how it drew America into WWI. The Lusitania, in this case, acted as the teleological agent for the before mentioned ontology of a subsequent national-wide war mentality. It represented a massive shift in the ontology of power between the nation states in the equation: relationships were inextricably and irreparably altered.

It might be argued that this dynamic of inducement may prove impossible to control/create by those who would seek such ends. There is also argument that there have been those who have purposefully tried to create just such situations by nature of their own machinations for just such purposes. There were multiple conspiracy theories that the Lusitania was a planned disaster. Such conspiracies also translate into like-wise scenarios with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. It is no small mystery, therefore, that such archetypical conspiratory inclinations are not in full effect in regards to 9/11. The evidential and accepted belief in the power of the dynamic of fact cause, evaluation, and policy is concomitant with a suspicion of its controlled inducement by the hands of conspiratorially presupposed-to-exist nefarious malfeasants -who would naturally be hell-bent on inducing war.

 

2) What is the kairos of the rhetorical situation? What is the exigence?

The kairos is that there has been a national tragedy, which had affected literally every American everywhere. The exigence is that President Bush is here attempting to demonstrate that there is no longer a disconnect between the two ontologies of power – but that, against our will, we have been brought into a relationship with a separate ontology of power (in this case Al Qaida) and there is a cause/effect relationship that is both evident and punitive towards our own ontology of power- or – the sum substance of our country, our interests, and our people. An argument is made that there can be no denial of an extant relationship between these two ontologies of power (Al Qaida & America) and that it the volitional agency of Al Qaida is expressly devoted to be intentionally punitive and expressly militant in terms of seeking maximum death, danger, and terror in the effects of their operations upon Americans and their interests. It is argued as implicitly undeniable so.

 

3) Who is the intended audience? How does the text “gesture” to them?
The intended audience is the American People, directly – but also the international audiences, abroad. The text makes an effort to be expansive and not just self-centered. Very distinct references are made that the attacks were not just against Americans – but also towards other nationalities, and that there had been symbolic acts of mutual interrelation by political foreign dignitaries carried out and distinctly trans-cultural/religious representatives who had spoken out and embraced the idea of the attack being an attack against them as well.

The text is also aimed at the Taliban. In it Bush gives very clear and decisive warnings to them it terms of what their expected reaction is to be in lieu of the certain demands he is placing upon them.

The speech could be considered both agitative and integrative – in that it is both stirring up the audience and also trying to sooth their concerns at the same time. It is more then just an ‘everything is going to be ok’ moment- rather, it is a ‘things will be ok – but great work must be done to bring this state of being to pass,’ effort on the part of the speaker. We are agitated to move towards a perceived goal of victory over the terrorists so that we can find a place of peace and security – or at least find a path that will to the best of our knowledge most logically lead in that direction.

 

4) What major appeals does the text use to assert its claim?
The appeal is that the attack is a paradigm shifter in terms of its overall historical context, as previously mentioned. It also serves to outline that exactly what the war will look like is not entirely knownable.

What type of evidence? (qualititative/quantitative)

The speech attempts to make a historical connection to achieve the effectiveness (quality) of its presentation, but also cites multiple examples of historically accepted truth-examples (“they follow in the path of fascism, Nazism, and totalitarianism”).  This is a crucial element, which serves to reinforce the understanding of 9/11 to be of a Lusitania/Pearl Harbor histo-archetype. 

Are there any rhetorical fallacies? What are they?

It is arguable that the idea of being ‘either with us or against us’ is a fallacy – in that there is no doubt a large contingency which is not able to make an educated choice in the matter, either out of cultural prejudices or a lack of any formal news. A degree of grace should be granted those who cannot adequately adjudicate such potentially complex and nuanced histo-political dynamics. While it makes sense to illustrate the harsh geopolitical delineations that have to be made, such a statement must be understood to be subjectively true – but objectively false – because of the conflations necessary to making in an absolute vs. a relative understanding.

It is also potentially arguable that the categorization of 9/11 as being the before mentioned historically war-inducing archetype might also be a presupposition. The truth is this: that history cannot be fully controlled by any one person or agency, but that it has its own unpredictable nature that is inalienably intrinsic to it. No one is capable of fully predicting what any one historical event is or is not capable of doing. History can be made – but it always follows its own course. This is one argument against a supposed ‘neocon’ understanding of 9/11, in terms of it actually just being a blip on the historical continuum and not at all a Lusitania or Peal Harbor-type game-changer. Further arguments coming from a neo-pacifist mindset argue that all military aggression is outmoded and unneeded in the now-modern world, and that essentially all such archetypes are archaic and have no suitable modern context.

