The Witness of These

You do not con­sist of any of the ele­ments — earth, water, fire, air, or even ether. To be lib­er­at­ed, know your­self as con­sist­ing of con­scious­ness, the wit­ness of these. If only you will remain rest­ing in con­scious­ness, see­ing your­self as dis­tinct from the body, then even now you will become hap­py, peace­ful and free from bonds. You do not belong to the brah­min or any oth­er caste, you are not at any stage, nor are you any­thing that the eye can see. You are unat­tached and form­less, the wit­ness of every­thing — so be hap­py.

Astavakra Gita as trans­lat­ed by John Richards

Great thanks go to Robert Mil­lis & his doc­u­men­tary The World is Unre­al like a Snake in a Rope, a trail­er of which you can see below.

Much respect also to Matt Was­covich & Scarci­ty of Tanks for being the draw. Their newest album, Bleed Now, is fun­da­men­tal­ly awe­some.

Armageddon

Bruce Willis IS America (Pre-9/11, now it's Kiefer Sutherland)

A part of this view­ing listCri­te­ri­on Col­lec­tion Spine #40: Michael Bay’s Armaged­don.

Despite the laugh­able fact that this movie is includ­ed in the Cri­te­ri­on Col­lec­tion; and the almost cer­tain finan­cial & busi­ness-tac­ti­cal rea­sons for its inclu­sion, I’m going to try to review this film in good faith. This Michael Bay block­buster came out in 1998, and that’s impor­tant, because I can’t imag­ine a film like this being made at all post-9/11. Yeah, I went there. The film is a self-con­grat­u­la­to­ry pro­jec­tion of Amer­i­ca at the height of its pride, but before it had got­tenth to the fall; an Amer­i­ca that fan­cied itself so invin­ci­ble that it could kick a Texas-sized asteroid’s ass in 18 days. An Amer­i­ca with no prob­lems. This is a movie made in an Amer­i­ca that had for­got­ten what it is like to be hum­bled. (And if you think it’s just coin­ci­dence that the aster­oid is “Texas-sized”, you’re an idiot).

Despite the not-so-laugh­able fact that the entire world is threat­ened by the aster­oid, the only ones who can save the day are Amer­i­cans. Amer­i­cans who are arro­gant dicks. (Redun­dant, I know.) Amer­i­ca is the theme of this movie, not cos­mic anni­hi­la­tion. Most notice­ably, there are flags draped every­where, they are like sacred tapes­tries, and near­ly every scene is con­struct­ed to hon­or or pro­mote Amer­i­can-ness in some way. Plus, Bruce Willis; prob­a­bly the most stereo­typ­i­cal­ly “Amer­i­can” action hero. There’s noth­ing orig­i­nal here, the film is basi­cal­ly a HGH ver­sion of the played-out “can we dis­arm the bomb in time?” trope.

Armaged­don might be the most quin­tes­sen­tial­ly Amer­i­can movie of the post-WWII era. Its genius is that of an idiot savant, but because this movie lacks any­thing approach­ing self-aware­ness, the glo­ry of its brava­do & obvi­ous tack­i­ness cap­ture what it means to be Amer­i­can in the purest of terms. Michael Bay set out to make a block­buster about America’s big balls and suc­ceed­ed, but in his quest to present us with two hours of sub­con­scious mas­tur­ba­to­ry zeit­geist-stroking (there­by turn­ing us into lab rats who don’t even have to hit the crack but­ton) he man­aged to remove any­thing vague­ly approach­ing a com­pelling nar­ra­tive.  The movie is pablum; there is no there there, and that is the only rea­son it is pos­si­ble to make the grandiose claims I’m mak­ing about this film. If you are a thought­ful per­son, let­ting the tits, explo­sions, & smart-mouthed dia­logue flow through you is like sit­ting zazen and pen­e­trat­ing through the impen­e­tra­ble mu of the Amer­i­can psy­che through the force of sheer baf­fle­ment. You will grasp for any sort of mean­ing and come up emp­ty, and at the utter­most depth of your despair, when you sur­ren­der to the idio­cy; enlight­en­ment. This film is the arche­type.

How Becoming a Parent Changed Me

Becom­ing a par­ent does change things. I’ve heard that near­ly my entire life, but no one has been able to suc­cess­ful­ly explain what the hell the state­ment means. It just rings a bit hol­low as an unex­plained tru­ism. How­ev­er! I think I’ve fig­ured out a cou­ple of ways to explain things; or, at least, explain how becom­ing a par­ent changed me.

Nostalgia

Watch­ing Bram dis­cov­er the world allows me to dis­cov­er it again. I used to boast that I’d nev­er lose a child­like sense of won­der, but watch­ing the lit­tle bear wig out over a train or an orange car shows me just how much I’d lost of that amaze­ment. One of the com­plete­ly unex­pect­ed and unde­served ben­e­fits of being a par­ent is the abil­i­ty to relive those first moments of won­der vic­ar­i­ous­ly. This vic­ar­i­ous feel­ing is sweet­ened and enhanced by a nos­tal­gia born of remem­ber­ing things you’d for­got­ten you’d known. Being with Bram when he saw a freighter leave the mouth of the Cuya­hoga from the Coast Guard Sta­tion at Whiskey Island pro­vid­ed me with lay­ers and lay­ers of emo­tion stretch­ing from my own child­hood: nos­tal­gia at that lev­el of enthu­si­asm, the joy of remem­ber­ing some moments of my own tod­dler expe­ri­ences; and into the present: vic­ar­i­ous­ly expe­ri­enc­ing that emo­tion again, grat­i­tude at being present for your own child’s moment of satori, and pride that you in some way facil­i­tat­ed the process.

Extrap­o­lat­ing from here, I imag­ine that grand­par­ents feel much of the same; a third chance to expe­ri­ence child­hood with the added bonus of a sec­ond chance to expe­ri­ence par­ent­ing.

Reference Manual

I’ve gained a whole new per­spec­tive of appre­ci­a­tion for the par­ent­ing exam­ples of my par­ents. When I find myself in a sit­u­a­tion where I’m unsure of how to pro­ceed, I can think back to what worked and didn’t work on me, and adapt those lessons to what­ev­er I’m try­ing to fig­ure out with lit­tle bear. If I find myself sec­ond-guess­ing or unsure of my deci­sions, I know I’m just a phone call away from a total pro.

So, par­ent­ing has changed my life by the addi­tion of con­text; vic­ar­i­ous nos­tal­gia by allow­ing me to com­pare my child­hood to my son’s & a whole new ref­er­ence man­u­al of behav­iors com­ing from what I observed about par­ent­ing before I became one myself. I under­stand that some folks don’t get why oth­ers would want to be par­ents, and that’s cool. For me, it’s already pro­vid­ed a wealth of new and old expe­ri­ences that I nev­er would have expect­ed, and that I expect will nev­er end.