 

5) What are the major stylistic devices used by the text? (consider tone, use of metaphor, organization, sentence structure, word choice) Are they effective?
There is a degree of verbal imagery that is used. One example is the use of the ‘night’ in “and night fell on a different world, a world where freedom itself is under attack.” The word “night” and/or “tonight” are used 14 times. Another example is the declaration that the ideology that is confronting America will share a worthless end, “And they will follow that path all the way, to where it ends: in history’s unmarked grave of discarded lies.”

 

6) What ideology informs the discourse of the text and its claim?
It would be considered by most to be a “neoconservative” response. This is typified as:

 

▪            “a tendency to see the world in binary good/evil terms

▪            low tolerance for diplomacy

▪            readiness to use military force

▪            emphasis on US unilateral action

▪            disdain for multilateral organizations

▪            focus on the Middle East

▪            an us versus them mentality”.

(source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7825039.stm)

 

 

What shared values/common ground does it use to persuade?

The argument is presented that the arguments of the opposing power are against the values of Western Culture; these being chiefly, Freedom, Personal Empowerment, and the right to pursue spiritual diversity. It is possible that this may also be a rhetorical fallacy in that it begs the question – ‘well then, just what in the world would “Eastern Cultural Values” look like?’

 

7) Ultimately, is the text successful at delivering its intended claim to its intended audience? Why or why not?

I believe that it did. It spoke confidence to a shaken public. Within the kairos of the moment – there was a need for unshakeable decisively on the part of the perceived leadership. This was necessary, perhaps, not as much for military and geopolitical influence – but perhaps a step towards healing of the National Emotive Consciousness – which had arguably been wounded. In terms of a larger dynamic – the attacks were geared toward the accomplishment of a certain goal: inflict fear, terror and a feeling of regret upon the mental attitude of the American public. If at least it could be strongly relayed back to Osama Bin Laden – watching CNN from his cave – that this military goal had decisively failed, then at least that directive would have been accomplished by showing that the reason they attacked had proven to be a fruitless endeavor. Terrorism and the personal sacrifice of suicide bombers persist, in part, because of the perceived success of previous archetypically-similar events. Part of the response (both on a macro and a micro level) must be to show that this simply will not work. If it is possible to reinforce this belief –then further practice can potentially be stymied, and the idea of a ‘death by a thousand paper cuts’ will be seen to be ineffective – after a million, and then a billion paper cuts seemingly have no further deteriorative effects to a given nations imperatives and their related directives.

Does the text somehow subvert its intended claim by saying something other than the overt intention?
          I think that this is a good example of so-called ‘White Propaganda’ in terms of its directness. One can argue that this is a ‘Neoconservative’ response – and that it is, is not argued against here – insofar as it is also argued that it was the correct response at the correct time in terms of there being a kairotic Moment which decisively and inexcusably called for it. For contextualization purposes – let us posit that there had been a few different votes cast in Florida, and Al Gore had been elected. How would he have responded? It was well known that George Bush was at least to some degree archetypically and politically aligned with such neoconservative ideas as to how the world really works. Al Gore also has a history in terms of his own speeches that he has also made in terms of his own worldview. How would he have reacted? Would Al Gore have been able to inhabit this kairos space in an appropriate way? Was the ‘neocon’ response the right kind for the moment at hand – or would he have opted for a conciliatory stance towards the attackers? Would he have apologized to the world for how Al Qaida has misunderstood us – and how much we need to reanalyze out own positions accordingly? Would he have said – like the before mentioned liberal theologian Harry Emerson Fosdick did – that “we deserved it”?

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Propaganda & Persuasion, Ethics Short Response Paper – Is propaganda in the 20th Century a pessimistic enterprise?

Matthew Lipscomb

Dr. Heather Palmer

Propaganda & Persuasion, 2/8/2011

Ethics Short Response Paper

 

 

Q: Do you think propaganda in the 20th Century in fact rests on a fundamentally pessimistic vision of the human psyche and its latent drives (aggressive, sexual)? Or do you think it offers more of a productive outlet for desire? How?
My conviction is that to just explain propaganda as being ‘just pessimistic’ is potentially conflational; which is to say that it has an irresponsible flattening affect and is too limited to allow for critical nuances that should be taken into account. Pessimism is a dimension – or perhaps a vector; but it cannot adequately explain the full range of dichotomies and their related forces: their respective interplays at work all mixing, dancing and sometimes confronting each other, as it were, at least in terms of a more comprehensive theory of overall governing dynamics – such as that which will be argued to be at work within the world in this paper. A certain degree of pessimism is warranted – but so is the essence of hope.

In Cormack McCarthy’s novel, The Sunset Limited, the character of the professor makes the statement that Western Civilization went up in smoke in the chimneys of Auschwitz. Such a nihilist viewpoint is not without warrant. In many ways, the grand metanarratives of the 20th century – such as Darwin’s ‘survival of the fittest’ and Nietzsche’s  ‘will to power’ – found their full expression, and, many would argue, full articulation and subsequent end result in the Nazi rule and ruin. Christians who argue for an escalating degeneration of world affairs leading up to a so-called ‘end times/rapture’ eschatological culmination of religious theories would be hard pressed to argue that the world will ever be as bad as it was at that point in time. In the midst of a world situation where committed pacifists like Dietrich Bonhoeffer became committed conspiratorial assassins – there arose what we now refer to as our own ‘Greatest Generation.’  In this sense, the awfulness and despair of an inescapable situation brought about tremendous bravery, sacrifice and innovation.

One can even argue – however unpopular it may be in the assertion thereof – that the war had the end effect of radically transforming the culture of at least two countries from being radical and war-like – to veritable cornerstones of peace, technological advancement and societal advancement; these being, namely Japan and Germany. It should be pointed out that the national character of Japan was once deeply and profoundly feared. The so-called ‘rape of Nanking’ is a horrific account of man’s capacity of evil and tremendous carnage.  In today’s day and age, however, Japan has in fact conquered the world. Not by buying people up to their necks and chopping their heads off for sport, or by betting on the sex of unborn babies and then gutting the mothers with machetes to settle the question (as they did prolifically in Nanking to the Chinese citizens for a period of six weeks in December of 1937). Today – they have conquered the world with semiconductors. The national character and culture (which I would argue to be the aggregate existential/psychosocial content of its citizens) was not done away with – but it was radically transformed into a beneficent force.

The two examples of our so-called “greatest generation” – which set about to transform our own country in amazing ways – as well as the examples of nations radically transformed, are only two examples of what I argue to be illustrations of immense good coming from tremendous national (and arguably individually psychosocial) catastrophe. This catastrophe of war is itself representative of the full capacity of what the human psyche can come to be and come to represent – both on a micro-personal level, and on an aggregate macro-national socio/national-cultural level. In 1970 Edwin Starr sang the popular anti-war song (a propaganda tool in and of itself) “War – what is it good for?” Perhaps, using the examples here, we could toss out an answer?

Secondarily, and on a more honest note – I believe that, essentially, propaganda is a neutral force. It is neither intrinsically bad, nor intrinsically good. It can incite wars. It can win them. It can argue for and/or against them. It is the background to the ongoing interaction of man and man, man and group and even man and nature. If anything, it is grounded in more then just the psyche – but moreso one’s ‘existential posit:’ or the full representation of oneself contextually and relationally understood to all and everything else. To argue for its principle foundation as being the psyche is an oversimplification. I hold propaganda to also be potentially non-will mediated; which is to say that it is potentially spontaneously and unconsciously-derived – possessive of a potential non-purposefully directed affluence. This is a second archetypical conflation that is directed against propaganda. Because man is sufficiently advanced enough to potentially assume that nothing exists outside of either Will or Language, this does not presume it to in fact be so. An evolutionary biologist could, utilizing the same understandings as we associate with propaganda, easily juxtapose the dynamics and mechanics of specieal[1] evolution.

Recently, the Chattanooga Times Free Press carried an article Tiny water flea has longest genome (Times Free Press, Feb. 7, 2011, pg. A14). It explained that of all the living creatures that had had their genetic makeup fully sequenced, this certain species of flea has been shown to be possessive of the longest – fully 1/3rd larger then that of the human genome.  University of California, Santa Barbara marine biologist Todd Oakly – who was involved in the study – has argued that the increased number of genes could be related to the tiny creatures survival in increasingly polluted waters. Dynamics of macro and micro transformative and affluent dynamics exist beyond just the psychosocial substrate – they permeate every layer of existence of every living creature and thing. Nothing escapes the influence of something else. Nature is her own black propagandist. The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer argued that all that love really is, is mother nature’s own trick to assure the propagation of the species. Sure – it may be fun to postcolonially dismiss that as the bitter ramblings of a sexually frustrated patriarachalist, who failed at love and thus merely chose to philosophize about it in such a way as to make his failure his own success. Maybe- but then maybe not. On a rudimentary, level we can show the ‘psycho-social substrate of existence’ as being alive and actively influenced by both purposeful and inadvertent intents. But a closer and more honest take reveals a host of dynamics that have a hold upon us and influence us across a variety of levels.  The secular humanist may argue that it was the birth of cognitive potential that heralded the domination of the planet by man. Others argue that the same may prove to be his ultimate evolutionary undoing. If anything, the cognitive capacity of man to be both self-aware and ‘other’-reflexive accentuates and amplifies these counter-affluent dynamics, which we define as propaganda.

One door that is opened with a ‘scientific ethical view’ is that a ‘continuum of affluence’ is essentially existentially unzipped. This forces other doors and other potential nuances to be confronted as well. If existential affluence can be successfully exerted while fully abstracted from a psychosocial context – other contexts must be considered as potential involved as well. Many religious thinkers appose a dualist understanding of spirituality and physicality, arguing instead that – like the presumptions of propaganda to be purely an object of mental abstraction – those which may be considered ‘spiritual’ may in fact not be fully removed at all times from that which would be considered the ‘physical.’ If nature has her own voice of propaganda influencing both decisions and destiny – are there other elements of that could be seen to constitute an actual state of ‘systematic totality’ that by their respective authentic natures are transcendent to any and all presuppositions of any assumed ontological nature?

One lesson that can be learned – is the dangers of a haughty or a forced presuppositional view of ‘capital R’ Reality. If a view of reality is forced to conform to an assumed standard – does that assumed standard become the “capital T’ truth, any more then the denial of a subject that he or she is or is not under the legislating and authoritative influence of a propagandist, regardless of if they are or are not? It is as possible for an essentially free agent to willfully self-delude themselves with just as much fervor and efficacy as could any 2nd or 3rd party potentially. Existential authenticity, either contextual or self-reflective, can never be taken for granted. Its assurance is only approximated by constant vigilance against factors from every conceivable dimension. It may not always be consistently possible to properly adjudicate the presence or absence of either transcendent-to-self realties or those possessive of either relationally contextual and/or merely influence-yielding dynamics. Is it man – or is it nature herself? Is it my relation to my fellow man – or is it my place within this world itself? I have to ask these basic & fundamental questions before I can move on to the efficacy-power and quality-essence questions of influencing factors. This is perhaps the most-true value of pessimism in a situational self-introspective act: to always be cautious of any false presumptions. It is upon this foundation that any further work in regards to Ethics can and must begin.

In conclusion – the full historical understanding of the potential for human psyche must be taken into account, especially when examining the aggregate thereof – such as when looking at the character of a given nation. To only see it as a single state, at a single time, is a radical conflation – both in its nature and its potential. The qualities of the psychosocial desires of either a person or a national character must be seen through the lenses of an ongoing historical dialectic. If this can be understood from the perspective of man-to-himself – the affluence-inducing factors of his environment must also be taken into consideration, from the same understanding. Man is an agent of propaganda – and so is nature and corresponding scientific and possibly metaphysical law. The pursuit of justice and peace – either on a national level or the individual level – cannot be made without this ‘big picture’ understanding. These mechanics will work for or against us – regardless of whether we acknowledge their power and influence against us. Understanding them acknowledging them is the first step in utilizing them for our advantage.


[1] Not ‘special’ but of and related to the classification of species in terms of their various taxonomies and how they relate to various other forces – such as (here in this example) evolution.

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A Controversy in Manhattan

Matthew Lipscomb

Dr. Heather Palmer

Propaganda & Persuasion, 3/1/2011

Corporate Propaganda Paper

 

 

A Humble, Precursory Preface –

Before I begin, I would like to state that in terms of the discussion that follows, I have felt deeply impacted by both my own experiences and conversations with those who live on ‘both sides of the aisle’ in regards to the issue of Abortion. I would accept the label of ‘pro-life activist’  – but I have the strong conviction that I must speak to the reader that this does not preclude some degree of assumed insensitivity on my part in regards to the issue as it relates to women on a very personal and implicational level. I will confess that I have shed many tears of my own. Many, after being confronted by the tears of someone else. My own heart is no less settled, nor secured – but remains torn and pained in a way that words would both fail to related and describe. As the famous-to-many-evangelical-conservatives missionary martyr Jim Elliot once said – “the dust of words would cover me.”

– Matthew Lipscomb,
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, 2.28.11

 

 A Controversy in Manhattan

            President Barrack Obama, shortly after he was elected, once famously quipped that “elections have consequences.”  Indeed, once can easily argue that after the midterm elections – this dynamic has in fact proven to be true – however, this time – to the dismay of many socially liberal democrats. All over the country numerous pro-life oriented bills are advancing in state houses across the land, and the issue of abortion has once again been thrown into the contentious forefront.[1] One small act in this long, drawn out controversy played itself out in the form of a billboard that was put up in downtown Manhattan by a pro-life activist group called Life Always.

The reason that this particular billboard is of interest in regards to the nature of this paper – is that the campaign behind it is unique in terms of a propaganda piece, in that it is not just functioning as a sales tool, but one that also contains a polemic message. The purpose of the group Life Always is to serve as a counter-agent in terms of Planned Parenthoods goals and ideology. In this sense – there is a more complex dynamic of message, confrontation, and refutation going on. Whereas much of propaganda-related advertising is intended to sooth – this one is more or less intended to upset. The stated intention of Life Always is to promote a vision of life against what it sees as an abortion industry complex that sees women as merely a product to be exploited.  This may, on its face, be a tremendous oversimplification – but even if such a generalized denigration is not in truth true, it does not diminish the fact that one of the primary founders of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger, was an avowed racist, who once referred to blacks as being weeds – and openly conspired to distribute birth control to black mothers as to prevent not just pregnancies but more specifically black pregnancies.[2] Essentially, Life Always argues that this same Malthusian, Eugenicist ideology is alive and well – if not blatantly so, on a philosophic level – at least on that of a functional one. The billboard features a very young black girl, and the words “the most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb.”

            The billboard was taken down by the advertising agency, less then a week after it was put up, amid great controversy and accusations of racism. In a press release,[3] posted to their website thatsabortion.com Life Always stated that what they were saying was neither racist nor contrived.

 

In 2009, according to New York City Vital Statistics

(http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/downloads/pdf/vs/2009sum.pdf),

59.82 percent of black pregnancies ended in abortion. 59.8 percent of black pregnancies ending in abortion means that 1,489 black babies are aborted in New York City for every 1,000 born alive.

 

The press release went on to state:

The reaction to this billboard is centered on trauma; abortion is traumatic, it is the emotional and physical trauma that women face after abortion that necessitates access to post-abortive healing services. While this billboard causes a visceral reaction from many African Americans, it addresses a stubborn truth that 60 percent of black babies do not make it out of the womb. We must do something now. Instead of challenging the design of the ad, we should ask why the message is true and how can we change the fact that the leading cause of death for African Americans is abortion.

 

In this sense – the seemingly innocent little girl on the front of the poster is making some horrifically dreadful accusations – that of an ongoing, campaign of black genocide against African Americans. But is this an exaggeration? Are inner-city blacks targets of aggressive market capitalization in regards to abortion profitability? Recent headlines ran lurid with horrific details of an abortion provider in Philadelphia, Kermit Gosnell, who has been indicted by a grand jury for systematically delivering live babies and then brutally killing them with scissors. Investigators charged not just the operators of the clinic – but demanded accountability from regulatory agencies who had let the clinic slide by for years without any health inspections because of the sensitive nature of the topic – even as the unsanitary conditions at the clinic approached the point of being grotesque – a “filthy, foul-smelling ‘house of horrors” which owed it’s perpetuity to a “complete regulatory collapse.”[4]

With stories like this on the front page, and many new republican majorities in state legislatures, it would seem like a prime opportunity for anti-abortion forces to assert what they may feel is a new-found dominance. Indeed, Mara Gay writing for Aol News likened the billboard as seeming “to announce an invasion from the Bible Belt in the ultra-liberal streets of Manhattan.”  Perhaps it was too much, even for pugnacious New York mindsets – but its swift removal may serve to foster even greater activism elsewhere. A ‘take this down, and 10 more will replace it’ fundraising mentality is readily visible on Life Always’ website, who no doubt now see the battle as firmly enjoined.

Just as stories about the Nazi holocaust prick the hearts of those in the Jewish community – so does speaking of the handing out of diseased, small pox-infested blankets to colonial era American Indians grab a hold of that of a Native American. [5]  Meanwhile, many southerners feel the temptations to embrace so-called Neo-confederate[6] views of the so-called “Lost Cause”[7] doctrine; the idea the Civil War was not really about the issue of slavery but rather was an attempt to preserve a peaceful, agrarian-based, beautiful and majestic way of life against and aggressive, domineering, industrially-exploitative North. The ‘war against slavery’ becomes ‘the war of northern aggression,’ the wholesale deception, slaughter and abolishment of any and all things Native American becomes “Manifest Destiny,” as perhaps Hitler’s goals are potentially relegated as misplaced efforts at simply procuring political stability and “lebensraum”/living space for the German people. Are we ok to just chalk up the fact that 60 percent of African Americans never take their first breath of air in the name of a woman’s right over her own body? Is that and all of the before mentioned cultural ideological dynamics merely some kind of semiotic wrestling match carried out by two-bit academics in the grand so-called Wittgensteinian language-game[8] of things? Is there any merit to what Life Always wants to tell us in their poster? Are we going down to road to barbarity in the name of our own situational convenience to others – just as we seemingly have done over and over and over again historically in what may be merely other re-contextualizations of the same atrocities historically replayed? There is no doubt that some American Indians may see no connection, nor Germans, nor Jews, nor those of any northern or southern persuasion. But this fact is undeniable. In an age where African Americans are increasingly referred to as a ‘Minority-Minority,’[9] it will give pause to think – as to whether there is something indeed horrific going on in the name of liberty and decency. In this sense – Life Always’ poster strips away any political inclinations and thrusts the conscience of any African American into a brutal ‘what the hell’ moment of potential clarity. If anything – the efficacy of the poster is so devastatingly explicit – it would seem that one could not help but be brought into some form of dialog about the harsh reality of Abortion’s impact in African American demographics. A central aspect to the abortion argument is the force of a personalized ethos/passion. If we went back in time and walked into a ballroom full of pre-civil war ‘southern bells’ – and abruptly told them that all their antebellum mansions would be burned to the ground, their way of life destroyed, and their genteel, aristocracy was about to become a thing of the past – owing to the fact that it owed it existence to the slave trade enterprise for its sustenance and propagation. How would your speech be taken? Would you be shot on the spot? And what if with that same time machine we told frontier settlers that their colonialist oppression of indigenous culture was patently demonic and they too would be forced into the ash heap of unsustainable and morally bankrupt cultures.  The famous philosopher Heidegger was reluctant to ever issue a full-throated self-rebuke for donning the uniform of a Nazi. In the end – passion, whatever the degree of existential force it may exert – is historically potentially self-deceptive and culturally self-blinding in its self-absorption. “The Other” always faces dehumanization when it or they are in the way of what is understood to be progress and civility in terms of a self-contextualization for the superior power in a social ontology of power.  A young black child cuts through all the ideologically red-tape for African Americans – and may well better connect the dots for them then in any such way as any skilled oratory on the supposed intrinsic value of all life and any subsequent assertion of everyone’s right to be given their first breath could.  A young black child cuts to the stark and confrontational notion that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness on the part of those who breath is not being extended to those have yet to take their first.

My own feelings is that Life Always’ poster is only one small part of a much larger social puzzle that Western Civilization is still trying to put together. We have solved many other riddles. We have accepted our past horrific faults in our own self-missrepresentations of what we thought was ‘justice’ and our excuses for our own ‘cultural advancement.’ I do believe that as Feminist and even Gay theorists continue to unpack the concept of the “other” and the contiguous-to-it process of historical anthro-alienation and relational debasement that the “other” has continually undergone in seemingly relentlessly repetitive socio-cultural contextual rearticulations, at literally every significant point in the histo-political continuums -that at some point they may well have an ‘uh-oh’ moment. The innocent face of a young black child intended to represent the loss of life on the part of so many innocent – may prove to either slow down or speed up the process for the African American Community in terms of their own position on it. If they do see the valuation of ‘the other’ through different eyes – then personal, ethos-contingent situations may matter less – and life more. And if they and other ethno-geographic groups can self-identify with atrocities committed against them in the name of Situational Convenience – then the cultural pendulum may yet swing in a different direction. If Abortion is a puzzle that we can solve, there will no doubt be more challenges to face us in the future, and if so – then the speed and the diligence with which we address our own shortcomings past, present, and future may serve to be the keys by which past travesties are redeemed into a future justice; the abode of alienation and dehumanization – transformed into authentic, meaningful and purposeful unity and meaningful and strength-provisioning diversity.

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